Are you a retiree or pensioner wondering about the best countries for retirement in 2021? Or maybe you are an entrepreneur, not yet in your retirement age? And you want to set the path for a successful retirement?
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Today, we present the eight most attractive countries for your well-earned retirement and golden years. And we reveal our personal favorite retirement spots! With their great location, sunny weather, high-quality free healthcare, and EU-access our top choices are Cyprus and Greece.
Best Countries for Retirement 2021
First of all, let us give you a short overview of the countries we will discuss in this guide
- Cyprus – warm weather with great free public health system; pensioners with foreign income are eligible for a 5% flat income tax rate
- Greece – sunny island paradise with top free public medical care. Foreign retirees will soon be eligible for a flat 7% income tax rate (in planning).
- Portugal – large expat community of retirees; retirement visa
- Malta – official retirement visa with tax benefits
- Montenegro – affordable real estate and cost of living; EU-candidate
- Georgia – affordable cost of living; banks offer a high interest rate of 9.5%
- Thailand – high-quality affordable healthcare system; retirement visa
- UAE – official retirement visa with many benefits
Now, let’s take a look at these attractive retirement destinations in more detail.
The EU is home to many popular retirement countries. It attracts hundreds of thousands of foreign retirees and pensioners who value the advantages of international living.
So, when living abroad, and in particular, when retiring in a foreign country, what are the most important aspects to look out for? Based on our experience, those are cost and quality of life, residency rights, healthcare, and taxation.
First, let’s start with a jewel and one of our favorite destinations. White sand beaches, sunny weather, delicious food, and free high-quality healthcare await you in the “Jewel of the Mediterranean”. Discover our top 10 reasons for retiring in Cyprus in this detailed article.
So, what sets Cyprus apart? Its great location in the Mediterranean, the great value real estate market, and attractive immigration options for people from all over the world! Plus, the low living costs in Cyprus at around 20% cheaper than the UK makes it a popular destination for retirement.
Cyprus residents can take advantage of the free national healthcare system called GeSY. Golden Visa holders have access to the top medical care at little to no out-of-pocket costs. In fact, healthcare in Cyprus is so good that it is a popular destination for medical tourism today.
Taxation for Foreign Retirees
Cyprus has many beneficial tax policies for individuals – from entrepreneurs to retirees.
Cyprus tax residents with foreign income are tax-exempt for income up to ~23,700 USD (19,500 EUR). But progressive tax for higher income (20%-35%) applies. But pensioners/retirees with foreign income above 3,420 EUR per year are eligible for a 5% flat income tax rate. They can choose one of these two options for their taxation.
But keep in mind that income includes rent from properties. Many foreigners generate this through their real estate investment in Cyprus and renting out their houses/apartments.
Finally, non-Domiciled foreign nationals (non-doms) receive a 50% income tax reduction. They are also exempt from taxes on dividends and interest income.
Retirement through Residency by Investment
Non-EU-citizens can get their investment immigration permit from ~350,000 USD (300,000 EUR).
Secondly, another one of our favorites is the Hellenic Republic. In fact, the Greece Golden Visa program for retirement is one of the cheapest options to live in Greece. Moreover, you gain the benefits of residing in the EU/Schengen Zone.
Enjoy great food, rich history, and modern culture with 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Besides, a great location in Southern Europe, including 227 beautiful islands, await you.
Greece really offers everything you could possibly want from retirement in Europe. Besides the sunny weather and gorgeous beaches, the affordable cost of living stands out. Additionally, Greece offers a free top-quality medical care program, the National Health System (ESY). Generally, expat residents and their families have access to free or low-cost public healthcare. That’s if they contribute to the Social Insurance Institute (IKA).
Taxes for Foreign Pensioners
Greece offers countless tax incentives for retirees/pensioners and non-doms. At the moment, there is a law in planning for foreign retirees, taxing their income at a flat 7% (for 10 years) if they get Greek residency.
Until then, income and pensions are subject to a progressive tax rate from 9 to 44%. Moreover, professionals who move to Greece in 2021 receive a 50% income tax reduction. Rental income is taxed between 15% and 45%. Finally, real estate buyers are VAT-exempt on newly built properties if they purchase the property before the end of 2022.
RBI for Your Greece Retirement
With the best value for program costs, your retirement in Greece starts from ~293,000 USD (250,000 EUR). The Greek residency by investment through real estate program for retirement is among our favorites.
An increasing number of people, particularly from North America, are moving overseas when they retire. Portugal is among their favorite destinations. And it’s easy to understand why.
This beautiful country in Western Europe, and the Algarve in particular, is a hot spot for international pensioners with a large retiree expat group. In fact, according to Forbes News World Report Portugal is the best country in the world for retirement.
While Portugal has warm weather and beautiful coasts year-round, it also offers diversity in landscapes and seasons. The cost of living is incredibly cheap. In fact, Portugal is the second least expensive country in Europe and also one of the safest countries. Generally, you can live comfortably with an estimated 1,500-1,700 USD per month in smaller towns. Or 2,000-2,500 USD in larger cities like Lisbon or Porto.
