Why this small country is always the winner for “best place to retire”

Good weather. Strong economy. Excellent health.

Oh, and special perks and savings if you’re 55 (for women) and 60 (for men).

This is why Panama once again dominated the ranking of InternationalLiving.com The best places in the world to retire, now in its 31st edition. The 2022 list puts the Central American country in the lead for the 11th time.

Aimed at North American expats, the annual rankings are developed through a network of field editors and global correspondents, who use their own experiences and a range of statistics to compile the list. The cost of living, housing, health care, pension benefits and the climate are all taken into account. These statistics are then used to profile 25 “safe, value-for-money destinations beyond the United States or Canada”, with a focus on places where a retired couple can live a comfortable life. with only $ 2,000 per month.

And yes, the ongoing pandemic has changed the list a bit, but also changed the perception of retirement. “Three million baby boomers retired at the start of the pandemic,” notes Jennifer Stevens, editor-in-chief of International Living. “Some of them have enough to take a comfortable retirement and therefore took this early retirement voluntarily. But others were not ready to stop working so soon and are now worried about the sustainability of their nest egg. [Plus] millions more have lost their jobs or been put on leave. And then you put the “Great Resignation” into the mix. The result is that people – in large numbers – find themselves at a crossroads. “

International Living Global Pension Index 2022

International life

A closer look at this year’s list:

Panama came first. “[It] offers you a modern, first-world environment with all the comforts of home, ”writes the post. Some other perks you might not know besides climate and security: no taxes on income earned overseas, low property taxes, and a retirement program (even for foreigners, and from 55 years for women and 60 years for men) which offers generous benefits on travel, meals and health care. It also finished above 80 points (out of 100) in the 10 categories that International Living uses to build its annual list – the only country to do so. Plus, you don’t have to wait for retirement; invest more than $ 200,000 in real estate and you will automatically obtain a “Friendly Nations” visa.

Last year’s winner Costa Rica slipped to second place, but topped the healthcare rankings. The country leads the world in life expectancy and the national health system (“la Caja”) is considered one of the 20 best in the world. Plus, there are several other private options that are significantly cheaper than in the US (even paying out of pocket is only a fifth of the cost in the US).

The best regional choices? It is obviously Panama for Latin America, while Thailand at the top of the list for Asia and Portugal for Europe.

If one category is more important to you than another, you might want to consider Vietnam (cost of living), Portugal (climate) or Mexico (ease of integration for North American expatriates). Mexico and Panama have also been highlighted for places to invest.

That said, you might want to avoid Vietnam unless you meet some recently and suddenly revised residency criteria. “In May 2021, the government suddenly announced that people who had business visas but did not have verifiable Vietnamese business sponsors would have to leave the country immediately,” as International Living notes. “As a result, tens of thousands of long-term retirees and others living in Vietnam who did not work directly for Vietnamese employers suddenly found themselves threatened with deportation.”

Not on the list but are coming? Greece, the Czech Republic, Albania and especially, El Salvador (“Less than three hours from the United States, with unspoiled landscapes, a tropical climate, and low and low costs.”)

Finally, what about staying in the United States? Definitely a possibility, but you don’t get what you pay for. As the magazine asks, “Is it possible to live in the United States on a budget of, say, $ 24,000 a year?” Yes, it is just possible. But you won’t be living close to the beach. You won’t have the money to eat out two or three times a week. You won’t have any more money to travel. You could have a roof over your head and enough to eat. But you will be living a fairly rudimentary lifestyle.

Which is really not the way we want to retire.

Toya J. Bell