Dazzling beaches, world-class cities, and $9 healthcare—what’s not to love?
Whether you want to spend your golden years on a Caribbean beach or European village, the idea of retiring abroad sure is appealing. Foreign countries can sometimes offer cheaper housing, better healthcare, and excellent tax incentives—not to mention those aforementioned beaches. But how should you decide where to settle down? We suggest you check out the 2022 Retirement Index from International Living, an annual list of destinations where a retired couple can live comfortably on as little as $2,000 a month.
Now in its 31st year, the Retirement Index pulls information from hundreds of on-the-ground editors and correspondents around the world. Along with the editors’ personal accounts, the countries are quantified across 10 categories: Housing, Benefits & Discounts, Visas & Residence, Fitting In/Entertainment, Development, Climate, Healthcare, Governance, Opportunity, and Cost of Living. The goal is to find locations where retirees can spend less money, live happily and healthily, and experience a new country without straying too far from all that is familiar.
The top 10 countries for 2022 are a mix of cultural hubs in Europe and outdoor havens in Central and South America (we might not want until retirement to consider to these spots ourselves). Without further ado, here are the best places to retire, around the world.
Uruguay is relaxed, easy to navigate, and offers a great mix of vibrant cities and natural beauty—in other words, it’s an excellent place to retire. You can find beaches on the coast and cattle farms on the interior, with temperatures rarely (if ever) dipping below freezing across the entire country. The capital city of Montevideo boasts excellent parks and public squares, trendy cafés, and tons of bars and restaurants along the Rambla, a waterfront walkway stretching 13 miles.
If you’re looking to settle down in a beach town, you’ll find a thriving expat community in the resort town of Punta del Este. You can work with English-speaking relocation specialists in both Punta del Esta and Montevideo, who will walk you through the visa process, help you sign up for healthcare, and open a bank account. But the best part about retiring in Uruguay? Your social security and pension will not be taxed.
Cost of living: While the cost of living in Uruguay is not as low as it was 15 years ago, you can still get a lot for a little here if you’re coming from the States. A two-bedroom apartment in Montevideo averages around $650 per month, with HOA fees and utilities adding on a couple hundred bucks. An expat couple can live extremely comfortably for $3,000 a month, which factors in healthcare, transportation, groceries, and entertainment.
Healthcare: Uruguay offers an affordable private hospital membership plan called a mutualista, which is an excellent option for residents and long-term expats. Once you apply to a hospital’s plan and get accepted, you pay a monthly fee (typically around $50-60) in exchange for routine appointments, emergency room visits, and surgeries, plus discounts on medication.
Visa requirements: To become a legal resident, you need to pass a criminal background check and have a monthly pension of around $1,500. You must first enter Uruguay on a tourist visa, then apply for residency in person at the national immigration office in Montevideo. It can take up to a year for the completed residency application to be processed, but you don’t have to wait for approval before you can get a driver’s license, open a bank account, or purchase real estate.
It’s never too late to improve your quality of life, and that’s pretty much a guarantee if you retire in Spain. The country offers a wonderful climate, high mental and physical wellbeing among citizens, and a way of life that values good food and leisure (hello, siestas). Towns along the Mediterranean coast offer 300-plus days of annual sunshine, ensuring you won’t have to spend your retirement years shoveling snow or waiting out the cold indoors.
Aside from great food and great weather, Spain also has plenty of cultural offerings. You truly can’t beat the architecture in Barcelona, the shopping in Madrid, the museums in Valencia, and the flamenco shows in Andalusia. Add to that some great healthcare, dependable infrastructure, and abundance of English speakers, and you have yourself an extremely comfortable retirement destination.
Cost of living: The cost of living in Spain is less than most expect. A couple can live very well on the coast for between $2,200 to $2,400 per month. That number goes up in Madrid and Barcelona, but down in smaller regional towns.
Healthcare: Expats are required to carry private health insurance for the first five years of residency. You have dozens of options to choose from, but you can expect rates around $136 per month for a healthy person in their early 60s—and that covers everything with no deductible or co-pay, including lab work and dental.
Visa requirements: The visado residencia (residence visa) is the most common option for retirees. Applicants must have an annual income of at least $29,027 and submit a good deal of paperwork, all of which can be found on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s website. Another option is to apply for a Golden Visa, which requires a real estate investment of €500,000 (about $567,817).