The World's Best Places To Retire In 2018

Collage of images from around the world with a sign saying "The World's Best Places to Retire in 2018"

Today, retiring abroad is about launching a new life in a new country, starting over someplace sunny and exotic with white-sand beaches or Old World culture. But there is no one way to determine the best place to retire for every person. And with a seemingly endless amount of choices, how will you ever find the right one for you.

That is where the Live and Invest Overseas Annual Overseas Retirement Index comes in.

After months of on-the-ground research, with help from our far-flung team of expats, experts, and correspondents, this retire overseas index is by far the most complete resource for helping you choose your quintessential retirement destination.

This year’s Index is the most comprehensive country-by-country comparison ever produced.

The best part of all, the index is all about you. It is designed to let you make your own decisions and draw your own conclusions about the best places to retire based on your personal preferences, lifestyle, and needs.

We have compiled it all for you… all the data, all the facts and figures, and most importantly the real, honest evaluations of people on the ground. Yes, that’s right, we asked all the questions that you could have about retiring in a top location to our local experts and expats… all so we could bring you the world’s best retirement locations.

More Destinations Covered Than Ever Before…

This year we have 30 destinations that truly cover the spectrum, offering something for every lifestyle.

Are you on a budget and concerned with keeping a low cost of living? Looking for a climate that is comfortable, sunny and warm year-round? Or is health care your main concern? Do you want to keep speaking English or are you enticed by learning a new language? No matter what benchmarks you have set for yourself, we have you covered.

Year after year we continue to put locations and countries through the ringer, providing the most accurate and timely information available. That means each year you are getting the best the world has to offer. We listen to the experiences of not just our local experts, but to LIOS readers who have done it for themselves. This gives us unique perspectives that help us refine and layer judgement from people who were in your position and made the move. They know what you are looking for and help us to point out both the good and the bad.

Admittedly, not every country, as a whole, is a perfect fit. A country can be vast, diverse, and offer lifestyle choices on all extremes. For this reason we focus our efforts on the individual locations that offer the best options.

A Complete Comparison Across All Major Categories…

Overseas Retirement Index Categories
Find detailed comparisons on the world’s top retirement destinations…

We include 13 categories in the Overseas Retirement Index. These represent the most important criteria that retirees must consider when shopping the globe for the best place to retire.

The categories are cost of living, crime and safety, English spoken, entertainment, environmental conditions, expat community, health care, infrastructure, real estate affordability, real estate restrictions, recreation, residency options, and taxes. As a bonus, we cover climate, but everyone’s idea of perfect weather is different, which makes it difficult to give a grade on climate without a heavy dose of subjectivity.

A big part of the appeal of retiring overseas is the appeal of “new.” New comes with the promise of better. In your new life in a new country, you could enjoy better weather, you could have better (or at least more) friends, you could live cheaper, meaning you could afford to do things (travel, eat out, etc.) that you can’t afford to do now.

Regardless why you’re considering the idea of retiring overseas—for the fun and adventure, for the chance for a fresh start, or to reduce your cost of living—the big question immediately becomes: Where?

We’ve added 10 new destinations to our list this year; one each in Mexico and Central America, two in the Caribbean, one in Asia, and five in Europe.

Each year we do our best to balance known destinations with some new, sometimes unprecedented, suggestions in our annual Overseas Retirement Index… and this year we’re pleased to be able to report on several break-out retirement stars.

In order to make some room on our list, we passed on some old favorites—Cuenca, Ecuador, for example, has enjoyed many steady years of fame as a top retirement choice for North Americans. Panama’s City Beach area, likewise, is a well-established expat haven. Other top destinations to miss the cut, included: Barcelona (Spain), Buenos Aires (Argentina), and Playa del Carmen (Mexico). In lieu of these time-tested winners, we opted for some further-afield options. Our Overseas Retirement Index this year features 10 European destinations—more than we’ve ever included before.

Of the newcomers joining this years list, we have two brand-new, breakout destinations in Citta Sant’Angelo, Italy and Bled, Slovenia. Our editors spent weeks scouring the region, getting “boots on the ground” as we like to say, in an effort to bring these places to light. Both destinations have a character and culture that is well suited for the would-be retiree. Being relatively unknown on the world stage, either make a perfect escape for a back-to-basics lifestyle with friendly neighbors, fresh air, and all the splendor of Old-World Europe.

