Thomas O’Neal had never been to Malaysia. In fact he hadn’t been anywhere in Asia, which made his sudden decision to move to the tropical island of Penang a brave one. "I figured that I’d take a chance and move lock, stock, and barrel. I could have just visited but where is the fun in that? After just a few months here I love it. It’s home for me now. New York has changed over the years and although I’ll always be a New Yorker I needed to travel."
Exhilarating, comfortable, and affordable are just some of the ways expats describe their life in Asia. For those looking to relocate in Asia, Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia are among the best places to live. The low cost of living, excellent health care and stunning scenery are some of the reasons why many expats choose to start a new life in Asia.
Panama, Costa Rica and Ecuador offer the most attractive programs in the world for retirees—wooing foreign pensioners with special visas and significant discounts on everything from airfare to health care, reports InternationalLiving.com.
Panama is the best place for North Americans to retire overseas, according to InternationalLiving.com’s newly released annual Global Retirement Index 2014. In putting together the Index, now in its 23rd year, InternationalLiving.com’s editors collated data from its team of experts on the ground in the most popular countries among U.S. and Canadian expat retirees.
Wherever we live, whatever lifestyle we choose, our lives typically fall into a rhythm. Here in David, Panama, where I live, the weather is a major factor in the rhythm of daily life, and the things we do depend on whether it's summer or winter. Winter in Panama? Yup, that's what we call it, el invierno in Spanish.
As I sit here sweating in the middle of January it's hard to imagine that it's cold somewhere. Our friends back in the U.S. are still working, yet I'm only 53 years old and happily retired now for two years. The past two and a half years have gone by quickly as we've settled into our new life in Panama.
Sometimes my old friends back home have a hard time understanding why I moved abroad. Just last week I was wrapped up like a polar explorer in borrowed coats, helping a friend I was visiting back home for the holidays shovel the drifting, blowing snow off his driveway. "What's the fascination with living abroad anyway?" he asked through the scarf wrapped around his face to avoid losing his nose to frostbite.
I often catch myself being taken aback by the stunning view of the Pacific that greets me from every western-facing window of my home in San Vicente, Ecuador. I don't know exactly why I still experience a flash of surprise at the sight at this point. Maybe it's because less than two years ago, such a thing was merely a dream. Like so many when the Great Recession struck, my husband and I were struggling to maintain the lifestyle we had built over the years.
For anyone who’s been there recently, it’s no surprise that Spain is one of the top five destinations in International Living’s Global Retirement Index—our pick of the top retirement destinations in the world. Spain is arguably the best bargain in Europe, offering First-World living at a cost that can compete with some Latin-American countries. Thanks to the ongoing recession, real estate prices in many parts of Spain have plummeted. Buying here is more affordable now than it’s been in decades.
From special discounts to front-of-line privileges, the respect for elderly citizens and residents shines through in these three countries, ranked best in the world for retiree benefits in International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2014.