The top 10 best countries to retire in

Planning to retire abroad? Here are the top 10 countries you must consider

The top 10 best countries to retire in

Are you planning to spend your golden years abroad but don’t exactly know where? Well, you’re in luck because International Living (IL) magazine recently compiled the results of its 2022 Annual Global Retirement Index, which revealed the top 10 best countries to retire in this year.

IL’s Retirement Index is a comprehensive and in-depth survey informed by hundreds of opinions and real-life experiences from the magazine’s trusted sources who are personally living in the places where they’re gathering their intelligence.

For 2022, survey respondents scored and ranked 25 countries in the Index across the following 10 categories: Housing, Benefits & Discounts, Visas & Residence, Fitting In/Entertainment, Development, Climate, Healthcare, Governance, Opportunity, and Cost of Living.

What are the best countries to retire in?

Here are the top 10 best countries to retire in in 2022 according to IL magazine:

1. Panama


Former first-placer Panama has again taken the number one spot in IL’s Annual Global Retirement Index, as it remains unbeatable when it comes to overall benefits and value. Though a lot of people who’ve never been to Panama tend to assume that it’s a very Third World country, it actually has reliable power, water that can be drunk straight from the tap, high-speed internet, and great cell phone service.

Perfectly positioned between North and South America, Panama is just a three-hour flight from Miami, making it an amazing destination for U.S. retirees. Panama also has warm and tropical weather and is situated completely outside the treacherous hurricane belt.

2. Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Its tropical climate, lower cost of living, friendly locals, cheap medical care, wide real estate options, and natural beauty brought Costa Rica to the second spot in this year’s IL’s Annual Global Retirement Index. Though located in Central America, a region often plagued by political and civil unrest, Costa Rica remains a beacon of stability, democracy, and home of the sought-after laid-back lifestyle.

A couple can live comfortably in Costa Rica for around $2,000 to $2,500 a month. Those who have a monthly budget of $3,000, meanwhile, can have a more relaxed lifestyle with most material comforts a retiree requires.

3. Mexico


Dubbed as the original retirement haven for Americans and Canadians, Mexico is known for its low-cost, outstanding healthcare, and well-regarded government system. It has high-speed internet, good highways, reliable electricity and water, good cellphone service, and stores and brands that North Americans love.

On average, a retired couple could live well in Mexico for just $2,000 a month, which already covers housing, transportation, healthcare, utilities, and food. Retirees can even get by on much less budget if they decide to live like the locals.

4. Portugal


Portugal scored the fourth spot in the ranking because it has something for everyone. It is the home of vibrant cities with Old World charm, golden sandy beaches, and some of the best healthcare in the world.

While retirees in Portugal enjoy a low cost of living, the arguably best part about living in the country is its people, as they are warm, friendly, and greet everyone with double-cheeked kisses.

5. Colombia


Retirees love Colombia because of its low cost of living, close proximity to the U.S. and Canada, and excellent healthcare. In fact, the World Health Organization ranks Colombia´s healthcare system as number 22 out of the 191 countries. Colombia’s ranking is higher than Canada, which is in the 30th place, and the U.S. which sits in the 37th spot.

Additionally, compared to other countries in Latin America, Colombia is more developed, boasting infrastructure, modern products, and services found in advanced cities in the world.

6. Ecuador


Depending on location and lifestyle, a couple can easily live off in Ecuador for only $1,500-$1,825 a month. Though largely an undiscovered country, Ecuador still offers the conveniences of modern living, including high-speed fiber-optic internet, American dollar currency, temperate weather, good public transportation, and cheap healthcare and housing.

7. France


With a captivating culture, stunning natural landscapes, and a cost of living that is surprisingly accessible, France secured the seventh spot in IL’s 2022 Annual Global Retirement Index.

On average, housing prices in France are 34% less than those in the U.S. Retirees in this European country also pay a very low percentage of their annual income into the universal healthcare system. And because of a tax treaty between France and the U.S, American retirees in France cannot be taxed on income they receive from Social Security benefits or pensions.

8. Malta


Retirees won’t feel isolated in this tiny country. Malta is basically just the size of Lubbock, Texas, yet it is packed with more than 500,000 people, and nearly 15% of whom are expats. Communication with the locals won’t be a problem, as English is a national language in the five-island country, which was part of the British Empire for 150 years.

While meals in cafés and restaurants cost less than in the U.S., they are not cheap. Retirees living in Malta have learned that the most affordable option is to shop the local veggie trucks. Prices there are easily 30% to 50% cheaper.

9. Spain


Thanks to its 300-plus days of sunshine, 3,000 miles of coastline, low cost of living, excellent healthcare, and first-world infrastructure, Spain has been a favorite retirement destination for Brits, Germans, Dutch, and other Northern Europeans. Now, many Americans and Canadians are discovering its appeal.

Retirees in Spain can feel at ease walking anywhere in the middle of the night, as crimes in the country are nearly non-existent, aside from a few pickpockets. Gun ownership is also low in Spain and police are efficient and polite.

10. Uruguay


There are a lot of good things about Uruguay, but one of the most appreciated by retirees is its egalitarian culture. Considered the most democratic country in Latin America, Uruguay gives all its workers Social Security, paid vacations, and comprehensive healthcare. The principle of treating others with respect is also alive and well in this South American country.

Uruguay is also a land with few natural threats. It’s not located in a hurricane path and doesn’t get destructive earthquakes.

What is the cheapest and safest country to retire in?

The cheapest country to retire in is Colombia and Ecuador. Both countries got 92% – the highest score – in the “Cost of Living” category in IL’s Retirement Index survey. A couple can live in many cities around Colombia for $2,000 per month or less, while in Ecuador, as mentioned above, a couple can easily live off for only $1,500-$1,825 a month.

The “Governance” category in IL’s Retirement Index survey examines the countries’ bureaucracy and safety. And for 2022, France got the highest rating in the category (90%), making it the safest country to retire this year.

Which country is best for U.S. retirees?

The “Fitting In/Entertainment” category in IL’s Retirement Index looks into the countries’ ability to make retirees feel at home, and Mexico tops the category with a score of 94%. Since Mexico is a close neighbor of the U.S., retirees can easily pick up their favorite American comforts in the country when they need them.

There are also more than 1 million Americans living full-time or part-time in Mexico, so U.S. retirees can easily find fellow Americans in the country. Lastly, the U.S. expat community in Mexico is very welcoming, making the transition for retirees much easier.

Check out the complete results of IL’s 2022 Annual Global Retirement Index in the chart below:

International Living's 2022 Annual Global Retirement Index

Source: International Living
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