We’ve been researching, compiling, and publishing indices rating and ranking the world’s best places to retire overseas for as long as we’ve been covering this retire-overseas beat… and that’s been over 30 years. However, please keep in mind that this whole process of retiring overseas is about you and what your retirement will look like, no amount of data can replace that feeling you get when you know you’ve found the place that is just right for you.

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The 8 Best Places To Retire In 2018

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The Annual Overseas Retirement Index – Revealed

For this years results, we compared each destination across 13 categories, creating our most complete Index to date.

Below you will find a breakout of the categories, as well as the locations that rate best for each.

1. Cost Of Living

Apples to Apples
When comparing the cost of living it is important to compare “apples to apples”…

“How much money do I need to retire?”

This is probably the most frequently asked question we get, year-in and year-out.

Here’s what we’d recommend, instead… Imagine your ideal lifestyle. Then look at the numbers in that context. Where will the budget you’ve got buy you the lifestyle you’re looking for? You can also think about your pension and other sources of income that will help you live day-to-day. Of course, there are places all over the world where you could live a better life than you do now—and at a very affordable price. But how you manage to do this successfully comes down to your own definition of a good lifestyle—and matching that with the right location. As you figure this out, you need to be completely honest with yourself. Be prepared to compromise. But don’t try to tell yourself that you can do without all the things you love or you’ll end up miserable in your own home…

Hoi An, located on the central coast of Vietnam, is a cultural marvel showcasing  the best of Southeast Asia… and better yet, it’s a true cost of living juggernaut. At US$774.40 (22,727.27 Vietnamese dong), a retired couple could live a very comfortable lifestyle for far less than you’d find in the Western World. Admittedly, for some Americans, Vietnam still holds a stigma from earlier global conflict, however if you’re able to get past the past and instead focus on the future you’ll find the Vietnamese to be quite welcoming. Hoi An offers a true opportunity to stretch your dollars without a whole lot of sacrifice.

For a low cost of living, Monción, Dominican Republic was a very close 2nd this year.

property in las terrenas Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic offers a high-quality lifestyle at a not-so-high cost…

We had to stop and check our figures on this one, as the lowest cost of living destinations usually all come from countries in Asia. However, when you take into consideration all the factors: rent, groceries, electricity, water, gas (for cooking or heating), cable, Internet, and telephone, as well as entertainment, it was Monción that stood out.

For a retired couple, renting an unfurnished, mid-range, two-bedroom apartment, including all the items above, you can live comfortably on US$792.94 (37,664.65 Dominican pesos) per month.

And then it’s back to Asia…

Hua Hin, one of the many wonderful destinations in Thailand, is hard to ignore when looking at a (quality) low cost of living, as it is steadily making itself into a formidable retirement destination. In fact, a couple could expect to budget just US$1,042.24 (35,040.11 Thai baht) per month.

We have three Malaysian destinations as major contenders in this year’s cost of living budgets. Kota Kinabalu is place that is sure to help save a pretty penny, where a retired couple can hang their hat for as little as US$1,108.62 (4,753.21 Malaysian ringgit). In last year’s index Kota Kinabalu received an A-, the highest rating awarded to an Asia destination. Offering affordable luxury on what would be minimum wage in the US, it’s an undeniable option for riding out your golden years on a budget. George Town, another Malaysian destination, is right behind Kota Kinabalu at just US$1,135.20 (4,864.33 Malaysian ringgit). A new one to our lists, Kundasang was yet another destination out of Malaysia that offers real savings . At US$1,161.77 (4977.60 Malaysian ringgit), we uncovered a real gem that hadn’t truly been discovered before.

Another budget-friendly destination and expat favorite is Da Nang, Vietnam, where you can find a comfortable lifestyle on as little as US$1,227.60 (27,897,823.80 dong) per month. Current expat retirees who have moved here often cite the friendliness of the local people, the high quality of life, and above all else the low cost of living. They say that it’s refreshing to not be overcharged just because they’re foreigners. A bottle of imported California wine, for example, costs less in Vietnam than in California, and a pack of imported cigarettes can sell for less than US$2.00.

