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25 Worst Countries to Retire in for Americans

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This article takes a look at the 25 worst countries to retire in for Americans. If you wish to skip our detailed analysis of navigating retirement realities, you may go to 10 Worst Countries to Retire in for Americans.

Navigating Retirement Realities

Retirement security has been improving for the first time in a decade. The 2023 Natixis Global Retirement Index recorded nearly all countries having improved scores in the year 2023. Inflation has also been declining this past year, and it is expected to recede even further in the year 2024. Despite these improvements, four out of ten working individuals lament having their retirement dreams killed because of inflation. Higher prices, coupled with the pressure of longer lives and potentially reduced retirement benefits, thwart the realization of the ultimate retirement dream for individuals around the world.

Over the past year, inflation in the US reduced by more than half to 3% in June 2023. Moreover, all US regions ended 2023 on a good note with inflation below 4%. The highest inflation recorded was in Pacific coastal areas at 3.8%, notes the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Euro Monitor International further states that under the baseline scenario, global inflation is predicted to be standing at 4.9% in 2024, down from 6.9% in 2023. Regardless of the improving global situation, potential retirees worldwide are still concerned about how the price hikes are going to affect their retirement plans in the future, and that too, rightly so.

According to a Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC) survey, the number of participants taking hardship withdrawals from their 401(k) increased 13% in Q3 2023 from the previous quarter.

“In looking at our data across 401(k) plans, economic hardships continue to be a factor.”

-Lisa Margeson, managing director, Retirement Research and Insights Group at Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC).

This implies that despite inflationary improvements, retirees are still struggling to make their way through their so-called golden period. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, about 23% of Americans aged 65 and above are living in poverty, one of the highest shares among developed nations. Even worse, the Social Security Administration is falling short of its goal of managing to achieve a secure retirement for Americans.

This is because these funds are likely to be depleted by 2033. So where can Americans flock to, considering their own country has been failing them at the most fragile period of their lives? Canada is one country that most Americans are retiring to over the years. According to our research on the most popular overseas retirement destinations for Americans, over 71,376 retired workers received their social security checks in this country, followed by Japan. However, these countries aren’t necessarily the “best” ones to retire to. In contrast, Mexico, Panama, and Spain are some of the best places to retire around the world. It must be noted here that best and worst are subjective terms, and which country is “best” or “worst” may depend on numerous factors such as cost of living, retirement savings, and other individual preferences.

A starting point for potential retirees is to assess how far they stand from retirement, and how much they need to save enough for a secure one. According to The Charles Schwab Corporation (NYSE:SCHW), Americans need at least $1.8 million to live a comfortable lifestyle during their golden years. Considering their longer lifespans and higher healthcare expenditure over the years, they must look for a viable country to live in that can help them live a comfortable life. We have all looked at lists that talk about the best countries for retirees, but what about the worst? Let’s find out.

25 Worst Countries to Retire in for Americans

25 Worst Countries to Retire in for Americans

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To compile the list of the 25 worst countries to retire in for Americans, we have used the Expat Insider Survey 2023 and the Natixis Retirement Index 2023. These indices have assessed up to 54 advanced economies, members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). The factors that they have been assessed on include health, well-being, ease of living, finances in retirement, quality of life, leisure options, travel and transit, safety and security, and environment and climate. Next, we picked out the bottom-most countries from both the indices and averaged their rankings to generate an Insider Monkey score. Countries have been ranked in ascending order from the lowest to the highest scores.

By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that tracks the movements of corporate insiders and hedge funds. By using a similar consensus approach, we identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 Index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years (see the details here). Whether you are a beginner investor or a professional one looking for the best stocks to buy, you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders.

Here are the worst countries to retire in for Americans:

25. Canada

Insider Monkey Score: 19.5

Expat Insider Survey Rank: 27th  

Natixis Retirement Index Rank: 12th

High taxes, a rapidly aging population, environmental factors such as lack of biodiversity, and a drop in financial well-being and happiness make Canada one of the worst countries to retire in for Americans. According to the Expat Insider survey, respondents struggle with housing costs and general day-to-day living expenses as well. 49% of respondents deem the cost of living as “too high”.

24. Ireland

Insider Monkey Score: 21.5

Expat Insider Survey Rank: 39th 

Natixis Retirement Index Rank: 4th

Deemed as one of the most expensive countries in Europe to retire to, Ireland is another one of the worst countries to retire in for Americans. The major aspects highlighted by the Expat Insider Survey that have made it land in the bottom 10 are poor leisure options, sub-par performance in the Travel and Transit category, and most importantly, it comes dead last in the healthcare category. Specifically, the survey notes that 47% of expats are generally unhappy with the high costs of healthcare, poor availability (45%), and low quality (42%).

23. USA

Insider Monkey Score: 25

Expat Insider Survey Rank: 30th 

Natixis Retirement Index Rank: 20th

Unsurprisingly for many retired individuals in the country, the USA itself is one of the worst countries to retire in for Americans. Inflation, lack of retirement savings, and the prospect of depleted social security funds have all been keeping retirees on their toes. While the country may be great in terms of career prospects, the quality of life is its weak point. Respondents note the country doesn’t have affordable public transportation, it’s difficult to move around on foot, and it’s best not to get sick since healthcare is unaffordable for many.

