International Living traditionally compiles its Annual Retirement Index, featuring the top International Retirement Destinations.
The United States ranks #22 on the Index and receives particularly bad marks in the area of special benefits for retirees. It scores well in both safety and infrastructure. At the bottom of the list are the United Kingdom and South Africa–primarily because of high real estate prices and, in the U.K., overall high cost of living. In the case of South Africa, the country didn’t score particularly well in any category.
“No place scores a perfect 100,” stresses Sheridan. “Even Ecuador, our number one retirement destination, earns a score of only 79. The best, but not perfect. If you’re trying to pick a place to retire, keep that in mind. There will be good points and bad, no matter where you go. Realizing that ahead of time will help eliminate disappointments later.”
Entertainment, Recreation, and Culture. This category considers the number of newspapers per 1,000 citizens, the number of museums and cinemas per capita, the number of university students, the literacy rate, and the variety of cultural and recreational offerings. Weight: 10%
Cost of Living. This score is based on statistics from the Indexes of Living Costs Abroad, Quarter Allowances, and Hardship Differentials, published by the United States Department of State, and on data published by Business International. We also use our firsthand experiences living and traveling in these countries. The lower the score, the higher the cost of living. Weight: 20%
Safety and Stability. This measure of unrest in each country is based primarily on Interpol data and State Department statistics. It also takes into account the civil liberties and political rights granted by each government. Our own experiences and reports from expatriates living in these countries also influence the safety scores. Weight: 5%
Health Care. Considered in this category are the cost of a typical visit to a general practitioner and the cost and coverage particulars of health insurance. Weight: 20%
Climate. Countries with temperate weather throughout the year, moderate rain fall, and little risk of natural disaster come out on top in this category. We use data representing each country as a whole instead of favoring one region over another. Weight: 5%
Special Benefits. This category considers government provisions that make moving to and living in each country easier and more affordable for foreigners. Taken into account are property rights for foreign residents, property tax rates, duty-free imports on personal belongings, currency controls, employment restrictions, voting rights, and transportation discounts for seniors. Weight: 20%
Infrastructure. This section considers the number of cars and telephones per 1,000 residents, the length of railroad track in usable condition, the number of airports, the quality of the country’s road and highway network, and the availability of telecommunications. Weight: 5%
Note that there are many versions of the Top Retirement Destinations, and International Living is just one of the viewpoints. However, the approach to the index calculation looks reasonable and serious.
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