2. Health Care

Health Care in Belize
Quality, affordable health care is often mentioned as the primary reason for retirees and expats choosing to relocate overseas…

From cost of treatment to ease of access, health care is an evergrowing concern for retirees. In this category, the Algarve, Portugal, and Paris, France, shine.

Public health care in Portugal is available to legal foreign residents who are registered with their local medical center. Despite Portugal’s ongoing troubles with staff shortages, health care in the Algarve region is good, and the country’s overall health care ranks 12th in the world. As in many European countries, normally, public hospitals, such as the one located at Portimão, only 5 miles from both Lagoa and Silves, are better equipped for emergency situations than are private hospitals. However, two large private hospital providers own and operate hospitals across the Algarve, with the closest being the Hospital Particular in Alvor. Faro Hospital, its cardiology unit in particular, has earned a reputation for excellence.

The health care in France is arguably the best in the world and is first in the WHO ranking of health care. And, if you’re a member of French Social Security (that is, you’re paying into the system), most of the cost of this extraordinary health care is covered. Living in Marais, Paris, you’ll have access to the best medical care in the country. Doctors still make home visits in France, and you can expect even a basic consultation to last half an hour.

Health care is a primary concern for most people retiring overseas and one of the topics we receive the most questions about every year. Unfortunately, there is no quick answer to questions about overseas health care. Like the theme for retirement, so goes health care… it is all about you. One size does not fit all, and you’ll need to take your personal health concerns and preferences into consideration no matter what destination you choose.

3. Residency Options

Portugal is one of the top places in the world to obtain residency, especially if you are a retiree…

In our residency options category, we start off with: Where are the easiest places to become a resident abroad? Why would anyone want to become a legal resident of another country? Where should you do this? How do you do this? And how much will it all set you back? All of these questions and more we cover in our residency options for retiring overseas.

Look no further than sunny Central America…

Couple sitting together on a bench watching the sunset, while enjoying the benefits of the Belize QRP Program.
Through Belize’s QRP Program, retirees can enjoy their golden years in the Caribbean…

Belize bests the rest in this category thanks to its world renowned QRP visa. Qualified Retired Persons (QRPs) are easily able to obtain permanent residency in Belize. In many ways, this program is the most efficient route to foreign residency anywhere in the Americas. This visa is available to anyone over the age of 45, and it grants a host of incentives designed to encourage foreigners to come and bring their money. With easy-to-meet requirements and a whole host of benefits, it’s easy to see why Belize is a great option for anyone considering retirement.

Like Belize, Panama is a wonderful option. Known as the Gold Standard of retiree visas, Panama’s retiree (pensionado) visa is by far its most popular residency option and one of the most generous in the world. The program has drawn thousands of retirees to Panama to take advantage of the tax status and discounts. To reap these benefits, you don’t need to invest a cent up front, you need only receive a pension or an annuity that meets the requirements. And one of the top places to hang your hat in Panama in 2018 is El Valle. This quaint and cool mountain town will have you feeling years younger and at peace among a mix of locals and expats.

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The 8 Best Places To Retire In 2018

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4. Entertainment

Moulin Rouge, on the Boulevard de Clichy.
The cabaret Moulin Rouge is a top source for entertainment in Paris…

How do you picture spending your time in retirement overseas? Do you crave museums and café culture…? Taking dance classes or doing yoga on the beach…? Would you feel lost without a weekly trip to the movies or to the opera every now and then?

For entertainment, its hard to beat Paris, France.

Paris is the paradigm of world culture and has been for hundreds of years.

From the countless churches and cathedrals, to the dozens of museums and hundreds of galleries, to the universities and varied classes of all kinds you could enroll in… this city offers a level of entertainment unrivaled by almost any destination in the world.

Safe to say that living in Paris, you won’t want for anything.

No surprise that the other top destinations for entertainment come from long-established cities in Europe, including Lisbon, Portugal and Budapest, Hungary.

