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Discover The 20 Best Countries To Retire Abroad 2022

Retiring abroad is an exciting prospect that can involve some difficult decisions. For most, finding the right balance between quality of life, a country’s appeal, and cost of living is the best starting point for narrowing down options.

If you’re thinking of retiring abroad but don’t know where to start, we’ve got just the resource for you. Below are our 20 best countries for international retirement based on the Expatra Global Retirement Index 2022.

If you are an expat retiree, tell us about your country of choice by participating in the Expatra Global Retirement Survey. It takes only 2 minutes to fill in. Your contributions are the foundation of our Annual Global Retirement Index and help thousands of would-be retirees to find their ideal country to retire to.

1. Portugal – the best all-rounder

If you want everything considered necessary for a long and happy retirement, and for a moderate price, Portugal is the right choice! 

Best countries to retire - Portugal
Azenhas do Mar, a coastal town in Portugal

Portugal offers the best balance between quality of life and how much it costs. It’s been a well-known secret for some time now, but the popularity of Portugal as a retirement destination is growing faster than ever. 

Climate is obviously worth mentioning as one of the country’s main draws, especially for the sun-starved northerners who flock to Portugal to enjoy the country’s generous annual sunshine hours (over 3000 a year). When you combine this with decent longevity and plenty of cultural appeal, you can begin to see why Portugal ranks so high.

Property prices stand out compared to other top entries on our list. Even in the most popular retirement locations in Portugal, you can still find an affordable home. For example, a 2-bed apartment in central Guia, in the Algarve, can be bought for around $240,000. 

Travel east towards Lagos, and you will find a 2-bed apartment for sale in Portimão, in a quiet area that’s only 5 minutes from the beach, for $192,000.

In the Central Region of Portugal, in and around Leiria, it’s possible to find a 2-bed house with a swimming pool for around $180,000. If you are willing to move inland a bit, you’ll find even more bargains. A 3-bed apartment in Vila de Rei, for example, could cost $124,000. 

It’s a safe country with good infrastructure, good quality healthcare and everything you need for a happy, comfortable and affordable retirement in the sun.

Highlights: 

  • D7 visa financial requirements – minimum €12,000 per year.
  • A decent international health plan for a couple – from $846 a month.
  • Tax under the NHR – flat rate of 10% for the first 10 years. 
  • One of the most attractive Golden Visa programs in Europe.

Read more about retirement in Portugal, healthcare, visa options, the NHR – a special tax regime for foreign retirees, and more in our Living In Portugal guide.

Our Living In Portugal After Brexit guide will help UK citizens to navigate the post-Brexit rules and regulations when moving to Portugal.

2. Spain –  the top cultural hotspot with a great climate

In terms of cultural appeal, Spain blows every other country out of the water. It’s no wonder it’s such a popular choice for retirees looking for somewhere to spend their golden years.

Best countries to retire - Spain
Waterfront properties in Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria, Spain

Spain is warm and sunny, has plenty to do, and is home to some amazingly diverse landscapes.

But this comes at a price. You need to show higher income levels than in Portugal to qualify for residency, and there are no special tax breaks for retirees. 

That said, you can get some reasonable properties in the areas just right for retirement. We are talking about the Costas, of course.

A 2-bed apartment in Alicante (the Costa Blanca) can cost around $150,000. Go to the Costa del Sol and you can find a 2-bed apartment in Manilva, Malaga with sea views for $163,000.

Have no doubt, when it comes to lifestyle, Spain has a lot to offer. It boasts the second-longest life expectancy after Switzerland, has great (and inexpensive) healthcare, and is a very safe country. 

Highlights:

  • Non-lucrative visa income requirements – minimum €26,000 ($29,500) per year.
  • A 2-bed apartment on the beachfront, in the heart of Águilas, Murcia with sea views – €110,000 € ($125,000).
  • One of the lowest prices for an international health cover – from $786 a month for a couple.

Read more about retirement in Spain, Spanish healthcare, visa options, taxes and more in our Living In Spain guide.

For UK citizens – all the information on moving post-Brexit in our Living In Spain After Brexit guide.

3. Costa Rica – the Switzerland of Central America

Costa Rica roared ahead of other American countries, even beating better-known European hotspots in terms of popularity. Plus, Costa Rica holds its own in terms of stunning natural beauty, beaches, and healthy lifestyles.

