The world’s top 10 retirement destinations

A new year means a new start for many, whether that’s moving job, moving house or moving to a whole new country. Thinking about retiring overseas? There are lots of factors to consider, from the obvious, such as climate and cost of living, to the less obvious, such as healthcare services or other expat and retiree benefits.

To determine the best places for those planning to enjoy their post-working life in the sun, International Living has compared 24 countries around the world and ranked them in terms of the ability of expats to fit in, the ease of obtaining visas and residence permits, available entertainment or amenities, and more.

The winner for 2017’s annual report is a constant favourite among expats, reports International Living, with the country “consistently ranked in the top 10 retirement destinations on the planet” over the last 14 years.

Click through the gallery below to browse the Top 10.

10. Malta


“Malta is easy to overlook — literally — as a desirable retirement destination. Only two of its main islands, Malta and Gozo, have a substantial population, and both are so small that it only takes 30 minutes to drive across them. But Malta’s compact size doesn’t detract from the marvelous lifestyle it offers.”

In addition to 300 days of sun a year, with warm winter weather, International Living notes that “a couple can live here comfortably for less than $2,700 per month”, while a dinner out can cost as little as $25 per person, including a glass of wine.

View all properties available in Malta

9. Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

“The Lisbon area, including the seaside towns of Cascais and Estoril, is a favorite with expats. Lisbon offers all the amenities you’d expect in a capital city, including an international airport, great restaurants and cafés, and museums and concert halls.”

Outside of the capital city, Cascais and Estoril are popular with both full- and part-time expats, especially the British, and are known for their beaches. Add in a low cost of living and low-priced real estate and you have an extremely attractive destination.

View all properties available in Portugal

8. Nicaragua


“Nicaragua has changed greatly over the last decade,” says International Living. “And all for the better. Pock-marked roads have turned into smooth highways. Renewable energy windmills dot the southern countryside. San Juan del Sur has blossomed into a foodie town, as well as a surf town, and a great place to retire. Matagalpa is now on the map too, and its coffee sells in cafés around the world. Everywhere you look, there is progress, and the expat lifestyle gets easier and easier every year.”

The current cost of living for a couple is around $1,500 a month.

View all properties available in Nicaragua

7. Spain


“The many advantages of this southern European country have long made it a favorite among European vacationers and second-home buyers. Today, it’s increasingly popular among North Americans for many of the same reasons. Small one- and two-bedroom apartments can be rented from as little as $500 a month, and can be bought from about $70,000,” adds International Living.

View all properties available in Spain

6. Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

“Occupying Peninsula Malaysia and two states on the island of Borneo, Malaysia is known for its idyllic islands – there are 878 of them – its stunning beaches, and its untouched rainforests. Malaysia’s people are a mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Europeans. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to recognize its rare qualities over 600 years ago, and the Dutch, and then the English quickly followed,” says International Living.

The cities are modern, its public transport impressive and its population friendly. “While other Asian countries offer great budget holidays, and some offer first-class vacations, Malaysia manages to cater extraordinarily well to both,” adds IL.

View all properties available in Malaysia

5. Colombia


“Colombia, once an overlooked retirement haven, is now just grabbing the attention of expats looking for a place to live that is close to home, has excellent healthcare, a diverse and temperate climate, and of course is low cost… The country has shed its dark past and is now thriving, welcoming to foreigners and proud of its culture and heritage.”

An expat living even in Medellín’s high-end El Poblado neighbourhood can get by on just $1,250 a month.

View all properties available in Colombia

4. Costa Rica


“Because expats have been living here for so long, it’s an easy transition. You don’t have to be a pioneer or figure things out—services and modern conveniences are available. And it’s easy to make friends with both locals and expats. Getting residence is a straightforward process. For retirees, the pensionado program requires an income of just $1,000 per month from Social Security, a pension, disability, or another similar source. That covers the applicant and a dependent spouse.”

The country has become particularly popular among Brits in the last year, due to the affordable exchange rates between the pound and its own, weaker currency.

View all properties available in Costa Rica

3. Ecuador


“For anyone who has excellent weather at the top of their list of personal requirements for a retirement destination, Ecuador can’t be beat. Thanks to its mountainous terrain and its position directly on the equator, you can choose almost any climate you like simply by moving up or down in altitude. And healthcare in Ecuador’s major cities is the equal to anything available, anywhere, and at amazingly low prices.”

Ecuador’s real estate is highly affordable, and even includes a free landline for over-65s, who also can enjoy discounts on flights, movie and sports tickets and public transport. Popular expat hotspots include Cuenca, Quito, Cotacachi, and Salinas

View all properties available in Ecuador

2. Panama


“Panama is a place shaped by interactions with people from Spain, France, Israel, Lebanon, the US, China, India, the Antilles, and many more. Newcomers need not fear that they won’t fit in or be welcomed.”

If Ecuador impressed with its retiree perks, Panama’s Pensionado program gives it a run for its money, from discounts on travel, healthcare, hotels and restaurants to making it simple to obtain residence.

View all properties available in Panama

1. Mexico

mexico play del carmen

Mexico has always offered arguably the easiest transition to expat life around: Low-cost, conveniently close, friendly locals and plenty of expats—Mexico offers an appealing balance of exotic foreign culture and familiar First-World lifestyle.

Over recent years, crime and insecurity across the border have made headlines—and yes, there are parts of Mexico we don’t recommend. But this is a big country…and while the mainstream media may bash Mexico, we’ve actually noticed a trend of people gravitating there.

In the last year, overseas interest in Mexican property has also risen, thanks to the weak peso, which means that real estate has only become even more affordable. Hotspots include Riviera Maya and Lake Chapala.

View all properties available in Mexico