Living Abroad
September 4, 2023
Reading Time: 23 min

Top 27 best countries to retire for American expats

Roughly 450,000 Americans have retired abroad, according to the USA Social Security Administration. 38% of them choose Europe as their destination. It is no wonder, as the majority of countries included in the top‑27 belong to the EU.

Let’s explore why US citizens decide to retire in foreign countries and what the best destinations are for their retirement, according to the Natixis Global Retirement Index Report 2022.

Alevtina Kalmuk
Alevtina Kalmuk

Author and editor of articles about investment citizenship and residency

Top-27 countries for retirement for US citizens

Top 27 best countries to retire for American expats

Why Americans choose to retire in other countries

The cost of living is the main concern of American retirees. On average, a couple needs around $2,300 without rent for a month. The retirees can move to a country with the same level of life but a lower cost of living. Among these places are Slovenia, Portugal, and Japan.

Healthcare costs. The US doesn’t have free healthcare, and the price of medical procedures is generally very high. Retirees choose to move to countries with free healthcare services for residents and lower costs of treatment in private clinics. For example, EU countries offer free or low-cost healthcare services for their residents.

Safety issues. The USA is not the safest country in the world — not even in the top‑50 of them. According to the Numbeo Safety Index, the US ranks 88 out of 142 countries.

New experiences. Retirement is the perfect time for exploring new cultures and gaining new experiences. Many pensioners also start to value a calm and slow lifestyle, which is not always possible in the USA.

The majority of Americans choose to move to Europe, as it is the most developed and stable part of the world besides North America.

One of the main advantages that unites the majority of European countries below is access to healthcare all over the EU. Residents of the EU countries obtain a European Health Insurance Card that covers many medical procedures in government clinics and hospitals.

The list of the best countries for retirement includes:

  1. Norway.

  2. Switzerland.

  3. Iceland.

  4. Ireland.

  5. New Zealand.

  6. Australia.

  7. Luxembourg.

  8. Netherlands.

  9. Denmark.

  10. Czech Republic.

  11. Germany.

  12. Finland.

  13. Sweden.

  14. Austria.

  15. Canada.

  16. Israel.

  17. South Korea.

  18. United Kingdom.

  19. Belgium.

  20. Slovenia.

  21. Japan.

  22. Malta.

  23. France.

  24. Estonia.

  25. Singapore.

  26. Cyprus.

  27. Portugal.

Some of these countries have residency by investment programs that allow wealthy Americans to get a residence permit in a foreign country in several months and live there for the whole validity period of the document.

27. Portugal — a country with a pleasant climate and low cost of living

Portugal is a rather small country in southern Europe that is both beautiful and affordable. The general cost of living is almost 40% lower than in the US, and a single person needs to have only $670 per month, excluding housing.

Another advantage is the safety of the country, as Portugal ranks 7th in the Global Peace Index. Portuguese people value a relaxed and laid-back lifestyle, which means American retirees are able to enjoy life without a rush.

Portugal is also a place with a rich history and outstanding landscapes, which make it a great place for relaxation and exploration.

The climate in Portugal is Mediterranean. In winter, the average temperature is 50‑55 °F; summers are not hot as Portugal receives refreshing breezes from the Mediterranean Sea.

Wealthy retirees can easily move to Portugal if they participate in the Golden Visa program under which one can obtain a residence permit by investment. The requirement is to contribute at least €250,000 roughly $270,000 to the country’s economy.

People who have obtained Portuguese residency by investment can benefit from the Non-habitual Resident (NHR) status that is granted for 10 years.

During this period, one doesn’t need to pay taxes on global income and pays only 20% taxes on income earned in Portugal. The income tax rate without NHR status can reach 48%.

26. Cyprus — small Mediterranean paradise

Cyprus is an island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Geographically, it is located in West Asia; however, in terms of culture and geopolitics, it belongs to southeast Europe. Despite its small size, it has a stable economy and has been included in the IMF list of developed economies since 2001.

The cost of living in this Mediterranean country is lower than in the US. In Cyprus, a single person would need $900 per month; in the US, the required sum is $1,200 to maintain the same level of life. The largest difference in costs lies in rental prices: property rental in Cyprus is 40% more affordable than in the United States.

