The Top International Retirement Spots

If your retirement planning includes thinking about retiring abroad, these are the countries to consider


By Jennifer Hughes

Photo of Panama City, Panama: iStock/rahan1991.


If you plan to resettle in one of the top 10 countries to retire to, you’ll find yourself relaxing in Central or South America, Southeast Asia, or the Iberian Peninsula. Not surprisingly, the best countries to retire to are located close to the coastline, but it’s not only their incredible views and amazing climates that make them great retirement homes—they also offer great healthcare systems and benefits.

According to International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador, and Malaysia are the top five places to retire to in 2019. The Index looked at various factors, including the cost of living, benefits, healthcare system, visa and residency requirements, governance, climate, opportunities, and local culture and lifestyle. The rest of the top 10 are Colombia, Portugal, Peru, Thailand, and Spain.

These countries are places where retirees “can live a healthier and happier life, spend a lot less money, and get a whole lot more,” claims International Living. The results are based on the experiences of International Living’s team of experts, which includes editors, contributors, and correspondents who live across five.

Panama, named # 1, is affordable, welcoming, and modern. It’s also fairly close to the United States and Canada and has a large English-speaking population. Not only that, but any revenue earned from other countries is exempt when it comes to taxes. Panama’s Pensionado Program is also open to all permanent residents and “one of the best retiree programs in the world today,” providing retirees with a number of benefits including discounts on electricity, water, medical expenses, transportation, and entertainment services.

Costa Rica and Mexico are also welcoming, have great benefits for residents (including a socialized medicine program in Costa Rica and a national healthcare plan in Mexico), and boast low living costs.