Best Countries to Retire in 2023
Whether you’re toying with the idea of retiring abroad or you are firmly set on the concept and are now just searching for the best country, this article has you covered. Choosing to retire abroad is a big decision but one that will change the latter years of your life entirely.
One of the most difficult aspects of choosing retirement abroad is the destination. How on earth do you decide on a location when there are 195 countries across seven diversely stunning continents, all with their own unique perks and charms?
This list of the top 10 best countries of the world to retire in will help spark your inspiration and hopefully allow you to live that dream life abroad. There are so many practical factors to consider when moving abroad and perhaps even more when you decide to retire abroad. Compiling all that information can be a tiresome task, but lucky for you, we’ve summarized the best spots to settle down for a fantastic fun-filled retirement.
Some couples or individuals choosing to retire from the U.S. will want to move abroad full-time, whilst others will choose to live just a couple of months a year in a new country. Whatever you decide, there are a ton of factors you need to consider. Are you searching for somewhere with a super affordable cost of living? Perhaps your primary concern is a top-quality, affordable healthcare system.
Or maybe you want your retirement years to be jam-packed with adventure and cultural activities? These top 10 retirement destinations have something for everyone. There are European, Latin American, Central American, and Asian locations for you to discover. Using a combination of experience, opinions, and up-to-date information, you can use this guide to create your own priorities and travel requirements.
Fancy a retirement on a quiet Mediterranean island? Many people will look at the idyllic landscapes of Cyprus and perhaps assume that this luxurious lifestyle comes at a heavy price. But Cyprus is a very affordable place to live or retire to.
Cyprus is unfortunately defined by the Greek-Turkish division, with a Green Line dividing the island in two after the Turkish invasion of the island state in 1974. There are Greek Cypriots in the south and Turkish Cypriots in the north. Despite this political division, it is only actually Turkey that recognizes the northern part of the island as an independent state (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus). The EU and the rest of the world view the northern past as belonging to Cyprus (Greek-Cypriot side).
Cyprus is defined by its two stunning mountain ranges, the Troodos and the Kyrenia Mountains. The southern area of Cyprus offers a mesmerizing coastline. The northern peninsula actually has far more beaches than the south; but all the popular beaches and touristy areas are in the south.
Cyprus’ affordable living, attractive real estate deals, year-round sunshine, and beautiful coastline is beginning to attract many retirees to this nation.
Cyprus’ summer is between mid-May and mid-October and is characterized by dry summers. Winter is from November to mid-March and is usually mild and rainy and experiences changeable weather. Annual average temperatures are between 60˚F and 66˚F. The average annual precipitation is around 463 mm.
Cyprus offers retirees a laid-back island lifestyle. Cyprus embodies that idyllist Mediterranean lifestyle. Spending time with family and friends is on the agenda for most locals. Because of this family time you will have to get used to stores closing early to accommodate for it.
When you are not enjoying life with family and friends, head down to the local beaches, and explore the ocean and ancient sites like Kourion.
Cyprus is a really affordable EU retirement destination. Cyprus’ currency is the Euro.
Cyprus is an excellent place to make property investments as they are still more affordable than most of Europe.
There are two ways to gain residence in Cyprus. Firstly, having arrived as a tourist (U.S. citizens currently do not require a visa for stays up to 90 days) you can then apply for a temporary residence permit; if approved this has to be renewed annually. After a stay of five years, you can then apply to be a permanent resident.
Alternatively, you can take advantage of the Cyprus Golden Visa. In other European nations the figure of investment to obtain this visa is extremely high. However, Cyprus’ Visa program starts at an investment of €300,000. This investment can be in the form of residential property or a share of capital in a Cypriot company or units of a Cyprus Collective Investment Organization.
Move to Cyprus and you’ll experience inexpensive, top quality healthcare. To be entitled to Cyprus’s public health system, you must have a residency permit, be a Cypriot or be from the EU.
If you don’t fall into any of these categories, then you can certainly choose private healthcare in Cyprus. It is widely available and affordable and the standard of care is excellent. Medical professionals are mostly English-speaking and used to performing complex surgeries as well as providing dental and psychiatric care.
Expats can purchase property in Cyprus but for non-EU nationals, there are a few hurdles and restrictions. Non-EU citizens are only allowed to purchase around an acre of land or one house or apartment. All expatriates are required to apply for permission to purchase property before buying from the Council of Ministers.
Cyprus might be an island, but there are so many great places to live. Cyprus offers a vibrant urban lifestyle and majestic sites and places that still feel relatively untouched.
Limassol has become a very popular area for retirees looking to lead an active lifestyle. There are golf courses, running groups, wonderful beaches, and plenty of places to swim.
· Paphos is another coastal gem which is really set up for retirees. Paphos experiences delightful weather for 9 months of the year.
When it comes to retiring abroad, the world really is your oyster. From Latin America to Asia, Europe and beyond, there are so many incredible countries that U.S. citizens can retire in. All of these destinations have their own unique appeals that are suitable for all types of retirees.
For a long time now, Spain has been a retirement destination that has enticed people from all over the world. Spain is the European country with the most American residents, with the American expat population growing by 13% between 2019 and 2021. So, why are so many Americans choosing to live in Spain? And why is it seen as an attractive retirement destination?
When you think of Spain, chances are you conjure up images of a pastel-coloured villa on top of a hill with a beautiful flower covered courtyard. This really can be your retirement, and throw in deep blue seas, beaches, thriving cities and endless sunshine and you can begin to see the attraction.
Spain borders Portugal to the west and France and Andorra in the northeast. Interestingly at its narrowest point the distance between Spain and Morocco is just 14.5 km (around 8 nautical miles).
As western Europe’s second largest country, Spain offers a diverse range of terrains, landscapes, cultures, and lifestyles. With around 3,100 miles of coastline, Spain boasts some of the best beaches in the world. Spain is also home to some stunning and somewhat surprising mountain ranges. The Sierra Nevada is one of the country’s most famous mountain ranges in the southern province of Andalusia.
