What makes a particular spot a “perfect" retirement haven? Usually the answer depends on who you ask. Admittedly, one person’s heaven on earth could be the last place in the world another would choose to live. But there are a few special places on the planet—undeniable favorites with travelers, expats and retirees—that are so extraordinary, they are often described as being “heavenly” or “like paradise.”
In many of the world’s best retirement havens, embracing a healthier lifestyle just comes naturally. And it’s easy to see why. With warm weather year-round, it’s easy to get out and about whenever you feel like it. Abundant fresh air fills your lungs with each breath. With everything you need within walking distance, many expats can get by just fine without a car. And those extra yards you walk each day add up to a shrinking waistline over time. Lower costs make it much easier to eat healthily, too.
In the hours after one presidential debate recently, Google searches for “how can I move to Canada” reportedly spiked 1,150%. Here at International Living, we have nothing against Canada. But it should be said: There are warmer, better-value options to consider…all over the world. Each year at International Living we release our Global Retirement Index. Researched over months with the help of our ever-growing team of correspondents, editors, and contributors all over the world, this Retirement Index is the ultimate resource for helping you find your ideal retirement haven.
“You don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy everything Malta can provide,” says Gigi Griffis. “Rents in the capital start from as low as $450 a month. Milk, bread, and other groceries can be bought for $1 apiece, while a bottle of quality wine can be had for $6. Private insurance is a fraction of what you would expect to pay back in the States, with annual premiums for a couple starting as low as $800 for expats I spoke to.”
Phnom Penh has hundreds of years of history that can be discovered by visiting the main landmarks. The Royal Palace allows visitors to join a special tour each day where you can see so many cultural highlights, including the Silver Pagoda (a royal tower with a spectacular silver floor, home to Cambodia’s Emerald Buddha) and the Throne Hall, where many national ceremonies take place.
Thousands of retirees (and younger folks, too) are benefiting from a higher quality of life and a lower cost of living in places overseas where even a little goes a long, long way—whether it be filling a tank of gas, getting the week’s groceries, paying for health insurance, or making all the other ends of a monthly budget meet.
Maybe it’s the music. Or the breathtaking landscapes. Or the witty humor and long, effortless conversations. Even without a drop of Irish blood in your veins, it’s easy to fall in love with Ireland’s charms, traditions, and strong sense of community. The recession that followed the Celtic Tiger boom hasn’t altered the essentials that make the Emerald Isle special.
Valentine’s Day may be the most romantic day of the year, but it’s undeniable that some locations have a certain "je ne sais quoi", which adds that something special to the occasion. International Living ranks the top five most romantic locations on their beat—great places to visit with a loved one or to strike out and find love anew.
Many factors come into play when considering a retirement abroad. Cost of living, prices of rents and real estate, and healthcare options are main concerns. But quality of life for retirees moving abroad also depends in large part on being able to fit in quickly, learn the ropes, and mix well with the locals in their adapted communities. Language, culture, and community support from locals and other expats all can have a dramatic effect on the quality of the expat retiree experience.
In 2016, InternationalLiving.com will send the winner of its “World’s Best Job” competition to one or more of the destinations rated as the best retirement havens in the world. The winner will explore at least one overseas haven and report on the experience. The prize includes a round-trip flight plus $5,000 in spending money. “We’re looking for an American or Canadian with a sense of adventure, a willingness to try new things, and a belief that instead of settling for an ordinary retirement at home or the lingering drudgery of a 9-5 life…other, better options might exist overseas.