Have you always dreamt of spending your retirement in a far off destination, immersed in another culture? Or maybe you want to be close to home with just a slight change of scenery. Whether you plan to spend your long-awaited golden years by the beach or you’re looking to plug in to the beating heart of a major metropolitan city, there are multiple places around the world perfect for the newly retired. You might be surprised to find out that many countries have specific visas geared towards retirees or that your income isn’t taxed in other countries. Here are 15 of the best places to retire in 2023.
Once an off-the-beaten-path getaway compared to its more popular Western European counterparts, Portugal’s friendly locals, stunning beaches, and beautiful countryside are now well discovered. But for those looking to make the trip a bit more permanent, the country has the perfect solution. Portugal’s Golden Visa is quite literally catered towards retirees that are living on passive income. Health coverage is a part of the visa process and the renewal process for permanent residency is extremely easy compared to other countries. Portugal’s northern metropolis, Porto, has a slightly lower cost of living than Lisbon or The Algarve but doesn’t skimp on beauty and proximity to the sea. You’ll also enjoy considerably less visitors year-round, quiet neighborhoods, and a direct flight back to the U.S.
A quintessential retirement hot spot, Florida is often at the top of the list when it comes to retirement destinations — and for good reason. Sunny weather, easy access to beaches, and plenty of culture make this state wholly desirable. But among the state's many cities and towns, Sarasota is a standout. This vivacious city has plenty of other retirees who also call the city home. Powdery Siesta Key Beach, fascinating history, and a vibrant restaurant scene culminate in this wonderful place to call home. Lack of income tax and mild winters makes the city especially appealing.
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Costa Rica has become a very popular destination to retire to in recent years and Tamarindo tops the list of perfect cities to settle down in. Tucked along the country’s Pacific Coast, this is one of the safest, most stable locations in all of Latin America giving prospective retirees extra peace of mind. Perched on the Pacific Coast, the beach town offers easy access to multiple beaches, fantastic cuisine, and, when you want to head inland, stunning forest trails. The climate year-round varies but Tamarindo evades most of the torrential rainy season. While it may have a higher cost of living than nearby Nicaragua or Belize, you’re paying a premium for safety and the notorious pura vida lifestyle.
Located in Andalusia, the tiny town of Cádiz is more off-the-beaten path than its coastal counterparts Barcelona, Valencia, and Malaga, and that’s where it gets its charm. This traditional, white-washed town oozes old world charm and laidback Spanish vibes. In fact, it’s thought to have been the oldest continuously inhabited city in Western Europe. Spend your days walking the beachfront promenade and weekends exploring nearby hill towns or metropolitan meccas like Madrid.
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina is an excellent place for retirees to tuck away in the peace and tranquility of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This wellness-focused community is ideal for retirees who want to live in a city that’s focused on sustainability and the health of both its residents and the planet. Go for hikes in the surrounding Appalachian Mountains, enjoy a wonderfully mild climate, and dig into Asheville’s supreme food scene featuring dozens of craft breweries and savory Carolina style BBQ.
Want a slice of island life in the middle of Europe? Malta is just the place. Once a British-ruled island, Malta is set just off the coast of southern Italy. While Maltese is the official language, English is widely spoken due to its British history. The cost of living in Malta is very affordable compared to other locations in Europe. Pair this with their easy-to-acquire permanent residency visa, affordable healthcare, and Malta’s short distance from other amazing European destinations and you have a match made in retirement heaven. The most popular neighborhoods for retirees are the suburbs of Sliema and St. John’s, just outside the capital Valletta.
Recently nominated by Travel + Leisure Readers Choice as the “Best City in the World for 2023”, Oaxaca is also a favorite among retirees. A quick flight from the U.S., Oaxaca de Juarez has a mild and sunny climate thanks to its location in the Sierra Madre mountains and a rich cultural presence that can’t be found in the popular resort towns of Cancun or Playa del Carmen. Long term visas are easy to acquire, especially for American citizens. Oaxaca is well known for being a foodie mecca and you won’t have to look far to find incredible dishes like mole or tlayudas, all washed down with a bit of local mezcal.
