World’s Top 21 Retirement Havens

First Annual Retire Overseas Index Names The World’s Top 21 Overseas Retirement Havens

Where is the best place in the world to retire?

The truth, of course, is that it’s impossible to answer that question.

Not ones to let a little thing like the impossible get in our way, however, this month, in our “First Annual Retire Overseas Index,” featured in the current issue of my Overseas Retirement Letter, we answer the question directly. That is, we name and rank the top 21 places in the world to retire.

Each day in these dispatches, we introduce you to the world’s most appealing and advantaged destinations for the would-be retiree overseas, recognizing that, unfortunately, in the process, we may be doing more harm than good. That is, by providing you with ever-more, ever-new options to consider, we may be making it more difficult for you to choose where best you might plan your new life in retirement overseas…not less.

In this month’s Overseas Retirement Letter issue, therefore, we take a step back and regroup. We consider all the world’s top retirement options right now, at once, and relative to each other, because relativity is key. Nothing is absolute, and no place is perfect. No climate is perfect. No residency process is perfect. Infrastructure isn’t perfect either, not anywhere…it’s better or worse some places than others.

As is the health care…the residency options….the tax situation…the cost of living…the cost of buying or renting a home…the options for ways to spend your Friday evenings and your Sunday afternoons…etc.

So, for this special issue, we rate and rank the most important factors the would-be retiree should consider for all 21 of the world’s top retirement havens today, in an effort to make it possible for you to make comparisons.

Specifically, for this First Annual Retire Overseas Index, we look at the following 12 factors:

  • Climate
  • Cost of Living
  • English Spoken
  • Entertainment
  • Environmental Conditions
  • Existing Expat Community
  • Health Care
  • Infrastructure
  • Real Estate
  • Residency Options
  • Safety
  • Taxes

We consider each of these 12 factors for each of the following 21 destinations, your best options today for where to think about launching a new and exciting, exotic and affordable life overseas:

These then are the 21 destinations we believe offer the greatest potential for the would-be retiree this 2013. Note that these destinations are not countries. You aren’t going to retire to Panama or to Belize, not to France or to Ireland… just as you aren’t going to retire to the United States. You might, though, for example, consider retiring to Naples, Florida, or Scottsdale, Arizona.

You might. But I’d suggest you consider the 21 thin-sliced destinations we highlight in this month’s index first. I would say that, collectively, these are the world’s most affordable, most welcoming, friendliest, safest retirement choices.

At the same time, however, some of these places are more affordable than others. In some, the available health care is better…or not as good. In some, real estate is a screaming bargain, while, in others, you might pay as much to rent a home as you would “back home,” depending where you’re coming from. Some offer turn-key residency options; others make you work harder if you want to remain in the country “permanently.” In some of these places, the folks speak English, either as a rule or often enough to make it possible for you to get by without having to learn the local lingo. In others, you’re going to have to make the effort to speak a new language.

Some of these places are home to established and growing communities of foreign retirees, meaning you’ll have lots of ready-made English-speaking company. In others, your neighbors would be local, meaning you’d have to speak their language and respect and embrace their way of life.

Our primary agenda with this first-ever Retire Overseas Index is to help you contrast and compare the 21 destinations it highlights, the places we have identified as the best places in the world to retire right now.

However, before we proceed to do that, you may be wondering: Why these 21?

That is, of all the places in all the world, why have we chosen to focus your attention on these 21 in particular?

First, collectively, these 21 spots represent the best our world has to offer: city, beaches, mountains…Old World and New…East and West.

Second, each of these 21 places is special, remarkable in some way. Indeed, some are remarkable in several ways.

Specifically, some are among the cheapest places in the world to live well (Cuenca, Ecuador; Granada, Nicaragua; Hoi An, Vietnam; and Chiang Mai, Thailand, for example). Some offer lifestyles that qualify as quintessentially Old World, rich with culture, history, and romance, at prices that even retirees working with modest budgets can afford to embrace. (Here I’m thinking of Languedoc, France; Abruzzo, Italy; and Istria, Croatia.) Some promise escape, either practical (Cayo, Belize) or romantic (Copper Coast, Ireland).

In some of the places we feature in our index you can embrace the best of beachfront living on a budget (Costa de Oro, Uruguay; Hua Hin, Thailand; Cebu, Philippines; and Hoi An, Vietnam). Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is the best place to embrace what I’d describe as a luxury-level beach lifestyle on a non-luxury budget. Puerto Vallarta; Ambergris Caye, Belize; and the Panama City Beaches are the best places to retire to the beach in the company of fellow expat retirees. All are home to established and growing foreign retiree communities.

We feature in this all-new survey our picks for the best places in the world to enjoy the best of city living on a budget (Medellin, Colombia; Georgetown and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)…the best places to retire among the vines (the Languedoc, France, and Mendoza, Argentina)…the best highlands options (Boquete, Panama, and Cuenca, Ecuador)…and our favorite place to kick it in the Caribbean (Ambergris Caye, Belize).

Now, to the point. Let’s look at each of the important criteria you should consider as you shop the globe for the retirement Shangri-La with your name on it, drawing out comparisons, specific destination to specific destination, along the way.

Starting, tomorrow, with Cost of Living…

Kathleen Peddicord

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