Whether you choose to live by the coast, in Spain’s electric cities or in the mountains, retiring in Spain is always a good idea.
On the whole Spain’s inland climate is temperate with hot summers and cold in winter. By the coast, summers are mild and winters are cool. Did you know that Spain is the most climatically diverse country in Europe?
Madrid, located inland, experiences average winter temperatures of 37˚F and summer temperatures of 87˚F. Marbella experiences highs of 75˚F and lows of 52˚F in January, the coldest month.
One of the major differences between American and Spanish culture is the organization of the day. Typically, lunch is served between 2pm and 3pm and followed by the famous siesta. This also means that businesses close during the day, making it a little tricky to do things sometimes. Once you get used to the sleepy lifestyle though, you’ll be embracing the laidback retirement that Spain offers.
From architectural and UNESCO World Heritage sites like Alhambra and Albaicín in Granada to the old town of Salamanca Spain is a feast for anyone with a historical eye. For those who love the outdoors head to Parque Nacional de Los Picos de Europa or the Timanfaya National Park.
The cost of living in Spain is affordable. Many claim to be able to live modestly on around $2,000 a month. Even in places like Madrid, you can still live an affordable life and rent is a little if not a lot cheaper than in the U.S. On average the cost of living in Spain is 28.9% lower than in the U.S. That should be enough to get you excited about life in sunny Spain.
Spain offers a Non-Lucrative Visa and Residence Permit that is often referred to as a retirement visa. If you meet the requirements of this visa, then you will be granted a one year residence permit. The first and second renewals are for two years each so combined would be a total of five years. After this you will be entitled to a Long Duration Residence visa.
The requirements for this visa include:
· The equivalent of $27,792 in a bank account / pension income of $2,316 a month
· Extra money in your account for any dependents
· Proof of private healthcare
· Clean criminal record issued by the FBI
· Letter from a doctor certifying that you have no infectious diseases
· Some consulates require proof of accommodation
Spain might have a relatively low cost of living, but the taxes are some of Europe’s highest.
Spain has an excellent healthcare system. Generally speaking, however, non-EU retirees do not have access to the Spanish healthcare system and will instead be required to take out private insurance. Spanish healthcare ranks among the top ten healthcare systems in the world.
If you just have a minor ailment, you should take advantage of Spain’s farmacias (pharmacies) where trained professionals are more than happy to offer advice and prescriptions.
Spain has been a popular property destination for a long time. Purchasing real estate in Spain is split up into three phases. First, you need to make an offer, second enter into a private contract, and finally, the process of completion.
The great thing about Spain’s real estate market is that there are no restrictions for foreigners buying real estate. Whilst the property market certainly is not booming like it once was if you are determined you can still find a myriad of properties.
Depending on what you like and the lifestyle you want, Spain has an eclectic range of destinations to consider. Indulge in Spain’s culture in major cities, find solace in the countryside or work on that year round tan by the coast.
Here are some of the top places to retire to in Spain:
· The Costa del Sol is located on the southern Mediterranean coast and includes places like Malaga and Marbella. This is a popular retirement and expat destination, especially among Brits.
· The Costa Blanca is home to resorts like Benidorm and Denia. Near perfect year round weather and temperatures of around 80˚F and winter lows of 40˚F make for an appealing climate.
· Barcelona is known for its Gaudi architecture and is a popular tourist destination. If you are looking to be surrounded by culture and a plethora of things to see and do, then Barcelona is a no brainer.
The Dominican Republic (DR) is a beautiful Caribbean Island located in the Greater Antilles. Look at a map and you will notice that the landmass is shared by both the DR and Haiti. The island borders the Caribbean Sea to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the north.
Retirees can enjoy this stunning Caribbean destination with the knowledge that they are just a 4 hour plane ride (from New York) from home. It is the perfect retirement destination to still be able to be in contact with family and friends back home but enjoy a widely different lifestyle.
The Dominican Republic was colonized by both the French and the Spanish from the 16th century, but it declared independence from Haiti in 1844 before finally winning its independence from Spanish rule in 1865.
From the busy resort town of Punta Cana to the Caribbean’s largest city Santo Domingo, the DR is an idyllic paradise that offers that laidback lifestyle some of you will have been dreaming about for years.
The DR is defined by its tropical climate, with conditions year round being warm and humid. Winter is between December and February when temperatures range between 68˚F and 77˚F and the warmer of June to November temperatures are around 77˚F to 80˚C.
Rainfall occurs all year with the heaviest precipitation in the northeast of the country. Here rainfall can exceed 2,500 mm annually, whereas in the southwest there will be less than 760 mm of rain a year.
The activities you can enjoy in the Dominican Republic will lead you outdoors creating a happy and healthy environment for retirement. There are so many incredible activities to enjoy not just as a one off but to incorporate in your daily life
· Explore cultural sites in Santo Domingo
· Discover waterfalls like La Rejoya, Salto del Gallo and Salto de Socoa
· Go whale watching
· Walk along countless beaches
· Relax at Punta Cana
The list goes on.
The Dominican Republic is one of the least expensive places to live in Latin America. A monthly budget of around $1,2000 will allow you to live comfortably in the Dominican Republic. Stretching your budget to $2,000 a month would allow you to live a more lavish lifestyle, with a larger home and a wider variety of entertainment options.
Even in cities like Santo Domingo and tourist areas like Punta Cana the cost of living is much more affordable than in the U.S.
So, how easy is it to retire in the Dominican Republic? Well, it is fairly simple, apart from there is a lot of paperwork to get through. But with visas and living abroad there is always inevitable paperwork.
People wishing to relocate to the Dominican Republic should first apply for a residence visa from a Dominican consulate abroad and then head to the Department of Migration within 60 days of arriving in the Dominican Republic to apply for a provisional residence permit. It should be noted when filling out all of the application forms, there should be an English and Spanish copy and both copies need to be notarized.
