The 11 Best Places to Retire Abroad, New Report Says
These counties offer lower costs of living, rich cultures, mild weather, and more.
Are you embarking on your golden years and are ready for a change of pace? Maybe you've though about retiring in a small town or a big city, but what about another country? Perhaps traveling was always on your bucket list but you didn't get to globe trot as much as you'd hoped when you were younger. Well, now could be the time to really experience life outside of the U.S. But of course, there are several factors to keep in mind when it comes to picking your next permanent residence, such as cost of living, the amount fun activities to keep you busy, community, and climate. Luckily, a new report from International Living helps narrow down your international options.
International Living has officially compiled their 2023 Annual Global Retirement Index that will help you figure out what country will suit both your wants and needs. The report is a combination of real life experiences, plus facts and figures that can help determine your best retirement options. Each destination offers something unique, but which one is the best for you? Keep reading to hear from travel experts on the 11 best places to retire abroad, according to new data.
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The Best Places to Retire Abroad
Colombia has become popular place for Americans in recent years due to its lower cost of living and beautiful scenery. It's a place full of charming small towns, coastal and mountain regions, as well as bustling cities.
"Colombia has a lot of cultures to explore, with vibrant festivals and stunning colonial architecture," Stuart Lewis, travel agent and editor at Travel Scoop tells Best Life.
With everything from big cities like Bogota and Medellin full of art and culture to tropical paradises with white sand beaches like Cartagena to the trails of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta through snow-peaked mountains and beautiful lakes, you'll be able to fill your calendar and stay busy during the post-work years.
Thanks to current exchange rates, getting a visa in Colombia is easier and cheaper, and the health insurance is high quality without the high price tag. Plus, it's a great country to learn or refresh your Spanish now that you have more time on your hands!
The climate in Thailand is a big selling point for retirees: sunny skies and warm weather are a constant. Thailand is split into a hot (March-May), a cold (Nov.-Feb.), and a wet season (May-Oct.). While the hot season is quite muggy with temperatures as high as 105 degrees, most of the year stays between 79 and 82 degrees. Yup, even in the "cold" season.
Not only is this a place for beautiful beach adventures and new city experiences, there is also a strong ex-pat community with residents from all over the world that will welcome you with open arms, Lewis tells Best Life. He adds that you can also visit vibrant markets and enjoy a mix of local and traditional Thai cuisine. One thing is for sure, you'll never be bored if you retire to Thailand.
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For a small peninsula, Italy packs a punch. The must-see destination and possible retirement option is full of rich history, enchanting cities, and mouth-watering food in each region. There is truly a little something to do for everyone in this amazing country!
Rome is set apart by its ancient ruins, while Florence is full of architecture and design, as well as magnificent art museums, says Leslie Carbone, a travel expert at Sancerres at Sunset. "But you don't even have to enter a museum; the city itself is a work of art, with cobblestone streets, the Ponte Vecchio, and a replica of Michelangelo's David in the city square," she says. When you're in an Italian city, truly all you have to do to see gorgeous art is look up.
France is a great choice for those who want to enjoy a more lavish lifestyle without going over budget. You'll be able to immerse yourself in a place that is full of sophistication, while also relaxing and exploring to your heart's content. The combination of the rich culture and history in cities like Paris with the relaxed vibe of the countryside in the South, ultimately make for a great retirement spot.
An added bonus: Housing options are significantly lower priced than those in the U.S. "The cost of living is slightly higher than in other countries, but the benefit of being able to indulge in fine dining and activities more than makes up for it," says Lewis.
It's no surprise that Greece, with its expansive history, unique cuisine, and natural beauty, is one of the top places for people to retire. Greece is not a hugely populated country, but it is a popular spot for seniors. You'll likely see older men playing cards in front of coffee shops and women out and about chatting in front of storefronts. Real estate is going to cost about half of what it does in the U.S. and you'll also get quality health benefits.
If you're a history buff, it has so much to offer. "There's something special about walking in these ancient spots, that makes you feel connected to the people who lived among them thousands of years ago," says Carbonne.
