These Are The Greatest Places In The World For Expats To Retire

Many seniors opt to retire abroad because they seek a more adventurous and/or affordable lifestyle. There are many places expats can relocate to that offer both beautiful landscapes and a lower cost of living. Some countries are more expensive than others, but they offer exotic cuisine, once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities, friendly neighbors, and other perks…

Canada Is An Affordable Alternative To The United States

Photo credit: Manuel Romano/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Photo credit: Manuel Romano/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Retirees who want to live in an English-speaking country similar to the United States should head to Canada. Americans who become permanent residents have access to universal health care, which, although not perfect, is a great alternative to the expensive options in the United States. Prescription drugs are also considerably cheaper.

While major cities have pricey housing, affordable options are available in areas such as Vancouver Island and Prince Edward Island (oceanfront homes can cost as little as $115,000). A stable banking system and Canada’s proximity to the United States also make our neighbor to the north a desirable place to retire.

The U.S. Dollar Is Strong In Ecuador, Which Features Stunning Landscapes

Photo Credit: Rafael Rodriguez/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Rafael Rodriguez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Retirees on a budget can live well in Ecuador because the U.S. dollar is strong in the South American country, which features Spanish structures, the Amazon, the Andes mountains, and the Galapagos Islands. The U.S. dollar is the official currency and it goes so far there that many retirees can even afford a maid service or a vacation home.

Seniors enjoy discounts on public transportation, utilities, and entertainment, and expats are not required to pay taxes on social security income. Public health care is available, and it’s possible to live in the country for anywhere between $12,000 and $24,000 a year.

Germany Isn’t One Of The Cheapest Options, But It’s Modern & Culturally Diverse

Photo credit: THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP/Getty Images
Photo credit: THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP/Getty Images

In a nutshell, Germany has great health care, diverse recreational activities, first-world advantages, and exciting cultural events for expats. According to the New York Times, it’s the fourth choice for Americans who want to retire abroad. Many choose the European country due to its high purchasing power and safe environment.

While not as sunny or tropical as other retirement destinations, it’s modern and other countries are easy to visit by taking a train. Overall, it’s 23 percent cheaper to live in Berlin than in Chicago, with rent being 35 percent lower. A one-bedroom apartment is about $750 a month. Its health care is pricey but is one of the best in the world.

Panama Has A Lively Capital City & Laid-Back Atmosphere

Photo credit: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images
Photo credit: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

More and more people are retiring to Panama due to its stunning natural environment and culturally diverse capital city, which offers modern conveniences and exciting activities. It can cost as little as $500 a month to retire there, although a more comfortable lifestyle would be around $2,000 a month.

Health insurance runs around $145 a month for retirees and covers a large chunk of expenses. The Pensionado Visa also offers discounts for transportation, entertainment, and other services, including utilities. Negatives include diseases such as the Zika virus, poor road conditions and a laid-back atmosphere that may mean delays in getting things that you need.

Foodie Destination Italy Is Affordable If You Know Where To Look

Photo credit: MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images
Photo credit: MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images

Retired foodies will find heaven on earth in Italy. The European country also features great skiing, hiking, sailing, and swimming, as well as a beautiful coastline. Italy can be costly and tourist places are pricey, but expats can save money by living in the south or in the countryside.

With $200,000 in savings and regular income such as social security or a pension, retirees can find a nice home or apartment while still enjoying dinners out, shopping, and an occasional vacation. Italy’s health care is one of the best in the world, and legal residents can apply for the national plan.

Costa Rica Boasts Beautiful Beaches & A Low Cost Of Living

Photo credit: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images
Photo credit: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

Costa Rica is a beautiful country with countless natural wonders. What retiree wouldn’t be happy lounging on white sand beaches and exploring tropical forests? Flights between San Jose and New York City cost around $400, so expats can easily visit loved ones back in the states.

Those wishing to spend the last few years of their lives in the Central American country can do so on a budget — spending only $1,300 to $1,600 a month there for a comfortable lifestyle. Housing costs range from $450 to $950 a month depending on what type of dwelling one prefers.

