Best expat retirement destinations on the planet

Published:  4 Aug at 6 PM
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As moving overseas for retirement becomes ever more popular, a recent survey has identified a number of the most attractive locations worldwide.

Whilst surveys involving varied expat destinations are undoubtedly useful, the majority are based on the needs of relocating expat professionals, making many of the criteria non-relevant for those seeking a retirement haven. What’s best for single workers and those with families tagging along isn’t necessarily important for older expats seeking the best place to create a new, more relaxed life.

Essential criteria for an enjoyable retirement should include cost of living, low crime statistics and high levels of safety, a stable, welcoming expat community, high quality healthcare, residency and suitable visa options and a lack of restrictions on foreign ownership. Real estate affordability and tax options are also important issues for those bent on reinventing their lives as retirees.

If exotic Asia beckons, one of the best options is Malaysia’s Georgetown, set on Penang Island and formerly the heart of a British colony. It’s safe, inexpensive and surrounded by natural wonders, with an established international expat community and excellent healthcare. English is spoken, there are plenty of recreational and entertainment options and visa requirements aren’t onerous.

For US retirees, Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende is a good choice for its UNESCO World Heritage-rated centre and its position as a hub for music, the arts, scholarly pursuits and the bohemian lifestyle. Healthcare is excellent, the weather is temperate and the cost of living is low. In Europe, Budapest offers a low-priced, high quality lifestyle including regular visits to its relaxing medicinal spas. Known as the Pearl of the Danube, this historic city combines beauty with tradition and culture.

For year-long sun and an oceanside setting, the capital of Portugal, Lisbon, is a sophisticated city with a sensibly low cost of living. Lifestyle choices to suit all budgets are offered, and the large, long-established expat community welcomes newcomers to its midst.
France’s Mediterranean shores are all-time favourites with retirees seeking sunshine, great food, fine wines and a laid-back lifestyle on a budget. Small towns such as Saint Chinian have everything you’ll need, including a traditional market, bars, restaurants, dental and medical professionals and wine cellars, all at reasonable prices. For a slower, more enjoyable pace of life, France is a winner.

The romantic, affordable and stunningly beautiful Italian region of Abruzzo enjoys year-round temperate weather, protected forests, lakes, mountains and parklands and endless peace and quiet. Combined with its cheap and delicious regional cuisine including local wine and cheese, it’s Tuscany on a budget, and perfect for retirement. It’s even possible to own a small, fertile plot of land if self-sufficiency is your retirement dream.
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