International Living has released its Annual Global Retirement Index 2014 revealing which countries offer the best standards of living for expat retirees. Taking into account factors such as healthcare, ease of integration, and cost of living, Panama is this years winner, beating Ecuador by a slim margin.
In third place comes Malaysia, Asia’s top retirement destination. With warm temperatures all year-round, reasonable accommodation costs, and excellent healthcare facilities it is a firm favourite with many retirees.
Europe’s number one spot is taken by Spain, a perennial expat favourite. Again, with a pleasant climate, low prices for everyday items, and a famously healthy diet, Spain has lots going for it.
Focus on healthcare
The healthcare category takes into account a number of factors: life expectancy, quality, costs, number of beds per 1,000 people, percentage of GDP spent on healthcare, among other things.
Looking purely at healthcare scores, France comes top with 97 points, and is placed 16th overall. Popular especially with European expats, France has an excellent public health system, which is supplemented by a private insurance system. Doctors often speak English, especially in the major cities.
With 96 points, Uruguay comes second in the healthcare category, and is ninth overall. This is due to the high quality of its private care system, which consists of a number of independently operated facilities. These can be a single clinic, to a network of hospitals and health centres.
In third place for healthcare is Malaysia, a very popular destination for medical tourists. Healthcare in Kuala Lumpur and Penang is world-class, with modern facilities and equipment. Most, if not all, of the doctors in the best hospitals will speak English having completed their training in the US or the UK.
The top two destinations overall, Panama and Ecuador, scored 91 and 88 respectively in the healthcare category. In Panama expats have a choice of state-of-the-art private hospitals in Panama City, but in more rural areas access to care is much more limited. Expats should invest in a comprehensive international health insurance, as private care is expensive and bills are expected to be settled immediately.
If you’re planning on retiring abroad healthcare is certainly something you need to research, accessibility, cost and quality are all important factors. All the countries featured on the Index scored above 80 for healthcare, except Cambodia which managed 63 points, it was also the lowest ranked destination overall.