world health organization latin america olive oil atlantic ocean south china sea amazon rainforest one bedroom apartment good food andes mountains high speed internet outdoor activities western europe good life general practitioner housing prices laid back beautiful beaches fine wine speak english high standard three bedroom apartment recreational activities one bedroom warm waters quality of life around the world living expenses modern living live comfortably southeast asia north americans The best places for retirement in the world aren’t just about finding a beautiful location but also about considering factors like cost of living, healthcare quality, climate, and cultural experiences. Retirement often means living on a fixed income. That means selecting a location with an affordable cost of living, including housing, healthcare access, and daily expenses, is vital to ensure financial stability and prevent outliving one’s savings.

We recommend you visit, explore, and stay in as many retirement destinations as possible before making the final decision. This will help you get accustomed to the country’s culture and standard of living. 

This article will take you through the benefits of retiring abroad, the best places in the world to retire, your retirement planning process, and everything else that you need to know to enjoy your time off. There are various advantages of planning your retirement abroad. They include:

  • Improvement in quality of life
  • Better global mobility
  • Affordable healthcare and better educational infrastructure
  • Appealing tax benefits
  • Low cost of living
  • Better opportunities, rights, and freedoms
  • Enjoying permanent residency abroad

The 10 Best Places to Retire in the World

two retired people walking in a beach in spain way of life international living world's best every year single person most people many years over a decade large part best way one of the world's live comfortably most affordable places international living world's best single person most people over a decade In a tapestry of culture and color, retirees find themselves at the crossroads of a life reimagined. In the golden years, where the pursuit of tranquility meets the vibrancy of exploration, many seniors cast their gaze across borders, oceans, and continents to lands where the cost of living winks with a more gentle eye, and the quality of life beckons with open arms.

Consider the serene Mediterranean coast, where countries not only boast of ancient cities and a rich cultural heritage but also offer the coveted Golden Visa, making the dream of retiring in a foreign country a feasible reality. Here, the local culture is steeped in history, the streets are a mosaic of the old world charm and modern living, and the air is as salty as the sea from which freshly made ceviche is just a stone’s throw away.

South and Central America emerge as a canvas of green countries, where national parks and wildlife refuges are as common as the warm smiles of friendly locals. Countries like Costa Rica, with its pura vida lifestyle and stable democracy, offer a thriving expat community, excellent healthcare at surprisingly affordable out-of-pocket costs, and a life where city centers buzz with the energy of modern apartments and where small town life promises a pace as relaxed as the stunning natural beauty that frames it.

The universal healthcare systems of European countries, from the sun-drenched beaches of Spain to the diverse landscapes of Portugal, attract expats by offering high quality medical care. This entices many retirees, with their monthly pensions and social security, to call these places home. Here, one can live comfortably on a monthly budget that would strain to cover the basic costs in major cities back in the home country.

Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, has become a popular retirement destination for North Americans seeking to stretch their income further. International airports connect these small countries with direct flights to other cities, making global travel a tempting pastime for new residents.

In places like Thailand and Vietnam, legal residents enjoy low living expenses, a warm climate with hot summers and mild winters, and a public transportation system that offers easy access to city centers and coastal areas alike.

Retiring abroad is not without its nuances. It requires navigating foreign affairs, understanding the exchange rate, and ensuring a clean criminal record for a smooth transition. Yet, the promise of a relaxed lifestyle, with routine appointments turning into opportunities to enjoy life, from fine dining to public spaces rich in art galleries, makes the leap across borders a journey worth taking.

In these havens, investment options abound, from buying property to exploring temporary residence until one is ready to become a permanent resident. Whether it’s the west coast of the Americas or the southeast coast of old continents, the choice to retire abroad is as much about embracing a new country as it is about discovering a new chapter in life’s expansive book.

So, as we consider the vast expanse of the globe, from the West Virginia highlands to the stunning islands of Greece, retirement becomes less about winding down and more about winding through the myriad paths of a world ripe with opportunity for those with the courage to explore it. The best places to retire are not just locations on a map but coordinates for a new chapter of adventure and discovery.

1. Panama

Panama city sign in multicolour large lettersOwing to its connection with the United States, beautiful climate, welcoming environment, and affordability, Panama has emerged as one of the most popular retirement destinations worldwide.

Located in Central America, Panama bridges the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. You can retire in the country through the Pensionado Visa Program, which offers numerous benefits to international retirees – huge discounts on services, tax benefits on household goods import, and more.

To qualify for this plan, foreign retirees must show a minimum pension income of $1,000 per month. If you have a valid passport and are a viable visitor, you can stay in Panama for three months. But if you plan to obtain permanent residency in the country, you need to contact a migration attorney.

In addition to these benefits, the country offers excellent healthcare services—the government has both – public and private hospitals, clinics, and doctors. Public medical services are relatively more affordable. However, most foreign retirees choose the private healthcare system to access world-class healthcare facilities covered by private health insurance.

2. Portugal

lisbon best neighborhoods international livingTropical climate, tax benefits, beach towns, low cost of living, and well-connected transportation network, among other advantages, make Portugal one of the best retirement destinations in the world.

