The Best Places to Retire Overseas.

Have you ever wondered where are the best places to retire overseas? Would you retire overseas? Or would you prefer to stay close to friends and family?

Let’s be frank though, many people are looking for the cheapest places to retire in the world because countries like Australia are considered expensive if you’re on a budget or pension.

Best places to retire overseas

I asked some of my friends if they would retire overseas and they came up with some interesting answers.

Some say they would miss their family too much, others say their priorities will change when they retire and they would definitely consider living in another country. Others say they would live abroad for some part of the year, others say they would like to housesit in exotic destinations for short bursts of time.

Mostly everyone I spoke to said they didn’t really see retiring as stopping altogether, but that living within your means should mean enjoying a safisfied and simple, unstressed life. “You don’t need to be a millionaire to achieve that (although it would be nice)” one person said.

Many others are looking for cheaper places to retire and wondering if they can find a better life overseas. Or looking for countries which give them more bang for their retirement buck than say countries like Australia.

In some countries where the quality of life is high but the cost of living is low, retirees on a modest budget can afford indulgences like a housekeeper, a home close to the beach, top-quality healthcare, regular meals out and more.

For those of you who are thinking of spending some of your retirement (or protirement) days living in a country which offers more value for money than your home country, here are some of the best places to retire in the world based on the judgement and experience of in-country expats interviewed for an article on International Living.

(Thanks to International Living for permission to publish parts of the article 2018 Global Retirement Rankings (below). You can read the full article online here.)

Best places to retire overseas


Considered amongst the best places to live in South America, Panama is so much more than its modern, cosmopolitan capital city. There are mountain towns boasting cool climates, pine-covered hills, and sweet, Swiss-style cottages framed with bright bursts of bougainvillea. And of course there are beaches galore, from the white sand gems of the Caribbean, to the many popular and easily accessible beaches of the Pacific.

Best places to retire overseas


Sell your winter clothes…and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime in the Land of Eternal Spring. Every cliché you’ve heard about living large on little … on even a retiree’s budget … is true in Ecuador, one of the best places to live in South America.

Ecuador lies in the northwestern corner of South America, bordered by Colombia to the north, Peru to the south and east and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

From the Andes Mountains to dense tropical rainforests, and on the west balmy Pacific beaches. In between, you’ll find more climates, cultures and natural wonders than almost any place on earth.

Ecuador also offers special benefits to residents aged 65 and older. Public transportation is half price, airfare (even when flying internationally) is significantly discounted and seniors receive a monthly refund of sales tax paid. Plus you get to go to the front of the line at the bank and grocery store!


Would you retire in Bali? Bali is a place of tradition and symbols…an island of fragrance and flower offerings. You’re surrounded by blooms. You’ll step over them on the street, find them on the beaches, outside houses and piled in the many temples.

Bali, lady selling flowers

Canggu is popular amongst expats because it’s a bit rural and off-the-beaten-track, removed from the main tourist centres.

We love Ubud – the vibe, the art and the surrounding beauty.

Although foreigners aren’t permitted to own land in Bali, many have obtained long-term land leases and built or purchased villas of their own.

According to some expats almost everything costs less in Bali  than it does back home and that Bali is becoming a dental tourism hotspot among Australians.  Some Australian expats live half of the year in Bali and half in Australia.

Here’s a helpful holiday packing list for Bali.


“English-speaking, friendly locals, welcoming expats, low-costs, top-notch cuisine, white-sand beaches, boatloads to see and do… The list goes on…and on…and the good news is Cambodia doesn’t fall short on any of them,” says Steven King who put down roots in Phnom Penh.


Mexico is full of overlooked retirement havens where you can retire in luxury without spending a fortune. The country’s lower cost of living—and of just about everything else—means a comfortable, fulfilling life here will likely cost you a fraction of what you pay back home. From real estate to groceries, entertainment to healthcare, life in Mexico simply costs less.


From the golden beaches to the fabulous food and friendly people, it’s easy to see why Thailand is known as “The Land of Smiles”.

For years, its warm climate, low cost of living and laidback lifestyle have attracted tourists and expats from around the world for both short-term and long-term stays. Some of the world’s most beautiful beaches are located in the south of the country. From the bustling seaside resorts of Koh Samui and Hua Hin  to the more tranquil islands of Phi Phi and Lanta, there is something for everyone who dreams of retirement in the tropics. Some expats prefer to live in the smaller villages that dot the coastlines on both sides of the country, where accommodation costs are much less expensive and life is slower paced.


