Portugal is a country known for its delicious gastronomy, sunny weather and cheap cost of living. This superb quality of life has attracted many...
As public pension systems collapse and the cost of living increases, you may be interested in private pension plans, and the idea of retiring in other, more affordable countries may look like a compelling option.
The idea of stretching your retirement savings further and enjoying a higher quality of life is becoming increasingly appealing.
There might be better options than settling in your home country forever to make the most of the money you worked so hard for. But today’s article won't focus on the same old retirement destinations.
Countries such as Spain, Greece and Italy might be cheaper than the US, Canada and Australia, but they’re far from being the best option. The West, as a whole, has experienced high levels of inflation. And let’s not even talk about the lack of freedoms this part of the world has been subjected to.
Therefore, we won't focus on the predictable options that everyone talks about. Instead, we’ll introduce you to some unconventional choices that may surprise you.
If you want to discover the hidden gems that could make your dream retirement a reality, keep on reading. No matter the lifestyle you’re looking for, you’ll find a country for you. Here are the eight best countries for you to spend your retirement years as an expat and the reasons why I chose them.
As a retired person in Uruguay, you will benefit from a tax-free pension income, allowing you to enjoy life better
#8 URUGUAY: TRANQUILITY AND AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE
Uruguay might not be the first country that comes to your mind when considering retirement. However, this small South American nation offers a lot to expat retirees seeking an exceptional quality of life for an affordable price.
Do you envision yourself basking in the sun on a beautiful beach? Or would you like to embrace the tranquillity of rural living? Do you simply prefer the hustle and bustle of a city? No matter the lifestyle you want for yourself, Uruguay has you covered.
On top of catering to a wide range of expats, the country’s affordability is on a whole different level. A single person can comfortably live on $2,000 USD a month, enjoying the pleasures Uruguay offers. As a retiree in Uruguay, you'll benefit from a tax-free pension income, allowing you to stretch your retirement savings further and enjoy a higher standard of living.
Uruguay's healthcare is well-developed, and you can enjoy private plans for as little as $60 USD per month plus copayments. The country’s infrastructure is also worth noting, ranging from the electric grid to its bus system. This commitment to quality will ensure a comfortable and convenient lifestyle for retirees.
We must remember that Uruguay is a food and water-independent nation, which will help you further protect your health during your retirement years.
Related content: Why Uruguay Is One Of The Best Countries For A Sustainable Lifestyle
Malaysia has a robust and modern infrastructure that supports a convenient and connected lifestyle
#7 MALAYSIA: AFFORDABLE LUXURY AND CULTURAL FUSION
Malaysia is probably one of the most underrated Asian countries, often overshadowed by other destinations such as Japan, South Korea and Thailand. This vibrant and diverse country offers many benefits for expats seeking a fulfilling and comfortable life abroad.
First and foremost, communication will not be a problem, as almost everyone speaks English. It’s the country’s first business language. Therefore, it won’t be hard for you to integrate into the local community. Malaysians are easygoing and eager to learn about foreigners.
We cannot neglect how diverse Malaysia is in terms of ethnicities, religions, and food. As a Muslim-majority nation, you’ll find lots of halal food, and overall Malaysian cuisine is a fusion of flavours from Malay, Chinese, Indian, and other ethnic cuisines, ensuring individuals with dietary restrictions can easily find suitable options.
Strategically located in Southeast Asia, Malaysia is a gateway to explore the region. With excellent connectivity and transportation networks, you can easily embark on adventures in neighbouring countries.
With that being said, now let’s check Malaysia's special program for foreign retirees. The Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program offers a favourable retirement visa, allowing foreigners to live in the country with ease and enjoy various benefits, including but not limited to paying no tax on the money you bring in. Therefore, you can maximize your savings while enjoying a comfortable lifestyle.
Also, Malaysia offers affordability without compromising on quality. Groceries, dining out, and entertainment options are reasonably priced, ensuring your budget stretches further.
Healthcare in Malaysia is top-notch, with modern facilities and highly trained medical professionals. The country's healthcare system is renowned for its quality and accessibility, providing peace of mind for expats.