22. Denmark

Insider Monkey Score: 25.5

Expat Insider Survey Rank: 41st  

Natixis Retirement Index Rank: 10th

One of the worst countries for making friends is Denmark, which means Americans, and expats in general, are likely to feel isolated and alone if they decide to move there. Housing is hard to find, and the cost of living is also expensive. 56% of expats are unhappy with the living expenses in the country.

21. Austria

Insider Monkey Score: 26.5

Expat Insider Survey Rank: 42nd   

Natixis Retirement Index Rank: 11th 

Austria promises expats a good quality of life, features a good health sub-index, and even performs well in material well-being. However, similar to Denmark, the country isn’t exactly a friendly place to settle in. According to an Expat Insider survey, 24% of expats completely disagree that the locals are friendly there. The country also performs poorly in the Expats Essential Index for factors such as housing, digital life, and language.

20. New Zealand

Insider Monkey Score: 26.5

Expat Insider Survey Rank: 45th   

Natixis Retirement Index Rank: 8th

New Zealand slipped two places in the Natixis Retirement Index and already ranks poorly in the Expat Insider Survey. The survey notes its ranking slipping in the Finances in Retirement sub-index, while it performs well in areas such as quality of life (82%) and material well-being (70%). Expat Insider notes that the country doesn’t perform well in the Personal Finances category, and expats state their disposable income isn’t sufficient to live a comfortable life.

19. Norway

Insider Monkey Score: 26.5

Expat Insider Survey Rank: 52nd 

Natixis Retirement Index Rank: 4th

One of the worst-rated countries by the Expat Insider survey is Norway. 62% of expats rate the local cost of living negatively, while 37% of expats state that their disposable income is insufficient to lead a comfortable life. The question remains, why does the country lead the Natixis Retirement survey? Probably because of its top performance in the health and quality of life sub-categories.

18. Estonia

Insider Monkey Score: 27

Expat Insider Survey Rank: 29th   

Natixis Retirement Index Rank: 25th

Estonia has had the worst inflation in Europe over the years, and expats are particularly unhappy with their financial situation in the country. In March 2023, the inflation rate was 15.6%, twice the Eurozone average. Cultural differences, language barriers, and health inequalities exist as well.

17. France

Insider Monkey Score: 28

Expat Insider Survey Rank: 33rd    

Natixis Retirement Index Rank: 23rd 

According to the Big Mac Index, the cost of living is 6% more expensive in France than in the USA. Expats also tend to struggle with the local language, with 59% stating that it was difficult to live in the country without speaking the language.

16. Belgium

Insider Monkey Score: 28.5

Expat Insider Survey Rank: 38th

Natixis Retirement Index Rank: 19th

Expat Insider Survey rates Belgium at number 38 out of 53 countries, whereas it comes at number 19 in the Natixis Retirement Index. The language barrier, cultural adjustment, and complex healthcare system help it rank as one of the worst countries to retire in for Americans.

15. Germany

Insider Monkey Score: 29

Expat Insider Survey Rank: 49th   

Natixis Retirement Index Rank: 9th

Germany may be ranking in the top 10 in the Natixis Retirement Index, but the Expat Insider Survey ranks it in its bottom 10. From small inconveniences like having to pay in cash to bigger problems such as finding accommodation, the country isn’t exactly an easy place to retire for Americans.

14. Brazil

Insider Monkey Score: 29

Expat Insider Survey Rank: 15th   

Natixis Retirement Index Rank: 43rd 

Brazil is another country making it to our list of worst countries to retire in for Americans due to factors such as economic conditions and government policies. Language barriers, cultural adjustments, and bureaucratic processes are some other challenges that retirees will face.

13. Colombia

Insider Monkey Score: 29

Expat Insider Survey Rank: 17th   

Natixis Retirement Index Rank: 41st 

The Natixis Retirement Index ranks Colombia at 41st place out of 44 countries. The country doesn’t perform well in the health index (51%), finances in retirement (62%), and even material well-being (11%). For this reason, we can consider it as one of the worst countries to retire in for Americans.

12. United Kingdom

Insider Monkey Score: 29.5

Expat Insider Survey Rank: 43rd    

Natixis Retirement Index Rank: 16th

Expats in the UK may appreciate it for its work life and business culture, but they struggle with aspects such as personal finances and quality of life. Both of these factors are important for a retiree, which is why the UK can be considered a bad choice to retire for Americans. 41% of respondents are unhappy with the local economy as well.

11. Greece

Insider Monkey Score: 30.5

Expat Insider Survey Rank: 25th   

Natixis Retirement Index Rank: 36th

Greece runs a little below the middle ground in both the indexes used for our rankings. Ongoing economic issues, uncertainty, and lack of healthcare in its rural areas and quiet islands mean the country isn’t exactly one of the best countries to retire in for Americans.

Click to continue reading and see the 10 Worst Countries to Retire in for Americans.

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Disclosure: none. 25 Worst Countries to Retire in for Americans is originally published on Insider Monkey.

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