Retiring Overseas: 10 Best Countries to Retire

Best places to retire

With an increasing number of ex-pats deciding against moving/relocating back to their home countries to live/retire, Retiring overseas is becoming increasingly common. So, where are the best places to retire? We take a look and list the 10 best countries to retire.

10. Retiring in Peru

Peru is home to an increasing number of spirited ex-pats. With a coastline of over 2,000 km, valleys and mountains to hike through, ancient colonial settlements and spectacular archaeological sites, not to mention a varied climate which caters to a broad spectrum of people it is not hard to see why.

Areas such as Cusco, the Sacred Valley and of course stunning Macho Pichu have always appealed to visitors drawn to the ancient Inca civilizations, however, foreigners are being drawn to these areas for retirement or long-term stay. With relatively cool nights, daytime temperatures can reach a very comfortable 25 degrees C.

Two-bedroom apartments can be rented for as little as USD 275 per month, with monthly living expenses of around USD 1,200 it is possible to enjoy life at a high standard.

The southern city of Arequipa is less than two hours from the coast and enjoys 10 months of sun per year. The city is renowned for its colonial history and delicious cuisine. In contrast, the charming coastal town of Huanchaco is located only 10 km from the second largest city – Trujillo offering the convenience of a beautiful, slow-paced fishing town close to a bustling major city.

Best places to retire-Peru

Whilst it is true public healthcare is still lagging behind what most ex-pats might be accustomed to, private healthcare is affordable and hospitals and clinics (which are improving in quality and in number year-on-year) are available throughout Peru.

So, the prospect of retiring to Peru; Well, with a great climate, friendly people, delicious cuisine, and an inexpensive cost of living Peru certainly ticks many boxes.

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9. Retiring in Spain

This one is not a surprise. Europeans have been retiring to Spain for decades. Spain’s year-round temperate weather coupled with mile after mile of beaches makes living by the sea accessible for many people. By European terms the cost of living is low and it is possible for a couple to live well for around USD 2,000 per month including a comfortable apartment standard of accommodation.

Spain offers a great infrastructure with good telecommunications, very fast internet speeds, modern amenities and excellent public transport.

Apart from the wonderful culture found in cities like Madrid and Barcelona, Spain offers tremendous diversity throughout the country especially in cooler northern towns like Santander, Bilbao, and San Sebastian (with its wonderful food).

To the east and south, the beaches are plentiful and areas around Valencia, Alicante, Malaga and Marbella are modern and well established and with over 300 days per year of sunshine, why not live by the coast?

Best places to Retire - Spain san-sebastian

One of the most appealing aspects of living in Spain is the pace of life. There is a feeling that life should be enjoyed. People dedicate time to family, to eating and socialising. Late afternoon strolls mean evening meals can start later than you might be used to and go on late into the night.

With wonderful food, music, culture, architecture and passionate colourful people combined with contemporary living and conveniences, Spain certainly offers much and is an ideal place to retire.

8. Retiring in Nicaragua

With its tropical setting providing tremendous bang for your buck Nicaragua is a fast developing country, which has a lot going for it and is becoming an ideal place to retire.

Known as the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes (although only 7 of the country’s 50 volcanoes are active) Nicaragua has been modernising over the last decade with an improving economy and the government investing and focusing on infrastructure. It is probably the safest and most stable country in Central America, which welcomes foreign investment, making it an easy place to buy or rent a property.

Living expenses in Nicaragua are generally very good value and if you make use of local meat, fish and vegetable markets it is possible to live fairly comfortably on a monthly budget of USD 1000, which includes dining out frequently during the course of the month.

Real estate prices whether you are buying or renting are very reasonable and it is possible to own your own home outright – As opposed to a 99-year lease, which is common in many foreign countries. Rental prices can vary depending on where you live however accommodation for a couple is likely two ranges between USD 500 – 700 per month.

Granada is a great place to start exploring the country. A charming colonial city, Granada is home to an established ex-pat group and there are numerous colonial homes to rent.

Best places to retire - Nicaragua

For the active, Nicaragua is paradise. The Caribbean coast offers idyllic beaches and fishing and water sports, and the dramatic Pacific coast boasts the best surfing and spectacular sunsets. The many mountains and lakes provide spectacular hiking opportunities.