If you are thinking of retiring to the Dominican Republic, then you will more than likely opt for the Pensionado Visa. This visa requires you to have at least $1,500 per month in your account, plus $250 for any dependents.
In terms of taxes one of the big ones to be aware of is capital gains. The DR’s capital gains taxes are 27%. This means if you invest in real estate and sell for a profit you will be taxed on the profit you make.
You are considering moving to a Caribbean Island then you are going to want to know what their healthcare system is lik . Well, there’s no avoiding the fact that the Dominican Republic’s healthcare system, though super affordable, is a little dilapidated in places.
It once again comes to the decision between public and private healthcare. The government funded free healthcare is not up to standards you would be used to in the States. Equipment, medicine, and staff are often lacking at public healthcare facilities. It has even been known that family and friends must provide bedding and food when their family member is hospitalized.
But don’t fear, if you have your heart set on retiring in the Dominican Republic, then you can opt to use some of the nation’s excellent private healthcare facilities. Santo Domingo has top-tier hospitals with all the amenities and services you would require. Often the staff are bilingual. These private hospitals will also perform difficult surgeries like organ transplants and also offer psychiatric care.
The Dominican Republic has certainly become much safer in terms of real estate. Property titles are being taken more seriously and the laws are being followed much more than they once were. Major government initiatives have resulted in the cleaning up of the DR’s real estate market.
Both houses and apartments are widely available throughout the country and are accessible to foreigners. It is also nice to know that residents and non-residents enjoy the same property purchasing and ownership rights. One of the big differences between the Dominican Republic and back home is the written contracts. In the DR, verbal agreements are made between the buyer and seller and then a Promise of Sale is prepared by an attorney which is signed by both parties.
When it comes to places to live in the DR there are plenty of options. Here are some of the top places to live:
· Playa Dominicus is ideal if you are searching for idyllic beach fronts with some lively bars and restaurants.
· Las Terrenas on the Samana Peninsula allows you to step away from the commercialization and live an authentic DR life.
· Casa de Campo is another dreamy coastal spot, but prices are elevated compared to other DR destinations. If you are looking for a more upscale lifestyle this is an ideal place. You can frequent the country clubs and fancy hotels for dinner.
· It’s hard to mention the best places to live in the Dominican Republic without mentioning the capital city Santo Domingo. This is the largest city in the Caribbean by population. Places like Piantini and Naco are cosmopolitan areas of town that attract more expatriates.
There is no denying that Italy is one of the most characterful, charming, and architecturally stunning countries in Europe. But have you ever considered retiring in Italy?
The Snow capped Alps, historical cities, the Amalfi coast, vineyard filled countryside and that’s just Italy’s landscape. The nation’s culture, food, and lifestyle is another perk for tourists and retirees to revel in. Retiring in Italy offers people that slower pace of life. Having local coffee mornings, evening strolls and above all else enjoying life’s delights is what is important in Italian culture.
Italy is bordered by Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, and France. There’s also San Marino and the Vatican City. Italy has around 7500 km of coastline and is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, more specifically, the Adriatic Sea to the northeast, the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Southwest, the Ionian Sea to the southeast and the Ligurian Sea to the northwest.
Once the home of the Romans and their empire today cities like Rome, Pompeii and Neapolis are thriving. Whether you choose to be in these historic cities, by the coast, in the countryside or in the mountains, you can enjoy your retirement in Italy.
Italy has a temperate Mediterranean climate as it is surrounded by sea. Though many picture a sunny climate the truth is that Italy (depending on where you are) does have distinct seasons.
Central Italy (including Rome and Florence) experiences dry and hot summers with daytime temperatures of 86°F, sometimes exceeding 104°F. Winters are wet and mild but temperatures rarely drop below 32°F.
In Northern Italy (places like Lombardy and Veneto) there are more mild summers and colder winters with the possibility of snow. Cities like Milan and Venice can experience 104°F temperatures.
Southern Italy is different once again and is known for its extremely hot and dry summers and windy rainy and cold winters. Snowfall is not unusual inland, with ski resorts like Sicily’s Mount Etna opening in winter.
With all this talk of heat you might be wondering what happened to the Italian snow. Snow starts arriving in the Dolomites in December and lasts until March sometimes into April. Average monthly temperatures for February are around 48.2°F to 28.4°F.
Lifestyle & Activities
Generally speaking, Italians value all aspects of life, including family, food and having fun. If you choose to retire in Italy your lifestyle will be a celebration of coffee, exquisite food, fine wines, family, friends, and a good time.
There’s so much to see and do in Italy, you could happily spend years and years of your retirement there still ticking off everything on your list.
Just think of Italy’s stunning architecture, the Duomo di Milano, the nearly 2000 year old Colosseum and the 1372 Leaning Tower of Pisa. Cities like Venice and Florence are effortlessly charming. Then for waterside luxury head to Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast.
If you want to spend your retirement years exploring, traveling, and experiencing new things Italy is the place to be.
Picture Europe and your heart might sink in terms of the cost of living but believe it or not compared to the U.S. or Canada the cost of living in Italy is relatively low.
Where you decide to live will influence the cost of living dramatically. Bigger cities like Venice, Milan and Rome are a lot more expensive than other destinations. Places like Popoli and Puglia offer an attractive lifestyle at a more affordable price.
The most popular Italian visa for retirees for U.S. citizens (and non-EU) is the Elective Residence Visa. Each application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but you will need to meet a number of requirements to quality:
· Proof of funds (minimum of € 31,000 for an individual per year or € 38,000 for a married couple)
· Proof of accommodation – need to show a lease/rental agreement on a place in Italy
· Health insurance plan – international health insurance must be purchased before submitting your application. It must cover € 30,000 a year.
There are other minor paperwork requirements that need to be completed alongside the application. Some retirees choose to use a visa application service to make sure they have all of the proper paperwork.
As previously explained you will need to take out a health insurance plan as part of the Italian Elective Residence Visa if you are a non-EU citizen. In terms of Italy’s healthcare quality, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks Italy within the top 30 countries in terms of healthcare systems.
