The Getaway
The Best Places to Retire Around the World

Increasing numbers of folks ready to retire are choosing international destinations to spend quality time during their golden years. Not only do they find a lower cost of living in many cases, but they also connect with communities of other retirees from all over the world. There are several reasons why retirees choose these specific places. Some want an affordable lifestyle, or healthcare options that they can't get in the US Others seek new adventures in intriguing locales. Consider these exciting options if you're thinking about retiring to an international destination.


01 Thailand

If you want to retire in a country that offers endless cultural exploration, magnificent natural landscapes, and amazing cuisine experiences, consider Thailand. However, if you insist on living by a precise daily schedule, Thailand may not be the best choice for your retirement. Life here has its own vibe.

Thailand provides impressive options, whether you choose to live humbly or be a big spender. Choose a lavish condo, an inexpensive villa, or an affordable apartment for your home. Retirees will find world-class healthcare and a country that is generally safe to walk around in any time of day or night.

Koh Phi Phi (Tonsai Pier), Ao Nang, Thailand Photo by Frankie Spontelli on Unsplash

02 Slovenia

Slovenia is a progressive, fast-growing country in Central Europe with an ever-increasing retirement population, but many people probably haven't considered retiring there. Although it is small, Slovenia is not only one of the most sustainable countries in the world, but it also has an impressive infrastructure. Thankfully, it manages to maintain its old-world charm. Slovenia is far less crowded than other places of similar size in Europe. Just over 2 million people live there.

If you're a nature-minded retiree, you'll love the temperate climate and diversity of landscapes to choose from, including a 30-mile Mediterranean coastline, mountain vistas, and alpine meadows. Explore the small lakeside community of Bled if you're seeking a location with natural beauty but fewer tourists. This unique town has bike paths, coffee shops, and boutiques, with outdoor activities year-round.

Bled, Slovenia Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

03 Spain

Retirees who move to Spain usually end up living in a smaller living space than what they planned on. However, the reasons have nothing to do with the cost. A couple can live here comfortably on about $25,000 per year unless they live in one of the larger cities. A majority of the residents here spend most of their time outdoors. The climate is warm, and there are endless numbers of cafes, beach destinations, and shopping districts to explore.

Each Spanish city has a unique rhythm. Barcelona is renowned as a touristy, colorful city with a beautiful coastline, while Madrid is considered a haven of culture and elegance. If you love to cook, you can purchase an intriguing selection of affordable meat and fish, in-season fruits and vegetables, and Mediterranean olive oil available from local markets in every city.

Castillo Gibralfaro, Málaga, Spain Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash

04 Malta

With its English-speaking population, warm, sunshiny days, affordable living, and high-quality healthcare system, Malta is a retiree's paradise. This island-state, lying just 50 miles south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea, is actually five different islands. The closer you live to the coast, the higher you can expect to pay for living accommodations. Although the cost of housing in Malta has increased significantly in recent years, it's still an affordable option for many retirees.

Public transportation around the island is inexpensive and efficient. If you're seeking an urban living experience, check out Valletta, the beautiful capital city of Malta. With its Baroque architecture and rich history, there are a huge number of sites for you to explore. If you prefer a quieter setting, consider Mdina, a town of 300 people, also known as "the Silent City." Signs posted around town remind visitors to keep down the noise.

Marsaxlokk, Malta Photo by Remi Yuan on Unsplash

05 Austria

As a retirement destination, Austria offers all the scenic attributes of Switzerland but at a much lower cost. However, the standard of living is high, as is the cost of living when compared to other destinations. The official language is German, and ex-pats and locals recommend that you learn to speak it. The government offers settlement permits for non-EU pensioners who wish to retire here but have no gainful employment.

Austria is worth checking out for those who prefer a colder climate with world-class skiing. Most of the people who live here are insured, so retirees are expected to carry their own insurance. The quality of healthcare available is excellent. If you're seeking a city with rich, vibrant nightlife, consider Graz, Austria's second-largest city. But if you prefer a much more relaxed place to live, visit Villach on the country's southern border.

