10 Countries Where Retirees Have the Best Quality of Life

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Helsinki, Finland
Oleksiy Mark / Shutterstock.com

For retirees searching for a new home abroad, quality of life typically is high on the checklist of important qualities.

But how does someone measure an attribute that means many things to many people?

Natixis Investment Managers has found one approach. Its 2023 Global Retirement Index analyzes and ranks 44 countries based on an array of attributes, including not only quality of life but also material well-being, health and finances.

To pin down each nation’s quality of life in particular, the Natixis analysts gauged air quality, biodiversity and habitat, environmental factors, happiness, and water and sanitation.

Read on to see Natixis’ top countries where retirees have the highest quality of life, starting with No. 10 and ending with No. 1.

10. Luxembourg

Luxembourg
Boris Stroujko / Shutterstock.com

This country’s index score for quality of life in:

  • 2023: 81%
  • 2022: 81%

The country of Luxembourg, with a population of about 660,000, is officially known as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Its capital city also is called Luxembourg.

It’s a very cosmopolitan nation, with 47% of the population being of other nationalities — primarily Portuguese, French and Italian.

9. Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Yasonya / Shutterstock.com

This country’s index score for quality of life in:

  • 2023: 82%
  • 2022: 80%

With friendly people, a beautiful countryside, sophisticated cities and rich culture, the Netherlands (also popularly known as Holland) offers an excellent quality of life, says HSBC Expat.

But it’s not easy for foreigners to establish residence. According to the Netherlands’ government website:

“If a person is not a national of:

  • a European Union (EU) country
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • Switzerland

they must have a reason to live in the Netherlands, such as work or to join a partner.”

8. New Zealand

A woman hikes through Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park in New Zealand
Lab Photo / Shutterstock.com

This country’s index score for quality of life in:

  • 2023: 82%
  • 2022: 81%

New Zealand is an English-speaking nation of around 5 million people located in the South Pacific Ocean. It has a melting pot of cultures, influenced by the original Maori people as well as Europeans, Asians and Pacific Islanders.

The country comprises two main islands — North Island and South Island. There are many other smaller islands as well.

“Emigrating to New Zealand can be a complex and lengthy process,” says New Zealand Shores Immigration Consultants, which lists several avenues for foreigners to retire there.

7. Austria

Vienna, Austria
BABAROGA / Shutterstock.com

This country’s index score for quality of life in:

  • 2023: 83%
  • 2022: 82%

Austria, which is part of the European Union, shares borders with eight nations: Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and Lichtenstein.

The country offers retirees not just a good quality of life but low crime and an affordable cost of living, according to Baltic Legal, which offers immigration services. Austria has a discount for rail travel that is available to anyone over age 65.

6. Switzerland

Zurich, Switzerland
canadastock / Shutterstock.com

This country’s index score for quality of life in:

  • 2023: 85%
  • 2022: 86%

Switzerland has four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. In addition, many people there also speak English.

To establish residency in Switzerland, it’s necessary to have a Swiss visa in addition to a residence permit from the Swiss canton (territory) where you will live.

5. Iceland

Husavik, Iceland
canadastock / Shutterstock.com

This country’s index score for quality of life in:

  • 2023: 87%
  • 2022: 86%

Iceland Review magazine notes that the nation attracts outsiders because of its reputation for peace and security as well as for the stunning scenery. Be warned, though, it says: The cost of living in Iceland is steep.

The population of Iceland is roughly 382,000, around the same as Arlington, Texas, or Wichita, Kansas.

4. Norway

Norway
everst / Shutterstock.com

This country’s index score for quality of life in:

  • 2023: 87%
  • 2022: 87%

The cost of living in Norway is very high and so is quality of life. One reason life is good in Norway, says the nonprofit Borgen Project, is its “investment in its citizens living long and healthy lives.”

Crime rates are low and employment is high. Incomes are high but so are taxes, which, among other things, fund health care for everyone. Maternity leave gives moms, for example, full pay for 35 weeks while at home or 45 weeks at 80% pay. Up to 10 weeks of paternity leave is also available.

3. Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden
Oleksiy Mark / Shutterstock.com

This country’s index score for quality of life in:

  • 2023: 88%
  • 2022: 87%

Sweden’s approach to societal well-being is similar to other Nordic nations: “Heavily capitalistic with a large percent of spending going toward public service,” according to U.S. News’ survey of the best countries for retirement. Its “comfortable retirement” ranking puts Sweden at No. 7.

Health care and a college education — typically high-cost items in the U.S. that can cause enormous financial strain — are provided at no cost in Sweden.

2. Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark
Oleksiy Mark / Shutterstock.com

This country’s index score for quality of life in:

  • 2023: 89%
  • 2022: 88%

Danes pay 45% of their income in taxes, on average. And, reportedly, few seem to mind because they get much in return.

Denmark’s ministry of foreign affairs credits the country’s economic “flexicurity” model, a cooperative approach to industry and economic wellbeing, for much of the country’s high standard of living.

1. Finland

Helsinki, Finland
Mistervlad / Shutterstock.com

This country’s index score for quality of life in:

  • 2023: 90%
  • 2022: 89%

Finland ranks high in various studies of countries’ quality of life, prosperity and health care.

In its quality of life assessment, the Natixis Global Retirement Index gives Finland especially high ranks in three areas: happiness (No. 1), water and sanitation (No. 1) and air quality (No. 3). It has fallen a bit, however, from previously higher scores in two other areas: biodiversity and habitat as well as environmental factors.

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