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Updated by Aaron A Day on Feb 14, 2015
Aaron A Day Aaron A Day
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20 Best Foreign Retirement Havens

Enjoy a higher standard of living at a lower cost in foreign locations of natural beauty, appealing culture and great charm.

Top 20 Best Foreign Retirement Havens are listed here.
With an average cost of living one-third that of the U.S., a developed, inexpensive health-care infrastructure and a warm tropical climate, Thailand has drawn a significant retirement community. Retirement visas generally require proof of $2,000 in monthly income. Northern town of Chiang Mai draws buzz. Political tensions in the kingdom avoid expats. But with connections it can take a full day or more to travel between Thailand and the U.S.

View from Doi Suthep mountain over Chiang Mai city, northern Thailand
Long a beacon of democracy in South America, Uruguay is that rare country that allows foreign retirees to use the national healthcare system. Retirement visas are easy to come by, and most foreign income is not taxed. Many expats buy a home rather than rent one. The climate is moderate, with four seasons but little snow. Sitting east of Argentina on the Atlantic Ocean (with beautiful beaches), Uruguay is somewhat remote for Americans. Montevideo (pictured), the capital, a popular spot for expats, is a lot closer to the South Pole than New York City. Flight time to Miami is 9 1/2 hours.


Blessed with abundant sun, Spain is a bit like Florida. But it's cheaper, especially for expats willing to settle a few miles back from the beautiful coasts. Popular spots: Costa del Sol (pictured) along the Mediterranean and the Orange Blossom Coast near Barcelona. Retirement visas are pretty easy to get upon a showing of adequate income and health insurance. Flight time to the U.S. averages nine hours.
The closest county in Western Europe to the U.S. is also the cheapest, affording retirees many benefits. Among them: a relatively low cost of living, a warm but mild climate, and a slower pace of life. Hot spot for expats right now include the Algarve region (pictured) on the Atlantic Coast just south of Lisbon, the capital, which has adequate health care. But flights to U.S. entail stop or change.

Photo: Praia da Albandeira, in der portugiesischen Stadt Lagoa (Algarve).
The Philippines
For U.S. retirees the principal appeal of the Philippines is a low cost of living in a tropical environment full of English speakers and outdoor beauty. Foreign income is untaxed, and permanent residency can be had on a minimal showing of retirement income. Popular locations include Tagaytay, a suburb of Manila, the capital, that is elevated and therefore cooler, and Subic Bay, with an infrastructure from the old U.S. Navy base. Non-stop flights between Manila and the U.S. average 15 hours.

Photo: The pedestrian street Bonifacio High Street in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines.


Long a fixture on foreign retirement lists, Panama offers a Florida-like experience at a steep discount. Government policies offer financial breaks to retirees, including no tax on foreign income and discounts for seniors. Health care is top rate and cheap. Favored sites include Boquete (pictured), a small town in the highlands with a cooler climate and lots of U.S. expats, and the amenities of Panama City, the capital. It's a quick hop back to the States.

Photo: "Panama 024" by libertad - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
Another country shedding its unstable past, Nicaragua is leveraging its natural beauty and dirt-cheap cost by shoveling economic incentives at retirees. The biggest: no tax on income from abroad. The colonial city of Granada (pictured), on Lake Nicaragua near the Pacific Ocean, is a real gem. Health care is cheap, but basic. However, it’s only a 2 1/2 hour plane ride back to Miami.


So long as crime-plagued border cities along U.S. are avoided, Mexico offers substantial benefits for retirees, including a warm climate, low costs and friendliness. Proximity to the U.S. makes it possible to take advantage of Medicare, although local health care is adequate and cheap. Popular destinations include Puerto Vallarta (pictured), San Miguel de Allende, Tlaxcala and Lake Chapala.

Photo of sailboat off Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico