If you subscribe to International Living magazine, you know that September is the month we publish our annual Global Retirement Index. This is the big one… the one people wait all year to see. International Living editors use all the data we can get our hands on, including on-the-ground input from our staff members, correspondents, contributing editors, and experts around the world, to rank the top places in the world to retire.
It’s a long process, and we try to refine our approach each year as economies, political situations, and technologies change. This year we rated 23 countries in categories such as real estate prices, cost of living, culture, health care, special retiree benefits, infrastructure, safety, stability, climate… like I said, it’s a big job, but we think we’ve come up with something that can really help you if you’re thinking about your options for retiring abroad. And if you aren’t, you should be, because there are some incredibly nice… and affordable… places out there that can help you get the retirement you always wanted, even in these uncertain economic times.
International Living has been covering this beat for more than 30 years, and each Global Retirement Index we put together just gets more interesting. I’ll give you a little example… what do you think are the top five best places to retire on this year’s Index?
5. I’ll start with number 5 – New Zealand. That’s right, land of the Kiwis. Wine festivals, whale-watching, concerts in the park…mile after mile of coastal walks…geysers, glaciers, mountains. For those who love uncrowded places and a temperate climate, English-speaking New Zealand is one of the world’s most livable countries…and one of the most scenic.
4. Coming in at number 4 is Spain, and if you thought Latin America had the corner on great weather and old world charm, you should see where it all came from to begin with. Spain is an ever-popular retirement destination for Europeans, so why not Americans, Canadians, and everybody else? Especially considering those Mediterranean beaches with their 320+ days of sunshine each year.
3. The focus comes closer to home with our number three pick, Panama… always a heavy hitter in our annual Global Retirement Index thanks to its economic and political stability. Panama’s currency is the U.S. dollar, and earns the top spot in the retirement-benefits category due to its pensionado program. Conceived to secure discounts for Panama’s senior citizens—savings on everything from surgery to movie tickets—the program is open to foreigners and even grants them residency.
2. Coming in at number two on this year’s Global Retirement Index is Mexico, the country that is home to more U.S. and Canadian expats than any other country… and for good reasons. White sand beaches and turquoise seas, winding, cobblestone streets and fountain-filled plazas…towering ruins left by ancient civilizations… Mexico is rich in romance. But Mexico’s cost of living is low–in fact, it can also cost you up to 40% less than what you’d pay in the U.S. for a similar lifestyle. It’s also lived at a slower, more gracious pace. And that just the lifestyle so many of us are looking for.
And the winner is Ecuador
1. And now, drum roll please, our #1 retirement haven for 2011, and if you’ve been following the Global Retirement Index for the past few years, you already know what it is. Ecuador puts it all together… incredible weather, majestic beaches, towering mountains, bustling cities, sleepy villages… all at prices that make Ecuador one of the most affordable places in the world to live and still enjoy safety, good infrastructure, and quality health care. From Quito to Cuenca, from Vicabamba to Otavalo, there is a town, a climate, and a culture to match every taste.
In fact, a couple can live well in Ecuador on as little as $600 a month.
Your dream retirement doesn’t have to be just a dream… take a look at what’s waiting for you in the 2011 International Living Global Retirement Index.