While the official languages in Cyprus are Greek and Turkish, the majority of the population speaks English. Many services, including government offices, legal services, and businesses, provide information and assistance in English.

Cyprus has a pleasant climate, with the warm season lasting for 8 months. It is also a very sunny place, with beaches and mountains in close proximity.

One of the main advantages of Cyprus is its permanent residence by investment program. Participants obtain the country’s status for life in 3+ months for an investment of at least €300,000, roughly $320,000 with all the fees.

Individual cost calculation of the Cyprus permanent residence

Individual cost calculation of the Cyprus permanent residence

25. Singapore — best healthcare in the world

Singapore is a small island country in Asia, located to the south of Malaysia. It is famous for its modern infrastructure, with well-developed transportation and efficient public services contributing to a convenient and comfortable lifestyle.

Singapore’s healthcare system is the best in the world due to modern medical facilities and well-trained medical professionals. The country is also known for medical tourism.

The country’s low crime rates and strict enforcement of laws provide retirees with a safe and secure environment. Singapore ranks 6th in the Global Peace Index.

Due to its strict laws, Singapore is also known for its cleanliness, well-maintained public spaces, and efficient waste management.

English is one of Singapore’s official languages, making it easy for US retirees to communicate and navigate daily life. Singapore has a multicultural environment, providing a blend of diverse cultures, languages, and cuisines.

Singapore is one of the best countries for retirement for US citizens

Despite its urban environment, Singapore is often referred to as a "Garden City" due to its numerous parks, green spaces, and efforts to incorporate nature into its urban planning

24. Estonia — undiscovered gem with a high level of life

Estonia is a country in the Baltic region located on the board of the Baltic Sea. The country is known for its advanced digital infrastructure, offering convenient online services for various aspects of daily life — from banking to government transactions.

Estonia consistently ranks well in terms of quality of life: in the Quality of Life Index provided by Numbeo, the country is located in 11th place. Estonia also has relatively low crime rates and is considered a safe country.

Compared to the US, Estonia is a rather cheap country. Its citizens and residents are required to have around $870 a month per person, which is much less than in the US, Switzerland, Singapore, or Iceland.

Estonia is rich both in terms of nature and architecture. There are picturesque landscapes, including forests, lakes, and a coastline along the Baltic Sea, as well as historic old towns and castles that can be interesting to explore.

23. France — for those who enjoy art and exceptional beauty

France is a Western European country to the south of Germany. It is renowned for its rich history and sophisticated cuisine. It also hosts a number of the most famous landmarks in the world, such as Notre Dame de Paris, the Louvre Museum, and the Eiffel Tower.

France consistently ranks well in terms of quality of life, offering excellent healthcare, public services, and social support. For example, it has the 7th strongest economy in the world and is included in the top‑20 of the countries with the best healthcare system.

France is situated very conveniently. It allows its residents to quickly travel to Belgium, Germany, or Spain. However, French people like to stay in their own country, which also has many opportunities for exploration.

The climate in France can vary greatly: in the north, it can be rainy and rather cool even during the summer months, while in the south, it is sunny and very warm. US retirees can choose the perfect weather conditions for themselves.

The cost of living in France is lower than in the US. For instance, American retirees can save 50% on rent.

French permanent residence or citizenship can be obtained after 5 years of living in the country.

22. Malta — English-speaking home in the EU

Malta is a small country in the Mediterranean Sea, located between Italy and the North Coast of Africa. It is a place with a rich history and cultural heritage, a pleasant climate, and friendly locals. Its clean environment and proximity to the sea can be beneficial for one’s health.

Maltese residents also get access to both Maltese and Schengen clinics, and the costs for medical procedures are much lower than in the United States.

Living in Malta is generally more affordable than in the United States. A couple would need around $1700 without rent for a month, which is 20% lower than in the US.

English is an official language in Malta, which means Americans will encounter no language barrier during communication with locals or addressing administrative and other needs.

Malta has a permanent residence by investment program. To participate in it, an individual must contribute to the country’s economy and buy or rent real estate.

