Stretch Your Retirement Savings in These Countries

Looking to retire abroad? These 10 countries could inspire you to find the perfect destination to settle down.

mature couple walking on the beach at sunset
Updated May 28, 2024
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According to a retirement survey by the Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement, 12% of respondents want to live abroad when they retire. But with plenty of options available, how do you choose where to settle?


Here are 10 countries that could be ideal retirement destinations. Using the Numbeo database, we've listed the health care rank for each country (out of 95 countries scored). We also provide a cost of living compared to living in New York City.

Colombia

Alessandro Biascioli/Adobe happy farmers having fun working in bananas plantation

Part of learning how to save for retirement is learning how to stretch your dollar. And if you want your funds to go further when you retire, there’s plenty to like about Latin America. Colombia makes the list because of its proximity to the U.S. despite being in South America, which makes it easy to travel between the two countries.

The cost of living is typically much lower compared to the U.S. and you have plenty of options for beautiful places to live — from coastal getaways to mountain retreats. Much of Colombia has a tropical climate and plenty of rain, though you can find drier areas. Colombia was ranked number 38 out of 95 countries for its quality of health care.

Cost of living: 73% less than New York City

Health care rank: 38 (out of 95)

Costa Rica

Lukas/Adobe Sloth hanging from tree

Do you want to retire in an outdoor paradise? Located in Central America, Costa Rica is known worldwide as a leading destination for ecotourism, or travel that involves conserving the environment and sustaining the wellbeing of local residents. The country places a lot of importance on conserving its diverse landscapes, including volcanoes, beaches, waterfalls, and rainforests.

Costa Rica has a tropical climate and a generally lower cost of living compared to the U.S. It placed number 51 out of 95 for health care.

Cost of living index: 53% less than New York City

Health care index: 51 (out of 95)

Ecuador

Kseniya Ragozina/Adobe unrecognizable farmer on a horse front of volcano Tungurahua

Situated next to Colombia and Peru in South America, Ecuador has become a popular destination for many expats. Your dollar can often go further here compared to the U.S. and the weather is typically warm and sunny all year depending on your specific location.

Ecuador placed 32 out of 95 on for its health care ranking. This means you should have reasonable access to health care, but it could depend on where you live. You might want to avoid potential retirement mistakes by first visiting and scouting out different areas to see what things are like.

Cost of living: 63% less than New York City

Health care rank: 32 (out of 95)

France

Andrey Bandurenko/Adobe Abbey Mont Saint-Michel Normandy France

France isn’t a budget travel destination, but that doesn’t mean you can’t retire here and pay less overall than what you were in the U.S. Living in a major city won’t likely be cheap, but there are plenty of towns and villages around the country that might fit your budget. In many instances, housing costs are often much lower in France compared to the U.S.

The climate also isn’t bad depending on where you live. The Cote D’Azur coastal region is sunny most of the year and parts of France benefit from a mild Mediterranean climate. It also doesn’t hurt that France ranked number 4 out of 95 for health care.

Cost of living: 26% less than New York City

Health care rank: 4 (out of 95)

Indonesia

Ekaterina Pokrovsky/Adobe Balinese people going to temple with offerings

Southeast Asia isn’t close at all to the U.S., but countries such as Indonesia are often much cheaper and have a lot to offer. The overall cost of living here is much lower compared to the U.S. and the climate is your typical tropical paradise weather: warm and often rainy.

Indonesia placed 56 out of 95 for health care. If you want to cut costs for travel between the U.S., some of the best travel credit cards can help earn valuable points and miles.

Cost of living: 64% less than New York City

Health care rank: 56 (out of 95)

Italy

Mirko Vitali/Adobe happy senior friends having fun toasting red wine at dinner party

Like France, Italy has a lot to offer for retirees. The overall cost of living is typically lower compared to the U.S., especially if you stay away from the larger cities. You also have your choice of climate, from the cold mountains to the mild and warm coastal regions.

For healthcare, Italy placed number 39 out of 95 countries for its health care ranking. That’s not far behind the U.S., which ranked 33 out of 95.

Cost of living: 33% less than New York City

Health care rank: 39 (out of 95)

Malaysia

frenta/Adobe People boating in mangrove forest Malaysia

For another option in Southeast Asia, consider Malaysia. Like other countries in the area, Malaysia offers a low cost of living, warm weather, and a variety of landscapes. This includes mountains, beaches, rainforests, and more.

Overall, Malaysia also offers reasonable access to healthcare. It ranked number 30 out of 95 countries for its quality of health care.

Cost of living index: 63% less than New York City

Health care index: 30 (out of 95)

Malta

Soloviova Liudmyla/Adobe coastal walker relax on rocky seaside

If the idea of island living sounds appealing, consider Malta, an island nation situated in the Mediterranean Sea between Italy and North Africa. Because of its location, you can expect a diverse culture and beautiful weather, even during the winter season. That means plenty of time to lounge at the beach or to explore a coastal city.

The cost of living in Malta is typically lower compared to the U.S., though Malta was ranked number 91 out of 95 countries for its health care. Due to Malta’s unique location, it could provide the perfect home base for exploring Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. However, you might want to compare credit cards to help save on travel expenses.

Cost of living: 33% less than New York City

Health care score: 91 (out of 95)

Mexico

javarman/Adobe Mariachi on the streets of colonial Campeche city Mexico

For many people, Mexico is the perfect country for retirement. It’s unique, inexpensive, beautiful, and also just a short flight away from the U.S. Depending on your location, you could have warm weather all year. Mexico also typically has more than reasonable healthcare, especially having to provide for a growing number of expats. It placed number 22 out of 95 countries for health care.

Cost of living: 65% less than New York City

Health care rank: 22 (out of 95)

Portugal

Zarya Maxim/Adobe young couple of tourists on holiday in Europe in Lisbon

Similar to other European countries, Portugal offers areas where you can live affordably and enjoy beautiful weather. This includes mild Mediterranean weather in the south with plenty of sunshine. The U.S. dollar is typically less valuable compared to the euro, but it all comes down to finding a location that works for your budget. Portugal placed number 24 out of 95 for health care.

Cost of living: 52% less than New York City

Health care rank: 24 (out of 95)

Bottom line

Anna Jurkovska/Adobe two italians walking down the street

For many travel-focused retirees, retirement is about enjoying your time abroad without spending too much money. Any of these countries could help you stretch your retirement budget while living in a beautiful environment. Depending on where you choose to live, access to healthcare is typically on-par with that of the U.S. if not better.

If inspiration is setting in for your big move abroad, remember to consider ways you might help improve your financial situation. Heading to a less expensive area of the world is one way to save money, and there's quite a few countries where the U.S. dollar goes farther. But what about before you retire? Check out these other ways to help boost your retirement savings.

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Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.