15 of the Best Places to Retire Around the World
Dreaming of an ideal spot where you can stretch your Social Security payments? Check out our list of the best places to retire in style.
Expand your retirement horizons
If you’re looking for the best places to retire, congratulations! You’ve likely worked your entire adult life to be able to move on to this exciting new phase of your life, and now you’re ready to reap the rewards. Although there are many U.S. states to retire in where the weather is lovely and you’ll have plenty to do, there are myriad options beyond our borders too. And these countries are considered not only some of the best places to travel but also fantastic destinations for retirees to make their new homes.
Moving to a new country brings all the joys of discovery you experience on vacation that you can now incorporate into your daily life, including fascinating cultures, fabulous scenery, and new cuisines to try and languages to learn. Plus, in many of these foreign destinations, your retirement savings will go further—and even a small budget will allow you to experience a higher standard of living (i.e., luxury housing, housekeeping help, gourmet dinners) than you would if you stayed in the United States. This may be even more appealing if you’re retiring early and want to start living your best life now!
How we chose the best places to retire
We consulted several of the top sources that analyze data about retirement destinations, including 2023 reports from International Living, Global Citizen Solutions, and Live and Invest Overseas. Ultimately, we chose to use International Living’s rankings for our list of the best places to retire, since they break down their findings to account for value, housing availability, accessibility and cost of health care, ease of getting visas and citizenship, the destination’s climate and weather, and the country’s government and infrastructure.
To give you a fuller picture of these retirement hot spots, we then looked into the best places within these countries to settle, the highlights of living there and some of the practicalities regarding the cost of living in these dream destinations. These are the retirement tips you need to make your money go as far as possible and truly enjoy your golden years.
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This sunny southern European country hugging the Atlantic coastline claims the No. 1 retirement spot on both International Living’s 2023 Annual Global Retirement Index and Global Citizen Solutions’s list of countries to retire abroad for Americans in 2023. It also grabbed the No. 2 spot on Live and Invest Overseas’s top 10 list. So what makes Portugal such a fabulous place to retire? The country scored high marks not only for being one of the safest countries in the world but also for its affordability, temperate climate and stable government.
You won’t need a pocket full of cash to enjoy your time in this cheap place to travel and live. Simply walk the winding, picturesque cobblestone streets of Lisbon—which are lined with shops, restaurants, fountains and statues of leaders and poets—to be immersed in culture. Step into a bakery to sample a pastel de nata (egg custard tart) for just 1 euro, and then stop at one of the many stands to down a shot of ginja, the signature Portuguese cherry liquor (served in a tiny chocolate cup), for about 1.5 euros. You’ll easily meet your new neighbors who are doing the same!
- One of the safest destinations in the world
- Ranks high among European countries with the least expensive cost of living
- The Golden Visa program streamlines the path to citizenship
- The fastest way to gain citizenship is also the most expensive: buying a property worth at least 500,000 euros.
You may think of Mexico and picture expensive resort areas, but our southern neighbor is known as one of the most affordable spots in the world to retire. It’s not just that the cost of living here is less than it is in the United States (though it definitely is when it comes to housing and food prices)—but there are special savings for seniors in the country too. For example, the INAPAM program, for legal residents ages 60 and up, provides discounts on transportation, prescriptions, utilities and taxes. Even better, the IMMS national health-care system provides full insurance for seniors for less than $100 per month once you’ve established residency. And speaking of those residency requirements, they can take as little as a month to be completed.
Other perks of retiring in Mexico? Of course there’s the sunny, warm weather, as well as the popular sights and destinations in the country to visit. We’re talking archaeological discoveries, breathtaking beaches, lush jungles and the perfect combination of charming towns and vibrant cities.
- Year-round warm weather
- Financial perks for legal residents ages 60 and up via the INAPAM program
- Easy to reach from the United States
- More expats live here than anywhere else in the world, according to International Living, so you may have some competition for housing.
