Retiring abroad has long been a popular choice amongst British expats. Indeed, for many Brits, a slower pace of life in sunnier climates abroad may be seen as a well-earned reward after a long career in the rainy UK.
The latest data from the ONS suggests that there are around 250,000 British citizens aged 65 and over living in the EU alone - with the number of pensioners living elsewhere around the world likely to bring this figure up considerably.
With so many British expats setting their sights on other countries to retire abroad, then, it makes sense to question where exactly might offer the most for British pensioners.
Here, MoneyTransfers.com has ranked 10 of the most popular countries to retire to based on cost of living, quality of life, healthcare, safety, and ease of immigration. We’ve also included a little information on the general weather in each location, in case that sways your decision!
Our intention with this ranking is to help British expats who may be considering settling down for retirement abroad to find a genuinely helpful ranking of some of the most popular countries to retire to.We’ve considered a number of key concerns for expats in this ranking - including the safety of each country, health care infrastructure, cost of living, and climate - to provide the ultimate list for British expats to choose from.
Jonathan Merry, CEO of MoneyTransfers.com
Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see our full methodology for this ranking, which scores the overall cost of living, quality of living, healthcare infrastructure, and peace ranking of each country.
10 Best Countries for Brits to Retire Abroad: Ranked
With its mild climate, affordable cost of living, and vibrant culture, Portugal has become a popular retirement destination for British expats. It ranks as the overall number one country to retire for in our index, scoring highest across all four ranking factors.
With attractive tax incentives for retirees, pensioners moving here can enjoy beautiful beaches, historic cities, and delicious cuisine for an extremely low cost compared to neighbouring countries - a huge draw for British pensioners who may be budgeting their funds.
British citizens can enter Portugal visa-free for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. To stay longer, they can apply for residency through the EU Settlement Scheme or the Golden Visa program, which requires an investment in Portuguese property or business.
Spain is a famously beloved destination for British retirees seeking a warm and sunny climate, beautiful scenery, and a relaxed way of life that’s not too far from home (and family).
Retirees can choose from the stunning coastlines of the Costa del Sol to the vibrant cities of Madrid and Barcelona to settle down in and enjoy a slower pace of life. Spain ranks second due to its low cost of living, excellent healthcare, and good scores for safety and overall quality of life.
British citizens can enter Spain visa-free for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. To stay longer, they can apply for residency through the EU Settlement Scheme or a non-lucrative visa program, which requires proof of sufficient income and healthcare coverage.
Ranking in third place, Australia is a popular retirement destination for British expats seeking a high standard of living, modern healthcare system, and beautiful scenery. Major benefits include speaking the same language, a high-quality infrastructure, plenty of recreational activities, and a wide variety of metropolitan cities, beachside towns, and everything in between.
While Australia scores extremely high for quality of life and health care in particular, the country does rank 13th overall for having the highest cost of living in the world - a factor that may not suit all retirees.
British citizens need a visa to enter Australia, which can be obtained through various programs. However, Australia is a notoriously difficult country to obtain a permanent visa for - this guide to retiring in Australia has some useful tips.
Canada is another top-ranking destination for British expats to retire. The shared language, safety, and high quality of living is no doubt a big draw for expats looking for new pastures without the extra stress that may come with navigating a different language in a new country.
The caveat to retiring in Canada, however, is that it can be very difficult to gain a visa that will allow you to do this, especially if you do not have any family currently living in Canada. The best way is to gain sponsorship from a family member who is already living in the country.
Malaysia ranks as the fifth best country for British expats to retire in. As a diverse and welcoming country located in Southeast Asia, Malaysia offers a warm climate, beautiful landscapes, and modern cities scoring well across the board for all ranking factors. Retirees can choose from the thriving capital of Kuala Lumpur all the way to remote sandy beaches, depending on what suits your lifestyle most.
British citizens can enter Malaysia visa-free for up to 90 days. To stay longer, they need a visa or a residency permit, which can be obtained through various programs, including the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program.
France is renowned for its art, architecture, cuisine, and wine, making it a haven for culture and food lovers. What’s more, UK pensioners may appreciate being just a short flight or ferry from family and home comforts back in Britain.
Expats moving to France should be prepared for a bureaucratic and sometimes challenging visa process, but the rewards of living in this beautiful country are many. Post-Brexit, British citizens no longer have a guaranteed right to residency in France. The first step is to apply for a long-stay visitor visa in France, followed by a Carte de Séjour.
