Top 10 Countries in Which to Retire

Some were surprises; others, not so much

401k, retirement, participants, retireeIn Portugal, Madeira wine and coffee await.

For 401k participants with an eye toward an eventual ex-pat retirement experience, International Living is out with its annual list of top countries to consider.

The list, now in its 27th year, relies on the magazine’s Annual Global Retirement Index, which considers—among other variables—cost of living, health care, climate, governance and other staples one would pretty much expect. However, it also looks at those that are harder to quantify, such as “fitting in,” and benefits/discounts.

“A vast amount of hard data goes into the Index,” the publication notes. “It’s a distillation of every pertinent and measurable fact our scouts and experts can lay their hands on. And it reflects the experience of every expat who has contributed to International Living since the publication of our first issue, nearly 38 years ago.”

But lest it’s thought of as simply a “number-crunching exercise,” the editors emphasize that “At its heart lies the good judgment of our far-flung editors and correspondents.”

Some destinations were surprising; others less so. Here are the top 10 in ascending order:

  1. Peru

Named for its “low-cost living,” as well as vibrant, and diverse culture, Peru is more than Machu Picchu.

  1. Spain

Romance, history, charming villages and one of the “lowest costs-of-living in Europe,” the editors note.

  1. Nicaragua

“The dollar will go far,” IL claims, calling it the “best bang for your buck in Latin America.”

  1. Portugal

“Europe’s best retirement haven,” the pub boldly proclaims. “On the table, butter melts on a torrada, a short stack of toast, fresh from the bakery’s oven. A cool autumn breeze hints of winter, yet the Iberian sun is warm enough for me to shed my sweater. This is the life for me.”


  1. Colombia

Forget Pablo Escobar and cartels of decades past, today Columbia is sophisticated and affordable and “ranks high as a place for healthy living.”

  1. Malaysia

For the ugly American who doesn’t want to stray too far from what they know, Malaysia is “easy, English-speaking, and first world,” and has expat clubs that “have existed since the 1700s, yet still welcome new members.”

  1. Ecuador

“History-filled colonial cities…peaceful mountain villages…lazy coastal towns…cloud forest, nature-filled hot spots… For those looking for a sense of variety in their ultimate destination, Ecuador has it all.”

  1. Panama

It’s modern, convenient, and if feeling a bit homesick, it’s close to the U.S., “not to mention sunny, warm, and welcoming.”

  1. Mexico

A couple can live there for anywhere from “$1,500 to $3,000 a month, depending on location—and that includes rent and healthcare.”

  1. Costa Rica

Anyone surprised? Anyone at all? Long favored as the “it” destination for many an American tourist, they’re “attracted by the tropical climate; low cost of living; top-notch, affordable medical care; bargain real estate; and natural beauty” something perfect for retirees as well.

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