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Updated 1 Dec 2021

Dreaming of living out your golden years on a sun-drenched island or in a laid-back country village?

Retiring abroad has become an increasingly attractive prospect, and with many countries running visa programmes that encourage retirees, it’s easier than ever.

Here are some of our top picks for expat retirement destinations.


Quality of life

The island lifestyle Malta offers is hard to top. With historical monuments seemingly around every corner, there’s much to explore here. Lovely weather provides ample opportunities for soaking up the Mediterranean sun, and it’s said that the locals are just as warm as the climate.

Cost of living

Life in Malta is affordable, especially compared to countries in mainland Europe. Accommodation prices are reasonable, especially if you decide to live inland or on one of the smaller Maltese islands, such as Gozo. There is little need to own a car on this tiny island, thanks to a cheap and comprehensive public transport system.


The Global Residence Programme requires that applicants either rent or own a property of a specified value on the island. An investment of Maltese government bonds to the value of EUR 250,000 must be made and comprehensive health insurance is required. After five and seven years respectively, you’re entitled to permanent residence and citizenship.


Quality of life

With a friendly local population, a fascinating culture and ample beautiful scenery, Thailand remains a popular retirement destination. Local cuisine is diverse and flavourful and there's even a local wine industry. Retirees looking to do some travelling will also find that Thailand is a perfect base from which to explore Southeast Asia.

Cost of living

Life in Thailand is extremely affordable, and foreign currencies such as the dollar and the euro go far here. Living in small countryside towns or on one of the country's many island communities will stretch money even further, but even living in large cities like Bangkok is easily affordable thanks to the favourable exchange rate.


The Non-Immigrant Visa O-A (Long Stay) is Thailand's retirement visa, available to foreigners aged 50 and up. Applicants must show adequate funds in a Thai bank account and must undergo a health examination. Retirement visas are valid for a period of one year and can be renewed indefinitely as long as the visa holder continues to meet the requirements.


Quality of life

Portuguese culture is vibrant and colourful, and locals are friendly and helpful, especially if you make the effort to speak some Portuguese. As a coastal country, Portugal produces wonderfully fresh seafood and is also known for its wine. The country is also wonderfully situated, making for easy travel around Europe.

Cost of living

Portugal has a fairly low cost of living, especially compared to the rest of Europe. Major cities such as Lisbon and Porto can be on the pricey side, so retirees tend to favour areas off the beaten track, like the Algarve and other small towns in the countryside.


There are two main visa options for those looking to retire in Portugal. Many retirees opt for the D7 Passive Income Visa. The applicant must have access to adequate funds to support themselves. Monthly payouts must be equal to at least the minimum wage. You’re allowed to earn money over and above this amount by working.

The Golden Visa is for expats who purchase property in Portugal to the value of at least EUR 600,000. On this visa, most foreign income (including pensions) is untaxed.  

After five years on a Golden or D7 Visa, you’re eligible for permanent residency and citizenship.


Quality of life

Mexico is especially popular with retirees from the US, who enjoy the country's close proximity to home. But there's plenty for other expats to enjoy here too. Mexico's pleasant climate and flavourful local cuisine are both major drawcards, not to mention the country's strategic position as a jumping-off point for travel to Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

Cost of living

A favourable exchange rate with major currencies such as the US dollar means that life in Mexico is particularly friendly on the pocket. When it comes to real estate, buyers tend to get much more bang for their buck than back home.

Expats will want to opt for private healthcare in Mexico, so health insurance is an essential expense. Luckily, there are plenty of companies offering comprehensive yet affordable health insurance policies in Mexico.


Mexico is welcoming of retirees, and obtaining the right visa is a fairly straightforward process. To get a temporary or permanent resident permit for Mexico, the applicant must be able to prove financial stability, either through proof of monthly pension income or in the form of assets like property in Mexico.

The level of income required is lower for a temporary-resident permit than a permanent one. Temporary-resident permits have a four-year validity period and can be renewed. It's also fairly easy to transfer from temporary to permanent residency status as long as income requirements are met.

Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Health Insurance -

Cigna Global

If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.

Get a quote from Cigna Global

Moving Companies

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Moving Internationally?

Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.

Get your free no-obligation quotes now!