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These are the best places to retire in 2024

These are the best places to retire in 2024
Posted at 8:15 AM, Apr 04, 2024

If you’re planning to retire soon, you may be considering a move to a whole new place. After all, it may be the first time you’re not tied to a job in a specific city. You also might be looking for areas where your retirement budget will stretch the furthest. Or maybe you’re just ready to live in a warmer climate where you’ll never have to shovel snow again!

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Best Countries to Retire

And why limit yourself to just the U.S. when there are excellent options all over the world? The 2024 Annual Global Retirement Index is a list of countries with high ratings in seven pertinent categories for retirees: housing (availability and value), cost of living, healthcare, climate, ease of obtaining a visa (and becoming a permanent citizen), affinity (i.e., ability to assimilate into the culture) and development (local politics, infrastructure, banking, etc.).

The list is compiled from sources who actually live in established expat hubs and have first-hand experience with the comfort level of these overseas communities. For each country, they considered the seven categories and assigned them a number between one and 100. The average of those seven numbers determined each country’s place on the index.

According to this index, here are the top 10 countries to retire, in descending order. Read on to discover whether one of them might be your “happily ever after” destination.

10. Colombia

street in Colombia

Colombia came in at No. 10 with a score of 74.7. It earned particularly high marks in the categories of cost of living (98) and climate (87). Its lower scores were in development (60) and affinity (63).

The biggest benefit of Colombia is how affordable it is to live there. According to International Living, your monthly expenses could be as low as $1,000 to $2,000. And if you enjoy the outdoors, there are quite a few activities to explore. There are also plenty of gorgeous parks and cultural festivals.

Do you prefer a particular climate? Colombia offers a wide range of choices, from warm coastal beaches to cool mountain towns to tropical rainforests. In past decades, Colombia acquired a reputation for violence associated with the drug trade. But sources tell the Global Index that over the last two decades, the government has made a good deal of progress in ensuring safety for citizens.

9. France

Village in south of France

France placed No. 9 on the list with a score of 74.8. This country scored highest in the areas of development (88) and healthcare (86) and lowest in cost of living (59) and housing (62).

France is renowned for its gourmet food and refined culture. How do you like the idea of a daily shopping trip to a fresh vegetable market, then picking up a baguette at your local boulangerie? If that sounds good to you, France may be worth looking into.

France’s healthcare system is frequently ranked among the top 10 in the world, and those with chronic conditions like cancer and heart disease will find that the treatment is covered throughout the duration of the illness.

If budget is a concern, you’ll have to be intentional about where in France you choose to settle down. Housing costs are high in places like Paris, Cannes and Lyon, but elsewhere in the country the home prices average 34% less than those in the U.S. And the French pay a fraction of the property taxes that Americans pay.

8. Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Malaysia came in eighth on this list, with a score of 75.7. Its highest ratings were in cost of living (96) and healthcare (82). Its lowest rating was in the area of visas (56).

If you are content to live in a hot, humid climate year-round (average temperature: 75-90 degrees F), you will find a lot to love in Malaysia. To start with, it’s easily more affordable than living in the U.S.

According to the sources informing the Global Index, housing, transportation, food and entertainment expenses can cost you one-third to one-fifth of what they might be in the U.S. You can live a comfortable lifestyle here — dining out, going to cultural festivals, enjoying the country’s natural beauty — for much less.

Its restaurants are diverse, and its street food scene is famous. And the ethnic fusion of its population is unique; its people have roots in China, India, Portugal, the Netherlands and several other places. That said, it’s easy to assimilate here, since on the western side of the country, the English language is widespread. And Malaysia’s location in central Asia makes it easy to travel to other Asian countries, too.

7. Greece

Santorini Island, Greece

Greece placed 7th on the list with a score of 77. Its highest ratings were in affinity (86) and healthcare (82), while its lowest rating was in housing (68).

Greece has a gorgeous, mountainous landscape that’s surrounded by sea. You’ll have your choice of which climate you prefer, since it varies in different parts of the country. Though it’s generally warm and mild, there are northern cities with ski resorts. You can also choose between a bustling city or a small village.

Home prices also vary a lot depending on location. But sources for the Global Index have estimated the housing costs to be as much as 75% lower than in the U.S. The cost of living in general ranges from between 30% and 50% below that of America.

Healthy eating is easier here, too. In fact, the Aegean island of Ikaria is a blue zone location, where people are known for their longevity. But if you do struggle with health issues, be intentional about where you settle. The high quality doctors tend to be situated in the more populated cities.

A carefree café culture is going strong in Greece, and expats looking for a slower lifestyle will fit right in.

6. Ecuador

Otovalo, Equador

Ecuador came in at No. 6 on the list with a score of 77.4. It earned its highest ratings for cost of living (91) and climate (87), but scored lower in the area of development (56).

