Top Countries to Retire in 2022

Top Countries to Retire in 2022

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Below is a list of the top countries to retire this year according to International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index, a comprehensive survey that aims to deliver grounded intelligence, opinions, and advice regarding the best global locations to retire.

Top Countries to Retire: Panama

Panama is one of the top countries to retire this year due to various reasons, such as its warm and tropical weather, friendly people, a secure living environment, as well as great hospitals and medical provision. You can also choose from beach communities, fresh mountain retreats, lush highlands, or modern city life.

Panama is one of the world’s only three carbon-negative countries. The well-known shipping canal has brought modern communications, infrastructure, and low-cost transportation to popular domestic expat destinations in the country, including Boquete in the highlands.

People who have never been to Panama have the impression that it is “very Third World,” meaning poor. However, the country offers reliable power, tap water that is safe to drink, high-speed internet connection, and great cell phone service.

Panama is now one of the most accessible retirement destinations from the US or Canada. There are direct flights to Panama from cities throughout the US, as well as several cities in Canada and Europe. Travel inside the country is easy, too.

Besides, hospitals in Panama are merely an hour away or less no matter which part of the country you choose to settle in.

top countries to retire panama
Panama Canal

Top Countries to Retire: Costa Rica

Many expats are enticed by the country’s beauty, tropical climate, low-cost and laid-back living, friendly residents, cheap medical care, and wide real estate selection.

This country is renowned because it is tranquil and committed to the environment.  There are stringent gun laws in place and only citizens and legal immigrants with permanent residency status can own one.

Residents can choose to combine public with private healthcare by either out-of-pocket self-insurance or purchase of private insurance policies.

Aside from welcoming locals, you’ll also find engaging expat communities in the country. Many newcomers claim that making friends in Costa Rica is easy. People of color also discover a more peaceful life here, far from racism in the US.

You can also enjoy a healthier lifestyle in the country with many outdoor activities to choose from. This is also the perfect place for you if you’re conscious with what you eat, as local produce is plenty.

While Costa Rica is mainly Roman Catholic, it offers religious freedom for everyone.

Head to San Jose, the capital, if you love a mild spring climate. Meanwhile, stay in Guanacaste for sunny beaches or in the south and Caribbean side for lush jungles.

Although Costa Rica generally took a painful hit from the COVID pandemic (just like many other countries globally), it remains one of the top countries to retire to this year.

Top Countries to Retire: Mexico

Mexico has been a popular expat retirement location since some 60 years ago, particularly due to its proximity to the US, affordable medical care, terrific weather overall, fast internet connection, good highways, and reliable electricity, water, and cellphone service.

The expat community in Mexico is very hospitable and helpful. Also, you don’t have to be speaking en Espanyol to get around with ease. Todo esta bien (all is well).

On average, a retired couple need about $2,000 a month in Mexico to pay for food, housing, transport, utilities, and healthcare. You can actually get by for much less or much more than that depending on your spending habits. In general though, the cost of living in Mexico is inexpensive.

The Mexican government offers two healthcare programs – INSABI that’s free to both the country’s citizens and foreigners with residence, as well as IMSS that costs around $500 per head per annum. Pre-existing medical conditions are not covered by IMSS though.

You can also opt for private healthcare which allows you to use an internal insurance or pay in cash. The costs are way lower than in the US, with a visit to a specialist only costing about $50 to $70.

Top Countries to Retire: Portugal

It’s not surprising to see Portugal on the list of top countries to retire across the years.  Old souls will find the country’s cities charming, while beach bummers will love miles of golden sandy coasts. 

The Portuguese people are friendly and many of them speak English, which makes retiring a bit easier.

If you wish to learn the Portuguese language, you can take on the government’s free language classes across the country. This program aims to encourage expats to move to Portugal and enhance their communication skills in the local language.  

You can retire in Lisbon if you’re fascinated with colorful tiles, museums, palaces, and nightlife, or in Porto if you like to drink wine and be close to the Douro River. There is also an international airport in Porto so it will be easier to travel back and forth.

Meanwhile, if you prefer to retire among wildflowers, historic towns, and not too many people, the Alentejo region should fit you. Life in this part of Portugal is sluggish.

Portugal’s long-distance bus and train system is also good so visiting other locations within the country is easy.

