Where are the best Places to Retire
No matter how much you love your job, most people can’t wait to wave goodbye to office politics, workday stresses and hellish commutes, particularly when the alternative offers endless days of sunshine, delicious cuisine, exploration and adventure. But people are no longer waiting until they get to their late sixties to make the most of life. In recent years the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) has gained real momentum. According to this approach, extreme saving and investment could mean retiring in your forties or even late thirties. To do so, the formula emphasises saving as much of your income as possible, living exceptionally frugally and paying off all your debt. But once you’ve managed this, where should you live? We’ve rounded up 50 of the best places in the world to retire.
To compile this list, we’ve rated the cost of living, quality of life, ease of getting a visa or residency permit, and restaurant and rent prices. We’ve also taken into consideration good weather, healthcare, hospitality, language barriers and the range of things to do. To make the cut, we’ve been ruthless with ensuring that destinations must offer a good mixture of everything. So, if quality of lifestyle is rocket high but the chances of getting a visa or residency permit are slim, it won’t make the list. Ready to retire early? It’s time to pack those bags.
The best places to retire in the world
Luxembourg might be a small country, but it has a surprising amount to say for itself. Located in the heart of Europe, it’s stuffed full of Unesco World Heritage Sites, bucolic countryside and rich history, as well as world-class dining, shopping and nightlife. It boasts one of the highest standards of living in the world too. Living here isn’t cheap though and it’s one of the most expensive places to live in Europe (72). Getting hold of a visa or residency permit is ranked with a mid-level difficulty, which means you may need to pay higher residency fees, invest or live here for a few years for eligibility.
Ireland, the Emerald Isle is only a little larger than the State of West Virginia but it packs a real punch when it comes to good living. As well as boasting some of Europe’s most outstanding scenery and charismatic cities, it’s relatively easy for enthusiastic early retirees to apply for a visa or residency permit. Restaurants, rent and general cost of living are higher than in most destinations outside of the United States, but the quality of life is consistently ranked high (146.06). Must have something to do with all that fresh air and good company.
Lithuania is a real gem. This small and affordable country boasts some of Europe’s most spectacular scenery, with ancient woodlands, golden beaches and ancient archaeological sites. Its compact capital, Vilnius, is bursting with lively cafes and bars, restaurants serving locally-sourced organic produce, galleries and parks. It’s one of Europe’s greener cities too. Getting hold of a visa or residency permit is ranked with mid-level difficulty, but once you’re here you can enjoy a low cost of living (43), extraordinarily low rent (15), cheap restaurants (29.19) and high quality of living (161.84). Just note that while summers here are warm, that Baltic breeze can make winters here a little frosty
47. New Zealand
New Zealand packs a staggering amount of diversity into one relatively compact country, making it an excellent option for early retirees with a sense of adventure. From craggy coastlines to fairytale forests to lively cities, there’s something for all tastes. Expats and visitors rave about friendly locals and English is the official language, so it shouldn’t take too long to fit in either. While getting hold of a visa is ranked with mid-difficulty, it’s worth the extra effort. It’s one of the safest English-speaking countries in the world, with a high quality of living (176.81) and reasonable living costs (69), particularly when compared with northern Europe and the United States.
Like New Zealand, Australia ranks as mid-difficult when it comes to obtaining a visa or residency permit, but thousands of retirees still manage to make the move every year. Little wonder why they choose Australia, with its brilliant beaches, showstopping cities and year-round sunshine. The cost of living (72) is slightly higher than in New Zealand, but the quality of life (183.81) is higher too. English is the national language and it’s one of the world’s friendliest nations towards expats too.
Sweden is the fifth-largest country in Europe. Part of the scandi-cool collection of Baltic islands in northern Europe, it’s home to over 221,831 islands, 29 national parks and cutting-edge cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo. Sweden boasts one of the world’s most powerful passports too, though getting hold of one is ranked with mid-level difficulty. Like most of northern Europe, living costs are higher than those in the south but the quality of life is some of the best in the world (175.3).
The Philippines is the ultimate tropical antidote to the drudgery of working life. Comprising 7,641 islands, it’s beloved for its pristine white beaches, crumbling colonial towns, volcanic vistas and chaotic capital, Maila. You’ll have no trouble being understood; at least 175 languages are spoken in the Philippines and more than 52 million people speaking English, making it the fifth-largest English-speaking nation in the world. It’s also home to three of the world’s ten largest shopping malls. Cost of living is low (34), restaurants are cheap and rent is highly affordable. What a treat for all those years of hard work!
Bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and the Indian Ocean, Kenya is one of the most popular destinations in Africa for retirees. For those who crave connection with wildlife and beaches, it’s ideal. It boasts a gently climate without extreme conditions all year round, easy-to-access vacation destinations and a highly integrated expat community. Living costs, rent and restaurant prices are notably low too.
Sandwiched between Ukraine, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania and Belarus, Poland is the crossroads of Eastern Europe. It’s the ideal destination for budget-conscious retirees, with a lower cost of living than some of its European neighbours. The country enjoys low crime rates, easy travel throughout and rich cultural attractions. Residents are entitled to free healthcare too.
Albania is home to peaceful mountain villages, brilliant beach getaways and a lovely, lively capital city, Tirana. Despite its proximity to Italy, the tourism trail is relatively untrodden, which makes it an excellent option for retirees looking for an affordable, offbeat destination in which to settle down. Cost of living is one of the lowest in Europe (34), with particularly cheap restaurants and rent.
Panama frequently tops lists for the best retirement destinations in the world, thanks to its warm tropical climate, friendly people, low levels of crime and excellent hospitals. Residents can enjoy diverse lifestyle experiences too, from beach communities to city living. Sustainability-minded retirees will be pleased to hear that it’s one of only three carbon-negative countries in the world too. Quality of life is one of the highest in Central America (114.32), though the cost of living, rent and restaurants are more expensive than its neighbours.
39. South Africa
South Africa is a popular destination for expat retirees, thanks to its mild climate, affordable living costs and sizeable expat population. This large and diverse country encompasses everything from subtropical coastlines to semi-deserts to sprawling cities. It’s one of Africa’s premier safari destinations too. For retirees looking to relocate, South Africa’s visa and residency permit system is ranked mid-level difficulty, but once you’ve got hold of it you can enjoy low living costs (38), a laid-back lifestyle and a famously high quality of living.
The perfect marriage of pulsing Latin American lifestyle and European culture, Argentina is one of South America’s most popular destinations for retirees. For starters, it boasts staggering natural beauty, from deserts and beaches to rainforests and snowy peaks. It’s famously welcoming too, which explains why so many expats from the U.S. and Europe already live within its borders. While Spanish is Argentina’s official language, English is mandatory at all schools, which means it’s easy to fit in too. The cost of living (32) is significantly lower than in the United States and much of Europe, with cheap rent and restaurants, while the quality of lifestyle remains high.
37. Dominican Republic
Situated on the eastern half of the island Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic is the most geographically diverse island in the Caribbean. There’s a lot more to the Dominican Republic than powder-white beaches too, with tropical rainforests, mangroves, waterfalls, savannahs, and just about everything in between. It’s no wonder that the Dominican Republic is so popular with expat retirees, particularly when the visa and residency permit system ranks as “easy”, with few regulations. Cost of living is extremely affordable too.
Thailand is an excellent option for those who are looking to stretch their retirement savings further. Restaurants and rent are extremely cheap, the weather is sunny and hot, and the country has a rich culture and one of the world’s favourite cuisines. The visa and residency permit scheme is ranked with mid-level difficulty like most destinations in Asia, though thousands of expats manage to overcome this to relocate here every year. English is widely spoken too, particularly in big cities and tourist hotspots.
Georgia, this Black Sea destination sits on the boundary between Asia and Europe. It’s a country of epic mountains, arid semi-deserts and sweeping woodlands, as well as a rich and fascinating history from Byzantium to the Bolsheviks. Some come for power white snow and a ski season all to themselves, others come to indulge in some of the world’s best food and wine – the appeals for retirees are endless. Costs are low (25), but the quality of life is high (121.14) thanks to its excellent healthcare system, low crime rates and vibrant culture.
Home to spectacular UNESCO heritage sites like the Neverland-like Ha Long Bay and the ancient town of Hoi An, Vietnam has fast become one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations, but it’s now one of the world’s favourite retiree destinations too. From neon-striped mega-cities to Neverland-esque islands to fairytale forests, it packs a staggering amount of diversity. Retirees can enjoy a high quality of life and low living costs. Vietnamese hospitality is renowned and English is widely spoken too.
The landlocked country may not have beaches, but there’s a lot to keep retirees occupied. With mountains across the north and centre, hills to the west and the Danube basin to the south, Slovakia is home to some spectacular landscapes. There are over 6000 caves, nine national parks and 14 protected landscapes packed across the country too. Despite its increasing popular as a tourist destination, living costs remain low (41), and restaurants and rent are remarkably affordable. Quality of life is extremely high (151.16) and it’s a brilliant base for those planning to make regular trips to the rest of Europe.
