How to Choose the Best Country for Your Retirement

| |

Marisa Fasciano
Content Specialist
Marisa is a communications consultant based in New York with a background in social research, diversity education, and nonprofit development.  She has lived and traveled abroad extensively… Read more

Are you contemplating retirement in a radically different environment that offers advantages over your home country, like a lower cost of living, a more appealing climate, an exotic culture, or an adventurous lifestyle?  If so, you’re in good company.  Over half a million American seniors live outside of the United States, and this number is growing.  Last year, more Americans than ever gave up their US citizenship, deciding to spend the rest of their lives abroad.

In response to these trends, there is an abundance of resources to help you choose the best foreign country in which to spend your golden years.  Experts in expat living have made their top picks for 2017, and we’ve summarized their findings below.

Resources for Choosing a Country

International Living: The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2017

One of the most reputable and commonly referenced retirement indices comes from International Living (IL), a publication that has been researching and ranking countries for over 25 years.  IL bases its rankings on 10 factors:  buying & renting, benefits & discounts, visas & residence, cost of living, fitting in, entertainment & amenities, healthcare, healthy lifestyle, infrastructure, and climate.

This year, Mexico claimed the number one spot for the 5th time.  This popular retirement destination, in which over one million Americans live, offers bargain real estate, a convenient location, friendly locals, and a thriving expat community.  In addition, you can receive high-quality health care for a fraction of what it costs in the US. 

Official residents automatically qualify for an INAPAM card, Mexico’s discount card for seniors, and you can acquire this status simply by showing that you have enough money to support yourself.  Mexico has become so attractive to retirees that expats who originally settled in other Latin American countries, like Costa Rica and Ecuador, are now moving there.

Panama takes a close second on IL’s list, in large part due to the diversity and modern conveniences brought by the canal.  The country’s Pensionado program facilitates the residency process for foreign retirees and provides them with a variety of discounts. 

Ecuador, Costa Rica, Columbia, Malaysia, Spain, Nicaragua, Portugal, and Malta also made IL’s top ten list.  Malaysia stands out as the only Asian country on the list.  With pristine cities, a state-of-the-art transportation system, gorgeous island beaches, and four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this nation beckons retirees in search of a high quality of life.  It is one of the few places in Asia that allows you to purchase property freehold.

Live and Invest Overseas:  The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2017

beach in Algarve Portugal.jpg

Rather than ranking countries, Live and Invest Overseas ranks regions, towns, and cities.  Its Annual Overseas Retirement Index includes 13 categories:  cost of living, health care, ease of obtaining residency, entertainment, recreation, the prevalence of English, quality of the expat community, taxation, real estate affordability, real estate restrictions, infrastructure, environment (e.g., air cleanliness), and crime and safety.  The following places received the top five scores:

#1 – Algarve, Portugal* (pictured above)

#2 -  Valletta, Malta*

#3 – Mazatlan, Mexico*

#4 – Abruzzo, Italy

#5 – Saint Chinian, France

*also on IL’s top ten list

US News: Best Countries for a Comfortable Retirement

In partnership with Y & R’s brand strategy firm and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, US News surveyed 21,000 people as part of its 2017 Best Countries Rankings.  Respondents older than 45 who defined themselves as “upper class” were asked to assign the following attributes to 80 different countries:

  • affordable
  • favorable tax environment
  • friendly
  • is a place I would live
  • pleasant climate
  • respects property rights
  • well-developed public health system

New Zealand (#1) and  Australia (#2) ranked highest overall among well-off respondents, followed by Switzerland, Canada, and Portugal yet again.

Resources for Transferring Money Internationally 

Regardless of whether you plan to live in the lap of luxury or on a shoestring budget, you’ll need to cover living expenses in your country of choice.  As part of your research, choose a money transfer provider that can send funds from your home country to your new country as quickly, safely, and inexpensively as possible.  Our comparison tool  and international money transfer guides make this choice easy. You can rely on us to do the heavy lifting while you contemplate the excitement of a new beginning.




Most Read

Use Our Currency Comparison Tool

Select country...

Select country...


Editor's Choice is an fx money comparison site for international money transfer and to compare rates from currency brokers for sending money abroad. The website and the information provided is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer, solicitation or advice on any financial service or transaction. None of the information presented is intended to form the basis for any investment decision, and no specific recommendations are intended.  FXC Group Ltd and FX Compared Ltd does not provide any guarantees of any data from third parties listed on this website. FX compared Ltd expressly disclaims any and all responsibility for any direct or consequential loss or damage of any kind whatsoever arising directly or indirectly from (i) any error, omission or inaccuracy in any such information or (ii) any action resulting therefrom.