Best countries to retire - Costa Rica
Costa Rica

Although it’s the most expensive South or Central American country, it’s noticeably cheaper than the European countries that surround it on our list.

You could find a lovely detached house in Jaco for around $98,000 or a secluded villa (with a pool!) for around $500,000.

Retirement visa income requirements are considerably lower than in Spain and Italy and, better still, you don’t have to pay income tax!

If all this sounds too good to be true, it nearly is.

The only thing Costa Rica really falls down on is its national infrastructure. There are plenty of unmade roads across the country, but this isn’t a massive deal, and the amazing scenery certainly compensates for the extra time you might spend on the road!

Highlights:

  • Pensionado Visa requires an income of just $1000 a month.
  • No taxes on pension or investment income.
  • Live green – more than 98% of its energy is renewable.

Read more about retirement in Costa Rica, the pros and cons, the cost of living, residency options and more in our Living In Costa Rica guide.

4. Italy – the art of slow living

Italy’s place at number 4 primarily comes from its cultural appeal – something it’s known for around the world.

Best countries to retire - Italy, Amalfi
Amalfi Coast with Gulf of Salerno, Campania, Italy

However, this isn’t to discredit it for everything else it can offer, such as an amazing climate, diverse locations to settle down, and everything you need to live a long and healthy life (it holds one of the highest longevity scores on our list).

One thing you’ll need to be wary of is the cost of living in Italy.

Aside from the country’s high expectations for visa income requirements (higher than Spain), property can cost a bomb, too. But that depends on the location.

You could be looking at a mere $170,000 for a 2-bed apartment on the Adriatic Coast or a cool $1.5 million for a 2-bed apartment on Lake Como!

You can avoid this by getting involved in the €1 property scheme the country currently runs. Obviously, you’ll need some capital for renovation, but it can be a fun Escape to the Chateau-style retirement project.

Alternatively, you could have a good look at what the south of Italy has to offer; there are plenty of inexpensive options with breathtaking views. 

Overall, Italy has everything you think it could offer for a perfect retirement, and more.

Highlights:

  • Pensioners with a foreign-sourced income are taxed at a flat rate of 7% for the first 9 years of residency if they move to Southern Italy.
  • The elective residency visa (also known as the retirement visa) income requires a minimum of €31,000 ($35,000) a year for a single person.
  • A decent international health plan for a couple starts from $805 per month.

To learn more about retirement in Italy, your visa options and requirements, the cost of living, pros and cons, and more read our Living In Italy guide.

5. Greece – the best mix of culture and traditions

Greece has long been a popular holiday destination, but it’s surging up the ranks as a retirement destination now, too.

Best countries to retire -  Greece for expats
Corfu beaches are deservedly considered some of the best beaches in Greece.

It offers the same 7% flat tax rate for the first 10 years of residency as Italy does, and property is considerably cheaper than in comparative European countries.

As with other Mediterranean countries, Greece has a reputation for good food, a slow pace of living, and a climate that begs for outdoor living. All this translates into a decent life expectancy (just ahead of Portugal) and flexibility in where (and how) you live while enjoying a Greek lifestyle.

One notable thing about Greece – more so than other tourist-heavy countries – is the clear difference between the high and low tourist seasons. During the winter months, some islands can feel almost deserted and too quiet for most.

However, if a quiet retirement is what you want, this could be exactly what you’re looking for!

Highlights:

To learn more about retirement in Greece, residency options, the cost of living, taxation and more, read our Living In Greece guide.

6. France – the importance of enjoying the best of life

France ticks plenty of boxes as a retirement destination.

Best countries to retire -France
Beaulieu-Sur-Mer, the French Riviera.

It’s well situated (and connected) within Europe, making it an ideal base for globe hoppers.

It’s also safe, has great national infrastructure and healthcare services, and is often the benchmark for work-life balance. After all, nothing says quality time like a two-hour lunch break with at least three bottles of wine!

On that subject, France obviously has an incredible food and drink scene.

There’s a reason why it’s known globally for its cuisine, and it’s no understatement that the French save the best for themselves. Whether you go for a city restaurant, a rural winery, or your local bistro’s plat du jour, you’ll find some amazing food and drink.