Colombia is widely considered to be one of South America’s most lively and culturally dense nations, which makes it ideal for active retirees. Home to a vibrant music scene, delicious cuisine and stunning natural scenery, there’s a Colombian scene for everyone. From its incredible biodiversity to its problematic location on the Ring of Fire, here are seven interesting facts about Colombia. Quality of lifestyle is higher than neighbouring South American nations but living costs have remained low, with cheap restuarant and rent prices.
Armenia isn’t on most people’s radar, but it should be. It offers an easy and lenient visa and residency permit for those looking to retire, which is ideal for those who want to relocate with minimal hold-ups. It’s perfect for retirees with a keen interest in archaeology, history and culture. Armenians are known to be warm, friendly and quick to strike up a conversation, and crime rates are some of the lowest in Europe. Plus, boasts the lowest costs of living in the whole of Europe, so you can stretch your savings even further.
Peru is one of the least expensive destinations to retire to in the world, with low living costs (31), low rent and cheap restaurant prices. It’s a welcoming country too, offering easy access to visas and residency permits for those looking to settle down here. It’s a paradise for active retirees, with a plethora of ancient sites, chiselled peaks and Pacific beaches to keep you occupied. And we haven’t even mentioned the cuisine, which ranges from chocolate stews to fiery ceviche. Paradise.
With easy access to Europe, Africa and Asia, Qatar is the ideal location for retirees looking to use their home as a springboard for travel further afield. The visa and residency permit scheme is rated with medium-difficulty, but thousands of expats manage to move here every year without hassle. Once you get here, you can enjoy excellent weather all year round and a high quality of life (154.53) for an affordable cost (61). From the modern metropolis of Doha to camel racing in the desert, you’ll never get bored.
Belize is one of the world’s most beloved honeymoon and cruise destinations, but it’s fast becoming popular with retirees too. Thousands hotfoot to this pint-sized nation for a lifetime of breathtaking beaches, jungle and cultural diversity. Belize’s visa and residency permit application process is rated low, which means fewer hurdles and delays for you. Plus, cost of living is reasonable and cheaper than many destinations in the United States and northern Europe.
Malaysia combines low living costs with a high-quality lifestyle – a win-win for those looking to live the high life for less. We’ve ranked it with a mid-level difficulty for acquiring visas and residency since you’ll need to jump through a few hurdles to live here permanently, but it’s still a relatively straightforward process. It’s well worth the extra red tape it for those thrumming cities, idyllic islands and vast national parks.
India is the seventh-largest country in the world, which means there’s a huge range of scenery and climates to choose from. Cost of living (24) is one of the lowest in the world, with extremely cheap restaurants and rent, so you can stretch your savings further too. Quality of life is good, thanks to excellent healthcare in big cities, an abundance of things to do and strong sense of community. English is widely spoken and temperatures are consistently warm.
25. Costa Rica
Nowhere says tropical escape quite like Costa Rica. The most biodiverse country in the world, the county is brimming with breathtaking beaches, rainforest hikes and some of the region’s best farm-to-table dining. Recent studies have shown that Costa Rica’s residents live long, healthy and happy lives too. We’ve ranked Costa Rica with mid-level ease of access to visas and regulations, since you’ll need to tick a few boxes to live here, but once you’re in you can enjoy a high quality lifestyle (122.07) and low living costs (44).
Northern Europeans and Americans have long flocked to France to live out their days drinking good wine, eating good food and enjoying the sunshine. Visa and residency requirements are more stringent than other parts of Europe, with requirements for investment, company formation or a number of years residing here, but once retirees have ticked these boxes they can enjoy a high quality of life (156.67) and relatively low living costs (66). Restaurants and rental prices are cheaper than other Northern European, American and UAE locations too.
Malta offers the best of laid-back island life, rich history and culture, and year-long summers. Both Maltese and English are widely spoken, and the visa entry system is easy to navigate. Residents live a high quality of life here too, with excellent healthcare, good connections to the rest of Europe and an excellent variety of good, affordable restaurants.
The planet’s second-largest country is also one of its most popular, particularly for those looking to retire. Between its jaw-dropping glacials, remote beaches, sky-high mountains and buzzing cities, it’s easy to see why. There’s something for everyone. As if that’s not enough to lure you over here, Canada offers easy access to visas and residency permits and high quality of living (160.38). Just watch your wallet when it comes to eating out and renting apartment, as prices for both are at the higher end of the spectrum.
