The best places to retire abroad

Marta Brodzka

Retiring abroad can often seem like a dream, a nice idea that gets spoken about wistfully but never acted upon.

Yet it can be done. New research, which saw Censuswide poll 1,000 working adults (aged 55+) in Ireland who plan to retire in the near future, revealed that one third (31%) of Irish people dream of retiring to a better climate. Meanwhile, 27% seek a place where they will get more for their money, as cost of living concerns persist around the world.

Of course, moving abroad is about more than money. It can also mean sun, sand, sangria - new cultures, new friends, new tanlines.

So, we’ve put together a list of ten top retirement destinations. While we can’t offer advice on how to retire to these dream locations, we can say why you might want to.

And even if you’re not looking for a retirement in the sun, hopefully the below provides some inspiration for your next getaway.

Valencia, Spain

Cost of living vs Dublin: -35%
Cost of a good meal for two: €85
Average temperature (Aug/Jan): 31°/16°
Property price (square ft, outside city centre): €120.16

Spain has long been a favoured retirement destination, to the point where some spots have slightly lost their character - places where it’s easier to order gammon than jamon.

Enter Valencia. A relaxed and highly liveable city, Valencia is home to parks, gardens and nearby beaches that perfectly suit a pre-siesta stroll. Its food is legendary, with the city considered the home of paella and its harbour a source of top notch, ultra fresh seafood.

Plus, there’s any number of activities. The City of Arts and Sciences houses an opera house, a planetarium, an interactive science museum and more. Valencia’s architecture blends worlds old and new, with its iconic Lonja de la Seda, or Silk Exchange, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sports-lovers will feel at home, too, thanks to the city’s outdoors lifestyle.

Spain also offers top-notch healthcare, while regular Ryanair flights to Dublin from Valencia Airport ensure home is never too far away.

Bournemouth, UK

Cost of living vs Dublin: -16%
Cost of a good meal for two: €76
Average temperature (Aug/Jan): 22°/8°
Property price (square ft, outside city centre): €259.83

The UK may not be the most exotic choice - but our survey showed it to be one of the most popular retirement destinations for the Irish.

Beyond being close to Ireland, the UK has plenty going for it as a place to retire - and Bournemouth, in particular, is a great option. Another laidback city, Bournemouth’s residents are next to some of the country’s finest beaches - and only a short drive from the wild horse trotting, heath-growing wilderness of the New Forest.

The town hosts cultural events throughout the year, with the Bournemouth International Centre regularly attracting some of today’s (and yesterday’s) biggest acts. The Dorset Street Food Festival, held in nearby Poole, is an annual highlight, while nearby towns like Christchurch and Lymington are well worth a visit. The city’s football team has long punched above its weight, too, and is now backed by big American investment.

The UK provides an easy cultural adjustment too, and Bournemouth’s residents can easily travel to London and beyond by rail.

Lagos, Portugal

Cost of living vs Dublin: -33%
Cost of a good meal for two: €60
Average temperature (Aug/Jan): 26°/16°
Property price (square ft, outside city centre): €304

Portugal , a land of longing fados, sleepy streets and delicious pastel de natas, is one of the most popular places to retire — for good reason.

Lagos is found in Portugal’s idyllic Algarve region. Far more authentic - and far less spoilt - than nearby Albufeira, Vilamoura or Praia da Rocha, Lagos has much to offer.

Featuring dramatic cliffs, golden beaches, and hidden coves, Lagos’ coastline is a place to stroll, sunbathe and explore. The city’s rich history is evident in its well-preserved architecture, including the historic city walls and the iconic Ponta da Piedade, a series of stunning rock formations that adorn the coastline.

Known for its seafood, Lagos restaurants specialise in grilled sardines and cataplana, a seafood stew.

Fort Lauderdale, USA

Cost of living vs Dublin: -3%
Cost of a good meal for two: €73
Average temperature (Aug/Jan): 32°/24°
Property price (square ft, outside city centre): €254

Few countries are as loved in America as Ireland. From Presidents keen to ham their Irish heritage, to cities dying their rivers green for St. Patrick’s Day, to the recent hype around an ‘Irish chicken roll’, America is a country that loves all things Emerald Isle.

It’s also a brilliant place to retire, with Florida a classic home for those looking for a life in the sun .

Few places in the state are as enticing as Fort Lauderdale. A year round tropical climate means it’s possible to spend Christmas on the beach, while a vibrant culture and wide range of leisure activities and sports (traditionally golf, but padel has taken off) ensure you’re never bored.

