INQUIRY Where to go to live by boat and be better off in the world


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pension in greece

There are now many European countries (but not only…) in which it is possible to move one’s residence even for tax purposes and live on a boat. Here are what they are and how to do it


Qui is not a matter of pandemic, or rather not only. Because the dream of “ditching the moorings,” perhaps after a lifetime of hard work among the city smog, was already the dream of many sea lovers long before this virus came along to mess up our lives. So why not really consider changing everything and move away to live on a boat, in the heat, away from work stress and pandemic angst? All the more reason for those who are retired-or about to retire-there are several attractive opportunities to move abroad and live better.

Certainly, that of changing one’s life is a complex project and one that needs proper planning, both in terms of timing and in terms of bureaucratic and procedural aspects. On the other hand, however, there are now many countries in Europe and elsewhere that offer attractive opportunities from a tax standpoint particularly with preferential taxation on pensions.

Based on the existing “non-double taxation” agreements between Italy and many nations, in fact, it is possible to transfer tax residence elsewhere and “defiscalize” one’s pension by referring to local taxation or laws in favor of foreign retirees moving there.

What we will talk about in this article

In most cases these are concessions reserved for those with private pensions, but there is no shortage of those dedicated to those with public pensions-one example is Tunisia. Moving abroad to live by boat means not only moving tax residence but also proving that you are truly resident in your chosen country for most of the tax year: thus for at least 6 months and 1 day each year. Continuity of time spent in the country of tax residence is not essential, however; rather, it is possible to move “permanently,” but spending part of the year in the new country of residence and part in Italy.

What is really important, however, is to have all the administrative “paperwork” in place to fulfill one’s dream: local bank account, local tax residence, at least annual rental contract or property owned, utilities in one’s name, AIRE (Anagrafe Italiani Residenti all’Estero) registration, health care transfer and, last but not least, having the “center” of one’s economic and affective interests in the new country of tax residence.

In short, living on a boat, in the heat, sometimes just a short plane flight away from Italy is not such a complicated affair, particularly for those who choose to retire after the end of their working lives. Of course, whether one chooses the more distant Dominican Republic or the closer Croatia, one must be sure to handle all bureaucratic, legal and banking paperwork safely to avoid nasty surprises once having left Italy. Those who have the skills can do it themselves, but a viable alternative is to rely on qualified professionals.

“We work with professional figures,” Valentino Coletto, Ceo of Reframed, tells us(, an agency that specializes in the paperwork necessary to move abroad and is active in 12 jurisdictions-‘local’ and certified, like notaries and lawyers, to go to the correct source of any legislative and administrative interpretation: in fact, experience tells us that in order to carry out these practices abroad, one must be especially careful and know the individual local realities very well.

degree for yacht captains

This is how, working for years in the field, we know how to interact with the Greek Ministry of Finance or the Greek Tax Agency Directorate through a trusted lawyer from the Embassy in Athens. And with many other historical and qualified correspondents we work all over the world. All with particular reference to what concerns the foreign tax residence of an Italian citizen. Take, for example, the “condition” that calls for moving the center of one’s economic and “affective” interests to the country in which one wants to take up tax residence and go live by boat. If the economic interest is the payment of taxes on the pension, the word “affective” refers to spouses and minor children, who will also have to move to that country where you want to take tax residence.”

Where to go to live safely

Why then choose, for example, Tunisia? This is told by Vittorio, a retired Latina sailing enthusiast who chose Hammamet to live by boat. “More than choosing a destination I had a desire to first find a suitable location in which to moor my boat. On the Tunisian coast, Hammamet is the perfect place for those who love the sea: it is a town and a marina full of greenery, where you are sure to be safe given the vigilance that is guaranteed, to people and also to boats. I then also chose to rent a house in the maritime district of Yasmin Sol Port: large and sea view, monthly rent is about 380 euros.”

But while Tunisia is a less conventional choice, Greece remains the best destination for living by boat for several factors: economic, natural, and proximity and convenience in transportation to and from Italy. Today, then, several areas of the country are affected by the phenomenon of relocation from Italy: these include the Ionian Islands (Corfu and Kefalonia above all), Crete and some Aegean Sea islands such as Paros, Naxos, Mykonos and Santorini. Less well known in Italy, but equally interesting for those seeking a seaside buen retiro is also the Kalamata area in the Peloponnese as it brings together numerous bays with wonderful beaches, a hospital, services at hand and a nearby airport.

Remaining a short distance from Italy then also Albania is one of the countries that offers the most fiscal, economic and environmental advantages for people, retirees and others, who wish to move abroad. Compared to the Peninsula, in fact, it offers very low rents, cost of living more than halved, beautiful bays and beaches that are very little frequented even in summer, as well as a growing community of Italian residents. Among the many, a prime location is the beautiful village of Saranda: it allows one to savor incredible views as the magnificent Greek island of Corfu is just 15 kilometers away.

Living by boat on both sides of the Atlantic

From the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean, for those who want to change their lives, however, the step is short: posted in front of African coasts, even if they belong to Spain, Canary Islands are one of the most sought-after destinations by retirees who choose to move abroad because of the optimal mix of sea beauty, climate and cost of living. Maybe to live on a boat.

In all 7 islands (Tenerife and Gran Canaria are the largest, then Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Gomera, El Hierro, La Palma) you can save a lot compared to Italy: for example, just think that gasoline costs less than 1 euro per liter and the tax corresponding to the V.A.T. (called I.G.I.C.) is only 7 percent. In addition, residents in the Canary Islands have super discounted rates on both inter-island transportation (by ferry and air) and to mainland Spain (in fact, airline tickets are discounted by 50 to 70 percent).