Investment sum requirements:

  • an administration fee of €40,000;

  • a contribution fee: €65,500 for those who rent real estate; €35,500 for those who buy it;

  • a charitable donation of €2,000.

The requirements for investment in real estate depend on whether you rent or buy it and where a property is located.

Minimum rental prices are:

  • €10,000+ per annum — for a property located in the south of Malta or on the Gozo island;

  • €12,000+ per annum — for a property in northern or central Malta.

Minimum purchasing prices:

  • €300,000 — for real estate in southern Malta and on the island of Gozo;

  • €350,000 — for real estate in the north or center of Malta.

Permanent residence by investment is granted for life and can be obtained within 4—6 months.

Individual cost calculation of the Maltese permanent residence

Individual cost calculation of the Maltese permanent residence

21. Japan — a blend of history and innovation

Japan is an island country located in Asia. It has the third strongest economy in the world and is also known as one of the most technologically developed countries.

The life expectancy in Japan is one of the highest in the world. The country offers a high-quality healthcare system, advanced medical technology, and access to well‑trained medical professionals. It ranks second in the healthcare rating provided by Statistica.

Traditional Japanese cuisine, emphasizing fresh seafood, vegetables, and lean protein, is associated with health benefits. Additionally, Japan’s culture encourages physical activity and mindfulness.

In the ranking of the most peaceful countries, Japan has landed in 9th place. In terms of quality of life, it is in the top 15 countries.

Despite all the advantages, the cost of living in Japan is notably lower than in the US. A couple needs around $1,700 for a month without renting in Japan and $2,300 in the US for the same level of life. Rental prices in the US are also 65% higher than in Japan.

Japan has a rich culture that can be exotic for Americans. Their heritage includes traditional arts, festivals, cuisine, and customs. Retirees can immerse themselves in the beauty of tea ceremonies, ikebana, calligraphy, and more.

Japan is one of the best countries for retirement for US citizens

Chureito is one of the most iconic pagodas in Japan. It overlooks Fujiyoshida City and Mount Fuji

20. Slovenia — safety and affordability

Slovenia is a rather small country in Western Europe. It is renowned for its stunning landscapes, which include the picturesque Lake Bled, the Julian Alps, lush forests, and beautiful Adriatic coastline. Retirees can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and water sports.

Slovenia is known for its safety and low crime rates: it ranks 8th in the Global Peace Index 2023, which means US retirees will have a peaceful and secure environment to enjoy their retirement years.

Despite its small size, Slovenia has a rich cultural heritage with historic towns, charming villages, and castles. The capital city, Ljubljana, is known for its old town and cultural attractions. Slovenia’s small size makes it easy to explore various regions, and its central location in Europe allows for convenient travel to neighboring countries.

Compared to the US and some other Western European countries, Slovenia offers a relatively lower cost of living. For example, renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs around $650 on average. In the US, the price for the same apartment is $1,800.

19. Belgium — cozy, high-quality lifestyle

Belgium is a Western European country that borders France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Due to this, the country has three official languages: Dutch, French, and German, and is known for its multicultural environment. This diversity can enrich retirees' cultural experiences and interactions.

The country boasts charming historic cities like Brussels, Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp, each offering unique architecture, cultural attractions, and a vibrant atmosphere. There are numerous historical landmarks, cathedrals, castles, and UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Belgium is a green country with a large number of well-maintained parks and green spaces, providing areas for relaxation and outdoor activities.

The country’s location in Europe makes it a convenient starting point for exploring neighboring countries, allowing retirees to embark on various travel adventures. For example, it takes less than 4 hours by car to go from Brussels to Paris.

The cost of living in Belgium is lower than in the US. The largest difference is in rental prices. They are two times lower than in the US.

Wealthy Americans can get residency by investment if they participate in the Belgium Investor Visa program.

18. United Kingdom — comfortable living in an English-speaking country

The UK is one of the most prominent countries in Europe. It has the 6th strongest economy in the world and one of the most sustainable approaches to the environment.

One of the main advantages is that English is an official language, which helps eliminate language barriers for retirees from English-speaking countries.

