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8 Best Foreign Retirement Destinations

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Chances are, at least some of your clients have dreams of whiling away their golden years on a sandy beach or exploring a museum in a European capital. It’s also a good bet that they have their own short list of countries they’d like to visit.

Live and Invest Overseas has published its index of the best countries for retirees. The index is based on the experiences of expats who live in the areas on the list, as well as their scores in 12 categories: climate, cost of living, English spoken, entertainment, environmental conditions, existing expat community, health care, infrastructure, real estate, residency options, safety and taxes.

“These represent the most important criteria that retirees must consider when shopping the globe for the best place to retire,” according to the report.

However, it acknowledged, “not every country, as a whole, is a perfect fit. A country can be vast, diverse and offer lifestyle choices on all extremes. For this reason we focus our efforts on the individual locations that offer the best options.”

The new report makes room for some new, lesser traveled cities and regions by knocking some familiar retiree hotspots like Ecuador off the list. Here are its eight top picks:

Lighthouse in Rethymno, Crete, Greece.

Crete, Greece

Crete was the No. 1 city for low cost of living, the report found, including rent, groceries, electricity, water, gas, cable, internet, telephone and entertainment. A retired couple can expect to spend about $1,090 a month on a mid-range apartment.

A view from the ferry dock at Playa del Carmen, Mexico. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

The report estimates there are more than 10,000 foreigners living in Playa del Carmen, about 7% of the total population. Americans and Canadians are the majority, although many Europeans, Argentinians and Venezuelans relocate to the area, the report found.  

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque in Malaysia.

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

The city on the northwestern coast of Malaysia and the capital of the Sabah state has historically low crime rates, the report found.

Preseren square in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

The Slovenian capital has much to offer retirees interested in art, culture, architecture and history, according to the report. Retirees who emigrate here can get by without a car, with a cost of living of $1,418 per month.

Cahal Pech Ruins in Cayo, Belize.

Cayo, Belize

The mountainous region in Belize may be more attractive to retirees attracted to “self-sufficiency and independence more than Caribbean sand and seashores.” It’s the largest of the six districts in belize, and is a popular eco-tourism destination. The cost of living for a retiree couple is about $1,206 per month.

Puerto Vallarta skyline.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Like Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta has a large expat community (about 40,000, mostly from North America). The cost of living is around $1,280 per month for a couple.

La Valletta, Capital City of Malta.

Valletta, Malta

Valletta, on the island of Malta, is a cultural capital with good shopping and nightlife. A retired couple can spend about $1,697 a month for a two-bedroom mid-range house or apartment (most likely in Valletta’s suburb Sliema, according to the report, where property is easier to come by). Americans will find it easy to get around, too: English is the second official language of Malta.

Carvoeiro beach in Algarve, Portugal.

The Algarve, Portugal  

Legal foreign residents in the country can take advantage of public health care, and the report noted that although there are some problems with staff shortages, the quality of care in Algarve is good. However, the report noted that health care is very personal, and individuals need to consider their own situation no matter where they decide to retire. Portugal is also known as the fifth most peaceful country in the world, the report noted, with crime statistics in the “already-safe Algarve” region falling steadily.

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