Numbers indicate that these are the best European countries to retire

algarve, portugal. beach in olhos d aqua. photo by arihak.
Beach and village of Olhos d’Aqua in Algarve, Portugal.

Remote workers and digital nomads are not the only travelers who are looking for best places to stay, for instance, comfortably during winter. Many retirees are dreaming of finding a nice place to stay for a few months or perhaps to move in permanently. International Living, a network of local experts working in a number of countries, has collected data on many factors that impact retiring in a foreign country. Here are the highest ranked European countries and in other parts of the world.

Top seven countries in Europe to retire according to International Living:

  1. Portugal (Algarve is the most popular province to stay during winter)
  2. Spain
  3. Greece
  4. France
  5. Italy
  6. Malta
  7. Ireland

A factor that we would like to see included in the index is safety. The older we get, healthcare and overall safety tend to become important factors for choosing a place to stay. According to the EU statistics, Ireland is one of the safest countries in the EU region. On the other hand, Ireland’s climate is renowned for abundance of water that keeps the island constantly green.

Climate is a factor that is nearly impossible to assign a number at country level. Large countries like France and Spain have everything from pleasant the Mediterranean climate to raw winds of the Atlantic Ocean, and from palm beaches to snowy mountains.

In 2017, we reviewed another ranking for the best places to retire in Europe, and the results pointed to the same direction as in the one showed above. The top countries are the same in both studies, but since the 2017 ranking focused on regions rather than countries, it discovered also Budapest in Hungary and Bled in Slovenia as good destination candidates for retiring.

Castillo de Santa Barbara, Alicante, Spain. Photo by Arihak.
Castillo de Santa Barbara, Alicante, Spain

Outside Europe, Costa Rica tops the International Living ranking:

  1. Costa Rica
  2. Mexico
  3. Panama
  4. Ecuador
  5. Malaysia
  6. Colombia
  7. Thailand
  8. Urugay
  9. Roatan
  10. Belize

International Living is a North American based network and publication, so it may explain the number of Central and South American countries included in the ranking.

International Living ranking system only considers regions that already has established expat communities. Then, the following categories are taken into account for calculating the index:

  • Housing category considers how easy or difficult it is for a foreigner to buy or rent or house or apartment in a destination. Affordability and local laws affect the index as well.
  • Paperwork required to stay in a destination with a tourist visa, and the process of becoming a resident is assessed in Visa category.
  • Cost of living takes into account the price of housing, utilities, food, moving around, and travel costs from and to the home country.
  • Affinity rating is an index produced by foreigners who already are staying in a destination. They were asked if they would like to move in there permanently. Also attitudes of local people towards foreigners and friendliness are taken into account.
  • Healthcare is assessed by quality and cost.
  • Development and governance category regards road network, public transport, and internet connectivity. Also the stability of governance, infrastructure, and financial services are factored into the index.
  • Climate.

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