Expats on valid visa programs are entitled to the same public healthcare treatments as Italian citizens. Whilst healthcare in Italy is good it is not uniform across the country, particularly in rural areas. Some hospitals are underfunded and overcrowded so it’s important to consider the healthcare facilities in the specific area that you wish to live in.
If you are looking to purchase property in Italy, you will be pleased to know that foreigners can buy and own on the same terms as Italians but there are some tricky tax and registration procedures. It is strongly advisable that you hire an Italian real estate attorney who can guide you smoothly through the process.
tuscany is a popular spot for foreigners searching for vacation or retirement homes but not so many real estate investments are made there. Areas like Abruzzo are less frequented by foreign property purchasers but there is a lot of potential. Real estate prices in Abruzzo are still very affordable.
When it comes to the best places to live in Italy there really is no end of choice. Rome, the nation’s capital, is an obvious but delightful place to live. It is highly convenient and exciting to be at the center of the nation. There are a tremendous number of things to see and do beyond just the obvious tourist sites. Though the cost of living is more in Rome, it is still manageable and the number of activities and entertainment opportunities far out way the cost.
Abruzzo is another excellent destination that provides retirees with beaches, beautiful landscapes, and wildlife. Many say that Abruzzo is one of the last unspoilt places in Italy. Abruzzo is characterful, historical, filled with medieval churches and monuments and is seen as a more affordable, less touristy Rome.
Fancy living a life of retirement that will make everyone back home envious? Why not retire to Sardinia! White powdery sand beaches and jaw-droppingly clear waters will be the places you call home. Sardinia has 2000 km of coastline waiting to be explored. Sardinia really does off that classic laid-back island lifestyle.
Uruguay is fast becoming a popular place among American retirees. This is owing in short to its agreeable cost of living, delightful temperatures, and varied landscape.
Uruguay, South America’s second smallest country, is bordered by Argentina and Brazil and faces the South Atlantic Ocean. With 660 km of coastline, white sandy, palm tree filled beaches are in abundance. The country, despite being small, is uniquely diverse from the delights of the coast, you can head inland and you’ll discover wonderful vineyards.
If you are wondering what retirement in Uruguay will be like, then picture an amalgamation of cultures, friendly locals, festive weekend celebrations of jazz music, tango, and football. Uruguay is an excellent retirement destination and a place where you will soon feel right at home.
Uruguay’s climate is humid subtropical. Average temperatures are between 40°F and 80°F year-round. If you choose to live by the ocean, you will notice that temperatures are much cooler in the evening. Unlike many South American countries, Uruguay doesn’t really have a clear wet and dry season. The mid-summer months of January and February usually have a lot less rain in comparison to the rest of the year.
Where you want to live in Uruguay will determine what sort of lifestyle and activities you can enjoy. Head to the nation’s capital, Montevideo and you will experience a fast pace of life with all of the amenities you need for comfortable living. If you want your retirement to be relaxing, cultural and charming, then head to La Paloma.
You’ll find Uruguay to be liberal and lively. In comparison to other South American nations, Uruguay is super progressive. They have even legalized same-sex marriage and the personal consumption of marijuana.
Uruguayans enjoy sports and outdoor activities like boxing, horse racing, golf, surfing and of course, the nation’s favorite pastime… soccer!
Compared to some South American destinations, Uruguay isn’t the cheapest place to retire to.
A one bed apartment on the outskirts of a big city will cost around $450 a month and city center pads around $530. In places like Punta del Este, a popular retiree destination, you can expect the property prices to be even higher.
Utilities can set you back around $150 a month, all inclusive. You can grab a local beer for $2 and a kilogram of bananas for $3. If you want to stick to a tighter budget, then it’s important to shop local as foreign imported products can really increase your monthly expenditure.
If you choose to retire in Uruguay, you will need to obtain a Uruguay Retirement Visa. You are eligible for this visa if you purchase a Uruguayan property that has a minimum value of $100,000 or receive a minimum of $1500 per month from a foreign pension.
If you are retiring in Uruguay, then you do not need to report a lot of income types that are earned outside of Uruguay in Uruguay. This includes, capital gains, retirement pension, rent income, and social security payments.
Uruguay offers good quality and widely accessible healthcare. They have a private hospital membership plan called mutualista. If you are enrolled in this system, you can get access to top quality and affordable healthcare. However, expats and retirees living in Uruguay often choose to take out their own private healthcare plans for peace of mind and easy accessibility.
Foreigners retiring in Uruguay have the same legal rights and protection as Uruguay citizens when it comes to buying property. This has meant that Uruguay has become a popular place to make real estate investments. You don’t need to have a residency permit to buy property. All you need is a valid passport and proof that you can pay.
It is imperative that you find a good real estate broker who speaks English and also an Escribano, a type of buyer attorney.
From city pads to farmland and beach lots and even country estates, Uruguay’s property options are varied. Purchasing an apartment in Montevideo is a really popular real estate option. In the Pocitos area of Montevideo you can buy a one-bedroom 430 square foot apartment in a newer building for around $147,000. Buying property in Punta del Este can be expensive but many see a high return for their investment. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment near to Brava Beach can be found for around $208,000.
For cosmopolitan living you may want to look at retiring in Montevideo, the nation’s capital. Montevideo is one of the best places to retire in Uruguay because it’s got everything you will need. There are 62 barrios or neighborhoods, all with their own unique style. There are a ton of cultural opportunities in Montevideo like art museums, theaters, music venues and even the ballet.
If you are searching for peace and quiet in Uruguay, then how about Atlántida? Atlántida is a small coastal town that’s known for its pine and eucalyptus trees. At only an hour drive from Montevideo you get the best of both worlds in Atlántida.
Thailand is one of the most popular places to retire to in Asia. Known as the ‘Land of Smiles,’ Thailand is known for its sensational white sandy beaches, emerald waters, laid-back lifestyle and low cost of living. Thailand is considered to be one of the 10 best places to retire in the world. From the chaos of Bangkok to the rolling hills of Chiang Mai or the resort beaches of Koh Samui, Phuket and Koh Lanta, Thailand is diverse, cultural, and packed full of enthralling activities.