This small South American country has a temperate climate year-round. Foreigners often settle in the mountain highlands, where the temperature ranges from the high 60s to the low 70s. This allows people to enjoy the beautiful landscape and participate in lots of outdoor activities. There are 14 designated National Parks in Ecuador.

A couple can live comfortably for $2,000 to $2,500 per month, including housing, food and public transportation. Healthcare is also affordable, accessible and high-quality: It costs about $95 per month for a couple. An added bonus: Ecuador uses the American dollar for currency.

5. Spain

Madrid city skyline, Spain

Spain made it into the top five with a score of 79.7. It earned high ratings for affinity (89), development (88) and healthcare (88). Its lowest rating was in the housing category (68).

Whether you’re looking for mild coastal temperatures along the Mediterranean Sea, sunny weather in the Canary Islands or a snowy area in the North, Spain has a climate option for everyone. No matter where you live in Spain, you’ll enjoy a culturally rich lifestyle full of history, art and culinary delights.

You can live comfortably on $2,000 to $3,000 per month, though this will depend on which area you choose. Home costs in Madrid or Barcelona are much higher than in Valencia or Andalucia.

Once you’ve lived in Spain for five years, you automatically attain resident status and can opt into the public healthcare system. Prior to that, you’ll need to buy private medical insurance, but it can cost as little as $100 per month.

4. Panama

Skyline of Panama City, Panama

Panama placed fourth in this year’s index with a score of 82.8. Its highest-scoring categories were visa (98), affinity (86) and development (86). Its lowest-scoring area was housing (72).

Panama’s fast-growing economy (which uses American currency) makes it the wealthiest country in Central America. Panama has an excellent international airport, which makes travel easy, and it’s just a 3-hour flight from Miami.

Beautiful beaches and a sunny, mild climate will make you feel like you are on vacation year-round, and there are no hurricanes in Panama. The healthcare system is affordable and high-quality.

If you choose to live in the capitol, Panama City, you’ll be in the midst of thriving art and culinary scenes. And it’s a place where you can live a cosmopolitan lifestyle for much less than you’d spend in the U.S. One expat claims to live comfortably on $2,700 per month.

3. Mexico

Street in Mexico

Mexico earned an 80 or above in every category except housing (74) and ultimately landed in the third-place spot with an overall score of 83. It scored highest in the categories of visa (89) and affinity (88).

Why did Mexico perform so well in this index? If you’ve vacationed in Mexico, you know it has a warm and sunny climate and lovely beaches. But all types of geographical areas can be found in Mexico, from desert towns to bustling cities to jungle areas. Inland communities are temperate year-round, while coastal communities can get hot and humid in the summer. You’ve got a lot of choices when it comes to moving to Mexico.

Because life is so affordable in this central American country, you can enjoy a higher standard of living and find a comfortable home for less. Even in a city, you can rent an apartment for $400 per month, or buy a house for $200,000. And the cost of healthcare is about 50% lower in Mexico than it is in America.

2. Portugal

Lisbon's Avenida da Liberdade

Portugal won last year’s top spot in the Annual Global Retirement Index, and it came in at second place this year (missing No. 1 by only a fraction of a point) with a score of 83.2. This small European country on the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula scored highest in development (93) and in healthcare (92). Its lowest-scoring category was housing (64).

You might come to Portugal for its sunny climate and mild winters, but you’ll say for many other reasons. This popular spot for foreign retirees is extremely safe (strict gun laws keep gun violence down) and welcoming (with an older population and lots of English-speaking citizens).

Portugal’s foremost draw might be its low cost of living, as a couple can live comfortably in inland areas for about $1,700 a month and in larger cities like Lisbon for about $2,100 to $2,200 a month.

This country also boasts one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Expats can access both private and public healthcare (though they must start out with private insurance for the duration of their temporary visa).

1. Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Topping the Annual Global Retirement Index this year was Costa Rica, with a score of 83.57. It earned its highest marks in the affinity category (96) and for visa ease (94) and healthcare (89). It scored lowest in the category of housing (66).

About 70,000 U.S. expatriates have already discovered the benefits of living in Costa Rica, and many of them are retirees. While the cost of living here is higher than in other Central American countries, it’s still more affordable to live comfortably in this country than in the U.S.

According to expats already living here, you’ll need a total budget of between $2,000 and $3,500 per month. Popular expat areas are in San Jose and the Central Valley, which both feature great weather, good healthcare options (both public and private) and lots of shopping.

But no matter where you live in this country, there are gorgeous landscapes to explore. A quarter of Costa Rica has the protected status of national parks or wildlife refuges. So, if you’re looking for a place where you can enjoy the outdoors year-round, alongside many other expats like yourself, Costa Rica may be your No. 1 choice, too.

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