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12 Dreamy Yet Frugal Retirement Havens Around the World

12 Dreamy Yet Frugal Retirement Havens Around the World

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Some of us dream of spending our precious retirement years abroad without having to worry about finances. If you choose the right budget-friendly destination, this dream might be closer than you think. You can get the best of both worlds by picking a dreamy, beautiful destination full of activities and opportunities for your golden years. And the best part? They come at a cost of living that is well below many US cities.

What are your best options for retiring happily abroad?

When choosing the safest and cheapest country to live in, you need to consider some essential factors, like affordability, quality of life, climate, lifestyle, visa, and residency requirements. Let’s look at 12 places around the world to live during retirement that cost less than the U.S., according to the Global Retirement Index and average costs of living.

1. Croatia

Aerial view to Roving old town, popular travel destination in Croatia
Photo Credit: Roving old town, Croatia

Croatia shines as a safe and affordable haven for retirees. Its stunning coastline stretches between the islands and the mainland with attractive beaches, beautiful coastal towns, and welcoming people. The Mediterranean weather offers mild winters and warm summers, making it comfortable for its citizens.

It’s pretty easy to get there, too, with the possibility of applying for a one-year residence visa, which can be renewed. Croatia is relatively cheaper than the US, with good healthcare facilities, both private and public. The estimated cost of living for a retired couple in Croatia is approximately $1,500 to $2,000 per month, including rent, utilities, groceries, and entertainment.

The country has a Global Peace Index Score (GPI) of 1.45, which shows a low crime rate and a high level of peacefulness. 

2. Portugal

Algarve rock - coast in Portugal
Photo Credit: Algarve rock, Portugal

Portugal is also high on the happiness/peace scale, with a GPI Score of 1.33.

Portugal is a perfect place for people who love outdoor living. It has an excellent visa program called Portugal’s Golden Visa program, providing hassle-free long-term resident permits to the US and most European countries in exchange for an investment in real estate or other qualifying investments.

Portugal is famous among retirees because of its beautiful cities, fabulous beaches, lower cost of living from $1200 to $2000, and moderate climate. 

3. Czech Republic

The monument in old town square in Prague
Photo Credit: The monument in the old town square, Prague

Retirees can immerse themselves in the Czech Republic’s rich history because it has more than 2,000 castles and châteaux, Gothic buildings, gorgeous lusciously green countryside scenery, and plenty of museums, galleries, and festivals to explore. 

With a GPI score of 1.37, the Czech Republic offers a perfect blend of safety and affordability. The continental weather gives a range of seasons, from snowy winters to mild summers. The cost of living is as low as $1200 to $1800, with one of Europe’s best healthcare systems, which is free for permanent residents. Although American retirees will likely need to apply for a long-term visa and pay out of pocket for insurance costs (which is still a steal compared to anything in the US.) Moreover, its low-cost public transportation system makes moving around in neighboring countries easy and super tempting to retirees.

4. Poland

Poznan, Poland
Photo Credit: Poznan, Poland

The most common attraction in Poland is its cost of living, ranging from $1200 to $1800, which is much lower than in Western European countries. Also, its scenic landscapes provide plenty of sightseeing opportunities, outdoor activities, and chances to explore charming towns and cities, making it perfect for retirees looking to do physical activities while enjoying their golden retirement days. 

Plus, it’s quite close to other parts of Europe that retirees can explore by car, train, or airplane.

5. Thailand

Tropical beach, Maya Bay, Thailand
Photo Credit: Thailand.

Thailand is known for its delicious cuisine and has much more to offer. The tropical weather allows the citizens to enjoy the warm weather all year long and relax on its beautiful beaches. A retirement visa or a Thailand Elite Visa can help retirees move to the country quickly and allow them to stay for an extended period. Thailand offers a comfortable and budget-friendly lifestyle with a significantly lower cost of living than many Western countries, ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 (and $2,000 tends to be quite luxurious). 