The Intercoastal Waterway, a picturesque network of inland water channels that stretches along the state's eastern coast, is a perfect place for a cruise with a view.

Munich, Germany

Cost of living vs Dublin: -2%
Cost of a good meal for two: €70
Average temperature (Aug/Jan): 24°/3°
Property price (square ft, outside city centre): €807

Germany, let alone Munich, may not be the first place you think of when it comes to retiring abroad. Yet, known for its Bavarian charm, Munich offers retirees a unique, enticing destination.

The city's rich history is evident in its grand landmarks, such as the iconic Nymphenburg Palace and the magnificent Marienplatz, home to the famous Glockenspiel. Munich also boasts numerous world-class museums and art galleries. The city's beer gardens are legendary, while the English Garden and numerous parks offer something more tranquil.

Germany’s healthcare is excellent, while world-class infrastructure means it’s easy to get around.

Montpellier, France

Cost of living vs Dublin: -11%
Cost of a good meal for two: €58
Average temperature (Aug/Jan): 28°/11°
Property price (square ft, outside city centre): €427

If the Good Life can be found anywhere, it’s likely somewhere in the Languedoc-Roussillon region - and found while holding a glass of Carignan, Grenache or Shiraz.

Montpellier, and its surrounding towns and villages, is possibly this author’s favourite option on the list. Deep in the South of France, it’s a place to luxuriate.

A warm Mediterranean climate promises mild winters and hot summers, while the local wines are best accompanied by local seafood (yes, you can drink red wine with fish).

Montpellier itself is a cobbled, old worldly city, but one with a youthful edge thanks to its major university and thriving art scene. Further out, you’ll find beaches, sweeping landscapes and, yes, vineyards.

Très bien.

Corfu, Greece

Cost of living vs Dublin: -34%
Cost of a good meal for two: €50
Average temperature (Aug/Jan): 32°/14°
Property price (square ft, outside city centre): €139

Situated in the Ionian Sea, Corfu provides beauty, history, and a relaxed island lifestyle.

Retirees can explore the island's charming old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with its narrow streets, Venetian architecture, and vibrant atmosphere. Corfu is also known for its villages, where time seems to stand still, offering a glimpse into traditional Greek life.

The island's crystal-clear waters and expansive beaches provide a base for sunbathing, swimming, and embarking on leisurely boat trips to explore hidden coves and nearby islands.

The island's natural beauty, rich history, and relaxed pace of life combine for a dreamy retirement destination.

Palermo, Italy

Cost of living vs Dublin:-30%
Cost of a good meal for two: €50
Average temperature (Aug/Jan): €111
Property price (square ft, outside city centre): 31°/15°

Located on the island of Sicily, Palermo offers a unique blend of ancient ruins, architectural wonders, and a vibrant street life.

The city's historic centre showcases a mix of Arab, Norman, and Baroque influences, reflected in landmarks such as the Palermo Cathedral and the Norman Palace.

Palermo’s markets, such as the bustling Ballarò Market, offer an abundance of local produce, while locals will point you to any number of top class street food vendors.

Valletta, Malta

Cost of living vs Dublin: -6.6%
Cost of a good meal for two: €80
Average temperature (Aug/Jan): 31°/16°
Property price (square ft, outside city centre): €377.80

Valletta may be a less obvious choice for retirement, but the city, and the country as a whole, have much to offer. With sea views, hot summers and mild winters, this is a great place to call home.

As an EU country, the process for moving there is simple, and regular direct flights from Dublin to Valletta mean that retirees can easily travel back and forth.

Malta has an impressive history, which is evident by the stunning cathedrals, towering fortresses, and vast palaces.

There is much to see beyond Valletta, too, with coral reefs, botanical gardens and a blue lagoon to boot.

Sydney, Australia

Cost of living vs Dublin: +5%
Cost of a good meal for two: €86
Average temperature (Aug/Jan): 18°/26°
Property price (square ft, outside city centre): €847

We won’t pretend that Australia is quick and easy to get to - but for those looking to get further away, it offers an excellent retirement location.

Situated on Australia's east coast, Sydney’s pristine beaches, inviting coastal walks, and chilled out atmosphere make Sydney an ideal setting for a fulfilling and leisurely retirement.

While its Harbour Bridge and Opera House are well known, Sydney also provides lesser known delights, such as the Royal Botanic Garden and vibrant neighbourhood The Rocks.

Healthcare is excellent - there’s a reason so many doctors emigrate Down Under.

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