10 Best Budget-Friendly Places to Retire in the World

Retiring abroad allows you to stretch your retirement savings besides enjoying great weather all-year-round. International living is also an exciting experience. Let’s take a closer look at the best places to retire.
Best Places to Retire in the World
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Retiring abroad is a major life decision that requires some careful planning. You should research different destinations to find out more about the cost of living and what life is like there.

There are important questions to consider, including taxes, visas, learning a new language, or getting used to a new culture.

The first step you can take is to learn more about popular destinations for retirees.

10 Best Countries to Retire

  1. Portugal - Best Overall
  2. Mexico - Best Weather
  3. Panama - Best for Taxes
  4. Ecuador - Most Budget-Friendly
  5. Costa Rica - Best Healthcare
  6. Belize - Safest Place
  7. Colombia - Best Year-Round Weather
  8. Hungary - Best Public Transportation
  9. Malaysia - Best Outdoor Lifestyle
  10. France - Best Food

Top Retirement Destinations

The following countries are popular retirement destinations because of the cost of living, weather, and other benefits.

1. Portugal - Best Overall

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Top cities: Lisbon, Porto, and the Algrave

Portugal is a popular retirement destination because of its amazing weather and 1,114 miles of coastline. It’s easy to visit Spain and other European countries from Portugal, and the cost of living is 25% lower than in the US on average.

You will save the most on rent that costs 44% less than in the US. If you want to purchase a property, plan on spending $300 per square foot for an apartment in Lisbon or another major city.

The official language is Portuguese, but it’s easy to find people who speak English, especially if you opt for city life. Lisbon has a safety index score of 71, and Portugal is among the top three safest countries in the world.

You can expect warm weather all year round with temperatures that range from 60° to 80


  • Great weather
  • One of the safest countries in the world
  • Excellent buying power


  • There is a flat 20% income tax rate once you become a resident
  • The cities and coastline get crowded in the summer

2. Mexico - Best Weather 

Mazatlan Mexico

Mazatlan Mexico

Top cities: Mazatlan, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum

Mexico is a popular retirement destination for U.S. expats who wish to remain close to their families. The tropical weather of Latin America is one of the main draws.

Mexico has two seasons, a dry and a rainy season. Temperatures range from 50° to 90. °  Even though Spanish is the official language, many people understand English.

Mexico has a good healthcare system and a safety index that is just below 45.  The cost of living is 50% lower than in the US, and rent can be as much as 71% lower.


  • Affordable cost of living
  • Safe retirement options in gated communities
  • Proximity to the U.S.


  • Moderate safety index
  • Pollution

3. Panama - Best for Taxes

Panama City Panama

Panama City, Panama

Top cities: Panama City, Coronado, Santa Fe, Pedasi

Panama is one of the best places to retire because it’s a country with no taxes on foreign income. You won’t have to pay taxes on your retirement pension income or social security.

Recently, Panama landed the number one spot on "Best Places to Retire in 2022" on International Living's Annual Global Retirement Index.

You can get permanent residency and retire in Panama without a visa. Foreign retirees will have to prove that your monthly income is at least $1,000 a month (that can include Social Security) and that you can support yourself.

The cost of living is 25% lower than in the US.  Property prices can be high, but Panama has a good healthcare system. The safety index is moderate at 54.

Spanish is the official language, but there is a community of expats who speak English. You can expect a tropical climate with temperatures between 70° and 90.°


  • No taxes on US income
  • Affordable cost of living
  • Residency requirements are easy to meet


  • Property prices can be high in cities
  • Moderate safety index

4. Ecuador - Most Budget-Friendly

Cuenca Ecuador

Cuenca, Ecuador

Top city: Cuenca

Ecuador is one of the best places to retire if you want an affordable destination with gorgeous South America landscapes. The cost of living is almost 44% lower than in the US, with a restaurant meal costing as little as $3.

Property prices are affordable if you’re thinking about buying a home or apartment.  Ecuador has a moderate crime index of 54, but the crime index drops to 39 in the city of Cuenca.

You will benefit from a good healthcare system, even though you should expect a wait time before getting an appointment. The weather is warm with highs of 85° to 90,° but you can find cooler weather with elevation.


  • Low cost destination
  • Friendly locals
  • Plenty of landscapes and places to visit


  • Moderate crime index
  • Bureaucracy can be challenging

5. Costa Rica - Best Healthcare

San Jose Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

Top cities: San Jose, Guanacaste

Costa Rica is a mix of modern cities and rural areas. There is plenty to do between the Pacific coastline and the natural beauty of the rainforest.

The Central Valley and the coast are popular spots for retirees due to the warm weather and access to healthcare.  Costa Rica has an excellent healthcare system.

There are a government-run system and a private system, and costs remain low for doctor appointments and prescription drugs.

Overall, the cost of living is 30% lower than in the US. Costa Rica has a moderate safety index of 44, but this index goes up to 55 in major cities like San Jose.

