10 best places for retiring overseas

Are you ready to spend your golden years in comfort, style, and maybe even a bit of luxury? Then check out this list of the 10 best places for retiring overseas and reinventing yourself and your life.

As a retiree, you’ll want to be able to live in a place where you can remain active, where you won’t have to shovel snow, and where the cost of living matches your financial situation. These places meet those requirements, so you might be able to pinpoint at least one spot where you can retire whenever you’re ready.

1. Pau, France

If you love the charm of Paris but don’t want a dense city lifestyle and the premium living costs associated with it, consider Pau instead. Located in the South of France, Pau attracts a large expat community as well as international students who contribute to a youthful and energetic vibe in the area. Roughly an hour-long ride from the beautiful beaches in Biarritz, this picturesque city boasts gorgeous views of the countryside, along with the famous castle known as Chateau de Pau. As the birthplace of Henry IV and the largest city in the Pyrenees, Pau has extensive cultural presence and it’s location near the border with Spain allows residents to enjoy the best of both nations. A walker’s delight, Pau’s popular Boulevard des Pyrenees let’s visitors take in views of the magnificent Pyrenees mountain range. If you’re looking for scenery, Pau is hard to beat.

2. Ambergris Caye, Belize

Have you always dreamt of moving to a tropical place where you will no longer have to deal with the burden of shovelling snow and having to bundle up to endure the cold temperatures in the winter? Then consider retiring in Belize. Ambergris Caye is the country’s biggest island, where you can explore Mayan ruins, as well as typical tropical sports such as windsurfing, sailing, snorkeling, diving, and swimming. Because the official language is English, and residents often speak Spanish and English fluently, you may be able to retire overseas without having to worry about learning another language, if you choose Ambergris Caye. Adding to the charm of the island, most inhabitants get around by golf cart, but be aware that the sparkling azure waters make tourism is a primary industry here. If the relaxed pace of island life sounds idyllic, you may like to know that ambergris is a waxy substance produced by the digestive system of sperm whales that was historically used as a medicament, perfume preservative and food flavouring. File that under ‘good to know’.

study abroad
study abroad

3. Abruzzo, Italy

La bella Italia: known for its historic cities, beautiful beaches, delicious cuisine, exquisite fashion, and influential art. Pick the right area of the country to call your home and you can spend your weekends driving to its diverse cities and small towns, and you can even take a ferry to the unforgettable islands of Sardinia and Sicily. If you make your home in the region of Abruzzo, in particular, you will enjoy an affordable cost of living that is ideal for those who are no longer working full-time. You will have access to Pescara, which sits along the Adriatic coast, and you will also be close to Rome, vineyards, castles, and villages. Plus, when you don’t want to be on a beach or in the water, you can go skiing instead, as this region is close to it all. With a warm climate throughout the year, you can relax in the sunshine while sipping wine and chatting with friends.

4. Central Valley, Costa Rica

Move to Costa Rica and live a “pura vida,” or pure life. This Central American country boasts a high standard of living, and the locals are known for their friendliness. The climate is tropical all year long, making this the ideal retirement spot for anyone who wants to enjoy fun in the sun rather than frolicking in the snow. The Central Valley, in particular, is popular amongst retirees, as it is the region that surrounds the capital, San Jose. You will be close to the international airport, medical facilities, and shopping. Speaking of medical facilities, Costa Rica is known for providing some of the best health care in all of Latin America, with new hospitals and equipment, as well as highly trained staff. Expats can access the universal, government-run health care system or the private system to cover all of their needs. Plus, when you want to get away from the urban environment, you can easily make your way into the countryside, where you can indulge in some peace and quiet. When you are ready to explore, you can hike through rainforests, or you can lounge on one of the country’s many famous and beloved beaches.

5. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Retirees on a tight budget will feel completely comfortable in Chiang Mai, which has a low cost of living but plenty of beautiful things to see and fun things to do. This is the biggest city, as well as the most culturally significant area, in northern Thailand. From beaches to mountains, staying active throughout your senior years is easy when you live in this unique country. Many people are attracted to this area because it features modern infrastructure in a laid-back atmosphere, along with high quality health care. Plus, you can explore ancient temples that include Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, as well as go shopping at the Night Bazaar. The weather is usually humid and hot, though you should be prepared to deal with the monsoon season. And to help you keep your new house clean and beautiful, you can hire domestic staff that includes housekeepers and gardeners on a part-time or full-time basis with the help of an agency, local ads, or referrals. With live-in help, you can even learn to speak Thai, though you can get around surprisingly well by speaking English with locals in a place like Chiang Mai.  

