The top places to retire

Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica

Discussing the place you want to retire in is an important part of your retirement plan.

your PLACE

You should choose the place you want to spend your retirement. First, let’s discuss some of the top places to retire in the world. This will help you understand why these places are the top or up-and-coming retirement destinations and might get your mental juices flowing as you think through your own retirement.

With 75 million baby boomers growing older and looking toward retirement in the next few years, America could see a major shift in where people choose to retire, especially as many are opting to “age in place.” There are plenty of active 55+ neighborhoods and many now include homes, independent living, townhomes to downsize, and assisted living facilities.

Top cities for retirement in the USA

In the USA, states like Arizona and Florida have always had high numbers of retirees and they even have entire retirement communities. But, the trends are starting to change. Some of the most important factors to consider when picking a state for retirement include quality of life, healthcare, affordability, walkability, weather, crime rate, and access to activities. Florida currently ranks number 4 in terms of affordability, 27 in healthcare, and 5th in terms of quality of life. Even though many Americans choose to retire in Florida, you do have to take into account the weather and possible hurricanes, as well as above-average health care costs. Some might enjoy the Florida heat, but others might want to choose a place a little cooler.

In an article in UpNest titled, “10 Best Places in America to Retire,” they did mention Florida and Arizona, but also some unexpected places.

The top 10 list:

  1. Florence, SC
  2. Macon, GA
  3. Lake Havasu City, AZ
  4. Vero Beach, FL
  5. Texarkana, TX
  6. Saginaw, MI
  7. Redding, CA
  8. Dothan, AL
  9. Shreveport, LA
  10. Hickory, NC

The high cost of living and rising healthcare costs are some disadvantages of retiring in the United States. Recently there has been an increasing number of people who prefer moving abroad for retirement. Retiring abroad can be an excellent way to adopt a new lifestyle and enjoy tax incentives, affordable housing, and better healthcare. With a wide range of retirement destination options, it may be hard to choose where to settle. You will need to weigh the cost of living, healthcare, lifestyle, and community in some of the best retirement countries.

Two of the top countries to retire abroad


From cobblestoned cities to Atlantic beaches, Portugal offers seniors a wide range of retirement options. The country is an excellent place to reside if you like world-class amenities like reliable public transportation, airports, and superfast internet. There are lots of historical museums in cities like Porto and Lisbon.

Portugal is among Europe’s most affordable retirement countries. With as little as $1700 per month, you can easily survive in smaller towns and Portugal’s interior cities. And you have access to affordable healthcare if you have a Portuguese residence permit and Identification. The so-called Portugal Golden Visa offers an opportunity to gain residency faster, and has become one of the most popular residence-by-investment programs in the world. Since its inception in 2012, thousands of families have successfully relocated to Portugal, and for good reason. Here is one of the many online resources giving a step-by-step guide to the Golden Visa. The health care is excellent and extremely affordable, plus the beauty of Portugal, the kindness of the people there, the quality of life, and the slower pace of life are positives to retiring in Portugal. But some might see the slower pace of life as a drawback. Other negatives might be the language barrier, culture shock, and double taxation.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a beautiful country located in Central America. Greetings like “Pura Vida,” which means “pure life,” describe everything about the country’s culture. With coffee plantations, beautiful beaches, and cloud forests, Costa Rica has so much to offer. The “pure life” lifestyle encourages you to worry less and get outdoors for enjoyment and pleasure.

With as low as $1600 monthly, a single person can reside in expensive cities like Tamarindo and San Jose. With $2500 to $3000 per month, you can enjoy high-quality food, housing, medical care, utilities, and entertainment with your spouse.

Costa Ricans can either opt for a universal medicine program or a private policy. An ordinary doctor’s visit can cost you about $50, while you will need to part with $80 for a consultation with a specialist. Living in the city may not favor you if you are on a budget, but there are plenty of other coastal towns to consider. Jaco is a popular surfing town in Puntarenas. A recent article in The Guardian, “‘It feels like home’: why are Black Americans moving to Costa Rica?” revealed that many Americans are choosing to retire there, and even create communities of expats. In the town of Puerto Viejo, the expat community even hosts local Soul Food Sundays and Karaoke nights. Having a built-in and welcoming community is definitely a plus when retiring to a new country where you have to adjust and learn the lay of the land.