The United Kingdom is also known for its historical landmarks, museums, theaters, and cultural institutions. Retirees can explore a wealth of artistic and cultural experiences. There is also a diverse range of landscapes, from bustling cities like London to picturesque countryside, coastal areas, and national parks.

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) provides free or low-cost healthcare services to residents, including retirees, which can be a significant benefit.

The UK, one of the best countries for retirement for US citizens

York is a historic city in England. It is famous for its well-preserved medieval city walls, which provide a unique opportunity to explore the city's past

17. South Korea — high level of life, great healthcare, and technological wonders

South Korea is located in Asia, on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. It is a country with technological advancements, modern infrastructure, and efficient public transportation, yet with a rich heritage and many historical sites.

One of the greatest advantages of South Korea is its high-quality healthcare services with well-trained medical professionals and state-of-the-art medical facilities. It ranks third in the healthcare index by Statistica. The country is also known for its wellness culture, offering traditional and modern spa treatments and wellness practices.

South Koreans value social connections and community, allowing retirees to integrate and develop relationships with locals. Asian traditions require younger generations to value old age and respect the elderly.

The general cost of living is not much lower than in the US. However, South Korean residents pay 60% less for renting housing than US residents.

16. Israel — best place for affordable and qualitative medicine

Israel has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. The country ranks 5th regarding medical services with its modern medical facilities and highly trained medical professionals. Many hospitals are equipped with advanced technology. Israel is one of the world’s centers of medical tourism due to the quality and affordability of healthcare services.

Israel is considered to be the 4th happiest country in the world. Low crime rates, warm climate, and a well-developed healthcare system contribute to that.

Israel is located in the Middle East and is surrounded by Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan. It is also not far away from other Middle Eastern and some South European countries, which makes it easy for its residents to travel around the area and explore cultures that can be very different from the US ones.

The country has a unique history and offers numerous ancient sites, religious landmarks, and archaeological wonders. Retirees with an interest in history and spirituality can explore iconic places like Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth. In addition to its historical significance, Israel offers diverse natural landscapes.

US retirees moving to Israel can save significant amounts of money as the rental prices there are 40% lower than in the United States.

Israel is one of the best countries for retirement for US citizens

15. Canada — a home not far away from home

Canada is a big country in the north of the North American continent. It is known for its vast national parks, breathtaking nature, and friendly and polite people.

In various ratings, Canada often ranks in the top positions. For instance, it has the 9th strongest economy in the world. It ranks 11th in terms of the peace index and 6th when it comes to people’s freedom.

One of the main benefits of Canada is its proximity to the United States, so it is rather easy to travel from one country to another. Especially if we compare distances between the US and Europe or Australia.

As Canada and the US share language, values, customs, and cultural similarities, retirees can feel more integrated and understood.

Living in Canada can be more beneficial than in the US. Depending on the exchange rate at the time, US retirees might find the Canadian dollar favorable, potentially stretching their retirement savings further.

Canadian citizenship can be obtained by investing at least CAD 1,200,000, roughly $ 890,000, in Quebec.

14. Austria — a home in the heart of Europe

Austria is a German-speaking country in Central Europe. It is included in many ratings of the best countries: for example, it is the 5th most peaceful country in the world and the 8th most sustainable one. Regarding the quality of life, it is also in the top‑10.

Public transportation systems, including trains and buses, make it easy to travel within the country and explore neighboring regions. As the country is located in the center of Europe, people can travel to other countries in just a few hours by bus or car.

Austria boasts breathtaking landscapes, including the Alps, picturesque lakes, and charming villages. It is also rich in history and culture, with iconic cities like Vienna, Salzburg, and Innsbruck offering museums, historical sites, theaters, and music festivals. The country is especially known for its musical heritage, with famous composers like Mozart and Strauss.

The climate in Austria is moderate and almost doesn’t change across the country. However, summers in the south of the country can feel similar to those in the Mediterranean.

Retirees can obtain an Austrian residence permit if they have a stable income outside the country and buy or rent real estate. The applications are submitted at the beginning of each year — the earlier the better.

