Friday Feedback: Who'd like to retire to Costa Rica?

Yesterday, we revealed the top 25 countries named the best retirement destinations in the 2021 Global Retirement Index.

For 30 years, the annual index has determined its top 25 retirement destinations across 10 categories, including cost of living, governance, retiree benefits, climate, healthcare and more. Costa Rica was top, followed by Panama, Mexico, Colombia and Portugal. Australia was nowhere to be seen in that 25.

This is what YourLifeChoices members thought of the index.

Curious: No thank you. Just looking at the COVID-19 in those countries would turn me off. The economy of those countries is not so fantastic either. The health system in Australia may not be perfect, but it beats most of the developed countries – not to mention the developing countries in the top 25. Australia’s superannuation [system] is the fourth largest in the world. If Australians plan their retirement well, they would have a comfortable life after their working lives.

Australia is a big continent, catering for all seasons all year round. Up to the north of Australia, we can find a tropical lifestyle, with the inviting white sand beaches and wildlife as a backdrop. For those who love the cold climate, the south of Australia provides snow for winter sports. The community spirit is second to none. The cost of living in regional cities is a lot cheaper than the busy cities. Australians are the avid travellers of the world. Why stick to a country for retirement when you can sample the best culture and lifestyle in your next travel?

Viking: I agree with Curious. [This index] is obviously US oriented. How do you get back from these places in South America to see friends and family? Most countries need a visa to live there long term, which even if successful for retirees means either stumping up a lot of cash or proving you can fully support yourself. Most foreign retirees simply could not obtain visas to retire to Australia and even when they can, will have to fully fund their healthcare.

What are the taxation systems in these countries? I could happily live in France, but I would not be happy to pay their high taxes on my almost tax-free retirement income. Many may complain about the Australian health system, but how many would want to undergo urgent complex surgery in most of these places? Similarly, law and order leaves much to be desired here but would you exchange that for drug gangland Mexico?

Diane: Some five years ago, I looked closely at retiring offshore.  I looked at several countries and followed Cambodian ex-pats for some time.

Although many places have a rosy glow about them, and life seems comfortable for many couples, after looking at money and currencies used by these other places, I determined that the exchange rate was a real impediment that made living anywhere offshore unrealistic for me.

Most of these places use US dollars and when I convert my pension to US dollars I’ve lost more than a third of my income, and the exchange rate and associated bank charges would have me living in poverty.

Can anyone explain how I would get around this exchange rate drama or is it that all the people living abroad have a high income and can afford this loss when converting Australian dollars to US?

Have you considered the pros and cons of retiring overseas?

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