Ranking the world’s best retirement destinations

Many people on the verge of retirement see a change of scenery on foreign shores as the perfect lifestyle change in this period of their lives, when relaxation and indulgence take over following long careers that may have spanned over 40 years. While retirement options can often differ from person to person, the general consensus is that ending your working commitments and retiring abroad is something to look forward to.

However, deciding exactly where to retire can be an overwhelming prospect. The world is a huge place, and without a clear plan or younger family members to help in the decision making process, deciding where to spend retirement can prove incredibly daunting for retirees.

If you’ve been thinking about retiring abroad, or know someone who is, you might want to take a look at our research below. Taking data from Numbeo.com in November 2016, we’ve assessed ten of the world’s most popular retirement hotspots on a variety of factors to help you judge whether a better quality, less expensive lifestyle can be obtained abroad. Additionally, an ICE poll surveyed 1000 respondents aged 40+ to gauge what are the top five ranking motivations for retiring abroad.

Here’s the cost of house prices per square metre for our ten locations:


House Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in City Centre

London cost
Spain (Madrid) £3578.57 £ 15,237.38
Tenerife (Santa Cruz) £1582.38 £ 15,237.38
Australia (Sydney) £7472.65 £ 15,237.38
Greece (Corfu) £901.85 £ 15,237.38
Lanzarote (Arrecife) £935.88 £ 15,237.38
Malta (Valletta) £5955.58 £ 15,237.38
Portugal (Lisbon) £2680.08 £ 15,237.38
Panama (Panama City) £1703.63 £ 15,237.38
United States (Orlando) £1394.47 £ 15,237.38
France (Paris) £6938.36 £ 15,237.38

The verdict? Choose an island paradise

From these findings, island-based living on Corfu and Lanzarote is the cheapest in terms of property value.

Additionally, a lush Mediterranean climate makes both destinations an enticing prospect for retirement. With average summer highs of 22-25 ºC and mild winters from 10-19 ºC, the grandkids will be clamouring to come and visit your newfound home.

The rest of your family won’t be far behind. In our ICE poll, better weather was the number one ranking motivation (76%) for moving abroad.

Not only do Corfu and Lanzarote offer huge property savings of over 90% compared to London – living expenses are far cheaper too. Retirees can also make savings of over 50% on their electricity, heating and water bills, underlining both islands’ appeal even further.

City living? Try Lisbon

While a slower pace of life was one of the top five motivations (60%) for retiring on foreign shores, retirees can still enjoy having plenty of amenities close by.

The Portuguese capital of Lisbon ranked the best value city out of the destinations on the list, offering retirees massive property savings of more than 80%. While this total is trumped by the likes of Orlando (90.85%), and Panama City (88.82%), it’s worth bearing in mind that Lisbon is just under a three-hour flight from London, meaning people retiring in the sun can still be close to friends and relatives back home.

Lisbon also beats London comfortably when it comes to saving the pennies, with a saving of over 50% for a three-course meal for two (53.59%), electricity, heating and water bills (52.04%) and a domestic beer (53.60%) – perfect for those wanting to relax in the Iberian heat.

Getting around – it may be easier than you think

For retirees, healthcare is a massive factor underpinning a decision to move abroad. Survey respondents agreed with over half (57%) mentioning health as one of the top five significant factors. In Spain for example, an S1 form makes retirees eligible for the same medical treatment as locals if they are in possession of a UK state pension.

Getting around is also a key consideration no matter the destination for each individual. In various cases, retirees may become rather reliant upon public transport with age. For those suffering back pain, hearing loss, sight impairments and so on, public transport often represents a welcome alternative to walking or driving.

The rising cost of public transport in London has been well documented, but retirement hotspot Santa Cruz de Tenerife boasts the second best value public transport savings at 55.76%.

The choice is yours

Retirement is all about comfort, relaxation and a healthy state of mind. So while the globe is a large place with choice of destination ultimately down to each retiree, we hope our guide has helped to shortlist some incredibly appealing options.