Best Places To Retire in the World

From seeking warmer weather to living someplace where your money will go farther, there are many advantages to retiring abroad. Several countries stand out for their safety, ease of attaining a visa and health care systems as benefits to supplement the retiree lifestyle.

Is It Safe to Retire Outside of the U.S.?

The COVID-19 pandemic placed an important emphasis on some areas to consider if you’re planning to move abroad. How countries fared against the pandemic varied worldwide, and that’s important to keep in mind in the event of another health crisis in the future.

Nations with a strong and accessible health care system, solid infrastructure and an effective government are your best bet. Countries that fit this description have plenty of Americans and even communities of expats.

You should also always thoroughly research the city or region you plan to retire in before committing to a destination. Like the U.S., many countries have completely safe towns and cities but also areas that you should avoid.

Best Places to Retire Abroad

Many places abroad could make for a good retirement spot, depending on your preferred lifestyle and interests.

Here are a few of the best and most popular places you may want to research if you plan to retire abroad.

Costa Rica

The average cost of living for one person:
$874 (rent and expenses)
Health care coverage:
21st most efficient health system in 2020
Ease of obtaining a visa:
Easy

You may think of some spots in Europe as more classical retirement destinations for Americans, but Costa Rica is a tropical paradise with many benefits.

If you love the outdoors and adventure, then this country could be an excellent choice. Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse nations globally and includes everything from rainforests to volcanoes to cities.

With a very low cost of living, your money can go far in Costa Rica, allowing you to live out a high lifestyle in a country close to home. It takes less than a three-hour flight from Miami to arrive in this Central American country, which also sits in the same time zone as Texas and Louisiana.

The primary language in Costa Rica is Spanish, but there are plenty of English speakers thanks to how critical tourism is to the country. It also has a top-notch medical system and is not difficult to retire in.

According to the U.S. News and World Report, you need proof that you are set to receive at least $1,000 a month in income. These funds can be from Social Security. Given that even the most basic income exceeds the monthly cost of living in Costa Rica, you should be able to set up a relaxing retirement.

France

The average cost of living for one person:
$1,407 (rent and expenses)
Health care coverage:
34th most efficient health system in 2020, but you’ll likely need private insurance
Ease of obtaining a visa:
Medium

Situated squarely in the middle of Western Europe, France is one of the world’s cultural capitals. If you have money to live up to a higher standard in retirement, then France is the destination for you.

You’ll have plenty of options on where to settle. Paris is a great option if you enjoy city life and have more money, but there are many small towns scattered throughout the country.

If you’ve always hoped to travel in retirement, France is also a great launching point to visit many other sought-after destinations like Italy or the United Kingdom.

Obtaining a visa to retire in France can be a little difficult, especially if you are not retiring with a lot of money. You need to provide proof of income and health insurance. While France’s health system is one of the best in the world, you’ll also need your private health insurance to access it.

Mexico

The average cost of living for one person:
$576 (rent and expenses)
Health care coverage:
50th most efficient health system in 2020
Ease of obtaining a visa:
Easy

If you’re ready to get out of the U.S., Mexico is a good option, but not too far from home. The country also has a significant population of expats, meaning you could probably find a community of Americans to assimilate.

One of Mexico’s most significant benefits is its low cost of living. It’s another nation where your money will go far, and your retirement savings can support a lifestyle that wouldn’t be tenable back in the U.S.

The country also offers warm weather, beaches and many other perks that would be part of a dream retirement.

And health care shouldn’t be a concern. According to CNBC, many referral services are available to high-quality, English-speaking medical services in parts of the country with significant expat populations. If you plan to move to Mexico, it is important to do your research since some parts of the country can be dangerous. But there are plenty of areas that are perfectly safe for retirees.

Did You Know?
Medicare coverage is limited outside the United States. You may want to consider widening your coverage with additional plans if you decide to retire abroad.

Panama

The average cost of living for one person:
$1,107 (rent and expenses)
Health care coverage:
28th most efficient health system in 2020
Ease of obtaining a visa:
Medium

Situated at the bottom of Central America, Panama works to make Americans want to retire there. According to the U.S. News and World Report, it offers one of the most generous retiree packages in the world. There are plenty of benefits and discounts available to retirees and significant expat communities in places like Panama City and Boquete.

There is also good medical care available that is significantly cheaper than what you can get in the U.S.

Panama has the added benefit of being relatively close to and in the same time zone as much of the U.S. It also shares a border with Costa Rica, offering a similar environment and activities.

Portugal

The average cost of living for one person:
$967 (rent and expenses)
Health care coverage:
28th most efficient health system in 2020
Ease of obtaining a visa:
Medium

If your heart is set on retiring in Europe, Portugal offers a more affordable way to do so. Situated to the west of Spain, Portugal is full of coastal cities, seafood and open ocean. All of Western Europe is about the same size as the American South, so you’re never far away from many of the great cities of the world as well.

You can obtain a visa if you invest in property in Portugal, usually worth close to 300,000 euros. You will need to get private health insurance, but it should be much cheaper than what is available in the U.S.

Portugal is also one of a few countries that offer a straightforward path to citizenship, which comes with many additional benefits once you have lived there a few years.

Spain

The average cost of living for one person:
$1,215 (rent and expenses)
Health care coverage:
15th most efficient health system in 2020
Ease of obtaining a visa:
Medium

Spain is on the Western coast of Europe and offers easy access to the rest of the continent. From the capital of Madrid to Catalonia and the thriving city of Barcelona, there are plenty of retirement options.

Spanish life can be more relaxed and slower, which is ideal for many retirees looking for a place to settle down. The weather is excellent, and there are many expat communities that you could join.

But it is a more complex country to retire in, and you’ll need money. To get a visa, you will likely need to make a significant property investment of 500,000 euros. But if the cost of living isn’t a major concern in your retirement and destination, Spain can be an intriguing option.

Canada

The average cost of living for one person:
$1,554 (rent and expenses)
Health care coverage:
27th most efficient health system in 2020
Ease of obtaining a visa:
Hard

If you are looking to retire outside of the U.S. without completely uprooting your life or moving far away from family and friends, Canada is a solid option. While it is as close to the U.S. as you can get, it also shares many cultural similarities with America. In fact, according to the Social Security Administration, more than 100,000 Americans are taking Social Security from Canada.

Canada is an excellent option if you’re looking to split your retirement between two places since you can get a visa to spend half of each year there. However, becoming a full-time resident can be very difficult and not always obtainable.

Tips on Planning Your Retirement Abroad

One of the most important things you can do if you plan to retire abroad is to spend a significant amount of time in your target country before committing. Try to stay for a couple of months if you can, don’t treat the trip like a vacation and go about your day-to-day activities to see if you can be happy there.

It’s also essential to research and understand your tax and visa obligations. Visas are obtainable for many countries but becoming a permanent resident can be much more difficult and take years.

You’ll also likely need private health insurance, which you must solve before you can move. If you can, speak with a financial planner to assure your move is feasible and that you can thrive financially in your desired destination.

Last Modified: August 25, 2021

12 Cited Research Articles

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