The 21 Best Places to Retire in the World: Cheap & Promising Countries


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Key Takeaways

  • The best countries to retire include Portugal, Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Malta, Switzerland, Malta, Australia, Canada, and Denmark.
  • Discover diverse options for a fantastic retirement journey, from Portugal’s sandy beaches to Italy’s rich history.
  • Affordable havens like Thailand and Colombia offer stunning landscapes and cultural richness.
  • Consider safety, property regulations, and healthcare options when choosing a retirement destination.
  • Stay connected, assess visa guidelines, and explore work opportunities for a fulfilling retirement abroad.

As a Canadian dreaming of retirement, have you ever wondered where the best places to retire in the world are? Where you’ll spend your golden years is a big deal, and the right place can make it even more special.

This article will check out 21 countries perfect for Canadian retirees. From the best places to retire in Europe to the cheapest countries for retirement, these spots are tailored for a fulfilling retirement journey.

Best Countries to Retire for Canadian Citizens

1. Portugal

Why You’d Want to Live There:

Portugal is the 7th safest country according to the Global Peace Index. It’s a welcoming country with a rich maritime tradition, offering a refreshing environment for your golden years. Its sandy beaches and warm climate make it an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful and enjoyable retirement.

Things to Do:

  • Check out historic sites like the Tower of Belem, enjoy beach activities, and savour local cuisine.
  • Engage in cultural festivals, visit vineyards, and experience the Algarve’s beauty.

2. Greece

Why You’d Want to Live There:

Greece is a country with a rich history and a relaxed lifestyle. Its Mediterranean climate and diverse landscapes make it an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful and enjoyable retirement.

Moreover, it is ranked the 21st least expensive country in Europe according to Numbeo, making it more friendly to your budget.

Things to Do:

  • Visit ancient ruins like the Acropolis, picturesque villages, and vibrant markets.
  • Enjoy Mediterranean cuisine, participate in local festivals, and relax on beaches.

3. Italy

Why You’d Want to Live There:

Italy, home to exquisite cuisine and ancient buildings that date back almost two thousand years, is a popular retirement destination. Also, it is ranked 34th on the Global Peace Index scale, which means that you can spend your retirement years there in relative safety and peace.

Things to Do:

  • Tour historical sites like the Colosseum, indulge in Italian cuisine and appreciate art.
  • Experience cultural events, festivals, and the charming Italian lifestyle.

4. France

Why You’d Want to Live There:

A popular retirement destination for many reasons, including its rich history, stunning landscapes, and excellent healthcare system.

Additionally, the country offers a relatively low cost of living and a central location in Europe, making it an ideal base for exploring the continent.

Things to Do:

  • Visit iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, check out various wineries, and enjoy French cuisine.
  • Engage in cultural events and outdoor activities and experience French elegance.

5. Spain

Why You’d Want to Live There:

Living in Spain is cheaper than many other places in Western Europe. The country offers diverse climates with forests, mountains, and beaches.

Spaniards are friendly, and the food is tasty. Plus, who wouldn’t appreciate a nice afternoon siesta?

Things to Do:

  • Enjoy lively festivals during the Christmas season, explore historic sites like La Sagrada Familia, and savour local tapas.
  • Relax on beautiful beaches like the Costa del Sol and take a trip to its wine country.

6. Malta

Why You’d Want to Live There:

As an English-speaking, historic, and sunny haven, Malta is an ideal retirement destination that combines the best of both worlds. With its Mediterranean climate and a rich cultural tapestry, this island nation offers a relaxed pace of life and potentially lower cost of living.

Things to Do:

  • Explore ancient architecture like Ggantija Temples, enjoy water activities, and visit historic sites.
  • Experience local festivals like the Malta International Arts Festival, vibrant nightlife, and the friendly Maltese community.

7. Switzerland

Why You’d Want to Live There:

The country offers a high standard of living, excellent peace and order, and a strong overall score for finances in retirement.

The Swiss healthcare system is also highly innovative, ranking first out of 31 countries in the World Index of Healthcare Innovation.

Things to Do:

  • Tour the Swiss Alps, explore charming villages, and experience Swiss culture.
  • Visit museums, indulge in Swiss chocolate, and embrace the scenic beauty.

8. Denmark

Why You’d Want to Live There:

With its peaceful and content lifestyle, high standard of living, and strong social welfare, Denmark is an idyllic retirement destination.

The country consistently ranks among the happiest in the world, making it an attractive option.