This Central American charmer recently celebrated its 500th anniversary, so it’s definitely had time to perfect the country’s infrastructure (which ranks among the best on International Living’s list), as well as its notable hospitality. Panama also scored highest of all the top retirement destinations for ease in getting a visa. One of the least expensive places to live in the country is also one of the most charming: Pedasi, on the southern tip of Panama. Here, you can expect to pay just $600 a month for an oceanfront home.
Once you’re settled, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the warm weather here: Explore Panama’s rainforest by boat. Tour the old city of Casco Viejo. Visit the Panama Canal. Hike El Valle de Anton. Or simply discover the country’s fascinating gastronomy, an international blend of Native American, Spanish, Latin American, African and Chinese cuisines.
- One of the sunniest countries in the world
- Uses the U.S. dollar as currency, so no need to exchange money or calculate exchange rates
- Easy to get a visa through the Pensionado plan
- If you bring more than $10,000 worth of household goods with you when you move, you’ll have to pay duties on them.
Not only is real estate cheap and the weather beautiful in this South American gem, but Ecuador also offers a range of fabulous benefits for seniors. That includes substantial savings on everything from bus fare to water bills. The country even refunds a percentage of monthly sales tax to seniors living here. And according to International Living, average rents for a multi-bedroom apartment in Cuenca and Quito fall into the $750 to $800 range, and can dip into the $500 range in the rural mountain towns of Cotacachi and Vilcabamba, both of which are popular with expat retirees.
As its name suggests, Ecuador is located on the equator, which means the weather doesn’t change much temperature-wise throughout the year, and there’s nearly 12 hours of daylight every day of the year. You can expect temperatures in the mid-70s in the country’s capital of Quito and the popular expat town of Cuenca, both located in the Andes mountains. Down along the Pacific Coast, temperatures reach into the 80s year-round.
- Consistent weather with little temperature variation
- Uses the U.S. dollar as its currency, so no need to exchange money
- Easy access to the bucket-list destination of the Galápagos Islands
- Inland areas can be located at significant heights in the Andes, which might not suit those sensitive to high altitudes.
The No. 5 pick on International Living’s “World’s Best Places to Retire in 2023,” this Central American country is often lauded by expats for being easy to adjust to and affordable. It’s also beautiful: Costa Rica is renowned for its rainforests, volcanoes and beautiful beaches. Plus, it’s always a great time to visit Costa Rica, since it has a tropical climate year-round.
Even better, it has “no-hassle residence programs, excellent health care, a stable democracy, and safety and security,” says International Living. The Pensionado Programose makes it easy to establish residency. You’ll just need to provide proof that you receive $1,000 a month in retirement or pension funds; that money then needs to be sent to a Costa Rican bank account so it can be used locally.
For year-round lovely weather, many retirees head to the Central Valley area, near the country’s capital of San Jose, which boasts spring-like temperatures all year long. While days here can reach the mid-80s and nights can fall into the 60s, the average temp is a very pleasant 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Another popular spot is the coastal city of Guanacaste, where beaches beckon.
- A tropical paradise with a stable government
- Uses nearly 98% renewable energy
- Can try out living here for up to a year with the Digital Nomad Visa
- The popularity of Costa Rica makes it a slightly more expensive option than some other Central American countries.
When you consider Spain’s 3,000 hours of sunshine every year and its reputation for being a cheap place to travel, it’s easy to see how it could be considered one of the best places to retire. Spain also has a number of special concessions in place for seniors and retirees that grant everything from free museum admission to discounted or complimentary transportation.
Although the cities such as Barcelona and Madrid are world-renowned for their museums and fabulous architecture, heading outside these well-known areas will bring better housing prices, according to Sally Pederson, a contributor to International Living. “In the sunny regions of Valencia and Andalucia,” she writes, “it’s even possible to land a one-bedroom apartment for as little as $700 a month.” FYI, these beautiful coastal areas are just a few hours’ drive from Barcelona and Madrid.
- Three-course meals cost as little as 15 euros per person, even in the big cities.
- Year-round sunshine, as well as consistent temperatures in the 70s and 80s, in Barcelona and along the Mediterranean coast
- Southern Spain can get very hot in the summer, with temperatures peaking above 100 degrees in July and August.
