best places to retire with a UN pension

In this post, we will be talking about UN pension and where to retire to get the most out of your pension. If you still have many years before retirement, then check out my other posts on saving more money before retirement and whether is it possible to be a millionaire on a UN salary.

Is your UN pension taxed?

While working in the United Nations and its affiliated organisations, your salary is not taxed but there is “staff assessment”. However, it is completely different after we leave or retire from the UN. Your UN pension can be taxed depending on where you live!

taxes on UN pension

It is an amount deducted from all UN staff members’ gross pay according to the UN Staff Regulations and Rules, regardless of their nationality. As staff assessment is not a withholding tax, it cannot be reimbursed to staff members under any circumstances and it cannot be claimed as a deduction on United States income tax returns.

Staff assessment deductions are credited to the Tax Equalization Fund. Those Member States that do not impose income tax on the UN earnings receive a portion of the Tax Equalization Fund as an offset against their assessments for the UN regular budget, peacekeeping and tribunal budgets. When staff members have to pay national income taxes on their UN earnings, they are reimbursed from the Tax Equalization Fund irrespective of the total amount of staff assessment deducted from their salaries.

According to UNJSPF (United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund), each country determines, based on its own relevant national tax legislation and policies to what UNJSPF pensions are subject to national taxation.

In short, your UN pension would be subject to tax depending on your country of residence.

But there are countries which grant tax exemption for UN pensions paid as a lump sum or as a monthly income.

Things to consider for retirement

While minimsing the tax on your hard earned UN pension is important, there are many other things to consider choosing the right place to retire.

  • Cost of living: How comfortably can I live on my UN pension?
  • Healthcare: Does the country have good healthcare system?
  • Climate: Is it too hot/humid/cold for me?
  • Security: Is it safe to wander around?
  • Language: Can the locals understand me?
  • Food: Is the food to my liking?
  • Happiness index: Are the people living there happy or stressed out?
  • Friendliness: Are the locals friendly and like foreigners?
  • Standard of living: Is the living standard sufficient for me?

Where are the best places to retire for a UN staff with a UN pension?

Unfortunately, there is no official list of countries that gives tax relief to UN pension. Also, you should do your own research before moving half way across the world.

Based on Wikipedia, here are the list of countries with tax exemption for UN pensions:

Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Chile, India, Kuwait, Malaysia, Malta, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Uruguay and Thailand

Based on a Q&A page, we have the following list of countries that were mentioned with tax exemption for UN pensions:

Austria, Hungary, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and Thailand

If you just want to retire in a safe and affordable country, then according to SmartAssets, these are your best bets:

Portugal, Malaysia, Spain, Costa Rica, Panama, Czech Republic, Peru, Slovenia, Austria, Australia

Final thoughts

After decades of hard work, I am sure most of you are looking forward to retirement and your UN pension. Even if your retirement is years away, it is never too early to give it some thought and start planning.

Three countries are common to the list above and they are Austria, Spain, Malaysia.

Please make sure you comment below and contact us to stay in touch!

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