Retiring To Ireland Is Comparable To Retiring In Arizona

Photo credit: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Photo credit: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Who wouldn’t want to retire in beautiful Ireland? Expats who choose an area such as County Kerry will be pleasantly surprised by its lower costs for products such as fish, vegetables, bread and other groceries. Utility costs can be higher than those in the states, but things such as auto insurance are cheaper.

Health insurance is also considerably less than it is in the United States. A home in County Kerry costs around $125,000. In general, the cost of living is similar to that of Arizona. Those who can afford a budget of about $30,000 a year can live comfortably in certain parts of Ireland.

Mexico Is Warm & Has Affordable Health Care

Photo credit: DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images
Photo credit: DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images

Mexico is a great place to retire if you like warm weather and affordable health care ($140 a month). A couple can live comfortably in the country for around $2,175 a month, which covers housing, utilities, groceries, and other necessities. People can save money by shopping where the locals do and avoiding more pricey tourist destinations.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that certain areas in Mexico are safe while others are less so. It’s also essential when retiring anywhere abroad to adhere to visa and residency requirements as well as tax regulations, which may require an attorney to set things straight.

Spain Is Modern & Historic With An Emphasis On Friends & Family

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Photo credit: David Aliaga/NurPhoto via Getty Images

For those seeking a warm climate and beautiful beaches with a European flair, Spain is the place to retire. A couple seeking to live in a developed country with quality private health insurance can reside there comfortably for around $2,100 a month. Spain features modern housing, amenities, public transportation, and broad access to the internet.

Expats can choose between vibrant cities such as Barcelona and Valencia or smaller, coastal or country towns. Spaniards are laid back and put a lot of time and effort in their friends and family. They also value art, architecture, music, and other cultural diversions.

Malaysia Features High-Quality Health Care & Most Citizens Speak English

Photo credit: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Photo credit: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Aspiring expats don’t typically consider Southeast Asia as a place to retire, but the island nation of Malaysia beckons with an average year-round temperature of 86 degrees and sunny skies. Buying or renting a home is affordable (around $75,000), and many condos and bungalows feature views of the sea.

Nearly all medical professionals are trained in Europe and Australia, making for good, high-quality health care that is relatively lower in price than other countries. Most residents speak English as a second language, and the Malaysian lifestyle is known for being very laid back and open to foreigners.

Sweden Has A Strong Economy & Is Open To Newcomers

Photo credit: James D. Morgan/Getty Images
Photo credit: James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Ninety percent of residents in Sweden speak English, and the cost of living is cheaper than it is in Chicago, New York City, and other major American cities. Stockholm, comparatively, is quite a bargain. The economy is good, and many Americans already live there.

Sweden is open to foreigners and has accepted many immigrants over the years, including Syrian refugees. The country is doing its best to accommodate newcomers by offering perks such as health care, public services, and a quality education. One caveat is that Swedish is very difficult to learn, and the country can get quite cold during the winter.

Colombia Is The Spot For Those On A Budget

Photo credit: LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images
Photo credit: LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images

Expats who choose Colombia for retirement will quickly realize that their money will go twice as far than it does in the United States. For example, a week of groceries for two will cost less than $100. Local beer costs just 40 cents a bottle at the supermarket. A typical lunch for two at a medium-priced restaurant can cost around $12.

Housing is extremely affordable, with apartments outside of the tourist areas costing $450 a month or less. Utilities are also much cheaper than the United States, and taxes are extremely low. And unlike places such as Florida, expats don’t have to worry about natural disasters such as hurricanes.

Portugal Is A Developed Country Within Close Proximity To Other European Destinations

Photo credit: PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images
Photo credit: PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images

Portugal welcomes foreigners, and its visa and tax programs make it easy for those earning a minimum of $1,400 a month to retire there. The cost of living is affordable, and the country is located in Europe, making it an easier to adjust to than some Central or South American countries — particularly if one seeks a developed country, not one that’s still developing.

There’s easy access to nearby countries, such as Spain, and culturally diverse activities. Portugal is also very connected when it comes to the internet, making it easy to stay in touch with friends and family at home in the United States.

