Top 10 Countries to Retire to

The list of top 10 countries to retire to may surprise you. By comparing factors like climate, cost of living, things to do, safety, and cultural richness, we have compiled this list for people who want to get the most out of retirement by settling in another country. While time-tested favorites like Spain and Mexico are on the list, many people will be surprised to see Panama and Uruguay as well. We will briefly explain why we chose each country to be on the list of top 10 countries you can retire to so that you can begin to make an educated decision when it comes to your foreign retirement.

Close To Home

1.  Panama is becoming increasingly popular for American retirees because of its beautiful beaches and extremely low cost of living. Because this country was built up by Americans during the construction of the Panama Canal, it has a stable infrastructure and many familiar institutions like shopping malls and highways. Similarly, health care is on a par with American standards, and many doctors are US trained. Prescription drugs are cheaper as well, and many that require a prescription in the States are available over the counter in Panama. Moreover, the government offers several perks and discounts to foreign retirees and this is also why it’s one of the top 10 countries to retire to. Conveniently located between North and South America, getting there is just a short plane ride away. 

2.  Ecuador to be able to qualify to the top 10 list is simply because it is a beautiful country full of tropical forests, waterfalls, and white sand beaches. Money will stretch father here than almost anywhere, and the people are warm and cheerful. Ecuador may not be the best choice for city dwellers, but it is a nature lovers paradise. While Ecuador has recently instituted free health care for residents, it is important to note that hospitals have a reputation for being under-staffed and under-equipped. On the bright side, property tax is low: $110 per anum on a property worth $170,000, and income tax is similar to or lower than US rates.

3.  Mexico has been on the list of top 10 countries to retire to for years. For this reason, there are many established expat communities, resorts, and services for retirees already in place. Here you will find a wide variety of urban and natural landscapes, beaches, jungles, and much more. Mexico is not as cheap as it used to be, however, which may help to explain the rise in popularity of Panama and Ecuador. While Mexico may not be the cheapest country to retire to, you get what you pay for. While health care is modern and includes many components directly adapted from the American system, the cost of drugs and services can cost up to 40% less. Taxation on income retirement is charged at a progressive rate and will fall between 15% and 30% in most cases.

Top 10 Countries to Retire4.  Uruguay is a small country in South America tucked between Brazil and Argentina. The capital Montevideo is just across the river from Buenos Aires and prides itself on its European feeling. This might be a good destination for someone who wants the feel of a European city without paying European prices. In this capital city it is possible to buy an apartment for the price of a down payment elsewhere.

Uruguay is appealing as a tax haven, as the government does not charge income or sales tax, and this could be the reason why it was included on the top 10 countries to retire.

Most expat residents in Uruguay choose to join a private health care plan as public service is generally considered to be unreliable. Private hospitals offer membership with full coverage benefits for between $50 and $85 per month. An even higher level of care can be purchased through private health care companies who offer full coverage for between $90 and $260 per month.

5.  Brazil is on everyone’s radar as the country to watch in the coming decade. Both the World Cup and the Olympics will be hosted here in coming years and the government is rapidly making structural improvements. With a robust economy, a fascinating culture, and vast beaches and tropical landscapes to explore, Brazil is both a great destination and a smart investment, making it one of our favorite top 10 countries you can retire to. Like the States, taxes in Brazil are charged progressively based on income, but there are several exceptions covering educational expenses, social security income, and the Brazilian private pension plan. Health care is universal and modern, but overcrowded conditions often drive those who can afford it to pay for private health care.

Across The Sea

6. If distance is no issue, New Zealand has a lot to offer retirees and could possibly be included on the list of top 10 countries to retire to. A warm and friendly culture, amazing landscapes, and diverse climates within a small area are just a few of the highlights. The country maintains high standards of cleanliness as well, and crime rates are extremely low. The native language is English, of course, and here you can find all the modern conveniences. Be warned that it is often quite difficult to obtain permission to live in New Zealand year round, so this might be a good choice for those interested in spending 6 months at home and 6 months abroad. Part time residency is also advisable due to the high tax rate for residents: up to 39% for the wealthy. One of the upsides to high taxation,however, is very good free health care.

7. Spain also has been consistent on the top 10 list, having all of the history and mystique of old Europe as well as a wonderful climate and amazing food. Spain is a perennial favorite on the list of top countries to retire to because it offers stability, modernity, and a friendly citizenry as well as the best weather in Europe. Public health care is considered some of the best in Europe and is free for those who pay into the Spanish social security system. In urban areas it is very easy to find doctors and nurses who speak English. The hidden cost of free health care, of course, is a higher taxation rate for residents.

8. Malta has recently been added on the list of top 10 retirement countries and part of the reason is, it is a dream destination for many with its Mediterranean climate and ancient history. Located off the coast of Italy, you will find great food and impressive monuments here as well as a general appreciation for high culture. The pace of life is slow in Malta, but that might be just what you are looking for. The public health care system is quite good and free in most cases. Again, the price of this service for residents is a progressive taxation rate of between 15% and 35%.

Top-10-Countries-to-Retire9. Italy has always fascinated foreigners and has been on the list of top 10 countries to retire to. There are lifetimes worth of things to do here from exploring Roman ruins and visiting world famous museums to exploring Mediterranean beaches. Italy is not the cheapest place to live, but it compares favorably with other European countries. While state health coverage is free, medical care can involve a long waiting period and a lower standard of basic comforts, especially in the south of the country.

Many residents purchase private health insurance to bolster this patchy care. While taxes in Italy are extremely high, up to 45%, the country allows foreign residents to remain taxpayers in their home country so that it is possible to enjoy low cost living without paying outrages local tax rates.

10. Portugal is one of the standouts on our list of the top 10 countries you can retire to. A highly underrated gem hidden in the far corner of Europe, this country offers elegant architecture, airy plazas, strong coffee, and a relaxed lifestyle. Portugal is on the up and up, but prices are still lower here than in the rest of western Europe. Tax rates can be high here, especially for wealthy residents, but the country makes many allowances for things like medical expenses, education costs, and home ownership. Health care is very good, free, and includes comfortable perks like the ability to choose your own doctor if you are a resident.

There are lots of other countries we could have added to this, but these are some of the most well rounded as far as value for your dollar plus quality of living. With the convenience of modern air travel and the speed of global communications, many people are choosing to get more out of retirement by spending it in the paradise of their choice. and hopefully its one of these top 10 countries to retire. If your retirement finances aren’t shaping up the way you had hoped, spending retirement in another country may be a great way to make your money go farther while enjoying rich new experiences during your golden years.


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