Revealed: The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2014

Panama is the winner of International Living's best place to retire in 2014.

InternationalLiving.com’s annual Global Retirement Index 2014 profiles the best destinations for good-value living around the world today. The Index considers not only a wealth of statistics, but—critically—more than three decades of expertise and current insights from a network of correspondents around the world.

All 24 countries in the Index were in close contention for the number-one spot. But the overall winner—Panama—has the world’s best range of retiree benefits.

“In the past year, Panama has introduced new visas, which make it easier to gain residence there, and the country has made major advances in infrastructure,” says InternationalLiving.com’s executive editor, Jennifer Stevens.

Nearly everything about Panama is convenient. The currency is the U.S. dollar, English is widely understood, and the international community is large and welcoming.

The Pensionado or pensioner residence program—which helped put Panama on the map as a retirement destination in the first place—offers the best retirement program in the world. For anyone with a government or corporate pension, residence is almost a given. Financial benefits of this program are huge—savings of 50% off entertainment; 50% off closing costs for home loans; and 10% to 20% off a wide range of medical expenses are just some of the perks on offer.

For this reason, Panama gets a perfect score of 100 in the Special Benefits for Retirees category in the Index. But the country also receives high points in other categories across the board, with 91 points in the Real Estate category, 95 for Ease of Integration and 91 for Health Care.

With high scores in the Real Estate category, as well as Special Benefits for Retirees, Cost of Living and Climate, Ecuador comes in a close second in this year’s Index.

“Most retired couples in Cuenca, the most popular destination for English-speaking retirees in Ecuador, say they live there quite comfortably—all in—for $1,500 to $1,800 a month,” says Stevens. “And that typically includes rent. Two- and three-bedroom apartments can be rented for $300 to $600 and that often includes furnishings.”

Ecuador has the best climate in the world and scores 100 points in this category in the Index. In the country’s Sierra region, daytime temperatures typically hover around 75 F—so there is little need for heat or air conditioning. (International Living editors Suzan Haskins and Dan Prescher, who live in the mountains of Ecuador, say their typical utility expenses…for electricity, water and gas…are rarely more than $30 total.)

“Ecuador offers something for everyone, whether you’re looking for sophisticated city living or the life of a gentleman farmer,” Stevens says.

Placing third in the Index, Malaysia is the best place to retire in Asia right now. The country has a low cost of living and excellent (and affordable) health-care facilities. Plus, the average temperature is 82 F all year round, and some of the best beaches in the world are there.

“A couple can live comfortably in a luxury ocean-view condo on $1,700 a month including rent,” Stevens reports.

Infrastructure here is First World and high speed Internet or cable TV are affordable and accessible. The roads are excellent, too.

Many expats are members of organizations like the American Association of Malaysia and an active social life is easy to find. With good-quality dining so cheap (dinner for $3, a gin and tonic for $2) most people find themselves out at least a few times a week.

“Whatever you see on our leader board in this year’s annual Global Retirement Index, just remember, we measure here only the very best havens. So the country last on our list is still one of the best in the world,” Stevens says.

The full report on the world’s best retirement havens in 2014, which appeared in the January edition of International Living magazine, can be read here: “The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2014”.

See here for photos of the world’s top 10 best retirement countries: “In Pictures: Top 10 Best Places to Retire in 2014

Editor’s Note: Members of the media have full permission to reproduce the article linked above and the photos in the slideshow, once credit is given to InternationalLiving.com.

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Media Contact: For information about InternationalLiving.com content republishing, available source material or to book an interview for radio, TV or print with one of our experts, contact Associate Editor Carol Barron, 772-678-0287 (US), CBarron@InternationalLiving.com or visit the Media Center. For automatic updates on the most current stories, follow International Living Media on Twitter.

For more than 30 years, InternationalLiving.com has been the leading authority for anyone looking for global retirement or relocation opportunities. Through its monthly magazine and related e-letters, extensive website, podcasts, online bookstore, and events held around the world, InternationalLiving.com provides information and services to help its readers live better, travel farther, have more fun, save more money, and find better business opportunities when they expand their world beyond their own shores. InternationalLiving.com has more than 200 correspondents traveling the globe, investigating the best opportunities for travel, retirement, real estate, and investment.

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