The overseas destinations for a healthy retirement

Some cities are better than others for retirees’ health.

Where to retire for good health

As we age, climate can have a big effect on our health. From arthritis to diabetes, the symptoms of a range of illnesses might be soothed if you swap climes.

If you are seriously considering moving overseas to ease your maladies, there are many factors to consider in addition to chasing down the right temperature. Many parts of South America and South-East Asia, where the weather is warm and inviting, welcome overseas retirees with open arms. But if you are looking for a standard of affordable health care similar to Australia’s, you could be disappointed.

Each year, Natixis Global Asset Management and CoreData Research publish the Global Retirement Index (GRI) to compare the retirement landscape between countries with a focus on pension policy, and health and welfare factors.

We have thrown another filter into the mix and selected the top three coldest and top three warmest nations in the index for those bent on relocating for the weather.

The top three countries on the GRI also happen to be among the coldest in the world.

This Nordic land tops the charts on all GRI metrics and also has one of the chilliest climates with average day temperatures ranging from 4 to 18ºC.

If money is no object, Norway may suit you. It is very scenic, but also has a very high cost of living. Non-nationals who are able to retire there – and that’s not so easy to achieve – have to buy health insurance. This entitles you to some of the best health care in the world. No wonder the country scores the highest in the wellbeing stakes.

Switzerland takes second spot on the GRI. Like Norway, overseas retirees need to buy health and other types of insurance to live there. But gaining residency is easier, especially if you can establish that you have some type of connection to the nation.

Swiss daily average temperatures fluctuate between 0 and 19ºC.

As its name suggests, this country can get quite cold with sub-zero temperatures during winter. However, in summer the weather is quite mild, reaching up to 25ºC on the warmest days.

Perhaps that’s why it scores highly for wellbeing in the GRI. However, it is a costly country to live in and before you are considered for residency you will have to prove that you can support yourself.

If you live in Iceland for three years before turning 67, you are likely to be entitled to full pension benefits.

If it’s warm weather you’re chasing, then you will discover that most of the affordable tropical or dry countries don’t make it into the GRI top 25. In fact, the only places on the list which can be considered to have warm weather are Israel, France and Malta.

This Middle Eastern nation scores 20th spot, with its unimpressive wellbeing score pulling it down the ladder.

Temperatures in Israel range from 12 to 30ºC throughout the year. This is not an impossible country to retire to, even without Jewish ancestry. Many foreigners are attracted to the southern part of Israel which is more picturesque and peaceful than the middle and upper areas that often experience conflict.

The cost of living is not inexpensive, however, and you will have to prove you can support yourself, because unless you have lived there for many years, you will not be entitled to a local pension.

The Mediterranean island nation of Malta in the south of Italy is just below Israel on the GRI metrics. The annual temperature range is also similar – a pleasant 13 to 27ºC.

It seems this may be one of the easiest places to retire in if you are a foreigner. Some pensioner benefits are extended to senior non-Europeans living there, and housing and groceries are more affordable than in other parts of Europe. The fact that it beats all southern European nations in terms of the GRI metrics is a good recommendation.

France is the only other nation with a fairly mild climate to make it onto the list. Apart from the obvious attractions, who wouldn’t want to retire to this iconic country given its superb ranking on the health metric? It even beats Australia.

Weatherwise, it gets to an average of 20ºC in summer and falls to 5ºC in winter.

Each year, 100,000 non-Europeans settle in France. The country has high appeal to retirees, many of whom choose to live in the countryside rather than the more expensive cities.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    3rd Jan 2019
    Most of these places have been flooded with illegal immigrants, putting law and order, health care and the economy under stress.
    3rd Jan 2019
    Charlie I have to agree with you on this.
    5th Jan 2019
    Not only that but look at the cost of living. The climate is not fantastic either.
    AS far as immigrants are concerned Australia is doing poorly as well. The rubber stamp does not change the fact that they are not wanted and that they are causing all of us to do it tough as unbelievable sums of money go into infrastructure projects.
    I suspect the place to go is Tassie. Not a better place in this country.
    3rd Jan 2019
    All these places are in the Northern Hemisphere which means about two or three years for the body to adjust to the different seasons.
    Also France and Isreal expect settlers to speak the language of the country, probably the other countries mentioned also expect residents to speak their language as well.
    3rd Jan 2019
    Perfectly rightly so.
    If someone walks up to you speaking Italian or French what will you do? Are you going to learn Italian or French to accommodate them?
    Karl Marx
    3rd Jan 2019
    If you decide to live in a foreign non english speaking country then you should learn some of the language as it makes life a lot easier We expect the same from non english speaking people that come to Australia.
    3rd Jan 2019
    Why is that a problem Autumnoz?
    Karl Marx
    3rd Jan 2019
    Wouldn't settle in any of them. Norway, Sweden, Iceland. To cold & to expensive.
    Israel, are you kidding, If your a Jew maybe, to much internal turmoil & religious fighting & unrest. France, gets to cold in winter & to much terrorist turmoil as well as full of scamming, thieving gypos in major cities & public transport & now the muslim issues with most of Europe. Malta maybe, don't know enough about it.
    Basically, give me SE Asia anytime with all year round summer temperatures, world class & affordable health care & low cost of living & mostly Buddhist so very little religious BS to worry about.
    3rd Jan 2019
    Except for Myanmar, Indonesia and parts of Cambodia
    3rd Jan 2019
    There's no place like Australia. If the climate is bothering you, we have all the different climates in some part of Australia.
    3rd Jan 2019
    I agree. I’ve travelled to some of these places, nice but nothing beats Australia
    almost a grey hair
    3rd Jan 2019
    What about our poor relations across the ditch. universal pension at 65 no matter how much in assets you have or how much some government deems you are earning you will still get the full o.a.p. real estate is cheaper the air is cleaner. my god they even speak English of sorts.
    Also if you feel the need to revisit civilisation its just a few hundred dollars and a short flight across the ditch with a meal thrown in if you fly the flag AIR NZ. You don't even need health insurance its all laid on due to a reciprocal agreement. Also there is a massive movement called which has a lot of clout in politics not like us apathetic lot here.
    This has made my day I can go and have my Nanna nap now
    Barbara Mathieson
    3rd Jan 2019
    Lots of points to consider isn’t there.
    Finances, health, family , status ( married/ single ) interests, ethnicities , for starters!
    Need to begin well ahead of retirement to resettle oneself I believe.
    Karl Marx
    3rd Jan 2019
    Being single is the best way as I only answer to me. Do what I want instead of always trying to please someone else. no more compromising, never been happier or lonely travelling.
    3rd Jan 2019
    I totally agree with Charlie. Europe has been invaded by non-europeans to the point where even their way of life has changed!!! To retire there you need at least 3k euros per month as a bare minimum, then there is the issue of health, accommodation, language, and personal security as crime and terrorism are on the increase.
    3rd Jan 2019
    Has anyone considered the politically, economically growing, stable islands nation of Vanuatu. They've put out the welcome mat for both retirees & investors, with reasonable rates for purchasing property & investing alike.

    I've been browsing online for Vanuatu opportunities in recent months & yes, 1st do due diligence before jumping in. But you could be surprisingly enlightened at what you get for your long saved hard-earned, compared to what you'd achieve for it here Down Under.

    For a start, there's no Stamp Duty on property purchases or CGT payable on selling. Yes, there's VAT, but it's acceptably low against other countries who apply it. A laid-back lifestyle & Vanuatu enjoys a year-round south tropical climate that doesn't get outrageously too hot, nor too cold.

    In recent years Vanuatu connected to the undersea submarine cable between Australia & America, so now its got fast 3 & 4G wireless international internet & phone connection. Time zoning is not far off Australia's & flights there from Brisbane, Sydney & Melbourne vary from 3 or 4 hrs duration.

    Surely worth a serious look-see?
    Karl Marx
    3rd Jan 2019
    Island life in the sun is very appealing. As you said Drewbie 1st do due diligence before jumping in. Best way is to go for a 3 month stint to check everything out. Rent a condo or similar on a month to month basis to see if it's what you want & want to be in retirement. With a 3 month stint & 1 months rent you can move to 3 different locations.
    3rd Jan 2019
    The best places to retire for health services might just be in the larger regional coastal towns here in Australia! We live in one, we have a Uni medical campus; many doctors and other health professionals move here for the quality of life for themselves (less pressure than the big city hospitals) and for their children. The quality and accessibility to health services is at least as good or better than in Sydney and certainly to Canberra. Even though I speak the languages of the top two overseas contenders and have the right to live there I would not consider retiring full time to those countries or any of those listed. Beautiful in summer, miserable for six months of the year. NZ is not quite as easy as it appears either. If you read the health agreement, for free medical cover you have to prove you have sold up in Australia and moved permanently to NZ ; some may want to hedge their bets eg rent there before selling here? We have just returned and paid $180 for GP visits and $240 for a script that costs around $40 in Oz and the pharmacist said they are way behind Oz in availability of medications. That may not suit some who depend on the meds available at home. We've just had friends return from northern Europe after retiring back there; the whole exercise cost them a fortune. So if you are serious, live and rent there for a full year before selling and uprooting here; if you cant afford it maybe you shouldn't do it?
    3rd Jan 2019
    I'm not surprised Israel made the cut.
    We went on a tour there a couple of years ago and were really impressed.
    It's a truly magical country and we could happily live there.

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