Relocating outside of the United States after retirement can be enriching both culturally and financially. Top sites include Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Belize and France, according to AARP, U.S. News and World Report and International Living.
Best sites are chosen based on several livability factors including ease of obtaining residency, number of cultural and leisure activities, availability of good but inexpensive health care, the size of the ex-pat community and overall cost of living. Each retirement index -- AARP, US News and World Report Money and International Living -- is slightly different. Your best place to retire depends on your own interests, says U.S. News and World Report.
Many places in the Americas rate well because of relatively low costs and warm weather. U.S. News labels Cuenca, Ecuador, as the most affordable place to retire well. Costa Rica requires only a $1,000 a month in Social Security income to obtain residency which then allows you to buy-in to the national health care system inexpensively, according to International Living. Costa Rica also is stable and prosperous relative to its neighbors, says AARP. Puerto Villarta, Mexico, ranks high by both AARP and U.S. News for its urban amenities and luxury beaches. Medellin, the financial and cultural center of Columbia, has the best all-around weather, says U.S. News. Panama is easy and comfortable, has a sleek capital and a currency attached to the American dollar, say AARP and International Living. Buenos Aires provides European ambience at a bargain, says AARP.
While Europe is generally more expensive than South and Central America, several locations in Europe make the lists. France is the best example of getting what you pay for, says U.S. News, which cites its food, wine, culture and infrastructure. Picturesque Languedoc-Roussillon is a better bargain than Paris or Provence, says AARP. LeMarche, Italy, which borders the Adriatric, offers both mountains and beaches and is less expensive than Tuscany, says AARP. Portugal typically offers lower costs than other European countries, says AARP, which suggests the resort town of Cascais. The Costa del Sol, Spain provides near-perfect weather all the time, AARP says.
The small country of Belize is the best place to pursue a self-sufficient retirement, with its wide open spaces and small towns, according to U.S. News. AARP says Belize offers "fishing to die for" as well as jungle flora and Mayan ruins. Most expats settle either on the largest island, Ambergris Caye, or in Corazol Town on the mainland’s northern tip. The Dominican Republic offers the best Caribbean lifestyle bargain, says U.S. News.
Malaysia offers great weather and costs about one-third that of the United States, says International Living. Cebu, The Philippines, is U.S. News' first choice for being both affordable and exotic. New Zealand wins as best place to escape in the world; Americans typically can only gain residency for six months out of the year here. Six months in New Zealand and six months in Panama equal perpetual summer, says U.S. News.
Randi Hicks Rowe is a former journalist, public relations professional and executive in a Fortune 500 company, and currently a formation minister in the Episcopal Church. She has been published in Security Management, American Indian Report and Tech Republic.She has a bachelor's in communications, a master of arts in Christian education and a master of business administration.