Costa Rica Named 'the Best Place to Retire' in 2024


Last updated 5/2/2024 at 11:44am | View PDF

Costa Rica has beautiful beaches.

For the third time, the world's #1 retirement destination is Costa Rica, according to International Living's 2024 Annual Global Retirement Index. This yearly index - the 33rd annual from the magazine - examines the top safe, good-value destinations beyond the U.S. or Canada, comparing, contrasting, ranking and rating them to select countries across the globe where a retired couple can live a comfortable, carefree life on as little as $2,000 a month.

The key aim of the index is to help retirees find locations where their dollar goes further - where they can get the best bang for their buck in terms of real estate, cost of living and overall quality of life.

The 2024 Annual Global Retirement Index uses seven categories to select the best countries in the world for retirement. The focus is on the destinations within those countries that make sense. For instance, Roatán is the only place in Honduras that International Living would consider, while in Mexico, there are easily a half-a-dozen hotspots they homed in on.

"By design, our annual Global Retirement Index rankings are largely subjective, but we build it from a base of facts and figures," said Jennifer Stevens, International Living executive editor. "Our editors rely on the informed judgment and real-world experience of the magazine's contributors and correspondents in the field as well as additional in-country expats...people who have made the move and have first-hand experience.

"They provide detailed data and insights about the places where they live - places we feel confident recommending to folks interested in retiring abroad.

"We're careful about the data we're inputting because we want to ensure this index is reliable and useful in the real world," she continued. "So, for instance, we don't just look for the average cost of housing across a bunch of markets and types of accommodation. Instead, we ask our folks on the ground to give us real-world examples of what you'd pay for a two-bedroom home or apartment in a neighborhood where expats would feel comfortable and typically live.

"Our index is designed to be a tool you can use to home in on the spots that would make the most sense for you, given your personal priorities and preferences."

According to's 2024 Global Retirement Index, the world's top 10 retirement destinations are:

#1 Costa Rica

#2 Portugal

#3 Mexico

#4 Panama

#5 Spain

#6 Ecuador

#7 Greece

#8 Malaysia

#9 France

#10 Colombia

Costa Rica takes the top spot for the third time in this year's Global Retirement Index.

A perennial front-of-the-pack finisher in International Living's list of the best places to retire, Costa Rica is a safe, good-value, beautiful country that offers a wide variety of climates and lifestyles amid what can only be described as a natural wonderland.

"Only in Costa Rica can you be at the top of a volcano with big views, an hour later in the cloud forest, an hour later in a pineapple plantation, an hour later on the beach, an hour later by a mountain stream," said International Living contributor John Michael Arthur. "Costa Rica's been an expat hot spot for four decades. It's going strong...and there's a reason for that."

Tens of thousands of U.S. and Canadian expats already live in Costa Rica full or part-time. They have been flocking to Costa Rica for over 30 years, attracted by the tropical climate, low cost of living, affordable medical care, bargain real estate and natural beauty. Millions more have traveled there for beach resort vacations, surfing, fishing, rainforest treks and more.

And, just a few months ago, the Costa Rican government announced an extension of the maximum stay period for foreign tourists visiting on a tourist visa, from 90 days to 180 days.

Costa Rica is a model for comfortable living, famous for its long-time political stability and public safety. What's more, it attracts many different types of expats, and all can find a place in its tolerant, welcoming society.

As a Black woman originally from Los Angeles, Mel Rhoden says it's comforting for her to feel accepted and embraced by the community she lives in. Along with a healthy, conscious lifestyle and lower stress, it's a package that she says fits her perfectly.

"Here, I feel so much more peaceful than I ever did in the anxiety of living in the U.S. Things are just more tranquil here. Life couldn't get any better than this."

In Costa Rica, there is also a focus on preserving the environment, with 25% of the country's territory protected.

"In neighboring Central American countries, it sometimes feels as if there's a town or village every few miles, and the highway sides are almost entirely built upon," said Seán Keenan, International Living lifestyle editor. "Costa Rica, though, is famed for its rigorous approach to all things environmental and sustainable. Most commonly cited proof of its enlightened approach is that over 90% of its electrical energy derives from renewable sources, and the country is so peaceful that it has no standing army.

The town of Grecia in Costa Rica's Central Valley

"The country's nationalized healthcare system ranks alongside the best in the world," he added. "Calculated as a percentage of declared income, for most participating expats in Costa Rica, comprehensive coverage costs less than $100 a month. You don't even need to be a passport-toting Costa Rican citizen; it comes as standard with long-term residency. If you're retired, with a monthly income of $1,000 or more, you've already fulfilled the primary conditions to qualify."

And in sun-splashed Costa Rica, a retired couple could live very comfortably on $2,000 a month, and even better on $2,500 to $3,000. A single person can live on between $1,600 and $2,000 a month.

The complete 2024 Annual Global Retirement Index, including more information on the winner and the other nine countries in the top 10, as well as the individual rankings in all seven categories for all 17 countries included, can be found at


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