With its beaches, ports, and Old World charm, Real Estate In Lisbon makes a compelling case for the investor.
Cruise ships docked off Lisbon with eager passengers ready to explore the city…

Lisbon is one of Portugal’s most prominent cities, home to an abundance of cultural offerings. As a European capital, the city offers a diverse selection of concerts, theatre, art museums (with collections spanning several centuries), music festivals, and just about any other cultural activity you could think of. Music also plays an important role in the day-to-day life of residents. Every year Lisbon hosts several summer festivals. Renowned for its eclectic lineup and nominated for Best Overseas Festival at the U.K. Festival Awards, the NOS Alive festival (formerly Optimus Alive) brings more foreigners to Portugal than any other event or time of year.

For those who like to hit the town, the greatest thing about the nightlife in Lisbon is safety. You can go out and feel safe pretty much anywhere at any time… another reason it’s been historically popular with expats.

Every time you leave your house you’ll find something new, even surprising. The city’s warm hospitality combined with its excellent food make Lisbon one of the most desired European cities to live in.

Then there is Budapest, Hungary’s capital city, one of the largest and most metropolitan cities in all of Europe. You’ll find it ranked highly in a plethora of studies and indices on all kinds of topics, ranging from from urban economy growth to innovation, banking, universities, and even quality of life. Many travel and destination magazines put Budapest well within the world’s top 5 places to live and we can’t help but agree. While strolling the city aptly nicknamed the “Heart of Europe,” seemingly every corner is filled with famous landmarks, both natural and man-made.

In this year’s Overseas Retirement Index, we have it as one of the best destinations to enjoy a life full of entertainment, whether it’s the galleries on display at the Museum of Fine Arts or the shows offered at the Hungarian State Opera House, boredom will be will but a long distant memory.

5. Recreation

Surfing For A Cause: Starting A Private Foundation In Panama
Getting out of the city and getting in touch with nature, whether it’s a nice hike or a day at the beach, can really add some years to your life…

Is your idea of keeping busy more outdoorsy? For many, retirement is a long-awaited chance to escape the confines of the indoors. Imagine having the time and the freedom to wake up and take a long hike and a fitness class on the beach every morning… spend the afternoon catching some fresh fish and grilling them up for dinner… biking to and from the local market to shop every day… or perhaps you’d like to tick surfing off that bucket list of yours…

For recreation, the Algarve, Portugal, has to be right at the top of your list.

Portugal’s Algarve region is home to some of the best courses in Europe. You’ll find more than three-dozen 9-hole or 18-hole layouts at 35 clubs around the region. 85 of the region’s breathtaking beaches were awarded Blue Flags this year. Among the golfing, the beaches, and the excellent mountain-bike trails, you’ll be pulling more than a 40-hour week in the sunshine (and Algarve boasts more than 300 days of it per year).

With access both to beaches for summer sun and mountains for skiing in winter, the Abruzzo region of Italy is another top destination for outdoor recreation. No over-crowding, no heavy industry. Hiding away down its curvy roads are castles, vineyards, and villages made of stone and memory. Life in the Abruzzo hasn’t changed that much over the years, and it’s like wandering into a gentler, kinder yesterday…a yesterday with plenty to get out and explore.

Every winter, the ski resorts in its high mountain ranges attract crowds of weekend “fun” skiers from Rome. In spring, it’s possible to combine a morning on the Apennine ski slopes with an afternoon at the beach. How many places in the world is that possible?

If you love the great outdoors, its National Parks are crisscrossed with hiking trails. Springtime is a wildflower spectacular. This is when the Maiella and Gran Sasso National Parks bloom into beauty. Over 2,000 botanical specimens are found here, including wild orchids.

Most Italian visitors come for the bluegreen Adriatic where beaches of soft golden sand stretch as far as the eye can see.

6. English Spoken

language books, including German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and French.
Learning a new language can be a wonderful challenge, but for some retirees speaking English is a priority.

For the category of English Spoken it really comes down to two destinations, Belize and Malta. Both countries have English as an official language.

Belize is the only country in this year’s Overseas Retirement Index where English is the single official language. Belize’s location in Central America and diverse population mean more than half of the population is bilingual. You’ll hear Spanish and Kriol spoken throughout Belize, but you could relocate to Ambergris Caye or Cayo and never learn a word of another language.

However, Belize isn’t the only country on our list to use English. Malta’s second official language is English, which is used throughout the country. In Valletta, or anywhere else in Malta, you’d never need to try to speak a word of Maltese. English is widely and fluently spoken. The level of English fluency among the population is remarkable—literally everyone is fluent. And it’s not just used in casual conversation—business, banking, and legal affairs are all conducted through English.

