Best Countries to Retire In: A Comprehensive Guide for US Expats 2023


Retirement is a time to relax, explore new horizons, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. For many Americans, retiring outside of the United States has become an appealing option. The allure of a lower cost of living, better weather, and a change of scenery has led an increasing number of retirees to seek their golden years abroad. In this high-level overview, we will explore some of the best countries to retire in (in no specific order), taking into consideration factors such as cost of living, safety, expat communities, retirement visa requirements, healthcare, and potential exit tax exposure.

Exit Tax Exposure

Keep in mind, when retiring abroad, it's essential to consider potential exit tax exposure. The United States has tax regulations that may affect expatriates. If you're considering a move outside the US, it's advisable to consult with tax professionals like Castro & Co. Our international experts can help you navigate the complexities of exit taxes and ensure that you remain compliant with US tax laws.


Mexico consistently ranks as one of the top destinations for American retirees. Its proximity to the United States, beautiful beaches, and vibrant culture make it an attractive choice. The cost of living in Mexico is significantly lower than in the US, allowing retirees to stretch their savings. There are also well-established communities of retired expats in popular areas like Puerto Vallarta and Playa del Carmen.


Portugal, with its rich history, pleasant climate, and affordable cost of living, has become a hidden gem for retirees. The safety record in Portugal is excellent, and it offers a retirement visa program known as the Golden Visa, which allows non-EU citizens to obtain residency by making certain investments in the country. The healthcare system is of high quality and accessible.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica boasts breathtaking natural beauty, a stable political environment, and a strong sense of community. It is known for its "Pura Vida" lifestyle, emphasizing happiness and well-being. The cost of living can vary, but in many areas, it is lower than in the US. Retired expat communities flourish, especially in regions like Atenas and Grecia.


Spain's Mediterranean climate, historic cities, and diverse landscapes make it a popular choice for retirees. The country offers a retirement visa program, although the requirements can be stringent. The cost of living varies depending on the region, but it can be more affordable than in the US. Healthcare is of high quality, and there is a strong expat presence in places like the Costa del Sol.


For those seeking adventure in Southeast Asia, Malaysia stands out as an excellent retirement destination. It offers a Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program that allows foreigners to stay in the country on a long-term basis. Malaysia's cost of living is notably lower than in the United States, and it is renowned for its diverse cuisine and welcoming atmosphere.


Panama's Pensionado Visa program makes it an attractive choice for retirees, offering numerous discounts on everything from healthcare to entertainment. The cost of living in Panama is relatively low, and the country is known for its safety and stability. Many American expats choose to retire in Panama City or the picturesque mountain town of Boquete.


Thailand's exotic culture, stunning landscapes, and affordability make it a favorite among adventurous retirees. While it may be more challenging to obtain a long-term visa, the country offers a retirement visa option for those aged 50 and above. The cost of living is significantly lower than in the US, and the healthcare system is of high quality.


Ecuador is a country of diverse ecosystems, from the Amazon rainforest to the Andes Mountains. It boasts a low cost of living and a retirement visa program that requires only a modest income. Safety is generally not a major concern, and there are expat communities in cities like Cuenca and Quito.


Retiring outside of the United States can be a rewarding experience, offering a chance to explore new cultures, enjoy a lower cost of living, and embrace a different way of life. The best country for your retirement will depend on your personal preferences and circumstances. Factors such as the cost of living, safety, the presence of expat communities, retirement visa requirements, and healthcare should all be carefully considered. Additionally, potential exit tax exposure should not be overlooked, and seeking professional guidance, such as that provided by Castro & Co., can be invaluable in ensuring a smooth transition to retirement abroad.

Ultimately, the world is full of exciting retirement destinations, and the choice is yours. Whether you prefer the tropical beaches of Mexico, the historic charm of Portugal, or the adventure of Southeast Asia, there's a perfect place for you to enjoy your retirement years to the fullest.

At Castro & Co., we understand the unique challenges that individuals living and working abroad face when it comes to U.S. tax compliance. Our firm specializes in providing top-notch expat tax services to clients from all corners of the world. Whether you are a U.S. citizen living abroad or a foreign national with U.S. tax obligations, our dedicated team of tax professionals is here to ensure that you meet your tax obligations while maximizing tax benefits. Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive expat tax services and take the first step toward tax compliance and financial security, no matter where you are in the world.

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Before making any decisions regarding retirement in another country, it is crucial to conduct thorough research and seek guidance from the appropriate authorities. The information provided in this article serves as a high-level overview and is subject to change.

We strongly recommend consulting with the consulate or embassy of the specific country you are considering for retirement. These official government entities can provide you with the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding retirement visa requirements, legal regulations, and any other relevant matters related to relocating to that country.

Each country has its own unique policies, procedures, and requirements for retirees, and they may change over time. Therefore, it is essential to verify all details directly with the relevant consular authorities to ensure a smooth and well-informed transition to retirement abroad

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