Other places to consider

  • Comporta, Portugal
  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  • Cayo, Belize
  • Panama
  • Northern Cyprus
  • Paris, France
  • County Clare, Ireland
  • Città Sant’Angelo, Italy
  • Salinas, Ecuador
  • Malaga, Spain
  • Switzerland
  • New Zealand

Maybe you love where you live and will choose to stay right where you are. Or, maybe you are considering relocating closer to your family, or your children and grandchildren, or to a place you enjoy – like the beach or the mountains. You might have old friends you want to live near and reconnect with. Or, you just might want to start over and have a change of scenery.

It is worth having a discussion or at least considering why you chose the place you currently live. Did your career take you there? Was it because you thought it would be a good place to raise a family? When you step back and examine your choices, perhaps you’ll find that the reasons you chose that place won’t necessarily apply to your circumstances in retirement. Some financial aspects to consider include making sure your mortgage is paid off – this has been proven to directly impact your level of happiness in your retirement. Something else to consider is downsizing, but that is a bit complicated with the cost of homes now. These are all questions to ponder and work through.

One thing to consider is if you are thinking about moving to a new location or even overseas, you might want to have a conversation with your family members about this decision.

Deciding on your place

Circle the items below that matter most to you when deciding where you want to live.

  • arts + culture
  • proximity to your closest friends
  • close to family (parents, children, and grandchildren…)
  • diversity of people
  • good public transportation
  • plenty of entertainment options nearby
  • close to an airport for travel
  • good hiking trails
  • quiet + peaceful
  • great shopping
  • urban
  • near the mountains
  • healthcare costs
  • enjoying all four seasons
  • good restaurants
  • vacation lifestyle
  • biking trails
  • accessible medical care
  • cost of living
  • affordable housing
  • rural
  • retirement community
  • near the ocean
  • suburban
  • desire to downsize
  • snow
  • lower taxes
  • close to a lake
  • warm weather year-round
  • near golf courses
  • walkable neighborhood
  • sporting events

From what you circled above, write down your top 5 things, in the order of importance for you. Again – this is very personal, so in case you have a life partner, you may consider starting with 2 separate lists, and then working together to find a common list of Top 5.

  1. ______________
  2. ______________
  3. ______________
  4. ______________
  5. ______________
If you determine that you are already in the best possible place now, then – congratulations! If you are considering other options, look for places that meet these priorities you listed above.  Then, list below some places where you could see yourself thriving, or even a list of places you want to visit and see how well you really enjoy it once you’re there. 
Some places you are considering for a trip, or for retirement: 
  1. ______________
  2. ______________
  3. ______________
  4. ______________
Are you planning to retire overseas? The advisors at Goodwin Investment Advisory will offer the assistance you need to plan for your retirement years here locally, or help you plan your retirement wherever you may go. Contact us today to schedule a meeting with an advisor.
Disclaimer & Disclosure:
This article is intended to help you think about some aspects of retirement and the choice of where to retire, but it should not be considered as a definitive or exhaustive resource. Each person’s situation is unique, and therefore your experience may be different and your key considerations will be different. The cost of living numbers mentioned above are based on what we have seen quoted as typical, but you will have to do your due diligence to confirm the costs for your specific situation. The rankings of retirement destinations in the USA and abroad are based on our personal perspectives and information available online at the time of this article, however this can change and there may also be multiple different such rankings available from different sources. Goodwin Investment Advisory does not receive any compensation from the sources listed above.

If you are considering where to retire, please contact us and speak to an advisor, so that we can support you in making the decision.
By Published On: October 26th, 2022

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About the Author: Tara Bruce

Tara Bruce
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