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This article is brought to you through The European Sting’s collaboration with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Johnny Wood, Writer, Educational Content

  • Countries in Europe and Central America dominate the list of the top 10 places to retire in 2021.
  • The most popular retirement destinations are characterized by good weather, the provision of professional health care, easy access and affordability.
  • Spoiler alert: Panama tops the list of the best places to retire in the world for 2021.

For many Northerners, retirement is a time to say goodbye to everyday stress and discover an idyllic place where you can unwind. For some it’s a deckchair, for others it’s a completely different country. For these lucky ones, the only question is… where to live?

Everyone has their own opinion on what constitutes the ideal retirement location, but International Living’s 2022 Global Retirement Index can make your search easier.

The annual index presents a list of retirement hotspots around the world, compiled from the personal experiences of expats in each location, combined with factors such as cost of living, climate, medical care and ease of bureaucracy.

A poll found that 25% of American adults think they need at least $1 million to retire comfortably.
A poll found that 25% of American adults think they need at least $1 million to retire comfortably. Image: AAG

Careful planning is essential, as an enjoyable retirement can be costly. A survey by AAG found that a quarter of respondents in the United States think they will need at least $1 million to retire comfortably.

The best places to retire

Here are the Global Retirement Index’s top 10 retirement destinations for 2022.


Located between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is a Spanish-speaking nation of approximately 3.5 million people, with hot summers and mild winters.

A range of lifestyles and costs of living are offered, including ranches and homesteads in the interior grasslands, tree-lined towns like Montevideo, and beach towns dotted along the coastline.

Navigating visas and residency is simple, healthcare is cheap and accessible, and there are plenty of outdoor activities, street parades, and great food.

9. Spain

There is more to Spain than its famous sunny beaches, low cost of living and relaxed lifestyle. Straddling the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, the nation also boasts bustling historic cities, snow-capped mountains, and scenic rural landscapes.

A Mediterranean diet, excellent health care and a festival culture make it one of the best places to retire for many people from Europe, and increasingly from North America.

8. Malta

Surrounded by the warm southern waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta’s small islands – five in total but only two are inhabited – are a blend of Western European lifestyle with a hint of Arabic language and culture.

Summer temperatures can get hot and humid, and it’s not the cheapest retirement destination, but year-round sunshine attracts many residents who also benefit from a world-class healthcare system and plenty of sports. and outdoor activities.

Maltese and English are widely spoken, and over the centuries invaders from several civilizations have left their mark on the local cuisine and culture. Malta offers a mix of ancient megaliths, medieval fortresses, rocky hinterland, beaches and coastal fishing villages, with a few towns thrown in for good measure.

Panama tops the 2021 list of the best places to retire in the world.
Panama tops the 2021 list of the best places to retire in the world. Image: Unsplash/Angel Silva


Home to fine wine, haute cuisine and a certain… je ne sais quoi, France has something for everyone: big cities, rural hideaways, mountains and sunny beaches.

Residents benefit from a leading, price-protected healthcare system, reasonable housing costs in many areas, a rich cultural heritage and a laid-back lifestyle, not to mention the country’s addiction to gastronomic culture.

Regions like the Dordoigne in southwest France have attracted British expats for many years, but more and more North Americans have come to appreciate its charms in recent years, notes International Living.

6. Ecuador

A combination of good climate, environmental diversity and plenty of culture at an affordable price makes Ecuador one of the best places to retire for Europeans and North Americans.

Here, modern life in cities and seaside communities meets untapped natural resources, including the Andes Mountains, the Amazon rainforest, and the biodiversity of the nearby Galapagos Islands.

There are few places still untouched by global commercialism, but this is one of them. Expats can mingle with natives in tribal attire and live a laid-back, varied life for around $1,500 to $1,825 a month.

5. Colombia

Across the border, Colombia is more developed than Ecuador, but shares many of its neighbor’s attributes. These include climate options to suit most tastes and a mix of coastline, Andes mountains and Amazon rainforest.

Healthcare here is excellent, property and living costs are relatively low, and the visa application process is straightforward for many nationalities. Retirees can live well here for little, among friendly people where English is widely spoken and stunning scenery.

Portugal was voted the fourth most popular retirement destination in 2021.
Portugal has been voted the fourth most popular retirement destination in 2021. Image: Unsplash/Nick Karvounis


From the old-world charm of cities like Lisbon and Porto to the sunny beaches of the Algarve, Portugal has been a favorite retirement destination for some time.

The country has friendly people, a low cost of living, a world-class healthcare system, and a low crime rate, making it a safe, enjoyable, and affordable place to live.

English is taught in schools and widely spoken in some areas, and the government offers free Portuguese lessons nationwide.

3. Mexico

Located next to the southern border of the United States, Mexico has long been a popular destination for North Americans looking for an affordable place in the sun. Expats can choose from a range of climates and lifestyles, which include bustling resorts, city life, and remote rural or desert hideaways.

A monthly budget of around $2,000 is enough for housing, transportation, and living expenses, but you can get by on less or spend a lot more if you want. Applying for a visa or residency is straightforward for those who meet the criteria, and the country has an affordable and professional healthcare offering that attracts medical tourism flows.

2. Costa Rica

A tropical climate, affordable living and medical costs, an active outdoor culture, friendly locals, and sun-soaked natural beauty have made Costa Rica a magnet for retirees.

Located between Nicaragua and Panama, this Central American nation is a stable democracy with high literacy rates and a laid-back approach to life. Citizens and residents have access to one of the highest rated healthcare systems in Latin America, according to International Living.

The landscape ranges from beaches to lush jungle regions, spanning several climatic zones. Protected national parks and wildlife refuges cover around a quarter of the country’s landmass, providing visitors with many opportunities to connect with nature.

1. Panama

This isn’t the first time Panama has topped the list of the best places in the world to retire. Located away from Central America’s hurricane belt, its warm tropical climate is tempered by breezes from the Pacific Ocean on one coast and the Caribbean Sea on the other.

It seems that Panama has it all: friendly people, a safe living environment, and excellent hospitals and medical services close to most places. Retirees can choose from beach communities, cool mountain retreats, grassy uplands, or modern city living.

Panama is one of only three carbon negative countries in the world. The famous ship canal has brought modern communications, infrastructure and affordable transport links to popular destinations for national expatriates like Boquete in the highlands.