Nicaragua is an excellent option for early retirees looking to live an exciting, fulfilling lifestyle without breaking the bank. The cost of living is low (37), with cheap rent and affordable restaurants to enjoy. Nicaragua also offers an easy path to residency permits and visas. If you’re looking for breathtaking scenery, blockbuster beaches and warm local charm, Nicaragua could be for you.
Between its showstopping cities, golden beaches and far-flung islands, it’s easy to see why so many expats settle down in Greece for retirement. Yearly temperatures average a pleasant 17.02C with toasty summers and mild winters, the cuisine is excellent and highly affordable, and locals are famously friendly too. Visas and residency permits are relatively easy to get hold of and rental prices are some of the cheapest in Europe. Greece is no stranger to tourism either, so English is widely spoken across its most popular cities and beach destinations.
Squeezed between the sparkling Adriatic sea and soaring mountains, Montenegro is perfect for both outdoorsy types and beach bums. As well as national parks, canyons and brilliant beaches, there’s a myriad of ancient clifftop towns, medieval villages and UNESCO World Heritage Sites to keep you occupied too. Getting hold of a visa or residency permit is ranked as easy, the cost of living is low (35) and rent and restaurants are surprisingly affordable. It’s a small country, but well connected to other popular European destinations like Croatia and Italy.
18. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a popular destination for retirees, particularly Americans. As an unincorporated US territory, American citizens won’t even need a visa to retire to a life of year-long summers. For those living outside the US, Puerto Rico offers low barriers for visa and residency applications too. Rental prices are significantly lower than those found anywhere in the United States, as are the restaurant prices. Puerto Rico ranks highly for quality of life too (133.77), thanks to its low-cost healthcare, jaw-dropping landscapes and spectacular cities. Both English and Spanish are widely spoken across the island, and there’s a large English-speaking expat community here too.
Ecuador frequently ranks as one of the top spots for retirees thanks to its lenient visa and residency permit system, high-quality lifestyle and diverse landscapes, from the Amazon jungle to the sun-drenched Galapagos Islands. Cost of living here is cheap, with low restaurant and rental prices. Retirees rave about its welcoming, friendly communities too.
Morocco is surprisingly welcoming when it comes to visas and residency permits, which makes it a top choice for retirees looking for an exotic, yet affordable place to settle down. The cost of living is cheaper than anywhere in Europe and most destinations in Asia, and restaurants and rent are some of the most affordable on this list.
Indonesia’s 17,000 islands are some of the most idyllic on the planet. From the shimmering Gili Islands to the mad magic of Java, it’s a kaleidoscope of colour, landscapes and cultures. It also boasts one of the easiest visa and residency permit application processes in the whole of Asia. Restaurant prices, rent and cost of living (32) are rock bottom too, so you can live a life of luxury for a lot less.
Unlike its neighbours, Finland has made it easy to navigate visas and residency permits, which is a big plus for retirees. Higher living costs (64) might put some retirees off, but those who can afford it will benefit from one of the highest standards of living in Europe (184.96). Finland regularly ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world too, thanks to a robust healthcare system, thriving economy and low crime rates. And, while winters might be long and cold, summers spent exploring the world’s largest archipelago more than makeup for it.
Bulgaria’s beguiling mix of beaches, mountains and cities make it an excellent spot for early retirees looking for a varied lifestyle. More affordable than its popular western European neighbours (cost of living index is 38), it boasts the cheapest rent and some of the cheapest restaurant prices on the continent. Quality of life is rated highly (130.9), as is the ease with which foreigners can obtain visas and residence permits.
Boasting breathtaking scenery, vibrant cities and some of the lowing living costs in Europe (35), Romania is a top choice for those looking to retire early. English is widely spoken in cities and Romanian is ranked as one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn too. Visas and residency permits are easier to get hold of than in most European countries and yearly temperatures average a comfortable 12.8 C. Outside of the city centres, there are fairytale landscapes, Saxon villages and endless forests to explore too.
Latvia might not immediately spring to mind as an ideal place to live out early retirement, but it should. Firstly, it’s one of the cheapest places in Europe, which means you’ll be able to push those pennies further. Quality of life is excellent (150.81) thanks to its rich culture, an abundance of beautiful scenery and friendly locals. The country’s colourful capital Riga has plenty to keep young retirees occupied too, from Europe’s largest market to a burgeoning foodie scene. English is widely spoken in tourism hotspots and it’s easy to apply for visas and residency permits.