Thailand is located in central mainland Southeast Asia. Thailand’s landscape is highly diverse, with forested areas, rice fields, a rugged coast and 3148 kilometers of coastline. Thailand’s assorted landscape is providing retirees to the country with an assortment of outdoor activities to enjoy. From the popular Khao Yai National Park to the hidden gem of Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand is a nature lover’s paradise.
Another reason that makes Thailand one of the best places to retire in the world is that there is a big expatriate community already there. There are around three or four million expats currently living and working in Thailand. Around 80,000 retirement visas were issued back in 2018 so you can imagine there are plenty of opportunities for making friends with fellow expats and retirees.
Many choose to retire abroad in Thailand because of the more than agreeable temperatures. On average temperatures range from 50 °F to 100 °F with humidity at around 85%. Thailand’s warm and sunny climate is only interrupted by the monsoon season between July and October. The start of the rainy seasons sees inconsistent but heavy rains but as the monsoon season progresses the rains become persistent.
Choosing to retire in Thailand will result in a fulfilled and enriched lifestyle. Firstly, as an expatriate you will feel very welcome in Thailand, the locals are notoriously friendly. Being invited to a spontaneous wedding or dinner on your way back home isn’t completely unusual! Though the Thai people are used to foreigners by now many are still intrigued and happy to embrace good cultural exchanges.
Your lifestyle and the types of activities you can enjoy are entirely dependent on your budget and where you live. Bangkok, the nation’s capital, provides an eye-opening experience if it’s your first time to Asia. Busy markets, motorbike traffic, and a concoction of tantalizing smells will bombard your senses.
You can spend your days in Thailand exploring the nation’s cultural, natural, and historical sites, of which there are many. If you enjoy exploring others’ cultural heritage, then you can attempt to tick off some of the 40,000 elaborate Thailand temples.
One of Thailand’s most attractive features as a retirement destination is the low cost of living. Many choosing to retire in Thailand can live well for $2,000 a month. If you choose to retire in Chiang Mai, then you can live a comfortable lifestyle on as little as $1,500 a month.
The cost of living in Thailand is on average 45.56% lower than in the U.S. Savings on rent will leave you astonished, with properties being around 72% lower than in the United States. If you choose to live in Bangkok or Koh Samui, whilst they are more expensive than other parts of Thailand, they are still more affordable than the States.
Dealing with the paperwork side of moving abroad is always a tedious task but something that has to be done. If you are choosing to retire in Thailand, you will need to look into getting a ‘Non-immigrant O-A (long-stay) Visa’. Applying for this visa means you will need to meet the following criteria:
· 50+ years old
· Completed police record checks
· Completed a medical examination
· Provide a certificate of health
· Deposit 800,000 Thai baht into a Thai bank account up to 2 months in advance but preferably 6 months
· Prove of pension of a minimum of 65,000 Thai baht ($1877) per month
If you are from the U.S., Canada, or the U.K. you can apply for a ’10 year Non-immigrant Visa’. This visa is for five years but then is extendable for another five years.
If you’re an American citizen living in Thailand, you must file taxes in both countries. In Thailand taxes should be filed by March 31st.
Thailand has a surprisingly good healthcare system, with an array of excellent services. Many retirees in Thailand choose to take out a health insurance policy, but if you are paying out of pocket then you’ll find common procedures to be much cheaper than in the U.S. Private healthcare facilities in Thailand often have English speaking doctors and top-notch modern facilities.
Under Thai law foreigners can purchase three types of property:
1) Condominium unit
2) A building distinct from its land
3) Registered leasehold up to 30 years for titled land or a building
Condos are only allowed to be 40% occupied by foreigners, the rest must be Thai owned and occupied. One of the slight peculiarities with Thai real estate is that as a foreigner you can purchase your property, but you are not allowed to own the land that it sits on.
If you are considering retiring in Thailand and thinking about property many expatriates actually decide to choose long-term rentals instead of purchasing. Condos are popular and often come with fitness centers and swimming pools.
There are so many amazing places to live in Thailand choosing where to live depends on what you want your lifestyle to be like.
Chiang Mai in the foothills of northern Thailand offers culture and beautiful natural scenery. A myriad of Buddhist temples, pleasant 77 °F temperatures and affordable living make this a top Thailand retirement destination.
If you fancy that idealistic Thai lifestyle where you can wake each morning for a stroll along the beach, then try living in Koh Samui. It’s only an hour flight from Bangkok and you can have that idyllic laidback lifestyle you almost certainly deserve. In Koh Samui you can enjoy a secluded beach environment with the assurance of good medical care.
Costa Rica is Central American destination and is one of the best places to retire to in the world. Costa Rica is blessed with a stunning 1,290 km coastline, an effortlessly gorgeous tropical climate, friendly locals, and an affordable cost of living. Costa Rica is arguably the original destination for U.S. retirees and year on year shines as a fantastic place for expatriates to live.
Costa Rica is bordered by Panama in the south and Nicaragua in the north and is lucky enough to have the Pacific Ocean to its west and the Atlantic to its east. Costa Rica’s location allows visitors to experience tremendous beaches, mountains, and jungles.
Costa Rica gained independence from the Spanish in 1821. Throughout much of the 19th century Costa Rica gained much of its global fame from the development of the coffee industry. The coffee industry propelled Costa Rica and arguably shaped it into what it is today. Did you know that in 1884 Costa Rica’s capital San José was one of the first cities in the world to have electricity?
Today tourism is one of the biggest driving forces of the economy, with around 1.7 million foreign tourist visits per year. It is believed that around 80% of tourism ventures in Costa Rica are eco-tourism based. Costa Rica’s nature and biodiversity is arguably its most attractive feature.
