Retiring abroad is a dream that many people hold, whether a former expat or someone seeking a new and exciting adventure after spending their working life in the UK. It is the perfect opportunity to explore new parts of the world, with some even moving from country to country in a bid to soak up as many of the world’s varying cultures as possible. For others, the promise of a more relaxed pace of life at a lower cost makes the thought of overseas retirement too difficult to ignore.
If overseas retirement is something that appeals to you, you may be wondering where to begin when choosing the perfect destination. While we understand that there will be many different factors that influence retirees in different ways, one of the many considerations for those hoping for a comfortable life is likely to be the cost of living. From house prices and travel costs to the general price of food and utilities, these figures can mean the difference between an idyllic life or a retirement tainted by financial stress.
To help you find the perfect overseas retirement location, the financial experts at ExpatRoute have put together a list of some of the cheapest places in the world to retire, from some of the top destinations in Europe to overlooked retirement paradises further afield.
Bulgaria is a beautiful country which boasts stunning coastline, fascinating culture and the lowest prices for goods and services of any member state in the EU. While the country has arguably been slower to develop compared with many other EU countries, this attitude towards embracing all aspects of modern life has earned it favour with expats and retirees seeking a more relaxed and simpler lifestyle at a low price.
And these low prices don’t end with goods and services. The general cost of living in Bulgaria is significantly cheaper than that of its neighbouring countries. Those hoping to purchase property will also enjoy low prices if they avoid summer and winter tourist hotspots.
Warm and tropical, Panama is a beautiful location for retirees willing to look a little further afield. However, don’t let its distance from the UK fool you — this exotic location actually boasts a large English-speaking population which will help any retiree feel more at home. It also benefits from high-speed internet, as well as impressive power, air and water quality. If that wasn’t enough, this cultural capital boasts vibrant and active communities that could keep expats busy every day of the week, particularly if you are a keen follower of the arts.
It may feel like all of this must come at a cost, and it is true that the luxury lifestyle Panama offers can easily result in a lot of expense for those willing to splash the cash. However, for retired expats seeking a comfortable but decent standard of living, it is possible to create a new life for very little. This is especially true of the more rural areas, where reduced employment opportunities mean property is significantly cheaper than in the busier cities. However, even a high-rise retirement in Panama City can be yours for significantly less than the equivalent lifestyle in the UK.
Malaysia may feel far too exotic to be affordable as a retirement location, but this is simply not the case. While it does offer a vibrant, beautiful, peaceful and tropical lifestyle which is far from that offered closer to home, it is also accessible and affordable to those who wish to embrace this idyllic lifestyle as their own after giving up work.
Not far from the busier cities and holiday destinations, Malaysia offers access to a high percentage of English-speaking locals, top medical facilities and cheap property, which has seen a growing number of expats set up a life there. Not only that, but the Malaysia My Second Home Program makes it easy to get a visa for up to 10 years, so you can sample life in this beautiful and cultural paradise before committing and applying for a permanent resident visa.
France may not be the first country that comes to mind when you are considering cheap retirement, but this expat hotspot actually offers a much more affordable lifestyle than many may believe. As long as you avoid large cities such as Paris, there are endless medieval villages and coastal towns where the prices are as reasonable as the views are picture perfect.
Of course, there are many other advantages to retiring to this familiar and very popular destination. The food and drink are certainly a large draw for many, but it also delivers beautiful countryside, engaging culture, a remarkable healthcare system and access to a large expat community that can make a retirement move a little more comfortable.
The main appeal of this beautiful and incredibly exotic country is its cost of living. Everything is significantly lower in price when compared to Europe, from property and utilities to food, entertainment and the cost of leisure facilities. In spite of these low prices, the country still provides a good standard of living and excellent healthcare. And, of course, you will have the chance to retire in arguably one of the most beautiful countries in the world, boasting stunning beaches and cultural landmarks that draw tourists from across the world all year round.
Retired expats who move to the Philippines may benefit from the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa, which entitles the visa holder to many privileges including the right to stay in the country on a permanent basis. It is also possible to receive both a pension and annuity income tax-free as part of this programme, and you can even import your belongings tax-free.
Argentina is rarely on the top of the list for retirees seeking a new life abroad, but this beautiful country is brimming with enough art, literature and architecture to keep any retired expat busy. Not to mention the stunning scenery that spans this large country, from snow-topped mountains to salt flats and everything in between. And as if that wasn’t enough, Argentina is also significantly cheaper than the UK, making it a very worthwhile prospect if you are looking for a new life in a truly special country.
While rent in the larger cities can be steep, property prices in villages and towns are significantly lower, as are the costs of food and drink. As with many traditional and quieter countries, moving away from the tourist areas pay dividends. However, if you take the time to learn the language and embrace the culture, you will benefit even more as you will be taken more seriously by the locals.
Choosing the perfect location
While we hope our guide has been useful when it comes to finding some of the cheapest places to retire, there are many different factors that you should consider when choosing your retirement home, and often these are personal to you. If you feel you need more personalised advice, consider contacting an independent financial expert who can help you balance your budget and find a retirement location that will offer the lifestyle you want at an affordable cost.