There’s no place quite like Greece anywhere in Europe—or the world, for that matter. Retire here and you can sail the aqua Aegean Sea, lunch in the shadows of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, hike up sacred mountains, and indulge in authentic gyros washed down by ouzo before a night of traditional dancing … and maybe even some plate-smashing, should the mood strike. There are also islands to explore (including party-centric Mykonos, secluded Patmos and postcard-perfect Santorini) and some of the greatest architectural monuments in the world to visit, such as the Acropolis in Athens.
Even better, the cost of living is low in Greece, making it easy to enjoy the excellent food and wine the country is known for. You can also find affordable housing, with average prices ranging from about $860 on the island of Crete to $1,200 in Athens, according to International Living. Plus, a Golden Visa program rewards those who invest in property (for as little as $250,000) with residency for an entire family; the only catch is that it has to be outside city areas.
- The perfect mix of beautiful and interesting
- Some of the best medical care in all of Europe
- The island of Ikaria, located in the Aegean Sea, is one of the world’s five Blue Zones, where people live the longest, and healthiest, lives on the planet.
- It can be surprisingly cool and wet in parts of the mainland in the winter.
Known for its standout cuisine, wine and art, France has consistently dominated the tourism industry and shows no signs of stopping—in fact, it’s set to become the most-visited country in the world by 2025. It may surprise you, though, to discover that France is also one of the best places to retire, and it’s not just about the baguettes, cheese and champagne. “Housing costs are, on average, around 34% less than that of the U.S.,” for areas outside of Paris, writes Tuula Rampont for International Living.
The health-care system here is also a big draw for retirees, with set pricing for doctors (so no surprise bills) of between 8 and 25 euros per visit, depending on whether you have residency. Once you obtain a long-term visa, you’ll have to wait just three months before you have full access to the health-care system.
- Affordable health care and world-class medical facilities
- Excellent transportation options—including high-speed trains that can take you from Paris to Provence and the Marseilles, plus regular rails that traverse the country—so you can easily live here without a car
- Although the countryside has affordable housing, Paris is quite expensive.
There’s a widespread belief that Italy is an expensive country to live, according to International Living, and this myth “is exacerbated by hundreds of thousands of tourists who flock to well-known Italian destinations [such as] Venice, Rome, Florence, Naples, Milan and Tuscany, and come home with tales of beauty, and expense.” But for the 50 million Italians who live in the country year-round outside of the tourist areas, Italy costs about half of what it costs to live in the United States. Yes, you read that right: half.
Plus, Italy has so many different regions, depending on what you want in retirement. There are historic cities like Rome, gorgeous hill towns dotting the Tuscan countryside, beaches in Cinque Terre and south in Sicily, and picturesque islands, lakes and mountains. We could go on, but you get the idea!
- Something for everyone
- Pasta, wine and gelato are part of the culture here.
- The top-scoring country on International Living’s list for affordable cost of living in Europe
- Getting a long-term visa requires proof of housing, as well as a number of financial requirements.
Known as the Land of Smiles, the peaceful Buddhist nation of Thailand offers a low cost of living and great weather, along with loads of opportunities for relaxation, adventure, culture and culinary delights. And retirees can indulge in normally expensive luxuries on a regular basis because they’re all super affordable. Here’s an idea of just how affordable we’re talking: You can get a two-hour massage at a spa for less than $10; incredible local cuisine with entrées around $1; and transportation, including tuk-tuk rides that zip through the streets of Bangkok, for $1.50 an hour.
Just keep in mind that though the islands can be very inexpensive, prices do rise at the peak of tourism season, so staying in the mountains for the majority of your time might be a safer bet. Consider Chiang Mai, where a centrally located one-bedroom will cost you around $310 per month, or the quieter Chiang Rai, where you can get a three-bedroom for $340.
- Incredibly affordable
- An easy base to explore Southeast Asia, thanks to its status as an air-transportation hub
- Gorgeous, world-renowned beaches
- Flights back to the United States can be pricey.
