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20 Best Places to Retire in the US & Overseas in 2019

by Nemanja Boskov

There are many wonderful places, both in the US and overseas, where you can enjoy your retirement. The question of where to retire comes after you’ve found the answer to the question: How much money do I need to retire? Once you set your retirement budget, the question becomes: Which factors should I consider when looking for a perfect retirement spot?

To help you find a perfect spot for enjoying your golden years, we’ve found the best places to retire, taking into account several key factors:

  • Housing affordability
  • Taxes
  • Healthcare quality
  • Cost of living

Plus, most of these places have a pleasant climate, picturesque sights to visit, and fun things to do. Of course, we’ll tell you all about these as well. So, without further ado, let’s jump right into it!

The 10 Best Places to Retire in the US

10. Lakeland, Florida

Best Places to Retire - 10. Lakeland, Florida

Lakeland is one of the best places to retire in Florida, apart from Fort Myers and Sarasota. The cost of living index in Lakeland is 92, which is both below the average state’s index and the national average. This Florida city is also tax-friendly when it comes to its senior residents. It has no tax on retirement income, including Social Security benefits, and 401(k) and IRA plans. Knowing this, it’s no wonder Florida is considered the best state to retire in.

When it comes to Lakeland’s parks and places to explore, you won’t be disappointed. A recreational center at Mirror Lake, the Polk Theatre, Hollis Garden, the Polk Museum of Art, and Lake Parker are only some of the many must-visit places in one of the top places to retire in the US.

On the other hand, being a car-dependent city, Lakeland doesn’t have many bike lanes, and the number of places that can be reached on foot is limited. Moreover, the city has an unemployment rate of 5.2%, which is 1.5% above the national average. On the plus side, Lakeland is home to several universities and colleges, which make this city ideal for retirees who want to continue their education.

9. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

Best Places to Retire - 9. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

One of the pivotal reasons Dallas-Fort Worth is often listed as one of the top 10 places to retire in the US is that it is among the safest cities in Texas. Next, Texas has no income taxes, and this applies to Fort Worth too. Moreover, Walk Score rated this destination as very walkable, giving it a Walk Score of 87 out of 100. Plus, Fort Worth is dubbed “Biker’s Paradise,” due to its excellent bike infrastructure.

As far as housing affordability goes, Fort Worth’s median home value is around $184,000, which is below the national average. Because of this, the city ranks among the cheapest places to retire in the United States. Another thing that makes living in Fort Worth slightly less expensive is free power between 9 pm and 6 am, which can significantly reduce electricity bills.

Lastly, there’re a lot of things to do in Fort Worth. You can visit one of the three art museums – namely, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Kimbell, and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. There’s also the Bass Performance Hall opera house, Fort Worth Zoo, and many other exciting attractions.

8. San Antonio, Texas

Best Places to Retire - 8. San Antonio, Texas

This South-Texan city, San Antonio, is one of the preferred destinations for retirees. A warm climate and affordable housing are among the top reasons why San Antonio is one of the best places to retire in Texas. The cost of living in the River City is 3% lower than the national average, which is excellent news for retirees living on a tight budget.

Another amazing thing about San Antonio is that there are no state income taxes. If we add to that that the quality of air in San Antonio is quite good, this Texan city might seem like a perfect place to retire in.

However, not everything is perfect about the River City. For instance, if you decide to spend your golden years in one of the best places to retire in the US, you’ll need a car for most of your chores. Even though the city’s topography is primarily flat, San Antonio is a car-dependent city. Additionally, the crime rate is above the nation’s average. Still, in recent years, there has been a decline in crime rates, and they will continue to drop.

7. Nashville, Tennessee

Best Places to Retire - 7. Nashville, Tennessee

Our next stop is Nashville, famous for country music, and various nicknames, the most popular of which is “Music City.” In Nashville, music is everywhere. For this, and many other reasons, Tennessee is one of the best states to retire in, and Nashville is one of the top retirement destinations in the country.

Here are some things you’ll love about Nashville. The city is home to 21 colleges and universities, making it a perfect place for continued education. Its unemployment rate is 0.4% below the national average. The healthcare industry in Nashville employs around 122,000 people.