A couple can live comfortably, but not extravagantly, in Portugal on $2,500 a month. However, you’d need to add at least a thousand dollar to your budget if you wish to retire in the cities or Lisbon or Porto.

Top Countries to Retire: Colombia

You probably got acquainted with Colombia due to the notoriety of late drug lord Pablo Escobar. But Escobar’s clutch on the country has been over, revealing warm people, spectacular scenery, an oil exporter, and a competitor in global economics. Of course, let’s not forget about their world-famous coffee.

Colombia actually ticks all the boxes for expats looking to retire in a location with reasonably priced cost of living, great healthcare, different climate options, and close distance to the US and Canada.  

With its modern infrastructure, goods, and services, Colombia proves to be a more developed country than many other Latin American nations.

You can settle in Medellín – dubbed city of eternal spring – one of the fastest-growing expat harbors in Colombia because of its very good climate that makes flowers bloom all year.

Colombia bests even Canada and the US in terms of medical care, according to the World Health Organization.

Top Countries to Retire: Ecuador

Ecuador should be at the top of your list if you’ve been dreaming of retiring in a place where you can easily live off between $1,500 and $1,825 per month while experiencing modern living.

The country has fast fiber-optic internet, temperate weather, decent public transportation, cheap healthcare and housing, and serene culture.

Ecuador is a happy place. You’ll be amused by the colorful parades, fireworks, international cuisine, and an abundance of chic bars in the country. 

You can sit on the shores of Puerto Lopez and watch whales if you visit the beaches. As you travel north, you’ll come across small, sleepy coastal towns like Montañita that draw hippies on bicycles, surfers, and expats looking to get away from the grind.

If you travel further inland, you will reach the Andes, where you can go ziplining over mountain valleys, receive purification from Shamans, and shop for vibrant Indigenous textiles.

Expats are scattered all over Ecuador depending on their lifestyle – laid-back, living by the sea, or surrounded by music and art at the country’s cultural center.

Food costs are also low as the country produces excellent food year-round. You can also get household help for $20 and a massage for $30 to $40.

Ecuador consistently ranks among the 10 top countries to retire, which comes as no surprise. It’s not just a haven for the environment; it’s also a place where you can meet people, put money worries aside, and relish the diversity.

Top Countries to Retire ecuador
Street in Montañita in Ecuador

Top Countries to Retire: France

France is the biggest and most diverse country in Western Europe. With a fascinating culture, breathtaking natural scenery, and a surprisingly low cost of living, this home of fine wine and delectable cuisine is a great place to retire.

Housing cost is cheaper in France than in the US. You can get a two-bedroom home in Dordogne in southern-central France for not more than $250,000.

Fans of urban living should head to Montpellier, the multicultural city with a focus on the arts and gourmet living. Seaside towns, meanwhile, are just 30 minutes away.

France also offers one of the best healthcare systems globally, available to anyone after three months of being a resident.

Without enrolling in French healthcare, a standard doctor’s visit costs $29 and a visit to a specialist costs $58. After you’ve registered and lived in France for three months, you’ll receive a refund for 70% of that cost.

If you opt to retire here, you’ll only contribute a very small portion of your annual income to the universal healthcare system and thanks to a tax treaty with the US, your income from Social Security benefits or pensions won’t be taxable.

Top Countries to Retire: Malta

 Malta is a tiny island country in the southern Mediterranean that offers excellent British and Italian cuisine, about 300 days of sunny weather per year, and a sense of old age – you can tell Malta is an old place no matter where you go.

Along with charming fishing villages and the medieval fortress city of Mdina, Malta is home to ancient megaliths that predate Stonehenge.

Additionally, there are more than 360 churches in the nation, or one for each day of the year, which seems excessive for such a small area. The good news is that due to the abundance of churches, street fairs and festivals, or “festas,” occur nearly every week.

Homes in Malta are structured to remain cool because of its long summer season so winter can really become chilly due to the stoned walls and floors. Also, houses and apartments in the country are expensive (between $900 and $1,600 for one-bedroom apartments in the metro area) amid persistent demand from the rest of Europe, particularly those looking for beaches, warm weather, and absence of property taxes.