7. Costa Rica
For those seeking adventure and nature, Costa Rica offers stunning landscapes, eco-tourism, and a laid-back lifestyle. With its stable democracy and peaceful reputation, Costa Rica is a safe and welcoming country for expats. The country has a low cost of living and warm, tropical climate.
British citizens can enter Costa Rica visa-free for up to 90 days. To stay longer, they need a temporary residence permit, which can be obtained through various visa programs, including the Pensionado program for retirees.
Thailand is known for its stunning beaches, delicious cuisine, and welcoming culture. With its affordable cost of living and modern healthcare system, Thailand has become a popular retirement destination for expats. However, it’s worth noting that Thailand scores lowest out of this list for safety.
British citizens can enter Thailand visa-free for up to 30 days. To stay longer, they need a visa or a visa exemption stamp, which can be obtained through various programs, including the Thailand Retirement visa.
Panama is a beautiful country with a warm climate, low cost of living, and modern infrastructure. Retirees can enjoy the beautiful beaches of the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, as well as the vibrant cities of Panama City and Boquete. UK retirees might want to note that Panama does have the lowest healthcare score out of the 10 countries reviewed here.
British citizens can enter Panama visa-free for up to 180 days. UK citizens can also apply on a fast track to become permanent residents, or apply for the Pensionado visa which is available to anyone with a lifetime pension (over 18).
Mexico's warm climate, rich culture, and affordable cost of living make it an attractive destination for retirees. From the stunning beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula to the vibrant cities of Mexico City and Guadalajara, Mexico has something for everyone.
Although Mexico scores lowest in this ranking (mostly due to its lower safety and quality of life scores), it’s important to note that the country is overall still considered a great place to retire to.
British citizens can enter Mexico visa-free for up to 180 days. To stay longer, they need a temporary or permanent residency visa, which can be obtained through various programs, including the Temporary Resident Visa for retirees.
The ranking factors and their sources for this chart are as follows:
Cost of Living Score & Quality of Life Score: Sourced from Numbeo.com (all figures and rankings are for 2023, bar Costa Rica’s quality of life score which was only available from mid-2022).
Healthcare Ranking: Sourced from CEOWorld’s Global Health Care Ranking
Safety Score: Sourced from Visual Humanity’s Global Peace Index
Ease of immigration and weather information was sourced from various reports and articles on each factor, and do not contribute to the official ranking of these countries.
We gave the four ranking factors (cost of living, quality of life, healthcare ranking, and safety) an equal weighting to create the overall score for each country, with a lower cost of living score contributing to a higher overall rank.
Croatia came out at the top of Penfold's list with a much better cost of living when compared to the UK. The price of rent and day to day living was almost half of what it is for Brits who stay at home. It also only takes an average of 2 hours and 5 minutes to get there with relatively cheap flights from the UK.What is the easiest country for Brits to retire to? ›
Croatia came out at the top of Penfold's list with a much better cost of living when compared to the UK. The price of rent and day to day living was almost half of what it is for Brits who stay at home. It also only takes an average of 2 hours and 5 minutes to get there with relatively cheap flights from the UK.What country do most expats retire to? ›
According to various studies, including International Living, Portugal is ranked as the best country for US expats to retire to. Its friendly population, welcoming community of American expats, excellent weather, safety records, and affordable cost of living are all big draws for retirees.What is the cheapest country to retire to from the UK? ›
- The Philippines.
- North Cyprus.
- Costa Rica.
Most UK expats opt for the main cities of Wellington and Auckland where they have everything they need: from excellent healthcare and great schools to a fantastic lifestyle. New Zealand is the perfect place for those who want a warmer climate than the UK, but feel that Australia is too hot for them.What countries do not tax US Social Security? ›
A handful of countries on our list, including Australia, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Panama, the Philippines and Uruguay, don't tax any foreign income of expat retirees, while several others, including Colombia, Dominican Republic, France and Thailand, don't tax pension and Social Security payments.What is the easiest European country for a US citizen to retire to? ›
Greece and Malta are some of the easiest and best places to retire in Europe, as they have large English-speaking communities. Other European destinations that are also suitable for retirement are Portugal, Spain, and Turkey.Where do the happiest retirees live? ›
- Wilmington, North Carolina. iStock. Living on a coast boosts happiness, health and well-being, according to a 2020 report. ...
- Lewes/Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. iStock. Delaware tied with Montana as the No. ...
- Fredericksburg, Texas. visitfredtx.