Moreover, the country has an attractive real estate market – the cost of living, especially housing in popular places like Lisbon and Porto, is 50% less than in New York. Real estate prices also vary across Portugal based on the property’s location.

After you obtain legal residency in Portugal, you will be qualified to register under the National Health Service. With the NHS, you can easily access public hospitals and healthcare centers across the country.

You can also choose to get yourself covered with private health insurance. Suppose you are considering obtaining a residence permit in Portugal. In that case, you will be required to get health insurance and show it to the respective authorities in addition to your passport and proof of income.

The residence permit in Portugal remains valid for five years. You need to reach out to your local consulate to apply for it. Once your residence permit expires after five years, you can apply for permanent residency there. For more information, you can check our articles:

Portugal Immigration Guide:
Visa Options to Freely Circulate in Portugal

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3. Dominican Republic

Owing to its picturesque landscape – charming beaches, beautiful waterfalls, and lush green forests, most people choose the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean for their retirement abroad.

Compared to New York, the rent in the capital city (of the country is 90% lower, and the cost of living is lower by 55%. Since the government-run healthcare program doesn’t cover everything, most expats use private insurance for medical expenses. In addition, private healthcare systems also offer quality healthcare at relatively affordable prices.

To obtain the Dominican Republic retirement visa or “pensionado,” you must provide proof of your retirement income, which must be a minimum of $1,500 per month. To acquire this visa, you must also pass your background check and show your birth certificate.

With the help of a tourist visa, you can enter the Dominican Republic and then apply for a retirement visa if you wish to retire in the country. Applicants must note that the processing time for your retirement visa can last up to several months.

The expat community is spread across vibrant cities and quaint towns in the country – Santo Domingo, Santiago, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, and Boca Chica. Make sure to do extensive research to identify suitable places for retirement. You can also consider the Dominican Republic Retirement Visa if you are considering staying in the country for a longer period of time.

For more information, visit our article: How to Move to the Caribbean: Your Ultimate Guide to Paradise.

4. Spain

malaga spain best citiesBe it rich art and architecture, white sand beaches, fantastic culture, affordable healthcare, or cost of living compared to the United States, Spain is one of the retirement havens in the world for expats.

The country also has a top-notch healthcare system. Citizens contributing to social security are covered under the public healthcare system in the country. However, most expats opt for private medical facilities covered by their insurance.

Retirees belonging to non-European Union countries can apply for a residence visa in the country and obtain it. The cost of living in Spain varies based on the location.

If you plan to retire in cities away from the main hustle and bustle, your living cost automatically drops. For instance, the cost of living in Alicante, a coastal town in Spain, is 48% lower than in New York. Moreover, the rent in the city is around 80% lower than in New York. Dining out, the cost of groceries, and the economical medical infrastructure make Spain an outstanding retirement location.

You can apply for Spain’s Golden Visa Program if you consider retiring in this stunning country. Under this program, all non-EU citizens can apply for this program to obtain residency in return for an investment.

For more details, visit: Golden Visa Spain 2022 – The Ultimate Guide by Experts

Take a look at our Spanish Citizenship Guide:
All you need to know!

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5. Costa Rica

central american nation more than three decades lower housing costs cheapest country expat communities live comfortably retire comfortably country boasts medical tourism mediterranean sea first world amenities golden visa option digital nomad visa popular destination local seafood three hour flight pristine beaches two countries retirement years picturesque landscapes caribbean beaches stunning scenery affordable place age requirement island state taking advantage many expats excellent hospitals great food speak english recent years other areas most affordable places Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea in the north and the Pacific Ocean in the south, This beautiful nation in Central America is one of the easiest countries to retire to. From lush green rainforests to charming beach towns, Costa Rica offers a peaceful lifestyle and affordable cost of living to all citizens.

Although housing costs vary from place to place, the country is generally quite economical. For instance, the cost of housing and living in San Jose is 83% and 53% lower, respectively, compared to New York.

By applying through the Pensionado Program, you can become a country resident. You must show a minimum income of $1000 per month to qualify for this program. Applicants must transfer the amount to a bank based in Costa Rica for the withdrawal of expenses.

Moreover, you can also apply through the Rentista Program if you don’t have a monthly pension income. Under this plan, you need to show a minimum income of $60,000 or an income of $2,500 per month for at least two years.

Both public and private healthcare systems are available in the country. If you are a country resident, you will be covered by the national medical program (with no copays or exclusions). In addition to this, residents can also opt for private healthcare if they wish to.

They can use their private medical insurance to access private healthcare or pay for themselves.

6. Malta

malta-village-poppaye-unsplashThis beautiful Mediterranean island is home to expats from all around the world – Europe, Australia, the UK, and more. The strategic location of the country, beautiful weather, stunning beaches, grand architecture, natural beauty, and a warm and welcoming population make Malta a great retirement destination.

Since Malta was previously an integral part of the British Empire, the most widely spoken language on the island is English. Compared to the United States, the cost of living in Malta is around 4% less. But the cost of food items and restaurants is comparatively economical.

