Where To Retire Abroad

Best Cities for Retirees

Written by Brittany Stepniak
Posted June 27, 2013

With the recent economic turmoils that have rocked the developed world, people coming close to retirement might be wondering what options they have left. Dwindling savings are now forcing many baby boomers to take a closer look at their retirement plans. One of the biggest decisions, of course, is where exactly to retire.

The good news is it is certainly still possible not only to retire but maybe even retire earlier than planned and with perhaps an even better lifestyle than you have right now. Best of all, this can be done much more inexpensively than you might think.

How? By considering retirement abroad. Obviously, an international move for retirement will not sit well with everyone. However, once all the factors are considered, I think most people will realize that this is a real option – maybe one that they had not thought about before.

The following list has been carefully put together. These international destinations are all highly regarded not only as some of the best places for retirement but also as incredible destinations in their own right. As a retiree, you will enjoy a high standard of living for pennies on the dollar.

Many have a wide variety of activities to keep you busy – or do nothing at all, your choice! Healthcare is usually quite affordable as well. Taxes are low or non-existent in many foreign destinations for the newly retired. And in most cases, you will also be able to find housing for half of what it might be back in the States.

Cuenca, Ecuador

cuenca ecuadorAccording to numerous reports, Ecuador is incredibly affordable. In fact, the country currently sits atop most of the 'most affordable international destinations' type listings.

A couple could live well here for $1,000 to $1,500 a month. Some reports even say it might be difficult to actually spend $1,500 a month!

Cuenca is a beautiful colonial city located in the central valley of Ecuador. Since it sits about 2,500 meters above sea level in between two spines of the Andes Mountains, the weather is like spring year-round. There is plenty to do here, as well. UNESCO has even named Cuenca as a World Heritage Site due to an incredible variety of historical landmarks. If you like visiting cathedrals, museums, and parks, then you will LOVE this city.

The pace of life is relaxed, and it does have a European vibe. Housing is also very reasonable. Condos or small homes can typically be found for as low as $40,000. Property taxes are also laughably low – usually under $100 per year.

Since the country uses the U.S. dollar as its official currency, U.S. citizens will not need to worry about converting money. Private health insurance is also cheap. Retirees can find very affordable and high quality insurance for around $100 per month.

Cebu, Philippines

Retirees with a sense of adventure will do very well in Cebu. This is one of the best protected of the 7,000 Philippines islands, and there are a lot of advantages to living here, such as a very low cost of living, nice weather (from October through February, temperatures average 75 degrees Fahrenheit), friendly people, and low real estate costs.

The low cost of living here is real. Even when compared to an average or low-cost city in the United States, Cebu typically comes in at less than half in terms of consumer prices. Rental prices and utilities are the same story, so if you are coming from a high cost city, it is possible to save as much as 70 percent almost across the board. Housing prices are also very cheap for those looking to buy a condo or house.

Healthcare is also very affordable in Cebu (and throughout the Philippines in general). There are both public and private hospitals, with a surprising number of doctors that have at least some U.S. training and education. There are a number of different health insurance providers and policies to choose from, which you will find to be very reasonably priced. Additionally, the cost of prescription drugs and medicines is much lower than what you would pay back home.

Cebu is actually a province in the Philippines that consists of 167 different islands. So if you like water sports, sailing, or even just lying on the beach, this will seem like paradise. There are tons of local diving centers and resorts that can arrange day excursions and even diving safaris.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Another current favorite on the lists of the most affordable places to live is Chiang Mai, Thailand. A retired couple can reasonably expect to live on as little as $1,000 per month and still have a very nice lifestyle. Thailand is also world renowned for its medical tourism business, with easy access to high quality and very low cost hospitals.

Chiang Mai is a historic city located along the coast of the Ping River inside some of the regions tallest mountains. Those who enjoy exploring Buddhist temples or just looking at some of the most beautiful countryside imaginable will have a blast here.

There are tons of activities, including the tiger kingdom, night zoo safari, limestone caves, tree top zipping (be careful!), para gliding, golf, snake farms, museums, hot springs, river boat rides, and more.


Medellin, Colombia

Forget everything you have heard about Colombia. The country is very safe and has recovered from its infamous problems back in the 1980s...that was almost 30 years ago, after all! Colombia is a beautiful country, very green, and has incredibly welcoming and friendly people.

medellin%2C colombia

Medellin is located in the middle of the country at an altitude of approximately 5,000 feet above sea level. This keeps the temperature range between a high in the low 80s to a low of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit year round. This is perhaps one of the best cities in the world if you are in search of year-round springtime weather.

The cost of living is a little bit higher than places like Chiang Ma or Cuenca, but not by much. A typical retired couple could live very well in Medellin for around $1,500 per month. This includes all the modern conveniences you are probably used to like high speed Internet, modern shopping malls and restaurants, and first class entertainment.

Healthcare is also quite reasonable. There are both public and private hospitals, and the public health insurance system is incredibly affordable, averaging around $80 per person per month. Many of the doctors do have at least some U.S. training. Remember that it was a Colombian optometrist who developed laser eye surgery. The country is also increasingly becoming a more popular destination for medical tourism.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik may seem like an offbeat choice to some, but since the troubles of the region have passed, this is a great destination for retirees looking for something a little bit different. The area is beautiful, with the Dalmatian coast having been popular since Roman times (several of the ancient Roman leaders actually made their vacation homes along this coastline).

Construction is everywhere, and prices of homes and apartments are very affordable. The cost of living is also fairly low. This is another area in which a couple can expect to maintain a very high standard of living for around $1,250 per month. Explore ancient walled Roman cities, towering mountains, or the nearby cities of Pula and Split. It is also an excellent base for exploring more of the region.

It is also easy for retirees to obtain healthcare. There are around 80 hospitals in the country, with many located in Dubrovnik. Foreigners are able to join the national healthcare system, and insurance rates are very cheap.


Ireland may be one of the best foreign retirement destinations in the world right now. Aside from the country being incredibly green and beautiful, the prices are very low. Thanks to Europe's – and particularly Ireland's – recent economic troubles, everything in Ireland is on sale. This includes the fact that homes and apartments are about half the price of just a few years ago.

irelandOf course, as a European nation, Ireland is a bit more expensive (even after the recent decline) than many others on this list. A couple should reasonably expect to pay about $2,000 per month for their expenses.

Since English is the national language, there is a comfort factor here that simply cannot be found in many other destinations. Additionally, retirees will find tons of things to keep them occupied, from playing some of the world's most renowned public golf courses to exploring quaint local villages and towns.

Healthcare and all of the first world conveniences you have come to expect will be easy to obtain. Hospitals, clinics and doctors offices are about as common as they are back in the States. Many medical practitioners have training at some of the top European and U.S. medical institutions.


If you liked this article, you may also enjoy:

Heal Your Ailing Portfolio Body