10. Spain │ Although Spanish will be required to get by outside the tourist zones, Spain offers high living standards. │ Final Score: 82.2 (Photo: Shutterstock)
9. Thailand │ Rentals in Thailand can be as little as $400 per month for a modern studio apartment, and utility bills are also significantly cheaper, according to International Living correspondent Rachel Devlin. │ Final Score: 83.5 (Photo: Shutterstock)
8. Peru │ According to International Living, the cost of living in Peru is among the cheapest anywhere with rents starting as low as $150 per month and three-course lunches starting at $2.50. │ Final Score: 84.0 (Photo: Shutterstock)
7. Portugal │ Portugal, rated the fourth-safest country in the world in the 2018 Global Peace Index, also has an affordable lifestyle. │ Final Score: 85.2 (Photo: Shutterstock)
6. Colombia │ According to International Living correspondent Nancy Kiernan, her cost of living is 60% less in Columbia than it was when she lived in a small city in Maine. │ Final Score: 85.4 (Photo: Shutterstock)

Advertisement

5. Malaysia │ In Malaysia, which is known for year-round good weather, a couple can live comfortably on $1,800 a month, including rent. │ Final Score: 86.0 (Photo: Shutterstock)
4. Ecuador │ Rentals and opportunities to buy in Ecuador are plentiful and affordable, and, according to International Living correspondent Jim Santos, property taxes are low. Santos’ 2,000-square-foot oceanfront condo has a tax bill of less than $300 per year. │ Final Score: 87.0 (Photo: Shutterstock)
3. Mexico │ According to International Living, a couple can live here for anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 a month, depending on location — and that includes rent and health care. │ Final Score: 87.4 (Photo: Shutterstock)
2. Costa Rica │ Costa Rica, which is known for its stable democracy and peace-loving culture, attracts visitors with its tropical climate; low cost of living; top-notch, affordable medical care; bargain real estate; and natural beauty. │ Final Score: 87.8 (Photo: Shutterstock)
1. Panama │ Panama, which is modern, convenient and close to the U.S., has been a constant in the index, but this year marks the 10th time it's reached the No. 1 spot — climbing from third place to scoop the top prize. │ Final Score: 88.9 (Photo: Shutterstock)

Advertisement

Where can a retired couple live a comfortable, carefree life on $1,800 or less a month?

InternationalLiving.com released its Global Retirement Index for 2019. The annual index examines safe, good-value destinations beyond the U.S. or Canadian borders and scores the world’s top 25 retirement destinations.

(Related: 10 Best Foreign Countries for Retirement: 2018)

The main goal of the index is to help retirees find locations where their dollar goes further — where they can get the best value for money in terms of cost of living, housing and overall quality of life.

“This Index is designed to be a cheat-sheet of sorts, to help point people toward the spots that might make the most sense for them overseas,” Jennifer Stevens, International Living’s executive editor, said in a statement. “It’s most useful, however, if you come to it with some sense for your own priorities. Ask yourself, ‘What’s most important to me in a haven overseas?’”

This year’s index has several key highlights: Thailand is now in the top 10, and Sri Lanka appears in the index for the first time.

The 2019 Index is more comprehensive, including evaluations in 13 categories (one more than last year’s). This year’s categories include buying and investing, renting, benefits and discounts, visas and residence, cost of living, fitting in, entertainment and amenities, health care, healthy lifestyle, development, climate, opportunity and governance.

Each year, the editors at International Living re-evaluate the methodology used to construct the index. This year, they added an “opportunity” category into the index calculations.

“Our readers have been telling us that they have big plans for their retirement, and it’s not all about winding down,” Stevens said in a statement. “In fact, some of our readers are positively fizzing with ideas they’re eager to pursue when they give up the daily grind and start concentrating on their own projects.”

The index uses solid data as well as the informed judgement and real-world experience of International Living’s vast network of on-the-ground contacts and correspondents. The scores across the individual categories are then calculated, and a total score is determined for each country.

Check out the world’s top 10 retirement destinations based on InternationalLiving.com’s 2019 Global Retirement Index in the gallery above.

— Related on ThinkAdvisor: