World’s top 10 places to retire

The top destinations which offer the best value for your retirement.

World’s top 10 places to retire

International Living has released its list of the top destinations in which to retire for less overseas. Which countries made the cut?

The ranking is calculated by comparing scores in the following eight categories:

  • real estate prices
  • special government benefits
  • cost of living
  • ease of integration into the culture
  • entertainment and amenities
  • health care
  • infrastructure
  • climate

So in which countries does Retirement Living say you should spend your retirement? Here are the top 10:

  1. Panama
  2. Ecuador
  3. Malaysia
  4. Costa Rica
  5. Spain
  6. Colombia
  7. Mexico
  8. Malta
  9. Uruguay
  10. Thailand

Countries which just missed out on the top 10 were Ireland and New Zealand.

And here are International Living’s final scores in each category for the top 24 retirement-friendly countries in the world:

Global Annual Retirement Index


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    23rd Jul 2014
    Yeah, think I'll go to Colombia. Weed's cheaper there.
    23rd Jul 2014
    Some of the places mentioned are quite dangerous to live in. And all of the places mentioned have a high cost of living according to the table, which I am not sure is factual at all. So why leave Australia?
    I have heard that a lot of retirees go to places like Bali where the cost of living is quite cheap. But then you have to like the tpropics and it takes a special disposition to 'like' never relenting humidity. I don't.
    The other thing I have heard is that people who go to these places are not happy. Remembering that you effectively lose your peer group and close friends then one has to be very careful indeed that one does not throw out the baby with the bath water.
    AS much I hate the business and political corruption in this country it is still hard to opt out. New Zealand is of course a possible option.
    24th Jul 2014
    I know a few New Zealanders who have moved to Australia because they were told Australia is "the lucky country" but are now whinging about various issues, not just politics. I figure if they don't like it here, they should go home and stop bad mouth Australia.
    23rd Jul 2014
    I note there's no "ranking" for Law & Order or democracy!!!
    23rd Jul 2014
    a link to original article would have been good!
    I think I'd like to do it, but the logistics!! does anyone really know if it is truly a viable option - and if you're on a pension, or disability support, as I am ??? thanks
    23rd Jul 2014
    Good idea to 'try before you buy ' I am retired now and have currently been in bali for 3 months and have 3 months left ,before returning home Strongly suggest you do not burn your bridges at home but have a good look around where ever you are thinking of going to ,as far as indonesia is concerned there are are a few expensive hoops to jump through to settle there,from the cost of living aspect i could probably save about 40% if i watched my pennies but i personally have not learnt that discipline yet .i am probably breaking even at the moment but I AM WARM
    23rd Jul 2014
    I would rather live in a tent than retire overseas..... Australia will ALWAYS be home for me.....
    23rd Jul 2014
    I will be leaving for one of the countries mentioned on that list very soon. I don't know which countries are 'dangerous' to live in, but that appears an irrational sweeping statement. As to the high cost of living, again that has been misinterpreted. The higher the score, the better the cost (ie. the cheapness) NOT the higher the cost.
    The only point I can agree upon is that (if one can afford it) one should do an investigatory trip before making a final decision and also when you do pull up stumps and go, rent first before purchasing OR just rent permanently. As to loss of your peer group, so what, it is easy to make new friends and usually a lot easier as you will find people from all over the world doing just as you are - starting a new life.
    As to having heard that people who go to these places are not happy - well, I have heard that pigs can fly amongst many other very interesting things.
    The information provided for us is only an extract from the International Living survey. I subscribe to International Living and have had access to the full and complete article. Before I leave Australia, I will be setting up a website ( encouraging others to follow suit and importantly giving as much info as I can about the country I will be moving to etc etc and possibly other countries when I make suitable and reputable contacts there.
    At least I am taking some action, NOT sitting around scare mongering without any cause or basis.
    I don't like it here, so off I go - my choice, so what!! at least I am doing something to appease my disenchantment and not accepting a situation I find unbearable in a country I love.
    Let us all take some action, experience new cultures and have some fun at the same time.
    Be game and experience life without prejudice.
    Ageing but not Old
    23rd Jul 2014
    Your comments are reasonably thought out, Firebird. The website you plan to set up is a very good idea for any that want to be ex-pats, for whatever reason. Other than the budget fallout, etc; I was curious what you found unbearable, given you love Australia. I'm not criticising your comment or decision; just really curious.
    26th Jul 2014
    Gudonyer Firebird :) Sounds like you have done your homework and more importantly dont intend burning bridges behind yourself ;) I think there is no doubt you will have an interesting/exciting/enlightening time and as you say - at least you are giving it a shot/living your dream. Life is too short isbn't it ? Happy trails - enjoy :D
    23rd Jul 2014
    Great! Heading to Panama.. Dengue fever, malaria bacterial diarrhoea
    23rd Jul 2014
    There are two aspects that I would want to know more about and they are firstly - I seem to recall that the govt is revising the conditions under which Australian pensions are paid to people living overseas and secondly and more importantly what is the access to and cost of health care and aged care in overseas locations?