The infrastructure continues to improve, the internet and mobile coverage have significantly improved in recent years and transportation links between towns and cities are getting much better. Larger cities are offering more amenities year on year including shopping restaurants and medical facilities.

As is the case in most of Latin/South America, learning some Spanish will undoubtedly enrich your experience, however, more and more people are beginning to speak English in Nicaragua.

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7. Retiring in Portugal

Portugal is not the first destination most people think of as a retirement haven, even though it borders Spain, (which does appear on many peoples radar), and ranks very high in terms of safety and value for money.

If you then add a wonderful climate, friendly locals and a country rich in tradition and history it is not hard to see why more and more retirees are opting for Portugal.

Living in Lisbon would cost a couple around USD 2,000 per month which would include pretty much everything, rent, transport, utilities, groceries, entertainment, private healthcare, etc, which is very good value for a European capital.

The cost of living outside Lisbon would be at least 25% less and the choices of places to live are endless. From coastal towns like Porto or Cascais to inland places such as Sintra or the Sothern area known as the Algarve, so you are spoilt for choice.

Best places to Retire - Portugal

In Lisbon and in touristy areas such as the Algarve, you can get by speaking English but like most places, to really get the best out of your experience a basic understanding of Portuguese allows you to immerse yourself in your newly adopted country and is highly recommended.

The people are relaxed, kind and gentle and very welcoming of foreigners. The crime rate is low and you feel very safe throughout the country, even in the major cities.

Food is excellent and very affordable whether you cook at home or eat out. Much of the food available is produced locally and it is very easy to avoid processed foods ensuring your live a healthier lifestyle.

Healthcare is very good in Portugal. If you are an EU citizen you have the same rights as a Portuguese person and the National Health Service is good and mostly free. Private healthcare is available with clinics and hospitals throughout Portugal. Health insurance is considerably cheaper than much of Europe, US, and Canada.

6. Retiring in Colombia

With a wonderful year-round climate, and the opportunity to live a healthy, active and cost-effective lifestyle, in a spectacularly beautiful country, Colombia offers potential retirees so much.

The tremendous biodiversity means there is a climate to suit everyone. From hot and tropical coastal life, such as Cartagena and Santa Marta to the cooler temperatures in the Highlands and valleys of the Andes, such as Medellin or Envigado.

With its close proximity to the equator, the climate remains pretty much the same all year round as does the daylight hours, twelve hours of light and 12 hours of darkness throughout the year.

Healthcare is excellent with almost half of the best hospitals in Latin America located in Colombia. The country ranks 22 in the WHO ranking of health system which is higher than Germany, Australia, the US, and Canada. Health insurance is reasonably priced and again much lower than many ‘first world’ countries.

best places to retire - Columbia

Colombia’s dark past of drug cartels and kidnappings has largely disappeared replaced by a stable government, which has allowed the country to thrive, and prosper. The country has seen a huge increase in tourists in recent years and foreign investment is enhancing Colombia’s reputation as a great place to visit and retire. The people are incredibly friendly and welcoming to foreigners.

A couple can live comfortably on a budget of between USD 1500-2000 per month. Fruit and vegetables of all kinds are available locally and fresh all year round keeping grocery costs very low and coupled with the tremendous variety of outdoor pursuits such as hiking, tennis, horse-riding, and golf, allow you to eat and live a very healthy lifestyle.

Colombia is an easy place to retire without too much in the way of red tape. If you can prove an income of more than USD 750 per month, you can qualify for the Pensionado category visa, which is valid for three years. Your spouse can then qualify as a dependant on this visa.

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5. Retiring in Malaysia

One of the best countries to retire in the far-east. An exotic, oriental land with a vibrant varied culture influenced by religious and ethnic diversity not to mention colonial rule by the Portuguese, Dutch and British, Malaysia is a rich, intoxicating country.

With English being widely spoken and understood, a straightforward and transparent retirement visa system, a warm tropical climate, friendly people and modern infrastructure, Malaysia should be on every retiree shortlist.

A couple can live modestly for as little as USD 1,500 per month or experience a lavish lifestyle for USD 2,500. Low rent, even in the capital Kuala Lumpur (KL) and reasonably low utilities mean you can hire domestic help, eat out regularly and live an active lifestyle comfortably within your budget.