This can come at a cost if you are not careful where in France you choose to live. The property prices in Paris or the glitzy French Riviera, for example, could leave you speechless.

Don’t despair, though. There are some amazing bargains to be had if only you research various regions a bit better. If you look around, you can find a 3-bed home in Normandy, Burgundy or Lille for as little as $60,000.

Southern France is typically more expensive, but even in Provence, you can find an affordable property. 

Highlights:

  • If you have a company pension and take it out as a lump sum, you can qualify for a 7.5% flat tax with an uncapped 10% allowance, making France a low-tax country for retirees. Professional advice is a must!
  • International healthcare for a couple starts from around $895 a month.
  • Renovation properties can cost as little as $25,000.

You will find more information on retirement in France, property matters, the pros and cons, visa details and more in our Living In France guide.

7. Cyprus – the sunshine island of Europe

Cyprus is a popular European holiday destination, but how does it hold up for permanent retirement? Surprisingly well, as its position at number 7 shows.

Best countries to retire - Cyprus
Paphos, Cyprus.

The country has good infrastructure and life expectancy, and the cost of living is roughly the same as in Spain.

Considering it’s an island, property isn’t too expensive.

You can find a 2-bed apartment in Larnaca for around $113,000. But if you buy a house for a minimum of $340,000, and can prove an annual income of $30,000, you’ll get permanent residency under the residency-by-investment programme.

One of its biggest draws is the weather – at 3500 hours, Cyprus gets the most annual sunshine in Europe. However, this means very hot summers, so make sure your new house has air conditioning!

Highlights:

  • A very flexible tax system for retirees allows you to choose how to pay taxes every year: you can opt either for a 5% flat rate or the tiered system. If your annual income exceeds €25,000, the flat rate option starts saving you money. 
  • Well-connected and easy to travel to and from.
  • Good choice for tourism-related business in retirement.

You can find more information about retiring to Cyprus, its healthcare, taxes, residency requirements and more in our Living In Cyprus guide.

8. North Cyprus – the most affordable island destination in the Mediterranean

Understandably, most of the benefits of Cyprus also apply to North Cyprus. The biggest difference is that it falls under the Turkish administration, which has a notable impact on immigration rules. 

Best countries to retire abroad - North Cyprus
North Cyprus, Kyrenia harbour.

A massive advantage of living in North Cyprus is that there’s no tax on retirement income.

As such, it makes for an attractive choice, especially if you are a citizen of one of those countries that don’t need a visa to visit South Cyprus (US, UK, Canada and many others). Doing so means you can enjoy all the benefits of South Cyprus while residing in the country with a much lower cost of living.

Life in North Cyprus is very affordable. Property is also cheap.

You can find a 3-bed house in great condition with a swimming pool close to Girne (Kyrenia) for around $150,000.  A 2-bed apartment in a good location starts from $67,000.

You can rent a 2-bed apartment in the centre of Kyrenia for as little as $410 a month.

An international health insurance policy will set you back around $928 for a couple, which is a few hundred dollars cheaper than South Cyprus.

However, you will find that local private insurance is really cheap, while medical services are well-developed and the hospitals are good. 

Highlights:

  • No tax on retirement income. 
  • The same sunshine as in the Republic of Cyprus. 
  • Beautiful coastline and beaches, plus South Cyprus shopping and infrastructure available as Brits, USA citizens, Canadian etc can cross the border without a special visa. 

To learn more about living in North Cyprus in retirement, how much it costs and the paperwork involved, visit our Retiring To North Cyprus guide.

9. Turkey – one of the best value-for-money destinations

Speaking of Turkish jurisdiction, Turkey itself is next on the list. It’s a great option for retirees because there’s no tax on pensions, and the cost of living is super low.

Best countries to retire - Turkey
Kas Antalya, Turkey

A property can cost as little as $35,000 for a 2-bed apartment in Antalya, although a nicer apartment in the same area is around $106,000. However, buying $400,000 worth of property gets you a full Turkish passport, making it an attractive option for expats. You can find more details on this in our Buying A Property In Turkey guide.

The weather is good, as you’ll know if you’ve been there on holiday. The country is rich in natural beauty with some places being simply breathtaking.

Turkey has its own distinct culture that’s a fascinating blend of European and Oriental. You won’t find many places like it, and this, along with its inexpensive lifestyle, is arguably its biggest draw.

