If you’re thinking about retiring abroad, you’ll need a lot of information to find the best places to retire around the world. But, more importantly, you require guidance on how to interpret that data. That is why the experts at internationalliving.com created the 2022 Annual Global Retirement Index: to assist you in the exciting business of determining where in the world will best suit your needs.
The Retirement Index is the most in-depth and comprehensive survey of its kind. It’s the best way we’ve found to sort through the world’s wealth of opportunity, bring some order, and help you pinpoint the best destination for you and where are best country for expats to retire.
This index is based on hundreds of opinions and real-life experiences—information—gathered by our trusted sources in the world’s best retirement destinations. We consider it a tool for you, our reader. A quick way for you to compare and contrast your best options and start narrowing down your options.
What did their research on the best retirement havens in 2022 reveal? Continue reading… for
Best 10 places to retire
Uruguay is a small country (3.5 million people) located between Brazil and Argentina. Its interior is made up of native grassland that is used for ranching and farming. The Bay of Montevideo, its natural harbor, is a thriving container port. And on its southern coast, which faces the Ro de la Plata (a sea-like estuary) and the Atlantic Ocean, you can find resort towns.
Every employee receives Social Security, paid vacation, and comprehensive healthcare. Anyone who passes the entrance exams is eligible to attend the state university for almost no cost. And the principle of treating others with dignity and respect is still alive and well.
Renting a long-term apartment in Uruguay can be a good option. A two-bedroom apartment in Montevideo’s fashionable Cordón neighborhood can be rented for $700 per month. You can rent a modern apartment in Maldonado for around $500 per month.
If you’d rather own a home than rent one, that’s fine. You can own any type of real estate in Uruguay in your own name. (No partner, trust, or special permissions are required.) You can purchase a newer two-bedroom apartment in Cordón for $150,000 and a nice apartment in Maldonado for $125,000.
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With 300 days of sunshine and 3,000 miles of coastline, Spain entices retirees. The low cost of living, excellent healthcare, first-rate infrastructure, and excellent personal safety round out the package. Spain has long been a popular retirement destination for Britons, Germans, Dutch, and others from Northern Europe. More North Americans are becoming aware of its allure.
This good life comes at a reasonable cost. The cost of living in Spain is surprisingly low. Without a car, a couple can live in the Mediterranean coastal towns for about $2,600 per month. Rents in Madrid and Barcelona are the highest, so you’ll need a larger budget to live there, but as a single woman living in Madrid, I get by on around $2,000 per month. Spain’s public transportation is among the most efficient and least expensive in the world.
Spain’s healthcare system is one of the best in the world. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Competitiveness Report, it is the best in the world, and it is ranked second in International Living’s 2022 Global Retirement Index. According to Bloomberg’s recent post-pandemic “efficiency listing” for healthcare, Spain’s single-payer public health system ranks 16th. In the same study, the United States ranked 55th out of 57 countries. Canada finished in 27th place. You will most likely receive better healthcare in Spain than you do now. The Joint Commission International, the gold standard of hospital care, has accredited 22 hospitals and healthcare facilities in Spain.
France is an incredibly beautiful country with few visitors who are unaffected by its many charms. As Western Europe’s largest and most diverse country (sharing borders with 11 neighbors), it’s no surprise that la belle France has grown in popularity as a top place to retire on the continent. With a captivating culture, breathtaking natural landscapes, and a surprisingly low cost of living, this storied land of fine wine and sumptuous cuisine is an excellent choice for retiring abroad.
Two-bedroom homes in the sun-washed Dordogne region, known for its bucolic vistas of sunflower fields, rolling haystacks, and chateaux (castles) that seem to top every bend along the Dordogne River, are available for $250,000 or less. Once a well-kept secret among our British friends on the other side of the pond, an increasing number of American expats are making the move to this beautiful region in southern-central France.
While the glitzy beach towns of the Côte d’Azur may be expensive, retirees can find significant savings on real estate by venturing a little further inland. The Var department, which borders the Alpes-Maritimes region (home to Nice and Cannes), is brimming with budget-friendly destinations. Picture-postcard villages like Cotignac, Correns, and Pierrefeu provide an authentic French-country lifestyle tucked away among Provence’s grapevines. You can find maisons de village (village-style houses) for less than $200,000, with a larger budget allowing for a large garden and swimming pool.