When it comes to housing affordability, the median home value is $167,500, which is below the national average. And if you opt for renting a place in Nashville, the good news is that the average rent is around $900. In comparison, the US average rent rate is close to $1,500.

6. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Best Places to Retire - 6. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids is one of the best, if not the best place to retire in the US, depending on your preferences. The U.S. News and World Report magazine named the River City both one of the best places to live and retire. Additionally, the Milken Institute placed Grand Rapids in the top 25 cities for successful aging.

The cost of living in Grand Rapids currently sits as 88, which 12% below the US average. For those who plan to relocate in retirement, West Michigan’s most prominent city offers below-average home prices – between $180,000 and $190,000.

The drawback of retiring in Grand Rapids is that the city has an income tax at 4.25% on almost all retirement incomes. IRA plans are an exception to this rule, as they are generally not taxable.

Additionally, the city has a minimal bike infrastructure, and only some chores can be done on foot. Still, the city has 1,200 acres of parks, which is perfect for a healthy, active lifestyle.

5. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Best Places to Retire - 5. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The latest retirement statistics reveal that 96% of retirees cite Social Security as one of their sources of income. Taking this into account, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s second-largest city, is one of the best places to retire on Social Security only, due to low rent costs ($617), and monthly homeownership costs for retirees over 65.

The Steel City is overall one of the most affordable cities in the country. The cost of living in Pittsburgh is 1% below the national average. Next, if you plan on buying a house here, the median home value sits at around $150,000, which is nearly 37% below the national median home value. Additionally, distributions from IRAs and 401(k) plans, Social Security benefits, and pensions are tax-free, which makes Pittsburgh one of the cheapest places to retire.

This city is home to 446 bridges. However, you might not be able to bridge some of the problems associated with living in Pittsburgh. This includes poor air quality, cold winters, and an above-average national crime rate.

4. Austin, Texas

Best Places to Retire - 4. Austin, Texas

As we’ve already mentioned, Texas lacks state income taxes, which is why many retirees consider moving to one of the country’s cities. Austin is among the most livable cities and one of the top ten places to retire in the US. There is plenty of stuff to do in the Capital of Texas, starting with art and music festivals. Austin is not called the “Live Music Capital of the World” for no reason.

Next, Austin has a warm climate, and with it come mild winters. There are also more than 250 parks and vast green spaces in the city. With that in mind, Austin residents can enjoy swimming, playing golf, hiking, and so on.

On the other hand, the median home value in Austin, Texas is around $258,000, which is above the US average. For this reason, we cannot describe it as one of the most affordable places to retire.

Most retirees look to stretch out their dollar by moving to another city and look for a smaller, more affordable place to live in. When it comes to Austin, the average house value isn’t one of the reasons retirees move here, as it is higher than in other cities. However, utilities, groceries, healthcare, and transportation costs in Austin are below the national average, which helps balance things out a bit.

3. Sarasota, Florida

Best Places to Retire - 3. Sarasota, Florida

Florida has held the title of the best state to retire in for so long due to its warm climate. Sarasota is also one of Florida’s cities that are attracting more and more tourists every year. However, for many, Sarasota is more than a tourist attraction. The U.S. News & World Report ranks Sarasota as the third best place for retirement – in part due to it being in one of the best states to retire tax-wise. On top of that, the city ranks in the top 20 places to live as well.

So, what makes Sarasota a good place for retirees apart from a pleasant tax climate? Well, as mentioned earlier, Florida is renowned for its climate. With warm weather, the pool of possibilities for outdoor activities is nearly endless. People from all walks of life can enjoy biking, swimming, and playing golf or tennis, among other recreational activities.

Apart from warm weather, Sarasota is also the arts and culture hub of Florida. The city has ten theaters, and more than 30 art galleries. That’s not all, though. Sarasota is also known for its beautiful beaches with fine sands and warm water. The most popular beaches that make Sarasota one of the best places to retire include Turtle Beach, Crescent Beach, and Siesta Beach.

One last thing on the list of pros of retiring in Sarasota is the fact that over 57% of Sarasota residents are 45 or older. On the other hand, if you plan to relocate to Sarasota, keep in mind that the median home value here is above the US average. The cost of living is higher as well, 9 points above the national average.

