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Whether you’ve recently divorced or widowed or never got married in the first place, being a single woman over 50 comes with its own set of challenges. Many single women reach a stage of their lives where they are ready to uproot and start over in a new country.

If you are tired of your country or simply looking for adventure and new beginnings in a new location, here are 7 of the best countries to retire to as a single woman over 50.

Factors To Consider Before You Move

Before we jump into the best countries to retire to, there are some factors you should consider beforehand to make the best choice suited to your needs and desires. 

Let’s also keep in mind that some people would rather retire in their own country (US), but are looking for a great state to retire to. This post might help!

Pick a “Woman-Friendly Country”

Starting a new life alone already takes a huge mental toll, but if you’re opting for a country that doesn’t support women, it will be even harder to adjust. While I admit that no country is 100% woman-friendly, some countries have better regulations and narrower gender gaps that can improve your quality of life immensely. 

However, this does not imply that we’re incapable of going everywhere. As women, we already tend to have much less confidence in ourselves, so the entire premise of reinventing your life at an older age seems even more far-fetched. 

This shouldn’t be the reason for stopping you in your tracks, but it’s more of a help to narrow down your options.

Language Barrier

When it comes to countries where the primary language of communication isn’t English, you should dive a little deeper into the expat community. While this may seem intimidating, you can still thrive in a country where English is not the first language.

Many places have a hub of people who moved from the US or other English-speaking countries like Canada. This means that even if the general population doesn’t speak the same language as you, you’ll still have a support system so you don’t get lonely. 

Health Care

In your search for the best countries to retire to, healthcare should be a top priority. At our age, aches and pains are the norm because we’ve been pushing ourselves our whole lives, so it’s only natural for our body to tell us that it’s had enough. 

This is why looking into a country with proper healthcare facilities is crucial. Check out the cost of expenses you’d have to deal with and the facilities and benefits provided to you in an emergency. There‘s no harm in being prepared!

Safety

Being strong, independent women, we often overlook safety concerns while planning to start over at 50. But let me assure you that safety needs are intrinsic, and it doesn’t mean you’re scared; it just means you’re more informed. 

While no place is entirely safe for anyone, irrespective of gender, some cities are better suited for women walking alone during the day and night while others aren’t. Since you’re planning on living alone, it’s essential to put some thought into these details as well.

Transportation

Services like Uber and taxis exist but can cost a fortune and then some. When researching, you must decide whether your budget has room for a car or if you will predominantly be walking around. 

Based on your answer, some countries are better for walking than others. Whatever you decide, make sure you’ll be able to do some walking because a healthy morning routine at an older age is essential.

Social Life

Having like-minded friends in your 50s is how you stay happy and combat the loneliness that might plague your life. This is why you should find a community where you’ll be able to interact with other retired women to form bonds and connections.

Best Countries To Retire for Single Women

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The million-dollar question remains: Which country is best for retired life? Based on the above factors, some countries are perfect if you’re a solo traveler looking for a fruitful experience to spend the rest of your days in peace.

Here is my pic of the 7 best countries to retire in for single women over 50. Please note that these are also some of the best countries to retire to on a budget!

You may also find this article from International Living very helpful!

1. Panama

Panama is easy on your wallet and has a lot to offer.

The place has everything you’ll need, from tax benefits to stunning beaches, American-style grocery stores, and several healthcare perks. The healthcare system there is split into two, with government and private entities both being spectacular options. A warm tropical climate is just the cherry on top.

Don’t miss out on the Pensionado Visa, which is their very own retiree program. You might need a lawyer to help you with the application process, though. 

2. Mexico

Being the 15th largest country in the world, Mexico is considered one of the best countries to retire to in the world.

While facilities like Uber don’t work everywhere, you can stroll around the dwindling streets of this beautiful country and live your best life. Their selling point is that you can become a permanent resident here even if you’ve retired. 

Their health care system is excellent, with government and private systems offering many benefits. 

While Spanish is the first language, many cities throughout Mexico have a large English-speaking population as well.

3. Portugal

For all you ladies with safety concerns, Portugal is ranked the sixth safest place to live by the Global Peace Index. Compared to general sites in Western Europe, Portugal is much more affordable in terms of the cost of living. 

With plenty of fun activities to enjoy in a mild climate and tons of juicy seafood to devour that makes me drool just thinking about it, this is one of the best countries to retire on a budget in 2024. 

4. Italy

Italy checks all the boxes with its well-structured healthcare system, relaxed and laid-back lifestyle, friendly people, cheap food, and a relatively easy method of getting citizenship as a retiree. Many expats live in the cities but don’t opt for the suburbs because you’ll need to learn Italian to communicate. 

Places like Sicily, Lombardy, and Lazio are some regions you should look into.

It’s important to note that you must show a minimum annual income of €31,000, which can come from a pension, savings, or any passive income.