With all of the talk of fine wine, incredible food, and lower housing costs, it’s easy to overlook one of the most compelling reasons to consider relocating to France: the healthcare system. The system is open to anyone after three months of residency and has no pre-existing condition restrictions, age restrictions, or entry fees. As one of the world’s top healthcare systems (ranked first by the World Health Organization), costs are extremely low, and care is modern and dependable. Charges are set by the government and cannot be raised by any single provider—you will be charged the same fee at the top teaching university in Paris as you would at the local village doctor.
If you took Southern California and mixed it with Tuscany, Spain, and more than a sprinkling of the Greek island of Crete… That person will have created a fairly accurate analog for Malta, a tiny speck of rock in the southern Mediterranean, just a geologic stone’s throw from Sicily.
Houses and apartments in Malta are not cheap. That is due to a number of factors. Because it is a warm, beachy destination for an often-cold continent, the country is in constant demand from the rest of Europe. Furthermore, the country has no property taxes, which has resulted in a situation in which a large number of homes, passed down through generations to multiple heirs, sit in disrepair because the heirs can’t agree on its disposition but have no incentive to sell because there’s no carrying cost. As a result, builders are forced to construct new structures, raising prices.
Meals in cafés and restaurants are less expensive than in the United States, but they are still not cheap. The price of street food is reasonable. A sandwich and a Cisk Beer (pronounced Chisk) will cost you between $3 and $7. However, a nice sit-down meal of pasta and salad with a glass of wine costs around $30 per person. And any imported, packaged food at a local supermarket can be prohibitively expensive. Expats have discovered that the best option is to shop at the local veggie trucks, which can be found in every neighborhood and sell fruits and vegetables. Prices are easily reduced by 30 to 50 percent.
Malta’s healthcare system is of high quality, ranking fifth in the world. As a result, it is a popular medical tourism destination. There are only two hospitals in the country, but there are many medical clinics. Because you do not have access to national health insurance as an expat resident, you will need a travel-medical insurance plan. These typically cost between $2,000 and $2,500 per year and are available from a number of well-known providers.
If you want to retire in a place where you can easily live off $1,500 to $1,825 per month, depending on location and lifestyle, in a culture that hasn’t been gentrified but has all of the accoutrements of modern living, Ecuador should be at the top of your list. Don’t let its obscurity fool you. Ecuador’s tourism industry has grown by 30% in the last five years, and the country attracts North Americans, Europeans, gap year backpackers, explorers, and expats from all over the world, who come to enjoy the country’s ideal combination of climate, culture, and affordability.
There are few places in the world where living costs as little as it does in Ecuador. Whatever your budget, there is something for everyone. Consider that for around $150,000, you can own a home on a Pacific Coast beach or a condo with spectacular views in the Andes. Rentals are plentiful and reasonably priced, with a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in downtown Cuenca available for $500.
Because the land produces excellent food, with mostly year-round growing seasons, prices at local mercados are so low that it is difficult to purchase more than $15 worth of fruits and vegetables. Household help costs $20 for four hours of cleaning, gardeners cost $20, and a deep tissue massage costs $30 to $40 for a 90-minute massage.
Looking for the ideal retirement location on the planet? You are not by yourself. Many people are looking for their own little piece of heaven where they can spend their “best years are yet to come.” Colombia checks many of the boxes for those looking for a place to live that has a lower cost of living, excellent healthcare, close proximity to the United States and Canada, and climate options to suit almost every taste.
Colombia’s healthcare system is ranked 22nd out of 191 countries reviewed by the World Health Organization (WHO). That is higher than Canada, which is ranked 30th, and the United States, which is ranked 37th. Furthermore, when the financial publication América Economa compiled their most recent annual list of Latin America’s top 63 hospitals, 26 of those hospitals were located in Colombia. That means Colombia is home to 41% of the top Latin American hospitals. Hospitals in the larger cities of Bogotá, Medelln, and Bucaramanga have received Joint Commission International accreditation, the gold standard for international healthcare.
It is simple to visit Colombia. You can enter the country for 90 days with only your passport from the United States, the European Union, Canada, or Australia, and then extend your stay for another 90 days. A visa is required if you intend to stay in Colombia for more than 180 days in a calendar year. Retirement visas are relatively simple to obtain, require proof of at least $750 per month in Social Security income or $2,500 from a private pension or 401K (based on current exchange rates), and are valid for up to three years.
It’s no surprise that Portugal has consistently ranked first among the best places to retire. This tiny country in Europe’s southwest corner has something for everyone. Vibrant cities with Old World charm, miles of golden sandy beaches, green, rolling hills, some of the world’s best healthcare, a low cost of living, and safety.