7. Expat Community

Overseas Success Stories From Our All Access Pass Members | Live and Invest Overseas
While living abroad, it can sometimes be helpful to find other like-minded people to share your experiences with…

For this category, there was one country that stood out above the rest, and that was Mexico.

In Mexico, both Mazatlan and San Miguel de Allende have large and established communities of expats. If you are concerned about meeting friends while retired overseas, then you need not worry in either destination.

Mazatlan is an easy place to find like-minded friends but is also often touted for the welcoming locals. Expats here can get involved with art classes, trips to the theater, walking groups, book clubs, and a host of other English-speaking activities. There are a variety of major sporting events in the city, including triathlons, marathons, and baseball games, with both local and foreign athletes participating.

Mazatlan is also just 6 hours up the coast from Puerto Vallarta, where 40,000 expats, mostly North Americans, currently reside.

San Aerial view of Miguel de Allende, Mexico
San Miguel de Allende is one of the best spots to find friends and other expats to share your time with..

San Miguel de Allende has been a retirement favorite for foreigners as far back as the late 1960s. Nestled among low hills, the semidesert valley is mostly flat in the historic center, great for walking, and chock full of delights for visitors and residents. For expats, San Miguel is a social town par excellence. Opportunities to meet other expats abound. Classes in two to-three-dozen subjects are available at all times, and the number of charitable organizations is reported to exceed 100.

All in all, San Miguel de Allende has the small-town friendliness and hominess that most expats crave, set in a remarkably beautiful and sociable colonial town.

Mexico, in general, is home to a staggering number of North American expats. Current population estimates from Mexico have uncovered over a million Americans and over 500,000 Canadians living at least part time in the country. According to AMAR, the Mexican association dedicated to retired expat living, North American expats are expected to number more than 2.5 million by 2020.

Eleven-year Mexico expat Jim Hardesty comments, “The large expat community in Mexico is comprised mostly of Americans and Canadians, but there are quite a few Europeans as well. While many are retirees, there are a surprising number of business owners and cyber commuters. There are so many foreigners, and English is so widely spoken throughout the Riviera Nayarit, that many expats don’t even make much of an effort at learning to speak Spanish.”

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The 8 Best Places To Retire In 2018

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8. Taxes

A table ready with calculator, a laptop, and everything needed to calculate the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion
Filing taxes can be a complex process, especially when living overseas… some countries make the process much easier than others.

For the category of retiree taxation, Panama tips the scale.

Despite the revelations of the Panama Papers, the system for taxes in Panama is straightforward, although often misunderstood.

Panama uses what is referred to as jurisdictional taxation. This is when a country taxes you on income earned in that country only, even though you’re a resident. It is this approach to taxation that creates the biggest opportunity. Residing in a country where taxation is based on the jurisdiction, it’s possible to organize your affairs in a way that can reduce or even eliminate your tax burden. Panama is a good example of this approach. As a resident in Panama, you are taxed in Panama only on income earned in Panama. It is easy, therefore, to live in Panama as a retiree and owe no taxes locally.

Other good examples of countries who take this approach are Belize and Malaysia, as well as the Dominican Republic.

On this score, Americans have it tough. If you’re an American (that is, if you hold a U.S. passport and even if you hold a U.S. Green Card), you are obliged to report to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service of your worldwide income every year. No matter where you reside or where else you might also hold citizenship, you never lose this obligation to Uncle Sam (short of renouncing your U.S. citizenship and relinquishing your passport or giving up your Green Card).

9. Real Estate Affordability

Italy's Abruzzo Region
Italy’s Abruzzo region is both picturesque and affordable…

When it comes to affordable property, there are really one destination that stands head and shoulders above the rest… and that is Monción, Dominican Republic.

As indicated in our cost of living section, Monción really is a complete package of affordability. Homes here are built in the traditional tropical style found prevalent through the Caribbean and Central America. Designed for both quality and cost, property throughout the municipality has an average cost per square meter of around US$250. To put that into perspective, properties in Miami, Florida range from US$2,100 to $5,500 per square meter, nearly 10x what you’ll find just a 2-hour flight South in Monción.

