When most people think about their retirement plans abroad, it usually goes like this: plenty of sunshine throughout the year, a glass of wine here and there and no hip pain – at least not an acute one.
However, if you’re weighing whether or not it’s worth leaving your current country, you may want to consider more than a few things before doing the big move.
Now you’re thinking – what can I possibly need more than year-long warmth?
The thing is, if you expect to retire on a budget and still live well, you might want to take into consideration more than a few things apart from the climate – thinking about the cost of living beforehand may save you a headache or two later on.
That’s why we’ve decided to go on and show you what we think the best countries to retire to are – though we’ve also added a thing or two about what you should watch out for when choosing your next happy place.
Keep reading on to learn more!
So I shouldn’t only look for sunshine, then?
That’s a great question to have – but no, you shouldn’t.
Before setting out for your next big adventure, it’s good to think more about the bigger picture and in the longer run. Here are a few of our suggestions.
- The cost of living is the obvious start for most people – you do have to make your retirement funds last, don’t you? A good start would be to compare prices between your current place and your chosen destination, so there are no nasty surprises later on.
- The available health care – chances are, you’ll need the occasional medical checkup. Don’t forget to see whether you’d be entitled to getting some discounts on that as a retired person, as some countries allow that even for expats.
- The international community matters not only because of finding others like yourself but it can also point out whether a place is expat-friendly. A big international community is usually a good sign, as it indicates the quality of life is very likely good in the area and there are plenty of things to do.
- The climate, though this largely depends on your personal preferences. While it’s true that some would enjoy basking in the sun for more than 300 days per year, others wouldn’t mind the four seasons taking place.
- The proximity to home matters to some though it doesn’t necessarily have to be a determining factor. But if you’d like to spend Christmas with your grandchildren and you’re located somewhere in Europe right now, making the big move to Southeast Asia could make things slightly more complicated for you – long flights aren’t thrilling at any age.
Some countries on our list offer a so-called retirement visa that comes with more than a handful of benefits; knowing whether you qualify for it might come in hand.
Got it – let’s see the countries next!
Buckle up as we quickly take you on a trip around the globe in what qualifies as a retirement paradise.
Taco your way to Mexico!
Sunny Mexico is probably one of the most popular global spots when it comes to retiring – in fact, Live and Invest Overseas ranks it as an absolute favorite among Northern Americans!
In fact, Mexico has one of the largest expat communities, so making new friends shouldn’t be a problem – current estimates are that there about million and a half retired expats residing at least half-time in the country!
Also, the cost of living is pretty low – rough estimates are that a couple would need somewhere from $1,600 – $2,200 per month to get by pretty comfortably, covering all expenses. Should we mention that the price includes a gardener and a cleaning maid three times per week?
On top of that, Mexico tries pretty hard to accommodate its growing retired community, so there’s a thing called Mexico’s retirement benefits program. As long as you’re older than 60 and have a resident’s visa, you’ll be able to get major discounts that range anywhere from 10%-50% off certain products and services (healthcare included as well – that acute hip pain can’t get to you over there!).
Lastly, there’s more than enough activities for everyone’s taste that you’ll get to enjoy while being there – it doesn’t matter whether you’ll be spending your days on the beach or taking part in some fancy wine tasting, chances are, you won’t be bored in the slightest.
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M is for Mediterranean and Malta!
Malta may be small in size – you can barely see it on the map – but in the last few years, it has become mega-popular – and not only for vacationers and lovers of the island life!
Positioned right between the coast of Sicily and the tip of North Africa, Malta may be an ideal choice for Europeans looking to relocate somewhere warm in their retirement.
Apart from having more than 300 sunny days per year, Malta also offers some pretty good deals when it comes to flight connections to most European countries – think of weekends visiting your grandkids or exploring cities throughout Europe.
The average cost of living for a couple should amount to be about $2,000-$2,700 per month – and that is a bargain to pay considering the fact that you’ll get a chance to indulge in the sweet, sweet Mediterranean life that yes, includes plenty of wine at a great price.
A bonus point here you might appreciate is the fact that everyone speaks English in Malta – it’s the country’s second official language!
Worried about additional costs when moving to Malta? You can send money to Malta easily by comparing prices with us!
Panama is the place to be!
Panama isn’t only known because of the Panama Canal – it’s been one of the world’s top countries to retire for a couple of decades now!
Connecting North and South America, there’s something for everyone’s taste as far as the climate is concerned – you could enjoy the warm, tropical heat near the beaches or retreat up the mountains if eternal sunshine isn’t your thing.
Since it’s a business and trade spot as well, Panama is buzzing with internationals all year round. The cost of living is somewhat similar to other countries in Latin America, with apartment prices starting at mere $650 per month and health care coming only at a fraction of a cost of what it’d be in Western countries.
As far as the benefits go, Panama offers a retiree visa that’s better known as the pensionado – and it may as well be one of the best programs like that in the world! Enrolling in it is easy-peasy and you get plenty of discounts on all things possible, food, travel, and entertainment included!
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Malaysia – My Second Home
Are you worried you may miss the Western infrastructure when you relocate someplace else?
Well, think of Malaysia as the best of both worlds – a modern way of life combined with a low cost of living. Granted, it is a bit further away from both Europe and North America but benefits may as well outweigh the distance in this case.
In fact, if your budget is tight, Malaysia may be the place to go – at some Malaysian spots, a couple could live comfortably for as little as $1,000-$1,200 per month, with rent prices dropping as low as $500 for a downtown apartment.