Are you planning to retire and live without a car? Then perhaps city life in Lisbon or Porto is for you. Portugal has an excellent long-distance bus and train system, making it simple to travel throughout the country. Both cities have a large number of expats, and English speakers are easy to find due to tourism.
The Alentejo region, which includes the cities of Beja and Évora, is located south of Lisbon. It is the country’s largest and most rural region, known for its fields of wildflowers, stately cork oaks, historic towns, and small population. Life is slow here, the winters are cool, and the summers are hot and dry.
So, how much money do you require to retire in Portugal? Although it depends on a variety of factors, you can expect to live on one-third less here. In Portugal, a couple can live comfortably, but not lavishly, on $2,500 per month. If you want to live in Lisbon, Porto, Cascais, or the Algarve, you should increase that figure to at least $3,000 per month.
Mexico is, in many ways, the original retirement haven for Americans and Canadians, with expats coming here for 50, 60 years.
The cost of living is, of course, related to one’s lifestyle and habits. However, a retired couple could live comfortably in Mexico for around $2,000 per month. That includes housing, transportation, healthcare, utilities, food, and so on. Some people get by on much less because they live like locals, while others spend a lot more—if you want luxury and high-end, Mexico has it in spades. Prices can be influenced by a location’s popularity, whether it has a large expat population or is a popular tourist destination.
Another significant advantage is the ease with which one can become a resident. The income requirements for the two most common categories are quite reasonable: monthly income of around $2,100 or $36,000 in the bank for temporary residence, or $2,700 or $149,000 in the bank for permanent residence. These figures are estimates due to fluctuations in exchange rates, which can vary from year to year.
2. Costa Rica
Sure, the secret about Costa Rica’s popularity has long been known. But that hasn’t stopped millions of visitors and new foreign residents from discovering its unique brand of enchantment, drawn by the country’s tropical climate, lower cost of living, friendly locals, affordable medical care, vast real estate options, and, of course, the country’s natural beauty. Costa Rica is located in Central America between Nicaragua and Panama, a region that is frequently plagued by political and civil unrest. It is comforting to know that Costa Rica remains a beacon of stability, democracy, and the desired laid-back lifestyle.
Costa Rica has two healthcare systems, one public and one private. After obtaining residency, you pay approximately 7% to 11% of your reported monthly income into the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social healthcare system (Caja for short), and this national medical program is available to you without copays, pre-existing exclusions, or age restrictions.
Residents have the option of combining public and private medical care by self-insuring out of pocket or purchasing private insurance policies.
For around $2,000 to $2500 per month, a couple can live comfortably but not extravagantly. This includes renting a two-bedroom home or condo with North American amenities such as air conditioning, as well as groceries, entertainment, transportation, and healthcare. If you have a monthly budget of more than $3,000, you will be able to live a relaxed lifestyle with most of the creature comforts you require.
Panama is difficult to beat in terms of overall benefits and value. It’s what happens when a slew of experts collaborate to create the ideal tropical storm. All a skeptic needs to do is make a list.
To begin, consider Panama’s geographical location and climate. It’s warm and tropical, but it’s completely outside the hurricane belt. Though it is a high-humidity, high-rain destination, especially in the mountains and along the Caribbean coast, it is also one of the sunniest expat destinations in the region.
People who have never been here have the impression that it is very Third World, but you have reliable power, drinkable water from the tap, high-speed internet, and excellent cell phone service. You can take Central America’s only metro line for 35 cents and get downtown in 10 minutes.
A gleaming skyline and the glistening Panama Bay frame the city center. Residents and tourists alike come here to work out, skate, ride bikes, have picnics, and do a variety of other activities. From here to the romantic historic quarter known as Casco Viejo, a vast, verdant park and recreation area stretches.
No matter where you live in Panama, you’re never more than an hour’s drive from a world-class hospital. I’ll have access to the San Fernando facility in Coronado. It is a satellite of the San Fernando Hospital in Panama City, which is a JCI-accredited facility affiliated with Miami Children’s Hospital, Baptist Health International of Miami, and Tulane University Health Services Center and Hospital Clinic.
Panamanian doctors make you feel as if you are truly cared for. They don’t rush you through appointments, and they’ll often give you their cell phone number so you can reach them directly while you’re in treatment or recovering. In fact, I would say that Panamanians in general are the best part about living in Panama.