Austria, one of the best countries for retirement for US citizens

Vienna is the capital city of Austria and cultural, economic, and political center of the country

13. Sweden — healthy lifestyle above all

Another Scandinavian country on the list is Sweden, located between Norway and Finland. It has a strong and stable economy, which ensures a high standard of living; according to this criteria, the country ranks in the top‑15.

Sweden is included in many ratings of the best countries and belongs to the top‑10 in terms of human freedom, quality of healthcare, and cleanliness. The Swedish people are the 6th happiest nation in the world.

The country’s landscapes, including forests, lakes, archipelagos, and the Northern Lights in the far north, offer stunning visual experiences and opportunities for relaxation. Swedish cities also offer a range of cultural activities, including museums, theaters, and festivals.

The Swedes focus on wellness, outdoor activities such as hiking or fishing, and healthy living, which contribute to an active and fulfilling retirement.

Many local people also speak English at a high level.

12. Finland — the happiest country in the world

Finland is a Scandinavian country located to the east of Sweden. It is known as one of the greenest countries in Europe. It offers stunning landscapes with numerous forests, lakes, rivers, and hills. Even the cities are full of greenery and blend with the nature around them.

Due to its rich nature, Finland is perfect for those who enjoy hiking and other outdoor activities. Finns also value an active lifestyle and like spending time outside their homes.

In the northern parts of the country, retirees can witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights during the winter months.

Finnish people have been considered the happiest people in the world for several years in a row due to the country’s high quality of life, great safety, stable economy, and general freedom.

Even though the official language is Finnish, many locals speak English at a high level.

Finnish citizenship is granted to individuals who have lived in the country for 4 years with a residence permit and 2 years with permanent residency.

11. Germany — strong economy, safety and high-quality healthcare

Germany is a Western European country with the strongest economy in Europe and a high quality of life. It is also included in the top-15 in terms of safety and security, human freedom, healthcare, cleanliness, and sustainability.

There are a number of regions that differ greatly from each other, so Americans can choose the best place to move to.

Berlin is a center of art and modern lifestyle, while Munich is known for its architecture and preservation of traditional German culture, and Hamburg is a main German port city. They are the perfect options for those who would like to stay in the center of German life.

Retirees looking for a more relaxed and calm lifestyle can choose Bamberg, Würzburg, Tübingen, or other smaller towns.

Germany is located in the center of Europe, which grants easy and quick access to many other European countries. For example, it takes six hours to travel by bus from Munich to Vienna or from Berlin to Warsaw.

Americans can obtain German citizenship if they have lived in the country for at least 8 years.

10. Czech Republic — affordable and beautiful

The Czech Republic is a country in Western Europe that has borders with Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Poland. It is considered one of the most beautiful countries both in Europe and the world, as it is a place of outstanding architecture and rich history.

Due to the Czech Republic’s location, its residents can easily access other European countries. For example, it would take around 4.5 hours to travel from Prague to Berlin by bus and even less by car.

The cost of living in the Czech Republic is significantly lower than in the US. It especially applies to rental prices, which are almost 60% lower than in the United States.

The Czech Republic is also a safe country ranking 12th in the corresponding rating and is included in the top‑20 in terms of happiness of local people and cleanliness of the environment.

After living in the country with a residence permit for 10 years retirees can apply for Czech citizenship by naturalization.

Czech Republic, one of the best countries to retire for US citizens

Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic. It is often referred to as the "City of a Hundred Spires" due to its stunning skyline dominated by numerous historic churches, cathedrals, and towers

9. Denmark — clean environment and happy people

Denmark is a country located on the Jutland Peninsula and numerous islands that borders Sweden and Germany.

In 2022, the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) established that Denmark is the cleanest and most sustainable country in the world. In the same ranking, the US landed in 43rd place.

Denmark is also one of the safest countries in the world. It has a low crime rate, minimal terrorist activity, and a stable political scene. That also contributes to the general happiness of the Danish people: they are the 2nd happiest nation in the world.

The country has one of the highest standards of living — it ranks 4th according to Numbeo’s quality of life index.

Denmark is rich in history and culture: there you can find both architectural and natural wonders.

