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10 Cheap and Friendly Countries for Retirees

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Photo: Adohnes

The Golden Years are defined as the time of life after retirement from active work. So whether you want to work on your tan, golf swing or ability to do absolutely nothing we have a list of the cheapest and most retiree friendly countries in the world.


1. Mexico

If luxury on a budget is what you’re looking for then Mexico is perfect for you. You can live like a king; pay for your house (not flat) have fully comprehensive health insurance ($300 a year) and still have money left over for a maid all on a pension of $1,000 – $2,500.

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Photo: Frank Kovalchek


2. Uruguay

Uruguay offers all the cheapness of Mexico with all the culture of Europe. Like Mexico you can easily survive on $1000 a month. The country is quite stable, has good infrastructure and reliable internet connection so you can keep in contact with your loved ones at home.

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Photo: Marco Gomes


3. Ecuador

Continuing the South American theme, we have Ecuador. In Cuenca you can rent a beautiful condo for as little as $300 per month. It’s also the real home of the Panama hat.

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Photo: Theodore Scott

4. Panama

Panama really takes care of the older generation and knows how to show them a good time. They have a pensionado program which offers retired folk a 50% discount on cinema and theatre tickets and 30% off public transport. If you’re American it has the advantage of having the U.S. Dollar as its official currency.

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Photo: Alex Proimos

5. Italy

Think the Sistine Chapel, eating Gelato in sun-drenched piazzas and long meandering walks in the country side. Southern Italy is a great place to retire if you have patience and are willing to take on the bureaucracy that comes with it. Cost of living is cheap, the people are friendly, the food is gorgeous and the health system is top notch. In Sicily you can buy properties for as little as $15,000 and the people are renowned for their friendliness and hospitality. Benvenuto!

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Photo: Joanna Barton

6. Ireland

If sunshine isn’t high on your list of priorities Ireland may be a good option for retirees. It is a little expensive and has very high tax rates however retired couples who earn under $47,000 per year don’t have to pay tax. If friendliness and beautiful landscapes are what you’re looking for then the Emerald Isle is for you.

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Photo: LenDog64

7. Malaysia

Now that the economic crisis has the majority of western countries in a vice grip, the Malaysia My Second Home (MMSH) programme is now being aggressively promoted by the Malaysian government. A two bed rental in Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur will set you back a mere $225.The programme also offers a 10 year easily renewable visa to all its participants including spouses and dependants under 21. Malaysia is also well known as a popular destination for medical-tourism particularly in the areas of: cardiology, dentistry, screenings, general surgery, orthopedics and plastic surgery. More details about Malaysia healthcare system can be found on our health insurance malaysia page.

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Owner: Jonel Hanopol

8. Spain

Spain’s retirement stalwart, the Costa del Sol, has become even more attractive due to property price cuts, thanks to the current economic downturn. Sales tax is down and property tax is much lower than in other Western countries i.e. the United States. It also has the added advantage of sun and a thriving expat community.

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Photo: Vlad Volkov

9. Portugal

Spain’s cheaper and less explored cousin, Portugal, is one of the cheapest options in Western Europe. The country prides itself on its laidback attitude making it the perfect getaway for people who are sick of bustling cities. The south of Portugal can
be quite expensive because of the tourist resorts, but if you stick to the mid/north Atlantic coast you will be sure to find beautiful coastlines and picturesque beaches for an affordable price. You can rent a huge apartment in a great location with a pool, terrace and balcony for as little as $1,000 per month.

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Photo: TheArches

10. France

France is very friendly to American retirees; American pensioners are exempt from the French taxation system. It also has the added bonus of haute culture and a sterling healthcare system. However, wealthy retirees be warned. After 5 years in the land that gave us the Moulin Rouge you will be liable to pay a wealth tax on anything over $1.2 million.

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Photo: Megan Mallen

In Summary

Nowhere is perfect, while on the one hand you get sunshine and cheap living you also have to live with annoying tax laws and perhaps inadequate health care. Just keep in mind your specific needs and read up on the country you want to move to and before you know it you will have found the perfect place for your retirement. And of course, no mater where you go, you can get a cheap international health insurance policy to cover your needs.

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Photo: Garry Knight

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