Highlights:

  • Very cheap citizenship for investment option – $400,000 worth of property gets you a Turkish passport. 
  • Good healthcare – one of the top destinations in the world for medical tourism. Local private healthcare is very affordable.
  • Simplified residency process – everything is online now.
  • No tax on pensions.

To learn more about retirement in Turkey, the cost of living, healthcare, where expats live and more, read our Living In Turkey guide.

10. Malta – a Mediterranean island with a unique character

Rounding out the top 10 is Malta, a tiny island between Italy and Africa.

Best countries to retire - Malta
Marsaxlokk village harbour in Malta.

Many expats say that from the start you either fall in love with Malta or don’t get it at all. Yes, Malta can be somewhat expensive, noisy and dusty but if you love what it offers, the drawbacks aren’t that important, right?

Malta is sunny, rich in history and heritage, laid-back and safe.

Despite being the tenth-smallest country in the world, property prices are still affordable, roughly the same as in Turkey.

Of course, premium locations with great sea views can be quite pricey, but if you venture off the coast, there are bargains to have. For example, you can find a 2-bed apartment located between Bugibba and St Paul’s Bay, close to all amenities, with no sea views but not far from the coast, for around €155,000 ($176,000).

Mata has a special retirement programme. To qualify, you must purchase or rent a property of a certain value and meet a few other conditions. You can find more details on this in our Living In Malta guide.  

As a retirement destination, Malta has plenty to offer. The weather is great, it’s very safe, and life expectancy matches countries like Portugal, Greece, and France.

Tip: looking for a peaceful retreat? Go to Gozo, you won’t regret it.

It’s not for everyone, though, as it’s a pretty small island. But if you are up to it, life in Malta can be very enjoyable. 

Highlights:

  • An epic location as proved by how many great TV dramas and films have been filmed there (Game of Thrones, Troy, and Gladiator among others).
  • Easy to qualify for the retirement programme, as you only need to own or rent a property in Malta as your principal place of residence in the world. 
  • 15% flat tax under the retirement programme on income remitted in Malta.
  • Malta’s Golden Visa scheme is the fastest route to EU citizenship.

11. Morocco – a melting pot of cultures

Morocco is a fascinating country that blends together African and European cultures. The food is amazing, as is the coffee (and mint tea). Better still, the cost of living is among the lowest in our top 20.

Best countries to retire - Morocco
Tangier, Morocco.

This extends to property, too. You can find a spacious 3-bed apartment in Marrakech for $115,000, although you’ll probably want to splash a bit more on a villa with a pool (it gets pretty hot here).

Failing that, a more northerly town on the coast will have a more temperate climate and cheaper property.

Morocco has amazing cultural appeal and scorching hot weather, but there are some considerations.

Wealth inequality is noticeable – not every home in its capital has electricity. Also, be prepared to drive through plenty of deserts if you want to get anywhere.

Highlights:

  • Really low cost of living.
  • French is a national language, making it accessible to many Europeans.
  • Paperwork for a long-stay visa can be a bit overwhelming, prepare in advance and get help if you can.

12. Germany – safety, stability and high standard of living

Germans have an international reputation for being efficient and well-managed. Unsurprisingly, the same is true of their country. If this, combined with 4 distinct, well-defined seasons sounds appealing, Germany might be the country for you.

Best countries to retire - Germany
Assmannshausen, the Upper Middle Rhine Valley in Germany

Like its neighbouring European countries, Germany’s cost of living and property is on the higher end. However, you must balance this against the top-level infrastructure and public services (you’d be lucky to find a train running late in Germany!).

Winters in Germany are…well…wintery, which equates to fewer sunshine hours than every country on the list so far. However, winter walks are magical, and you could always take up skiing and skating to make the most of it.

The country has great natural diversity, ranging from the northern coastline to the wintery Alpine regions of the south, all of which are great for hiking and being outdoors in all seasons.

If you’re after a retirement destination that’s not too sweltering, runs like clockwork, has wholesome food and some great beer bars, Germany is a great choice.

Highlights:

  • Amazing natural diversity.
  • Top-quality healthcare.
  • The coastline isn’t considerable; there are better choices if this is a top priority.

For more information on Germany, its pros and cons, cost of living and more, read our Living In Germany guide.

