Countries with the Best Quality of Life in 2014 for Expat Retirees

picture of Loo Pun Hong,Georgetown, MalaysiaLast week I wrote about the best places for expat quality of life in general. Today we’re looking at the places that are best for retirees.

By “retiree” I don’t mean you have to be over 65 and not working. I just mean you’re not employed full-time by a multinational company.

You could be in your 30s or 40s with a couple of kids. . . or enjoying slow travel through every country in the Americas. . . or teaching English in Asia. But whatever you’re doing, you’ve chosen where you want to be, you’re not on an assignment by XYZMultiCorp.

So without further ado, here are the best quality of life countries for expat retirees.

International Living

They use a complicated formula that accounts for cost of real estate, special benefits offered to retirees, cost of living, ease of fitting in, entertainment and amenities, health care, retirement infrastructure and climate. They published results in their January, 2014 magazine.

Within a country they only consider the areas they recommend for expat retirement living, although their list is by country, not by city.

  1. Panama
  2. Ecuador
  3. Malaysia
  4. Costa Rica
  5. Spain
  6. Colombia
  7. Mexico
  8. Malta
  9. Uruguay
  10. Thailand
  11. Ireland
  12. New Zealand
  13. Nicaragua
  14. Italy
  15. Portugal
  16. France

I have to admit, I’m a bit surprised by a list that puts Nicaragua ahead of Italy, Portugal and France. . .

Live and Invest Overseas

I appreciate that they recommend, not an entire country, but a specific city or region. Here’s their 2014 list:

  1. Coronado, Panama
  2. Medellin, Colombia
  3. South of France
  4. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  5. Cayo District, Belize
  6. Cuenca, Ecuador
  7. Chiang Mai, Thailand
  8. Granada, Nicaragua

Even better, they highlight why they recommend each one, and share a monthly budget for that location.

Coronado’s at the top of the list because it’s the “most turnkey, expat-ready” place to retire. When you combine Panama’s unparalleled retiree benefits with an oceanfront community, and lots of expats, it’s pretty darned appealing. Add to that an estimated budget starting at $1,800/month ($600 of that for rent), and it’s surprisingly affordable.

Only an hour or so outside of Panama City, in Coronado you’re close enough to take advantage of the shopping and the nightlife when you want it — and world-class medical care if you need it.

Personally, I think that estimated budget is a bit low — I could easily spend $600/month for rent here in Las Tablas — so to be realistic you should add a few hundred dollars.


The AARP looked for “warm and sunny, attractively affordable locales with good-to-excellent health care that are hospitable to Americans of retirement age.” They only list countries, not cities, and their list is alphabetical.

  • Argentina
  • Belize
  • Costa Rica
  • France
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Portugal
  • Spain

If Health Care is your Top Priority

An article in the Huffington Post by Kathleen Peddicord (publisher of Live & Invest Overseas, whose retiree list is above), lists the top eight choices for overseas retirement if health care is your biggest concern. These are also listed alphabetically.

  • Cebu, Philippines
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Cuenca, Ecuador
  • Georgetown, Malaysia
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Languedoc, France
  • Medellin, Colombia
  • Panama City Beaches (ie, Coronado area), Panama

Photo by yeowatzup on flickr

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