It is not hard to see why as many as 70,000 expatriates (most of whom are retirees) choose to live in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is lovely and warm all year, with annual temperatures of around 80°F – 90°F on the coast and 75°F – 80 °F inland and near the mountains. Between December and April there is little to no rain across most of the country. The rest of the year experiences rain at some point of the day.
One of Costa Rica’s most attractive features is its diversity. From the pristine palm tree-lined beaches which create a laid back atmosphere, to busy market towns there really is something for everyone in Costa Rica.
If you are looking to retire in Costa Rica, you will surely take advantage of a more active and healthier lifestyle. The endless summer sun pushes you outside and the countryside’s spectacular nature gives you all the more reason to be active outdoors.
Life doesn’t stop in your retirement years in Costa Rica. How about learning to surf? Go hiking in the jungle? Take up golf? Soon you will be living the best version of your life and embracing all the opportunities placed in front of you.
From the stunning beaches and rainforest of Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio to the luscious Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve, Costa Rica is teeming with natural attractions. The country is also jam packed with historical and cultural opportunities. San José is a great spot for museums and a place where an amalgamation of cultures come together.
There is no beating around the bush, Costa Rica is not the cheap Central American destination it once was. With so many expatriates calling the country home, many have seen a new currency emerge… the “gringo price”. This being said you can still live a good life on a lower budget than you would back home.
If you are living in a city like San José a single person can expect to spend anywhere between $1,600 and $2,000 a month. These figures include housing, transportation, medical care, utilities, entertainment, and food.
As with most retirement destinations, eating and shopping locally will save you money and finding the best local spots where the “gringo price” isn’t used will save you a lot.
If you are looking to retire in Costa Rica, you can apply for the Pensionado Program which allows you residency in the country. You must prove that you have at least $1,000 a month income from a pension scheme, Social Security, or 401K.
One of the tax perks Costa Rica offers is that new residents are exempt from tariffs and import taxes on the first shipment of their household goods. This is a huge incentive as the cost of shopping all your furniture and belongings is considerable. Many opt to send their stuff in one shipping container.
New residents can also import two vehicles for personal use; these will be exempt from VAT tax, import taxes, and customs fees.
Costa Rica has some of the best healthcare in Latin America. Expats are entitled to access Costa Rica’s private system as well as the government-run Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.
Healthcare is cheap in comparison to the U.S. with some healthcare services being a third to a fifth the price of the same service back home. One of the perks of a healthcare system in a country with so many expats and foreign visitors is that many doctors speak English and are actually trained in Europe, America, and Canada.
In terms of private hospitals Costa Rica has three main providers:
· CIMA in Escazú
· Clínica Bíblica in San José
· Hospital La Católica in San José-Guadalupe
Both buying property for yourself and purchasing property to rent is a good idea in Costa Rica. First, let’s talk about rental properties. In San José, Santa Ana and Escazu rental properties are on average seeing around 7.5% returns. So, it is definitely a good option to look into if you are considering moving to Costa Rica.
In the beautiful volcano area of Arenal, a lot with views of the lake and volcano in a lakeside community with an accompanying boat dock can be had for around $49,000. This is a lot that’s a third of an acre.
When purchasing a property make sure you haggle on the asking price. If there are issues with the house, then be confident in asking for deductions. In remote areas you should be wary of properties that don’t have a landline. New phone lines are difficult to come by so asking for $2,000 isn’t unusual.
There are so many incredible places to live in Costa Rica it entirely depends on what you are searching for. Here is a quick breakdown of what top Costa Rica destinations provide:
· Atenas – small town living
· Cartago – old historic capital
· Tamarindo – small beach town vibes
· Heredia – scenic landscape and expat community
· Limón – less touristy and beautiful Caribbean coast
· Escazu – suburban living with plenty of amenities
· San José – capital city amenities and fun activities
· Nuevo Arenal – stunning volcano view
AARP awarded Atenas the title of “One of the Best Places to Retire in the World”. Atenas is blessed with perfect weather and gorgeous views of surrounding mountains and coffee plantations. Just a 45 minute drive from San José you get the best of both worlds, small town living and big city amenities.
Tamarindo is a bustling beach town that offers residents incredible views and excellent surfing opportunities. Despite its growth in popularity there is still a local friendly feel where people say good morning and know you by name. Palm tree lined beaches, restaurants, yoga studios, surf shops and bars define this area.
Nuevo Arenal is the go to place if you want to be immersed in epic nature every day. Most places in this town have wonderful views of the Arenal Volcano. Arenal is small and rural but not completely cut off from the rest of Costa Rica. You can still get all your amenities and there are no shortage of restaurants owing to the tourist industry surrounding the beautiful volcano.
Mexico is one of the most convenient and best places to retire in the world. There are already around 1 million Americans and Canadians calling Mexico their home. Neighbors with the U.S. to the south and with five-hour flights from New York and around three hours from Miami this is an ideal place to retire if you still want to be close to home.
Mexico’s climate and nature set it apart as a retirement destination. Mexico has rainforests, canyons, natural parks, beaches, and is known to be one of the most biodiverse places in the world. Whether you are exploring the natural sinkholes of Cenote, the Baja California Desert, or the Cancun Underwater Museum, breathtaking beauty is always around the corner.
Mexico is as culturally rich as it is naturally diverse. Mexico’s culture is centered around the traditions of the indigenous Mayan and Aztecs with European colonial influence between the 15th and 20th century. Of Mexico’s 130 million population, 62% of people are mestizo, meaning of Central American and European descent.
One of the biggest reasons enticing people to retire in Mexico is the climate. Move to Mexico and you can enjoy their fresh tropical climate year-round. Dry season is between November and May and the rainy season is from June to October. Average temperatures country wide are between 50°F and 90°F, with average humidity of around 70%. During the rainy season Mexico generally received around 40 inches of rain annually.
Sunshine, culture, traditions, heritage, and a slow pace of life 50°F and 90°F. Mexico’s cost of living and sunshine are enticing features of retirement life but it’s the people, community feel and sense of constant celebration that makes retirees permanently call Mexico home.
