Are you considering retiring overseas and are wondering about what the best places for expats to retire are? Whether you are interested in the exciting and rich countries of Europe or the mesmerizing islands of the Caribbean, this guide aims to present you with the best places for expats to retire in the world.
- Best places for expats to retire in Europe
- Best places to retire in the Caribbean
- Other Caribbean countries
Why retire abroad?
Retire abroad to enjoy a better quality of life in some of the best places to retire in the world. The advantages to retire overseas are many: relaxed lifestyle, affordable and efficient healthcare, attractive tax benefits, low costs of living and housing in some of the most beautiful places.
Where to retire as an expat?
Some of the best countries to retire as an expat are located in Europe. Filled with history, culture, gastronomy and mesmerizing landscapes, Europe is a top-rated destination that welcomes retirees. Be taken away by the easy, comfortable and affordable lifestyle of Portugal, Spain, Cyprus and Malta.
If you are looking for an economical and relaxed way of living under the sun —next to the best beaches of the world — the Caribbean islands might be for you.
What are the best places for expats to retire in Europe?
Benefits of an expat to retire in Europe
There are many benefits of retiring in Europe. You will benefit from a high standard of living, visa-free travel throughout the Schengen Area, access to world-class healthcare, affordable retirement plans, as well as the security of second residence in a politically and economically stable country.
Benefits of retiring in Portugal
With more than 300 days of sunshine per year and a mild climate, Portugal is one of the best places to retire in the world. Its beautiful beaches, relaxed pace of living, attractive tax benefits and low cost of spendings makes it particularly attractive for retirement.. With little to zero language barriers and easy transportations, you will navigate and get settled in Portugal in no time.
Easiest way to retire in Portugal
The easiest way to retire to Portugal is to apply for residency.
As an expat wanting to retire to Portugal, you will need a visa which you have to get in your home country.
Documents and requirements might be subjected to occasional changes, but in general, you’ll need to show:
- A completed visa application form
- Your passport
- Proof of accommodations in Portugal
- Proof of income or financial means
- A travel insurance policy that includes health and repatriation coverage
- A criminal background check
- A letter of intent
- Two passport-type photos
Most retirees wishing to move to Portugal need to apply for a D7 visa – also referred to as a Type 1 visa. The D7 visa is for anyone who wants to move to Portugal and who has a regular, passive income like a pension or Social Security benefits.
Golden Visa program
Portugal’s Residency-by-Investment Program, also popularly referred to as the Golden Visa, is an attractive option for non-EU nationals. Investing in the country like — buying a property worth at least €500,000 in Portugal — can make you eligible for the Portuguese Golden Visa. This government-sponsored program offers a number of benefits to expats in Portugal, including:
- The right to family reunification
- A waiver of the usual residence visa for Portugal
- A visa exemption for Schengen Area travel
- Permission to live and work in Portugal, as long as you spend at least one week in the country during the first year, and at least two weeks during each year after that
- The right to apply for permanent residence and for Portuguese citizenship, as long as you fulfill the program requirements
The Golden Visa program can be a good choice if you want to make a large investment in Portugal and get the most favorable tax conditions. It’s also a quick and relatively straightforward way to getting temporary residence quickly, with Golden Visas typically being issued within 6 months of submitting all required documents.
NHR and retirement taxes in Portugal
Portugal’s residents are taxed on worldwide income — jobs and private pension. If you retire in Portugal and get pension payments from your home country, you could be taxed.
One way to avoid these taxes is by applying for the Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) program. This popular government program offers great tax benefits to expats in Portugal for a ten-year period.
Launched in 2009, the Portugal NHR program is designed to attract expats to Portugal. If you qualify for NHR status, you’re exempt from taxes for ten years on income earned abroad from pensions. This includes investments starting from €401K, capital gains, rental income, or work.
Healthcare in Portugal
Portugal has a public healthcare system for EU citizens called the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS). The SNS provides medical care at low to no costs, depending on your circumstances. It’s a publicly funded system that operates through a network of public hospitals and community health centers. However, the quality of care might not be up to the quality of care you have been used to if you have private health care.