Uruguay is famous for its beaches, beef and brilliant soccer, but it’s making a name for itself as a hotspot for retirees too. Why? It’s one of the few South American countries with an easy application process for visas and residency permits. Cost of living is notably low (59), while the quality of lifestyle is high (122.26). Eating out is affordable but the rent is remarkable low, despite its increasing popularity. Temperatures are pleasant all year round too.
It’s easy to live well for very little in Mexico. Restaurants are excellent and cheap, while living costs are lower than in most countries in Europe (35). According to the Quality of Life Index residents can live a high quality life (124.9), boosted by excellent weather, good healthcare, and a rich and vibrant culture. Retirees can choose from a wide range of lifestyles, from bustling cities to “magical” towns to blissed-out beaches. As if that’s not enough to tempt you, Mexico has made it easy for retirees to apply for visas and residency permits.
Croatia isn’t just a hit with twenty-somethings, thousands of retirees flock here every year for a slice of the good life. Property and living costs are low (44), quality of life is high (159.21) and the visa application process is straightforward for most nationalities. World-class beaches, rich history and culture, plenty of Mediterranean sunshine and excellent restaurants add to the allure too.
Hungary might not be as cheap as it was a decade ago, but compared to most of Europe the prices are staggeringly low. In fact, according to our index, the cost of eating out in Hungary is the second lowest in Europe. Quality of life is good too (137.15) and it’s relatively easy to get hold of a visa or residency permit. Most retirees choose to live in historic Budapest, around Lake Balaton or in a small charming city like Egér or Pécs. Healthcare is good, but dental care is even better.
6. Czech Republic
Czech Republic offers a winning combination of low living costs (44) and high quality of living (162.64). Plus, getting hold of a visa and residency permit is ranked as easy. Summers are mild, though winters are frosty, making it best suited for those who can withstand chilly temperatures and have no interest in hitting the beach (there are none). Restaurant prices are low for Europe, the healthcare system is affordable and the country is well connected to other corners of the continent, though with everything from snow-capped mountains to emerald lakes there’s plenty to keep retirees occupied here.
This landlocked South American destination is ideal for those looking to retire to an authentic, off-beat destination. Both rustic and sophisticated, the country boasts spectacular scenery and glitzy cities. Retiring here is easy too, thanks to easy access to visa and residency permits, low relocation costs and a welcoming local and expat community. Living costs are low (30) and the quality of living is high, with affordable restaurants and cheap rent.
No surprises here, Spain has been a favourite amongst retirees for decades, for good reason. Even in the big cities, the cost of living is relatively low (48), while the quality of life consistently ranks as one of the highest in Europe (168.48). It’s one of the most affordable places to eat out in western Europe too. Retirees can enjoy easy access to visas and residency, a strong healthcare system and affordable housing. Those looking for a place in the sun are in luck too; Spain is one of the sunniest countries in Europe, with hot summers and mild winters.
Estonia is fast becoming popular with retirees thanks to its comparatively low living costs (49), high quality of life (174.19) and easy access to visas and residency permits. Tallinn is widely considered one of Europe’s most captivating capitals, but beyond city sights, there are untouched beaches, more than 2,000 islands and acres of primaeval forests, making it the perfect getaway destination for every type of retiree. English is widely spoken and the country is one of the cleanest and safest in the world too.
Portugal has long been a favourite with retirees, thanks to its sunny climate, excellent restaurants and laid-back culture. It has something for all tastes too, from the Algarve’s sandy shores to Porto’s wineries to its charismatic capital. As far as European destinations go, it’s one of the most affordable places to live (ranking 42) with an extremely high quality of life (162.52). And, when it comes to getting a visa, retirees shouldn’t face many hurdles either thanks to easy access to a range of visas and residency permits.
Historically, Slovenia has been skipped over in favour of Italy, Austria and Croatia, but in the past few years this fairytale setting has slowly seeped into our consciousness. Now, it’s the best place in the world to retire, and it’s not difficult to see why. Between its endless forests, alpine villages and colourful capital, there’s plenty to keep retirees occupied. Expats can enjoy a relatively low cost of living (47) and a high quality of life(169.04). Visa and residency permit barriers are low too. Plus, English is widely spoken and temperatures are mild, with sunny summers and cosy winters. Pack your bags!