12 Overseas Retirement Spots Ranked

These countries have the best benefits for foreign retirees.

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The cost-of-living is one important consideration when trying to identify the ideal place to retire overseas. However, it’s hardly the only criteria you should use.

[See 10 Tips for Retirement Overseas.]

There are many other ways to save money abroad including tax perks, special benefits for foreign retirees, and even the affordability of health care. And in addition to the local cost-of-living, you should also consider the climate, infrastructure, culture, and recreation opportunities of each potential retirement spot. If you plan to return home periodically, accessibility to the U.S. is also key.

Different retirement havens are appealing for different reasons. While many places could make an ideal adopted retirement home, no single place is right for everyone. Making the right choice for you is about understanding the pluses and the minuses of a place and making comparisons. Some places offer better weather, while others provide more options for outdoor recreation, are nearer to your home town, or have better public transportation systems.

[See The 10 Fastest-Growing Retirement Spots.]

The following chart shows how twelve retirement havens compare on criteria that is important to many retirees, with five stars being the highest possible rating. For example, five stars in the climate category means that the country’s weather is pretty nice year-round. One star in the special benefits for foreign retirees category indicates that the country offers few extras, such as tax breaks or travel discounts, to retirees from abroad. Four or five stars in the language category means that a person who speaks English only could live here and get along day-to-day without learning another language if they wanted to.

[See 10 Places to Retire on Social Security Alone.]

Creating a chart like this one necessitates drawing broad conclusions across different regions of a country. The weather in Ajijic, Mexico, for example, is dramatically different from that on the Mexican Pacific coast at Puerto Vallarta. Therefore, these ratings should only be used for making comparisons and prompting your thinking about where in the world might be the ideal retirement haven for you. Visiting for yourself is the only way to know if any of these places will suit your retirement needs.

  Climate Health Care Infrastructure Access to the U.S.
Argentina **** **** *** ***
Belize *** ** ** ***
Colombia ***** *** *** ***
Chile *** **** **** ***
Ecuador ***** *** ** ***
France *** ***** ***** *****
Italy *** **** **** *****
Malaysia *** *** **** ***
Mexico **** ***1/2 **** *****
Panama *** ***1/2 **** *****
Thailand *** **** ***1/2 **
Uruguay **** **** **** **1/2
  Culture, Recreation, and Entertainment Special Benefits for Foreign Retirees Taxes Language
Argentina ***** * *** ***
Belize **1/2 **** ***** *****
Colombia **** * ** **
Chile *** * *** **
Ecuador ***** *** ** ***
France ***** * * ***
Italy ***** * * ***
Malaysia ***1/2 **** ***** ****
Mexico ***1/2 * *** ****
Panama *** ***** ***** ***1/2
Thailand ***1/2 * *** **
Uruguay *** **** **** ***

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.