13. Panama – a land of opportunities

Panama isn’t a big name on the international scene, but it is among expats looking for a retirement destination that stands out.

Best countries to retire - Panama
Bocas del Toro Town on Colon Island, Bocas del Toro Archipelago in Panama.

The retirement visa income requirement is just $1000 per month, however, should be lifelong, and, when granted, comes with a wide range of benefits.

These include things like duty exemption on imported cars and household goods and, more unusually, a 50% discount on cinema tickets and a 25% discount at restaurants.

Both its visa benefits and location in Central America have led to a cosmopolitan and diverse community that’s very easy to integrate into.

Property is comparatively more expensive than in Costa Rica, its neighbour. In Panama, a 2-bed apartment in Bocas del Toro can set you back around $313,000.

However, the main advantage of Panama over Costa Rica is all the visa benefits mentioned above. Besides, Panama has probably the best infrastructure in the entire region.

And then there are beaches and the surrounding landscape. Even if you live in Panama City itself (as many expats do), the best beaches are just a short drive away.  

Highlights:

  • Panama Retirement Visas (Visa Pensionado) – minimum $1000 a month to qualify. 
  • The visa comes with a huge list of discounts.
  • No income tax on pensions.

To learn more about the opportunities the country offers expats including the pros, cons, costs and lifestyle, read our Living In Panama guide.

14. Mauritius – the ultimate tropical paradise

Mauritius is something of a wildcard in the top 15 of our list. Despite it not being massively popular with would-be retirees searching for a possible retirement destination, it has a growing diverse expat community from all over the world.

Best countries to retire - Mauritius
Mauritius Island

This is perhaps in part due to its comparatively low cost of living and the fascinating lifestyle the country offers.

Expats living in the country praise its natural landscape and weather, along with its safety. Watersports, top-class spas, great golf courses, fine cuisine, nature walks, horse riding and plenty of other activities are readily available.

As Mauritius is “being discovered”, foreign demand has been causing property prices to rise.

High-end luxury-style villas on the seafront in the most popular areas aren’t cheap at all. We are speaking about 6 figures here.

Luxury apartments and penthouses with sea views can start from half a million. You would be looking at approximately the same price for a 4-bed villa in Tamarin, one of the favourite expat locations.

However, it’s quite possible to find a lovely villa with sea views along the west coast in Albion, for example, for around $160,000. Add another $15,000 and you can get a 4/5 bed house in Riviere des Creoles.

A flat income tax of 15% makes it pretty straightforward for expats to manage their tax affairs.

As Mauritius is an island, the cost of imported goods can be high.

The quality of its infrastructure is on par with places like Panama, but the country’s isolation in the Indian Ocean makes it harder to hop to a different country if you need something.

Highlights:

  • International healthcare for a couple starts at around $1000.
  • There’s a special residence permit for retired non-citizens over 50 years old that comes with an income requirement of $1,500 a month.
  • Buying a property worth $375,000 or over allows you to get a residence permit.

15. Chile – stargazing and wine

In most metrics, Chile is on par with its Central American neighbours. Property prices are similar to those in Panama, although visa income requirements are higher. You also don’t pay income tax on pensions, so you automatically have more money to play with than elsewhere.

Best countries to retire - Chile
Viña del Mar, Valparaiso Region, Chile.

Property in its capital, Santiago, is more expensive than elsewhere, but you can get some good value for your money.

Spending between $670,000 and $1.3 million could get you anything from a 2-bed apartment to a 5-bed villa with a pool.

However, if you’re up for a more interesting project, spending $43,000 could get you a riverside plot of land in Los Lagos – perfect for building your own home! Being able to drive is a must, as the country has a mountain or two.

Chile has good cultural appeal, and the weather isn’t to be sniffed at either.

As the country is such a long strip of land, you can literally choose your preferred climate. Settle down in the North for a dry desert climate. Opt for central areas for a Mediterranean feel. Go to the south for rainier maritime weather.

Chile also is famous for its beautiful starry skies with little light pollution and a clear view of the spectacular southern sky.

And let’s not forget the wine. Chilean wines are well made and reasonably priced, just like the country itself!

Highlights:

  • Diverse landscape ranging from the Andes mountains to the driest place on Earth: the Atacama Desert.
  • Good choice for wine lovers – Chile is a hotspot for new-world wines.
  • International healthcare plans start from around $1,200 for a couple.

