Best Countries to Retire 2024: Costa Rica Tops the List

Costa Rica is the best country to retire in the world 2024, according to a new study from International Living.

Three men at dusk walk away from the camera on a Costa Rican beach, carrying surf boards
(Image credit: Matteo Colombo for Getty Images)

For many, retirement is exciting. The time has come when you’re free to do as you please, which for most people, includes traveling regularly. But a growing number of retirees are taking this even further, and opting to retire outside the country altogether. While there are both pros and cons of retiring abroad, it can be one of the greatest adventures of your life. 

But with so many appealing travel destinations, how do you decide on where to pack up and move to? A new study from International Living can help — they’ve found the best countries to retire in 2024, according to their Annual Global Retirement Index. They Index focused on "established expat hubs with a track record for comfortable living" and used several factors to determine which were the best places to retire.

  • Housing: Considered the price of housing, property taxes and value you’d receive as a homeowner, along with the ease of buying and owning property as a foreigner. Also considered rental values and renters’ rights. 
  • Visas and benefits: Considered availability, ease of use, length and how fast/simple it is to obtain a tourist visa. Also considered various retiree options and benefits. 
  • Cost of living: Considered contributor answers to an extensive cost-of-living questionnaire, tailored to the needs and wants of an expat retiree.
  • Affinity rating: For this section, experts and readers ranked the destinations according to whether they’d be happy to move there, judged on factors such as the variety of restaurants and ability to have a vibrant social life abroad. 
  • Healthcare: Healthcare is assessed on both quality and cost.
  • Development and governance: Considered the political environment, quality of infrastructure, banking systems, etc.  
  • Climate: Since everyone has a different preference when it comes to climate, destinations were scored based on how many different climate options they offer.

IL also used first-hand information from trusted sources who actually live in these locations. "We have our people out there pounding the pavement in attractive overseas communities we know you should consider," reports International Living. "They’re reporting back to us with insights, and information about what’s really going on. They’re not beholden to relocation service providers or real estate agents or tourism boards or economic development organizations. They work for you."

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Best places to retire in 2024

So, which destinations came out on top? Here are the top 10 places to retire in 2024.

  • 1. Costa Rica
  • 2. Portugal
  • 3. Mexico
  • 4. Panama
  • 5. Spain
  • 6. Ecuador
  • 7. Greece
  • 8. Malaysia
  • 9. France
  • 10. Colombia

Costa Rica was found to have high-quality healthcare options, an affordable cost of living, diverse microclimates, and of course, an abundance of natural beauty. Plus, Costa Rica is home to a Blue Zone, which has one of the healthiest, longest-living populations in the worlds. 

Not to mention, Costa Rica has also extended it's tourist visas from 90 to 180 days, or approximately six months, in order to give tourists ample time to experience all the country has to offer, before deciding to become a permanent resident. And it's not only attractive to retirees. Costa Rica offers a digital nomad program that allows foreign remote workers to live in the country for a whole year.

Further details about the study and a breakdown of data can be found on International Living

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Erin Bendig
Personal Finance Writer

Erin pairs personal experience with research and is passionate about sharing personal finance advice with others. Previously, she was a freelancer focusing on the credit card side of finance, but has branched out since then to cover other aspects of personal finance. Erin is well-versed in traditional media with reporting, interviewing and research, as well as using graphic design and video and audio storytelling to share with her readers.