The 17 Best Places to Retire in the World: Explore Unexpected Locations!

You might be surprised by some of the best places to retire in the world. A growing number of American retirees are moving to extremely far-flung locations. They find that retiring overseas can be more affordable and more fun than staying in the U.S.

When evaluating life in another country, you’ll want to consider what you are leaving behind here in the United States, but also what you are gaining as an expatriate. Here are 17 of the best places to retire in the world — including some truly unexpected places.

Get ready for some fun browsing!

best places to retire in the world

Does Retirement Abroad Improve Your Retirement Finances?

There are affordable places to live in all corners of the world and with a wide range of environments.

If moving abroad in your retirement sounds like something you would like to explore, the internet has a vast number of resources to help you.

  1. Get inspired by the lists below.
  2. Do a little more research. Identify the costs for food, housing, and healthcare and make sure that the country welcomes retirees by researching visa and residency requirements. You will also want to explore the availability of healthcare and assess the safety concerns. Banking and taxes are other factors to consider.
  3. Once you have an idea of what life might look like (and cost) in your target destination, plug in the costs of retirement abroad into the NewRetirement Planner to assess the real financial impact of your move.

The Planner gives you fast answers about your retirement finances. Instantly see how your retirement plans and finances could change if you sell your house to move abroad. How much earlier can you retire if you lower your cost of living?

How the Best Places to Retire in the World Are Determined

Different indexes use different ranking criteria. The two most popular rankings come from Live and Invest Overseas and International Living.

Live and Invest Overseas rates the best places to retire in the world on 12 categories: climate, cost of living, English spoken, entertainment, environmental conditions, existing expat community, health care, infrastructure, real estate, residency options, safety, and taxes.

International Living (email required, and you need to buy their report): does rankings based on interviews. They say, “Our index is informed by hundreds of opinions and real-life experiences — information — compiled by our trusted sources in the best retirement destinations across the globe.”

Top Countries to Retire Abroad

Europe, South, and Central America and also Asia boast great places to retire. The following are in no particular order.

1. Ecuador

Ecuador is one of the most ecologically diverse places on the planet. It straddles the equator, is extremely mountainous, and sits on the Pacific Ocean – giving the country a wide variety of climates and terrain. Choose the mountains, beach, or a colonial city for your retirement.

Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as its currency, making retirement planning a little bit easier. It boasts an incredibly affordable cost of living. And, Ecuador’s health care system is among the best in Latin America — even the world. The country ranks high on Bloomberg’s listings.

U.S. News and World Report has a guide to retirement in Ecuador.

2. Portugal

Portugal is another country ranked highly by both Live and Invest Overseas and International Living.

Like Ecuador, Portugal offers a variety of terrain. It is famous for a beautiful Atlantic coastline, a thriving wine region, and vibrant European cities.

Property is affordable as is the overall cost of living. It is estimated that you can comfortably get by on $2,500 in larger cities and on significantly less in smaller towns or villages.

Learn about retirement in Portugal at

3. Mexico

Some people hear Mexico and think of corruption, drugs, and illegal immigration to the United States.

Other people think white sand beaches, clear warm water, jungle breezes, icy margaritas, and a fantastic place to retire.

The indexes seem to agree with the latter as they rank numerous cities in Mexico as excellent places to retire. Playa del Carmen, Mexico is one such city. The number of foreigners living in Playa del Carmen is extremely high, making up about 7% of its total population, the report found. Even more, about 65% of real estate buyers are American.

If you’re looking to invest, Playa del Carmen may also be attractive with 12% annual appreciation and rental yields between 5% and 10%, according to Live and Invest Overseas. Property taxes are also an extremely affordable, 0.1% per year.

Learn more from Escape Artist or Mexperience.

4. Panama

Panama is another Central American destination that is super popular with American retirees. It offers a range of lifestyle options. However, Investopedia estimates that a realistic starting point for a retired couple would be about $2,000 per month to cover basic housing and living costs.

And, with both private and public healthcare systems, you have options. Most retirees opt for private services which are incredibly affordable. A local insurance plan costs about $145 a month for a couple in their 60s and pays between 50% and 70% of most healthcare expenses.

Learn more from Panama for Beginners.

5. Malta

Aside from the appealing fact that the second official language in Malta is English, the country boasts rich European culture, plenty of entertainment and is ranked the fifth-best in the world for its health care systems and standards.

Also, becoming a resident of Malta is very affordable. There is no pensioner visa available in Malta, but it offers a Global Residence Program for non-EU citizens, which can allow you to qualify by renting a place to live for as little as about $900 per month.

Get more details from Malta Inside and Out.

6. France

Most of us think of France as a relatively expensive place and more of a destination for an expensive dream vacation than retirement. Champagne and couture, anyone?

