If you’re considering retirement abroad, you need information, and you need lots of it. But more than that, you need guidance on how to interpret that information.
That’s what we’re here for, and that’s why we’ve compiled this article: to help you with the exciting business of choosing where in the world will best suit your needs.
An increasing number of people, particularly Americans, are moving overseas when they retire.
How appealing a country is to settle down later in life often reflects its cost of living, quality of life and cultural accessibility? Retirement interest in any one country is indicative of the global perception of that nation.
There are other critical things to consider before retiring abroad besides cost and climate. These include taxes, bank accounts, visas and residency, and, while you can collect Social Security overseas, your Medicare generally doesn’t pay for care outside the U.S., so quality affordable healthcare and insurance matters.
Learn, unlearn and relearn as you read on the article “15 Best Places to Retire in the world.”
Table of contents
- Best Places to Retire in the U.S.
- How Much Does Retirement Cost?
- 15 Best Places to Retire in the World in 2023
- Editor’s Recommendations
Best Places to Retire in the U.S.
Our top picks for U.S. retirement locations come from WalletHub’s Best & Worst States to Retire rankings.
To find the most retirement-friendly states, WalletHub compared 45 metrics in three key categories: affordability, quality of life, and healthcare (including COVID-19 statistics).
Here are the top U.S. states to retire to in 2023.
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The Sunshine State has long been a favorite for retirees, who enjoy Florida’s sunny beaches and warm winters.
Florida offers a reasonable cost of living and no inheritance tax, estate tax, or state income tax—which can be a big perk for retirees with taxable income from Social Security, pensions, IRAs, 401(k)s, and the like.
Though Florida is famous for its big destinations—Orlando (home of Disney World and Universal Studios), Miami, and the Florida Keys—plenty of other beaches and inland cities are worth considering.
And, no matter where you go in Florida, you can expect many other retirees to hang out with, in addition to amenities geared toward older adults.
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Though Florida’s sunny beaches are a big draw for retirees in that state, Colorado offers up something different.
Ideal for active retirees, the Centennial State boasts four national parks, 32 ski resorts, 300 days of sunshine a year, and countless recreational opportunities on the state’s spectacular slopes, trails, rivers, and lakes.
With four distinct seasonal climates, you can participate in different activities throughout the year.
Colorado offers several attractive tax perks for retirees, including a large deduction on all retirement income and some of the lowest property taxes in the country.
Delaware is a tax-friendly state that’s well suited for retirees. It’s one of four states with no sales tax at the state or local level, and there are no estate or inheritance taxes either.
What’s more, Delaware doesn’t tax Social Security benefits, and you can exclude up to $12,500 of pension and other retirement income—and the state has some of the lower property tax rates in the country.
Though the tax situation may be Delaware’s biggest draw for retirees, the state features 28 miles of beaches, small-town charm—with big-city attractions—and it’s a short drive or train trip to major cities in the Northeast, including New York City, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
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Virginia is the only state on our list that boasts both beaches and mountains, providing retirees with endless opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature.
The Virginia Creeper Trail is a mostly downhill, 35-mile trail that runs along creeks, through gorgeous scenery, and across old railroad trestles—perfect for a day or two of easy biking).
The state is tax-friendly, too: There’s no tax on Social Security benefits, and you can deduct up to $12,000 in pension and retirement income state taxes.
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North Dakota probably isn’t the first place to come to mind when you think about retirement destinations.
Still, it consistently ranks as one of the top places to retire based on factors such as cost of living, doctors per capita, and walkability.
The Milken Institute ranked Fargo as the 14th-best small metro area for successful aging out of the 281 it evaluated in 2017, citing its stable economy, quality of life, community engagement, and healthcare quality.
Still, if tax-friendliness is a concern, you have better options: North Dakota residents pay state income taxes on Social Security benefits if their federal adjusted gross income (AGI) is above specific limits, and sales and property tax rates are close to the national average.
Montana borders four states (Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming) and three Canadian provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan), making it a good launching pad for road trips and adventures.