5. Thailand

Thailand has a vast retirement population, and rightly so. With the hot weather, mesmerizing beaches, and delicious food, what’s there not to like? Compared to other popular countries for retirement, it has a low cost of living with significant hospitals like Phuket International Hospital and Bangkok Hospital Phuket that can handle emergencies. 

When it comes to the visa requirements, you are eligible for it if you are 50 and over and meet a list of criteria that include personal income of at least $24,000 a year, a health insurance policy covering medical expenses, etc. 

6. Sweden

If you keep up with global statistics, you’ll know that Sweden has been topping the list for years as one of the best countries to retire to because of its gender equality, position on human rights, and general quality of life. For Americans to retire here, they need a Schengen visa, which your lawyer can help you with. 

I know it’s challenging to step out of your comfort zone and embrace a whole new country, but Sweden makes that very easy with its luscious greenery, walkable cities, and some of the best healthcare facilities in the world. If you have a tight budget, you should look into the regions of Norrköping, Orebro, and Uppsala that can help you navigate your financial journey a little better.

The best part about living here is that you won’t feel alone because there are many singles living here, particularly in Stockholm, so you can intermingle, share your experiences, and maybe even find new brewing romance lurking around the corner.

7. Guatemala

This country has had a bad rap for years as being one of the most dangerous countries in the world, with some reports claiming it has a high murder rate. While this is partially true, most people fail to realize that most of these murders are domestic violence-related.

With that said, there are many parts of Guatemala that are absolutely beautiful, affordable, and completely safe for single women.

Areas like Lake Atitlan welcome expats and tourists from around the world year-round. The climate is perfect, and things like housing, food, and services are extremely affordable. You can live quite comfortably in Guatemala on less than $20,000 a year.

I may be biased because I live here, but I believe Guatemala and Thailand are two of the cheapest countries to retire to!

Health care is great and affordable as well.

Answering Common Questions

It’s important to prepare yourself well when you make the decision to leave your country. While I’ve already chosen some of the best countries to retire to, you still have to make sure you are well-informed and prepared.

What Is the Cheapest Country To Retire In?

Even with a budget of $1,000 per month, you can enjoy a fulfilling retired life in countries like Malaysia, Mexico, Panama, Philippines, Portugal, Thailand, and Vietnam. These places are not only some of the cheapest countries to retire to and live in, but they also offer the best adventures.

What more does one need than a budget-friendly place that also has serene places, a lively community, and welcoming people that you can befriend for life? 

Can You Retire Abroad as a Solo Expat Woman?

Of course, you can! When you move from America to another country, it’s easier to manage your finances, and you have a lot of room to explore your deepest desires. Just because you’re doing it solo doesn’t mean you can’t do it entirely. I’m not saying the journey will be rainbows and butterflies, but nothing worth having comes easy anyway.

Many fears and doubts plague our minds when taking a big step, so it’s natural to be afraid of the entire debacle. But, if you fight through those thoughts, you’re going to be set for life.

I’ve seen some of my girlfriends who’ve never even left the country take this bold step, and they’re happier than ever, especially if they find the best country for a single woman to retire in.

What Is the Best Place To Live as a Widow?

With a great loss like losing your partner whom you planned your entire future with, it can be difficult to think ahead. So, before anything else, I’d like to appreciate the initiative of looking out for yourself despite the immense agony of your husband passing away.

Deciding on the location really depends on your current situation. There isn’t one answer for all, but I can help you get started. Begin with making a budget and figuring out your finances. Can you afford to stay in the place you’re currently living in, or should you move? 

Once you have that sorted out, think about your mental health. It’s essential to relocate to a place where you have some sort of friends and family who can be there for you when it all crashes and burns. Figure out what brings you joy. Is it the mountains or city life? That should help you narrow down your options.

Lastly, in this vulnerable state, many people will tell you different things and almost try to make your decision for you. But it’s important to mull over your thoughts instead of mindlessly following what people are saying.

In summary – the Best Countries to Retire To

Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter whether you’re young, old, male, female, or anything else. What matters is your attitude towards relocating. You can either sit there and think that you’re too old to move now, or you can get up and take action and find the best country to retire for a single woman.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say you’re as old as you believe you are because our bodies have needs, and as we get older, we need to take care of ourselves even more, so it is challenging to decide the best country for a single woman to retire in. But that doesn’t mean you should give up and never try. 

You only have one life, and living it to the maximum, especially after you’ve crossed 50, should be your priority more than anything else. 

Iva Ursano
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Iva Ursano is a solo female traveler originally from Canada and currently residing in Guatemala. After hitting rock bottom in 2013, she completely reinvented her life at 52 years old, packed up two suitcases, and bought a one-way ticket to Central America. She runs this website for women over 50 to help them make the rest of their lives the best of their lives while feeding street dogs and helping the less fortunate in the town she now calls home, Panajachel. You can follow her on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram (Street Dogs of Guatemala)

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