When a senior loved one can finally retire, it can be emotionally gratifying. For many seniors, the newfound freedom afforded to them by retirement is an opportunity to think about and start making significant, positive life changes — and key among them is making a move. So, helping the loved one who’s made such a difference in your life purchase a home somewhere new can be an exciting and satisfying experience.

Whether your loved one is retiring abroad alone, or with family, moving internationally can be overwhelming. There are many factors that can make a difference when choosing a country, including:

  • Cost of living
  • Climate
  • Daily life
  • Language
  • Banking and currency
  • Residency-visa process
  • Healthcare
  • Safety and stability
  • Distance from family

Read on to learn the best places for Americans to retire abroad, what living abroad may mean for your loved one, and how these factors will form the foundation for a new life for them.

International Retirement: Tips for Getting Started

Moving internationally for retirement is a huge commitment, and finding the best places to retire abroad takes a lot of thought and care. Here’s how to get started:

Evaluate Expectations

Ask your senior loved one what’s most important to them when thinking about where they want to move, and pay close attention to what comes to their mind first. These early thoughts can indicate any strong preferences and deal-breakers they have, which can be helpful to create a shorter list of choices.

For example, if they say they want to live somewhere affordable, moving to Denmark or the Bahamas might not be the best option because these countries are expensive. If they don’t want to worry about shoveling snow off the driveway in the winter, they probably wouldn’t enjoy life in Japan. Also, if a medical condition discourages them from being in the heat too long; they can’t afford to live in a country like Spain that’s hot year-round. Maybe they are only interested in the best english-speaking countries to retire.

Regardless of their desires, it’s not selfish to consider how you and the rest of their family will factor into their new life abroad. For example, is it financially feasible for someone in the family to travel to check in on them? After all, they likely won’t be taking the family with them to their new home, so picking somewhere that’s less of a hassle to visit can be beneficial.

Distance moves can also bring an overwhelming sense of culture shock, especially regarding language barriers. If your senior loved one is adamant about moving to a country where the primary language is unfamiliar, help them learn some of the basics of reading and writing. Or, consider choosing a part of the country with enclaves that speak their native language. The process of absorbing a new language may ultimately dissuade them from moving to that country — and it’s better to come to that realization early.

Native commerce and banking can be a language unto itself. It’s important your senior loved one understands how to convert from the dollar to the new currency. They should also know the legal rules and regulations for banking properly before they step off the plane and realize they can’t make a simple purchase. It’s also a good idea to help them understand the country’s system of government and laws. In doing so, you may come to realize that they may be considering an unstable country. They shouldn’t have to live in an unsafe place.

Immerse Your Senior Loved One in the Environment

It’s one thing for your senior loved one to commit to living in a new country when they’ve been there as a tourist, but spending time in that place can help them understand what it is. So, consider working with your senior relative to help them find and rent a home for three to six months. Give them the space to immerse themselves in this new country so they can understand what it means to live there daily.

How easy is it to procure food they like? Is paying their bills more complicated than they want? Will they be able to afford a hospital visit? Does the country’s healthcare system offer good long-term care support and services available when they need them?

Being able to answer questions like these and much more confidently is easier when a person has lived through the relevant conditions. It’s one thing to read about the typical drive time commute from a web page. But it’s another thing entirely to frequently experience traffic delays that result in a late arrival to an important appointment. It’s also not good to learn that electricity is three times as high for a smaller home in the US.

Commit to the Process

Once you’ve done your research and helped your senior relative spend plenty of time in the country where they intend to move, help them tie up any loose ends in their domestic affairs. Take stock of their belongings, store what they might want to keep if they return home, and sell off the rest to afford them greater financial security. For anything they plan to take with them, make sure they have a plan in place that ensures their goods are transported abroad safely and can make it to their new home without hassle.

Have them contact their bank and phone providers to inform them of their upcoming address, ensuring that necessary documentation doesn’t get mailed to their old location. If they want to sell their home, help them put it up for sale early to ensure they’re not making payments on a property that isn’t their primary address.

Check to make sure their passport is renewed and consistent with their most recent personal information well before they move. It’s critical that they are able to establish legal residency through the visa process. Receiving full citizenship may also be necessary in some cases. Without completing these legal processes, they may not be able to live in the country long-term. Likewise, if they decide to take up a part-time job to pass the time and earn some income, they’ll likely be required to prove their right to work in that country.

Best Places for Americans to Retire Abroad

Now that you have valuable information resources to plan your senior loved one’s relocation, you can get to work helping them figure out where to live. But with over 130 countries to choose from, even when you know what to look for, it can still be overwhelming.

Here are some lists that can help you narrow down the choice that’s right for your senior loved one:

Top 10 Places to Retire Abroad

After carefully reviewing the factors above, here are ten countries that score high on the Retirement Genius International Index:

Costa Rica ($1,400/mo.)

  • Known for biodiversity
  • Low cost of living
  • Good healthcare
  • Loved by people with an active lifestyle
  • Bolstered by a stable system of government
  • Friendly people
  • Supported by a sound banking system
  • Close distance to the US

Panama ($1,100/mo.):

  • Great climate year-round
  • Good healthcare system
  • Low cost of living
  • Strong network of expats
  • English commonly spoken
  • For those who enjoy cosmopolitan living
  • Low taxes
  • Uses US currency
  • Offers a National Senior Discount Program

Spain ($1,200/mo.):

  • Good healthcare system
  • Inexpensive food
  • Low cost of living
  • Beautiful beaches and mild weather
  • Very diverse climate

Thailand ($600/mo.):

  • Low cost of living
  • Excellent cultural and metropolitan life
  • Strong networks for US expats
  • Known for promoting an active lifestyle
  • High degree of biodiversity

