If you’re getting close to retirement but are worried about how far your savings will stretch once you ditch the job, you might have considered retiring somewhere outside the U.S. where the cost of living is cheaper and the atmosphere might be one of perpetual vacation.
You might have considered it for other reasons, too, such as taxes, health care availability, infrastructure and a number of other essential factors that have been in the news a lot lately.
Well, here's a way to kickstart your research.
In their Overseas Retirement Index, the folks at Live and Invest Overseas looked at all those factors and more.
They evaluated locations based on 13 factors, from cost of living to crime and safety, whether English is spoken, what sort of entertainment is available, what the environmental conditions are like, whether there’s a supportive expat community, how available and affordable health care is, how advanced and stable the infrastructure is, what sort of recreation options are available, and what sort of residency options and taxes are imposed on retirees from the U.S.—as well as real estate affordability and restrictions on foreign ownership.
So whether you’re looking for a refuge from political turmoil, seeking a place where your retirement funds will let you live in a decently comfortable manner, or craving a bit of adventure and exotisme, you might want to have a look at the list of 10 retirement destinations below (some of which are repeat stars from previous years' lists as well):
10. George Town, Malaysia
As the capital of Penang, a tropical island just west of the Malaysian mainland, George Town provides “one of the best overseas retirement opportunities in the world,” says the Overseas Retirement Index.
Not only is it a safe and reasonably priced place to live, it offers “excellent health care, an interesting and eclectic community from around the world that communicates largely in English,” and a diverse lifestyle—along with a variety of entertainment and recreational options.
The island of Penang is a destination with distinction, featured in the book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” and ranked by Yahoo! Travel as one of the top 10 islands to put on your bucket list.
George Town, for its part, was named the most livable city in Malaysia and the eighth most livable city in Asia by global consulting firm ECA International.
Retired life can be lush or restrained, with “roughing it” options as nearby as symphonies or golf courses. And then there’s the food.
From health care to an affordable lifestyle, among people who speak your language, George Town just about has it all.
9. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, along with nearby Santuario de Atotonilco, the historic center of San Miguel de Allende will tempt those interested in in its history—but there’s plenty for retirees looking for a comfortable present destination, too.
The city was also honored by Condé Nast Traveler magazine in 2013, which named it the best city in the world.
And lest that’s not enough of an enticement, there’s also the fact that this year, “Travel + Leisure” named San Miguel their “Top City Of 2017.”
It could almost vie with the Paris or Greenwich Village of years gone by, with a more-than-half-century reputation for attracting artists, musicians, scholars and bohemians.
There’s plenty of socializing available for expats, along with lots of classes for those interested in delving into new fields and a plethora of charitable organizations.
Then there’s “excellent health care backed by first-rate technology—medical tourism is a fast-growing industry here—and temperate weather throughout the year, and it's easy to see why tens of thousands of expats call this 18th-century colonial town home.”
8. Budapest, Hungary
A modern city with an overlay of old-world charm, Budapest offers both history and today’s conveniences for retirees looking for a haven in Europe.
Its titles, past and present, are certainly enticing—it’s been known variously as the Heart of Europe, the Pearl of the Danube and the Capital of Freedom (as well as the Capital of Spas and Thermal Baths and the Capital of Festivals).
But with all those titles evocative of past royalty, the city has another reputation throughout Europe for its “super low costs,” says the Index, adding, “Here, you can enjoy a high-quality, European lifestyle at an incredibly low price, with everything a city mouse could hope for.”
7. Lisbon, Portugal
Sun-worshipers will love Lisbon, with its 300-ish days of sunshine every year and not just ocean but river waters to gaze upon.
Ringed by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and protected on the other by the calm, deep-blue waters of the Tagus River (the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula), the city can offer retirees not just a sophisticated lifestyle but also woo them with clean, swimmable beaches.
A low cost of living that provides “tranquil” living options, as well as the aura of history, the Index says, “Lisbon is renowned for its warm hospitality, friendly atmosphere and for having one of the lowest costs of living in Western Europe.”
There’s also a large and longstanding expat community to provide camaraderie, and “excellent food” to liven those gatherings—making the city “one of the most desired European cities to live in.”
6. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Old meets new in this city that boasts modern skyscrapers and malls, well-stocked with everything from Tiffany goods to handmade treasures, while nestled nearby is the ancient Malay village of Kampung Baru—still thriving, “with free-roaming roosters and a slow pace of life that’s usually only to be found in the most rural of villages,” says the report.
But not to worry; despite the proximity of ancient ways, “[h]ealth care is first-rate, public transportation is modern and efficient, and the tap water is safe enough to drink.”
In addition, there’s the temptation of beautiful beaches just a short drive or flight away, and cooler mountain refuges within less than an hour’s travel.
5. Saint-Chinian, France
In the Herault Department of the Languedoc region in the south of France, the historic market town of Saint-Chinian with about 2,000 residents offers the chance to sample locally grown produce and artisan goods that lure travelers and locals alike to its busy streets.
And while it may be small, it has all the essentials—“local produce shops, restaurants, bars, doctor’s office, dentist, pharmacy, a health shop, wine cellars”—yet retains its charm.
Retirees also cite the wonderful weather; the chance for more outdoor living; the food, art, history and culture; the “dependable and high-quality health care”; the beautiful countryside; a slower pace of life; and good infrastructure, yet little traffic.
Sounds delightful; when do we leave?
4. Abruzzo, Italy
Love Tuscany but can’t make it fit your retirement budget?
Try the region of Abruzzo, which, according to the Index, has everything Tuscany offers and much more—at a fraction of the cost.”
Another perk it mentions: You can buy your own land here, enough that if you crave the feel of the earth between your fingers and the sight of your own fruits and vegetables growing in the soil, you can actually farm the land yourself and become self-sufficient.
Says the Index: “Known as one of the greenest areas in all of Europe, Abruzzo stretches from the Apennines to the Adriatic and is home to over 3,816.25 square km (about 1,474 square miles) of protected national parkland. Abruzzo is ideal land for going off-grid. The weather is temperate year-round, the earth is fertile and the land is largely divided into small plots for individual owners. Living off the land is a great way to enjoy the fresh air, control your own schedule, and embrace peace and quiet.”
Not only is it cheap to live here (and the wines are domestic here, not imported), there are lakes and mountains, as well as oceans, to enjoy when you’re not harvesting your own home-grown produce.
3. Mazatlán, Mexico
A Mexican resort town, a “real city” with beautiful beaches and a walkable colonial center … that “manages to feel homey” is how the Index describes Mazatlàn, which it adds has been out of favor for years among both tourists and expats, but is now experiencing a resurgence.
With a facelift in the historic center, and still boasting 20 miles of beaches outside town, it offers plenty of attractions as well as a sizeable American and Canadian expat community.
2. Valletta, Malta
Malta is “becoming both an investment and a retirement hot spot,” says the Index, with its rugged coastlines, cliffs and coves, as well as fishing harbors.
Inland, stone walls set off crops that range from olives to wheat to grapes—making much of what you’ll find on your table locally grown elements of the Mediterranean diet.
Mediterranean weather will lure retirees seeking a respite from cold climates, while history buffs will love to investigate the country’s past and its culture.
The Index says, “And, notably, Malta is the only place you can experience the famed Mediterranean way of life among locals who all speak perfect English. And, especially when compared with most other Western European countries, Malta is a cheap place to live.”
1. Portugal's Algarve region
The Algarve is located at Europe’s westernmost tip, with 100 miles of Atlantic coastline, it also has “Europe’s best beaches, Europe’s best golf courses, some of Europe’s friendliest folk, and Western Europe’s lowest cost of living. It’s also Europe’s newest tax haven.”
But there are plenty of reasons besides taxes, beaches and golf to move there.
Not only is the cost of living in Portugal on average 30 percent lower than in any other country on the Continent, it boasts a true old-school, Old World atmosphere, with medieval towns and fishing villages, open-air markets and local wine.
Says the Index, “This is a land of cobblestoned streets and whitewashed houses with lace-patterned chimneys, surrounded everywhere by fig, olive, almond and carob trees. The Algarve also offers great weather with 3,300 hours of sunshine per year; meaning more sunny days than almost anywhere else in Europe.”