Among the other top destinations offering a shot at low-cost real estate, you’ll find: Hoi An, Vietnam; Abruzzo, Italy; and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

Boats lined up along the river in Hoi An, Vietnam with yellow properties along the bank.
The old district in Hoi An has a special charm that is undeniable and so are it’s property prices

In Hoi An, the average cost per square meter is 19,488,279 VND (US$856), making it one of the best bang-for-the-buck locations in the world. The real estate inventory includes mostly small- to medium-sized villas or homes with lots included. You generally won’t find a high-rise condo buildings in this area. With one of the lowest costs of living in the world and a wonderfully affordable housing market, Hoi An is an ideal retirement haven for those on a limited budget, and it is rapidly becoming a fine town in which to raise a family (or grandchildren), as well.

In Italy’s Abruzzo region, the average cost per square meter is 765 Euros (US$869). That is an unbeatable price for what some say is the best place to retire in the Mediterranean. Beyond the price, you get to enjoy all of the benefits that come with having your own home in Italy (think wine, pasta, and friendly neighbors).

A recent newcomer to the Overseas Retirement Index, Kota Kinabalu made its first appearance back in 2016 thanks in large part to the availability of affordable real estate. The average cost per square meter is around 4,676 MYR (US$1,088). If you are considering spending your retirement in Asia, you’d be hard pressed to find a better spot than Kota Kinabalu. As an aside, Kundasang, Malaysia wasn’t far behind, however it is an underdeveloped area with a limited amount of properties available.

As you can see, currency fluctuations and negative economic factors are creating opportunities for foreign investors across the globe. For example, Spain’s housing bubble and Greece’s debt crisis have resulted in major drops on real estate prices across the countries. Elsewhere in this region, positive developments are favorably impacting investment potential. Ireland’s property market is surging. As an added bonus, buyers with US dollars are at a strong advance thanks in large part to a favorable exchange rate with the euro right now.

10. Real Estate Restrictions

Why International Real Estate Investing Isn’t For Everybody
When buying property abroad, it’s important to keep an eye on the restrictions…

In this section, we’re looking at how easy it is for a foreigner to purchase real estate in a given country, looking especially at any restrictions imposed on foreigners.

As a would-be overseas retiree, buying real estate may not be on your to-do list. In fact, we recommend strongly that all prospective expats take their new location for a rental test drive for at least 6 to 12 months before committing to any kind of purchase.

Eventually, though, you might decide that you’d like to own a set of keys in your new home—and it’s hard to ignore that the world beyond North American shores is loaded with opportunity. No matter how bad things look in the United States or Europe, the proverbial sun is always shining somewhere. Investing in real estate overseas is the smartest thing you could do with your investment capital right now; however, buying property abroad is nothing like buying property back home.

Here are the countries that offer real estate with no restrictions placed on foreign ownership:

  • Belize
    • Recommend destinations: Ambergris Caye and San Ignacio
  • Dominican Republic
    • Recommend destinations: Las Terrenas, Moncion, and Santo Domingo
  • France
    • Recommend destinations: Paris and Saint-Chinian
  • Italy
    • Recommend destinations: Abruzzo and Citta Sant’Angelo
  • Portugal
    • Recommend destinations: Algarve and Lisbon

For each of these countries, there are a multitude of locations where you could choose to buy, but when you couple them with all the other perks of retirement, we’ve highlighted those that present the best of everything.

Many people think buying property in another country is a risk-filled quagmire that is too complicated to overcome. Certainly buying property in a location you’re not familiar with requires due diligence and research, but that’s true whether you’re living in Chicago and want to buy a lake house in Wisconsin or living in Chicago and want to buy a beach house in Honduras. The same “foreign” effects can come into play.

11. Infrastructure

The sun going down over Kuala Lumpur, with building lit up and the Petronas Towers reaching high into the sky.
Kuala Lumpur has a well-developed infrastructure that helps its roughly 1.7 million residents get around with great ease.

For the infrastructure category, we include detailed grading for what we feel are the most important things to consider about the infrastructure in your new retirement destination: Internet speed and reliability, cost and reliability of electricity, quality of roads, availability of public transportation (or needing a car), and, finally, how easy it is to get back home.

