Your motivations for an overseas move are likely as individual as you are but one universal desire shared by all want-to-be expats is to enjoy life in a true safe haven.
One look at the nightly news is enough to make even the bravest soul fearful. And while crime rates are sadly spiraling in North America, happily that’s not the case everywhere.
When it came to compiling our Overseas Retirement Index for 2023, we knew the category of crime was essential to include. Of course, we don’t recommend any destination that’s dangerous and we know that no place in the world is completely safe…but there are a few that come pretty close…
Our Overseas Retirement Index uses a grading system and, in the crime category, four destinations secured an A grade.
In these locales, day-to-day crime is simply not a concern. Sure, like anywhere these days, you lock your doors at night, but in these spots you can be as near to certain as can be that violent crime is not going to affect you.
So, if having zero concerns about safety is high on your list of criteria, and the freedom that comes with knowing you can walk around day or night without worrying appeals to you, then these A-grade destinations should be on your retirement radar.
Tavira, Portugal: A+
Portugal is one of the world’s most peaceful countries. Violent crime is rare, petty crime is limited to the busy tourist season, and there’s little social unrest.
Within this already safe country, Tavira remains one of the safest cities.
Long-time Tavira expat Marie Moore says, “In my three years here, I’ve known of very few crime-related incidents. For example, my neighbors leave their bikes on the sidewalk all night, and they’re still there when they wake up in the morning.”
Costa De La Luz, Spain: A
Although crime rates are higher in Spain than neighboring Portugal, crime here is typically concentrated in urban zones, like Madrid and Barcelona.
Our number one recommendation in Spain, Costa de la Luz, is a very safe area. Even in Cádiz, the most city-like environment along the coast, you can feel completely safe walking around at any time of the day or night. In fact, you’ll even see kids playing in the town squares, unaccompanied, well after dark. That should be a good indicator of the level of concern locals have about safety.
As one expat, Stephanie, puts it, “For the most part, I feel comfortable in Rota. People stay out so late here, so there are always people on the streets, and I never feel unsafe at night.”
Kyrenia, Northern Cyprus: A
Cyprus on the whole is extremely safe, and crime rates are statistically lower in Northern Cyprus than they are in the Republic of Cyprus. Northern Cyprus’ relatively small population creates the sense that everyone kind of knows everyone…
It’s extremely unlikely that you’d become a victim of crime while living here. Expats report feeling more at ease in Northern Cyprus than in their home countries.
Chitré, Panama: A-
Certain types of crime are standard in Panama. Corruption is one example. Bribing police officers to avoid a ticket is commonplace (not something we recommend).
Issues with gringo pricing, petty theft, and burglary of homes left unattended for long periods are possible across Panama…But Chitré stands out as an exception to this rule.
Here, neighbors know one another and look out for one another. Everyone describes it as safe and calm. The crime rate is very low and limited mostly to petty theft and low-level street crime.
To avoid issues, always lock your house and car, don’t leave valuables in sight, and don’t carry your wallet or phone in your back pocket…
Exercise the same precautions as you would in your home country, and you’ll be fine.
Editor, Overseas Living Letter