You’ve worked hard all of your life, and it’s finally time to put your feet up and enjoy your golden years. But in this changing global economy, where are the most affordable places to retire?

Current trends show that traditional retiree hotspots, such as the sunshine state of Florida, are increasingly being shunned in the favor of more exotic destinations. Many Americans are finding that by taking their retirement to an international location, their dollars go further, and they can enjoy a better quality of life than if they stayed in the States. Fancy retiring by the sea somewhere beautiful and discovering a vibrant new culture for under $2,000 a month? You got it!

All seven of these retirement destinations offer an affordable cost of living, excellent real estate options, good healthcare and that glorious sunshine climate you’ve always dreamed of.

What better way to stay young at heart than by embarking on a new adventure?

The Algarve, Portugal

With its stunning sandy beaches, communities of international retirees in every town and enviable climate, Portugal’s Algarve coast has it all. Stroll through cobbled streets of mediaeval towns or enjoy a round of golf at one of the Algarve’s 42 world-class golf courses. Europe is becoming an increasingly affordable option for Americans thanks to the weak euro – and living costs in Portugal are around 30% cheaper than the rest of Western Europe. You can expect to live comfortably for around $1,500 a month per couple.

For the most affordable real estate prices, head to the Atlantic coastline of the western Algarve, where properties are up to 50% cheaper than in the Algarve’s historic capital, Lagos. Healthcare in Portugal is up to international standards, with both state-run and private hospitals, and violent crime rates are low.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

This laid-back city in Thailand has been a popular choice with expat retirees for years now, thanks to its exceptionally low cost of living and beautiful tropical climate. Visit ancient temples, hike through the rainforest that surround the city or dive into the colorful markets to sample delicious street food. Condos rarely have rental costs of more than $400 per month, and real estate averages around $900 per m2. Many American expats choose to live in the Hang Dong, Doi Saket and Mae Rim areas, outside of the bustling Old City.

Socializing is popular in Chiang Mai, with eating out, events and entertainment all costing far less than in the States. Healthcare is good with several state-of-the-art hospitals and short patient waiting lists. While levels of crimes such as bribery and corruption may be relatively high, levels of violent crimes and crimes against property are low.

Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

Who hasn’t fantasized about retiring to the white sands and turquoise waters of the Caribbean? Well, that paradise fantasy just got a whole lot more affordable! Introducing Las Terrenas, a stunning fishing village turned cosmopolitan community that welcomes and even incentivizes expat retirees. Moving here is easy. You can import your car and household goods tax-free and may even be eligible for home financing. Already a favorite among cosmopolitan European expats, Las Terrenas is, rightly, beginning to feature on the American radar.

In spite of its growing popularity with international residents, the cost of living in Las Terrenas is low. Just $1200 a month would fund a nice lifestyle for a couple. Real estate prices are also low, with an attractive townhouse in a safe, gated community setting you back less than $200,000 on average.

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If the idea of retiring to a country with a completely different culture and language doesn’t appeal, Guam could be the place for you. Residents of this exotic US territory use dollars, speak English and share a similar culture to the States – all while enjoying the breathtaking scenery and warm climate that comes with living on a remote Pacific island. Discover the island’s native Chamorro culture, tour Guam’s WWII battle sites and shop ‘til you drop in bustling Tumon.

Real estate in Guam is affordable. Desirable three-bedroom beachfront houses sell for as little as $75,000 and the rental on a studio apartment average is around $650. Most retirees choose to live outside of the main town of Tumon, which can be over-crowded. Food costs in Guam can be relatively higher, as most goods need to be imported. Entertainment and activities are usually cheaper though. You can also keep your American health insurance and save on paperwork.

Abruzzo, Italy

Move to Italy to retire in this undiscovered Italian beauty spot, amongst the mountains and by the ocean, for some well-deserved R&R. The pace of life is slow and the atmosphere is tranquil, with only delicious local food, spectacular scenery and rolling vineyards for company. Crime rates are low and there is a wonderful traditional sense of community in the villages. Active retirees will love the hiking and skiing, while beach lovers can enjoy the long golden coastline – it’s easy to live “la dolce vita” in Abruzzo.

Cost of living is low compared to the rest of Italy. Rents in the region’s main town, Pescara, average $400-500 if you steer clear of the priciest neighborhoods. Real estate prices can be as low as $50,000 for a small property, with a budget of $100,000-$200,000 giving you a wide range of choices. You won’t find a well-established American expat community here, but you will have the chance to immerse yourself in the Italian way of life amongst truly stunning scenery.


The tiny Mediterranean island of Malta is a great choice if you plan on enjoying some sunshine during your retirement. Summer lasts well into November here, with over 300 days of sunshine and mild winters. English is widely spoken and the Maltese people enjoy a laid-back and fun-loving lifestyle – they sure love a ‘festa’ (festival)! Take in the stunning sights of historic Valetta, throw yourself into Malta’s pavement café culture and enjoy a daily restorative dip in the warm seas.

Malta may be within easy reach of the rest of Europe, which is great if you intend to enjoy some travelling, but the cost of living is far cheaper than many of its neighbors. Rental on a two-bedroom apartment costs around $600-800 per month, a fantastic dinner with wine will set you back $25, and their excellent healthcare is so affordable you can often cover the costs yourself – expect to pay just $20 to see a doctor.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires is full of life – a passionate Latin city with side of European class. Dance the night away in sultry tango clubs, enjoy the best steaks you’ve ever eaten and discover the city’s cultural side with its magnificent museums, galleries and architecture. Housing is cheap here, leaving you plenty of spare dollars to spend on your social life. Just as it should be! An average apartment rental is under $500 per month. Many expat retirees gravitate towards the peaceful barrio (neighborhood) of Belgrano, with its attractive properties and great leisure facilities.

Healthcare in Buenos Aires is excellent and affordable. The country boasts a well-funded public healthcare system and even has a surplus of doctors. Argentina is one of the safest South American countries, although you still need to take care and avoid walking in certain areas at night.