Danish people place a strong emphasis on well-being and a healthy lifestyle. Retirees can benefit from clean air, outdoor spaces, and a focus on physical activity. Denmark is also famous for its bike-friendly cities.

8. Netherlands — healthy and eco‑friendly lifestyle for all

The Netherlands is a country in Western Europe known for its cultural heritage, stable economy, and cycling culture.

The quality of life in the Netherlands is one of the highest in the world — the country ranks 2nd in the corresponding rating.

Dutch people value a healthy and eco-friendly lifestyle, which is why it is very common to go everywhere by bicycle. Due to that, there is also less pollution generated by cars than in the US. In general, in terms of cleanliness and sustainability, the Netherlands ranks 11th in the Environment Performance Index 2022.

The convenient location of the country allows its residents to visit many European countries. It usually takes no more than a day to reach any country by bus or just a few hours by plane. This means American retirees can also benefit from traveling around Europe.

Many Dutch people are multilingual, with a high proficiency in English, which makes it easy for expatriates to communicate with locals. They are also open and friendly and belong to the top‑5 happiest nations in the world.

The Netherlands has a Golden Visa program that gives a choice to obtain the country’s residence permit by investment.

7. Luxembourg — a picturesque home in the center of Europe

Luxembourg is a tiny country in Europe, surrounded by Belgium, France, and Germany. The country’s location makes it convenient for traveling to neighboring countries and exploring the continent.

According to Numbeo, Luxembourg has the highest quality of life among all the countries in the world. It also ranks 6th in the cleanliness and sustainability rating and 9th in the people’s happiness rating.

The country is mostly rural, which allows residents to enjoy a lifestyle in a tranquil and peaceful environment. At the same time, Luxembourg is not only about rural areas: it has many historic sites, museums, galleries, and theaters that can attract retirees who appreciate culture.

Wealthy pensioners can obtain a Luxembourg residence permit by investment of at least €500,000 roughly $540,000.

Luxemburg, one of the best countries for retirement for US citizens

Luxembourg has three official languages: Luxembourgish, French, and German, which can be beneficial for retirees who love languages and want to practice

6. New Zealand — calm and relaxed living in nature’s paradise

New Zealand is a small island country near the Australian coastline. It is rather easy to access Australia, which can be an outstanding experience, especially if you have already been to Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

The country is famous for its breathtaking natural beauty, which includes diverse landscapes such as mountains, forests, beaches, lakes, fjords, and geothermal areas. The climate is moderate with mild temperatures, providing comfortable living conditions. There are no freezing winters or hot summers.

Besides nature, New Zealand is known for its clean air, low pollution levels, and safety. It consistently ranks as one of the safest countries in the world, offering retirees a peaceful and secure environment.

As for the locals, they are famous for their warm hospitality and friendliness, making visitors feel welcome. New Zealanders are also included in the top‑10 in terms of the happiest nations in the world.

New Zealand is a major exporter of agricultural products, particularly dairy products and lamb, which allows residents to enjoy fresh food at lower prices.

Apart from other advantages, New Zealand, as well as Australia, is an English-speaking country, so the language barrier will not concern US retirees.

It is possible to obtain a New Zealand residence permit by investment under the Active Investor Visa program.

5. Australia — a sunny heaven

Australia is a big country located in the Southern Hemisphere. The official language there is English, so American retirees will feel comfortable in the familiar environment.

The country is rich in terms of nature and wildlife. There are beaches, deserts, and rainforests that offer numerous opportunities for exploration. Locals enjoy outdoor activities, with surfing notably being one of the most popular all year round.

In Australia, there are no freezing winters and almost no rain. The weather can get hot, but it’s the perfect place for retirees who love warmth and sun.

Australia has a stable economy and well-regulated financial systems, which contribute to a secure environment for retirees. The country also belongs to the top‑10 in terms of human freedom and to the top‑20 regarding people’s happiness and the environment’s cleanliness.

The country’s government launched an Australia Business Innovation and Investment Visa program for investors and business people.