Since expats are not covered under the national health insurance program, they should get private insurance to cover medical expenses. To obtain a permanent residency in the island country through a self-sufficiency visa, you must provide proof of the following: $60,000 in assets, medical insurance, and a 15% annual tax.

Suppose you are applying for residency in the country through the Permanent Residency Program. In that case, you must ensure that you have a minimum of $600,000 in assets, contribute to the government financially, and make a real estate purchase.

For more details, you can read our article: Best cities of Malta, see what expats prefer.

7. Ecuador

ecuador top 10 countries to retire abroadSituated in South America, Ecuador is home to the Amazon jungle, Andean highlands, and the Galápagos Islands and is one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world. Owing to its affordable cost of living, Ecuador has emerged as one of the cheapest countries to retire in the world for expats.

If you have an adventurous soul and want to spend most of your time in the lap of nature, this country is one of the best places to retire for you.

The official language of  Ecuador is Spanish, but English is spoken in major centers and popular visitor areas. Moreover, the official currency of the country is the US Dollar. These two essential factors attract many US residents to this country for retirement.

In cities like Cuenca, the cost of living is 66% lower than in New York. Rental prices are also significantly lower than in New York – around 88% less.

The country also offers affordable healthcare to residents and visitors. The cost of healthcare services is around 25% lower than in the United States. Under the government scheme, foreign retirees can also get covered by paying about $100 monthly.

They can also choose personal insurance to cover their medical expenditures. To apply for a permanent residence visa in Ecuador, an applicant must reside in the country for a period of 21 months with a temporary visa. To qualify for the temporary permit, you need to meet specific requirements like – minimum income, real estate investments, or bank deposits.

8. Mexico

mexico-permanent-residencyBordered by the United States in the North and the Pacific Ocean in the south and the west, Mexico’s attractive location makes it a great retirement destination for foreign residents, especially from the United States and Canada. Moreover, the country’s charming climate, picturesque tourist spots, and modern city living options captivate foreign retirees.

The Government of Mexico offers two main healthcare programs: One for marginally low-income residents of the country and the other for people who can pay a premium price.

Since the country provides high-quality healthcare at a relatively low cost, retirees not covered under government schemes opt for privatized insurance or cover their medical expenses by themselves. No wonder the country is one of the best places to retire overseas for affordable and efficient health care.

To obtain temporary residency in the country, applicants must have a minimum income of $2,100 per month. For permanent residency, they must show a minimum monthly income of $2,700.

The bank account requirements are $36,000 for temporary and $149,000 for permanent residency, respectively. Applicants must note that the temporary residency is for a period of four years. After that, they must reapply if they wish to continue their residency in Mexico.

9. Colombia

retiring in colombiaSituated in South America, Colombia has the second highest level of biodiversity in the world. The county has everything from glitzy beach towns, rainforests, and mountains to city life.

The cost of living in Bogota – the country’s capital, is also quite reasonable and is 72% lower than in New York. Rental prices in the country are around 88% lower than in New York. The cost varies from place to place and depends on the property’s location.

Colombia has both – public and private healthcare infrastructure. Both of them offer quality healthcare at an affordable cost. Under the public healthcare plan, people with national ID cards, including expats, are eligible for medical coverage for a premium payment. Foreign retirees can also go for personal insurance.

The majority of foreign retirees opt for the pensionado visa. To acquire the permit, applicants must prove a minimum monthly income that is three times the minimum salary in Colombia. Income can come from pensions, social security, or savings.

As per recent guidelines, the minimum income of the applicant must be $750. Once you complete five years, you can apply for a residence visa in the country. You can also apply for a foreign ID card which will help you navigate the healthcare system in Colombia and other benefits.

10. United States

For a better lifestyle and standard of living, many people choose to move to the United States post their retirement. Owing to its beautiful weather, tax benefits, and long coastline, cities in Florida, United States, are favorite retirement destinations for many.

Additionally, Florida is economical and has a good transportation network. College and coastal towns, ski resort cities, and small towns are the best options for retirement in the United States.

To know more about the best places in the world to retire, check out the following articles:

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Places to Retire

What are the cheapest and safest countries for retirement?

Countries that are economical and safe for you to retire includes: Portugal, Spain, Costa Rica, Panama, The Czech Republic, Malaysia, Peru, Slovenia, Austria and Australia.

Which is the best place to retire in the world?

According to Conde Nast Traveler, some of the best places to retire globally are – Malta, Spain, France, Ecuador, Colombia, Portugal, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama.

Which is the happiest place in the world for retirement?

As per the World Happiness Report, the United Arab Emirates is the happiest place to retire in the world based on several parameters like average monthly salary, cost of living, average life expectancy, average yearly temperature, global retirement index, and more.

Which is the cheapest place to retire in the world?

Here are the cheapest countries in the world for retirement – Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Portugal, Panama, Vietnam, Montenegro, and Colombia. It also makes financial sense for some Americans to retire in the UK as the cost of living can be cheaper.