Retire to Portugal

Best 10 Countries to Retire to in 2020

​I always read articles that tout retirement destinations with extreme caution, mainly because many of them are influenced by advertising dollars and are perhaps selling real estate on subsequent pages.  However, this Business Insider article was told from the perspective of people who are already living in what they consider the 10 best places to retire to in 2020.  Today I’ll delve into this article, as well as share my take on my experience living overseas in this Friday update.

What are the Best 10 Places to Retire Outside the USA in 2020?

This update was based on the International Living Magazine’s retirement indexed, which was just released for 2020.  Before I go on any further, it’s only proper to talk about how these ratings were generated and what criteria was used to formulate this list:

  • Cost of Health Care
  • Cost of Living
  • Process of Owning a Home and Gaining a Visa
  • Access to Entertainment
  • Ease of Assimilation

It wasn’t a surprise to me that five Latin American countries made this list.  Avid followers know I’ve lived in both Nicaragua, and very extensively throughout Costa Rica, and have a lot of input on those countries in addition to Panama.

Also read my prior article on retiring to Latin America on $2,000 monthly income.

Why Are People Retiring Overseas?

retiring abroad

More and more people are working later in their life.  With the average retirement age having been 65 for quite some time, many people are working until 72.  At the same time, the article talks about how millenials are working early on and acquiring income producing assets (like stocks paying dividends) and then scaling down their expenses and retiring early.  With technology these days, the swings of making money can happen much quicker than before, thanks to the ease of creating a website, making money on YouTube, being an influencer, writer, or other online living.

There is no direct path to retirement, and nobody can predict the financial obstacles that fall in our way along our journey.  Just in the last year, I was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease and had to come out of pocket tens of thousands of dollars to get alternative care when I had an awful reaction to the prescription steroids that were used to treat it.  For this reason, retiring abroad is definitely on my radar, as well as keeping a primary residence in South Florida, a place I’ve called home base for almost 20 years.

To keep their ways of life, and retire in style, many people are deciding that retiring abroad is the thing to do.  You can live lavishly if you choose the right places and do your homework, as well as have great health care and even personal assistants, chefs, drivers, and more, for a fraction of what it’ll cost you you in the USA.

The aforementioned Index I spoke about earlier in this article ranks destinations where you can live better, spend less money, and get more in return during your golden years.

The list was made possible by doing surveys of US expats already living abroad, and they were ranking their experiences in 10 categories:

  • housing
  • benefits and senior living
  • visas and residency
  • cost of living in general
  • entertainment and activities
  • accessibility to health care
  • development
  • climate
  • stability of local government
  • ability to retire (or semi retire) early

The above categories were scored, with 100 being the top score.  The scores were based on very detailed analysis, such as when you look into real estate value, this drilled down the costs associated with building a house, paying taxes yearly, and the potential ability for rental income.  Living costs were analyzed based on items such as attending a movie, stocking your kitchen with produce, and other daily expenses that we all are used to paying.  Hopefully that gives you an idea of how things were rated and how these findings came about.

When these ratings were completed, each country was given a score, with 100 being a perfect score.

List of 10 Best Countries to Retire to in 2020

​After all of the above was tallied up and calculated, the below list was created.  Here is the list, from #10, to #1.

#10:  Vietnam

Retiring to Vietnam

Overall score: 76

Housing: 77

Healthcare: 84

Cost of living: 92

A low cost of living, and a solid jump off spot for traveling were reasons for this country scoring so high.

​#9:  France

Retiring to France

Overall score: 76.4

Housing: 68

Healthcare: 85

Cost of living: 66

A slower pace of life was a key reason for France making the list, as well as the attention to detail and the European Culture.

​#8:  Spain

Retiring to Spain

Overall score: 76.8

Housing: 72

Healthcare: 97

Cost of living: 81

Affordable dining and entertainment were a major reason Spain got such high marks.  After spending a few vacations in Barcelona, I totally agree!

​#7: Malaysia

Retiring to Malaysia

Overall score: 81.9

Housing: 77

Healthcare: 93

Cost of living: 85

Cost of living, climate, and white sand beaches helped this little known country crack the top ten.

​#6:  Ecuador

Retiring to Ecuador

Overall score: 82

Housing: 84

Healthcare: 84

Cost of living: 90

Our first Latin American country entering the list is Ecuador, which translates to “Equator.”  The climate was very attractive as it’s very consistent here, and the country has half price airline tickets for Seniors.

​#5:  Colombia

Retiring to Columbia

Overall score: 83.4

Housing: 80

Healthcare: 94

Cost of living: 88

Staying in South America, #5 showed the once dangerous country of Colombia making the list.  Well moved on past the Pablo Escobar era, Colombia is ripe for tourism and is highly popular with digital nomads who look to play arbitrage with the cost of living working from laptops.  With nearly 4 million people in Medellin, the area is quickly rising the ranks of the most in demand places to visit and retire.

​#4:  Mexico

Retiring to Mexico

Overall score: 83.8

Housing: 91

Healthcare: 88

Cost of living: 86

You don’t need to sell me, or anyone really, on the food in Mexico!  (Maybe I’m biased, as it’s my favorite type of cuisine.)  The vibrant life and culture pulls a great number of retirees South of the border each year.

​#3:  Costa Rica

Retiring to Costa Rica

Overall score: 85.3

Housing: 85

Healthcare: 96

Cost of living: 82

My home away from home, Costa Rica.  Beaches, culture, a very diverse country with mountains, rivers, oceans, varying temperatures, Costa Rica has it all.  The quality of life is very relaxed, and once you get residency the health care is available to you for a very small fee in taxes.

​#2:  Panama

Retiring to Panama

Overall score: 85.8

Housing: 88

Healthcare: 94

Cost of living: 89

Another place I’ve spent a lot of time, is Panama.  While Costa Rica lacks the big city high rises and infrastructure, you’ll find this in the financial capital of South America, Panama City.  The price of health care is very cheap, and it’s just a three hour flight to Miami, and is also used as a major connecting point for all flights throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

​#1:  Portugal

Retiring to Portugal

Overall score: 86

Housing: 93

Healthcare: 98

Cost of living: 85

Boasting amazing food and wine, Portugal also has an ideal climate, relaxed vibe, and several expat communities, which made it #1 on the list of places to retire abroad in 2020.

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Tim Schmidt


Tim Schmidt is an Entrepreneur who has covered retirement investing since 2012. He started this website to share his expertise in using his Self-Directed IRA. Most recently he's been advising individuals to diversify into precious metals ahead of a certain recession. He invested with Goldco.