In addition, excellent communications including super-fast internet, great transport systems and superb healthcare mean you are living in a modern, ‘first world’ country, comparable to somewhere like Singapore but at a fraction of the cost.

For the outgoing, Malaysia has a lot to offer, hiking, jogging, water sports, tennis, and golf at a fraction of the cost you would pay in Europe/USA.

Best places to retire - Malaysia (Amazing cuisine)

You may need to be active to burn off the calories you are likely to take on board from the wonderful cuisine Malaysia has to offer. With strong Chinese and Indian influences, the food is out of this world, especially the street food which is probably the best in Asia – high praise indeed in a region famed for its amazing food.

Healthcare is among the best and cheapest in Asia. Surgical procedures cost a fraction of a price one would have to pay in the West, and of course private health cover is available at a reasonable monthly fee.

The weather is tropical in much of the country, particularly the lowlands and coastal areas. Temperatures tend to vary throughout the country from between 20 – 35 degrees with humidity as high as 80%. In the country’s highlands, the humidity and temperature tend to be lower and areas like the Cameron Highlands are popular places to live and visit.

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4. Retiring in Ecuador

Though a small country in South America, Ecuador is amazingly diverse. From lush forests to arid desert regions, beautiful coastal areas to a cooler setting further inland, at altitude towards the Andes, which forms the backbone of the country; Ecuador is able to offer you the microclimate that suits you best

Ecuador is slightly bigger than the United Kingdom and slightly smaller than Italy so it is just the right size to explore meaning if you do rent somewhere for a few months, it is easy enough to relocate within the country if you happen to find a place that is perfect. 

However what Ecuador lacks in seasonal change it makes up for with sheer scenic beauty; picturesque valleys, stunning waterfalls, turquoise oceans, idyllic beaches, and snow-capped mountains to name a few.

Ecuador is one of the best countries to retire to, because of the low cost of living with a couple of able to live extremely well on only USD 1500 per month. If you are willing to change the way you shop, focusing more on local markets, not only will you enjoy better food quality you will make tremendous savings compared to buying processed food from large supermarkets?

Language can be a problem outside of the major cities. It may be difficult to find many people who can speak any English, however much can be achieved with basic Spanish. Ecuadorians are generally happy to see you making an effort to speak their native tongue.

Best places to retire - Ecuador (colourful old houses in Quito)

Cuenca, a colonial city of just under 600,000 inhabitants is a good place to start. The capital of Quito or Guayaquil are other major cities. If you prefer a life in the countryside, there are several options such as Vilcabamba, Banos or Cotacachi alternatively the largest coastal resort of Salinas.

Residence visas are relatively straightforward to obtain, and whilst this can be done whilst on a visit visa, it is probably best to apply in your home country prior to travel. Obtaining a retirement visa involves jumping through a few hoops but again he is reasonably simple, making this one of the best countries to retire.

Healthcare is of a high standard and available at comparatively low cost. Many medical practitioners and doctors were trained in the USA. Major cities have fantastic facilities but even outside of the major urban centers it is possible to find clean modern private clinics and hospitals. Pharmacists are generally well qualified and a wide variety of Western medicines are available over-the-counter.

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3. Retiring in Panama

If you are looking for sunshine, tropical beaches, a stable country offering safety with a growing economy, friendly locals and a very affordable cost of living When it comes to the best country to retire, Panama could be for you.

Panama is a fast developing city which is experienced tremendous growth of the last 15 to 20 years. Infrastructure and amenities are excellent way beyond most people’s expectations it’s possible for a couple to live very comfortably in Panama City for around USD 2500 and this reduces significantly if you choose to live outside of the capital city.

What’s more, in the late 80s the government introduced the pensionado program, which allows retirees to qualify for certain benefits including travel, entertainment and hospital visits and even discount on restaurant meals, making this is a great country to retire to.

There is incredible diversity and choice in terms of where you want to live places like Bocas Del Toro on the Caribbean coast or David on the Pacific coast, to Boquete in the Chiqriqui Highlands, about a 6-hour flight from Panama City.

