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What Makes an Ideal Overseas Retirement Haven?

Posted by Cristian Manovel Garcia on February 23, 2018

What Makes an Ideal Overseas Retirement Haven?

We’ve carefully selected the 25 best countries in the world for retirement. Our focus is on the destinations within those countries that make sense. For instance, Bali (a new addition) is the only part of Indonesia we recommend for retirement; Roatán, the only place in Honduras; while in Ecuador there are easily half a dozen hot spots we’ve homed in on. Each location weighed in the following ways:

Buying and investing: Until last year, “buying and renting” formed one category. But we wanted to drill down further. So this year we remodeled. This category now looks first at the ease of buying and owning property as a foreigner, then the value. We assess things like the price of a two-bedroom house, a condo in a desirable location, the cost of building, and property taxes. And we ask if there is a strong case for investment and profit, or if you’re just looking at a good-value buy.

Renting: “Try before you buy”—that’s always our advice. And in many destinations, renting makes better financial sense than buying. We looked first at the ease of getting short-term rentals and how much a beautiful place would cost. We then looked at longer-term leases, and examined costs for a range of property types, from condos to houses with land.

Benefits and discounts: It’s astonishing how many discounts you can get as a retiree in some countries. The savings can add up. We looked at retiree benefits and discounts on healthcare, prescription medication, entertainment, eating out, travel, utilities, cars, and whether you can import your household goods duty-free.

Visas and residence: A place is a not much good as a retirement destination if you can’t live there comfortably. We started by examining the ease of exploring a country on a tourist visa, how to get one, and how long it gives you. Then we investigated the comfort of staying longer, the ease of becoming a permanent resident, and if there are unique retiree options.

Cost of living: Possibly our most final category, due to the ease of getting hard numbers. Each of our scouts fills in extensive cost-of-living questionnaires tailored to the needs and wants of an expat retiree. Everything from rent and utilities to the cost of milk, beer, and a flight home to visit family included.

Fitting in: A common concern among readers is how easy it will be to make friends? We find out. We look at the character and size of the expat community. The number of clubs and activities, how easy it is for a single person or LGBT person to settle in, whether English is widely spoken, how terrible the local language might be, how welcoming the locals are, and look at the ease of scoring home comforts like your favorite peanut butter, for example.

Entertainment and amenities: How exciting and fun is a place? We rate the range and variety of restaurants, cultural events, outdoor activities, the ease of finding a movie in English, a concert, an opera, or a gallery.

Healthcare: We assess healthcare based on both quality and cost. The good news is that, in many of the world’s best retirement destinations, you’ll find world-class care far cheaper than back home.

Healthy lifestyle: This category was born out of a familiar refrain from expats: “I feel so much healthier.” So we looked into exactly why that is. Is the product in the market farm-fresh? Do you walk more? Does a mild or tropical climate meaning that you spend more time outdoors? Are you less stressed?

Development: If the roads are good, the public transport excellent, and the internet fast and reliable, then a place ranks better. You want good cell phone coverage, reliable utilities and services, and clean streets.

Climate: For some folks, the perfect environment is hot and humid; others want spring year-round. To help you find the ideal setting for you, we not only look at rainfall, temperature, and humidity, but we ask all our expat contacts how comfortable they see the climate, and have them elaborate.

Governance: The world can be scary and our fate uncertain. So, knowing your new home respects, personal freedom keeps the bureaucracy to a minimum and offers a stable and safe environment in which to enjoy retirement is a nice feeling.

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