best places to retire

The 10 Best Places to Retire Abroad

Looking to take a permanent vacation? Here's where to start.

Given all the possibilities, one of the biggest challenges in pursuing a life abroad is the where.

A good place to begin your research is International Living’s annual Best Places to Retire Abroad. Based on input from expats in each country, it grades 25 countries on eight measures, ranging from the cost of living to benefits for retirees—and, yes, of course, climate.

These are International Living’s Top 10 countries based on overall score.

(Health care is graded on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 indicating the best quality.)

  • 10. Thailand

    Fruit seller in the floating market, Thailand
    Gonzalo Azumendi—age fotostock Fruit seller in the floating market, Thailand

    Popular Ex-Pat Cities: Bangkok, Chaing Mai, Phuket, Hua Hin

    Estimated Monthly Living Costs: $1,800

    Health Care Rating: 89

    Retiree-Friendly Factor: Travel and entertainment discounts up to 50% for anyone at least 60 years old.

  • 9. Portugal

    Train waiting at a platform inside Oriente Station, Lisbon, Portugal
    Kevin Foy—Alamy Train waiting at a platform inside Oriente Station, Lisbon, Portugal

    Popular Ex-Pat Cities: Lisbon (including Cascais and Estorial), the Algarve

    Estimated Monthly Living Costs: $2,000

    Health Care Rating: 81

    Retiree-Friendly Factor: Train ticket discounts of up to 50% if you’re 65 or older.

  • 8. Colombia

    Plaza Botero where stand 23 huge sculptures by Botero, Villanueva District, Medellin, Colombia
    Guiziou Franck—age fotostock Plaza Botero where stand 23 huge sculptures by Botero, Villanueva District, Medellin, Colombia

    Popular Ex-Pat Cities: Bogotá, Medellín

    Estimated Monthly Living Costs: $1,600

    Health Care Rating: 88

    Retiree-Friendly Factor: Proof of $1,000 in monthly income qualifies you for Pensionado visa.

  • 7. Malta (tie)

    Spinola Harbour at St. Julian, Malta.
    Alamy Spinola Harbour at St. Julian, Malta.

    Popular Ex-Pat Cities: St. Paul’s Bay, Valetta/Sliema/St. Julien’s region, Gozo

    Estimated Monthly Living Costs: $2,000

    Health Care Rating: 86

    Retiree-Friendly Factor: Proof of $16,000 annual income ($18,000 for couple) to obtain visa.

  • 7. Spain (tie)

    Altea, a town in the Alicante province along the Mediterranean, is known for a quaint old town with winding—and sometimes steep—streets.
    Ingolf Pompe—First Light Altea, a town in the Alicante province along the Mediterranean, is known for a quaint old town with winding—and sometimes steep—streets.

    Popular Ex-Pat Cities: Granada, Malaga, Alicante

    Estimated Monthly Living Costs: $2,200+

    Health Care Rating: 87

    Retiree-Friendly Factor: Anyone at least 60 years old can get a Tarjeta Dorada card entitling you to 25%-40% off train travel.

  • 5. Costa Rica

    Playa Dominical, Marino Ballena national park, Pacific coast, Costa Rica
    Alvaro Leiva—age fotostock Playa Dominical, Marino Ballena national park, Pacific coast, Costa Rica

    Popular Ex-Pat Cities: Grecia, Tamarindo, Nuevo Arenal, Dominical, Jaco

    Estimated Monthly Living Costs: $2,500

    Health Care Rating: 89

    Retiree-Friendly Factor: As in Panama, a Pensionado visa is yours with evidence of $1,000 in monthly income. That visa gives you access to state-run healthcare with a monthly cost of about 10% of income.

  • 4. Malaysia

    Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown comes alive after dark.
    Eric Martin/Figarophoto—Redux Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown comes alive after dark.

    Popular Ex-Pat Cities: Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Penang, Kota Kinabalu

    Estimated Monthly Living Costs: $1,500+

    Health Care Rating: 94, the highest rating among the 25 countries rated by International Living

    Retiree-Friendly Factor: Nothing retiree-specific. But the cost of living is already low and the healthcare inexpensive; doctors visits can cost as little as $20 or so.

  • 3. Mexico

    Folk dancers perform in Mérida, Mexico.
    Tony Anderson—Getty Images Folk dancers perform in Mérida, Mexico.

    Popular Ex-Pat Cities: San Miguel de Allende, Lake Chapala, Puerto Vallarta, Merida

    Estimated Monthly Living Costs: $2,200

    Health Care Rating: 84

    Retiree-Friendly Factor: Expats at least 60 years old qualify for an INAPAM card—think AARP–that can nab you discounts on airline and bus tickets, entertainment and medical care.

  • 2. Panama

    Panama City, Panama
    Jane Sweeney—age fotostock Panama City, Panama

    Popular Ex-Pat cities: Panama City, Coronado, Boquete

    Estimated Monthly Living Costs: $2,000

    Health Care Rating: 89

    Retiree-Friendly Factor: Proof of $1,000 in monthly income earns you residency under the Pensionado program, as well as big discounts on everything from movies to doctor appointments.

  • 1. Ecuador

    The Plaza de la Independencia sits at the center of capital city Quito, Ecuador.
    Luis Davilla—First Light The Plaza de la Independencia sits at the center of capital city Quito, Ecuador.

    Popular Cities: Cuenca, Quito, Vilcabamba, Cotacachi, Salinas

    Estimated Average Monthly Living Costs: $1,500

    Health Care Rating: 82

    Retiree-Friendly Factor: Seniors get 50% discount on utilities, a break on property taxes, and a free landline.

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