It’s one of the largest states in the nation but is the third-least densely populated.
The state is known for its vast natural resources and abundant wildlife—including bison, elk, moose, and grizzly bears.
Montana is moderately friendly toward retirees: Property taxes are relatively low, and there’s no state sales tax.
But you’ll pay taxes on most forms of retirement income, including a portion of your Social Security benefits if you exceed income limits.
How Much Does Retirement Cost?
So how much income do you need? With that in mind, expect to need about 80% of your pre-retirement income to cover your cost of living in retirement.
In other words, if you make $100,000 now, you’ll need about $80,000 per year (in today’s dollars) after you retire, according to this principle.
15 Best Places to Retire in the World in 2023
For many in the global North, retirement is a time to wave goodbye to workday stresses and discover an idyllic spot where you can take things easy.
For some, it’s a deckchair, for other it’s a whole other country. For the lucky latter, the only question is…where to live?
Here are the best places to retire in 2023;
Vietnam has modern and progressive cities, ancient historic sites, uncrowded beaches, rugged mountains, and some of the friendliest, most welcoming people in the world.
It’s developing rapidly, with one of the strongest economies in Asia. This is bringing high-quality healthcare, good roads, and modern conveniences to a place that was one of the world’s most impoverished countries less than 30 years ago.
2. Sri Lanka
With a proud history in Asia, Sri Lanka is one of only 34 biodiversity hotspots in the world.
According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, based in Montreal and also the best wildlife safari destination outside of Africa.
Sri Lanka offers retirees a collection of unique opportunities with a mind-relaxing rural countryside experience and the most happening beach stays.
The Main city Colombo offers amazing hotels, cafes, abundant nightlife, art theatres and wellness facilities.
If you retire in Cambodia, you can enjoy warm weather, friendly people and a relatively low cost of living.
However, retirees should know they will have challenges for owning property, moving money in and out of the country, as well as travel and safety concerns.
4. Dominican Republic
For a tropical island retirement, the Dominican Republic is one of the least expensive Latin American countries for retirees.
In Santo Domingo, the capital, rent is about 90% lower than in New York, and the cost of living is about 55% lower. Just two hours from Miami, its location is another advantage for some retirees.
Most retirees purchase private healthcare insurance as they are not eligible for government programs, and quality health care in private hospitals is available at reasonable prices.
The Dominican Republic offers a retirement visa or “pensionado” with proof of at least $1,500 in monthly income, a background check, and birth certificate.
Retirees can enter the country on a tourist visa and then apply for a retirement visa which takes several months.
Situated between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is a Spanish-speaking nation of around 3.5 million people, with warm summers and mild winters.
A range of lifestyles and living costs are on offer, including ranches and farms in the interior grasslands, tree-lined cities like Montevideo and beach towns dotted along the coastline.
Navigating visas and residency is straightforward, healthcare is cheap and accessible and there are plenty of outdoor activities, street parades and good eating available.
There’s more to Spain than its well-known sunny beaches, low cost of living and relaxed lifestyle. Straddling the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, the nation also has bustling historic cities, snow-covered mountains and picturesque rural landscapes.
A Mediterranean diet, excellent healthcare provision and a festival culture make this one of the best places to retire for many people from Europe, and increasingly those from North America.
Surrounded by the warm waters of the southern Mediterranean Sea, the tiny islands of Malta – five in total but only two are inhabited – are a mix of Western European lifestyle with a hint of Arabic language and culture.
Summer temperatures can get hot and humid, and this isn’t the cheapest retirement destination, but the all-year sun attracts many residents who also benefit from a world-class healthcare system and plenty of outdoor sports and activities.
Both Maltese and English are widely spoken and, over the centuries, invaders from several civilizations have left their mark on the local cuisine and culture.
Malta offers a mix of ancient megaliths, medieval fortresses, rocky hinterland, beaches and coastal fishing villages, with a few cities thrown in for good measure.
The home of fine wine, haute cuisine and a certain…je ne sais quois, France has something for everyone: big cities, rural hideaways, mountains and sun-soaked beaches.