Among those criteria, the shining stars were: Paris, France; Budapest, Hungary; Mazatlan, Mexico; Valletta, Malta; and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Paris scored perfect across all criteria, including international access, as it is a major hub and travel options from the “City of Light” are nearly limitless. Aside from the long trans-Atlantic flight and the Charles de Gaulle airport being about 45 minutes from the city, this is as easy as it gets for access. You can also avail of Orly International Airport for domestic travel and a limited amount of international travel, this one is only about 20 minutes from the city.

Louvre Pyramid outside the Louvre Museum.
The Louvre is just one of the many features that make Paris special.

Paris is a bonefide metropolitan city with a fully developed public transport infrastructure. No need for a car here, you can get by on foot, with the assistance of bikes, buses, the metro, and taxis. As a large city, navigation may be your biggest initial concern, but once you get your bearings you’ll have no trouble getting around.

France is also home to some of the fastest Internet speeds, roughly 35.1 Mbps, and all for US$30 per month.

Budapest, Hungary is a large urban city with plenty to love in terms of infrastructure. There are lots of direct flights and rail connections that you would expect from a European Union member nation. This thriving metropolis has a well-developed and constantly improving set of transportation and communication systems. As the center of the country’s financial and economic activity, you are sure to have high-speed internet and easy access to just about anything your heart desires.

As part of the developed Western-world, Mexico has many cities with great infrastructure, and Mazatlan is no exception. However, Mazatlan is unique in that it gives you the ability to enjoy the conveniences of city living with the beach right at your doorstep. The city boasts nearly 20 miles of well-maintained, sandy beaches with warm, swimmable waters. There is a wonderful boardwalk wrapped along much of the beachfront, where you’ll find people out walking, biking, and taking in the sun.

A new highway system (including 60 tunnels) was recently completed between Mazatlan and its neighboring city Durango, which further helps to open the city up for travel.

Both Valletta and Kuala Lumpur are World-Class cities, each have well-developed infrastructures for residents and for the large number of tourists that visit each year. Easy flights and access to the larger regional cities, make both ideal spots for anyone needing to maintain a strong connection to the developed world.

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The 8 Best Places To Retire In 2018

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12. Environmental Factors

A majestic view of Slovenia, with trees in the forefront, an island surrounded by deep green waters, and mountain peaks in the background with clouds rising above.
Bled, Slovenia is a magnificent mountain town, located on Lake Bled…

Everyone wants a clean place to live. Whether it’s a white-sand beach, a hilltop village, or a well-maintained city with top-notch recycling facilities, you want your environment to be tidy and cared for.

In some overseas destinations, though, there are often cultural or environmental mores that don’t place value on cleanliness in the same way that many North Americans are used to. This could consist of trash, pollution, or any number of factors, but it is an important consideration that can often go overlooked until you actually set “boots on the ground” in country.

We’ve tried to alleviate some of those concerns by giving you our take on the top places to avoid these types of environmental factors.

In last year’s index, we had Cayo, Belize as the most environmentally friendly location on our list, and it’s no surprise we also have one of Cayo’s main cities sitting near the top for this year’s choice.

San Ignacio, located in western Cayo, is a nature lover’s paradise. It is full of trees and fresh air, animal life is abundant, and its rural setting provides an oasis in a world of environmental degradation. This is purely off-grid land, nearly pristine jungle, and untouched rain forest.

Moncion, Dominican Republic, one of the cheapest places to retire, is also one of the most environmentally friendly. Like San Ignacio, Moncion is a rural place full of trees, wildlife, and opportunities to explore nature. The skies are blue and the clouds are fluffy white (and not from pollution). It’s the kind of place you can relax and not worry too much about the outside world.

A few other destinations are worth mentioning, as well.

In particular, Bled, Slovenia and Saint-Chinian, France.

Bled is a picturesque mountain town, where you’ll find lush trees and plenty of fresh air. Just seeing images of the town you’ll get a sense for the calm, untouched feel it has. Saint-Chinian is a charming commune in the Occitanie region (formerly Languedoc) of southern France. This is where some of the world’s best wine comes from, and as part, they take air, soil, and the environment serious. It makes good grapes, but it also makes happy (and healthy) people.

