The World’s Best Places to Retire in the World

By International Living January 1, 2021

It’s no wonder that Portugal has topped the charts for the best places to retire through the years. This tiny country in the southwest corner of Europe has something for everyone. Vibrant cities full of Old World charm, miles of golden sandy beaches, green, rolling hills, some of the best healthcare in the world, low cost of living, and safety.

But for me, the best part about living in Portugal is the people. The Portuguese people are warm, friendly and greet everyone with double-cheeked kisses. Since English is taught in the schools, many Portuguese speak some English, which makes retiring here a little easier.

Last year my husband Clyde took our car into a service center for an oil change. To pass the time he went next door to a family-run café for a cup of coffee. The lady of the house was in the next room preparing to serve lunch to her family and insisted that Clyde join them. Since he had already eaten, he declined but had to smile about her generous offer.

If you are looking to retire in a city full of Old World charm, check out Lisbon. The city comes alive with colorful tiles, museums, palaces, nightlife, and a tram system that navigates the steep, cobbled roads. Take a deep breath and inhale the sweetness of the pastries that are all around. Sample an original custard tart in the famous bakery of Belem that has been baking these delectable treats since 1837.

Head north to visit Portugal’s second-largest city, Porto. Famous for its production of port wine, stately bridges, a colorful riverfront area, university vibe, and tours along the Douro river, there is much to explore. Porto also has an international airport, one of three in the entire country which makes it easy to come and go.

Looking to retire and live without a car? Then city life in either Lisbon or Porto might be for you. Portugal has an excellent long-distance bus and train system also making it easy to visit other areas of the country.

South of Lisbon is the Alentejo region that includes the cities of Beja and Évora. The largest and most rural region of the country, it is famous for the fields of wildflowers, stately cork oaks, historic towns, and a sparse population. Life here is slow, winters are cool, and summers are hot and dry.

The southernmost region of Portugal is the Algarve. Known for its Atlantic beaches, fishing villages, golf resorts, waterparks, hot, dry summers, and tourists. Due to its long history of British tourists coming here on holiday, English is widely spoken.

So, how much do you need to retire to Portugal? Although it depends on many factors, you can estimate that you can live on about one-third less here. A couple can live comfortably, but not lavishly in Portugal on $2,500 per month. If you want to live in Lisbon, Porto, Cascais, or the Algarve, you should bump that number up to $3,000 or more.

My husband Clyde and I have called Portugal our home for over two years now. We began life here one hour north of Lisbon near the city of Caldas da Rainha. For just $400 per month, we rented a fully furnished, three-bedroom home. The house offered views of lush, rolling hills and fertile farmland that we loved. But the winters were too cold and wet for us, so we moved further south.

Now we live in Vilamoura, an unincorporated area near the city of Quarteira. Here we rent a two-bedroom condominium in a gated complex with a pool for $1,030 per month. We love Portugal and have never regretted our decision to move here.