Monthly Wrap: 5 best islands to retire to

Currencies Direct March 31st 2023 - 4 minute read

If the dream of retiring in the sun on a distant tropical paradise appeals to you, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn this is perhaps more achievable than you might think.

In fact, the most difficult part can be choosing which tropical island best suits your needs!

To help with this we have compiled a short list what we believe are the best islands for retirement. Considering aspects such as cost of living, quality of life, access to quality medical care, and of course, year-round sunshine.


Situated 2000km off the east coast of Africa, and east of Madagascar, the island of Mauritius has all the makings of a tropical paradise. It was also home to the dodo. A vibrant tropical island in the middle of the Indian ocean, with an annual average temperature of 27 degrees, there’s a reason Mauritius ranks highly with retirees.

Beyond the crystal-clear warm waters and sandy beaches, the island also boasts incredible mountain ranges, lagoons, and spectacular waterfalls. Home to 1.3m people, all with diverse origins and heritages, lends to an incredible array of cuisine.

Retirement in Mauritius also has the added bonus of the Mauritian government incentivising foreign investments. You won’t find wealth or inheritance tax, and the standard of living in Mauritius, despite its remote island status, is excellent.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Despite its proximity to Cancun, Isla Mujeres is a tranquil, laid-back island in the Caribbean Sea. Translated as the island of women, Isla Mujeres boasts white sand beaches, turquoise waters, with an abundance of marine life. Whale sharks and turtles regularly visit the island and the coral reefs surrounding the island.

Once a fishing village, Isla Mujeres now offers a casual and laid-back lifestyle, whilst still offering all the amenities for a perfectly relaxing retirement. English is widely spoken on the island, and just an eight-mile ferry ride from the mainland, it offers the perfect balance between quaint island life and modern comforts.

With a lower cost of living than in the US, and most of Europe, Isla Mujeres is a perfect island retirement option. Visas are fairly easy to acquire, with a temporary resident visa valid for up to four years. The only requirement is that you are over 50 and have a monthly income of around USD$1400. Private medical insurance is required, and the island provides pharmacies and a hospital. With mainland Mexico nearby to offer more extensive healthcare.

Hydra, Greece

You’d be hard-pressed to pick a wrong Greek island to retire to, but out of the 6000 islands, with 227 of them inhabited, Hydra could be the top of the list. If the idea of cobbled streets devoid of motor traffic, the only sounds on the road is the trotting of donkey hooves, then this island is perfect. Cars and all motor traffic are prohibited.

The narrow, winding streets of Hydra make it pretty obvious why the only form of transport is donkey. Beautiful, white stone houses line the steep inclines of Hydra, with hidden paths to secluded beaches and rural walks. The town itself has also kept its romantic charm, with local restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries all situated around the sleepy harbour.

Leonard Cohen once called Hydra home for several years after fleeing the cold and wet climate of London. Since then, it has drawn artists, writers, and musicians from all over the world, and it’s easy to see why. Even for Greek island standards, the cost of living is quite high, and it can get busy during the tourist season, but the peace and tranquillity found on Hydra for the rest of the time make it all worthwhile.

Penang, Malaysia

Tucked away in the Strait of Malacca, off the northwest coast of Malaysia, is one of southeast Asia’s hidden gems. A tropical island paradise, cheap cost of living, and with good connections to the major international hub of Kuala Lumpur, Penang has long been a relatively quiet secret of retirees.

The Malaysian government has long committed to attracting foreign visitors and retirees are no exception. With a specialist government program geared towards offering long-term residence, 10-year residence visas are offered to those with financial stability and medical insurance. As long as you meet the requirements, the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) visa is renewable.

Malaysia doesn’t tax foreign income, including pensions, and with a low cost of living, not to mention English being widely spoken, Penang could be your ideal escape.

Roatán, Honduras

Known as the ‘affordable Caribbean’, the tiny island of Roatán 35 miles off the coast of Honduras has everything the Caribbean has, minus the expensive cost of living and crowds. With just under 80,000 inhabitants, with a small but thriving community of expats and retirees, Roatán also offers quirky market towns and a wide diversity of restaurants and bars.

But its natural beauty is what stands it out from the pack. The jungle-covered island has white-sand beaches, undeveloped swathes of natural land, all surrounded by turquoise waters. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is the largest of its kind in the northern hemisphere and boasts some of the most incredible diving in the world.

Retiring in Roatán is relatively easy too. To be eligible for either a Pensionado or Rentista visa, you must be earning either $1500 a month for the former, and $2500 a month for the latter. And unlike the mainland, Roatán is a predominantly English-speaking island.

Saving money when retiring abroad

Regardless of where you end up moving and for what reason, it’s important to make sure your money is sorted.

Consider using Currency Direct when purchasing abroad for excellent exchange rates and peace of mind. We offer competitive exchange rates and fee-free transfers, so you get more for your money when making an international transfer. We also offer extra services which can help protect you from currency volatility.

Get in touch with one of our currency advisors so you can start planning your perfect retirement move today.

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Currencies Direct

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