You can get more information about expat life in Chile including the cost of living, where to live, the pros and cons, visa and residency options and much more in our Living In Chile guide.

16. Argentina – something for everyone

Argentina is Chile’s next-door neighbour, so is fairly similar in terms of cultural appeal and weather. However, as the second-largest country in South America (and the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world), there’s much greater diversity in where to live.

Best countries to retire - Argentina
Bariloche, Argentina’s “Little Switzerland”, with its beautiful lake and surrounding mountains has a distinctly Alpine feel.

Argentina is a fascinating mix of Latin American and European cultures. Buenos Aires – the Paris of South America, has a very strong European feel thanks to the many European immigrants. The country is so big, there’s something for everyone. Whatever you are looking for, you can almost certainly find it.

Much like its neighbouring countries, you don’t have to pay income tax on pension income. Better yet, the cost of living is almost half that of Chile.

There are 2 visa options: the rentista visa for expats with passive income, and the pensionado visa if you have a state lifelong pension.

Income requirements for the pensionado visa – minimum 30,000 Argentine Pesos a month that should come from the social security system in the country of origin.

For the rentista (which is the most suitable for international retirees with various passive income sources), you need to demonstrate a minimum of $2,000 per month in passive income.

Argentina’s healthcare infrastructure puts it on par with more developed nations. An international healthcare policy for a couple starts from around $817 a month, making it cheaper than in some European countries.

Highlights:

  • You could buy a vineyard in Tunuyan for a cool $300,000!
  • Argentinian cuisine is known for its religious reverence for steak.
  • Highly urbanised country, although rural areas have incredibly affordable properties.

Find out more in our Living In Argentina guide.

17. Paraguay – the most affordable in Latin America

Paraguay’s main draw from a retirement perspective is its cost of living.

Best countries to retire - Paraguay
Iguazu Falls in Paraguay

Although countries like Turkey and Argentina have lower everyday costs, property in Paraguay is about a sixth of that in the latter. Importantly, visa income requirements are very low, too; proving a monthly income of $1,300 provides various import tariff exemptions.

Paraguay is a land-locked country, so you should look elsewhere if the sea is an important factor for you. As with other South American countries, it only has two seasons (wet and dry) but boasts more sunshine hours than its neighbours.

It would make a great base of operations for retirees wanting to explore more of South America. You can easily travel throughout the continent, exploring and enjoying different cultures. So, while there may not be a coastline in Paraguay, you can take your pick of the continent’s finest.

Highlights:

  • No tax on foreign-sourced income
  • Cheapest country in our top 20.
  • It’s a stable country both economically and politically.

Find out more about this undiscovered paradise in our Living In Paraguay guide.

18. Dubai – retirement in style in the sunniest destination

No, Dubai is not a country, but being such a prominent expat hotspot and with its Dubai Retirement Programme being well underway, it takes a deserved place in our ranking of the best retirement destinations.

Best countries to retire - Dubai
Dubai

Dubai has something of a reputation for opulence, and this is no more obvious than in how expensive it can be. The cost of property is on par with some western European countries such as Germany, for example, but the cost of living is higher. 

The weather in Dubai is exactly what you might expect: sunny, dry and very, very hot. Temperatures drop to a cool 12 degrees C in the winter and rise to the mid-40s in summer. Almost everywhere is air-conditioned, but you better be ready for that summer heat.

The country is an expat melting pot; around 90% of its population are foreign-born residents. Consequently, life here is tailored for expats and their needs. You will find anything you want in terms of facilities and healthcare, and all of it is high-end and modern. 

One massive benefit of Dubai’s soaring wealth is its infrastructure. Everything you need is within easy reach, shopping and hospitality scenes are top-notch, with endless activities and entertainment options.

Highlights:

  • The sunniest nation in our top 20.
  • International healthcare for a couple starts at around $1,500 a month.
  • No income tax in Dubai.

Read more about expat life in Dubai in our Living In Dubai guide.

19. Malaysia – top Asian retirement destination

Malaysia is the only Asian country in our top 20 and has plenty to offer as an interesting retirement destination. Its low cost of living and location in Asia means it has a fast-growing expat population.

Best countries to retire - Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur is home to the biggest expat community in Malaysia.