2. Fort Myers, Florida

Best Places to Retire - 2. Fort Myers, Florida

Fort Myers is undoubtedly the best place to retire in Florida. Much like Sarasota, Fort Myers also doesn’t have state income taxes. There are also plenty of things to do and visit in Fort Myers. The Edison Festival of Light is one of the largest festivals in Florida taking place in February.

When talking about Fort Myers, and, Florida in general, we cannot leave out beautiful beaches. Bunche Beach, Fort Myers Beach, Captiva Beach, and Cayo Costa are some of the many stunning beaches in Fort Myers. Here you can take long strolls, go for a swim, and enjoy the nice weather.

Beautiful beaches, warm climate, and the absence of income taxes are the things that still make Florida one of the best states to retire in 2019. Fort Myers, one of Florida’s most picturesque cities, could easily be one of the best places to enjoy your retirement, especially if you prefer warm weather.

1. Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Best Places to Retire - 1. Lancaster, Pennsylvania

We’ve saved the best for last. Pennsylvania’s Lancaster is one of the most desirable places for retirees. Let’s see what earned the Red Rose City the No. 1 spot on our list of the top 10 places to retire in the US.

First of all, Lancaster is known for housing affordability. The median home value in the city is around 40% below the national average. Secondly, property crime rates in Pennsylvania are among the nation’s lowest, which contributed to Pennsylvania’s ranking as one of the best states to retire in 2018, and the trend continues in 2019 as well.

Next, Lancaster has an excellent walkability score according to Walk Score. This score indicates that most places in the cities are within walking distance, and can be reached on foot.

The cost of living in Lancaster is 8% below the US average, and according to the U.S. News & World Report, the city has a superb healthcare system.

The 10 Best Places to Retire Overseas

Best Places to Retire - World

We’ve concluded our list of the most desirable places for retiring in the country. Before we explore the top ten places to retire outside the US, be sure to check our Ultimate List of Senior Discounts. We’ve found several airlines and railway companies that offer discounts for seniors, which could cut down your travel expenses if you decide to move abroad!

An now, here are some of the most amazing places in the world to enjoy your golden years in.

10. Spain

Best Places to Retire - 10. Spain

Retiring in Spain is a marvelous idea for several reasons. First of all, the cost of living in Spain is nearly 24% lower than in America. Moreover, Spain is famous for having the lowest cost of living index in all of Western Europe.

Secondly, who can resist the Spanish weather? The country has 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. The Mediterranean climate brings hot and dry summers, while winters are not too cold.

Additionally, Spain ranks seventh on the 2019 World Health Organization list of countries with the best healthcare systems in the world. In contrast, the US is 37th on the list. So, apart from being one of the cheapest places to retire in the world, Spain also has high-quality healthcare. 

The country is very walkable as well, helping retirees stay healthy and active through various outdoor recreational activities. To improve your well-being, you can always combine your outdoor activities with a healthy, well-balanced diet. Our comprehensive guide on elderly nutrition explores essential nutrients, nutritional requirements for seniors, as well as different ways to improve your nutrition, all of which can be fulfilled if you live in Spain and follow the Mediterranean diet.

Lastly, if you want to retire in Spain, you can do so with an annual retirement income between $20,000 and $25,000. According to International Living, some of the best places to retire in Spain are Alicante, Malaga, Madrid, and Bilbao, among other cities.

9. Thailand

Best Places to Retire - 9. Thailand

Another popular country for enjoying retirement is Thailand. The Southeast Asian city is one of the best places to retire overseas for affordable and efficient health care.

To qualify for the Thai visa, retirees should have an annual income of $22,000 or $25,000 in savings. The tax treaty between Thailand and the US helps avoid double taxation, so retirement income is exempt from Thai taxation.

Next, traveling in Thailand is quite affordable. This means that retirees can visit stunning white-sand beaches, islands, hidden waterfalls, mountains covered in lush, green trees, and magnificent temples without spending too much money.

As a matter of fact, Thailand is, in general, one of the most affordable places to retire2018 and 2019 saw this Southeast Asian country ranking high on a multitude of budget-friendly retirement places lists.

For example, groceries are 34% cheaper in Thailand than in the US. Eating out in a mid-range restaurant will you’ll save 1.3x times more on your bill if you decide to have it in Thailand, and not in America. The situation is similar when it comes to monthly rent costs as well. In Thailand, a single bedroom apartment in the city center is three times less expensive compared to renting out the same-sized apartment in the US.