Things to Do:

  • Experience hygge culture, explore historic sites, and enjoy Danish cuisine.
  • Participate in outdoor activities, visit museums, and embrace Danish design.

9. Australia

Why You’d Want to Live There:

With its stunning landscapes, diverse cities, and laid-back lifestyle, Australia is an enticing retirement destination.

The country offers a wide range of climates, from tropical in the north to temperate in the south, ensuring that there is something for everyone.

Things to Do:

  • Visit iconic landmarks like Uluru and check out the Australian Outback.
  • Engage in cultural events like the ones being held at the Sydney Opera House.

10. New Zealand

Why You’d Want to Live There:

With its adventure-filled days, breathtaking scenery, and warm, welcoming community, New Zealand is an idyllic retirement destination.

The country offers a wide range of landscapes, from the mountains of the South Island to the beaches of the North Island. Additionally, the cost of living in New Zealand is generally lower than in other developed countries, making it a more affordable option for retirees.

Things to Do:

  • Outdoor adventures like exploring the Abel Tasman National Park and enjoying water activities.
  • Engage in Maori culture, visit film locations like the Lord of the Rings set, and embrace the Kiwi lifestyle.

11. Canada

Why You’d Want to Live Here:

With its familiar Canadian landscapes, varied climates from coastal to mountainous regions, and strong social welfare and healthcare system, Canada is an ideal retirement destination.

The country offers a wide range of experiences, from the vibrant cities of the south to the serene wilderness of the north, ensuring that there is something for everyone.

Things to Do:

  • Outdoor activities like visiting Banff National Park while engaging in winter sports.
  • Experience Canadian hospitality and explore vibrant cities like Toronto and Vancouver, where a variety of cultural offerings are available.

12. Sweden

Why You’d Want to Live There:

With its quality healthcare, natural beauty, and high standard of living, Sweden is an idyllic retirement destination. The four distinct seasons and a well-preserved cultural heritage provide a unique and enriching environment for retirees.

Things to Do:

  • Explore historic sites like the Drottnigholm Palace, enjoy outdoor activities, and marvel at Swedish designs.
  • Engage in cultural events, visit museums like the Vasa Museum, and embrace the Swedish lifestyle.

13. Iceland

Why You’d Want to Live There:

Iceland is known for its calm vibes, beautiful nature, geothermal springs, and friendly community. It has plenty to offer, like peaceful wilderness and lively cities. Also, the good living standards and great healthcare make it an appealing choice.

Things to Do:

  • Explore geysers, waterfalls, and volcanic landscapes.
  • Enjoy outdoor activities, witness the Northern Lights, and experience Icelandic culture.

Best Places to Retire in the World on a Budget

14. Thailand

Why You’d Want to Live There:

Thailand is an appealing destination for expats, thanks to its sun-drenched climate and stunning natural beauty. The country has a lower cost of living, with rents and consumer prices that are around 50% lower than in Canada.

Things to Do:

  • Tour ancient temples like the Wat Prang Luang, enjoy beach activities, and savour Thai cuisine.
  • Engage in cultural festivals, experience vibrant nightlife like Full Moon Parties, and embrace Thai traditions.

15. Colombia

Why You’d Want to Live There:

Colombia has changed a lot and is now becoming a popular place for retirees. The weather is nice, so you won’t spend much on heating or cooling. The people are friendly, and it’s affordable to live there. And don’t forget, the coffee is fantastic.

Things to Do:

  • Visit historic sites like Cartagena, explore coffee plantations, and enjoy outdoor adventures.
  • Experience Colombian festivals, taste local cuisine, and dance to traditional music like the Cumbia.

16. Dominican Republic

Why You’d Want to Live There:

The Dominican Republic has beautiful beaches and a lively culture, and living here is not too expensive. Whether you like busy cities in the East or calm nature in the West, you’ll find what you enjoy.

The tropical weather and easygoing Caribbean way of life make it a nice option for a laid-back and satisfying retirement.

Things to Do:

  • Relax on pristine beaches like Bavaro Beach, explore colonial architecture, and enjoy water activities.
  • Participate in merengue and bachata dancing, savour local cuisine, and experience Dominican traditions.

17. Mexico

Why You’d Want to Live There:

Thinking about a cost-effective retirement close to Canada.? Mexico could be your spot. Beautiful beaches, mountains, and deserts await. Aside from the low living costs, you can access the national health care plan after becoming a resident.