Best places to retire - Panama (Downtown Panama City)

Healthcare, similar to what can be found in Ecuador, is extremely good. Many US-educated doctors and specialists inhabit the well equipped medical facilities in Panama City and throughout the country. Healthcare is cheap and of a very high standard. Pharmacies are plentiful and stock many medicines you would find in the US and Europe many available without the need for a prescription.

Unless you live in the coastal regions, you may require little or no air conditioning, which helps to keep utility bills to a minimum. Dining out is very reasonably priced; you struggle to spend more than USD 30 for a meal two. Whilst imported foods can be a little expensive the local produce is fantastic and extremely cheap.

2. Retiring in Mexico

Mexico is becoming an increasingly popular ex-pat destination; in fact, more than 1 million North Americans now call it home. With a climate that offers something for everybody, rich history a vibrant culture with friendly people and relaxed lifestyle, amazing food and good infrastructure and a cost of living well below Europe and North America, Mexico ranks number 2 as the best country to retire to.

One thing you are guaranteed is a lot of sunshine. Coastal areas, the Pacific to the west, the Caribbean to the east and Gulf of Mexico to the north all share tropical climates – occasionally with high humidity. Moving inland, particularly at higher elevations you will much cooler temperatures. Areas surrounding Mexico City even experience snowfall during winter. Every type of accommodation is available from city apartments to beachside villas, ranches, colonial houses and golf course homes.

Retirement in Mexico can be facilitated through a Permanent Resident Visa, which is a relatively straightforward procedure provided you meet the financial criteria. Here is some more information regarding Mexican immigration

Depending on where you live monthly expenses including housing and health care can range from USD 1500 to 2500 per month. Eating out at the numerous restaurants and street food vendors is not expensive but can increase the waistline (so be careful). Things like telecommunication and super-fast internet is available and relatively inexpensive.

Best places to retire - Mexico (Flamenco dancer)

Healthcare is good in Mexico although not quite as good as most countries on this list. Most large and medium-sized cities in Mexico have at least one grade A hospital. The cost of medical care is considerably more than it is in western countries with most medical conditions being adequately catered for, however, it is probably wise to consider seeking treatment for serious medical conditions before you move to Mexico.

Crime is much less of an issue than the news and media networks would have you believe. Tourist crimes in certain areas can be an issue, however, the vast majority of towns and villages are very safe.

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1. Moving to Costa Rica

Any top ten shortlists of places to retire will almost certainly feature Costa Rica. A country which can offer a wonderful climate, bargain real estate and stunning natural beauty at a very reasonable cost of living, it comes in at number one on the list.

Much of Costa Rica’s appeal stems from its stability. Successive governments have grown the economy, encouraged foreign investment and made determined steps towards renewable energy in addition to genuine commitment towards education. This has led to a vibrant prosperous country with good infrastructure, excellent health care, and low crime rates.

There exists a genuine feeling of ‘live and let live’ which many newcomers find incredibly liberating and refreshing.

Healthcare is excellent and very affordable, with herbal and tradition traditional medicines also widely available. The abundant vegetables and fresh fruit, available all year round, (the wonderfully fertile soil means that many people grow their own), adds to the feeling of health and well-being.

Best places to retire - Costa Rica (Pristine beach with palm trees)

In rural areas such as Atenas and Grecia, ex-pats can be found living amongst the coffee plantations. Alternatively, beach lovers tend to inhabit areas such as Playa del Coco or Tamarindos and in the Highland region, experts can be found enjoying a milder climate on the shores of Lake Arenal. Not to mention of course the countries’ capital San Jose. Costa Rica offers biodiversity to suit most peoples taste.

Accommodation for a couple would start at around USD 500 in many places. And monthly living expense including accommodation can be comfortably achieved for under USD 2,000.

Qualifying for residency in Costa Rica is very straightforward provided you have USD 1000 per month showing as an income/ pension.

Costa Rica is rich in traditions. Whilst most of the country is Catholic, religion is more traditional than as a strict practice. Costa Ricans are generally very courteous and friendly, especially welcoming towards foreigners. They hold ideals such as personal liberty in extremely high regard.

English is widely spoken particularly among younger generations who are increasingly influenced by American culture.

So there you have it. We have explored the best places to retire. We hope this article has been some use to you, (why not share this with someone you know), and we wish you all the best of luck.

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