Known as the “Hostess of the South,” Savannah exudes Southern charm. Retirees will adore strolling along streets flocked in Spanish moss, discovering historic hidden gems, or seeking out Southern specialties like shrimps and grits or pecan pie. Savannah has enough golf courses and pickleball courts to inspire active minds while also being a quiet reprieve from both a common suburbia or busy metropolis. The city is close enough to Atlanta and its international airport, but far enough away to feel like a well-kept secret. Nearby Tybee Island makes for a great weekend getaway for those who are still craving some beach time.
Known as the Land of a Thousand Smiles, Thailand is an excellent place to retire, especially since your money will go much further here than back home. While there are many great places throughout Thailand to call home, from the mountains of Chiang Mai to the megalopolis of Bangkok, Phuket already has a huge expat community, modern amenities, and the azure Andaman Sea. Retirees to Phuket can enjoy exceptional healthcare and English speaking doctors. For those willing to truly assimilate into Thai culture driving a motorbike and eating local food, your cost of living will be even more minimal. Thailand may seem like an exotic destination but it has one of the largest expat communities in the world, a benefit for those who might be nervous to move to a new country.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is an eclectic haven for artists tucked in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. This New Mexico city averages over 280 days of sunshine a year and temperatures rarely climb above 85° thanks to its high elevation. The population of the city hovers around 85,000 people and features a great healthcare system with plenty of hospitals. Explore the city's unique history, including one of the oldest buildings in the country, hundreds of art galleries, and distinctive restaurants. Retirees will never get bored in Santa Fe.
This tiny country, roughly the size of Massachusetts, packs a big punch in the retirement world. With English as its official language and a QRP Program, which exempts retirees from paying taxes on foreign income, Belize tops the list for retirees looking to live the tropical life frugally. Corozal has become a popular city for those who decide to retire in Belize because of its proximity to the Mexican border, tight-knit expat community, and lower living cost than other Belizean expat hubs like Caye Caulker. It also happens to be situated on a stunning Caribbean bay. Prices for real estate and inexpensive rentals are the main driving factor in its affordability with most two-bedroom houses priced at around $600 a month to rent. Pair that with warm temperatures year-round and less rain than southern Belize and you have a match made in retirement heaven.
If you’ve always dreamt of retiring in a tropical destination but aren’t quite ready to live abroad, Hawaii might be the perfect compromise. As the second largest city in the Rainbow State, Hilo is much more affordable than other areas of Hawaii and many retirees have taken advantage of this fact, creating a cohesive community. Hilo is located on the eastern shore of the Big Island and does see a fair bit of rain, but this also means that temperatures rarely climb above the mid-80’s. Spend your weekends hiking to nearby waterfalls like the famous Akaka Waterfall, taking scenic drives along the Hamakua Coast, and riding bikes to the Hilo Farmers Market for fresh, local produce.
Is the Italian dolce vita lifestyle calling to you in retirement? While there are many wonderful cities and regions to call home in Italy, Siena is among the best. Located in the very heart of Tuscany and surrounded by lush countryside, Siena is just over an hour by train from the Renaissance mecca, Florence, yet it’s the perfect size for those who still want a sense of city life with a side of serenity. As a small city, Siena is also less expensive than its larger counterparts like Rome, Florence, and Venice, yet enjoys the same benefits of Italy’s world class healthcare system, flourishing culinary scene, and rich history.
Panama City, Panama
Tropical paradise is the name of the game in Panama. Retirees often consider Panama for the pensionado visa, a great system that requires a passive income of just $1,000 a month to be approved. Another benefit is that Panama does not impose income tax on retirees living in the country, making it possible for many to retire earlier than expected should they choose to settle down. Current expats love the unique collision of cultures, a happy mix of the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States. The Casco Viejo neighborhood is where many expats call home and you’ll find a lively mix of both locals and foreigners intermingling.
Portland, Maine might not be on most retirees' radar but that’s what makes this East Coast city unique. As an outdoor lover's mecca, Portland offers windswept beaches, craggy tide pools, fresh seafood, museums, national parks, and plentiful winter sports for those who aren’t planning to spend their retirement just sitting around. While you’re certainly not going to escape blustery winters here, the city’s distinctive four seasons only add to its charm. Home prices and cost of living are much less expensive than other locales along the East Coast but you won’t sacrifice Maine’s pristine beauty in the process.