- Ogden, Utah. iStock. ...
- Charlottesville, Virginia. iStock.
- Panama. Panama, which is located in Central America, borders Colombia to the southeast and Costa Rica to the northwest. ...
- Costa Rica. Costa Rica is also located in Central America. ...
- Mexico. ...
- Portugal. ...
- Colombia. ...
- Ecuador. ...
- Malta. ...
American and Canadian governments provide many of the same types of services who have reached the age of retirement. However, Canadian retirees have fewer worries than their American counterparts, thanks to a more generous retirement system.
Spain. Spain is well known as one of the most popular countries that UK expats choose to retire in. While retirees from the UK choose Spain for its laid back lifestyle, hot weather, and beautiful beaches, the climate isn't the only factor that influences retirees to settle in their golden years.What is the safest most affordable country to retire to? ›
- Portugal. Cost of Living Index: 42.18. ...
- Malaysia. Cost of Living Index: 34.41. ...
- Spain. Cost of Living Index: 47.51. ...
- Costa Rica. Cost of Living Index: 43.65. ...
- Panama. Cost of Living Index: 48.25. ...
- Czechia (The Czech Republic) Cost of Living Index: 44.33. ...
- Peru. ...
- Spain. Spain came in top place as the destination that Brits want to spend their retirement in.
- Australia. It doesn't come as a huge surprise that Australia is the second most popular place on the list. ...
- Portugal. ...
- Thailand. ...
- Canada. ...
- France. ...
- India. ...
- New Zealand. ...
Tea, chocolate – and MARMITE have topped a list of food and drinks expats couldn't live without. Also among the most-loved food and beverage items are crumpets, Heinz salad cream and Irn Bru. Other items missed by those overseas include bacon, mustard and Twiglets.Where do most British Americans live? ›
23.3% of the total U.S. population. Predominantly in the South, Northeast and Interior West regions.What happens to my Social Security if I leave the US? ›
If you are a U.S. citizen, you may receive your Social Security payments outside the U.S. as long as you are eligible for them. However, there are certain countries to which we are not allowed to send payments.Can a US citizen collect Social Security while living abroad? ›
If you earned Social Security benefits, you can visit or live in most foreign countries and still receive payments. Look up the country on the SSA Payments Abroad Screening Tool to be sure you can receive your payments.What is the #1 retirement country? ›
These include health, quality of life, material well-being and finances during retirement. With an overall score of 81%, Norway is the most retirement-friendly country on the list.Why are so many Americans retiring in Portugal? ›
One of the main factors luring so many expats to Portugal is the country's comparatively low cost of living. American expats will certainly find that most things are much more reasonably priced in Portugal. The innovative Quality of Life Index from Global Citizen Solutions places Portugal in 12th place.
Firstly, the Global Peace Index 2021 ranks Portugal as the fourth-safest country to live in, while Italy is ranked at thirty-two. Of course, this doesn't mean Italy is completely unsafe, but an environment where you don't have to worry about your safety is an added benefit for older people.Where is the easiest place for an American to live in Europe? ›
If you can handle the cold, Germany and the Netherlands are two of the most popular countries for expats, both offering international communities and unique residency options. Switzerland: Although many European countries offer a better quality of life than the U.S., Switzerland takes the cake.Where can I retire on $800 a month? ›
Ecuador. If you're looking for a country where you can retire outside the US comfortably with $800 per month and experience one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world, then Ecuador might be for you. The go-to city for US retirees in Ecuador is Cuenca, which also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage site.Where to retire on $3,000 a month? ›
- If You Want to Be Near the Beach: Gulfport, Fla.
- If You Desire Access to Arts and Culture: Duluth, Ga.
- If You Want to Be Close to a Transportation Hub: Alton, Ill.
- If You Crave the Outdoors: Coeur d'Alene, Ind.
- If You Want to Live Someplace Totally Foreign: Malta.
- Omaha, Nebraska. Monthly expenditures: $2,499.39. ...
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Monthly expenditures: $2,481.37. ...
- Lafayette, Louisiana. Monthly expenditures: $2,474.06. ...
- Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Monthly expenditures: $2,399.81. ...
- Abilene, Texas. ...
- Brownsville, Texas. ...
- Lake Charles, Louisiana. ...