Bang-for-buck, the quality of life in Malaysia puts it among the best retirement havens in the world and makes it the number one spot in the 2018 International Living Australia Global Retirement Rankings.

Top Places to Retire Overseas, Kuala Lumpur

Personally I love Malaysia. I’ve visited Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Malacca.

English is widely spoken, roads are good, and you can expect high speed internet. Like many things about Malaysia, healthcare is world class and most doctors speak English.

Expect temperatures around 27 C all year round, pristine beaches and castaway islands. Fancy a break from the heat? Spend time in the cool northern hill stations, where you can get a taste of the local strawberries or enjoy afternoon tea—a legacy of English colonists.

Westerners are still coming to work for the many multinationals based in Malaysia today, and many of the retirees you find in Malaysia first discovered the benefits of living there as employees of firms like Dell, Intel and Bosch.

As a foreigner you can buy freehold as long as you meet the minimum purchase price. (Each state of the Malaysian Federation sets its own minimum purchase price.)  And living in Malaysia means you have the perfect base for exploring Southeast Asia. Low-cost flights throughout the region mean a weekend in Vietnam or Borneo is easy, as is a trip home.

The country’s Malaysia My Second Home visa, allows you to live there for 10 years and when it expires is automatically renewable for an additional 10 years. And when you move to Malaysia you can import a car—and your household goods—duty free.

So, given the chance – where would you spend your retirement, or protirement years – or parts there of?

The 2018 International Living Australia Global Retirement Rankings–Final Scores

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Some of the best places to live or retire overseas.


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Showing 12 comments
  • Natalie

    I like the extended overseas holidays, Jo. I enjoyed your post and found you on Sue and Leanne’s MLSTL linkup.

    • Johanna

      Hi Natalie, and welcome to Lifestyle Fifty. Glad you enjoyed this post 🙂

  • Christie Hawkes

    After reading your post, I would like to visit all of these places for extended stays. Maybe by the time I got through the list, I’d be ready to choose one, or be happy to settle down at home in the United States. My husband and I have looked at buying a beach house in Mexico. We have friends there, the weather is lovely, the beach is beautiful, and as you mentioned, the cost of living is much less expensive. I’m afraid I would miss my family though, the traffic is crazy, and I would definitely want to learn the language. I’m still a few years away from retirement, but maybe I should start the field work now. 🙂

    • Johanna

      Ohh, buying a beach house in Mexico sounds like fun, Christie )

  • Erith

    I’m often tempted by retiring overseas, particularly to a warm climate (I live in Scotland). As none of my family live nearby, I don’t need to worry about that, but I would miss my friends. At the minute we compromise. We spend 1-2 months each year in a different European city, last year it was Madrid, this year we have just booked Rome in September / October. Our family and friends come and see us for a few days at a time. Because it is somewhere different to everyone, it works really well.

    • Johanna

      Hello Erith, I think you’ve got a grand plan going on there. Great that everyone wants to come and see you 🙂

  • Debbie Harris

    As I’m now in my second year of retirement I must say I’m happy with the extended travel model Jo. It means we have our home base and family nearby without the upheaval of moving overseas. Interesting concept though! Enjoyed your post and found you on Sue and Leanne’s #midlifesharethelove linkup.

    • Johanna

      Seems like extended travel mode is very popular for retirees, Debbie. Glad you are enjoying 🙂

  • Reply

    When my husband and I got together 25 years ago he always wanted to retire to Spain. We did have a lovely 5 week holiday there last year but now our sites are set on the Gold Coast in Queensland – a little closer to family 🙂 Extended overseas holidays would be a great compromise. Thanks so much for linking up with us at #MSTL. I’ll be sharing on social media. x

    • Johanna

      The Gold Coast sounds a wonderful place to retire, Sue 🙂

  • Reply

    I’m not a fan of retiring overseas Jo – I can see the appeal of warm weather, cheaper living costs etc, but I’d miss the extended family – and I imagine there’d be a lot of trips back if you still had aging parents of grandchildren you wanted to stay connected to. And I still think a lot of their health care is a bit on the dodgy side (and that becomes important when you get older). Extended overseas holidays sound nice though 🙂 Thanks for linking up at #MLSTL x

    • Johanna

      Hi Leanne, Yes I think there are a lot of people who wouldn’t want to leave friends and family – I think maybe extended overseas holidays would be good too 🙂

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