Further top advantages of retiring in Portugal include its world-class free public healthcare, fantastic food, interesting culture, economic stability, and tax exemptions on foreign retirement income.
Taxation for Foreign Pensioners
Portugal offers a generous 10-year income tax exemption on foreign income if you obtain the NHR status. This refers to “non-habitual resident tax regime” and doesn’t require a minimum stay in the country.
On the other hand, income generated in Portugal from specific professions and self-employment is taxed at 20%. But you need the NHR status for this. The regular income tax in Portugal is progressive and ranges between 14.5% and 48%.
Finally, Portugal has tax and social security agreements with several non-EU-countries to ease your relocation and secure your income.
Retirement through RBI
A variety of investment options (real estate, transfer of investment, job creation) are available to obtain residency as a non-EU-citizen. Options start from ~293,000 USD (150,000 EUR).
Keep in mind that Portugal’s dynamic property market currently offers many undervalued real estate opportunities. In fact, properties in Portugal have one of the best price-to-rent-rations and price-to-income ratios in Europe. This makes properties attractive for buying and renting them out to generate (additional) income. Rental income is taxed at 15%.
The Republic of Malta stands out in many ways, making it a great spot for retirement. With its low cost, the Malta Golden Visa program is one of the most popular programs in Europe. In fact, it is the cheapest investment immigration option in Europe for the full family.
Besides, Malta is also the safest country in Europe with an extremely low crime rate. It offers a great location within the EU/Schengen Zone, and English is an official language. This and its cultural diversity attract many foreigners and has evolved into an excellent expat community.
The abundantly sunny Mediterranean island with a mild climate also comes with a stable economy and affordable cost of living including real estate. Finally, the superb national healthcare in Malta is free for those who are employed. Otherwise, private health insurance is rather inexpensive and comes with preferred treatment.
Taxes for Foreign Retirees
The country’s favorable tax system makes it ideal for business set up. But also individuals like retirees and pensioners benefit from the low taxes!
A flat income tax rate of 15% applies to foreign income, while locally-sourced income is taxed at 35%. There is no gift tax, inheritance tax, or wealth tax. Maltese tax residents also benefit from 70 double tax treaties with other countries.
The Maltese residency through investment options begin from ~130,000 USD (110,000 EUR).
Next, let’s look at the best countries for retirement in 2021 in the rest of the world.
Europe & Middle East
In this culturally and geographically attractive region, we would like to present two amazing Golden Visa and Golden Passport destinations. They are also great options for foreign retirement.
To begin with, the country’s attractive Balkan location in Southern Europe brings many advantages with it. Real estate prices and the cost of living are very affordable. The sunny and warm coastal areas together with the impressive mountain ranges offer a diverse landscape for all preferences.
As an EU-candidate, Montenegro (Black Mountain) already offers visa-free travel to 124 countries with the Montenegrin passport. Besides, Montenegro citizenship allows investors to live and work in the United States through the E-2 Investor Treaty.
Finally, Montenegro offers public and private healthcare services. Since medical care is still improving, foreigners often prefer private insurance that includes medical out-of-country treatment.
Foreign Retiree Tax Rates
In general, the advantages of low taxes and affordable real estate have drawn many retired foreigners into the country. With the low cost of living compared to other European countries, retirees and pensioners can maximize their comfort.
Montenegro’s tax system is simple and tax rates are low. Retirees and pensioners pay only 9% of capital gains tax. Besides, Montenegro has several bilateral agreements. So, retired foreigners can maintain part or all of their health and pension benefits.
Retirement through Residency by Investment
The jewel of the Balkan offers one of the fastest second passport/citizenship processing times in as little as three months. It is a brand-new program with limited opportunities for 2,000 applicants until the end of 2021.
While there is no residency only program, the retirement citizenship by investment program starts from ~410,000 USD (350,000 EUR).
Located on the eastern banks of the Black Sea, Georgia is often cited as the “First Europe”. Its RBI and CBI programs are ideal for retirement and are among the most affordable global investment immigration programs.
Now, the low living cost and relaxed lifestyle together with many tax advantages make Georgia stand out. The rough landscapes are simply breathtaking and mesmerize not only nature-lovers.
Expatriates are not covered under Georgia’s healthcare system and the medical services are still improving in the country. Therefore, many foreigners choose affordable private health insurance providers that cover out-of-country care.
Since the country’s industry and infrastructure are quickly developing, it still offers attractive investment opportunities. In particular, in the real estate market. This also offers the advantage that foreign pensioners/retirees can rent out the properties and generate additional income.
Foreign Pensioner Tax Rates
The personal income tax – for locals and foreigners – for locally-sourced income is 20% (only 5% for interest, dividends, and royalty). However, foreign-sourced income is tax-exempt! There is no property tax except for rental income (<1%). You are a tax resident if you stay in the country for at least 183 days per year.
Besides, the low cost of living and a favorable tax system make retirement money go a long way in comparison.
