Across the developed world, more and more people are choosing to move country for retirement. They’re doing so for a variety of reasons and they’re choosing some surprising destinations. International Wealth finds out whether you should follow their example and what you should consider before doing so.

Some reasons for retiring abroad never change. Many people have always dreamed of spending their work-free years in a better climate, others of making their money work harder in a place where the cost of living is lower.

Yet many other reasons have developed in recent years. Advances in telecommunications and transport, for example, have made it easier and cheaper than ever to stay in contact with friends and family; and the cost of living has risen significantly in many parts of the developed world.

According to a recent survey by the UK’s National Association of Pension Funds, 60 per cent of Britons do not expect to be able to retire in comfort in the UK and 46 per cent would consider retiring to a cheaper country to get better value for money. So should you follow their example? And if so, which destination countries should you consider?

Today’s top destinations for retiring abroad

In recent years, some of the most popular international retirement destinations have lost appeal.

Take Spain: for many years, it was the first choice of overseas retirement destination for Britons, and it remains among the most popular thanks to its glorious weather, rich culture and large English-speaking community. Up to half a million expatriates are estimated to live there, of which around 300,000 are British. Yet its popularity has fallen amid fears of tax rises and concerns about house prices, which have slumped 12 per cent in the past year alone.

By contrast, a number of surprising choices have become fashionable. Morocco, for example, is increasingly popular with both Britons and Americans, partly because it too offers climatic and cultural advantages but also because of its relatively low cost of living – in terms of property, food and transportation. Expats there don’t represent a large community at present, but they do find they can get access easily to high-quality healthcare, property options and domestic staff. The country is also easily accessible from Europe.

Another unlikely destination that has become especially popular among US expats in recent years is Ecuador. According to several major surveys, this South American country has been the most popular choice among new retirees for the past five years. The main reason is its very low cost of living: US expats find that the US dollar (which Ecuador uses as its official currency) stretches much further here than at home. A beach house on the Pacific coast costs as little as US$150,000, and expats here typically find it inexpensive to dine out and keep domestic staff.

In the table below, you’ll find a comparison of five international destinations that have all ranked number-one in various surveys of expat retirees around the world in the past year. Such rankings are published frequently by various organisations, so International Wealth has looked for the countries that appear most often, to give you an idea of which are currently regarded as the best by the largest number of people.

There are many more factors you should consider before you decide to retire abroad, so we recommend you seek professional advice about your options, but the basic information you find here is a good place to start thinking about whether becoming an expat retiree is right for you.

How Barclays can help you plan your dream retirement

If you are thinking about retiring abroad, Barclays International Banking can help you in a number of ways. If your plans are in their early stages, for example, we can help you structure your finances – including putting savings and investment plans into action – so that you have the necessary funds in place when the time comes to make the move abroad. If you have a Relationship Manager1, we can also refer you to one of our expert advisers in investments, foreign exchange and/or mortgages, to provide you with specific advice tailored to your circumstances.

Please note that we are not able to give you investment advice in the UK and you should bear in mind that investments can fall in value as well as rise; you may get back less than you invest.

To find out more, please call us on +44 (0)20 7574 3212* or visit our website



Exchange rate of local currency to US dollar, euro and pound

Relative price of core goods (in US dollars)

(most popular destination with US and Canadian expats for past five years)


Currency: US dollar

Three-course dinner for two: $18
A beer (0.5l): $0.85
Bottle of wine: $10
Loaf of bread: $1.25
Cinema ticket: $4.80
Litre of petrol: $0.39
Visit to GP: $25

Spain (remains one of the most popular destinations for UK expats)


Currency: euro (EUR)
£1 = €1.16
$1 = €0.73

Three-course dinner for two: $55
A beer (0.5l): $2.75
Cinema ticket: $11
Litre of petrol: $2
Bottle of wine: $5.50
Loaf of bread: $1.40
Month’s private medical insurance for elderly couple: $1,000

Argentina (attractive to expats holding money in euros, dollars or pounds)

Spanish (English widely spoken in Buenos Aires)

Currency: argentine peso (ARS)
$1 = ARS5.90
£1 = ARS9.45
€1 = ARS8.10

Three-course dinner for two: $38
A beer (0.5l): $2
Cinema ticket: $8
Bottle of wine: $6
Loaf of bread: $1.50
Litre of petrol: $1.40
Month’s private health insurance for elderly couple: $700

Malaysia (also popular with US and Canadian expats)

Malaysian (but English widely spoken)

Currency: ringgit (MYR)
£1 = MYR5.05
€1 = MYR4.30
$1 = MYR3.15

Three-course dinner for two: $16
A beer (0.5l): $3
Cinema ticket: $3.80
Bottle of wine: $16
Loaf of bread: $1
Litre of petrol: $0.63
Cinema ticket: $3.80
Dental check-up: $9

Thailand (popular with wide range of expats from the English-speaking world including Indian nationals)

Thai (English widely spoken in expat and tourist areas)

baht (BHT)
£1 = 50
$1 = 31
€1 = 42

Three-course dinner for two: $16
A beer (0.5l): $2
Bottle of wine: $16
Loaf of bread: $1.30
Litre of petrol: $1.30 
Cinema ticket: $5
Basic hospital check-up: $20