Meals in cafés and restaurants, as well as imported goods are pricey.   However, you can shop the local veggie trucks that offer prices that are 30% to 50% lower.

Although traffic and parking are terrible, public transportation is efficient and affordable. In terms of healthcare, Malta’s is excellent and ranks fifth worldwide.

Top Countries to Retire: Spain

Spain is such a tempting retirement location with more than 300 sunny days and 3,000 miles of shoreline. The geographical diversity of the region includes snow-capped mountains, sweeping deserts, and lush forests in addition to golden beaches.  The combination of a low cost of living, first-rate infrastructure, top-notch healthcare, and excellent personal safety makes it irresistible. Spain also has a vibrant social scene.

Without a car, a couple can afford to live in the Mediterranean coastal towns for around $2,600 per month. You will need a larger budget to live in Madrid and Barcelona because their rents are the highest.

With regard to public transportation, Spain’s is one of the world’s most effective and affordable. You can travel the entire country in a few hours on a clean, comfortable high-speed train. You can get by without a car in all but the most remote areas.

Fruits, vegetables, and fish are always available and cheap. Even eating out is surprisingly inexpensive, with a three-course lunch available for $12 to $16 and that already includes wine or beer. Giving tips is also unnecessary.

Spain provides healthcare that’s one of the best globally and more affordable than in the US.

Water isn’t a problem in the country, and you can drink directly from the tap. Electricity and fast wi-fi are reliable, crime is almost non-existent, gun ownership is incredibly difficult, the police are efficient and respectful, and homelessness is rare in Spain. In fact, you can feel comfortable moving about even in the dead of night.

Top Countries to Retire: Uruguay
La Mano (The hand) sculpture in Punta del Este in Uruguay

Top Countries to Retire: Uruguay

Positioned between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is a Spanish-speaking country of around 3.5 million people, with warm summers and mild winters. It is Latin America’s most democratic country.

Social Security, paid time off, and comprehensive medical care are provided to all workers. The state university offers almost free tuition to anyone who can pass the entrance exams.

It’s also a land with few natural threats. It’s not in a hurricane path. It doesn’t get destructive earthquakes. And thanks to effective public health policies, mosquito-borne illness is not an issue.

Also, there aren’t many natural dangers in the country as it’s not in a hurricane route, earthquakes are rare, and illnesses due to mosquitos are not a problem because of effective public health regulations.

Amid Uruguay’s small size, it offers a wide array of attractive lifestyle, entertainment, recreation, and food choices.

Do prepare your bank account if you wish to settle in Punta del Este, a very well-known beach resort in South America, as it is the most overpriced city in Uruguay. If you still wish to have easy access to the city’s beaches while shelling out less money, you can opt for the middle-class city of Maldonado that’s merely four miles away.

Now, if you want to live in a small, laid-back coastal town as you stay close to city shopping, dining, and other services, Piriápolis or Atlántida could be suited for you. Atlántida is renowned for its broad beaches and abundance of trees. Piriápolis, on the other hand, is recognized for its hills and coastal center.

If you’re thinking about renting as you retire in the country, you can find a two-bedroom apartment in Montevideo (Uruguay’s capital) for $700 a month. A modern apartment in Maldonado even costs cheaper at about $500 a month.

Meanwhile if you’re purchasing, a two-bedroom apartment in Montevideo costs about $150,000 and $125,000 for an apartment in Maldonado.

Most expats join a mutualista, a private health insurance plan. A mutualista provides coverage for everything, including minor surgery, urgent care, and regular checkups. In addition to a small copayment each time you receive care, the monthly cost is only $50 to $60. Big deductibles and confusing bills are a thing of the past thanks to a mutualista.

The majority of expat couples in Uruguay are able to live comfortably on a monthly budget of $2,500 to $3,500, including rent. The cost of living is higher in Punta del Este and the Montevideo neighborhoods of Carrasco and La Tahona. The cost of living is lower in many interior cities, including La Paloma.

You can find most English speakers in Montevideo and Punta del Este.


Remember that there is no perfect country even among the top countries to retire listed above. Be mindful of the pros and cons of living in one destination versus another. Living your version of a “perfect life” will depend on a lot of things, including your tolerance levels, basic needs, and what you can live with and without.  

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 438.5 million answers views on and a widely sold book on Amazon

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