    I cannot see other countries want to support freely pensioners from other countries??
    24th Jul 2014
    I'm entering pension age in a few months. How is it possible for you guys to live overseas on an Oz pension? Are you allowed to do that??
    24th Jul 2014
    yeh thats the thing they don't want us to take our money overseas and i been told if you get paid by Centrelink, they could stop it after a certain time understandable i think the only way you could do it is if you have a super, and are living off that then possibly. but again which country is the safest to live in!!!!
    24th Jul 2014
    Would love to know if Australia would have made this list and if so where would we be.
    24th Jul 2014
    It would be nice if we got a list of nice places to live in retirement in Aust., taking into consideration the availability of medical treatment in the areas.
    How many want to retire overseas nd leave behind their relatives (including immediate family) close friends and other interests which may not exist in other countries.
    25th Jul 2014
    Double ditto.....after my beloved elderly cat passes, I'm moving closer to my best ever best friend so we can see one another more often and I won't be in a large regional city but a much smaller town. No more animals either, it's too hard to find accommodation where they are allowed. I love the climate here but it's impacted on my health.
    24th Jul 2014
    The 'survey results' from International Living are for the best places to retire, based on the listed criteria. That criteria is heavily weighted against costs of living and making your dollar go further or getting real value for money.
    They also produce numerous other lists which are totally different - like Best Quality of Life, Best climates, Healthiest Places to live, Health Care Survey: The Seven Best Havens for Quality Care Overseas etc so what we are given above is one aspect slanted towards retirement havens.
    For example the following extract from their sales subscription blurb states:
    Take Thailand where a couple can live on a sandy beach for $1,650 a month including rent…swap that for a beach in Ecuador and it’s $1,800. Up the budget to $2,200 and you can kick back in old-world Europe…
    OK, if your concern is health care, you would need to investigate the best places for that and ensure you lived nearby, if not a concern, then live in the mountains, the city or on the beachfront etc. ITS ALL HORSES FOR COURSES after due diligence.
    In response to another reader's enquiry, as to what I found unbearable the answer is my poor choice of words. It is not really unbearable, just my own circumstances. I relinquished almost all my assets in a property settlement upon divorce about four years ago and was also unemployed for 18 months prior to receiving the Age Pension. I need to make my dollar go further and I can do that and enjoy a very pleasant lifestyle on my pension if I live overseas. I can rent within a 5 min walk of the Pacific Ocean, shops within walking distance, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, bottleshops, fruit and veg markets, big supermarkets etc all within either walking distance or a $2 taxi fare. Best of all, nice substantial meals for about $4-5 and beer about $1.50 to $2 a bottle at a restaurant. Bus fares to nearest city (the largest in that country with better shopping centres than here in Australia) about $4.50 (for 120KM ride) or $2 to tourist beach resorts up the coast. I intend to enjoy my 'living overseas' experience, so that is where I wish to be for now.
    I might mention the place is safe, people very friendly and helpful and excellent weather all year around.
    Could not find any mention of Australia on any of the lists I quickly looked at.
    Thanks for reading.
    25th Jul 2014
    Has anyone just rented in these places while they keep their home in OZ? I am Not a Risk Taker I'm afraid.
    Can you "try" before you buy? How easy is it for Aussie Aged Pensioners to Buy in these countries? I am interested in their Health Care Systems and whether we can keep receiving our Pensions Overseas.
    It would interesting to know if any Pensioners have already bought & are living O/seas & how they are managing.
    25th Jul 2014
    HIhave a look at my post about not burning your bridges ,i did not mention about visa costs which can add up ,different prices and conditions vary from place to place
    25th Jul 2014
    Hi tj..can you be away from OZ for 6 months & Still receive your Pension in OZ?
    25th Jul 2014
    I think that question would be best answered by Centrelink as they pay the pension.....
    29th Jul 2014
    Just a quick response to some matters raised above.
    Most of these countries welcome foreigners (us) to become residents. They make it easy in most cases. for example the country I am moving to, I am able to apply and be granted a permanent resident visa on the basis of my income (The Age Pension). A visa can also be readily obtained in a similar manner in most of these countries OR by investment of a little as US$25K in real estate or a Bank Bond. So you can buy yourself a house and obtain permanent residency in the same stroke. Property can be owned in my name in this country, unlike some Asian countries etc.
    The actual Visa cost is very minimal - around $300max. and its a ONCE only cost.
    Generally speaking the Age Pension is payable indefinitely to an eligible person who was receiving it in Australia then moves overseas, but as always, check with the relevant authorities.
    There are Health Care systems available in a lot of those countries. I would encourage anyone interested to do their own research in relation to both this and housing etc. Do a search and Look up things like Living in Columbia, Moving to Columbia, Permanent Residency in Columbia, Australian Expats in Columbia etc etc and you will very soon get a broad picture of the situation overseas.
    You can also get some basic or Top Level info from sites like International Living etc.
    Good Luck.
    I will keep you informed of my progress etc.

    6th Apr 2015
    Panama is not so cheap as it seems.

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