Journal of Population Ageing

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 379–395 | Cite as

What Is Known about the Factors Motivating Short-Term International Retirement Migration? A Scoping Review

  • John PickeringEmail author
  • Valorie A. Crooks
  • Jeremy Snyder
  • Jeffery Morgan


It is known that older persons from many countries often enjoy living abroad for weeks or months of the year, often to avoid periods of harsh weather at home. However, there has been little attempt to synthesize existing knowledge of this practice, often called retirement migration. Scoping reviews are a widely accepted form of research synthesis. In this article we present the findings of a scoping review that asks: what is known about the factors motivating short-term international retirement migration? Using the guidance of a reference librarian, we searched 17 databases to identify pertinent academic articles. We read 110 articles in full, following an initial abstract review stage, ultimately including 44 in the review. The included articles primarily reported on studies that were qualitative in nature and heavily focused on the lived experiences of short-term international retirement migrants. Four synthesis themes summarize existing knowledge about the factors that motivate this transnational mobility: (1) the destination (e.g., climate, natural and cultural environment); (2) the people (e.g., social networks, language); (3) the cost (e.g., cost of living abroad, affordability of health care and housing); and (4) the movement (e.g., ease of travel, visa and residency requirements). Research to date mainly focuses on short-term international retirement migrant destinations in affluent countries or destinations chosen by seasonal migrants from relatively wealthy Global North nations. Based on these findings we identify several pressing research gaps and directions for future research.


International retirement migration Retirees Motivation Ageing Scoping review 



This scoping review was funded by an institutional Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada small grant awarded by Simon Fraser University. VAC holds the Canada Research Chair in Health Service Geographies and a Scholar Award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Pickering
    • 1
    Email author
  • Valorie A. Crooks
    • 1
  • Jeremy Snyder
    • 2
  • Jeffery Morgan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographySimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Health SciencesSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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