So, if you’re looking to stretch out your nest egg, Thailand might be the best place to retire in the world or at least one of the top contenders.

8. Peru

Best Places to Retire - 8. Peru

Peru is no longer just a place millions of tourists visit to see Machu Picchu. This South American country has recently become one of the leading retirement destinations.

The primary reason we see an increased number of US retirees moving to Peru is the quality of life. Namely, the country offers a perfect balance of a high-quality lifestyle with an affordable cost of living. Peru could easily be the best place to retire in the world on a budget, as almost everything is cheaper in Peru than in the US, including groceries, clothing, and basic utilities. Moreover, the median house value in Peru is about $77,000 compared to the US national average of $227,700.

When it comes to places to live, Peru has a lot to offer – from picturesque beaches to mountain areas. Plus, the climate is quite favorable, with 300 days of sunshine per year.

In contrast to all the good things Peru has to offer, the country doesn’t have a tax treaty with the US, which is vital for avoiding double taxation. And even though it might be the cheapest place to live in the world, English speaking residents are rare. So, if you want to pack your bags and enjoy your retirement years in Peru, better bring a Spanish dictionary with you, as you will surely need it.

7. Portugal

Best Places to Retire - 7. Portugal

The cost of living in the capital of Portugal stands at about $2,500 per month, whereas life in smaller cities is even more affordable. A couple could easily get by with $1,700 per month. On the other hand, an average American spends double that amount during one month. These figures show that Portugal is an affordable place to live in, where you can make your dollar last longer, and live comfortably at the same time.

Portugal became one of the best places to retire in Europe thanks not only to a low cost of living but its residents as well. They will warmly welcome anyone who’s not from Portugal in an effort to make foreigners’ stay, however long it may be, more pleasant.

The weather in Portugal is another plus side of retiring in the country. Plus, there’s a tax treaty between the US and Portugal which prevents paying taxes to both countries. To get a temporary Portuguese visa, US retirees should have an annual income of $15,000. After five years, they can apply for permanent residence in Portugal. As permanent residents, US retirees have access to free healthcare.

Lastly, it’s possible to qualify for the Non-habitual Residence (NHR) status, which exempts retirement incomes from Portuguese income taxes for ten years.

6. Colombia

Best Places to Retire - 6. Colombia

When talking about the best countries to retire, we cannot skip Colombia. The number one reason many retirees have moved to Columbia is the country’s high-quality healthcare. On the World Health Organization’s list of best healthcare systems, Colombia ranks 22nd. In comparison, the US is trailing 15 places behind.

Apart from an excellent healthcare system, Colombia has something for everyone, including breathtaking coastline regions and lush mountain areas.

The cost of living in one of the most affordable places to retire, Colombia, is significantly lower than in the US too. Groceries, for instance, are nearly 65% cheaper than in the US. The median home value in Colombia is $135,300, which reflects this country’s inexpensive real estate market. To get a retirement visa in Colombia, your monthly income only needs to be $765 or above.

5. Malaysia

Best Places to Retire - 5. Malaysia

Beaches, rainforests, and nearly 880 islands is what best describes Malaysia. The country is a perfect retirement destination for those who want to stay active in their golden years.

What helps Malaysia rank as one of the top places to retire abroad is the low cost of living. Eating out, groceries, public transportation, and basic utilities are all significantly less expensive in Malaysia than in America.

Home rental prices are reasonably low in Malaysia too. Renting out a three-bedroom apartment in the city center in Malaysia would cost you around $600/month, while in the US you’d pay over $2,000. Retirees can also buy a property in Malaysia, which is not available in many countries.

All in all, Malaysia ranks well among the cheap places to retire overseas. It has an excellent healthcare system, and if you don’t speak Malay, don’t worry – English is the unofficial first language in this multinational hub.

4. Ecuador

Best Places to Retire - 4. Ecuador

One of the things that make Ecuador a dream retirement destination is the country’s weather. Depending on the area, the climate in Ecuador ranges from warm to mild. Next, Ecuador’s topography makes it possible for retirees to lead an active lifestyle. Owning a car isn’t necessary thanks to affordable public transportation.