Lastly, Malaysia boasts a modern infrastructure that supports a convenient and connected lifestyle. From efficient transportation systems to advanced technology, Malaysia ensures a seamless living experience. Without a shadow of a doubt, Malaysia stands out as an enticing destination for expats seeking a rewarding and enjoyable life abroad.
In Ecuador housing, groceries and daily expenses are affordable, allowing retirees to enjoy a higher lifestyle
#6 ECUADOR: BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPES AND EXPAT-FRIENDLY POLICIES
Ecuador, a country of remarkable beauty, offers expat retirees a wealth of benefits as an enriching and affordable retirement destination. Nestled in the heart of South America, Ecuador boasts diverse landscapes that range from the majestic Andean highlands to the lush Amazon rainforest, captivating expats with its natural wonders.
One of the main advantages of retiring in Ecuador is its dollarized economy, which provides expats stability and peace of mind. Plus, housing, groceries, and everyday expenses are affordable, allowing retirees to enjoy a high-quality lifestyle without breaking the bank.
Also, Ecuador takes pride in its rich agricultural heritage, providing retirees access to nutritious, non-GMO (non-Genetically Modified Organism) produce. This small country is food and water independent. But we cannot forget the people. Ecuadorians are known for their easygoing and friendly nature, readily embracing foreigners and fostering a welcoming atmosphere. Now, let’s check some benefits for expats.
Not only will you have a good lifestyle for a fraction of the cost in Western countries, but also tax reductions on certain municipal and utility taxes, as well as discounts on electric and water bills and international travel.
Thus, not only will you save money thanks to the low cost of living, but also a privileged tax treatment. Note that a single person can easily live on a monthly income of under $2,000 USD.
Ecuador's favourable climate adds to its appeal, with pleasant weather year-round. The moderate climate not only enhances the overall quality of life but also helps keep utility bills low, allowing retirees to comfortably enjoy their surroundings. And last but surely not least, Ecuadorian society places more importance on family than career, ensuring a laid-back lifestyle for retirees after years of hard work.
Related content: Different Visas You Can Get In Ecuador
Colombia has the third largest economy in Latin America and a stable banking system, important for expats and retirees alike
#5 COLOMBIA: CULTURAL RICHNESS AND AFFORDABLE LIVING
Colombia, a country brimming with cultural richness and affordable living costs, presents many benefits for expat retirees seeking a fulfilling retirement experience.
As the second most biodiverse country on the planet, Colombia showcases a stunning array of natural wonders, from pristine beaches to majestic mountains and picturesque countryside.
As a result, Colombia's cities cater to every preference, whether retirees seek the tranquil ambiance of coastal towns like Cartagena and Santa Marta, the refreshing mountain air of Medellín and Bogotá, or the serene countryside of coffee-growing regions like Armenia and Manizales.
This Latin American country boasts the third-largest economy in Latin America and a stable banking system, ensuring a secure and thriving financial environment. Not only can you enjoy a low cost of living, but also accessible financial requirements for residency. You're good to go with a pension three times the monthly minimum wage (under $250 USD).
Affordable rents make housing costs manageable, while abundant fresh and inexpensive produce, fish, meats, and poultry contribute to affordable and healthy meals. With a monthly budget of around $2,000 USD, retirees can comfortably cover their expenses in Colombia.
Colombia is self-sufficient in food production and a major exporter, showcasing the variety and quality of its agricultural sector. Also, we cannot neglect that Colombians are renowned for their warm and welcoming nature, ensuring that retirees feel at home and embraced by the local community.
Related content: Options To Consider If You Want To Retire In Colombia
Even though it is an EU country, Malta has one of the best tax regimes in the union, including tax benefits for expats and retirees
#4 MALTA: MEDITERRANEAN LIFESTYLE AND TAX BENEFITS
Nestled between Northern Africa and Southern Europe, Malta offers a captivating blend of a stunning coastline, a warm climate, and a rich cultural heritage that traces back to the Roman, Islamic, and British eras.