Peru ($2,000/mo.):

  • Exotic, vacation-style lifestyle
  • Low cost of living
  • Semi-arid, subtropical climate
  • Many activities to take part in

Portugal ($1,700/mo.):

  • Amicable people
  • Highly safe and stable living
  • Low cost of living
  • English commonly spoken
  • Beaches and cosmopolitan living
  • Diverse climate
  • Easy visa with Golden Visa program (requires proof of $1,200 in monthly income)

Colombia ($1,000/mo.):

  • Good healthcare system
  • Low cost of living
  • Beautiful tropical climate
  • High degree of biodiversity
  • Cosmopolitan lifestyle filled with exotic locals
  • Easy visa with proof of $2,500 in monthly income

Malaysia ($1,300/mo.):

  • Exotic lifestyle
  • Low cost of living
  • Excellent climate
  • English commonly spoken

Ecuador ($1,500/mo.):

  • Humid tropical climate
  • Low cost of living
  • Uses U.S. currency
  • High degree of biodiversity
  • Mix of metropolitan and rural living
  • Strong network of US expats
  • English commonly spoken
  • Excellent local food
  • Great senior discount programs

Mexico ($1600/mo.):

  • Low cost of living
  • Tropical climate
  • Great biodiversity
  • Number of beautiful beaches
  • National healthcare system
  • Close distance to the US

Top 5 Most Expensive Countries to Live (out of 132 countries):

  1. Switzerland: Rent alone in many cities in Switzerland is over $2,200 with salaries to match — but your senior loved one is here to retire, so it may be too expensive for them.
  2. Norway: Seniors should expect to spend between $2,200 and $4,300 a month to live in this Nordic country.
  3. Iceland: A senior should expect to spend in the ballpark of $1,100 to live in Iceland — and that’s before rent.
  4. Japan: Making a new home in the land of the rising sun will cost your senior loved one about $1100 a month before rent.
  5. Denmark: Before rent, life in this Scandinavian country will set your senior loved one back around $1100 a month.

Best Countries to Retire on a Budget – Based on Region:


This country known for its sunkissed cities will cost your senior loved one around $590 a month before rent.

  • Slovenia: Living among this country’s beautiful landscapes before renting will cost a senior about $710 a month.
  • Montenegro: This Balkan country, a well-known tourist destination, costs $510 a month before rent.
  • Spain: Enjoying siestas and tapas in this country will cost the senior in your life $1,200 a month.
  • Italy: Life in the land of the Renaissance costs around $820 a month before rent.
  • Malta: This warm country with beautiful landscapes costs $810 a month before rent.

Latin America

  • Ecuador: Seniors can enjoy life among the Galápagos Islands for $490 a month before rent.
  • Mexico: Life in this vibrant country full of great beaches will cost about $450 a month before rent.
  • Argentina: Argentina’s daily living will cost about $430 a month before rent.
  • Belize: This country, beloved for its scuba diving sites, costs around $630 a month before rent.
  • Panama: Settling into this country infamous for its canals will cost $690 a month before rent.
  • Colombia: A senior building a new life in this country known for its coffee will cost about $400 a month before rent.


  • Malaysia: Living in this country, well-known for its coastal locations, will cost about $460 a month before rent.
  • Indonesia: Relocating to Indonesia, home of various multicultural islands, will cost around $450 monthly before rent.
  • Thailand: This country full of natural wonder will cost around $600 a month before rent.
  • Borneo: Life in this country famous for its elephant and sun bear will cost around $490 a month before rent.
  • Vietnam: To live in this country where motorbikes rule the road will cost around $450 a month before rent.

Top 5 Countries for Safety and Stability (ranked by affordability):

  1. Czech Republic: Life in this country respected for its safe communities and low crime rates will cost around $610 a month before rent.
  2. Portugal: Living in this country known for low crime rates and a stable political scene will cost your senior loved one around $590 a month before rent.
  3. Slovenia: Your senior loved one will spend $710 a month before rent in this country known for low crime rates.
  4. Canada: Law enforcement is known for responding quickly in this country will cost around $890 a month before rent.
  5. Austria: This country known for legal and political stability will cost about $920 a month before rent to live in.

Countries With Well-Established Senior Living Communities and Long-Term Care Services:

  • England: Seniors in this UK country benefit from comprehensive long-term care legislation and structure and will spend about $850 a month before rent.
  • Panama: Living in this country known for providing quality personalized care for senior residents will cost a monthly total of around $1,100.
  • Mexico: This country is respected for its wealth of long-term care options costs around a monthly total of around $1,600 to live in.
  • Japan: Life in this Asian country famous for its technology and entertainment and excellent long-term care will cost about $1030 a month before rent.
  • New Zealand: To live in this country known for picturesque landscapes and excellent long-term care services costs around $930 a month before rent.
  • Malaysia: Living in Malaysia costs a monthly total of $1,300 and provides seniors long-term care through welfare homes, private nursing homes, and care centers.
  • Philippines: This Asian country costs around $500 a month to live in before rent and has many excellent senior living communities.


Being able to retire overseas comes down to making personal choices that reflect what a person wants out of life and what they can afford. But most importantly, a choice as big as this one represents who they are as a person. So the key to helping them decide the right place to move is to do extensive research. In doing so, you can help them fully understand everything there is to know about this significant life change — before they make a move.

Selling your senior loved one’s existing life insurance policy as part of a life settlement is a great way to ensure financial security as they transition to their new life abroad. Visit our life settlements page if you’re looking to help overcome the upcoming financial challenges your senior loved one may have as part of a move abroad. You can start turning their outdated life insurance policy into cash they can use now by selling their policy to a dedicated life settlement provider.