Thinking of retiring outside the United States? If so, you are certainly not alone. The ex-pat communities throughout the world are numerous, and growing larger every year. Living abroad during your “Golden Years” can certainly be enjoyable; however, to make sure it is safe and economical you need to do your homework well ahead of time. To help you, the retirement planning attorneys at Hedeker Law, Ltd. discuss the top five retirement destinations for ex-pats, according to International Living magazine.
The Global Retirement Index
While there is certainly no shortage of opinions when it comes to the best countries in which to retire, the Global Retirement Index is one of the more reliable sources. Published each year by International Living magazine, the Global Retirement Index ranks each country included in the list in 13 categories, including:
- Buying & Investing — looks at the value of real estate and how easy it is to buy or rent your dream home overseas.
- Renting — the availability and price of a month’s rent on a range of properties in areas where a retiree would like to live.
- Benefits & Discounts — the beneﬁts and discounts retirees can get in the country are factored into this category.
- Visas & Residence — things like how easy it is to get permanent residence and if there are any special residence options for retirees.
- Cost of Living – compares the cost of a comprehensive monthly budget.
- Fitting In – availability of U.S. comforts, adapting to the culture, and feeling at home.
- Entertainment & Amenities – are there things such as museums, outdoor activities, movies in English.
- Healthcare – looks at the cost of healthcare, the availability of medication, and the quality of care.
- Healthy Lifestyle — things like great weather and an abundance of fresh food.
- Development – does the country have things such as reliable electricity, quality roads and an efficient public transport network?
- Climate — the climate of each country, factoring in things like rainfall, temperature, and humidity.
- Governance – does the country respect personal freedom, keep the bureaucracy to a minimum, and offer a stable and safe environment?
- Opportunity — how well the local authorities support small business, whether it’s easy to work remotely, and whether there’s a strong economy.
Top 5 Countries
After tabulating the scores in each category, the following countries ranked in the top five for the 2019 Global Retirement Index:
- #5 Malaysia — Idyllic beaches, islands that seduce the senses, and some of the most pristine ancient rainforests in Southeast Asia. Malaysian law is based on the British system and all road signs are in both English and Malay. A family of six can dine out in a good local Chinese restaurant (10 courses) for less than $5.70 per person, including beer. A men’s haircut costs just $2.16. In Penang, a couple can live comfortably on $1,800 a month, including rent.
- #4 Ecuador — There are few places where living is as affordable in Ecuador. You can own a home on a Pacific Coast beach for less than $150,000. Household help is available for $10 to $20 per day, and services like pedicures and haircuts are just a few dollars. There are over a dozen places spread all across the country where you can find North Americans.
- #3 Mexico — The cost of living is notoriously low. In fact, there are many places in the country where a wonderful life can be had for the price of one monthly Social Security check. A couple can live here for anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 a month, depending on location—and that includes rent and healthcare. Because of its geographic diversity, you can also choose your favorite climate: from warm and dry to warm and sultry to spring-like temperatures all year in the Colonial Highlands.
- #2 Costa Rica – Costa Rica has a stable democracy and a peace-loving culture. They abolished their army in 1948 and pledged that budget to education and healthcare. Often called the “Switzerland of Central America” it is known for its safety, neutrality and good banking system—especially compared to many other countries in the region. The current government is progressive and LGBTQ rights are respected. Once you have acquired your residency, you pay between 7% and 11% or your reported monthly income, and the socialized medicine program is available to you.
- #1 Panama — Panama is warm and tropical, but completely outside the hurricane belt. The currency is the U.S. dollar. The tax burden is low. And there’s a large English-speaking population. The capital of Panama, Panama City, is a cosmopolitan city where you can rent an ocean-view condo for as little as $1,500 a month. The country’s famed Pensionado Program is one of the best retiree programs in the world today and it’s open to everyone. The program entitles pension-holding retirees to a long list of discounts. From medical expenses to entertainment, retirees in Panama can seriously stretch their dollars. Like 25 percent off airline tickets, 25 percent off your monthly energy bills and up to 50 percent off hotel stays.
Contact the Illinois Retirement Planning Attorneys
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding retirement planning, contact the experienced retirement planning attorneys at Hedeker Law, Ltd. by calling (847) 913-5415 to schedule an appointment.