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Retiring abroad

Retiring abroad.

Ecuador, Ingapirca Inca ruins, in the province of CañarEcuador, Ingapirca Inca ruins, in the province of CañarPhoto courtesy of Delphine Ménard via Wikipedia Commons

Foreign real estate investments are on the rise among retirees and those planning their retirements.  What are the most popular destinations?

Now on its 22nd year,’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2013 guides would-be pensionadosinto choosing the perfect spot to spend a never-ending holiday. Though each of these destinations is desirable in its own way, they have one in thing in common that’s increasingly hard to come by at home, says International Living executive editor Jennifer Stevens: A good quality of life for a reasonable price.

Here are this year’s top ten most popular retirement destinations:

1. Ecuador
Julian Assange would be pleased. Not only will the world’s most famous hacker find this tiny Latin American country’s regime supportive of his, well, activities, he’ll realise that its major draws are its laid-back lifestyle, great climate (from tropical along the Pacific coast to spring-like year-round up in the Andes) as well as plenty of duty-free household goods. Older residents also qualify for half-price on entertainment and local transport, discounted airfares, and refunds of sales tax.

2. Panama
This isthmus that connects North and South America is famous not only for its busy canal, its Pensionado (pensioner) visa is also a major draw among American and Canadian retirees. Qualified pensioners will find themselves receiving discounts on practically everything: 10–15% off medical consultation, 25% off at restaurants, and 50% off admission on movies. And where else can you take a dip in the Pacific after breakfast and at the Atlantic before dinner – in one day?

3. Malaysia
One of the two Asian countries to make the top ten, Malaysia is fast becoming a high-income economy, meaning its infrastructure is on par with that of the West although it remains attractively cheap. It’s also a growing hub for medical tourism, so its health care is superb. Foreigners are also allowed to own land and houses as freehold – something not possible in other Asian countries.

4. Mexico
This quintessential Latin American country is as colourful as the hundreds of telenovelas it churns out every year. ‘You don’t have to look far to find interesting cultural traditions here,’ says an expat retiree. Today’s Mexico also offers the same conveniences that Americans and Canadians are accustomed to back home: satellite TV, monster fridge, and all the familiar brands. And the country’s sheer size means there’s something for every taste.

5. Costa Rica
Arguably Central America’s most stable country, Costa Rica also aspires to be the world’s first carbon-neutral country by 2021. Costa Ricans, too, have the reputation for being happy: the New Economic Foundation ranked the country first in its Happy Planet Index in 2009 and 2012. According to International Living, a monthly pension of US$1,000 is all that’s need to get a residence permit. Residents can join a universal healthcare system, known as Caja, which offers free care on almost everything.

6. Uraguay
A thriving IT hub, Uruguay is the only country in the Americas to not experience a recession between 2006 and 2009. Satisfied with how their democracy works, Uruguayans are among the world’s happiest, and the country is one of the world’s least corrupt. This obviously has translated to an efficient public infrastructure, which means retirees can save big time on services such as public transport, healthcare and insurance.

7. Colombia
Though for decades tainted by drug lords and abductions (and Tom Clancy novels), Colombia is gradually becoming a favourite among retirees. A modest Social Security Check can go a long way here (a bit more for ultra-luxurious lifestyle), and its cities like Bogota and Medellín offer elegant metropolitan lifestyles.

8. Spain
It’s difficult not to fall in love with Spain: good wine, lavish culture and great climate. Now you can add affordable real estate to that. Thanks to global downturn, one can get great bargains in Andalucia and the Balearic Islands. That means comfy digs to go to after partying in Ibiza. An OECD member-country, its medical facilities are among the world’s most modern.

9. Thailand
Retirees in the Land of Smiles have a lot to smile about these days. Political turmoil has eased, economy growing steadily, and massive floods dealt with. Retirees are also spoilt for choice in Thailand. Whether it’s tropical islands in the south, peaceful mountain retreat in the north, or cosmopolitan living in Bangkok, the country affords retirees a great laidback lifestyle that doesn’t put a hole in their pockets. Medical costs here are a fraction of those in the USA or Canada.

10. Malta
A bit of North Africa with a dash of Southern Europe, Malta has long been the favourite among British and French nationals looking for a sunny retreat for a weekend of R&R. The country also offers an excellent tax advantages both for expat and local retirees.


Is your prefered retirement destination on this list?  Tell us which country you are planning on (or dreaming of) moving to for your retirement!  Leave a message in the comment section below.


One comment on “Retiring abroad

  1. Alexis Thoman
    February 2, 2013

    Hi Thailand is a great retirement place Do make sure you have plenty of cash though.Cheap condos food and entertainment. Cheers.

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This entry was posted on January 29, 2013 by in Future, Investment, Property and tagged , , .

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