Where To Go for the Retirement You Dreamed of But Can’t Afford in the U.S.

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InternationalLiving.com’s annual Global Retirement Index lists 14 retirement destinations that are happier, healthier, and more affordable than the U.S.

Cuenca is a great place to retire. It's a vibrant city with a colonial center steeped in rich history

On this year’s Annual Retirement Index, the world’s top five retirement havens are Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, France and Italy.

For many U.S. retirees, the choice is no longer between the beach and the mountains. It’s between buying food, paying rent, or buying medications.

But InternationalLiving.com’s Annual Retirement Index for 2010 identifies at least 14 places around the world where retirement funds go farther, health care is cheaper, and the lifestyle is healthier than in the U.S.

With choices like that, who would stay in the U.S. for their retirement?

Not Kent and Christina Zimmerman. After a year in the country that tops InternationalLiving.com’s 2010 Retirement Index, they’re loving their new lives in Ecuador.

They pay just $300 monthly rent for a rooftop apartment with panoramic views across Cuenca, a colonial center steeped in rich history that earned it a spot as a UNESCO World Heritage city.

“The pleasure of being in this vibrant city keeps us feeling energized, fit, and young,” says Kent. “Our place has a wonderful penthouse deck looking straight across the street at the sparkling blue-tiled domes of the huge cathedral that anchors the park. The deck has become our outdoor dining room, because the temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit all year.”

The healthy, relaxed, and friendly lifestyle the Zimmerman’s found in Cuenca is just one of the reasons Ecuador tops InternationalLiving.com’s Annual Retirement Index for the second year running.

“Ecuador is simply the world’s most affordable retirement haven,” says Eoin Bassett, editor of International Living magazine, which published the complete 2010 Retirement Index in its September issue.

“In Ecuador, there’s something for everyone,” says Bassett, “beaches, rural highlands, jungle escapes, colonial cities. You can find a four-course lunch for $2. A taxi ride in the capital, Quito, costs $1. You can stay in a nice hotel for less than $20 or get a 30-minute massage for $15.”

To determine the Annual Retirement Index, Bassett says 25 countries are analyzed and ranked in categories including real estate costs, special benefits offered to retirees, culture, safety and stability, health care, climate, infrastructure, and cost of living.

“We give top priority to those things that matter most to retirees, such as special retiree benefit programs that include tax breaks and discounts,” says Bassett. “Ecuador first won the top honor in 1999, and it has been high on the list ever since.”

On this year’s Annual Retirement Index, the world’s top five retirement havens are Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, France and Italy.

The United States moved up seven spots on the 2010 Index, reaching #15 for 2010 from a ranking of #22 last year. Total score for the U.S. was hurt by relatively high cost of living and high carrying costs for real estate such as taxes and insurance. The United Kingdom comes in at #22 this year, and Thailand takes #25.

Bassett says that to determine the index rankings, data is analyzed in eight categories from a huge range of sources.

“Then we run the results past our in-country experts for their judgments based on their first-hand experience,” says Bassett. “So it’s not a purely by-the-numbers, scientific call… it’s more nuanced. We’ve crunched the numbers, but we’ve also made adjustments based on what we know to be the reality on the ground.”

“No place gets a perfect score,” says Bassett. “Every place has pros and cons, pockets where living is easier, or cheaper, than another. But all of the countries in our Index have something to offer. Even if they score poorly in a specific category, they’re still the best places in the world to retire that we’ve found.”

The countries that beat the U.S. as best places to retire, with possible points out of 100, are:

1. Ecuador - 81
2. Panama - 80
3. Mexico - 79
4. France - 78
5. Italy - 78
6. Uruguay - 77
7. Malta - 76
8. Chile - 76
9. Spain - 75
10. Costa Rica – 75
11. Brazil - 74
12. Argentina - 74
13. Columbia - 73
14. New Zealand – 73

This is the 18th year that InternationalLiving.com, founded in 1981, has compiled its Annual Retirement Index. For the complete 2010 Annual Retirement Index, go to http://internationalliving.com/2010/08/retirement-index-2010.

For more information:
Dan Prescher
+1 (402) 403-1941


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