Entering your golden years and settling down for retirement is an exciting time, but it also entails lots of planning and considerations, such as where you’d like to retire and whether you can afford it. Some retirees decide to expand on the excitement of this new chapter in their lives — while finding a place that will stretch their savings further — by moving overseas.
Every year, Live and Invest Overseas compiles a list of the world’s best retirement destinations, looking at 15 different factors including cost of living, taxes, crime, weather and recreation. The organization’s members are expats themselves, says founder and CEO Kathleen Peddicord, so they have a special understanding of what’s important when deciding to make such a big move.
Here’s what the Live and Invest Overseas experts rank as the best overseas retirement destinations in 2024.
10. Santa Marta, Colombia
What the experts say about it: “The best Caribbean seaside city you’ve never heard of”
Sitting on the Caribbean Sea and bordering the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Santa Marta is Colombia’s oldest city and South America’s second-oldest city.
For foodies, Santa Marta is a port town with fresh and local seafood often at the docks for purchase. With fresh food, outdoor activities and annual festivals, there’s lots to do and enjoy here.
9. Phuket, Thailand
What the experts say about it: “Beautiful beaches and affordable living on Thailand’s biggest island”
Phuket has a tropical climate, with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to mid-80s throughout the year. But note there is a rainy season that runs approximately from the start of June to the end of October.
And while Phuket is one of the pricier cities in Thailand, its prices are still much cheaper than in the U.S. The average monthly cost of living for a single person in Phuket is around $889. With a plethora of gorgeous beaches, that can be a hard price to beat. And Phuket is a short plane ride away from Thailand’s vibrant capital, Bangkok.
8. Cayo, Belize
What the experts say about it: “Unadulterated escape in a frontier land of rivers and rain forest”
Belize is full of English speakers, so it can be easy to get comfortable and communicate with the locals. There’s also Belize’s Qualified Retired Program (QRP), which can be a great opportunity for retirees who want to live there permanently. Participants are exempt from taxes on any income from a source outside Belize, as well as capital gains tax and inheritance tax. To qualify you only need to be over the age of 40, consider yourself retired and have at least $2,000 in monthly income.
The lush greenery, historical sites, growing investment in infrastructure and tax incentives for retirees could make it a great choice for your lifestyle and your wallet.
7. Kotor Bay, Montenegro
What the experts say about it: “Low-cost Mediterranean living in Europe’s secret Riviera”
Kotor Bay offers a variety of housing options, whatever your taste, that range from modern luxury apartments to medieval villages. Mountains and coastlines surround the area as the city is nestled comfortably away in the Adriatic Sea. It’s well-known for Kotor Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the Mediterranean.
It has one of the higher costs of living on this list so far, at about $1,373 a month. However, that’s still a good price compared to the approximately $2,434 monthly cost of living in the U.S.
6. Gascony, France
What the experts say about it: “Quaint, pastoral living in the villages of southwest France”
Gascony isn’t a bustling city. It’s remote, and many residents have rural lifestyles, so traffic on the roads is often tractors and livestock. And if you’re worried about the locals liking you: Don’t sweat it. You’ll stand a better chance with them than their northern neighbors from Paris, for whom Gascony residents have great scorn.
You don’t have to stay cut off from the outside world, though. Not too far away is the city of Marciac, an area internationally recognized for its jazz. The annual Jazz in Marciac concert can draw big names like Johnny Depp and Norah Jones.
5. Chitré, Panama
What the experts say about it: “A safe, stable, small town in Panama’s interior”
Chitré is known for its health care availability, high-quality infrastructure and its shopping. There are a variety of things to see including Sarigua National Park and a beautiful historic cathedral.
Panama has a retirement visa that U.S. News & World Report calls “the gold standard of retirement visas.” Not only does it offer some tax exemptions, it provides discounts at restaurants and hotels, and even the ability to skip lines at banks.
The monthly cost of living here for a single person is $1,005, less than half of America’s.
4. Crete, Greece
What the experts say about it: “A Mediterranean jewel at the crossroads of three civilizations”
Crete is considered a slow-paced and relaxed area that offers scenic coastlines to explore. It boasts home-grown food with fresh-caught fish and local produce. Even with its rich history and healthy lifestyle, the monthly cost of living sits at $1,016.
3. Mazatlán, Mexico
What the experts say about it: “Best beach lifestyle with Spanish-Colonial charm”
Mazatlán offers beautiful coastal living without the influx of tourists and commercialized resort areas. Its downtown area with a colonial feel is full of restaurants, music, entertainment options and delicious seafood.
There’s a healthy expat population in the area, so it won’t be too hard to find people online or in person who have similar thoughts and experiences as you. There are also retirement living communities that, in addition to the area’s beautiful coast, offer amenities like pools, fitness centers and social events. The average monthly cost of living for a single person is $1,224.
2. Braga, Portugal
What the experts say about it: “Low-key, elegant, culturally rich northern haven”
Braga, the oldest city in Portugal, was heavily influenced by Roman occupation, and its landscape and architecture reflect that. The residents are primarily Portuguese, but the younger population as well as restaurant and shop owners often have good English skills.
It’s easy to enjoy being outside here thanks to Braga’s reliable transportation systems and temperate weather: Average temperatures through the year range from 47 to 69 degrees. There are dozens of cultural museums and galleries, so it’s a good idea to break out your comfy walking shoes as you take in the area and enjoy its centuries-old outdoor market. These are just a few perks, and all with an average $1,126 individual monthly cost of living.
1. Valencia, Spain
What the experts say about it: “A city of joy and vibrant heart of Spain’s Mediterranean coast”
Valencia is one of the biggest cities in Spain, yet still holds a small-town feel. Foodies or those who like going out won’t be disappointed. Being so close to the Mediterranean means that seafood is quite popular — and it’s fresh. There are lots of bars, restaurants and cafes to enjoy.
The nightlife is rich, even beyond clubbing and parties, with theaters, outdoor cinemas and music halls. There’s lots of culture to soak up with plenty of museums and an annual music festival. To boot, the monthly cost of living for one person is $1,382.