From exploring ancient temples and medieval cities to attending traditional village fiestas and cultural events, retirees can delve into Malta's unique traditions, customs, and festivals. On top of that, the pleasant Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm summers allows for outdoor activities year-round.
With its well-connected location, Malta offers easy travel to other European destinations. Frequent flights and ferry services make it convenient to explore neighbouring countries and experience the region's rich cultural diversity. And don’t forget that, as a former English colony, English is one of Malta's official languages, which makes it convenient for English-speaking retirees to navigate daily life.
Despite being an EU country, it has one of the best tax regimes of the union, including tax benefits for expats. Retirees can secure a flat rate tax of 15% on foreign-sourced income, accompanied by an annual minimum liability of €15,000 ($16,657 USD).
This favourable tax arrangement ensures that retirees can enjoy a more predictable and manageable tax burden, allowing them to make the most of their financial resources during their retirement years.
Also, Malta boasts a high-quality healthcare system, ensuring retirees have access to modern medical facilities and a range of healthcare services. The island also consistently ranks as one of the safest countries in the world, providing a secure environment for retirees to enjoy their golden years.
Related content: Malta Residency Program
The Pensionado Visa program is an interesting option for retired expats who are considering Costa Rica
#3 COSTA RICA: ECOLOGICAL HAVEN AND PURA VIDA LIFESTYLE
Costa Rica, known as the ecological haven of Central America, offers a remarkable blend of natural beauty and a laid-back lifestyle that expat retirees love.
With its abundant biodiversity, Costa Rica captivates with its lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and breathtaking national parks. The country's favourable climate, characterized by tropical temperatures rarely dropping below 17 degrees, creates an idyllic setting for retirees seeking a pleasant year-round environment.
One of the key aspects of Costa Rica is its emphasis on the concept of "pura vida." This phrase, "pure life," encapsulates the relaxed and joyful lifestyle permeating Costa Rican culture.
Expats will find themselves surrounded by a warm and welcoming community, as Costa Rica attracts a diverse and vibrant international crowd, including many retirees from the US, Canada, and Europe.
Costa Rica is one of the most developed countries in the region. Its cost of living, while not extremely cheap compared to some neighbouring countries, remains reasonable and allows retirees to make the most of their savings.
The country offers a well-regarded healthcare system with affordable costs and all-around coverage, ensuring that retirees can access high-quality medical services to support their well-being in their golden years.
The Pensionado Visa program is an attractive option for expat retirees considering Costa Rica. This program requires a monthly income of at least $1,000 USD, making it accessible for many retirees.
The Pensionado Visa provides a range of benefits, including discounts on transportation, entertainment, and even utilities. This adds to the overall affordability and quality of life that retirees can enjoy in Costa Rica.
In summary, Costa Rica invites expat retirees to embrace an ecological haven and immerse themselves in a "pura vida" lifestyle. With its stunning natural wonders, relaxed atmosphere, affordable healthcare, and the Pensionado Visa program, Costa Rica offers a fulfilling and enriching retirement experience for those seeking a tranquil and sustainable paradise.
Related content: Getting Residency In Costa Rica Is Pretty Easy
Retirees are attracted to Portugal for its affordable cost of living and its cultural richness, one of the cheapest countries in Europe
#2 PORTUGAL: OLD-WORLD CHARM AND EUROPEAN ACCESS
Portugal exudes old-world charm and offers a gateway to the wonders of the Old Continent. With its rich history, picturesque towns, and captivating architecture, Portugal entices expat retirees with its cultural allure.
The geographic diversity of Portugal is proof of its heritage. From the charming streets of Lisbon to the wine cellars of Porto, and the golden beaches of the Algarve, the country offers a multitude of cities to cater to all kinds of expats.
Retirees are drawn to Portugal not only for its cultural richness but also for its affordable cost of living. Considered one of the cheapest countries in Europe, Portugal allows retirees to make the most of their retirement savings without compromising on their quality of life. The well-developed infrastructure further enhances the expat experience, providing convenience and comfort in everyday life.
Portugal's retirement visa program is attractive for those seeking to settle in this captivating country. With a monthly income of just €760 ($844 USD), expat retirees can easily qualify for the visa, unlocking a range of benefits and tax advantages. Affordable healthcare, coupled with small payments, ensures access to quality medical services, providing peace of mind for retirees.
