Top 10 Best Foreign Countries for Retirement: 2013

Making a big move? Costs, ease of assimilation and climate among factors to weigh

Ecuador made the Top 10. (Photo: AP) Ecuador made the Top 10. (Photo: AP)

Many groups and publications offer help in finding the best place to spend those retirement years. Obviously, everyone has an idea of what makes for paradise, but there are criteria that can help with the decision.

Two years ago, we looked at the Top 7 Cheap, Easy Foreign Cities to Retire as enumerated by International Living magazine. This year, we are revisiting the idea of foreign locales, this time by country.

International Living has rated countries on eight categories: real estate, special benefits, cost of living, ease of integration for foreigners, entertainment and amenities, health care, retirement infrastructure and climate.

The magazine looked at cost for a variety of things from Internet connections to food and talked to foreigners who have made the move to measure out more subjective parameters like how easy it is to make friends.

Of the 22 countries rated, the Dominican Republic finished at the bottom with an average score of 71. To find out which countries were highly rated, check out the Top 10 Best Foreign Countries for Retirement:

Marsaxlokk harbor and town on Malta.10. MALTA: 80.1

Real Estate: 87
Special Benefits: 72
Cost of Living:
81
Integration:
100
Entertainment & Amenities:
68
Health:
82
Retirement Infrastructure:
77
Climate:
75

Boasting a climate typical of the Mediterranean, the 415,000 residents of the Maltese islands enjoy warm winters and hot, dry summers. Malta became independent in 1974, ending nearly two centuries of British rule. The nation joined the European Union in 2004. The economy is driven by tourism, industry and services.

Kuan Yin statue in Samu, Thailand.9. THAILAND: 82.3

Real Estate: 82
Special Benefits: 57
Cost of Living:
97
Integration:
87
Entertainment & Amenities:
96
Health:
81
Retirement Infrastructure:
77
Climate:
81

Equal in size to Spain, Thailand is the only nation in Southeast Asia not to be colonized by the European colonial powers. Its 65 million citizens live by constitutional monarchy. Temperatures range from 66 to 100 degrees, and the year can be divided into two seasons: hot and cool. Exports account for 60% of the country's GDP.

Madrid8. SPAIN: 82.5

Real Estate: 87
Special Benefits:
57
Cost of Living:
80
Integration:
83
Entertainment & Amenities:
96
Health:
80
Retirement Infrastructure:
93
Climate:
83

Spain, home to 50 million citizens, has three distinct climate zones: Mediterranean, semiarid and oceanic. This diversity offers weather to suit everyone. With nearly 5,000 miles of beaches, the country, ruled by parliamentary monarchy, has plenty of places to kick back and relax.

Bogota, Colombia's capital7. COLOMBIA: 83.0

Real Estate: 94
Special Benefits:
75
Cost of Living:
70
Integration:
90
Entertainment & Amenities:
82
Health:
84
Retirement Infrastructure:
83
Climate:
86

One thing Colombia has in common with the U.S. is that it has coasts on both the Pacific and the Atlantic, the only South American nation that can claim that distinction. Situated near the equator, Colombia has five climate zones inluding steppes, tropical rain forests, savannahs and mountain climate. The country lives under republican rule.

Montevideo, Uruguay6. URUGUAY: 83.7

Real Estate: 87
Special Benefits:
72
Cost of Living:
69
Integration:
83
Entertainment & Amenities:
94
Health:
91
Retirement Infrastructure:
82
Climate:
86

Located on the east coast of South America, Uruguay is the size of Oklahoma. The country has 120 miles of Atlantic coastline, low plateau and a rolling plain. The constitutional republic has 3.3 million residents and variable weather with cool winters and warm to hot summers depending on location.

Cruise ships docked in Costa Rica. (Photo: AP)5. COSTA RICA: 84.4

Real Estate: 89
Special Benefits:
85
Cost of Living:
87
Integration:
90
Entertainment & Amenities:
94
Health:
86
Retirement Infrastructure:
73
Climate:
71

With a population of 4.6 million in an area slightly bigger than the combined area of New Hampshire and Vermont combined, Costa Rica includes a coast on the Pacific Ocean with good surfing and a coast on the Caribbean Sea with a rain forest. The democratic republic has a rainy season that runs from May to November, which consists of sunny morning and rainy afternoons. Trade winds in January and February make for cooler days.

Zocalo Square in Mexico City.4. MEXICO: 85.1

Real Estate: 92
Special Benefits:
71
Cost of Living:
82
Integration:
100
Entertainment & Amenities:
100
Health:
84
Retirement Infrastructure:
74
Climate:
78

With a population of 112 million, the United States' large neighbor to the south (it's one-fifth as big) offers beaches, big-city life and mountains. And, except on the peaks, you won't have to worry about dealing with snow.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia3. MALAYSIA: 87.6

Real Estate: 89
Special Benefits:
77
Cost of Living:
92
Integration:
90
Entertainment & Amenities:
100
Health:
93
Retirement Infrastructure:
85
Climate:
75

Slightly bigger than New Mexico, Malaysia sits on the Malay peninsula and is home to 26 million people. The nation is heavily forested and a mountain range runs its entire length. Ruled by constitutional monarchy, the citizens enjoy year-round temperatures in the mid-80s during the day and upper 60s at night. 

Old part of Panama City.2. PANAMA: 89.0

Real Estate: 83
Special Benefits:
100
Cost of Living:
86
Integration:
93
Entertainment & Amenities:
95
Health:
85
Retirement Infrastructure:
81
Climate:
88

About 3.5 million people call Panama home. The country, about the size of South Carolina, is ruled by constitutional democracy and boasts its namesake canal, the passageway between the Carribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The weather varies by region, but the humidity and temperature are often lower than in Florida. Be aware, the Panamanian winter and summer seasons are reversed from their U.S. counterparts.

Ecudaor's capital, Quito, is high in the mountains1. ECUADOR: 91.9

Real Estate: 99
Special Benefits:
99
Cost of Living:
90
Integration:
90
Entertainment & Amenities:
95
Health:
83
Retirement Infrastructure:
79
Climate:
100

On the Pacific coast of northwest South America, Ecuador is home to 15.2 million people in an area about the size of Nevada. The Andes, with tall volcanic peaks, cross the nation in two ranges. The Galapagos Islands have been a part of Ecuador since 1832. Being directly on the equator means the country has 12 hours of daylight every day of the year. However, temperature can range from temperate at the beaches to cold in the mountains. 

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Check out these other Top 10 lists on AdvisorOne:

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