The 5 Best Countries for Retirement

A lot of us envision a life outside of our home country when we finally call time on our working life. After decades of toil and with the kids now all grown up, it makes sense to live out your autumn years in a land you’ve always dreamed of exploring.

When it comes to moving to distant lands to enjoy our retirement, however, it’s not always a case of wishes coming true. Unless money is no object, you have to balance the deep-seated desire with some reality.

What this means is we need to be practical when choosing places to retire because the best doesn’t necessarily equal ideal, especially when factoring in the overall cost of putting down roots.

In an ideal world, you want a beautiful place that doesn’t make your wallet wince. A place that promises beautiful weather, security and government stability, plenty of recreational activities, cultural attractions, and affordable homes – all things that retirees usually look for.

We took all these factors into account and proceeded to round up a list of the 5 best countries for retirement. Here are the five that made the cut.

1. Portugal

sintra, portugal.
Source: Pexels.

The European country is as naturally beautiful as they come, with some of the most breathtaking scenery you can have the pleasure of feasting your eyes upon.

Portugal is a haven for gorgeous beaches every side you go, with amazing scenery all round and relatively mild temperatures across the year, averaging between 53 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

But that’s not all.

Portugal is one of the safest countries not just in Europe, but the world. Rated third-safest country globally in 2019, the Iberian state has also been given a “Level 1” travel advisory by the US Department of State, meaning it’s an extremely safe country to visit and live in.

With a cost of living 30.83 times lower than the US average, according to Numbeo, retirees don’t have to worry about the cost of living in Portugal.

Rent is 46.04% lower compared to the United States, with a one-bedroom apartment in the city center renting for $687.64 a month on average.

2. Panama

Panama canal.
Source: Pexels.

If you’re looking for something closer home, Panama is an option worth exploring. That’s particularly if year-round warm weather is your kind of thing. Temperatures average 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but this modern, convenient location is not all about the weather.

This is a great destination for epicureans, beer and film lovers, so you can bet there’s plenty of exciting stuff to keep you occupied. You can also expect plenty of golf courses to perfect your shots.

Importantly, the cost of living is affordable, averaging 24% lower than the US national average.

Renting a one-bedroom city center apartment will set you back $778 a month, and if you’re planning to buy, expect to shell out $196.37 per sq. ft.

Panama may have areas with their fair share of crime, but the country is generally safe, with the US Department of State categorizing it as “Level 1”.

3. Spain

somewhere in spain.
Source: Pexels.

Bordering Portugal to the east, Spain is a no-brainer for anyone looking for the best countries to retire in. Words really can’t do justice to what you can expect in terms of cuisine, culture, and activities to engross yourself in.

The weather is incredible, thanks to a Mediterranean climate that makes most parts of the country warm throughout the year. In fact, the national tourism website labels the country one of the warmest parts of Europe, boasting “3000 hours of sunshine” annually.

Although rated as Level 2 by the Department of State, safety should not be a concern in Spain. The rating largely has to do with the civil unrest experienced in Barcelona and Catalonia in general.

Housing is pocket-friendly, averaging 46% lower than in the US. Renting a one-bedroom city center apartment will cost you about $720 per month, and anyone looking to buy should expect prices around the $298/sq. ft. range.

4. France

A night in France.
Source: Pexels.

France doesn’t need any introduction really, so we’ll just get to the specifics.

Unlike our other entries, cost of living is slightly higher than in the US (4.04% higher) so make sure to budget accordingly if you dream of settling down in France.

Cost of housing differs depending on the city, but generally rents are lower in France compared to the US. A one-bedroom city center apartment goes for $734 on average, and a square foot will cost you $655 if you plan to buy.

5. Vietnam

Vietnam view.
Source: Pexels.

Vietnam is not the first place that comes to mind when you think of retirement, but it makes a solid case for itself.

Steeped in history and not short of uncrowded beaches, the Asian country known for its breathtaking rugged mountains has plenty of modern and progressive cities whose cost of living makes for great reading.

Cost of living compared to the US is 46.41% lower, with housing even cheaper (66.4% lower). Renting a one-bed apartment in the city will cost you about $395/month; buying $207/sq. ft.

Safety is tiptop and the weather – although varying by region – is mostly warm and humid with sunshine across the year. And rain.


Each country here promises a different experience from the other. But you can’t go wrong with either, regardless of choice.

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