4. Ireland — vibrant landscapes and warm welcomes

Ireland is a European island country located right next to the United Kingdom. It is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, including lush green countryside, dramatic cliffs along the coast, serene lakes, and charming villages.

Ireland offers a relatively peaceful and slower pace of life compared to larger cities, making it an attractive option for those seeking a more relaxed retirement. The country offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and fishing.

According to the Global Peace Index, Ireland ranks 3rd, and its safety and security are guaranteed by a strong rule of law. Despite strict laws, the country is placed in 5th place in terms of human freedom.

English is the primary language spoken in Ireland, making it an accessible destination for retirees from English-speaking countries.

The Irish are known for their friendliness, warmth, and hospitality and are in the top‑15 of the happiest people in the world. Retirees often find it easy to connect with locals and feel welcome in their communities.

The climate in Ireland is mild, with no freezing winters or hot summers. The average temperature in winter is 42 °F, and in summer it is 59°F. So if cool weather is what you’re looking for, Ireland can be a perfect choice.

An Irish residence permit can be obtained by investment of at least €1,000,000 roughly €1,100,000.

Ireland, one of the best countries for retirement for US citizens

Ireland is home to numerous historic castles, and Ross Castle is one of them. Other famous castles are Blarney Castle, Dublin Castle, and Kylemore Abbey, each with its own unique history

3. Iceland — feel safe in the land of Nordic wonders

Iceland is a Nordic island country located between Europe and North America. According to the Global Peace Index 2023, it was ranked as the safest country in the world with a score of 1.12, where 1 indicates the most peaceful place.

Icelandic people are among the happiest nations in the world: the country ranks 3rd in the Happiness Index 2023. Iceland also ranks 3rd in terms of quality of life and 8th in terms of healthcare.

It also has breathtaking nature with hot springs, geysers, black sand beaches, highlands, and fjords. They make Iceland one of the most unique countries in the world in terms of landscape.

The population density is low, with only 370,000 people living in the country. The majority of them reside in Reykjavik, the capital. Other places are less populated, which makes them an attractive option for retirees who want to have a calm lifestyle.

Many Icelandic people also speak good English, which makes it easier for American retirees to communicate with locals.

2. Switzerland — high quality of life at the Alps footsteps

Switzerland is located in Central Europe and is known for its outstanding nature and peacefulness, as well as its stable economy and high quality of life. For example, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Switzerland’s GDP per capita is consistently among the highest in the world.

The country is included in many ratings of the best countries in the world and often ranks in the top‑10. For example, it landed on the 6th spot in terms of quality of life and on the 10th in terms of safety. Healthcare and sustainability ratings also include Switzerland in the top‑10.

The country’s location in the center of Europe also makes it easy for its residents to travel to other European countries. The closest ones are France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Switzerland is appealing not only to travelers but to nature lovers as well. Among the most known landmarks are the Swiss Alps, Lake Geneva and Lake Zurich, the Swiss National Park, and many others.

Switzerland has a residence permit program for financially independent persons. For a lump-sum of CHF 450,000+, roughly $510,000, an individual can move to the country and establish their life.

1. Norway — best of the best

Norway is a European country located in Scandinavia and known for its marvelous nature.

Norway has a prosperous economy with a high GDP per capita, which means retirees can expect a relatively high standard of living: Norway is in the top‑10 of the best countries in terms of quality of life.

Norway is also known for its low crime rate and political stability, providing a safe and secure environment for retirees to enjoy their golden years.

The country offers a strong social safety net, education, and infrastructure, which are all important factors for a comfortable retirement. Norway has a well-developed and efficient healthcare system that provides comprehensive coverage to its residents, including retirees. Access to quality healthcare services can be crucial during retirement.

The country’s emphasis on outdoor activities and physical well-being can promote an active and healthy lifestyle for retirees who enjoy nature, hiking, skiing, and other outdoor pursuits.

One of the not-so-obvious benefits of living in Norway as an American is that many Norwegians speak English at a good level. Therefore, there is no strict necessity to learn the local language.

Norway, the best country for retirement

Lofoten is a Norwegian archipelago housing two towns, Svolvær and Leknes

How to retire in another country

The easiest way to retire in a foreign country is to obtain residency or citizenship by investment.

