Personal Finance

The 10 best places to retire abroad

Key Points
  • Up to half of Americans have nothing saved for retirement.
  • That explains, in part, why more people are choosing to spend their later decades abroad.
  • Here are the top 10 foreign countries for retirement, according to International Living, a website for expats.
Tourists eating ice cream in Ponte de Lima, Portugal
THEGIFT777 | iStock Unreleased | Getty Images

Didn't save enough for retirement?

One solution: Spend your golden years in a country where life is less expensive than it is in the U.S.

More Americans are doing just that.

The number of retirees who are collecting Social Security abroad rose 40%, to more than 410,000, between 2007 and 2017. More than 160,000 are in Europe, and over 90,000 are in Asia. Thousands of others are in Canada and Mexico.

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Aspiring expats should do their homework before they start packing. For example, Medicare typically provides no coverage abroad. And you'll want to figure out the tax implications of retiring in, say, France instead of Florida.

But there's no question you stand to save a lot by relocating to a place such as Portugal or Vietnam, according to International Living, a website for expats, which recently released its annual global retirement index for 2020. (In its ranking, the site factors in not just the cost of living and housing, but perks offered to older residents, plausibility of permanent residence, health care, governance and general opportunity.)

Your retirement budget will hopefully go further in these 10 countries.

1. Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal
SeanPavonePhoto | Getty Images

You can live a comfortable life here for about $2,500 a month.

2. Panama

Flag on Cinta Costera, Panama
Dixon Hamby

You can get by in Panama City for around $2,600 a month, including rent, groceries, utilities and entertainment.

3. Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio National Park, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Christer Fredriksson | Getty Images

A couple can live on a budget of around $2,000 a month here.

4. Mexico

Tourist couple looking at Gaviota Azul beach, Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Getty Images

A couple can live here for $1,500 to $3,000 a month, depending on location.

5. Colombia

A horse-drawn carriage in colonial Cartagena, Colombia.
Dan Herrick | Getty Images

You can retire here for $1,030 to $2,720 a month, depending on location and lifestyle.

6. Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador
Gabrielle and Michel Therin-Weise | Getty Images

A couple can get by here for around $1,800 a month.

7. Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Muhammad Hafiz bin Muhamad | Getty Images

A couple can live in Penang for $1,800 a month.

8. Spain

Panorama of Puerto Viejo, Spain
Mimadeo | iStock | Getty Images

A monthly budget of $2,500 a month will allow a couple to live well in most parts of the country.

9. France

The Canal de Brienne in France.
nito100 | iStock Editorial | Getty Images

Outside of major cities such as Paris and Lyon, a couple can live here for under $2,500 a month, including rent and health care.

10. Vietnam

Mu Cang Chai in Yen Bai, Vietnam.
Sumith Nunkham

In Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, two people can live well on less than $1,500 per month.