How we compiled the rankings

Behind the Scenes: How We Compile the Rankings

Here at International Living Australia we have an extensive network of editors, correspondents and contributors that spans four continents. For months, they have been helping us amass the wealth of information needed to prepare the 2019 Global Retirement Rankings.

Our focus is multifaceted. Our key aim is to help you find locations where your dollar goes further, where you can get the best bang for your buck in terms of real estate, cost of living and overall quality of life. We also assess the quality of a country’s healthcare and infrastructure, the proficiency in English of the local population, and the size of existing expat communities (ensuring there’ll be plenty of like-minded people for you to mix with once you arrive). How close to home are you, can you hop on a direct flight…how easy is it to get a long-term visa or residence…?

Our starting point was a model used to determine the best retirement havens for readers of International Living in the U.S. We adapted and refined it to focus on the needs and wants of Australian boomers.

To compile the Rankings and shortlist of the world’s best retirement havens for Australians, we sent out a comprehensive questionnaire to our live-overseas experts..

Let’s be frank: Our rankings are subjective. We purposely rely on the judgement and experience of in-country expats…people just like you who have made the move and learned all their lessons the hard way. All these people were once in your shoes. All of them wondered if they could find a better life abroad. Many of them were International Living readers who took the plunge, and now want to share their love for their new home with the world. These are the people we draw upon to put these Rankings together. They live in the countries they write about. And they’ve been there long enough to get under the skin of their host nation and provide us with real insights into what it’s like to live there.

The information they provide falls under 11 categories:

  • Buying & Renting: This looks at the value of real estate and how easy it is to buy or rent your dream home overseas. In this category, we assess things like the price of a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in areas an expat retiree would like to rent in, annual property tax, how much is it to build, and if there are any restrictions on expats owning property.
  • Cost of Living: A country has to be affordable to be a great retirement spot. It’s that simple. And to assess how affordable each country is, we got our experts on the ground to fill out a comprehensive monthly budget. Everything from the cost of a litre of milk to a bottle of beer to a movie ticket was factored in.
  • Visas & Residence: If you can’t legally and easily call a country home, it won’t be much good as a retirement spot. This category looks at things like how easy it is to get permanent residence and if there are any special residence options for retirees.
  • Climate: Moving abroad gives you the chance to find your perfect climate. You can find places overseas where the weather is summer all year round, and also places that have four seasons. In this category, we rate the climate of each country, factoring in things like rainfall, temperature and humidity.
  • Benefits & Discounts: In some countries, you as a retiree can get discounts on lots of things, from airfares and food to electricity and public transport. All the benefits and discounts retirees can get in the country are factored into this category.
  • Healthcare: In this category, we put our experts to the test like never before. How much will you have to pay for things like laser eye surgery, a dental crown or a blood transfusion? Can you get common medications for things like asthma and diabetes? And do you need a prescription to get a medication? When it comes to assessing healthcare, we factor in both quality and price to give you a fair and balanced view.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Things like great weather and an abundance of fresh food all factor in to how healthy a lifestyle you can have in your overseas home.
  • Fitting In: Fitting in isn’t just about making friends with locals and expats. It’s also about feeling at home. Can you pick up your favourite Australian comforts when you need them? And how easy is it to adapt to the local culture? This category looks at all of these things.
  • Entertainment & Amenities: There’s a lot that determines how interesting a place is. does it have lots of museums, events and exhibitions? Are there lots of outdoor activities? And can you catch a movie in English when you want to? We take things like this into consideration for this category.
  • Infrastructure: You wouldn’t want to live anywhere where you couldn’t stream your favourite movies, call home or access reliable electricity. And you want to be able to get back to family and friends in Australia with ease. These are just some of the factors that we consider.
  • Opportunity: Retirement isn’t a grinding stop. In fact, it’s a chance to redefine your life, to pursue new goals to realise new ambitions. How easy is it to open a business in your chosen destination? Is the internet access good enough to work remotely? These are the sorts of questions we’ve asked, to help you judge whether your pet project will get the support it needs.