Following on from last week’s blog about a retirement place in the sun, I thought I’d have a little snoop around and see where the most popular retirement destinations are right now.

So, I was chuffed when I came across International Living’s Global Retirement Index 2019. This comprehensive survey combines good old hard facts and data with the real life experiences of expats and experts spanning 5 continents.

But, what did this year’s survey reveal? And just where should you be adding to your retirement wish list? Below are the top ten countries revealed as the ‘retire to’ destinations of 2019. I realise that this comes from a US perspective but everything they assess, research and report on is still relevant over here. Sure some destinations are a little far flung, but what’s retirement for if not a little adventure!

10. Surprise Surprise it’s Spain!

As a well known holiday favourite amongst us Brits it’s no surprise to see Spain on the hot list! So, beyond your typical beach holiday, just what is it that makes Spain such a longstanding favourite?

Living standards wise we’re talking First-World, Western European standards that won’t see you struggling to adapt or missing out on those day to day luxuries you’re used to in old Blighty. And, noted for having one of the best public healthcare systems in the world and a top-notch private set up to boot you’re also in good hands health wise. Cost wise, Spain boasts one of the lowest costs of living in Western Europe so you can live very comfortably without breaking the bank.

In terms of climate, whether you’re a serious sun worshipper or someone who prefers a more moderate climate, you’ll find it in Spain. For that laid back beach lifestyle you’ll want to head south and for a slightly milder temperatures you’re looking at the North. According to the report you’ll even find skiing (who knew!) in parts of the North, the Pyrenees and even in the Southern mountains.

And, as you’d expect, there are plenty of expat communities in Spain so language isn’t a major problem. However if you’re planing on venturing outside the typical holiday regions, which would be well worth you doing, a little Spanish will go a long way to making life easier and dare we say more enjoyable.

The report highlights the ease at which you can travel around Spain by rail, reporting that the rail system is “fast and efficient to large and medium-sized cities” and being described as ‘one of the most tolerant places’ Spain it seems is not only liberal but also safe.

9. Thailand

Whilst maintaing it’s rich culture Thailand still offers expats some seriously modern and luxurious cities, the latest affordable health care, modern private hospitals and beautiful accommodation, all with a very attractive price tags.  In fact, with rent, utilities and food shopping significantly cheaper than at home, you’ll be wondering why you didn’t make the leap sooner.

Whilst the report suggests that there is some range in climate to be enjoyed in Thailand, expat reporters share that the climate is generally of a tropical and humid nature so you won’t be suffering any chilly winters.

Getting around is pretty cheap so if you fancy exploring this beautiful country you can choose from inexpensive flights and beautifully relaxing boat trips. With a flight to anywhere in Southeast Asia taking only an hour an a half, exploring further afield is quick and easy too. Reading the report I was particularly drawn to the sentence promising the idea of “Floating freely in a long-tail boat or swimming at beaches from Hollywood movies. Then within a few hours, you can be in a northern Thai jungle, drinking a cocktail in an infinity pool overlooking rice paddies and ancient temples.” Nice!

According to the report, with so many thriving expat communities you won’t have a problem making friends. It seems there is plenty going on and you’ll even find Facebook pages dedicated to seeking out those expat communities. So, if you’re into ‘sanook’ (Thai for having fun) you’re well suited to a retired life in Thailand.

8. Peru

A move to Peru means that you can easily access the same level of lifestyle as at home and then some! There’s an abundance of delicious and affordable food, wonderful restaurants, arts, culture and thriving communities to enjoy.

Cost of living is cheap, cheap , cheap! In fact it’s one of the cheapest places to live you can find. According to the report “A couple can easily live on a budget of less than $2,000 a month in most regions of the country.”

And if it’s sunshine you are after how does 300 days a year sound? Think cool by night and up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit every day. Nice!

Again, there are now plenty of expat communities in Peru, particularly around the capital of Lima, which boasts some of the world’s best restaurants, fabulous art and culture. If you wish to socialise outside the expat world it is best to get brushing up on your Spanish. And, with such a friendly and welcoming culture you’ll be very pleased you did.

The international airport in Peru with its daily flights to Brazil, Columbia, Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia makes exploration super easy. Tempted?

7. Portugal

The people of Portugal are at it’s heart. Described by the report as ‘Mellow and very receptive to foreigners’ you’ll feel instantly welcomed to this beautiful country. As with most places, the tourist areas such as Lisbon are full of English speakers, but if you give the language a go you won’t regret it.

As well as incredibly friendly people and a wonderful climate, you’ll also be pleased to hear that this is the second cheapest country in Europe, making it incredibly attractive to retirees. And, if safety is your concern, worry not. The 2018 Global Peace Index rated Portugal as the 4th safest country worldwide.

So. if a stress free, happy retirement in the sun is right up your street it might just be worth checking out Portugal for yourself. And, of course you’re pretty near to home so it’s super easy when you fancy popping back.

