The World’s Best Places To Retire

The World’s Top Retirement Havens

This past week I’ve given you checklists and other tools to help you do the work to identify the overseas retirement haven with your name on it.

In response, one reader wrote, “Kathleen, this is all a bit cloak and dagger. Seriously, just tell me. What would you say are the best places in the world to retire right now?”

Here you go…the world’s top retirement havens:


  • Best place to retire cheap: Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca is perhaps the most affordable place in the world where you might want to live full-time. You could retire here on less than US$800 per month.

  • Best places to retire cheap and exotic: Malaysia and India

India is probably the cheapest place in the world to think about retiring right now. Cheaper than Ecuador and also more exotic. Maybe too exotic for many.

Malaysia is also super-cheap and exotic but more welcoming of foreign retirees. This is the only country in Asia that makes it easy to establish full-time foreign residency.

  • Best places to retire to the beach: Las Tablas, Panama and Maceió, Brazil

Within a 20-minute drive of the little Pacific-coast town of Las Tablas, Panama, you can reach five different beaches, all beautiful, all undiscovered. This is a big part of the reason why growing numbers of U.S. and Canadian expats are settling in this part of Panama’s Azuero Peninsula.

Maceió is a clean, modern, elegant city fronted by miles of white sand. It’s also very affordable. You could buy a three-bedroom apartment here for US$75,000.

  • Best place to retire without having to learn a new language: Belize

  • Best place to “retire” to start a business: Panama


If your plan for retirement is more about reinvention, starting over, and starting a new business than reclining on the beach and slowing down, Panama should be #1 on your list. Starting a business isn’t everyone’s idea of “retirement,” but pursuing your entrepreneurial inclinations at this phase of your life (starting an Internet business, for example) is a way to launch this phase of your life when you want rather than when your accumulated nest egg allows.

  • Best-weather choice: Medellin, Colombia

As I’ve explained, Medellin is not what you expect. This is a lovely, leafy, and, yes, safe city of restaurants, museums, and parks. It’s also situated at an ideal elevation and, as a result, enjoys pleasant, never-too-hot, never-too-cold weather year-round. Living here, you’d need neither air conditioning or heat, meaning your monthly utility bills would be nicely controlled. Plus, the great weather means you’re able to enjoy all the outdoor attractions of this pretty, pleasant city year-round.

  • Top tax-busting choices: Panama and Belize

Depending from where you derive your income in retirement, you could retire tax-free in Panama or Belize. As an American abroad, you never lose your tax-filing obligation in the United States, but that does not mean you owe taxes Stateside. You need expert advice to organize yourself properly (that is, compliantly), but, bottom line, it’s possible to retire tax-free. And, again, Panama and Belize are my top picks for where to do that right now.

  • Best luxury-lifestyle-on-a-budget choice: Paris

Whatever your idea of the high life, you can find it in the City of Light, and the best part about Paris is that some of the best it has to offer comes free.

  • Best controlled-culture-shock choice: Ajijic, Mexico

Ajijic is home to the biggest and most established expat community in the world. You could retire here comfortably without learning Spanish, and you could spend most of your time, if you chose, among fellow foreign retirees. You could enjoy the comforts and conveniences of “back home” while living at a reduced cost and with great weather.

  • Best places to retire with children: Panama and Uruguay

If you’re considering relocating to another country with children, international-standard schooling options become your priority. You’ll find good ones in Panama and Uruguay.

Kathleen Peddicord