Some countries, such as Malta, Cyprus, or Portugal, grant foreigners residencies by investment. However, there are also countries with residency and citizenship programs that didn’t end up on the list above. They have their own benefits for American retirees as well.

Europe. Greece, Italy, and Spain are European countries that grant residence permits by investment.

To participate in the Greek program, one must invest €250,000+, roughly $270,000 in residential or commercial real estate, a hotel or tourist residence, a land plot, or securities. Opening a bank deposit, renting a timeshare for 10 years, inheriting real estate, or receiving it as a gift are three more options.

Italy grants its residence permit by investing €250,000+ roughly $270,000 in an innovative startup, business, philanthropic organization, or the purchase of government bonds.

Under the Spain Golden Visa program, one must invest €500,000+ roughly $540,000 in real estate, businesses, shares of Spanish companies, units of investment funds, or government bonds. Opening a deposit account at a Spanish bank is also an option.

Greece, Italy, and Spain are more affordable than the US. In addition, they have a good quality of life, developed economies, and great climates.

Living in these countries can also be beneficial due to their location: you don’t need to fly hours to go from one country to another. For example, you can travel from Madrid to Lisbon overnight. It is also more affordable to travel within the EU than from the US to Europe.

The Caribbean. Several Caribbean states offer the opportunity to obtain their passports by investment. They are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia. You can obtain their citizenship in 2—6 months for a minimum investment of $100,000—250,000.

The Caribbean region is known for its pleasant climate all year round and rich nature, with mountains, beaches, and the Caribbean Sea nearby. It is also a good place for those who prefer a calm and slow life far away from busy cities and crowds of people.

Comparison of the Caribbean countries citizenship by investment programs

Country

Minimum investment

Obtainment period

Antigua and Barbuda

$100,000

4—6 months

Dominica

$100,000

2—6 months

Grenada

$150,000

4—6 months

St Kitts and Nevis

$250,000

6+ months

St Lucia

$100,000

3—4 months

Key takeaways

  1. US citizens decide to retire abroad to save money, make life safer and calmer, and explore new places and experiences. American retirees often choose European countries.

  2. According to the Global Retirement Index 2022, Norway is the best country for retirement.

  3. Some countries at the top have residency by investment programs that allow one to get a residence permit by investing in the economy. For example, the Cyprus program requires a minimum of €300,000 roughly $320,000; Portugal requires €250,000 roughly $270,000.

  4. The Caribbean countries are not included in the list, but they can also be a tempting destination for retirement. They offer warm climate, breathtaking nature, and calm life outside big cities.

  5. It is also possible to obtain Caribbean citizenship by investment. Countries that offer such an option are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for citizenship and residence by investment programs in the EU, the Caribbean, Asia, and the Middle East. Take advantage of our global 15-year expertise — schedule a meeting with our investment programs experts.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best country to retire to for US citizens?

    According to the Retirement Index, the best country for retirement is Norway. However, it doesn’t mean this country will suit everyone.

  • What is the safest country for an American to retire?

    Scandinavian countries are among the safest countries in the world. Another option is New Zealand, known for its safe environment, outstanding landscapes, and friendly locals.

  • What is the easiest European country for Americans to retire to?

    Among the easiest countries for American citizens to move to are Malta, Portugal, and Cyprus. There, one can obtain residency in 3—6 months by investing in the country’s economy.

    Other options include Italy, Spain, Greece, or some Caribbean states, such as Dominica or St Lucia.

  • Can US citizens retire in Europe?

    Yes, it is possible. American retirees often choose to move to the UK and Germany due to their high quality of life, safety, and good infrastructure. The UK also attracts US citizens because it’s an English-speaking country.

    The fastest and easiest way to obtain residency in a European country is to participate in the residency by investment program.

  • What countries are retired Americans moving to?

    Many American retirees move to European countries due to their well‑developed economies, high quality of life, safety, and security. Some European countries also offer a more affordable cost of living, namely Slovenia, the Czech Republic, or Portugal.

    Portugal is appealing due to its residency program, which allows one to obtain a residence permit by investment.