6. Finland

Helsinki port, Helsinki , Finland
Photo Credit: Helsinki port, Finland

Finland is the happiest and safest country, according to the Global Peace Index. It can also be your favorite place if you are a nature lover because it has natural landscapes, including pristine forests, thousands of lakes, and the mesmerizing Northern Lights. Although not among the cheapest options, Finland still provides a relatively affordable cost of living of $2000 to $3000, compared to many other European countries, with reasonable prices for essentials like housing and groceries. The breathtaking scenery, vibrant culture, and warm people make Finland an appealing choice for retirees seeking a safe and fulfilling retirement experience.

7. Slovenia

Bled lake in the mountains
Photo Credit:

Slovenia is a small country in Central Europe that has much to offer. From skiing in the epic mountains (Alps) to exploring caves, from boating in lakes to scuba diving in rivers, Slovenia is a complete fun package for retirees. Thanks to its temperate climate, everyone can experience a mix of four weathers. Retirees will like it because it has a strong economy and is one of the wealthiest Slavic countries. Getting around is easy because of good roads and transport links to nearby countries. In case of medical needs, every city and town has clinics and emergency help. Plus, the cost of living is as low as $1,200 to $1500 per month in the countryside or $2,000+ for city living.

Slovenia is quickly becoming the next big European destination, so these prices may not last!

8. Chile

Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile
Photo Credit: Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile

Chile is home to natural beauty, including wildlife, clear lakes, and vivid mountains. It offers retirees endless opportunities to explore its Atacama Desert, Patagonia’s glaciers, and the vineyards in the Central Valley. You’ll find a lifestyle here that’s almost like in developed countries, with clean cities, modern infrastructure, and a stable government.

With an average cost of living of $1500 for retirees, Chile provides a well-developed healthcare system, with hospitals and clinics providing quality medical care. As English is not their primary language, it’s better to know some Spanish before going there.

9. El Salvador

Izalco Volcano in El Salvador
Photo Credit: Izalco Volcano in El Salvador

El Salvador is the cheapest country to retire, with the cost of living ranging from $800 to $1,200. It is also called the Land of Volcanoes, making it a cool place to explore the mountain ranges, rolling plains, and lush rainforests. You can also enjoy its warm weather on the sunny beaches of the Pacific Ocean. The country is generally safe to retire to, and the people are warm and friendly.

10. Austria

Vilsalp Lake at Tannheimer Tal, Austria
Photo Credit: (Vilsalp Lake) at Tannheimer Tal , Austria

Austria, located in the Eastern Alps, has a rich history of famous musical composers, including the birth of Mozart. Being a landlocked country, Austria is known for its enormous peaks, skiing slopes, and historic castles. Well, with a cost of living of $1,500 to $2,500, it might not be the cheapest option, but with its consistently high ranking in terms of wealth, good healthcare services, and thanks to its well-trained law enforcement, a meager crime rate, it becomes a relaxing country for retirees.

11. New Zealand

Green hills with grass on Otago Peninsula in New Zealand
Photo Credit: Otago Peninsula in New Zealand

New Zealand is known for its jaw-dropping landscapes as an island country and its Maori culture. Even though it’s a popular tourist spot, don’t think of it as a costly country. The cost of living there is around $1800 to $2500, with a healthcare system that falls in the top 20 in the world and is particularly efficient for retirees who become permanent residents.

12. Mauritius

Relaxing tropical holidays in exotic paradise -Mauritius island
Photo Credit: Exotic paradise – Mauritius island

Mauritius is a peaceful and serene island country, making it an ideal destination for retirees seeking tranquility. The place is also home to world-class golf courses and luxurious hotels, offering retirees plenty of opportunities for leisure and recreation. The average cost of living ranges from $500 to $2,000. In addition to its natural beauty, Mauritius boasts excellent healthcare services, ensuring retirees can access quality medical care when needed.

Moreover, you can also invest in a business on the island. This presents an exciting opportunity for retirees to engage in entrepreneurship or pursue new ventures during their retirement years. 

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woman at the ocean by the pool luxury travel
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Photo Credit:

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happy old retired couple on the beach
Photo Credit:

Retirement isn’t just a phase but a new beginning. It marks the start of an exciting chapter where you can relax (without work looming over your head) and hopefully live on your terms. If you are considering retirement beyond borders, the world is full of unique destinations offering sunny days, cultural delights, and a laid-back lifestyle for your golden years. 

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