Your Mexican lifestyle can be one of fiestas, music, incredible food and infectiously friendly locals. The Day of the Dead., Three Holy Kings Day, and the Epiphany are just some of the many festivals you’ll get to celebrate whilst living in Mexico.
In Mexico’s big cities you can enjoy modern amenities. Museums, operas, art galleries and superb restaurants. Head to Mexico’s towns and villages and you will enjoy street music, festivals and a sense of community. Check out Mexico’s 7000 miles of coastline and you’ll be able to go diving with an unimaginable number of fish species and stroll along a plethora of golden sand beaches.
The cost of living in Mexico is definitely lower than in the United States. Everything from rent to groceries, electricity and maid services are much cheaper south of the U.S. border. Brand name items you’d find back home are the exception to this rule and are usually much more expensive in Mexico. We suggest you stock up on all your food favorites before moving to Mexico.
In terms of housing you can rent a two bedroom house for around $750. Most expats find that they can live comfortably on $22,500 a year.
Often the most stressful thing about choosing to retire in a foreign country is the visa. If the sandy beaches and cheery charm are enticing, south of the border you will need to check if you are eligible for the Mexican Permanent Resident Card. To meet the criteria, you must be financially stable enough to live a comfortable life in Mexico, be permanently retired in your home country, plan to live permanently in Mexico and not be a beneficiary of any income within Mexico.
U.S. citizens are still expected to pay taxes when retiring abroad. If you choose to retire in Mexico, you will need to file your tax return and report any income back home. If you are also wanting to purchase property in Mexico, then you need to consider the real estate taxes. There’s as 2% acquisition tax when first buying a property as well as annual property taxes, and capital gains taxes when selling the property.
There is also value added tax on most goods and services. VAT is usually around 16% although some border areas VAT is as low as 11%.
Mexican healthcare is good, and the medium and large cities have a bunch of top-rated hospitals. Healthcare in the country is at least half the cost of the same services in the United States. Things like prescription goods are also much more affordable in Mexico.
If you have a temporary or permanent residency status in Mexico, you can be entitled to the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS) which provides citizens and residents with national healthcare. Though this is something you can take advantage of, most retirees in Mexico choose to take out private health insurance.
The good thing about moving to Mexico as a foreigner is that you are allowed to purchase and own real estate. Generally speaking, property in Mexico is less expensive than in the U.S, however if you choose to be in areas like Riviera Maya then you can expect to be paying for the luxury you will receive.
Though most of Mexico doesn’t have a Multiple Listing Service like back home, Puerto Vallarta has a helpful listing service of more than 2,000 properties. There’s such an expatriate demand for properties in this area that this is almost certainly why this service has cropped up. Also, in these popular expatriate destinations it’s also common to find that most attorneys and real estate agents are bilingual, making the process much easier.
Whether you are wanting to find an affordable place to live in Mexico or are searching for that turquoise coastline view there are a ton of destinations to choose.
The aforementioned Puerto Vallarta is one of the most popular expat and retirement destinations in Mexico. This seaside resort area will provide you with a lifestyle of sun, sea, and sand. The area’s tourism industry has resulted in the infrastructure for a comfortable life.
If you want to be surrounded by culture, then the small town of San Miguel de Allende will be the perfect Mexican retirement destination. San Miguel is characterized by its pastel colored building and charming, quaint atmosphere. There’s a great mix of expats and locals living in San Miguel, so you’ll be sure to make friends with similar interests.
For something off the beaten track why not head to Huatulco? This Pacific coast resort area is a white sandy beach paradise. As well as strolling along the beach, there are waterfalls to discover, coffee plantations and the opportunity to swim with turtles.
Other great places to consider: Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum
For a long time, Greece has been considered one of the best places to retire in the world. If you are looking for a European retirement destination but don’t want the associated cost of living, then Greece is an excellent option. The cost of living in Greece is roughly 30% lower than in many European countries. What is more, in 2017 around 1.2 million immigrants lived in Greece making up around 11% of the population. So, you certainly won’t be alone in choosing to retire in Greece.
Greece has the longest coastlines in the Mediterranean Basin and is littered with islands and stunning peninsulas. Greece’s beaches are some of the country’s most picturesque spots but there is a plethora of other landscapes to enjoy.
Greece is one of those places where you really can live anywhere. Whether you choose to be in the heart of Athens, in the seaside city of Thessaloniki, or on one of the many Greek islands like Santorini and Mykonos, you will enjoy your time in Greece.
Greece’s enticing Mediterranean climate sets it apart from other retirement destinations. There’s no place better than Greece to be soaking up the sun all year round. With 250 days of sunshine, you just can’t complain. Average annual temperatures are 66°F (19°C), ranging from 57°F to 82°F (14°C to 28°C). But in the scorching summer sun be prepared for temperatures to reach the mid-90s.
The low cost of living in Greece means that it’s one of the best places to retire to in Europe. Though you won’t be making big savings compared to if you chose to retire in Asia for example, Greece offers that more affordable European lifestyle.
Greece has become such a big tourist destination that many locals across the major islands speak English, however, it’s always good to learn some Greek.
Greece’s climate means you can enjoy a myriad of outdoor activities year-round. Greece is a country of endless coastlines and sensational beaches. Exploring the ocean and hiking around the islands is a great way to spend a healthy retirement. From Sarakiniko beach in Milos to the cove of Paleokastritsa in Corfu, Greece is defined by one breathtaking beach after another. As well as beaches there are numerous historical and architectural sites to visit.
It depends where you are in Greece as to how much it will cost to live. The average cost of living in Greece is around 45% lower than in the U.S. Islands such as Santorini are more expensive than say Corfu and Crete but still offer a relatively affordable cost of living.
A comfortable one-bedroom apartment in Athens can cost around $650 a month, but outside the tourist hotspots apartments can be found for $350. An expat can live comfortably on $2,000 a month in Greece, this figure includes rent.
