Best Countries for Expats: Retirees Edition

. 7 min read

The beige sand is loose beneath your toes as cool ocean waves cascade over your tanned feet. The sun caresses your skin before taking its leave after a warm summer day. You raise a glass to your lips, and enjoy the tart fruitiness of the wine from a local vineyard. You turn to gaze lovingly at your spouse, who is calling you for dinner. Soft jazz wafts down from the balcony of your villa, and the sweet smell of bougainvillea fills your sinuses. You are ecstatic about your decision to spend your retirement years abroad.  

As you take your first step up from the beach towards your idyllic home, the silence is broken by the clock radio on your bedside table. Not with the smooth jazz of your dream, it is the techno-punk band your granddaughter listens to. That's when it hits you. You aren't retired yet. It's still a year away, and you haven't made a final decision on where you'd like to spend your twilight years. You just know you want to end up in a similar destination and as close an experience as possible to the dream you just woke from.

You resolve to decide on a retirement destination at dinner tonight. You have time to do some online research over your lunch hour. It's fortunate you landed on this article to help you in your research, as we'll be describing six of the best countries for expats retiring abroad. If you live in a country which you feel should be added to this list, tell us about it at, and we'll be happy to adapt this article to include your input.

Now that we've set the tone for the article, here are six excellent destinations you should consider moving to if you plan on retiring abroad, and a plethora of information resources for your in-depth research.

Photo by LEMUR / Unsplash


If you want to retire in a country where they are friendly, hard-working, social, and hospitable, you'd definitely be happy to live in Portugal. If you like to drink coffee, eat seafood, take long walks on the beach, and watch (European) football, you should book a one-way ticket to Lisbon ASAP. Tourism is a leading source of wealth and revenue for Portugal, so they are very accommodating to foreigners that speak other languages.

The scenario that opened this article could absolutely have happened in Portugal. The beach, the villa, the flowers, and the wine. Portugal could absolutely be the retirement destination of your dreams, be it on the mainland, or the Azores.  

Portugal is one of the newest countries to allow for registrations for XE Money Transfer accounts. If you are living in Portugal now, or transferring money there to fulfill your retirement dreams, we are now ready to serve you or your business.

In the wild streets of barcelona
Photo by John Fornander / Unsplash


Spain is a popular retirement destination for Europeans, UK nationals and many others from around the world. Europeans can retire to Spain with a long term visa. There are many pull factors which draw seniors to spend their retirement in Spain, including:

  • Warm climate
  • Excellent food and wine
  • An affordable lifestyle by European standards
  • General popularity of Spain as a migration destination for expats from the EU and UK
  • The Spanish healthcare system is excellent for the elderly
  • Spain's culture has a more laid-back "vibe" than countries like the UK, the US or other western countries. The kind of vibe you look for when you're retiring, and looking to escape the pressure of life in a city like London or Paris.

You have many options for great locales if you choose to retire in Spain. If you are looking for affordable accommodation, you'll find great opportunities in cities like Madrid and Malaga, or in more rural areas. If you are looking for a resort-like setting, cities like Valencia, Seville, or Palma on Majorca are more likely more in line with what you are looking for.

Spain, like Portugal or many countries that rely on tourism for a significant percentage of their revenue, is understanding of expats who don't adopt their language. There are, however many benefits for expats to learning Spanish and the rich Spanish culture.  

Photo by Holly Mandarich / Unsplash


Many of the same reasons which motivate people to retire in Spain are common to those who retire in Mexico. The country's climate, food, cost of living and improving healthcare services attract many Americans and Canadians on either a full-time basis, or for six months at a time. Granted, in the political and economic climate, some expats, particularly American nationals, may not be comfortable retiring in Mexico.

For those who are eager to make Mexico their retirement destination often do so after they consider the following:

  • The low cost of living, such as food, housing, and entertainment
  • The vibrant culture, and music
  • Relative ease of getting a temporary or permanent visa based on savings and income
  • Beautiful resort towns, beaches, and availability of oceanside properties
  • Strength of US and Canadian dollars relative to the Mexican peso
  • Close proximity of Mexico to the US

Mexico is a beautiful country, full of rich history and is the birthplace of XE's Chief Strategy Officer, Cecilia Tamez. Cecelia moved to Canada in 1985, and was one of the first employees at XE's Newmarket office in Canada.

Some of the most popular cities in Mexico for expat retirees include:

  • Mexico City
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Oaxaca
  • Puebla
  • Acapulco

There are some areas of Mexico which have been deemed security risk areas for foreigners, though offers great tips on the safest locations, behaviours and practices for those going to Mexico for a short or extended stay.

Photo by Kamyab Lotfollahyan / Unsplash


If Mexico or Spain are too "spicy" for your taste, retiring in Switzerland might be more your speed. As a highly-sought after destination for expat retirees, the Swiss government has established a Swiss retirement residency program.

Though Switzerland has high income tax rates and a higher cost of living than the other destinations on this list, quality of life is very high in cities like Geneva, Zurich, and Bern. Only about 40% of Switzerland's population owns their home. Expatica estimates the cost of living in these three cities to be about on par with that of London or New York.

Healthcare in Switzerland is renowned as some of the best in the world. Foreign nationals should be sure to have their health insurance affairs in order, as the country's quality healthcare doesn't come cheap, and basic insurance is mandatory. Low-cost insurance though doesn't cover everything, so be sure to do your due diligence. Swiss banks are some of the most trusted in the world, and the Swiss franc is held in high regard as a safe haven currency during uncertain times.

Planning to move to Switzerland for an extended time period and need to transfer funds to make a deposit on a rental property or a downpayment on a home? XE Money Transfer can help you affordably exchange funds to Swiss francs, and ensure they reach your intended recipient in a timely and secure fashion.

Photo by Chris Malinao Burgett / Unsplash


If you threw a coin into Rome's famous Trevi fountain, and vowed to return to the historic Italian city some day, retiring in Italy could be just the thing to embrace your destiny. If you threw three coins into the fountain, and sipped cool water from the "small fountain of lovers", you are likely still married to your true love.

Italy's diverse landscapes, from Lake Como in the north, to Sorrento in the south, and other locations like Florence, Venice, and Rome between all offer romantic, rich lifestyles to live out your "dolce vita".

Italy's healthcare is considered excellent. The country's food, wine, art, and music are legendary. Sipping a glass of chianti, and eating a sumptuous Italian meal of risotto and gelato for dessert in a Venice is a memory not soon forgotten.

If you are looking to transfer money to Italy for your retirement arrangements, XE will be happy to help you make that process hassle-free.

Photo by Louis Hansel / Unsplash


If you picture yourself retiring in a country with magestic mountains, excellent food, affordable accommodations, friendly people and a "whole lot of llamas", Peru is an ideal place to retire. Taking any of the countries on this list for a "test drive" vacation before you commit to spending a long time is a good idea.

Many soon-to-be-retirees go to Machu Picchu (along with 95% of Peru visitors, according to and then fall in love with the country. The affordable living and 300 days of sunshine per year probably help the cause too.  

If your retirement is on the horizon, and you want to make your dreams a reality, don't risk your hard-earned savings with just any international money transfer service. XE Money Transfer has a 5-star reputation on TrustPilot.

We work hard every day to earn your trust, provide a stress-free customer experience, and provide services which can sustain you throughout your years, no matter where you live, rest, and play. We hope to serve you soon. You can open an XE Money Transfer account quickly, and book a transfer with surprising ease.

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