Why This European Country Is the Best Place to Retire in 2023

"This country offers something for everyone," according to International Living's annual Best Places to Retire list

Aerial view of Lisbon, Portugal -- the country was just named best place to retire in 2023 for expats
If you don't mind a lot of uphill walking, Lisbon is a wonderful retirement city
Andreas Brücker / Unsplash

For the first time since 2020, Portugal has topped the list of International Living’s best places to retire list. The Western European country was lauded for its safety, culture and health care.

InternationalLiving.com‘s 2023 Global Retirement Index scores and ranks the world’s top 16 retirement destinations for expats across seven categories, including the cost of living, housing, visa and benefits, climate, healthcare and more. This annual Index — now in its 32nd year — examines the “top safe, good-value destinations beyond the U.S. or Canada,” where a retired couple can live a comfortable life on as little as $2,000 a month.

“Despite its compact size, Portugal offers something for everyone,” says Terry Coles, an IL contributor living in the Algarve. “From vibrant cities like Lisbon and Porto with buzzing nightlife, culture, history, and culinary delights…to coastal havens along the Atlantic Ocean where camel-colored sand meets the turquoise water embellished with jagged rock formations, caves, and grottoes. For a simpler life, head inland where medieval villages of stone cottages lie beneath ruined castles and emerald rolling hills of farmland dominate the stunning vistas beyond.”

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Portugal also scored high on infrastructure, cost of living and friendliness (the country’s widespread use of English doesn’t hurt, either, at least for American expats).

A few other takeaways from the annual retirement report:

  • Mexico came in 2nd and won acclaim for its ease of requirements for both temporary and permanent residency, along with its generous INAPAM program, which gives seniors (60+) discounts on transportation, medical costs, utilities, taxes, and more.
  • Panama, which came in 3rd, scored the highest score in any category (98 for visas/benefits). The country’s Pensionado visa allows you to move there if you have a pension of at least $1,000 a month. Sans pesion, you can qualify for the Friendly Nations visa with a purchase of $200,000 (with or without financing), and there’s also a new temporary telework visa that’s good for up to 18 months.
  • The rest of the top 10, in order: Ecuador, Costa Rica, Spain, Greece, France, Thailand, Italy and Colombia.


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