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Best Countries to Retire in 2024: Portugal in the Spotlight

7 February, 2024 General

The increase in global mobility and the ability to choose where to live have led many to consider starting a new life in a different country. But how do you choose where to live and enjoy a well-deserved retirement? Which are the best countries to retire in 2024? The online platform InterNations has revealed its 2024 ranking: Portugal and Spain stand out!

Every year, the global expatriate community formulates this highly regarded ranking. The Global Retirement Index, updated annually, relies on the real experiences of its correspondents and subscribers. It calculates in which nations it is possible to live with higher quality while spending less. In other words, how to make the most of income and pensions during this phase of life. Below, we present the highlights for 2024.


Top 10 best countries to live as an expatriate

The top 5 of the best destinations for retirees includes only 2 European destinations, and Portugal is on 2nd position.

See the complete list from International Living:

  1. Costa Rica
  2. Portugal
  3. Mexico
  4. Panama
  5. Spain
  6. Ecuador
  7. Greece
  8. Malaysia
  9. France
  10. Colombia


How to choose a destination to live as a retiree?

The method used by International to rank the best countries to live as a retiree is not scientific. However, they avoid connections with real estate agents, tourism organizations, and economic development for a more impartial result. It’s worth noting that the choices are made based on lifestyle and the U.S. dollar.

Countries are assessed on various aspects, including housing, climate, visas and benefits, cost of living, health, affinity and adaptation, development, and governance. Additionally, they consider factors such as public transportation, availability of reliable and fast internet, and the country’s infrastructure. However, for retirees, the most important criterion is directly related to the cost and quality of life, along with social benefits that allow pensions to be sufficient for individuals to enjoy their golden years with security, comfort, and good social relationships.


Portugal and Spain: Among the Best Retirement Destinations in the World

And speaking of comfort and the opportunity to establish new relationships, how can we leave Portugal and Spain out of this list? The neighbours on the Iberian Peninsula were once again in the spotlight on the list of the best countries in the world to live as retirees. And for similar reasons. Both countries enjoy a mild climate, diverse and delicious cuisine, natural landscapes; their people are welcoming and hospitable. Adaptation is easy.

The cost of living in these countries is low, and the healthcare system is good and affordable. In summary: an unquestionable cost-benefit.


Portugal: 2nd Best Country for Retirement

Portugal, a former champion in the International Living ranking in 2023, remains an attractive destination for retirees, securing second place. It’s true that the country experienced a slight decline due to new rules in the Golden Visa program. However, the variety of environments, ranging from traditional cities to coastal regions, keeps places like Lagos, Vilamoura, and Tavira as charming options.

For investors, there is still much to explore in emerging markets such as the Silver Coast and the island of Madeira. The cost of living is affordable, with a couple living comfortably from €2,000 per month, offering a European experience at a more accessible price. 


Vilamoura, Portugal; a tourism guide for 2024

Vilamoura, Algarve, Portugal



Spain: 5th Retirement Destination

Spain is praised by International Living for its sunny landscapes, renowned healthcare system, and affordable cost of living. The country offers varied options for living, from the historic streets of Madrid to the tranquil beaches of Costa Blanca.

The cost of living allows a couple to live comfortably from €1,800 per month. The real estate market is favourable to foreigners, with streamlined processes for both buying and renting. Renting is a practical option to explore different regions, with monthly costs ranging around €700 in less touristy areas, according to the online platform.


 Costa Blanca, Alicante, Spain



Other Countries in the top 10

International Living also highlights the qualities of various Latin American countries.

Costa Rica, which tops the list, stands out as the happiest country in Latin America. Its government abolished the army in 1948 and redirected investments to health and education. Moreover, the cost of living for a couple is only $2,000, and it offers a tourist visa lasting 180 days.

Colombia stands out for its diversity of islands, parks, and vibrant urban life. Ecuador stands out for its stable climate, a striking feature. Regarding this country, International Living emphasizes that its society deeply values family and provides dedicated care to the elderly, reflecting a rich cultural heritage. It also highlights discounts on transportation and other specific advantages for the elderly population.

Panama leads in the region in terms of environmental performance and sustainability, as indicated by the research: it is the best-performing country in Latin America in terms of environmental and sustainable criteria.

Mexico gains recognition for its warm culture and engaging natural landscapes. According to International Living, a modest yet comfortable lifestyle in Mexico can be maintained with a budget of around $1,500 to $2,000 per month for a couple, covering all basic expenses, including housing, utilities, and food.


Retiring Abroad: A Trend


Currently, one in six senior Americans prefers to spend their retirement years in foreign countries. This decision is primarily motivated by the increasing expenses associated with daily life, as well as the exorbitant healthcare costs prevailing in the United States. Access to quality healthcare, crucial for retirees, is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain, as recently highlighted in Forbes magazine.

As we have seen above, the search for the ideal place to retire is a personal journey. Portugal and Spain continue to be popular choices, providing a balance between affordable cost of living, high quality of life, and a rich cultural offering.

However, it’s important to remember that the final decision of where to live should be based on a combination of personal, financial, and lifestyle factors. Retirement is an opportunity to explore new horizons, discover new cultures, and enjoy a life of leisure and satisfaction. Whatever path you choose, the important thing is that it meets your needs, allowing you to fully enjoy this new phase of life.


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