6. George Town, Malaysia

When you are living in George Town, Malaysia, you can enjoy everything from concerts and amusement parts, to beaches, art centers, museums, and more. This is yet another super affordable place to retire in, but you can certainly splurge every now and then by dining out at an upscale restaurant. George Town is the multicultural capital of the gorgeous island of Penang, featuring plenty of history that combines with the amenities and features of a modern city. With a high quality, yet affordable, health care system—Malaysia is one of the top countries for medical tourism—you can rest assured that your needs will be met as you get older. Modern public transportation means you can easily go exploring whenever you choose, and this tropical island features a community that speaks English, so you won’t have to worry about learning a new language.  

7. Algarve, Portugal

The Algarve is considered one of the best places in the world for those who are ready to make the most of their retirement. It is the southernmost region in Portugal that boasts a low cost of living that will make it easy for retirees from other parts of the world to make their move into Western Europe. And it is also considered one of the best places to spend your golden years because it features plenty of fun outdoor activities that will keep you moving, such as open-air markets, golf courses and resorts, and Mediterranean beaches. The area is naturally stunning, and it truly has something for everyone. Perfect for retirees who want to feel as though they are on a permanent holiday, Algarve will not disappoint. Plus, when it comes to health care, you can register with the National Health Service (Serviço Nacional de Saúde) to receive your SNS card. This will give you access to public hospitals and health centres, and if you are over 65 years of age, you can access subsidized prescription medications.  In an effort to attract expats, Portugal is also offering 10 years tax free on your pension for retirees, which is one incentive you definitely shouldn’t ignore. Check to see if you qualify.

study abroad
study abroad

8. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

According to International Living, Mexico is now the #1 place to retire. A high number of retirees choose to move to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, which is a resort town that is found on the country’s Pacific coast. Even though this area does not have the same low cost of living that so many other parts of the world boast, if you are hoping to retire in luxury and live in a beachfront property with easy access to great shopping, high-class restaurants, and top golf courses, this is a destination that you should definitely check out. The area also boasts really fun water sports for adventurous retirees, along with beautiful architecture and sculptures. In addition to its history and water activities, nature lovers will really enjoy the amazing views of the mountains. Some will even compare living in Puerto Vallarta to living in Southern California, so if you want to maintain a lot of the comforts of home, consider this your ideal retirement spot. And in terms of health care, Mexico is yet another popular destination for medical tourism, as the care is affordable yet excellent. From health insurance, to prescriptions and top-rated hospital care, you can expect to pay about half of what you’d pay in the US.

9. Barcelona, Spain

Have you always been inspired by the beauty and uniqueness of Spain? Then consider spending your retirement in Barcelona. Despite being one of the biggest cities in the entire country, as well as the sophisticated capital of the country’s Catalonia region, Barcelona has a surprisingly low cost of living. In fact, when you consider the quality of life that you can enjoy there, the cost of living is a bargain, especially when compared to other large European cities. The city also features breathtaking architecture, a rich history, and incredible beaches, along with art and delicious cuisine. Spend your days exploring the area’s many landmarks, relax at a beach bar, sip on coffee in the Gothic Quarter, and head to the stadium to watch an exciting soccer game. Plus, the health care system, which includes public and private coverage options, is ranked as one of the best in the world, so you can stay active and have peace of mind when it comes to your medical needs.  

10. Panama

The living is easy in Panama, which has long been considered one of the best places to retire abroad. A diverse destination filled with interesting people from all over the globe, locals are used to welcoming foreigners, and you can expect to be treated very well. In addition to friendly people, you’ll enjoy all of the perks of modern society and a solid infrastructure. The country has made it simple for foreigners to become residents, and once your paperwork is complete, you will be granted access to a variety of discounts on everything from restaurants and hotels, to travel and health care (by the way, the medical care in Panama City is considered “world-class”). Plus, you can make your new home in a city, by a beach, or on a mountain as you enjoy a pleasant climate that will give you the opportunity to remain active throughout your retirement.   

When it comes to choosing the ideal place to call home for your retirement, consider the pace of life that you’re after. Do you want a slower pace, or are you interested in living in one of the world’s most interesting cities? Also think about your medical needs, as there are many options where you can access the affordable, high quality health care that you require. And you can always “try before you buy” by simply visiting a location and checking it out for a while to get a feel for it. When you’ve decided upon the perfect spot, you can easily take your pension abroad with the help of OFX. So go ahead and live the life of your dreams that you so deserve.

IMPORTANT: The contents of this blog do not constitute financial advice and are provided for general information purposes only without taking into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of any particular person. OzForex Limited (trading as OFX) and its affiliated entities make no recommendation as to the merits of any financial strategy or product referred to in the blog. OFX makes no warranty, express or implied, concerning the suitability, completeness, quality or exactness of the information and models provided in this blog.

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