Hallstatt, Austria Photo by Daniel Frank on Unsplash

06 Chile

This South American country is famous as the most peaceful state in Latin America. Chile is the chosen destination for a large population of ex-pats for many reasons, including reliable healthcare. Most say that the country offers a metropolitan lifestyle on a very low budget. Retirees can live well on less than $2000 a month.

A majority of retirees choose to live in Santiago, the capital city. Others prefer the seaside community of La Serena or the bohemian energy of Valparaíso, a city of cobblestone streets, unique architecture, and fishing wharves. The Chilean scenery is magical and inspiring, and there is a rich cultural life here that offers endless exploration.

Las Condes, Chile Photo by Juan Pablo Ahumada on Unsplash

07 Uruguay

Montevideo at sunset, Uruguay

Another South American retirement destination, Uruguay, is a contrast between its historic roots and modern culture. Local cities offer a dynamic nightlife, with an array of dining experiences, tango classes, nightclubs, and outdoor entertainment. The coastal city of Montevideo is home to more than half of the country's population. You'll love the many plazas, tree-lined streets, parks, neighborhood shops, and cafes.

Most English-speaking retirees live in one of five neighborhoods in the city: Carrasco, Pocitos, Punta Carretas, Centro, or Ciudad Vieja. Couples who own an apartment in Montevideo can expect living expenses of around $2000 a month.


08 Belize

Sunset Kayak in Belize Beach

Retirees can obtain residency in Belize easily, compared to many other international retirement choices. This tiny country sits on the western edge of the Caribbean Sea and offers a much lower cost of living than the US, and it is relatively safe. If you enjoy an active lifestyle, you'll probably love San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye. This beachside community offers snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, and fishing groups, as well as social get-togethers with other ex-pats.

Corozal is a town of about 10,000 people in the northern part of Belize. It is primarily English-speaking. There is a wide array of casinos and coastal developments here, with condos and budget-priced houses available. It is a popular area for retirees to purchase or rent homes.


09 Portugal

Many retirees would be surprised to learn that the cost of living in Portugal is less than it is in the US. But that isn't the only reason so many choose this country as a place to retire. Portugal offers a variety of unique living experiences, whether you prefer a sleepy fishing village on the coastline or a bustling city on the Rio Douro.

A large number of retirees have found their home in the Algarve region, 16 municipalities on Portugal's southern coast. The area earned high marks as the most affordable option in Europe for retirees. The capital city of Lisbon is another favorite destination for international retirees.

Aveiro, Portugal Photo by Ricardo Resende on Unsplash

10 Vietnam

Although Americans may still associate this country with war and conflict, the country of Vietnam offers an affordable lifestyle in a rapidly growing economy. Most couples can live comfortably on $800 to $1200 per month. If you search for housing, you'll discover a selection of new apartment complexes, complete with laundries, gyms, and swimming pools. Like other retirement options, the cost of living is higher in larger cities. The local people are friendly, and many of them speak English.

There are 2000 miles of coastline in Vietnam, as well as forests in the highlands, tropical lowlands, and large river deltas. Traffic congestion and pollution are issues in the main cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The rural areas offer some relief due to fewer cars on the roads.

Nguyen Hue, Vietnam Photo by Peter Nguyen on Unsplash

11 France

France is within the means of many American retirees. Real estate is cheap, around $35,000 for a small townhouse; healthcare is rated the best in the world, with a doctor's visit costing you $30, and the cost of living is low. You can enjoy a nice bottle of wine for $3.50, with a wedge of brie going for around $1.15.

These prices apply to the south of France, where there's plenty of warm temperatures and sunshine. Paris will cost you much more.

Eiffel tower in the rays of the setting sun on the bank of Seine river with cruise tourist ships frantic00 / Getty Images

12 Ecuador

Ecuador is among the best bargains for retirees in the Americas. This is a representative democracy on the northwest portion of South America, with Columbia to the north, Peru to the east and south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. A couple can retire here for less than $20,000 per year.

