Retiring in American Samoa: a complete guide

1 min readLast updated June 12, 2024by Kate Morgan

This article takes you through the main things you need to consider if you're retiring to American Samoa.

Summary

  • American Samoa is an emerging retirement destination for those seeking a unique and tropical environment with access to natural beauty, cultural events, and a relaxed pace of life.

  • Over 6% of the American Samoa population is over 65, making it a smaller retirement population compared to many other states.

  • Due to its size, American Samoa has some limitations, which may impact your quality of life, including limited healthcare options.

  • A financial advisor can help you develop a personalized retirement plan that’ll see you reach your goals.

Is American Samoaa a good place to retire?

According to data from the American Samoa Government in 2020, the territory had a population of approximately 55,000 people, with over 6% of the population aged 65 and over.

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This makes American Samoa a smaller retirement population compared to many other states.

Known for its lush landscapes and slower pace of life, American Samoa offers a retirement experience that is becoming increasingly popular among retirees.

How to plan your dream retirement with expert financial advice

If you’re still unsure about where to retire, it’s wise to seek expert advice.

Unbiased can match you with a regulated financial advisor below for a personalized financial plan.

How can I move to American Samoa?

If you are a US citizen, you can live and work in American Samoa just like you would elsewhere in the US.

However, it’s important to note American Samoa has its own immigration law and is not governed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To enter American Samoa, a US citizen must hold a US passport or birth certificate showing they are a US citizen or national and a ticket for onward passage out of American Samoa or proof of employment in American Samoa.

If US citizens want to stay in American Samoa for more than 30 days, they must get approval from the Attorney General of American Samoa.

What is the cost of living in American Samoa?

Those living in American Samoa will have a higher cost of living than those in the US.

According to data from the Economic Research Institute (ERI), those living in California on a salary of $100,000 would need to make over $10,000 more to enjoy the same standard of living in American Samoa.

If you live in Texas, you will find American Samoa 9% more expensive.

While food, housing, and healthcare are below the US average, the cost of labor is much lower than in the rest of the US, meaning your money has to stretch much further.

So, if you’re wondering, “Is it expensive to live in American Samoa?” the answer is yes.

Why do people retire in American Samoa?

There are plenty of reasons why people choose to retire in American Samoa, including:

  • Tropical environment: American Samoa is known for its tropical climate, beautiful beaches, and lush rainforests. Retirees can enjoy living in a peaceful and beautiful environment that offers plenty of opportunities for relaxation and outdoor activities. 

  • Cultural scene: American Samoa has a vibrant cultural scene, with traditional dances, music, and food that reflect the Samoan way of life. The territory hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, including the Flag Day celebrations and the Teuila Festival. 

  • Relaxed pace of life: American Samoa has a slower pace of life compared to many other locations, which can be attractive to retirees seeking a more laid-back lifestyle. 

What are the disadvantages of retiring in American Samoa?

While the territory has a lot of benefits, there are a few reasons to be cautious when considering retiring in American Samoa, including:

  • Limited healthcare options: Since American Samoa is a small territory, healthcare options may be limited compared to larger states or countries. Retirees should research their options for healthcare coverage. 

  • Isolation: American Samoa is a remote location with limited access to travel and goods from outside the territory. This could be a concern for retirees who prefer more accessible and connected locations. 

  • Limited job opportunities: American Samoa has a small economy and limited job opportunities compared to larger states or countries. Retirees should consider their financial situation and whether they will need to work during retirement. 

How can I own American Samoa real estate?

Buying property or owning American Samoa real estate is complicated.

Non-native of American Samoa are not permitted to own land, meaning they cannot purchase property similar to how they would in the US.

Instead, according to Brown Political Review, the majority of the land is communally owned, with Matai leaders overseeing the control of the land. This land makes up 96% of all property in American Samoa.

While US retirees may not be able to purchase land in the territory, they can enter into long-term leaseholds.

Where are the best places to retire in American Samoa?

If American Samoa is your chosen retirement state, here are some of the best places to retire: 

  1. Pago Pago: Pago Pago is the capital city of American Samoa and the largest town on the island of Tutuila. It is situated in a natural harbor and surrounded by lush green mountains. Pago Pago offers a variety of amenities, including shops, restaurants, and healthcare facilities, while still maintaining a relaxed island vibe. 

  2. Leone: Leone is a small village located on the western side of Tutuila. It is known for its stunning beaches, coral reefs, and tropical rainforests. Leone is a great place to retire for those who enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and swimming. 

  3. Aua: Aua is a village located on the southern coast of Tutuila. It is known for its picturesque beaches, clear waters, and scenic cliffs. Aua is a quiet and peaceful place to retire, perfect for those who enjoy a laid-back lifestyle. 

  4. Tafuna: Tafuna is a town located on the eastern side of Tutuila. It is home to the main airport and is the commercial hub of American Samoa. Tafuna offers a mix of urban and rural living, with shops, restaurants, and healthcare facilities, as well as lush rainforests and secluded beaches. 

  5. Ofu: Ofu is a small island located in the Manu'a Islands group, a remote and pristine area of American Samoa. Ofu is known for its stunning coral reefs, turquoise waters, and white sandy beaches. It is a peaceful and secluded place to retire, perfect for those who enjoy nature and solitude. 

It is important to note that American Samoa is a remote and isolated destination and may not offer the same level of amenities and services as more popular retirement destinations. However, for those looking for a unique and tranquil way of life, American Samoa can offer a special retirement experience in a beautiful and culturally rich part of the world.

What age can you retire in American Samoa?

Like many locations, American Samoa has no specific retirement age that is mandated by law. The state legislature puts the “normal retirement age” at 65, similar to elsewhere in the US.

This means that individuals are free to retire whenever they choose as long as they are able to support themselves financially. However, there are some age-related benefits and considerations for retirees in American Samoa:  

  • Social Security benefits: The earliest age at which you can begin receiving Social Security benefits is 62, but if you delay taking benefits, your monthly payments will increase. Full retirement age (FRA) is between 66 and 67, depending on your birth year. Delaying benefits until after FRA can result in even higher monthly payments. 

  • Medicare eligibility: Medicare eligibility begins at age 65, regardless of retirement status. However, since American Samoa is a territory and not a state, some Medicare coverage may not be available. Retirees should research their options for healthcare coverage. 

  • Age discrimination: It is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants based on age. 

  • Retirement savings: Regardless of retirement age, you need to start saving for retirement as early as possible. Many financial experts recommend saving at least 15 percent of your income for retirement. 

It's important to seek expert financial advice to weigh up all of the costs associated with retiring in American Samoa, including property taxes, insurance, and living expenses, in order to make an informed decision about whether the state is the right choice for your retirement. Find a financial advisor today.

Frequently asked questions

Content writer

Kate Morgan

Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.

Want to retire in American Samoa?

A financial advisor can help you plan and realize your dream retirement.