Despite the interest of foreign investors, Portugal still offers affordable real estate options, making it feasible for retirees to find their dream homes. Portugal provides diverse choices from quaint countryside villas to beachfront properties and city apartments to suit different preferences. Moreover, Portugal's strategic location in Europe opens doors to unparalleled exploration.
With its excellent transport connections, retirees can easily access neighbouring countries, immerse themselves in different cultures, and embark on exciting adventures throughout Europe. Portugal's old-world charm, affordable cost of living, accessible healthcare, and retirement visa program make it an enticing destination for expat retirees.
Panama has a thriving, dollarized economy, with a promising environment for retirees looking for financial security
#1 PANAMA: TROPICAL HAVEN AND PENSIONADO PROGRAM
Located in Central America, Panama beckons with its captivating blend of natural wonders and enticing lifestyle. This small yet vibrant country offers a remarkable setting for expat retirees seeking a tranquil and fulfilling retirement.
Panama's allure goes beyond its natural beauty. With a strong and thriving dollarized economy, the country provides a stable and promising environment for retirees looking for financial security and opportunities.
Panama boasts modern infrastructure and reliable amenities, seamlessly blending the comforts of the modern world with the allure of its tropical setting. The country offers a diverse range of cities, each catering to different preferences. Whether retirees dream of living by the beach, amidst picturesque mountains, or within the charm of colonial towns, Panama has the perfect place to call home.
The cost of living in Panama is affordable, with a $2,000 USD monthly budget being comfortable to cover a single person’s living expenses. But the most notable feature of retiring in this Central American country is its renowned Pensionado Program.
The required income must be at least $1,000 USD per month, making the program an appealing choice for expat retirees. Plus, expat retirees can unlock a range of exclusive discounts and benefits that enhance their retirement experience, including but not limited to reduced utility bills, discounted airline tickets, savings on medical fees, etc.
Panama also stands out in healthcare, offering retirees access to top-notch medical facilities and world-class and affordable services. With Panama's exceptional healthcare system, retirees can have peace of mind knowing that their health needs will be professionally addressed without breaking the bank.
From diverse cities to low cost of living and a favourable retiree’s program, Panama has it all for all sorts of expats.
Related content: Panama Is One Of Best Places To Retire In - And Here's Why
As you've explored unconventional retirement destinations, it's natural to feel overwhelmed. You may wonder if it's possible to find an affordable paradise where you can embrace a higher quality of life. Take a moment to reflect on the benefits you've uncovered.
Picture yourself basking in the sun on Uruguay's tranquil beaches or immersing yourself in Malaysia's vibrant and diverse community. Imagine exploring Ecuador's breathtaking landscapes or savouring the old-world charm of Portugal. Panama and Costa Rica offer tropical havens and ecological paradises, each with their unique allure.
These hidden gems stretch your retirement savings further and provide access to affordable healthcare, welcoming communities, and rich cultural experiences.
By exploring beyond the familiar options, you can create a retirement chapter filled with joy, fulfillment, and unforgettable memories while making the most of the money you worked so hard for.
WORK WITH ME
I help my clients to move offshore for freedom, privacy and autonomy by focusing on the immigration, legal, and tax issues that you will face when becoming an expat. If you would like to work one-on-one with me on getting out of your home country (or setting up a Plan-B location), then read this important letter and fill in an application form to become a Private Client. My fees are not cheap; however, I can assure you that when you work with a professional firm like ours, the results will be worth it.
BEST OF THE EXPAT WORLD
If you want the best intel from the expat world, including profitable offshore opportunities, little-known tax-saving strategies, and hard-won insights on immigration, passports, and Plan-B residencies, all delivered to your inbox every single week, then join our daily correspondence, EMS Pulse™. Currently enjoyed by over 37,000 expats and expat-hopefuls worldwide. Fill in the form below to join our newsletter free:
Written by Mikkel Thorup
Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money®, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money, and his second book: Expats Guide On Moving To Mexico.