Luckily for all those wishing to retire in Greece, you’ll be pleased to know that the government introduced the Golden Visa. This visa was designed to attract more people to invest in Greece’s crumbling economy. You need to invest 250,000 Euros in real estate, then you can receive a five-year residence permit that can be renewed.
Taxes in Greece are as high as in other EU countries. In 2020 the Greek government launched a plan to attract wealthy individuals and retirees to the country. Two of the schemes they launched were:
· Flat tax for foreign retirees moving to Greece
· Non-dom for high-net-worth individuals
This scheme includes a flat tax on income for foreign pensioners who are moving to Greece for retirement.
Those living in Greece and contributing to the Social Insurance Institute (IKA) will qualify for public health insurance. If you are retiring to Greece from the U.S., then paying out of pocket or obtaining private medical insurance is the way to go.
In terms of the Greek medical system, you mostly get what you pay for. The standard of healthcare in Greece is generally high but private clinics tend to offer more modern facilities.
Many of the doctors and nurses in Greek hospitals speak English as they have often trained in America or English-speaking European hospitals. Not having to navigate medical jargon in a foreign language is a great benefit of medical care in Greece.
Greece is an excellent place to invest in property because it’s such a popular tourist destination and real estate is decently priced. For less expensive property prices, try places like Naxos and Paros. Whilst the Cyclades, especially Mykonos are expensive investment options they offer an excellent return on investments.
Unless you take advantage of the Golden Visa program, buying real estate in Greece for non-EU citizens is a little trickier. Non-EU residents might be required to prove their connections to Greece or prove what they intend to do with the property.
There are so many fascinating places to live in Greece, it just depends on what you are searching for. If you want an active, thriving, and cultural retirement, try moving to Athens. Though Athens is a little more expensive than other destinations in Greece, you pay for a life of constant entertainment and cultural excitement.
Rhodes is another popular destination among retirees to Greece. It is ideally located close to both Turkey and Cyprus and has a wonderful combination of entertainment, sleepy spots, and hidden gems.
Many expatriates retiring to Greece also choose to head to Corfu. Corfu is defined by charming villages and otherworldly beach scenery. Corfu offers award-winning vineyards, the ability to indulge yourself in fine food and burn off the calories with hours of fish-filled dips in the ocean.
Another option is Halkidiki, which combines great landscape and activities and close proximity to second largest city in Greece – Thessaloniki.
And so, the number one spot on this list of the 10 best countries to retire in is… Portugal. This southwestern European country on the Iberian Peninsula borders Spain to the west and the Atlantic Ocean.
Portugal offers endless sunshine, beautiful architecture, tremendous seafood, a picturesque varied coastline, and bundles of culture all at an affordable cost. What more could you ask for?
Not only is it a lovely destination but many people in the main cities and tourist spots on the coast speak English which makes settling in a little more convenient.
From Lisbon to Porto and Madeira Portugal is brimming with wonderful places you may consider retiring in.
Despite its Atlantic Ocean facing location, Portugal has a lovely Mediterranean climate. Summers are hot and winters are temperate which makes it a popular year round destination. Yearly average temperatures are around 69°F and in winter temperatures are 57°F.
The Portuguese are known for their family values and are an extremely friendly nation. Though it is good to start learning Portuguese as soon as possible it should be noted that a lot of locals speak English. This is super handy especially when you first arrive in the country.
Spend your lunch and dinner times enjoying Portugal’s incredible Mediterranean food. Just take note that you might be having an evening meal as late as 8pm, sometimes even at 10pm.
From the historical sites of Lisbon to the wineries of the Douro Valley, the beautiful Benagil sea caves and the otherworldly coast of Praia do Camilo there’s so much to see and do in Portugal.
Portugal offers retirees some of the lowest cost of living in Western Europe. A couple can live on around $2,500 a month in most places, with Lisbon starting at $2,500 to $2,800.
Rent can be found for around $400 a month in smaller Portuguese cities, that’s for a one bedroom apartment. Though renting is cheaper than the U.S. you will notice that the apartments in Portugal are much smaller.
Even in the most developed cities like Lisbon you can still find traditional food markets as well as supermarkets. If you shop locally and wisely a couple’s monthly food budget can be around $400
The most popular visas for U.S. citizens wanting to live full time in Portugal are the Type 1 and D7 Visas. You will need to show proof that you have a private health insurance policy that is valid in Portugal as well as proof of accommodation in Portugal and sufficient funds to support yourself and any family members.
There is also the Golden Visa program for those with capital to invest in property. Those taking advantage of this visa program also receive reductions in income tax rates.
Portugal ranked 17th in the World Index of Healthcare in 2022, much higher than the U.S., which ranked 37th. One of the aspects that expats like so much about Portuguese healthcare is that the doctors actually make time for their patients.
Big tourist areas and major cities have better healthcare facilities than in the U.S., but it should be noted that in smaller towns and villages there are usually only small local healthcare departments.
As soon as you have a Portuguese ID number and residence permit you will be entitled to the National Health Service of Portugal. This is applicable to both temporary and permanent residents.
There’s a positive vibe surrounding Portugal’s real estate market despite the current geopolitical and macroeconomic situation the world is in. In recent years American citizens are those foreigners that appear to be investing in real estate in Portugal. The total amount of investments in Portuguese real estate increased by 9.6% in the last year, which amounted to €8.1 billion. The D7 visa allows foreigners to purchase property.
Best Places to Live
Lisbon is one of Portugal’s top destinations for retirees. Portugal’s capital city has a litany of museums, theaters, beautiful beaches, top restaurants, and great hangout spots. Lisbon benefits from a rich history as well as an eclectic international scene making it a colorful and vibrant place to call home.
Head south of Lisbon for a few hours and you’ll be at the Algarve. Lagos is one of the best towns to live in in Portugal. Despite its popularity it has retained much of its charm and of course features an absolutely breathtaking coastline. Lagos is home to spectacular rugged rocks, sea stacks, arches, and of course golden beaches.