Whether you want to spend your golden years on a Caribbean beach or European village, the idea of retiring abroad sure is appealing. But how should you decide where to settle down? We suggest you check out the 2022 Retirement Index from International Living, an annual list of destinations where a retired couple can live comfortably on as little as $2,000 a month.
Now in its 31st year, the Retirement Index pulls information from hundreds of on-the-ground editors and correspondents around the world. Along with the editors’ personal accounts, the countries are quantified across 10 categories: Housing, Benefits & Discounts, Visas & Residence, Fitting In/Entertainment, Development, Climate, Healthcare, Governance, Opportunity, and Cost of Living. The goal is to find locations where retirees can spend less money, live happily and healthily, and experience a new country without straying too far from all that is familiar.
The top 10 countries for 2022 are a mix of cultural hubs in Europe and outdoor havens in Central and South America. View the full list here.
Why retire in Malta?
About 50 miles south of Sicily, Malta is the tenth smallest country in the entire world—but don’t let its lack of square milage deter you. The archipelago nation compares to the best of other countries: the beaches and ancient cities of Italy, the aromatic spices and seafood-focused cuisine of North Africa, the language and tea culture of England. It’s no wonder that 15 percent of the residents here are expats.
Much of the population is packed in the capital city of Valletta, which is a two-hour flight from most European capitals. The city is filled with museums and delicious tapas restaurants, with snorkeling spots, hiking trails, and ruins older than Stonehenge just a quick car or ferry ride away. The gloriously warm climate, abundance of activities, and aforementioned English-speaking locals make Malta a great place for retirees.
Cost of living: Malta is by no means the cheapest country in Europe, but it still offers lower prices than the U.S. and Canada. Modern, one-bedroom apartments in Valletta can reach up to $1,600 per month, but you can find options as low as $800 in smaller fishing villages. Factoring in rent, utilities, groceries, healthcare, and transportation, you can expect to spend around $2,330 per month here.
Healthcare: Unfortunately, expats cannot access Malta’s excellent public healthcare system, but the private insurance options are high-quality and inexpensive (some Maltese citizens even opt for private insurance over the free public healthcare). Premiums range from around $50-300 per month, but out-of-pocket costs are quite low—around $20 for a basic visit and $65 for a specialist, and medications at a fraction of what they cost in the U.S.
Visa requirements: The Malta permanent residence visa is the best option for non-EU nationals. To qualify, you must earn an annual income of at least $25,263, open a Maltese bank account, and either purchase a house worth at least $329,514 or pay $10,984 in annual rent. Residency permit applications can only be submitted in person at the Department for Citizenship and Expatriates Affairs in Valletta.
For more detailed information about residency requirements, click here.