First, we need to point out that this Central American country is safer than you think. You’ll find colorful, colonial architecture and stunning street murals in popular cities including Cartagena, Bogota and Medellín. You can learn to salsa, indulge in bandeja paisa (the national dish) or take a day trip to the Eje Cafetero region for some of the world’s most coveted coffee, which is plentiful and cheap. Or spend your weekends lounging beside the crystal-clear Caribbean or take a detour to explore the Amazon rainforest.
You can also relax knowing that your health-care costs will run only about $35 a month (yes, you read that right) and that you can get a Qualified Retired Person (QRP) visa here by showing just $700 a month received in social security (pension) payments. It’s a surprisingly straightforward process that can be started online before you even arrive in the country.
- Easy to get a retiree visa
- Affordable health care—just $35 per month!
- Warm weather and lovely beaches
- Not all areas of the country have modern infrastructure.
Safe, stable and transparent are the words most often used to describe this country, which is known as the Switzerland of South America. Uruguay boasts one of the lowest rates of corruption in the region, according to Live and Invest Overseas editor and publisher Kathleen Peddicord. In particular, she recommends the capital and largest city, Montevideo, as one of the safest spots in the world to retire. Plus, the exchange rate, from Uruguayan pesos to U.S. dollars, is currently 38 to 1, so Americans will get great value for their money when they arrive.
And don’t worry—you’ll find plenty to do here. The country has something for everyone: beaches along the Atlantic Coast (including popular Punta del Este), vineyards in the mountains, hiking trails and sports. Trust us, before you know it, you’ll be rooting for one of Uruguay’s fabulous soccer teams!
- Peaceful country with a well-regarded government
- Has four seasons, with a mostly temperate climate
- Strong exchange rate for Americans
- Uruguay is bordered by Brazil and Argentina, which both have less stable governments.
Another European entry on this year’s retirement list, the island of Malta is located in the central Mediterranean, south of Italy, and it enjoys warm temperatures year round. Malta has two official languages—English and Maltese—and it’s estimated that nearly 90% of the population speaks English, since it was once a British commonwealth. Beach lovers will appreciate the orange-colored beach of Ramla Bay and the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon, while history buffs will want to wander the ancient streets of Valletta and explore some of the oldest ruins in the world, such as the Megalithic Temples of Malta.
The island nation is also a safe place to live, with great health care (private health care is particularly cheap) and low monthly bills, according to Live and Invest Overseas.
- One of the most stable governments in the world
- Temperate year-round climate, with lows in the 60s and highs in the 80s
- Almost everyone speaks English in Malta
- Housing costs here tend to be high.
No, the Emerald Isle isn’t known for sunshine or fabulously warm weather, but its beautiful rolling green hillsides make up in scenery what it lacks in sun. Due to its safety and conviviality, Ireland is also one of the top picks for solo travelers and retirees. Make your way to Galway’s Quay Street or Dublin’s O’Connell Street, to experience Ireland’s legendary pub life and make new friends over shared pints. Killarney and Cork are popular spots outside the main city area for a mix of outdoor beauty and easy access to transportation, which makes them fantastic places for you to put down roots.
And here’s something you’ll definitely want to know: Live and Invest Overseas reports that more than 40 million people of Irish descent live in the United States. This is significant, because if you have just one Irish grandparent and were born before 2004 (and if you’re ready for retirement, you fit into this age category), you are eligible for citizenship. This means you can qualify for an EU passport, allowing you to live—or work—anywhere in the European Union.
- May be automatically eligible for citizenship if you have Irish ancestry
- English is the main language spoken here (though you’ll also hear Gaelic)
- You’ll need to invest in rain boots.
Located 40 miles off the northern coast of Honduras, Roatán is the largest of the Bay Islands and one of the most popular destinations in Central America both for vacations and retirement. Ringed by the massive Mesoamerican Reef, it’s renowned for its abundant marine life, and it’s one of the premier snorkeling and scuba diving spots in the world. If your retirement plans include underwater exploration, this is the place for you.
The island also scored high marks on International Living’s cost-of-living index, with rent for a two-bedroom apartment in an upscale development costing about $500 to $1,000 per month.
- Gorgeous weather and plenty of warm water to dive into
- Robust expat community
- Island location makes travel more complicated.