Nicaragua Is One Of The Cheapest Places To Live

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Photo credit: Jon G. Fuller/VW Pics/UIG via Getty Images

While Nicaragua had a bad reputation in the 1980s, it’s emerged as a very safe and stable country. It’s also one of the cheapest places to live for expats. A couple can comfortably reside there for around $1,200 a month. A new condo in Grenada costs about $99,000.

It has a stunning coastline (making it one of the world’s best-surfing destinations) and a tropical rainforest. The government offers a retiree benefits program for those over age 45 who have a monthly income of at least $600. Property taxes are low, and there are great real estate investment opportunities.

Malta’s Natural & Historic Beauty Make It Very Desirable

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Photo credit: Geography Photos/UIG via Getty Images

Malta is a tiny chain of islands in the Mediterranean with stunning cliffs, beautiful sunsets, and sun nearly year round. While tiny, it’s very welcoming to foreigners and features a sizable English-speaking community. Slightly more costly than other retirement destination spots, it runs around $2,700 a month for a couple to reside there.

A two-bedroom apartment in Sliema costs around $800 a month, but other spots can cost as little as $600 a month. A dinner out is about $25, including wine. Private health care is considerably cheaper than the United States. But what’s most appealing are its historic sites, festivals, and natural beauty.

Peru Is Less Popular But Just As Beautiful As Mexico And Costa Rica

Photo credit: ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images
Photo credit: ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images

Most expats who seek to retire abroad do so to save money and have a good quality of life. Peru is a great alternative to popular spots such as Mexico and Costa Rica but offers similar benefits. It is culturally diverse, geographically beautiful, and features a low cost of living.

The U.S. dollar is strong in Peru, and retirees can live in a three-bedroom unit in central Lima for around $900 a month. Those willing to reside 20 minutes outside of the city can spend half as much on accommodations. But what’s even more appealing are the Andes mountains, quaint fishing villages, and breathtaking scenery.

Vietnam Has A Low Cost Of Living & A Varied Climate

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Photo credit: Joaquin Gomez Sastre/NurPhoto via Getty Images

One of the reasons Vietnam is a desirable retirement destination is due to its climate — the south is warm all year round, while the north has four seasons and even some snowfall now and again. Popular spots include Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Da Nang. Food is inexpensive, and the cost of living is low.

Expats can live comfortably for about $2,000 a month, while it costs less than half that amount in smaller cities. Unfortunately, the country does not offer retiree visas and permanent resident visas are limited. New hospitals in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offer decent medical care.

Expats Can Live Comfortably In Thailand If They Budget Well

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Photo credit: Frank Bienewald/LightRocket via Getty Images

Thailand is an appealing option for expats due to its affordable health care, low cost of living, friendly people, exotic cuisine, and beautiful landscapes. Those with $25,000 in savings and an income of $2,000 a month can obtain a retirement visa and live comfortably, though it’s possible to live on quite a bit less.

Retirees who have more to spend can live quite well in Thailand. But there is no public health insurance, and private health care can be expensive. Those who live like the locals do can find inexpensive dwellings and save money by eating local food and produce and avoiding the purchase of alcohol and international foods.

Retirees In Cambodia Live Well On Very Little

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Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images

Cambodia offers a mix of both modern and historic buildings and markets. A city like Phnom Penh is developing but still holds on to its distinctly Asian characteristics. The people are friendly, and the cost of living is low. A retiree can live comfortably on about $1,000 a month and still dine out at nice restaurants and spend time on entertainment.

Phnom Penh offers unlimited wi-fi for under $20 a month, and local shopping markets sell fresh groceries as well as Western food. About 80,000 expats live in the city, and many have enough money to travel to nearby Bali, Hong Kong, and other exotic destinations.

Switzerland Is Safe & Secure With Lower Taxes & Ample Travel Opportunities

Photo credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
Photo credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

One great reason to retire to Switzerland is the government has set up a special retirement residency program for expats who fulfill certain requirements. There’s virtually no crime, and the country is politically and financially secure. Taxes are also lower than they are in the states.

The Swiss value leisure time and often close businesses early in the day (few are open on Sundays). The country is also centrally located, making it easy to travel to other European destinations. One downside is that it is cold nine months of the year, but summers are pleasant and not too hot.