6. Columbia

New to the retirement radar, Columbia it seems offers a beautiful climate and First-World standards of living. If you’re a sun worshipper you’ll love the coastal Caribbean areas and all those gorgeous beaches or if you’re more at home surrounded by greenery and a more moderate temperature then why not head for the mountains.

We know how important access to quality healthcare is, especially as we reach our golden years, which is another reason that Columbia features so highly. Ranked by the World Health Organisation as number 22 in the world, that’s ahead of Canada and the U.S. You can rest assured that your health is in good hands.

The friendliness of the Columbians is made clear in the report and it goes so far as to suggest that “you’ll always feel part of the community.” in this now thriving country.

5. Malaysia

With over 878 islands at your disposal you won’t be lacking in lazy beach days here. And, when you’ve had enough sand between your toes why not pop on your hiking boots and head to the unspoilt and ancient rain forests. Or, if you’re feeling even more free spirited why not hop on a direct flight to another part of Asia. Just your average day in retirement!

Move to Malaysia for Living costs that are low and an outdoor lifestyle that is hard to beat. Plus, with English being the unofficial first language you’ve got no language barrier to overcome. Even the road signs are in English too.

The healthcare side of things, whilst private, reads as affordable, efficient and easy so this is also another plus for Malaysia bound retirees.

Whether you opt for sea or mountain views, retirement here it seems is pretty spot on.

4. Ecuador

When someone tells you there’s a place where you can “find some of the best weather on the planet” your ears instantly prick up. The beauty of its climate appears to be the variety; with year round warm beaches and cooler hillside temperatures you can select the climate that’s right for you, without any risk of hurricanes or storms. And, you can also choose between living it large in the city or kicking back in local villages. Oh so much choice!

In terms of living costs you’ll also be very happy. Properties, rents, taxes and general living costs are seriously affordable so you certainly won’t need to scrimp. This is great news for all the socialising you’ll be doing with all your new expat and Ecuadorian friends. Move to Ecuador, eating out, socialise and generally enjoy living retirement with total abandon.

3. Mexico

When a holiday brochure promises crystal clear waters, majestic mountains, dazzling deserts and temptingly warm seas you’re generally keen to get that flight booked pretty sharpish.

So just imagine living your retirement in true holiday brochure style. Maybe you see yourself living the high life in the bustling modern city, chilling out in a beachfront pad or exploring the terrain from a hillside apartment? Whatever you fancy it seems Mexico can provide.

Cost of living is low, the people are incredibly welcoming, the climate is warm and mild and if you ever tire of the beaches you’ve got beautiful restaurants and fabulous culture to keep you occupied. What’s not to like!

2. Costa Rica

Badged as the “Switzerland of Central America” this place has a lot going for it. You can safely enjoy this tropical climate and all the natural beauty that goes with it with complete peace of mind. Cost of living is low, you’ve got access to affordable, quality healthcare and you will be welcomed with open arms.

Expat communities can be found in various areas of the country with plenty going on for newbies. In fact with such an outdoor focussed culture and all those high quality and organic foods you might just find yourself fitter and healthier than ever before, many reportedly do!

In terms of the weather, you certainly do get variety! Dozens of microclimates mean that whether an “eternal spring” is your thing, you favour things hot hot hot or if you’re more of a lush jungle greenery kind of person, you’ll find an area of Costa Rica to suit.

1. Panama

Warm, tropical and not a hurricane in sight, Panama bags number one spot on the leader board.

According to the report “the lush mountain towns of Panama rank among the best retirement destinations in the world”.

Make the most of the fabulous food, films, music and sport in cosmopolitan Panama City (the only First World city in Central America) or check out the spotless beaches of Coronado, Pedasi and Bocas del Toro, with the latter described as “a Caribbean paradise’.

Cost of living is very affordable. As you would expect prices are slightly higher in the cities and so for even more affordable living it’s worth venturing further afield towards the Azuero Peninsula.

For retirees there’s the renowned Pensionado Program dubbed ‘one of the best retiree programs in the world and it’s open to everyone.” We’re talking discounts galore, from  entertainment and flights right through to utility bills and medical treatment. And with healthcare in the cities described as “state-of-the-art” and across the country as “good and affordable…” there’s no wonder Panama won its spot here at the top!

So, whether you fancy the modern and cosmopolitan vibe of the city, the cooler climates of the mountain towns or the glistening seaside resorts, you’ll find what you’re after in Panama.

We’re all different though!

Of course, your retirement paradise will be different from your neighbours so it’s all about what rocks your retirement boat. Common sense advice seems to be that it’s best to visit and maybe rent for a while to experience the reality of day to day life somewhere completely new.

We’d love to which of the above you would choose, hear your idea of retirement paradise or maybe you’ve made the leap and have insider tips about one of these countries or more? Either way we’d love to hear from you.

Here’s to adventures, exploration and life after work!

Credits for this beautiful image Photo by Lrns on Unsplash