Residents benefit from a price-protected top-tier health system, reasonable housing costs in many regions, a rich cultural heritage and a laid-back way of life, not to mention the country’s addiction to gourmet culture.
Regions like the Dordoigne in the south-west of France have attracted British expats for many years, but more North Americans are appreciating its charms in recent years, notes International Living.
A combination of good climate, environmental diversity and plenty of culture at an affordable price makes Ecuador one of the best places to retire for Europeans and North Americans.
Here, modern living in cities and beach communities meets untapped natural resources, including the Andes Mountains, the Amazon Rainforest and the biodiversity of the nearby Galapagos Islands.
There are few places still unspoilt by global commercialism, but this is one of them. Expatriates can mingle with indigenous locals in tribal dress and live an easygoing and varied lifestyle for around $1,500-$1,825 a month.
Across the border, Colombia is more developed than Ecuador but shares many of its neighbour’s attributes.
These include climate options that suit most tastes and a mix of coastline, Andes Mountains and Amazon Rainforest.
Healthcare here is excellent, property and living costs are comparatively low, and the visa application process is straightforward for many nationalities. Retirees can live well for little here, among friendly people where English is widely spoken and stunning scenery.
From the old-world charm of cities like Lisbon and Porto to the sun-drenched beaches of the Algarve, Portugal has been a favorite retirement destination for some time.
The country has friendly people, low living costs, a world-class healthcare system and low crime rates, making it a safe, enjoyable and affordable place to live.
English is taught in schools and is widely spoken in some areas, and the government offers free Portuguese language courses around the country.
Located next to the southern border of the US, Mexico has long been a popular destination for North Americans looking for an affordable place in the sun.
Expats can choose from a range of climates and lifestyles, which include busy beach resorts, city life and remote rural or desert hideaways.
A monthly budget of around $2,000 is enough for housing, transport and daily living expenses, but you can get by on less or spend a lot more if you choose.
Applying for visas or residency is straightforward for those that meet the criteria, and the country boasts affordable and professional healthcare provision that attracts flows of medical tourism.
A tropical climate, affordable living and medical costs, an active outdoor culture, friendly locals and sun-soaked natural beauty have made Costa Rica a magnet for retirees.
Situated between Nicaragua and Panama, this Central American nation is a stable democracy with high literacy rates and a laid-back approach to life.
Citizens and residents have access to one of the highest-rated healthcare systems in Latin America, according to International Living.
The landscape ranges from beaches to lush jungle regions, covering multiple climate zones. Protected national parks and wildlife refuges cover about a quarter of the country’s landmass, providing visitors with ample opportunity to connect with nature.
Not for the first time, Panama tops the list of the world’s best places to retire. Located away from Central America’s hurricane belt, its warm tropical climate is tempered by breezes from the Pacific Ocean on one coast and the Caribbean Sea on the other.
It appears Panama has it all: friendly people, a safe living environment and excellent hospitals and medical provision within easy reach of most places.
Retirees can choose from beach communities, cool mountain retreats, grassy highlands or modern city living.
Panama is one of only three carbon-negative countries in the world. The famous shipping canal has brought modern communications, infrastructure and affordable transport links to popular domestic expat destinations like Bouquet in the highlands.
In the United States, Florida’s cities are favorite retirement havens, with warm weather, miles of coastline, and no state income tax as some draws.
A variety of cities on the Atlantic and Gulf shores offer a range of lifestyles and costs, making Florida accessible to most retirement budgets.
Retirees who want to relocate but stay within easy traveling distance find Florida the best option. Throughout the United States, college towns, ski resort cities, and small towns are all desirable options for retirees.
If you decide to retire abroad, it’s vital that you do your homework ahead of time, use common sense, and avoid (or use extra caution) in areas with active travel alerts and warnings.
Rules and regulations vary by country, including visa and residency requirements. In addition, taxes for those retiring abroad can be quite complicated.
As such, it is always recommended that you work with a qualified attorney and/or tax specialist when making plans for retiring abroad.
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