Like most of Central America, the official language is Spanish, and temperatures range from 70° to 80.°


  • Excellent healthcare system
  • Affordable cost of living
  • Great weather


  • Moderate safety index
  • Poor road conditions

6. Belize - Safest Place

Ambergris Caye Belize

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Top cities: Ambergris Caye, Northern Belize

Belize is a Central American country with an affordable cost of living and a laidback lifestyle. Its friendly people will make you feel welcome.

The cost of living is 26% lower than in the US, and rent costs 70% less. It’s one of the safest places to retire, with a crime index of 51.

English is the official language of the country, but many Belizeans speak more than one language. You can expect warm weather, with temperatures ranging from 70° to 80.°

The main drawback of retiring in Belize is access to healthcare. There has been an improvement over the past few years, but there is limited access to quality healthcare.


  • Affordable cost of living
  • English is the official language
  • Friendly people and relaxing lifestyle


  • Access to healthcare
  • Weather can be humid

7. Colombia - Best Year-Round Weather

Medellin Colombia

Medellin, Colombia

Top cities: Medellin, Bogota

Colombia is an ideal retirement destination if the weather is one of your top considerations. This country has a tropical climate with temperatures that don’t vary a lot.

The average temperature is 74,° but you can find cooler weather in the mountain regions.  It’s a very affordable place to retire, with a cost of living that is 56% lower than in the US on average.

Traffic and pollution can be an issue in big cities, and the country has a crime index of 55.  Even though the healthcare system is good, there are issues with accessing healthcare in rural areas.

You will have to learn Spanish if you plan on retiring in Colombia.


  • Great weather
  • More affordable than other countries
  • Proximity to the US


  • Crime index
  • Traffic and pollution

8. Hungary - Best Public Transportation

Budapest Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

Top city: Budapest

Hungary is a destination that retirees often overlook, but this European country has a lot to offer. The official language is Hungarian, but there is a large community of expats who speak English.

Life is affordable in Hungary. You can expect to spend around $700 a month on rent, utilities, and public transport. On average, the cost of living is 39% lower than in the US.

You can save a lot by retiring in Hungary because the country has an excellent public transport system that allows you to get around without owning a car.

It’s a safe place to live with a crime index of 34, and the average temperature is somewhere between 45° and 55.°


  • Large community of English-speaking expats
  • Ideal for active retirees
  • Public transport


  • Weather
  • Learning Hungarian is not easy

9. Malaysia - Best Outdoor Lifestyle

Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Top city: Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia is a popular destination for activities like water rafting or hiking. It’s an ideal choice if you want to remain active and enjoy the outdoors.

Life is laidback in Malaysia, and there is plenty of things to do between festivals, restaurants, and outdoor activities. The cost of living is 44% lower than in the US, and it’s easy to qualify for a visa.

You won’t have to pay taxes on your US annual income.  The official language is Malay, but you will encounter plenty of people who speak English.

The country has a moderate safety index of 42, and you can expect a tropical and humid climate with temperatures that range between 70° and 85.°


  • Laidback lifestyle
  • Outdoor activities
  • Visa is easy to obtain


  • Difficult to find western goods and food
  • There are restrictions on buying a property if you’re a foreigner

10. France - Best Food

Paris France

Paris, France

Top cities: Paris, Saint-Chinian

France is one of the best places to retire if you want to enjoy exceptional food. There are plenty of landmarks to visit and a rich history to learn about.

You will find that the cost of living is 14% higher than in the US. Rent can be cheaper but buying a property in a place like Paris can cost more - and you can expect slightly higher property taxes in big cities.

France has a crime index of 49 and a strong healthcare system. The official language is French, but it’s easy to find people who speak English.

You can expect cool winters and mild summers in France. The climate gets warmer in the south of the country, but the average temperature ranges from 40° in the winter to 70° in the summer.


  • Food, wine, culture, and history
  • Strong healthcare system
  • Close to other European countries


  • Higher living costs
  • Tax on your retirement income

Where Should You Retire in 2022?

Retiring abroad often means benefiting from a lower cost of living and experiencing new things. The destinations listed above are ideal if you’re looking for affordable places to retire that also have amazing weather.

Your next step should be to research these countries further, look at accommodations, and pinpoint an ideal retirement destination by learning more about different cities and regions.


Here are a few additional things to know about living and retiring abroad.

What is the safest country in the world?

Iceland is the safest country in the world. While safety is an important consideration, it’s also important to remember that safety and crime scores don’t paint a complete picture.

Safety can vary from one region to another.

How much money do I need to retire?

It’s best to have enough savings to replace 70 to 90% of your pre-retirement income.

Where is the cheapest place to retire?

The cheapest place to retire will depend on your lifestyle. Destinations like Portugal, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic are among the most affordable retirement destinations.

It's worth thinking about private health insurance if you're looking for the most cost-effective places to live. Reduced living costs can sometimes also mean a slightly lesser healthcare system when you retire abroad.

Do I need to get a second passport to live abroad?

A second passport makes traveling easier, and you can usually qualify for one after living abroad for a while and obtaining residency status.

However, most popular retirement destinations only require you to obtain a visa to live abroad.

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