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7 Best Places to Retire Abroad, Experts Say

Spend your golden years exploring somewhere new and exciting.

Once you've finally entered your retirement years and have more time to spend doing what you love, travel may be a top priority. But if jet-setting for a week or two at a time just isn't fulfilling your wanderlust, you might want to consider a full-on move. There are endless options, especially since when you retire, you're typically free to relocate wherever you choose—even outside of the U.S. Want to spend your golden years in a new destination? Read on for the seven best places to retire abroad.

RELATED: The 6 Best Small Towns to Retire In.

Costa Rica

retired man walking along the beach in costa rica
Brian Glowacki / Shutterstock

Head to Central America and retire in the warmth of Costa Rica. According to LGBTQ travel writer Lindsey Danis, founder of Queer Adventurers, this tropical haven has "a massive expat community and is really welcoming to foreigners."

"It's on Central Standard Time, so it works well for people with family in the U.S.," Danis points out. "What sets it apart for me is their commitment to sustainability, and the eco-friendly hobbies it offers retired folks, like birding, boating and nature walks. "

Katy Nastro, spokesperson and travel expert with Going, recommends Costa Rica for those who want somewhere geographically close to the U.S.

"From a travel perspective, it's also easy to fly into small U.S. airports from there in addition to big hubs, so if there are grandkids in Cedar Rapids, it's not going to break the bank to see them from time to time," she says.

Even better, Nastro points out that Costa Rica provides easy access to healthcare and has a Pensionado visa in place, "making it relatively easy for retirees to qualify for relocation."


town square in frankfurt germany
iStock / vichie81

Noël Wolf, Babbel Live teacher and cultural expert at Babbel, says that U.S. retirees should consider Germany.

"Due to its exceptional healthcare system, Germany also tops the list of best places to retire," Wolf shares. "The quality of life in Germany is high and the social services in place ensure clean cities and well-developed infrastructure."

Wolf dispels fears about a language barrier as well.

"There are plenty of cities with English-speaking communities that will allow you to learn the language at a more comfortable pace—consider Munich, Dusseldorf, or Bremen," she suggests.

RELATED: 10 Things You Should Stop Buying When You Retire, Finance Experts Say.


biarritz france
Telly / Shutterstock

While the French may have a reputation when it comes to their opinion of Americans, travel experts say that retirees will feel right at home in this beautiful country.

Kristin Lee, travel expert and author of the adventure travel blog Global Travel Escapades, specifically recommends the south of France.

"This region is home to several idyllic cities and towns known for their laid-back atmosphere and mild climate, perfect for those looking to relax and enjoy their golden years," she explains. "Additionally, the region offers an array of activities suitable for older communities to partake in. For instance, some popular things to do include wine tasting in picturesque Provence, fishing along the scenic coastline, and discovering the history of nearby medieval towns!"

If you want a more affordable French destination, Lee advises considering Biarritz.

"This small coastal town is a hidden gem located along the Southwestern side of France near the border of Spain," she says. "It beckons with its pleasant climate, scenic beaches, and vibrant local culture, making it an ideal location for retirees looking to stay active and engaged in their new community."


merida mexico
eyetravelphotos / Shutterstock

Another beautiful place to retire is Mexico, which conveniently borders the southern U.S. But rather than settling in a well-known tourist destination like Cancun or Cabo San Lucas, Becca Siegel, co-owner at Half Half Travel blog, suggests checking out Merida, Mexico.

"I know for a fact that Merida is an excellent place to retire abroad, because when we were there, we wound up socializing with a lot of expats who were retired Americans!" Siegel recalls. "Merida is a city on the Yucatán peninsula known for being the commerce hub of the region. The charm of it is that it's very walkable and has pastel colored buildings all throughout downtown."

Even better, Merida is a great spot if you want to relax in warmer weather.

"If you want to retire and escape the cold forever, Merida is your tropical answer," she says. "It's also not too far from most of the U.S. and the cost of living is really affordable. No wonder the secret's out about Merida!"

RELATED: The Best Warm Weather Travel Destinations for Seniors.


retired couple walking on street in portugal
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

One of the cheapest and best places to retire is Portugal, according to digital nomad @ebfinleytravels.

"Portugal is definitely one of the most affordable European countries, and you can easily retire with between 2,500 and 4,000 euros [about $2,700-$4,300] per month," @ebfinleytravels says in an April 2023 TikTok video. "Whether you're looking to retire in a big city, a small town, or a beachside villa, Portugal has it all."

In addition to a relatively affordable cost of living, retirees can enjoy beautiful warm weather all year long, as well as "great healthcare, amazing food, and amazing scenery," @ebfinleytravels says.

The TikToker does point out that the idea of a "cheap" cost of living is relative depending on your income—and if you are going to settle in a more remote area, you should have a basic understanding of the Portuguese language.


little venice mykonos island greece

Greece is another of Danis' "top picks" for retirement destinations outside of the U.S.

"It's gorgeous, the people are friendly, and the food is fresh, local, and largely plant-based," Danis shares.

Need more convincing? Greece was named as one of the best places to retire in the world. According to International Living's 2024 Annual Global Retirement Index, Greece has more affordable real estate real estate than we have here in the U.S.—estimated to be as much as 75 percent cheaper. Cost of living is also 30 to 50 percent lower, International Living says.


san sebastian spain
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

Spain comes highly recommended by travel experts, too.

"Cities like Málaga, Valencia or Madrid in Spain are known for their large expat communities but will also encourage Spanish learning for American retirees," Wolf says. "The Costa Del Sol region of Spain in particular is known for its friendliness and welcoming people, making the sometimes intimidating aspects of practicing a language much easier to handle."

If you want to check out northern Spain, Lee highly recommends San Sebastian.

"From breathtaking views of the Bay of Biscay to a rich gastronomic scene that includes Michelin-starred restaurants tucked within the winding alleys, this beach town offers the perfect mix of relaxation and cultural experiences for those looking to retire abroad," she says, highlighting affordability as well.

"San Sebastian is comparatively affordable to most other regions within Europe, so retirees can stretch their retirement savings while enjoying the best that Spain and its surrounding regions have to offer," Lee shares.

Even better, Samantha Linnett, travel planner and blogger of Discover with Sam, points out that Spain has an easily accessible retirement visa called a non-lucrative visa. It doesn't have an age restriction and only requires that you prove financial self-sustainability.

This story has been updated to include additional entries, fact-checking, and copy-editing.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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