If you then want to cross the Ocean, to reach a more exotic destination such as the Dominican Republic, however, the advantages are not lacking, as Massimo De Vicari, a passionate Italian sailor who has been living in the Caribbean area for 20 years, tells us: “Experiencing boating in the Dominican Republic is a fascinating experience because there are many magnificent places to visit but also many safe marinas in which to moor.

And it should also be emphasized that there are no particular limits to tourist boating, just be careful and do not spoil the beautiful local nature. There are no restrictions on fishing either. Instead, professional sailing requires of local licenses and licenses, for example, a charter can only be based in the country if the boat is registered in the Dominican Republic and if the captain has a Dominican sailing license.”

Where to go to live on a boat and what is needed



(GDP per capita $5,239 – Inhabitants 2,846,000)

In 2020, the government passed the law providing zero percent taxation without time limit on pensions of a private nature of all EU citizens moving to Albania. The goal is tax exemption for all retired foreign nationals who will transfer their tax residence to Albania.

To qualify for the exemption, Italians must: be pensioners of a private nature; reside in Albania for at least 6 months and 1 day each year, even if not continuous; have a local bank account; have a long-term lease or purchase a property; be AIRE registered; and move the center of economic and emotional interests to Albania.


CYPRUS (GDP per capita 28.341 $ – Inhabitants 1.141.000)

For those who decide to transfer their tax residence to Cyprus, being a retiree of a private nature, there is the possibility of obtain important tax benefits: in fact, taxation will not exceed a fixed 5 percent on the gross pension, with no time limit.

To qualify for exemption, you must: actually reside in Cyprus for at least 6 months (and one day) each year, even if not continuous; have a local bank account; have a long-term lease or property; be AIRE registered; and move the center of economic and emotional interests to Cyprus.


CROATIA (GDP per capita 14.870 $ – Inhabitants 4.076.000)

In Croatia, the cost of living is on average about 15 percent lower than in Italy, and by obtaining tax residency it is also possible to claim tax breaks on private pensions: on average you save 2/3 compared to Italian taxation.

In order to obtain tax residency in Croatia, it is necessary to reside there for at least 6 months and one day per year, even if not continuous; in addition, it is necessary to have rental housing with a long-term and regular contract of at least 12 months (the cost on average is 300 euros per month).


GREECE (GDP per capita 20.317 $ – Inhabitants 10.768.000)

Thanks to the July 31, 2020 approval of Law 4714/2020, Italian private pensioners can move to Greece for tax purposes and benefit from a 7% tax break for 15 years. Retirees interested in obtaining this benefit must move their tax residence to Greece and spend at least 183 days there in the calendar year.
(The application deadline for 2021 has just been extended until May 31, 2021.)

Those who move to Greece must demonstrate that they intend to establish their center of vital interests in Greece, which is meant to be both emotional and economic. Then it should be remembered that the fixed 7 percent taxation for Italian retirees moving to Greece only affects former private sector workers.


PORTUGAL (GDP per capita 23.437 $ – Inhabitants 10.255.000)

Taxation at 10% for 10 years as a “Non-Habitual Resident” for those who – in Portugal and Madeira – are actually resident both in terms of registry and also for tax purposes, as specified by Law no. 249/2009. In addition, the cost of living is 25 percent lower than in Italy.

To be a tax resident in Portugal one must: reside at least six months and one day per year in the country, even if not continuous; have long-term rental housing or real estate; be AIRE registered; relocate health care; open a bank account; and move the center of one’s economic and emotional interests.

Dominican Republic

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (GDP per capita 8.341 $ – Inhabitants 9.930.000)

Those who live in the Dominican Republic do not benefit from pension tax relief, but they safely enjoy a lovely place that has a much lower cost of living than in Italy and to which they can transfer tax residence, civic residence, and health care.

The country puts no limits on tourist sailing, and there are many places to anchor and many places to visit, both on the north and south sides. The country is also a convenient starting point for cruises to Puerto Rico, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and the Lesser Antilles.

Spain – Canary Islands

SPAIN – CANARY ISLANDS (GDP per capita 30.733 $ – Inhabitants 47.431.000)

Belonging to Spain, the Canary Islands have a “special” tax system due to the fact that they are a disadvantaged territory as they are far from mainland Spain. In this low-tax zone, private pensioners can transfer tax residence and get their pensions thanks to agreements between Italy and Spain.

The gross Italian pension is then taxed locally under a system of increasing brackets, the rates of which are cut in half compared to Italy (and up to 22,000 euros gross annually, taxation is zero). Then there are other tax breaks depending on the marital state, and rates decrease as well over age 75.


TUNISIA (GDP per capita 3.422 $ – Inhabitants 11.552.000)

Tunisia is also a particularly attractive destination because it is one of only 4 countries in the world that also defiscalize state pensioners. Public pensioners (INPDAP or INPS former INPDAP) can apply for and obtain the gross pension, based on the bilateral agreement in effect since 1981.

The conditions for taxation of about 5 percent on the gross pension are: residence, including tax residence, in Tunisia; being AIRE registered; residing at least 183 days per year in Tunisia, even if not continuous; having a long-term rental contract and related utilities in one’s name; and opening a local bank account, where to receive the pension.

Edited by Davide Deponti



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