You might opt for an international healthcare provider if you are thinking of retiring to Portugal as the Portuguese private healthcare schemes will only cover ages up to 55. International private healthcare schemes cover you beyond those ages.
Best cities to retire in Portugal
There are plenty of places to retire in Portugal for expats. You will need to consider what you are looking for. Would you rather live in the city, by the beach or in the countryside?
Here is a list of some of the best cities to retire in Portugal:
- The Algarve
- Cascais and Estoril
- Central Portugal
Living costs for retirees in Portugal
One of the main reasons why Portugal is considered one of the best places for retirees to live in the world is its affordable living costs. You will find varieties of entertainments and services accessible within a diverse range of pricing.
For those of us minding our budgets, a couple can retire in one of Portugal’s smaller cities for around €1500 a month. In areas like Lisbon, Porto, or the Algarve, plan for around €2500 a month, mainly because of higher real estate and rental prices.
Benefits of retiring in Spain
Famous for its quality of life, low cost of living, beaches, cuisine and culture, Spain is considered one of the best places to retire in Europe. The biggest country in Southern Europe, it has a variety of spots and landscapes to explore. Retire in Spain and discover the nation’s mesmerizing diversity.
Easiest way to retire in Spain
There are many residency visa options available for you in Spain. The Residence Visa (visado residencia) will allow you to reside in Spain without working, provided that you have a reliable, ongoing source of income as well as substantial savings. Make sure to check the government’s official website in order to gather the documents you will need to provide with your visa application. In general you will need to submit:
- A completed visa application form
- Passport or travel document
- Medical certificate
- Certification of ‘absence of police records’
- Proof of funds
- Medical insurance
Golden Visa program
Another option available to expats who wish to retire in Spain is the Golden Visa program. Spain’s Golden Visa scheme is a new type of residency-by-investment visa program established by the Spanish government in 2013. The program is geared toward non-EU foreigners who would like to make either capital investments or a real estate investment of at least €500,000. Qualified applicants and immediate family members are issued with a residency visa, with possible pathways to permanent residency and Spanish citizenship.
To find out more about Spain’s Golden Visa program, take a look at our Ultimate Guide.
Healthcare in Spain
Spain has both private and public healthcare systems. The public system is well-developed and provides free basic healthcare to those contributing to the Spanish security system and their family. However, the public healthcare system is subject to high demands and the waiting time to be treated is often very long. Many people opt for private healthcare which has many options available.
Best places for expats to retire in Spain
Prior to moving to Spain you will need to choose the best Spanish city to live in. Spain is one of the best international places to retire for expats due to its land diversity. Made of incredible beaches, mountains, countrysides and vibrant cities Spain has so much to offer. Some of the best cities to retire in Spain are:
How much money you need to retire in Spain
Spain is rated as having the second lowest cost of living in Europe (ranked after Portugal). Food, public transportations, restaurants and utilities are affordable and cheaper than in most European countries. Depending on where you choose to live, prices will vary. Big cities such as Madrid and Barcelona are more expensive than smaller places such as Malaga and Alicante.
Benefits of retiring in Cyprus
A true jewel of the Mediterranean, Cyprus is a beautiful island located between Greece and Turkey. With its breathtaking coastal atmosphere, rich history, renown safety and tax benefits, Cyprus is worth considering. Retire in Cyprus and get a new life in the sun!
Easiest way to retire in Cyprus
In order to retire to Cyprus, you will need to apply for a residence permit. The Category F immigration permit allows individuals temporary residency providing a secure annual income.
Cyprus’s Citizenship by Investment program
A great option to retire to Cyprus and obtain citizenship is the Cyprus’s Citizenship by investment program. It allows individuals to obtain a Cyprus passport in six short months by making an investment in the country, usually in real estate or government bonds.
Interested in Cyprus’s Citizenship by Investment Program? Get in touch with our specialists at Global Citizen Solutions for more information on how we can help you secure Cyprus citizenship in under a year.
Healthcare in Cyprus
The healthcare system in Cyprus is good and available to permanent residents upon qualification. However, if you prefer to have private health insurance, options are available – Allianz, AXA, Bupa are examples of providers.
Best places for expats to retire in Cyprus
Cyprus is an incredible island which offers many wonderful options to settle down in, but here are some of the best places to live in Cyprus:
Living costs for retiring in Cyprus
Living costs in Cyprus are affordable and relatively low compared to the rest of Europe.
Benefits of retiring in Malta
Retiring in Malta as an American has many benefits: English is one of the main languages, there is a big expat community, the healthcare system is excellent, the living costs are affordable, it’s politically stable, and the weather is incredible.
Easiest way to retire in Malta
In order to retire in Malta you will need to get permanent residency. The process includes having sufficient funds and the purchase of a property in Malta.
Malta’s Citizenship by Investment program
Malta citizenship by investment, officially called Maltese Exceptional Investor Naturalization (MEIN) is a prestigious policy rolled out by the Maltese government in late 2020. It offers qualifying investors and their family members the opportunity to earn citizenship by naturalization in exchange for making an investment in the nation. Dependent upon meeting the program criteria, you and your family are granted citizenship with EU passports, between 12-36 months from the time you lodge your initial application.
Healthcare in Malta
Malta is internationally recognized for having one of the best healthcare systems in the world. As a non-EU citizen you will initially need to get private international healthcare, but once you obtain permanent residency, you will then qualify for national healthcare options.
Best places for expats to retire in Malta
Malta is a small island, however there are plenty of places to elect. Whether you would rather retire in urban areas or more rural and traditional places, options abound. Here are some of the best places to live in Malta:
- City of Valletta
- St. Paul’s bay
- City of Victoria
- City of Mdina and Rabat
- City of Birgu
How much money you need to retire in Malta
Retiring in Malta is actually very economical. Housing, groceries and transportation are available at affordable prices.
How to retire in Europe as an expat
Before you begin your journey to retire to Europe, it is important to work with reputable professionals to ensure you’re making the right choices for your personal situation. Make sure you have a trusted advisor who can help guide you through the process – and save you time and money.
If you need advice on retirement, property investment or residency in Portugal, Spain, Malta or Cyprus our specialists are here to help.
Get in touch today to schedule a free consultation with one of our team members.
Best places for expats to retire in the Caribbean
Benefits of an expat to retire in the Caribbean
Looking to enjoy a relaxed and affordable lifestyle in some of the best warm places to retire while being close to the US? The Caribbeans islands are your place.
Caribbean countries are very popular for expats looking to retire or get a second passport, which offers visa-free travel to over 130 countries globally, including visa-free access to the EU Schengen Zone.
The Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programs allows investors to settle down in the Caribbean permanently. Here is a list of some of the best places to retire as an expat.
Best Caribbean island to retire to as an expat
Why retire in Dominica
A tropical paradise in the Caribbean, Dominica has plenty to offer for expats looking to retire in the Caribbean. With a very affordable cost of living and welcoming locals, Dominica offers a quiet life for retirees. Gifted with an incredible ecosystem, you will find plenty of waterfalls, volcanoes, lush forests, and beautiful beaches providing for exploration and relaxation.
Dominica Citizenship by Investment Program
An efficient way to retire and obtain residency in Dominica is through the Citizenship by Investment Program. Dominica’s Citizenship by investment programs offer individuals the unique ability to obtain citizenship by investing in the country, usually in the form of real estate or a government donation. Dominica’s citizenship program is one of the most popular ways to obtain a second passport within 3-4 months and permanently enjoy the island’s breathtaking scenery, luxuriant national parks and gorgeous beaches.
With contributions starting from $100,000, you can acquire a Dominica passport by investment by either investing in real estate or donating to the Government’s Economic Diversification Fund (EDF).
Safest place to retire in the Caribbean as an expat
Antigua and Barbuda
Why retire in Antigua and Barbuda as an expat
Considered the safest place to live in the Caribbean as an expat, Antigua and Barbuda is a great place to retire in. Enjoy a peaceful lifestyle with a warm climate, some of the top beaches in the world and crystal clear waters. With plenty of leisure activities available, Antigua and Barbuda is one of the best countries to retire to as an expat.
Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Program
Antigua and Barbuda doesn’t have a specific retirement visa program. However, it is possible to obtain citizenship through the Citizenship by Investment Program. Established in 2012, the program seeks to promote economic growth sustainably, attract developments and increase foreign direct investment to the nation. You can acquire an Antigua and Barbuda passport-by -investment by either making a charitable contribution, investing in real estate, or establishing a business. In just five months, you and your family can acquire Antigua passports, starting from a $100,000 investment.
More expat-friendly Caribbean islands to retire as an expat
St. Kitts and Nevis
St Kitts and Nevis is a popular destination to retire to for expats seeking a relaxed lifestyle. Enjoy stunning scenery, white sandy beaches and an agreeable tropical climate. Obtain dual citizenship and tax-free worldwide income in the beautiful twin-island nation through the St. Kitts and Nevis’ Citizenship by Investment Program.
Known as ‘The Spice of the Caribbean’, Grenada is a beautiful island popular for its white sand beaches, coral reefs and unspoilt landscape. Enjoy a simple lifestyle and the warm welcome of its locals. Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment program offers you the unique ability to obtain citizenship by investing in the country, usually in real estate or a government donation.
Saint Lucia is an incredible island in the Caribbean with white beaches, lush rainforests and volcanoes. Retire in Saint Lucia, be welcomed by its hospitable population and enjoy this piece of paradise. Saint Lucia’s Citizenship by Investment Program offers you the unique opportunity to obtain citizenship by investing in the country, usually in real estate, the National Economic Fund, government bonds, or enterprise.
How to retire in the Caribbean as an expat
Retiring abroad might seem like an unsettling process but we are here to assist you. At Global Citizen Solutions, we guide our clients through each step of the citizenship process, with 100% success rates.
We provide you with unique tailor-made solutions according to your needs.
Contact us to learn more about the Caribbean citizenship programs, or to learn more about other residency and citizenship programs we work with.
Retirement and community for expats
Whether you decide to retire to Europe or the Caribbean islands, you will find expat and retiree communities to connect with. Europe is especially famous amongst the retiree community and it is easy to make new encounters.
Here is a list of companies that will allow you to meet other expatriates in your new home:
InterNations allows you to connect and exchange directly with other international people. Easily get in touch with other expats, attend events and activities and build a network of expat friends.
Meetup helps you find and create local communities. Use Meetup to encounter new people, try new activities, visit places and build new friendships.
How can Global Citizens help me?
Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique consultancy firm with years of experience delivering bespoke residence and citizenship-by-investment solutions for international families. With offices worldwide and an experienced, hands-on team, we have helped hundreds of clients from around the world acquire residence permits or homes while diversifying their portfolio with robust investments.
We guide you from start to finish, taking you beyond your citizenship or residency by investment application.
Frequently Asked Questions about best places for expats to retire in
What is the best place to retire in the world 2020?
Portugal has been ranked in numerous global studies as the top country in the world for expats. A warm climate, fresh seafood, and stunning beaches make Portugal a popular place for expats looking to retire abroad.
Which European countries offer retirement visas?
Portugal, Spain, Malta and Cyprus offer retirement visas.
Can I retire in Portugal as a non-EU citizen?
Yes I can retire in Portugal as a non-EU citizen as long as I obtain a visa which allows me to reside in Portugal. The D7 visa and the Golden Visa program are efficient ways to get residency in Portugal.
Is the European healthcare system good? Can non-EU citizens use it?
Yes, the European healthcare system is very good and available to permanent residents and EU citizens. Non-EU citizens should get private insurance prior to obtaining permanent residency status or one of the EU nationalities.
How much does it cost to retire in Portugal?
How much money you need to retire in Portugal will depend on the town you’d like to live in. If you’re in an urban area like Lisbon or Porto, a couple will need at least €2,400 a month to get by comfortably. But in smaller villages, a couple could get by on as little as €1,400 per month.
What is life in the Caribbean like for retirees?
Life in the Caribbean for retirees is very relaxed and enjoyable with affordable prices. With some of the best beaches of the world, lush forests, volcanoes and waterfalls, the Caribbean islands are especially enjoyable to those who love nature.