Retire in Georgia with the RBI/CBI Program
Georgia offers a fast track citizenship (just like Montenegro) as well as a residency program. All options are suitable for your retirement needs.
The residency by investment program starts from ~100,000 USD (85,000 EUR). And the citizenship by investment program starts from ~293,000 USD (250,000 EUR).
Finally, let’s look to the East for more great retirement spots!
The “Land of Smiles” offers an official retirement visa program! And it’s among the cheapest Golden Visa options worldwide.
Live a relaxed lifestyle in an amazing Southeast Asia location. From sandy beaches to mountain areas – Thailand has got it all! The country’s rich culture and its friendly people will make you feel at home instantly. Moreover, English is commonly spoken in larger cities and tourist/expat areas.
So, retirees and pensioners in particular value the low cost of living and world-class healthcare providers. In fact, Thailand’s healthcare is the 6th best in the world! Besides, the government recently announced a new healthcare program for long-term residents over the age of 50.
And you’ll live comfortably with 1,000-2,000 USD per month. This makes Thailand a retirement hotspot, so you will find a large community of like-minded expats.
Tax Rates for Foreigners (Retirees/Pensioners)
Non-residents are only subject to pay taxes on income made within the country. Plus, as a resident, you can transfer foreign income tax-free 1 year after this income has been generated.
Progressive personal income tax rates up to 35%. There are no local government income taxes.
Retirement with the Thailand Elite Visa
Currently, Thailand offers one retirement visa with three options. Besides, the Land of Smiles offers five residency by investment programs, all of which include exclusive VIP services:
- Retirement Visa: 1 year residency from ~2,000 USD (1,600 EUR)
- Easy Access: 5 year residency from ~16,000 USD (14,000 EUR)
- Superiority Extension: 10 year residency from ~32,000 USD (28,000 EUR)
- Privilege Access with additional services: 10 year residency from ~32,000 USD (26,000 EUR)
- Ultimate Privilege: 20 year residency from ~64,000 USD (52,000 EUR)
- Flex One (Limited): 5 year residency through real estate investment from ~330,000 USD (274,000 EUR)
Thai Retirement Visa
A retirement visa in Thailand is available for foreign nationals over the age of 50 years and who want to retire in the Land of Smiles. This “Non-Immigrant O-Long Stay” visa can be obtained through either:
- minimum monthly income of ~2,000 USD (1,600 EUR)
- a bank account with at least ~26,000 USD (21,000 EUR)
- combination of the two above options, equaling ~26,000 USD (21,000 EUR)
Thai Elite Flex One Visa
The limited Elite Flex One visa allows foreigners to also purchase one or more move-in ready condos (not under construction) as their RBI contribution. If this interests you, you have to hurry up! This incentive is only valid between January 2021 and the end of 2022.
So, purchasing a condo has a significant advantage. Retirees/pensioners already have a place to stay or can rent it out for additional income.
8. United Arab Emirates (UAE)
First, the United Arab Emirates is known as a luxury destination with a thriving economy. They offer attractive low tax schemes, and a prime location in Asia, attracting many expatriates. In fact, 70% of the UAE are foreigners and English is widely spoken.
Dubai (travel hub, luxury destination) and Abu Dhabi (capital city) are the fastest-growing cities in the world. They offer state-of-the-art technology, and a vibrant lifestyle, and attractive investment opportunities. Besdies, the UAE residency by investment program is among the most affordable global RBI programs.
The United Arab Emirates offers one of the most advanced healthcare technologies and the best medical personnel in the world. The UAE has a national healthcare program, but foreign residents are not fully included. So, having your own health insurance is a requirement to apply for a residency visa.
Tax Rates for Retired Foreigners
The UAE are an international favorite for tax optimization! There is no income tax, property tax, capital gains tax, or inheritance tax. So, as a tax resident, you will pay zero tax on foreign and local income.
Other taxes, such as VAT and rental income tax, are at a low 5% rate.
The UAE’s regular Golden Visa/Residency program starts from ~135,000 USD (115,000 EUR). But from 2020, there’s a new designated retirement visa!
Retire in Dubai Visa
Since 2020, the UAE offer a “Retire in Dubai” Program. Resident expats and foreigners over the age of 55 can apply for a designated retirement visa. It is valid for 5 years.
To get a Dubai retirement visa you must fulfill one of three criteria
- monthly income of ~USD 5,500 (4,500 EUR)
- Bank account (savings) with ~275,000 USD (225,000 EUR)
- Property acquisition in Dubai of ~550,000 USD (450,000 EUR)
To sum it up, you now got to know the best countries for retirement in 2021. Besides, you met our personal favorite destinations. Get an easy overview of these eight top countries in our convenient table.
From the EU to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia! Enjoy warm weather, a friendly environment, affordable cost of living, and a relaxed lifestyle in your golden years!
So, are you ready to start your path to retirement? Are you ready for a sunny beach destination with favorable tax rules and a great location? Our investment immigration experts consult you for FREE!