In my previous column, I introduced “Positive Aging” readers to International Living Magazine and its Annual Global Retirement Index, which evaluates the best places for American retirees to relocate overseas. Last week, we highlighted Columbia, Portugal, Peru, Thailand and Spain.
Do you remember the July 3 column I wrote about Dan Buettner’s book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest? He had researched and identified specific places on the globe where people tend to enjoy enhanced longevity thanks to diet and lifestyle.
Well, this week, we’re going to take a look at the places International Living considers to be the top five retirement destinations, which actually seem to be clustered near a geographical Blue Zone that is not all that distant from the good old USA.
5: MALAYSIA. There are four UNESCO World Heritage Sites here, along with many stunning islands, beautiful beaches and unspoiled rainforests. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to really discover the country 600 years ago. Then came the Dutch, and then the English. The multicultural flavor makes it a unique place to retire, and the excellent low-cost health care can’t be beat.
4: ECUADOR. This country has been in the magazine’s index for several years. The great weather, the excellent, affordable health care and the availability of affordable real estate all contribute to its high score. Additionally, people over the age of 65 often get discounts on flights that originate in Ecuador, as well as 50 percent off movies, sporting events, public transport and utilities. Plus, if you purchase a property, you have the option of a free landline.
3: MEXICO. Thousands of older Americans have chosen to retire in Mexico during the past few decades, and it is easy to see why. Thanks to the weak peso, expats can live comfortably on about $1,200 a month. There are first-rate hospitals throughout the country, and it’s not hard to find someone who speaks English. Residents over the age of 60 receive an INAPAM card, which offers discounts on everything from groceries to restaurants to both local and airline travel. There is a wide variety of climates and cultural environments from which to choose. And life in Mexico has never been more affordable for Americans.
2: COSTA RICA. This has been a desired retirement spot for Americans for the past three to four decades. As long as you receive at least $1,000 per month from Social Security, disability, pension or some other source, you meet the income requirement for residence. According to the magazine’s Latin American editor, rents start at $400 a month for fully furnished condos or houses in nice areas. The health-care situation is both affordable and highly rated, and the country offers a variety of climates — from mountainous to sunny beaches — to meet your preference.
1: PANAMA. There is a wide variety of nationalities already settled in Panama, so if you move there, you’ll never have to feel like an outsider. As with Ecuador, “pensionados,” or retirees, get discounts on everything from health care to hotels to restaurants to travel. The country has beautiful geography, affordable health care and excellent infrastructure. According to International Living, it offers the most benefits of a Central or South American retirement destination.
— Marilyn Murray Willison is a columnist, motivational speaker and journalist, and author of The Self-Empowered Woman blog and the award-winning memoir One Woman, Four Decades, Eight Wishes. Click here to contact her, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.