13. Crime And Safety

A Sign saying "Beware this establishment is frequented by pickpockets."
It’s important to be aware of your surroundings, both at home and abroad…

One thing to keep in mind when looking for your next “safe haven” is that no place in the world is completely free of crime. Petty crime is unavoidable no matter where you go, so it pays to stay sharp—be you resident or tourist. That being said, every destination on this list is a safe place to visit and live, as any of their happy expats would gladly tell you.

In the category of crime and safety, it’s no surprise that the Algarve, Portugal is at the top of nearly everyone’s list.

The Algarve has been awarded the World’s Best Place to Retire in 2014, 2015, and 2016, and when it comes to safety, it’s easy to see why.

Portugal is known as the fifth most peaceful country in the world. Statistics show that crime in the already-safe Algarve is falling steadily; this can be attributed to a number of factors, including an increase in police during the busy summer months.

The second best for safety would have to by Malaysia, specifically Kota Kinabalu.

The Sabah region in which Kota Kinabalu is located has historically low crime rates. Other than the usual crimes of opportunity, such as pickpocketing, Kota Kinabalu is very safe. Public drunkenness is outlawed in Malaysia, which reduces levels of pretty crime and vandalism.

We’d never recommend upping stakes and moving somewhere that you’d be in danger. But no city is free of crime, no destination in the world completely safe.

Bonus: Climate

Blue sky, calm weather in Portugal
Portugal’s Mediterranean climate is ideal for consistently good weather, year-round.

This is a bonus criterion… We don’t assign grades for climate, it’s just too subjective. Everyone’s idea of perfect weather is different, which makes it difficult to give a location a grade for its climate. So we don’t try. Instead we focus on you and your ideal climate.

What’s your perfect climate? Do you like a change in seasons? Would you love to never see snow again, basking in the sun of the tropics? Or would you prefer to live in a fresh mountain climate? Everyone’s idea of perfect weather is different, which makes it difficult to give a location a grade for its climate.

If you like little annual change in temperature year-round and, typically, a consistent temperature below 80 degrees Fahrenheit… try the Algarve or Medellin.

If four seasons is your preference, give Chiang Mai, Crete, Paris, or Valletta a spin.

What about the tropics? If you prefer to spend your retirement basking in the sun, here are your best places to catch rays: Ambergris Caye, Kota Kinabalu, Las Terrenas, and Bali.

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The 8 Best Places To Retire In 2018

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The Algarve, Portugal Takes Top Honors for the 4th Year In A Row…

Portugal’s Algarve remains the best place in the world today to retire overseas.

A view of the coast of the Algarve region in Portugal, with blue and green water and bright trimmed houses.
From health care to beaches, the Algarve has something for everyone in Portugal

The Algarve has got everything the would-be retiree could want—great weather and lots of sunshine year-round; an established and welcoming expat community; top-notch medical facilities and health care; an affordable (that is, downright cheap) cost of living, especially when you consider the quality of life on offer; undervalued and bargain-priced property buys, including right on the ocean; endless opportunities for fun, adventure, and enjoying rich, full, varied days out-of-doors; a great deal of English spoken thanks to the longstanding British presence; First World infrastructure; a new retiree residency program that rolls out the welcome mat for foreign pensioners; and easy access both from the United States and to and from all Europe.

The soaring greenback helps. At the current rate of exchange between the euro and the U.S. dollar, our figures show that a retired couple could live comfortably on the Algarve coast on as little as US$1,700 per month, give or take.

You could rent a two-bedroom apartment in this region for as little as US$720 per month. Or, if you were so inclined, buy an Algarve pied-à-terre of your own today for US$150,000 or even less. Portugal’s property market remains nicely undervalued, and, again, if you’re shopping with dollars, you’ve got super-charged buying power right now.

Where Is The Best Place In The World For You To Retire?

We don’t know, but, after more than three decades of experience considering the whole world in this context, we have some good ideas about where makes sense generally for a high quality of retirement life… where probably doesn’t… and why.

It is in that spirit that, each year, that we publish the Overseas Retirement Index.

Annual Overseas Retirement Index – Rankings

Here are the complete retirement rankings:

Best Places To Retire 2018 Final Grades