This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org.
If youre considering retiring abroad in 2018 or just curious where the best places might be, two new Top 10 rankings could be helpful. But heres the catch: they agree on three countries and have very different choices for the other seven.
The International Living Annual Global Retirement Index country rankings, where Costa Rica landed in the No. 1 spot for 2018 (up from No. 4 in 2017), are a combination of hard statistics and anecdotal reporting from local correspondents around the world. Its Top 10 skews toward Central and South America, though Peru is new this year, largely due to its low cost of living. (For details about each of International Livings Top 10 places, see this slideshow.)
The Live and Invest Overseas 10 Best Places to Live Overseas 2018 city/region rankings, which dubbed Lisbon, Portugal No. 1 (replacing Carvoeiro in Portugals Algarve region), are based on the personal preferences and knowledge of the sites founder, Kathleen Peddicord, and her team. Its Top 10 favors Europe and has four new countries represented for 2018: Italy, Slovenia, Indonesia and Vietnam. Peddicord told me that although her Top 10 are fantastic retirement havens, theyre also the best places to live for people of any age or circumstance.
Here are the two Top 10 rankings, followed by explanations about the choices and methodology, from International Livings Dan Prescher (who lives in Mexico) and Live and Invest Overseas Peddicord (who lives in France):
AFP/Getty Images Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is a popular place for American expats. International Livings top 10 retirement destinations for 2018
1. Costa Rica
Live and Invest Overseas 10 best places to live overseas in 2018
diego cue/Wikipedia Lisbon, Portugal
1. Lisbon, Portugal
2. Cali, Colombia
3. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
4. San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
5. Saint-Chinian, France
6. Citt SantAngelo, Italy
7. Ljubljana, Slovenia
8. Playa del Carmen, Mexico
9. Bali, Indonesia
10. Da Nang, Vietnam
Wikipedia Cali, Colombia ranks No. 2. The International Living ranking methodology
For its 27th ranking, International Living gathered data for 24 countries (adding Bali, Indonesia this year; it ranked No. 24) in 12 categories ranging from Health Care to Climate to Entertainment & Amenities. This year, the researchers added a Governance category (giving points for places respecting personal freedom; minimal bureaucracy and stable, safe political environments). The U.S. election has made everybody anxious, said Prescher.
International Living also split its traditional Buying and Renting category into two: Buying & Investing and Renting. We thought that buying might never be a serious consideration for a lot of people, said Prescher. And there are a lot of great deals for renting in an area, but not buying. Id put Malaysia in that category.
Why International Living says Costa Rica is No. 1
The popular vacation and expat destination of Costa Rica took top honors, the editors said, due to its tropical climate; low cost of living; top-notch, affordable medical care; bargain real estate and natural beauty.
AFP/Getty Images Costa Ricans celebrate Independence Day. A retired couple can live very comfortably on about $2,500 a month in Costa Rica.
A one-bedroom beach condo can rent for as little as $500 a month or sell for under $50,000; health care runs about $95 monthly per couple, on average. A retired couple can live very comfortably on $2,500 a month in Costa Rica, says International Living. Costa Rica ranked best of all 24 countries in the categories of Buying and Investing; Entertainment and Amenities (tied with Mexico and Malaysia), Health Care and Healthy Lifestyle.
Costa Ricas downsides: mosquitoes (theres no such thing as a tropical beach that doesnt have bugs, said Prescher), a rainy season from May to November and some poorly maintained roads. They just made a coastal highway, but if you get off the road, it can be a challenge. The flip side is Costa Rica isnt paving over its country, Prescher added.
Adding Governance to the rankings helped propel Costa Rica where the unofficial national motto is Pura Vida (loose translation: life is good) into the top spot for 2018. Its hugely chill, said Prescher, referring to the personal freedom and governance, not the weather. They havent had an army for decades, elections go off without a hitch and there are no big demonstrations.
Why Live and Invest Overseas says Lisbon is No. 1
Peddicord calls Live and Invest Overseas No. 1 choice, Lisbon, a classical European city that nobody pays attention to.
Noting that four of her rankings Top 10 places are in Europe, Peddicord says Europe is so affordable now, so if you dream of Europe for retirement, take advantage of this window of opportunity.
She says all the Live and Invest Overseas European picks Lisbon; Saint-Chinian, France; Citt SantAngelo, Italy and Ljubljana, Slovenia are bargains. Citt SantAngelo, for instance, is everything you can imagine about life under the Tuscan sun, but its so affordable compared to Florence.
If youre contemplating retiring abroad but fearful about the possibility of terrorism, Peddicord says this: Think about the recent mass gun shooting in the United States. We live in an age where these things are happening all over the world.
Richard Eisenberg is the Senior Web Editor of the Money & Security and Work & Purpose channels of Next Avenue and Managing Editor for the site. He is the author of How to Avoid a Mid-Life Financial Crisis and has been a personal finance editor at Money, Yahoo, Good Housekeeping, and CBS MoneyWatch.@richeis315
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