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15 Best Foreign Countries to Retire In

By Jeremy Bowman - Oct 8, 2022 at 7:00AM
Passport and credit card sit on top of a laptop.

15 Best Foreign Countries to Retire In

Get your passport ready

For a certain type of American, retiring abroad has always been a dream. Depending on where you go, you could get a lot more bang for your buck, and if you're a retiree with a sense of adventure, going abroad is a great opportunity to start a life somewhere new. Not only can your cost of living drop significantly, but you could also lower your tax bill.

Even better, now's a great time to go abroad because the dollar is as strong as it's been since 2001, according to the U.S. Dollar Index, and it's reached parity against the euro and near parity with the British pound. Keep reading to see the 15 best foreign countries to retire in.

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A volcano in Costa Rica.

1. Costa Rica

Long a popular destination for American students and travelers, Costa Rica is also an appealing option for retirees.

Costs for food, rent, and healthcare are much cheaper there; you have access to both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and Costa Rica has a reputation as one of the safest countries in Latin America. In fact, the country doesn't even have an army.

The average annual cost of living for an individual retiree is just $7,200, and transportation options back to the U.S. are readily available.

ALSO READ: Dream of Retiring Abroad? This Is the Most Popular Destination

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The Panama City skyline with the beach and a Panamanian flag in the foreground.

2. Panama

Just south of Costa Rica, Panama tops a number of lists on best countries to retire to. The company offers a diverse array of lifestyle choices, including a major capital city in Panama City, warm beaches, and cool mountains.

In some parts of the country, your monthly cost of living will only be $1,300, while there are other parts that cater to retirees where you can enjoy amenities like fine dining and championship golf courses.

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A building in Mexico with Mexican flag raised out front.

3. Mexico

Another great option for retirees looking to go abroad is Mexico. You'll have great transit connections to the U.S., a low cost of living, and a wide range of locales to choose from including the cosmopolitan Mexico City or beautiful beaches in the Mayan Riviera on the Caribbean Sea.

A monthly budget of $2,000 should be enough for most American retirees.

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Two people dancing flamenco in a plaza.

4. Spain

If you're looking to live the high life, it's hard to do much better than Spain. The country offers world-class cities like Madrid and Barcelona; beautiful Mediterranean beaches; and a culture known for good food, fine wine, and embracing "la fiesta."

If you retire away from the big cities, you could get away with monthly expenses as low as $2,000 per month.

ALSO READ: The 3 Best Places to Retire Abroad on Less Than $1,500 Per Month

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Saint-Chinian, France.

5. France

If Spain is up your alley, you might also want to consider France, which offers similar amenities to its southern neighbor, including Mediterranean beaches; a world-renowned cuisine; and, of course, Paris.

Parts of France have attracted British retirees for years, and Americans are beginning to catch on. Residents also benefit from affordable, high-quality healthcare, and a reasonable cost of living, especially in the rural areas.

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Beers with lime with beach in the background.

6. Belize

If going to an English-speaking country is a priority and you're looking for somewhere cheap, Belize could be a good match. Sandwiched between Guatemala and Mexico, Belize offers miles of Caribbean coastline and laid-back beach towns like Placencia and San Pedro.

The average cost of living for a couple is just $1,700 a month, while you could reasonably spend as little as $1,200.

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A volcano behind Antigua, Guatemala.

7. Guatemala

Another Central American country to make the list, Guatemala has long been a popular destination for American expats, offering ancient ruins, beautiful mountains, and a low cost of living.

Antigua, a colonial city near Guatemala City, offers plenty of modern amenities, and it has long attracted retirees and expats. In much of the country, you can live comfortably on $1,200 to $1,500 a month.

ALSO READ: 3 Signs You Should Retire Abroad

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The Bogota skyline with mountains in the background.

8. Colombia

Though Colombia may be most closely associated with negative headlines to Americans with long memories, the country has come a long way from those days and has a lot to offer American retirees.

Colombia is blessed with ample coastline on both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, as well as the Andes mountains. As a result, much of the country enjoys a year-round temperate climate.

The country also has excellent healthcare and an easy visa process.

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Ecuador's flag waves over a skyline.

9. Ecuador

Colombia's southern neighbor, Ecuador, is also a popular retiree destination, offering many of the same geographical benefits, including coastline, mountains, and a year-round temperate climate.

Ecuador also offers access to exotic locales like the Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos Islands, and has a low cost of living at just around $1,500 to $1,825 a month.

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The skyline of a city in Malta at night.

10. Malta

An offbeat pick, Malta is an island nation in the Mediterranean, located just south of Sicily. Because of that location, Malta enjoys a year-round mild climate, as well as beautiful Mediterranean beaches.

The country is also less expensive than most of Europe, and retirees can generally get by on $2,600 less. Malta enjoys high-quality healthcare, and English is widely spoken there.

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Chania, Crete, Greece.

11. Greece

Not too far from Malta, Greece offers similar amenities, including a mild year-round climate, Mediterranean beaches, and hundreds of islands to visit.

Additionally, the country is renowned for its cuisine, history, and culture, as it's long been a popular tourist destination, and it's affordable. The typical retiree can get away with spending just $2,000 per month.

ALSO READ: This Could Be Your Largest Expense in Retirement

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A balcony in Lisbon is overlooking the water.

12. Portugal

Another favorite European destination, Portugal is popular for a number of reasons. It's a beautiful country with Atlantic Ocean vistas, charming towns, and colonial-style architecture.

It also has a good healthcare system, and much of its population speaks English. A retired couple can live on $1,500 to $2,000 a month in Portugal.

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The skyline in Bangkok, Thailand.

13. Thailand

If you're willing to go far from home, Thailand could be a good option for some bolder retirees. The Southeast Asian country has long been a popular travel destination thanks to its beautiful beaches, tropical climate, delicious food, and friendly people.

It's also highly affordable, and retirees could get away with spending $1,500 to $2,000 per month in living expenses.

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A tropical island in the ocean.

14. Dominican Republic

Like the Central American countries on this list, the Dominican Republic offers beautiful beaches, a tropical climate, and easy access to the U.S.

The country also has a low cost of living, making it ideal for retirees on a budget. An American retiree can live in the D.R. for $1,200 a month, and $2,000 a month can afford a nice lifestyle with in-house help.

Though there are some concerns about crime and safety in parts of the country, retirees can stay safe by avoiding those and sticking to areas popular with expats.

ALSO READ: Retirement Planning: How to Plan Your Financial Journey

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Colorful houses on the coast in Nassau, Bahamas.

15. The Bahamas

The Bahamas is another top Caribbean destination for retirees from the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. The former British colony speaks English, and it's just a quick flight to Miami, making it easy for Americans to come home for healthcare needs or to see family.

The Bahamas also offers many of the trappings retirees are looking for, including ample Caribbean beaches and tropical weather.

A retired couple can live comfortably on roughly $3,000 a month.

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A plane in flight.

Time to make the move?

There are plenty of reasons to choose an international retirement. You'll likely save money. You can get that beachfront property you've dreamed of, and the weather in many of these countries is ideal.

If you're wondering if it's right for you, take a trip to one of the countries you might like and see how it feels. There are drawbacks, of course, that you should be ready for, including culture shock and being away from friends and family, but if you're looking for an adventure, it could be the right move for you.

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