Top that off with some great healthcare facilities – most doctors have studied in the UK or USA and are fluent in English – that feature prices as low as $15-$20 for a basic checkup!
Last but not least, one of the best things when it comes to retiring in Malaysia is the program they have, called My Second Home that allows you to get a 10-year social visa without much fuss – plenty of time to explore all the cultural spots and UNESCO sites around the country.
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Living la vida of your dreams in Spain
If you’re looking to relocate somewhere warm but you’d still prefer to not leave the Old Continent, move your finger over to Spain on the map – it’s sunny and with a large enough expat community to make you feel like home!
Everyone has thought at least once about moving to Spain and living life carelessly on the beach – though the country has more to offer than warmth alone.
Being one of the major cultural hubs in Europe, the cost of living in Spain isn’t as low as with other tropical dream destinations but it’s definitely lower than the rest of the developed European countries.
Depending on your location within Spain, a couple could get by with less than $2,000 per month – though you may need to set a few extra dollars a month for getting some decent private healthcare, as prices might start around $400 per month.
Home to some of the most popular tourist destinations, Spain isn’t popular only with the beach lovers and sun-seekers – plenty of people move there because of the laidback way of life and cheerful spirit of the locals. Property investments aren’t rare – as long as Spain’s economy isn’t scaring you from doing it.
Planning to visit Spain before the big move? Send money to Spain via the cheapest way possible!
Life is good in Costa Rica
Retires have been flocking to Costa Rica for more than a few decades now – and not only because of the pleasant climate!
Boasting with the unofficial motto of pura vida, meaning life is good, Costa Rica has no army and it’s more than happy to welcome anyone interested in making the permanent move over there. Featuring a pensionado program, you’ll only need to have an income higher than $1,000 per month to be covered with it.
Apart from the lavish landscape and relaxed lifestyle, Costa Rica has a fairly low cost of living – with rent prices as low as $400 per month, life is sure good over there. On average, a couple might need about $2,000-$3,000 to get by without worrying about any expenses.
You’ll also be happy to hear that Costa Rica is the home to one of the highest rated healthcare systems in the region – and as a legal resident, you may be able to get access to it completely for free!
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Be careless in Portugal
Right next to Spain and ranking pretty high on several retirement lists for years, Portugal is the top pick for everyone looking to run away from extreme weather – thanks to the Atlantic, locals and expats alike enjoy mild climate year round.
Another reason why more and more people relocate there – property investments are through the roof – is because Portugal is cheap! And not only when it comes to fine Mediterranean wine and dine.
According to Live and Invest Overseas, the cost of living in Portugal is up to 30% lower than with any other country in the region. With food and utilities not crossing the $500 mark, a couple would definitely be able to live life to the fullest with about $1,300-$1,700 per month, depending on location.
If you add the top-notch health care to the mix – the public health care is available to all legal foreign residents as long as they register beforehand – you end up with a place that’s well… not too shabby at all.
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Beautiful life in Belize
With less than half a million living there, you’re very likely going to find all the peace and quiet in this gorgeous Central American country.
Often described as a paradise for nature lovers, life is simple and cheap in Belize – chances are, you won’t spend more than a $1,500 as a couple living an average life, though doing the occasional splurge shouldn’t add much to the price.
Again, Belize allows its expats to qualify for a so-called QPR residency program and the best part about it is that you’ll only need to have a regular monthly income and be 45 years or older – early retirement is never a bad idea!
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Live equally well in Ecuador
Are you tired of long, dreadful winter nights? Well, pack and head over to Ecuador, as the day and night stay pretty much the same length over there throughout the whole year.
As a bonus to that, Ecuador’s climate can suit almost everyone – due to its position, you’ll only need to move up or down a notch and find yourself at a warmer or cooler spot.
The cost of living in Ecuador is pretty low but the best part about it may be the real estate affordability. A couple would be able to retire and live well with mere $1,500 per month, with plenty of outdoor and social activities included in the price.
Expats over a certain age – over 60 or 65 – get certain retiree benefits, such as various discounts available for the public transportation, utilities, or other cultural events.
As far as the health care is concerned, it’s more than affordable – considering the number of retirees living there, you should be able to visit modern hospitals at more than affordable rates.
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Staying vital in Vietnam
Dubbed as “one of the most affordable places in the world to retire”, Vietnam is an excellent spot for those who aren’t scared of crossing over to the adventurous side later on in life.
While it’s true that it might take some getting used to Southeast Asia, some spots around Vietnam offer a couple to live well with less than a $1,000 per month – which isn’t that bad of a deal. On average though, you can expect costs to be around $1,000-$1,200 per month.
If health care is a priority, you’re probably the best sticking to Ho Chi Minh, as that’s where most of the modern facilities are. Granted, the communist government might not be up to everyone’s taste but that shouldn’t make the country any less worth your time – there are some more than beautiful sights to be explored!
Worried about how you’ll be able to send money to Vietnam? Try comparing prices first with us!
I’ve packed and I’m ready to go!
Well, that’s great but here’s one final advice:
When it comes to making retirement plans about moving abroad, there’s only one rule – one size definitely doesn’t fit all.
So before hopping on the plane and waving your old home goodbye, it’d be good to do some exploring around – if possible, visit a few destinations you have doubts about before making the final pick.
Do you think we might’ve missed out on any awesome destination? Drop us a comment and let us know, we’d be thrilled to hear back from our readers!