Retiring overseas is “becoming more and more mainstream,” says International Living senior editor Dan Prescher. “As people see it’s practical and that there are safe and affordable places, it’s becoming more and more popular.”
Some of the results are no big surprise. This year, Panama is at the top of the list. The country is affordable, health care is good, the climate is temperate, and it’s a three-hour flight to Miami, says the report. In addition, Panamanians are warm and welcoming, and English is widely spoken.
Six Latin American countries Panama, Ecuador, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia and Nicaragua make the top 10 list of countries. “There’s a reason Latin American countries are so popular,” Mr. Prescher notes.
Malaysia made the top rankings this year, coming in at the #5 spot. Mr. Prescher says the country is becoming more affordable. In the past, it had been popular with expats from Australia and Great Britain, and now North Americans are increasingly finding it a good retirement destination, he says.
This year, there’s a new category for “healthy living,” with top scores going to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Many who might elsewhere be retirees are actually still working, but finding they have transportable job skills and want to live in a place that has fresh air, healthy produce and good weather for an outdoorsy lifestyle, says Mr. Prescher.
Getting a visa and setting up residence is another new category. Some countries, such as Panama, have made “great strides” in making it both easier and cheaper to become a resident, and reap the benefits of that, including discounts on entertainment and transportation.
Peru made the list this year for the first time, with a good score for cost of living, adventure travel Machu Picchu, anyone? and benefits.
Safety is a factor, although if a country has a rocky safety record, it just won’t make the list, says Mr. Prescher.
Cambodia wins for cost of living. Apartments in nice areas can be found for as little as $250 a month, and a dinner out can cost less than $5, the correspondents reported.
The small Caribbean island of Roatán wins the “fitting in” category for its English-speaking population and large expat community. Other top countries in this category are Belize and the Republic of Ireland.
Tops in health care were Colombia and Malaysia, where medical tourism is growing because of high-quality affordable health care.
For infrastructure flights, Internet, cell-phone coverage and good roads the European countries of Spain, Portugal, Ireland, France, and Malta win kudos.