Home Headlines The 10 best countries to retire in 2019, according to expats

The 10 best countries to retire in 2019, according to expats

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However, the options are narrowed somewhat each year by International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index.

Using the experiences of every expatriate who has contributed to International Living since the publication of its first report 40 years ago, the organization produces a yearly index to thoroughly examine which parts of the world are best for retirement.

These are the top 10 places to retire in 2019, according to International Living.

10. Spain

Viñedo y pueblo de Briñas en la comarca de Haro - Vineyard and village of Briñas in the district of Haro
Briñas Vineyard in La Rioja, Spain. 

As a favorite destination among Europeans for “beach vacations,” it’s little surprise Spain appeared in this ranking.

As well as high living standards, Spain produces a whole host of fruits and vegetables for both domestic consumption and export, so food is cheaper than in the US. Many fruits and vegetables considered harder to get hold of — like artichokes and peaches, for example — are grown locally on Spanish soil.

The country also has one of the lowest living costs in Europe, making it one of the most attractive countries to move to for retirement.

9. Thailand

Mu Cang Chai, landscape terraced rice field near Sapa, north Vietnam - stock photo paddy field rice paddy
Mu Cang Chai paddy field near Sapa, Vietnam. 

Southeast Asia offers some of the world’s most attractive destinations to retire. With amazing geographic and cultural diversity, living options range from beach resorts to mountain villas.

You’ll also find sophisticated cities, ultra-modern, affordable healthcare, and luxury accommodation for a much lower cost than in other developed countries, according to International Living.

Located between Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia, Thailand’s coasts benefit from the warm water of both the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. The region has never been colonized by any Western or European country, so Thai culture is very rich and very much intact.

Rentals in Thailand can be relatively cheap, working out to less than $442 per month for a modern studio and utility bills are also significantly lower.

International Living also pointed out that if you’re worried about uprooting yourself and finding new friends in Thailand, you shouldn’t be — expatriate communities are very much active and thriving. You’ll find there are lots of regular meet-ups and many local interest groups.

Whether you want to maintain an active lifestyle by joining a gym, hiking, or cycling or you prefer to immerse yourself in history and art, Thailand has it all.

8. Peru

Worker mining for salt, Salineras de Maras, Maras Salt Flats, Sacred Valley, Peru, South America - stock photo
A worker mining for salt in the Maras Salt Flats, Peru. 

While 95% of those who visit Peru do so to explore Machu Picchu, many also find the country is a pretty ideal retirement destination.

With miles of beaches, delicious cuisine, and very lowest living costs in exchange for a high-quality lifestyle, it makes sense that Peru featured on International Living’s ranking.

Though Lima is home to a few luxury neighborhoods, Peru is also a very economical place to relocate. A couple could easily live on a budget of less than $2,200 a month in most areas of the country.

7. Portugal

Sete Cidades village with Lagoa Azul & Lagoa Verde, Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal - stock photo
Sete Cidades, Lagoa Azul, and Lagoa Verde in Portugal. 

According to International Living’s analysis, the Portuguese generally make a sincere effort to make visitors and expatriates “feel welcome.”

Of course, it helps if you speak at least a little bit of the language, but in urban areas like Porto and Lisbon and in Algarve, English will stand you in good stead.

Another reason Portugal makes the list is the affordable lifestyle. Portugal is the second-least expensive country in Europe, after Bulgaria. A couple could live here comfortably for around $2,500 euros per month.

6. Colombia

Guatapé street scene - stock photo Guatapé is one of a handful of Colombian towns that dedicates itself to being overtly colourful. Paints are donated by the local authority and homeowners are expected to maintain their house exteriors.
In Guatapé, paints are donated by the local authority and homeowners are expected to maintain their house exteriors. 

One of the aspects that attracts many retirees to Colombia is the perfect spring-like weather the country experiences throughout pretty much the whole year. For those who prefer warmer temperatures, International Living suggests it’s a good option.

It’s also the second-most biodiverse country in the world, so you can easily find somewhere that would suit your preferences.

Getting a visa to retire and live in Colombia is also pretty straightforward — all you need to do is prove you receive $770 of annual public pension income or that you have $2,500 of monthly income (per couple).

The cost of living will depend on which part of the country you choose to live in and what kind of lifestyle you’re looking for when it comes to going out, dining out, and leisure activities.

5. Malaysia

Malaysia, Borneo, Sabah, Tawau, Semporna, Stilt huts reflected in sea shoals overgrown with seaweed - stock photo
These stilt huts in Borneo are occupied by fishermen. 

Idyllic beaches, alluring islands, and some of the most unspoiled tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia — these are just a few of the reasons why Malaysia made it onto this ranking, but that’s not all.

A couple can live here comfortably in Penang for roughly $1,990 a month, rent included. Apartment rentals here are excellent value for money: You can choose between sea or mountain views for less than $442 per month.

Plus, a family of six can dine at a decent local Chinese restaurant and order 10 dishes for less than $6 per person — beer included — and  a man’s haircut will set you back a mere $3.

4. Ecuador

San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco), Quito, Ecuador, South America
San Francisco Church in Ecuador’s capital, Quito. 

One of the key draws of Ecuador is that it offers different living options.

You can have a warm climate all year round on the coast, or a milder climate in the Andes. You can choose the life of a small town, or follow the comforts of the big city and everything that comes with it.

Likewise, the mixture of indigenous, Inca, and Spanish culture is one of its “great benefits,” experts point out.

There are few places where living is so affordable in Ecuador. There’s something for everyone, regardless of their budget. A beach house on the Pacific coast can cost around $144,000.

3. Mexico

Cancun beach, Mexico - stock photo
Cancun beach in Mexico. 

Whether your dream retreat is an elegant colonial house with luxurious gardens or a simple beachfront bungalow where you can put your feet up while watching the tide rise, you’re likely to find your ideal home in Mexico.

The cost of living there is notoriously low — a couple can live in the country for $1,600 to $3,300 a month, depending on the location. That figure includes rent and medical care.

If you’re over 60, you’re also entitled to a national discount card for seniors, which opens the door to many discounts on goods and services.

2. Costa Rica

Couple walking on beach at sunset, Playa Guiones, Nosara, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Playa Guiones in Costa Rica. 

From the country’s natural beauty and tropical climate to the low cost of living and affordable, high-quality medical care, it’s not hard to see why Costa Rica ranks highly as a retirement destination.

As well as having a stable democracy, the country’s culture is heavily focused around peace — Costa Rica abolished its army in 1948 and committed more of its budget to education and health.

The country is well-known for its security, neutrality, and the quality of its banking system, especially in comparison with many other countries in the region. The current government is progressive and LGBTI rights are respected.

One of the things expatriates emphasize is how warm and welcoming the locals are, but you can also find excellent immigrant communities to help with getting used to a new way of life.

1. Panama

Colorful Caribbean buildings over the water with boats at dock, Colon island, Bocas del Toro, Panama
Colon Island dock at Bocas del Toro in Panama. 

Modern, sunny, warm and welcoming — it’s not hard to see why it’s Panama is considered a good place to retire.

Despite its climate, the country is safely tucked out of the way of the hurricane belt.

What’s more, the country uses the US dollar and the tax burden is low.

Panama’s capital is cosmopolitan and you can easily rent a house with sea views there for less than $1,400 a month — and if you venture a little farther outside of Panama City itself, the costs are even more affordable.

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