The following are the Top 10 countries to retire abroad in 2017, according to International Living (IL), an authority on global retirement and relocation opportunities. The ranking comes from IL’s Annual Global Retirement Index, sizing up 24 countries in 10 categories from Cost of Living to Climate.
Mexico knocked off last year’s No. 1 Panama because you can live well there for under $1,200 a month, it’s close to the United States, the locals are friendly, English is widely spoken in popular retiree spots, the expat community is large (more than 1 million Americans live there), health care is affordable and high quality and the culture and lifestyle are fantastic. And after becoming a legal resident, retirees over 60 can grab special discounts on airlines, restaurants, groceries and medical care.
Although IL’s experts say there are parts of Mexico they can’t recommend due to crime, the country overall offers “arguably the easiest transition to expat life around.”
Best of all, says IL, “your dollars now buy nearly 50% more pesos than they did just a few short years ago.”
Expat Jack Bramy told IL’s editors: “The cost of living in Mexico allows me to live a fun life on my Social Security check.”
International Living editors describe their second-best place in the world to retire as “modern, comfortable and tolerant.” Panama’s also extremely convenient for Americans. Better still, says IL, Panamanians usually treat foreigners like VIPs.
Says IL Panama Editor Jessica Ramesch: “With top-notch cellular and internet connections, Panama offers a user-friendly and familiar environment you may not have expected to find in the warm, sunny tropics.”
Ecuador has been at or near the top of International Living’s annual best places to retire index for years. A few reasons: excellent weather (you can choose almost any climate you like by moving up or down in altitude); affordable health care and real estate and an assortment of retiree benefits.
“Fitting in once you arrive is remarkably easy,” said IL Senior Editor Dan Prescher, who has lived in Ecuador with his wife for years.
4. Costa Rica
International Living says Costa Rica has been hosting retirees and other expats for more than 30 years. It’s a safe, stable, laidback Central American country that has highly-rated health care and is known for welcoming foreigners.
It’s also a bargain. IL’s Roving Latin America Jason Holland says “you can fill your fridge with fresh produce from farmers’ markets for about $35 per week” and “rents start at $400 per month for fully-furnished condos or homes in nice areas.”
International Living says Colombia “has shed its dark past” and is now “grabbing the attention of expats looking for a place to live that is close to home, has excellent health care, a diverse and temperate climate and, of course, is low cost.”
On the northern tip of South America (a three-hour flight from Florida), Colombia touches the Pacific and the Caribbean and features three ranges of the Andes Mountains.
While you can pay about $1,250 a month to rent a three-bedroom high-rise Medellin apartment, International Living says there are also places there for $500 a month.
This Asian country is known, International Living says for its “878 idyllic islands, stunning beaches and untouched rainforests.” It’s a multicultural place that’s home to a mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Europeans and Americans.
The cost of living is low, the health care quality is high and IL Malaysia correspondent Keith Hockton says “the food is not just first class, but world class — and the shopping in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, where I live, is to die for.”
The highest-ranking European country on International Living’s 2017 list, Spain features a low cost of living, a relaxed lifestyle, plenty of beaches and a warm climate along its coasts.
Small one- and two-bedroom apartments rent for as little as $500 a month and can be bought for $70,000 and up, says International Living.
And Spain’s largest, cosmopolitan cities — Madrid and Barcelona — are much less expensive than London or Paris.
International Living is impressed by how much Nicaragua has changed in recent years — for the better. “Everywhere you look, there is progress, and the expat lifestyle gets easier and easier every year,” says IL’s editors. A few notable features: Great health care, low stress and an ability to live here for $1,500 a month.
You’ll also sometimes feel like you’re back home, since Nicaragua has stores such as Walmart and Pricesmart, selling everything from flat screen TVs to washing machines.
Spain’s neighbor to the west, Portugal attracts retirees due to its low cost of living, mild climate, Atlantic Ocean beaches and the fact that many locals speak English. But International Living says the country’s lifestyle is, in many ways, classic Mediterranean.
The Lisbon area is a favorite with expats, say IL editors. So is the nation’s second largest city, Porto — best for those who prefer cool weather.
The Algarve region, which frequently appears on Best Places to Retire lists, is known for its golf courses, beaches and British expats.
Rounding out International Living’s Top 10 Places to Retire in 2017, this small, historic European nation is beautiful and extraordinary. It’s actually a chain of islands between Sicily and North Africa.
International Living says retirees can expect 300 days of sun, mild winter, a laidback atmosphere and a large, welcoming international, English-speaking community.
The cost of living is higher than others on IL’s list, though: A couple can live comfortable for less than $2,700 a month and rent a two-bedroom in Sliema, one of Malta’s liveliest cities, for about $800 a month, says IL correspondent Barbara Diggs.
Health care here is excellent and a bargain: a GP visit costs around $20; a specialist may run $65.
And if you’re craving to visit Paris, IL editors say, you can hop an Air Malta flight — a roundtrip costs as little as $175.
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