Among the things that make Ecuador one of the most affordable places to retire in the world is that foreigners can buy a property, and at incredibly low prices. Real estate in the country is quite inexpensive, allowing retirees to buy a beach home for about $150,000.

When it comes to taxes, Ecuador doesn’t tax Social Security benefits, but the lack of a tax treaty with the US could lead to double taxation issues. Lastly, the healthcare system in Ecuador allows foreigners to join the country’s public healthcare system for as little as $100/month.

3. Mexico

Best Places to Retire - 3. Mexico

Mexico is the best place to retire abroad, and still stay close to home. Returning home from Mexico takes three to four hours, depending on where you’re living in the US.

Due to Mexico’s proximity to America, many retirees are choosing to keep their US medical insurance. However, joining Mexico’s healthcare system is an excellent option, as well. As a matter of fact, many Mexican doctors trained in the US and vice versa. Only, medical care is much more affordable in Mexico than in the US. A huge difference in prices doesn’t only apply to medical care, but to almost all other aspects of living as well.

If you’re searching for the best places to retire in California but realized you can’t really afford to live in an expensive state, try looking beyond the US borders. The cost of living in Mexico is over 51% cheaper than in the US, excluding rent. Renting out a place in Mexico is roughly four times less expensive than in the US. Additionally, there’s a tax treaty between Mexico and the US, which prevents double taxation.

One thing is for sure – Mexico’s vibrant local culture is sure to win you over. Some of the best places to retire in Mexico are San Miguel de Allende, Playa del Carmen, Campeche, Cancun, and Merida.

2. Costa Rica

Best Places to Retire - 2. Costa Rica

Healthcare statistics reveal that 7 out 10 Americans are overweight, so staying active in retirement has become essential. Retirees looking to lead an active lifestyle during their golden years will love Costa Rica. The most popular outdoor activities in the country include hiking and diving. Costa Rica, one of the best places to retire, is also home to 300 stunning beaches perfect for surfing, swimming, or simply enjoying beautiful sunsets.

The cost of living in Costa Rica allows retirees to stretch out their dollar, and make their nest egg last longer. Costa Rica’s tropical climate makes retiring in the country even more enjoyable, along with the lack of taxes on foreign income of retirees.

To start enjoying your retirement in Costa Rica, you need to get a retirement visa, which requires you to have a monthly income of $1,000.

1. Panama

Best Places to Retire - 1. Panama

When it comes to best places to retire, 2018 rankings saw Costa Rica leading the race as the ideal place for retirement. This year, however, Panama got the title of being the best place to retire.

Many see Panama as an alternative to Florida. The country has a warm climate, but it is not as expensive as Florida. In addition to being inexpensive to live in, Panama offers additional discounts via its retirement program, i.e., the Pensionado Program. Entering the retirement program is pretty straightforward, and it requires that you have a monthly income of $1,000.

Taking into account all the good things about retiring in Panama, the country isn’t only one of the best places to retire in the world, but the best retirement location.

Wrapping Up

Best Places to Retire - Beach

That was everything we’ve prepared for this edition of the best retirement destinations. If you want to retire in the US, here’s what you should keep in mind. The most popular retirement states are Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania, while Lancaster is currently a favorite among retirees, based on multiple criteria.

When it comes to retiring abroad, many countries support a modest lifestyle, which has become one of the top priorities for retirees, as only 1 in 4 Baby Boomers believe that their savings will last throughout retirement, 401k stats show.

As for the top 10 places to retire outside the US, Spain has the best healthcare system. Thailand’s low transportation cost allows for exploring this beautiful Southeast Asian country on the budget. The real estate market in Peru is three times less expensive than in the US. Portugal locals are friendly, which makes the process of fitting in easy.

For retiring in Colombia and getting a retirement visa, you don’t need a high monthly income. Most Malaysians speak English well, so you won’t need to learn to speak Malay. Joining Ecuador’s public healthcare system is a mere $100/month. Mexico has a vibrant local culture, while Costa Rica promotes a healthy, active lifestyle. Lastly, when it comes to the best places to retire, Panama is the top retirement destination for 2019.

As you can see, you have a lot of excellent options which you might not have known about. We hope we’ve helped you choose the location that suits you best – be it in the US or abroad!

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