Paris is indeed one of the least affordable cities in the world. However, in the countryside affordable and picturesque villages abound — Brittany on the Atlantic, Pezenas, and Dordogne near the mountains, or the Languedoc region near the Mediterranean.

Speaking French is an asset for retiring in France. And since learning a second language is a great way to keep your brain young and vibrant, maybe France is actually an ideal place to retire.

Expatica covers many financial details for retirees interested in moving to France.

7. Vietnam

This country, once a foe, is friendly to United States citizens and English is widely spoken.

A tropical climate, friendly people and great food are some of the many reasons to retire to Vietnam. Nevermind that it is incredibly affordable. Many expats in Vietnam estimate that you can live quite comfortably for about $1,000 a month.

Getting a retirement visa involves opening a company, but it is relatively easy to do.

Get more information from Living in Southeast Asia.

8. Italy

A couple of years ago the town of Sambuca on Sicily made news because they were selling homes for one Euro (just over a dollar).

So, yes, Italy can be extremely affordable for retirees. More realistically though, estimates that the cost of living in Italy is, on average, 1.30% lower than in United States. And, rent in Italy is, on average, 48.28% lower.

Get more information at Italy Magazine.

9. Costa Rica

While Costa Rica is more expensive overall than some of the other popular retirement destinations, it is still more affordable than living in the United States.

According to international consumer price data gathered by, the average person living in Phoenix faces an overall cost of living more than 34-percent higher than the average person living in San Jose. In another example, the cost of living in San Diego is more than 76-percent higher than in San Jose.

Beware of housing costs, but be aware you get a piece of somewhere pretty special. From long stretches of undeveloped beaches and green-carpeted mountains to volcanoes and dense jungles teeming with exotic wildlife, this Central American country is a “nature-lover’s dream.”

Get tips for retiring to Costa Rica from the Tico Times.

10. Greece

Experts say that (depending on location) housing can be 75% less expensive in Greece than in the United States. And, just imagine living near the blue sea on a life extending Mediterranean diet.

11. Slovenia

The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, is abundant with art, culture, architecture, and history. The second-richest of the 13 Slavic countries, Slovenia is among neighbors Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia in central Europe. Violent crime in Slovenia, as a whole, is unheard of, therefore ranking the country the 10th safest in the world. Though it is not a well-known city, a couple could live comfortably for under $1,500 per month in Ljubljana.

Explore Move2Slovenia

12. Cambodia

Cambodia is hardly the first place most people think of as a retirement destination. In fact, many of us think of Cambodia and have horrific images of war, landmines, and poverty.

However, the contemporary reality is much more appealing. This is a land of warm weather, nice people and a very low cost of living. While Cambodia has its own currency, most transactions are done in U.S. dollars — making it relatively easy for foreigners to navigate day to day living.

Siem Reap is one town to consider. It has an international airport and the location attracts thousands of tourists due to the proximity to the spectacular temples of Angkor.

Learn more from Move to Cambodia.

13. Philippines

Political leadership aside, the Philippines is full of tropical beauty. It is one of the largest island chains in the world.

While not all places in the Philippines are equally safe and comfortable for foreigners, find the right little spot and you can live very well for very little.

The expat exchange reports that most expats live comfortably in the Philippines for $1200 a month – which is indeed less than the average Social Security check.

14. Peru

The ancient land of the Incan culture also offers modern city living and gorgeous Pacific coastlines.

According to International Living, a couple can retire comfortably in Peru for about $1,000 a month (including rent), and single expats can live on even less.

Learn more from Traveling and Living in Peru.

15. Thailand

Have you had Thai food? It is delicious and might be good enough reason to retire to Thailand. But, don’t forget gorgeous beaches, beautiful mountains and one of the most exciting cities in the world, Bangkok. It also boasts a friendly culture, top-notch healthcare and inexpensive housing.

Here is a step by step guide to retiring in Thailand.

16. Spain

Experts say it is possible to live in Spain for as low as $25,000 a year. However, your actual cost of living will vary greatly depending on where you end up in this country. Popular cities for expats include: Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, San Sebastián, Alicante, and Málaga.

While it is possible to find other English speakers, knowing Spanish would be a definite plus.

Learn more at Spanish Living.

17. Indonesia

Beautiful. Exotic. Full of traffic. These all describe Bali, Indonesia.

While Bali (the most popular Indonesian tourist destination) is relatively affordable for retirees, if you really want to make your dollar last, try one of the other islands in Indonesia that are less touristed.

Learn more from Indonesia Expat.

The post The 17 Best Places to Retire in the World: Explore Unexpected Locations! appeared first on NewRetirement.

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