10. Vietnam
Total score: 76
Visa/residence: 68 | Climate: 60 | Health care: 84 | Cost of living: 92
(Photo: Shutterstock)
9. France
Total score: 76.4
Visa/residence: 68 | Climate: 82 | Health care: 85 | Cost of living: 66
(Photo: Shutterstock)
8. Spain
Total score: 76.8
Visa/residence: 70 | Climate: 72 | Health care: 97 | Cost of living: 81
(Photo: Shutterstock)
7. Malaysia
Total score: 81.9
Visa/residence: 93 | Climate: 62 | Health care: 93 | Cost of living: 85
(Photo: Shutterstock)
6. Ecuador
Total score: 82
Visa/residence: 88 | Climate: 87 | Health care: 84 | Cost of living: 90
(Photo: Shutterstock)

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5. Colombia
Total score: 83.4
Visa/residence: 88 | Climate: 87 | Health care: 94 | Cost of living: 88
(Photo: Shutterstock)
4. Mexico
Total score: 83.8
Visa/residence: 86 | Climate: 86 | Health care: 88 | Cost of living: 86
(Photo: Shutterstock)
3. Costa Rica
Total score: 85.3
Visa/residence: 88 | Climate: 80 | Health care: 96 | Cost of living: 82
(Photo: Shutterstock)
2. Panama
Total score: 85.8
Visa/residence: 95 | Climate: 80 | Health care: 94 | Cost of living: 89
(Photo: Shutterstock)
1. Portugal
Total score: 86
Visa/residence: 75 | Climate: 88 | Health care: 98 | Cost of living: 85
(Photo: Shutterstock)

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(Related: 11 Affordable Small Towns for Retirement Abroad)

Many Americans look abroad for a place to move permanently when they retire.

At the beginning of every year, International Living puts out its Global Retirement Index as a tool to help people who are wondering where the ideal place might be. It is based on both statistics and on-the-ground input from the publication’s editors and correspondents around the world.

“This index provides a great jumping-off point for somebody who isn’t sure where to start looking overseas — we created it to provide some well-informed direction,” IL’s executive editor, Jennifer Stevens, said in a statement.

International Living acknowledged that deciding which retirement destination is perfect for an individual or couple is ultimately subjective.

Still, it went to considerable lengths to compile objective factors to help retirees make an informed decision about where to relocate. At the same time, it recommended that they rent in that place for a couple of months as a test before doing so.

Here are the 10 categories on which International Living ranked the countries in the index and scored them on a scale of 1 to 100:

Housing: The price of houses and condos in desirable areas for an expat retiree, annual property tax, costs to build and existence of any restrictions on expats owning property. Are there good opportunities to invest in property as a means of earning a rental or capital return?

Benefits and discounts: All the benefits and discounts — such as airfare, food, electricity and public transportation — retirees can get in the country are factored into this category.

Visas and residence: How easy is it to get permanent residence? Are any special residence options available for retirees?

Cost of living: Experts on the ground compiled a comprehensive monthly budget, factoring in everything from the cost of a liter of milk to a bottle of beer to a movie ticket.

Fitting in and entertainment: Can a retiree pick up favorite North American comforts when needed? How easy is it to adapt to the local culture? Are there lots of museums, exhibitions and outdoor activities?

Health care: Assessment of the quality and price of such things as laser eye surgery, a tooth crown or a blood transfusion, and availability of common medications for things like asthma and diabetes and whether a prescription is needed to get a refill.

Development: Will a retiree be able to stream favorite movies, call home and access reliable electricity? Are there quality roads and an efficient public transport network?

Climate: This assessment factors in such things as rainfall, temperature and humidity.

Governance: Does the country respect personal freedom, keep the bureaucracy to a minimum, and offer a stable and safe environment in which to enjoy retirement?

Opportunity: How well do local authorities support small business? Is it easy to work remotely? It the country’s economy robust?

See the gallery for International Living’s top 10 retirement destinations in 2020.

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