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.

Related articles:
Is retirement paradise or hell?
The BoMaD and your retirement
The costs of living longer

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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