Many are drawn in by its retirement visa programme, known as Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H).

To qualify you need to be over the age of 50 and show proof of $119,000 in liquid assets. Then, depositing $34,883 into a Malaysian bank, or proving a monthly income of $2,300, means you receive a 10-year multiple entry visa.

Any money you bring into the country is tax-exempt, and after one year, you can withdraw up to $11,500 from your deposit for buying a house or car.

While the income requirements are certainly higher than in other countries on our list, obtaining a visa is arguably much simpler if you have the finances. Combine this with its good location in Asia, decent cultural appeal, and amazing food, and you have a good choice for retirement.

Highlights:

  • MM2H programme is specifically designed to attract foreign investors over retirement age.
  • Good proximity to Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and more.
  • Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia have surprising cultural and economic differences, giving you distinct regions in which to settle down.

20. Mexico – living simply and affordably

Rounding out our top 20 is Mexico, famed for its cultural appeal, simpler lifestyle and fantastic weather.

Best countries to retire - Mexico
Puerto Morelos beach, Riviera Maya, Mexico.

It makes a great choice for retirees who want close proximity to the USA but also a country with a fierce cultural heritage and lower cost of living.

Simplifying your lifestyle is the best way to distress and live longer and happier. Add to this inexpensive property, a lower cost of living, good quality healthcare, amazing outdoors and a good dose of sunshine, and what you get is a perfect recipe for a happy retirement. All of these are on offer in Mexico.

Besides, the cost of living is about a third of that in the USA. Your US or Canadian dollar, British pound or Euro go a long way when converted to pesos mexicanos.

The choice of locations is so big, it can be a problem just to decide where in Mexico you want to live. There are quite a few expat hotspots, of course, but the popularity pushes up the prices.

A 2-bed house with breathtaking ocean views in Ensenada, Baja California, can be found for around $300,000.

Be prepared to pay around $179,000 for a decent 2-bed apartment somewhere like Quintana Roo or a bit more to get a nice villa in a more rural area.

Highlights:

  • International healthcare starts from around $1,500 a month and gets you services often on par with the USA.
  • The quality of Mexican food and culture pretty much speaks for itself.
  • Temporary residence income requirements – $2,400-$2700 a month.

To find out more about retirement in Mexico, the costs, pros and cons and other details, read our Living In Mexico guide.

The 20 best countries to retire – summary

So there we have it, our top 20 countries for international retirement. The practical and verified information we’ve included should hopefully help you narrow down some choices for your perfect retirement destination abroad.

Of course, nothing beats travelling to these countries and experiencing them first-hand. In the meantime, though, reach out if you have any questions about any of the entries on this list. As you can see, we have a large and dedicated community of expat readers, so we can happily connect you with the right people for more information.

How we find the best countries to retire

The best countries are the ones that give you the best compromise possible between living costs and all the rest that’s important for a happy retirement.

Every year Expatra team evaluate the 50 most popular countries for international retirement based on the following criteria:

  • Quality of life: we evaluate the countries’ infrastructure, life expectancy and safety.
  • How much it costs: we factor in property prices, healthcare costs, cost of living, taxes and income requirements for retirement or long-stay visa/residency.
  • How attractive each country is: we look at the weather and climate, cultural appeal, and how popular the idea of retiring to each country is in Google search.

Our main data source is the Expatra Global Retirement Survey, which asks international retirees to rate their retirement destination’s infrastructure, climate, ease of settling down, value for money and friendliness.

Other data sources include Happy Planet Index, LivingCost.org, Global Property Guide, World Population Review.

International healthcare costs are provided by our partners International Insurance.

Anthony Langone

Thursday 6th of October 2022

I was a little surprised Ecuador and Belize were not on your list since they seem to be on every other list the last few years. Why? Also, what about Uruguay? I suspect Uruguay is too expensive for average retirees; my research shows it doesn’t appear to be any cheaper than USA.

Filomena Pasquino

Sunday 27th of February 2022

Thank you for posing this very informative, helpful article. A great variety of places to retire leave one much to think about.

Karyn

Sunday 23rd of January 2022

Panama is one of the MOST expensive countries in the world, the cost of living is too high and the health care services are impossible to pay. To be able to retire in Panama you most have a income of 5.000 USD at least.