Countries which grant tax exemption for the UN pensions whether it is paid as a lump sum or as a monthly income are: Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Chile, India, Kuwait, Malaysia, Malta, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Uruguay and Thailand. However, a different rule may apply to lump sum pension.Which country pays the most benefits? ›
Normally, people who are not U.S. citizens may receive U.S. Social Security benefits while outside the U.S. only if they meet certain requirements. Under the agreement, however, you may receive benefits as long as you reside in Canada, regardless of your nationality.Can I move to Canada as a retired American? ›
Rather than immigrating to Canada permanently, the easiest route for retirement-aged people is usually to live in Canada part-time, as a visitor. To immigrate to Canada as a permanent resident, you have to go through an official immigration program.
Most financial experts believe retirement savings between the range of $700,000 and $1 million is enough for most Canadians. But these are just ballpark figures. In reality, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because financial circumstances and retirement goals vary from one person to another.Can a retired UK citizen live in the US? ›
The most important requirement for immigrating to the USA is a valid residence permit. There is no retiree visa for the United States and owning real estate is not a path to permanent residency either. Nevertheless, there are several options to obtain a permanent or temporary right to stay in the USA.Where should I live when I retire UK? ›
Best places to retire in the UK
The Jurassic Coast – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – boasts famous landmarks Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and West Bay (the home of TV series Broadchurch), while picturesque towns and villages such as Bridport, Christchurch and Charminster are popular with retirees.
Lithuania is often touted as one of the cheapest countries in Europe, and for good reason. Expenses like food, transportation, and utilities are relatively low, and rental prices are reasonable. That said, there are a few potential downsides to living in Lithuania as a remote worker on a US or UK salary.What countries are easy for expats to retire in? ›
- Panama. Panama tops most lists of the best countries to retire in, and there are good reasons for that. ...
- Costa Rica. ...
- Portugal. ...
- Ecuador. ...
- Greece. ...
- Belize. ...
- Nicaragua. ...
- The Philippines.
Australia. Down Under is the most popular expat destination, with around 1.5 million British expats out of a 25 million population.Can a UK citizen retire to Portugal? ›
It is rather straightforward for the European Union (EU) citizens to retire in Portugal. They can apply for residency in Portugal and enjoy most of the benefits a local resident has.
Some of the best coastal retirement towns include Torquay and Exeter but also hidden gems such as Sidmouth and Beer (the source of most of Britain's cathedral stone), which nevertheless remain lively even off-season. The county's northern coastline is the cheaper of the two, with house prices around the £300,000 mark.Where is the cheapest place for Brits to emigrate? ›
Experts at YourOverseasHome analysed the cost of living in six different European countries before comparing them to the UK. Having looked at destinations including Greece, Portugal, Spain, France and Germany, the company eventually named Italy as the cheapest place for Brits to move to.
- Cadbury chocolate. ...
- Walkers crisps. ...
- Bisto gravy granules. ...
- Warburtons crumpets. ...
- Marmite. ...
- Branston pickle.
- Tunnocks Tea Cakes. A staple British food that you simply must try has got to be the Tunnocks Tea Cake. ...
- Cadbury's Chocolate. ...
- English Breakfast Tea. ...
- HP Brown Sauce. ...
- Heinz Baked Beans. ...
- Monster Munch. ...
- Ribena. ...
While 53-56% of Britons consider the UK to be similar to France and Germany, just 35-36% of French and German people feel the same. Likewise, while 42-44% of Britons believe the UK is similar to Spain and Italy, only 24-26% of Spaniards and Italians hold the same view.What part of America is most like England? ›
New York State's land area is approximately 47,000 square miles. England's is 50,000. New York City and London have 8.8 million and 8.9 million inhabitants respectively. England is part of the island of Great Britain.What American city is most like London? ›
Instead of London: Boston, MA
While Boston fought hard to separate itself from British rule in the 18th century, the city undeniably reflects the charm and culture of London.
The average rent per month for a one-bedroom flat in the UK is £700. In the USA it is $1,169, which works out to around £940 per month, making the UK a clear winner here.Where is the best country to retire to from the UK? ›
Spain. Spain came in top place as the destination that Brits want to spend their retirement in. For those seeking longer days, more sunshine and generally a better cost of living situation, the country ticks all the boxes.What is the cheapest country to move to from the UK? ›
Related Articles. It was revealed that Italy was the cheapest place for Brits to move to, followed by Greece, Portugal, Spain, France and Germany.Where in the US do most Brits live? ›
According to a Wise article, New York City is home to the largest number of British expats, with approximately 20% of the total British expat population in the US. This vibrant city offers diverse career opportunities and an energetic lifestyle that appeals to many Brits.