With something new to see in each part of the country, as well as convenient travel to bordering European countries, adding Greece to your retirement plan is a no-brainer.
If you're looking for a place that can give you a high quality of life without the high cost of living, Spain checks all the boxes. Although prices have increased in the past decade, Spain still remains as one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe.
Those looking for a large city but wanting to keep living costs lower, should check out the coastal cities of Valencia, Alicante, and Malaga, Patricia Palacios, co-founder of España Guide, tells Best Life. Smaller towns and villages are an even cheaper alternative, but no matter where you decide to call home, you'll feel welcomed thanks to Spain's focus on the older generation.
The Spanish cuisine is another bonus for choosing to retire here, according to Palacios. "[The] Mediterranean diet is still king and the country proudly produces fruits and vegetables for both local consumption and export to the rest of Europe," she says. Fresh fish and seafood are also inexpensive and readily available since Spain is right on the coast.
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5. Costa Rica
"Pura Vida," which translates to simple or pure life, isn't just a phrase in Costa Rica, it really is a way of life. People who live here tend to be more relaxed and worry-free because of the great sense of community and slower pace of life—and visitors and expats from all over the world flock to the country to find their own version of Costa Rican magic.
"Costa Rica, in general, is an ideal retirement location, due to its relatively low cost of living and reputation as the safest (and happiest!) country in Central America," says Jessica Schmit, the travel blogger behind Uprooted Traveler.
The country itself is full of wildlife, beautiful scenery, and historic sites. If you're an outdoor enthusiast, you can kayak or hike to stay active and healthy. Many expats enjoy getting to know the locals by learning to cook Costa Rican specialties and taking in all the indigenous art.
Made famous as a tourist destination thanks to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador is also often noted as a top location for retirement. Ecuadorians thrive on a calm way of living and you'll be welcomed into the community immediately. Plus, finding an apartment won't be a stressful experience—you can easily live for under $2,000 a month in most places across the country.
The country offers a mix of mountains and beaches and you'll always have a breathtaking view, Lewis shares. "Ecuador is also home to some of the world's most diverse ecosystems, making it a great spot to explore and discover nature," he says.
Panama is ideal for people looking for an easy and inexpensive move. The country has many different retirement communities throughout and newcomers can experience the bustling city life, as well as the serenity of the mountains and rainforests.
"Retirees can also access discounted services from a range of healthcare providers and take advantage of the country's pensionado visa," says Lewis. Based on the report, the pensionado visa makes the move seamless if you have a pension of at least $1000 a month. If you're not looking to stay permanently, Panama has an option for a temporary telework visa that lasts up to 18 months.
Mexico is a large, modern country that is close to the U.S., so you can easily get back home to visit relatives. It offers a great program called Instituto Nacional de las Personas Adultas Mayores (INAPAM) which provides benefits to those who hold a valid residence visa for Mexico, says Sam Helmy, travel writer for PointsPanda.
"With an INAPAM membership card, you can avail discounts on a wide range of services such as health-related services, cultural activities, transportation, and accommodation and these discounts can range from 5 to 50 precent off the full price of the good or service," he says.
And of course, there are plenty of things to do in Mexico. Schmit is a big fan of the Yucatan Peninsula, specifically Bacalar. The town is known for its Lagoon of Seven Colors, a 26-mile long stretch of clear, electric blue freshwater (the largest freshwater body in Mexico!) that has earned the town the moniker "The Maldives of Mexico." Bacalar has "solid infrastructure" and a "growing number of expats while still priced at a fraction lower than the U.S.," she says.
Speaking a little Spanish will help you get acclimated to the lifestyle, but there are also plenty of people who speak English that can help get you what you need.
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The best place to retire is none other than Portugal. It was recently ranked as one of the safest places to live and residents have both public and private access to healthcare. The property tax is relatively low and if you're looking to own a home or any amount of land, it's affordable.
Lewis says the country is known for historic cities, extremely friendly locals, and stunning architecture. "Portugal is an excellent choice for those looking for a relaxed lifestyle," he says. In addition, it's a great place to spend time outdoors due to the mild climate that sticks around all year long. You'll truly get the most out of your retirement if you end up in Portugal.