There are several ex-pat communities, with 12,000 Americans and Canadians living here. Healthcare meets international standards and is affordable. Travel to the US is easy, and Ecuador's currency is the US dollar.

Historical colonial district of Quito and the monument of "Virgin of El Panecillo" Eduardo Fonseca Arraes / Getty Images

13 Colombia

Colombia is hard to beat for the quality of life and cost of living. A couple can live well for less than $2,000 per month in most Colombian cities, including a two-bedroom apartment and healthcare that rivals the US for quality.

The climate is near-perfect, and the mountains are beautiful, as is the coast, either the Pacific Ocean or the Caribbean Sea.

Plaza Botero, Medellin, Colombia John Coletti / Getty Images

14 Mexico

Mexico has plenty to offer retirees: reasonable cost of living, healthcare comparable to the US, varied geography, and proximity to the United States. You'll cover all of your expenses for roughly $2,000 per month.

Cellular and wi-fi connectivity is excellent, which is why many Americans semi-retire in Mexico before taking the plunge.

Panoramic Aerial View of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. ferrantraite / Getty Images

15 Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a dream vacation destination for thousands, and it is becoming the dream retirement destination for many Americans. Costa Rica's high level of medical and dental care and reasonable cost of living are two reasons; the tropical climate and beautiful scenery are others.

There is plenty of exploring to do in Costa Rica with its incredible biodiversity with, rainforests, beaches, and volcanoes. You can hike, kayak, fish, and snorkel in clear Costa Rican waters.

Costa Rica Janusz Kubow / Getty Images

16 Norway

Having been ranked as one of the happiest countries for over a decade, Norway is a dream retirement destination for many. Those who love the outdoors will be especially well suited to moving here — there are endless opportunities for hiking, trekking, and camping. Also, it's remarkably easy to integrate yourself into the community as a large chunk of the population speaks fluent English.

Beautiful Nature Norway aerial photography. cookelma/ Getty Images

17 Switzerland

While living in Switzerland is by no means cheap, it's a very sought-after retirement destination. What makes it so popular is a combination of having some of the world's best standard of living, low taxes, and a real sense of safety and stability. Fans of winter sports will appreciate the pristine Alpine slopes, although anyone can enjoy the lush natural scenery the country is famous for. What's particularly appealing is that so many of these gorgeous sights are just a short drive away from the city, which allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds: the tranquility of nature and the sociability of city living.

Zermatt village with view of Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps extravagantni/ Getty Images

18 Iceland

Ever since Iceland ranked first in retiree well-being a few years ago, it's skyrocketed in popularity. This tiny island's claim to fame is for sure its varied yet consistently breathtaking nature: the mountains, volcanoes, waterfalls, glaciers, and the Northern lights. You can spend years taking in the beauty of this small island and never get bored. Keep in mind, however, that the language can be a bit hard to learn, and you might feel a bit isolated at first, so consider investing in some classes before moving there.

Cityscape Reykjavík, Iceland powerofforever/ Getty Images

19 Ireland

Getting a residential visa for Ireland is relatively easy in comparison to other European countries, which makes it a great entry point for those looking to spend their golden year on the old continent. That's not to say that the country itself is lacking in appeal — you'll be spoiled for choice among the quaint towns, striking castles, and friendly locals. Be aware that Ireland is not a budget destination — the entire country, and cities in particular, is notorious for the pricey rents and high cost of living.

Colorful buildings, old boats and cathedral, Cobh harbor, County Cork, Ireland jenifoto/ Getty Images

20 Luxembourg

Located right at the heart of Western Europe, Luxembourg is a small but mighty country. What makes it especially attractive is that, here, multiculturalism is the norm. Strikingly, almost half of the country's population is comprised of foreigners, so you'll get to expand your horizons and won't need to worry about feeling excluded by the locals. Most ex-pats can transfer their pensions to the country quite easily, so you won't have to expend too much energy on bureaucracy at the start — which is, of course, a big plus.

Luxembourg City sunset top view over the old town Tefik Rustemov/ getty Images

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