Things to Do:

  • Check out ancient ruins like Chichen Itza, indulge in Mexican cuisine, and enjoy vibrant markets.
  • Engage in traditional festivities, witness cultural performances like the Jarabe Tapatio, and check out natural wonders.

18. Ecuador

Why You’d Want to Live There:

If you prefer tropical breezes and lush valleys, then Ecuador might be your ideal retirement destination. Affordable rentals and minimal heating or cooling costs.

Vibrant expat communities offer a welcoming home. Enjoy budget-friendly and year-round fresh fruits and veggies.

Things to Do:

  • Explore the Amazon rainforest, visit historic cities, and hike in the Andes.
  • Experience indigenous cultures, attend local markets, and enjoy Ecuadorian cuisine.

19. Costa Rica

Why You’d Want to Live There:

Costa Rica is known for its beautiful white-sand beaches and affordable homes.

The country embraced peace by dismantling its army in 1948 and redirecting funds to education and healthcare. It also offers activities like basking in the sun, surfing, horseback riding, golfing, diving, and swimming—an ideal place for an active lifestyle.

Things to Do:

  • Enjoy ecotourism around the Arenal Volcano National Park and relax on beautiful beaches.
  • Engage in outdoor activities like snorkeling, experience wildlife watching, and embrace the Pura Vida lifestyle.

20. Panama

Why You’d Want to Live There:

Living in Panama has some perks. The government won’t tax money you make outside the country. This is handy if you have retirement funds in Canada and want to keep investing.

Panama also costs less to live in than Canada. They have a Pensionado program giving discounts, open to everyone, even expats.

Things to Do:

  • Explore historic sites like the Old Canal Museum, enjoy the modern cityscape, and visit the Panama Canal.
  • Experience diverse cultures, engage in water activities, and embrace the cosmopolitan lifestyle.

21. Uruguay

Why You’d Want to Live There:

Uruguay provides a relaxed lifestyle, beautiful beaches, and a friendly atmosphere. The mild weather and stable political environment make it an attractive option for those seeking a calm and fulfilling life.

Additionally, the country has a strong social welfare and healthcare system, providing residents with essential support and services.

Things to Do:

  • Relax on pristine beaches around Punta del Este, explore charming towns, and savour local cuisine.
  • Engage in cultural events like the Carnival, tour wineries in the Canelones, and experience the warmth of Uruguayan hospitality.

How to Choose the Best Country to Retire in the World

Navigating the options requires careful consideration of various factors such as:

  • Check visa guidelines: Immigration and residency laws vary between countries.
  • Keep tabs on the safety and stability of potential retirement destinations: Travel warnings and alerts for particular locations may be issued, and on rare occasions, the Canadian government might impose restrictions on citizens travelling to or within specific countries
  • Check out property ownership regulations and restrictions: Most countries have specific rules and regulations regarding property ownership, including restrictions on who is allowed to own property and how it can be used. Some countries even prohibit foreign ownership entirely.
  • Visit before moving, rent before buying: Experience local living by staying in prospective neighbourhoods. Visit during different seasons and consider joining local associations for insights.
  • Explore health insurance options: Canadian policies may not have overseas coverage. Research local healthcare standards and consider additional health-related budgeting.
  • Consider working during retirement: In retirement, some people still like to work. They might do volunteer work, take part-time jobs, or even start their own business abroad. It keeps them active and engaged. Thus, it’s recommended that you assess work opportunities or even entrepreneurial ventures in your chosen country.
  • Stay connected: Develop a plan for staying connected with friends and family. Ensure reliable internet access and establish emergency communication protocols.


What is the #1 Best Place to Retire?

Determining the “best” place depends on personal preferences, but destinations like Portugal, Costa Rica, and Thailand often top lists.

Where is the Safest and Most Affordable Place to Retire?

Countries like Portugal, Spain, and Uruguay offer a blend of safety, affordability, and rich experiences.

Where Do the Happiest Retirees Live?

Denmark consistently ranks high for happiness, offering a content and peaceful lifestyle.

What is the Best Country to Retire in Europe?

Portugal and Spain stand out for their warm climates, affordability, and diverse landscapes.

An image with a location map and text showing 21 best places in the world

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Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu, personal finance expert, author, and founder of Savvy New Canadians, has written about money matters for over 10 years. Enoch has an MSc (Econ) degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School and has completed the Canadian Securities Course. His expertise has been highlighted in major publications like Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC News, Toronto Star, Financial Post, CTV News, TD Direct Investing, Canadian Securities Exchange, and many others. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and recently created a practical investing course for beginners. You can read his full author bio.

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