Where’s the Best Place in the World to Retire?

where's the best place to live overseas?It’s a great big world out there. If you want to retire — or just live — overseas, where’s the best place to go?

Naturally there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

You can start with a list of questions to ask yourself about what quality of life means to you (and your significant other if you’re moving with someone else).

Then you start collecting data.

Here are the top 15 cities from the newest quality of life index from Numbeo.com.

  1. Zurich, Switzerland
  2. Canberra, Australia
  3. Adelaide, Australia
  4. Berlin, Germany
  5. Munich, Germany
  6. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  7. Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  8. Hamburg, Germany
  9. Austin, Texas, USA
  10. Dubai, UAE
  11. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  12. Bergen, Norway
  13. Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  14. Trondheim, Norway
  15. Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Every year HSBC studies expats. In their 2012 Expat Experience report, they also rank quality of life. Their criteria are different from Numbeo’s, and so are their results.

  1. Cayman Islands
  2. Thailand
  3. Spain
  4. Singapore
  5. Malaysia
  6. Mexico
  7. Switzerland
  8. Germany
  9. South Africa
  10. Australia
  11. Bahrain
  12. Hong Kong
  13. France
  14. Canada
  15. Bermuda

A big factor in quality of life is cost — even if the amenities you want are available, if you can’t afford them they won’t improve your quality of life.

Here are the cities where it costs the most to live, according to Numbeo. They update these regularly, so you may see some differences month-to-month.

  1. Stavanger, Norway
  2. Trondheim, Norway
  3. Oslo, Norway
  4. Zurich, Switzerland
  5. Bergen, Norway
  6. Geneva, Switzerland
  7. Luanda, Angola
  8. Basel, Switzerland
  9. Lausanne, Switzerland
  10. Perth, Australia
  11. Bern, Switzerland
  12. Sydney, Australia
  13. Canberra, Australia
  14. Brisbane, Australia
  15. Melbourne, Australia
  16. Some of the cities I think of as being the most expensive — Monaco, for instance, as well as Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong — didn’t make this list. Instead, Norway has taken over the top spots.

    Interestingly, the lowest 15 cost of living cities are all in India, with Karachi, Pakistan in the 16th-lowest spot.

    I’ll bring you more quality and cost of life information over the coming weeks.


  1. The only city on that list I’ve lived in is Boston. Great place, though expensive. They’re very protective of their city and have a chip on their shoulder whenever someone mentions NYC. I guess it’s why they rate themselves so high 🙂


    • FutureExpat says:

      Didn’t know you’d lived in Beantown, Rich. I grew up in the Boston area — Cambridge, Watertown, then out to Bridgewater (halfway to the Cape). I’ve often thought if I could convince myself it had a halfway decent climate I’d move back 🙂 When were you there?

  2. Jennifer says:

    I have lived in Boston. Actually in the City of Boston. It is a beautiful city. Possibly the best concentration of hospitals and colleges. Most things are accessible my train. However the T or train stops at 1:00 and the bars close at 2:00.

    Food? Yes, lots of it. In every area. Bostonians take great pride in their food and coffee shops.
    The arts scene and local music scene is great. Operas, symphonies, Boston Ballet, The House of Blues, etc. There is always something to do and it is very friendly to families and retiree alike.

    • FutureExpat says:

      Jennifer, I grew up in the Boston area and have family there. I like to joke that I’d move back in a heartbeat if I could persuade myself they had a halfway decent climate. But of all the cities I’m acquainted with, Boston is definitely my favorite.

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