By Marilyn Murray Willison- Last week, I introduced “Positive Aging” readers to the International Living Magazine’s Annual Global Retirement Index, which evaluates the best places for American retirees to relocate overseas. Last week, we highlighted Malta, Portugal, Nicaragua, Spain and Malaysia.
Do you remember the column I wrote about Dan Buettner’s book “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest”? He had researched and identified specific places on the globe where people tend to enjoy enhanced longevity thanks to diet and lifestyle.
Well, this week, we’re going to take a look at the places International Living considers to be the top five retirement destinations, which actually seem to be clustered near a geographical Blue Zone that is not all that distant from the good old USA.
5. COLOMBIA: Back in the 1990s, this country was best known for its drug cartels and high crime rate, but things have really changed. A beautiful country — about the size of California and Texas combined — Colombia touches both the Caribbean Sea as well as the Pacific Ocean. The cost of living is low. The locals tend to be friendly. The scenery is remarkable. And you are only a three-hour flight from Florida. Because you are so close to the equator, no matter what time of the year it is, there are about 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of nighttime each day.
4. COSTA RICA: This has been a desired retirement spot for Americans for the past three to four decades. As long as you receive at least $1,000 per month from Social Security, disability, pension or some other source, you meet the income requirement for residence. According to the magazine’s Latin American editor, rents start at $400 a month for fully furnished condos or houses in nice areas. The health care situation is both affordable and highly rated, and the country offers a variety of climates — from mountainous to sunny beaches — to meet your preference.
3. ECUADOR: This country has been in the magazine’s index for several years. The great weather, the excellent, affordable health care and the availability of affordable real estate all contribute to its high score. Additionally, people over the age of 65 often get discounts on flights that originate in Ecuador, as well as 50 percent off movies, sporting events, public transport and utilities. Plus, if you purchase a property, you have the option of a free landline.
2. PANAMA: There is a wide variety of nationalities already settled in Panama, so if you move there, you’ll never have to feel like an outsider. As with Ecuador, “pensionados,” or retirees, get discounts on everything from health care to hotels to restaurants to travel. The country has beautiful geography, affordable health care and excellent infrastructure. According to International Living, it offers the most benefits of a Central or South American retirement destination.
1. MEXICO: Thousands of older Americans have chosen to retire in Mexico during the past few decades, and it is easy to see why. Thanks to the weak peso, expats can live comfortably on about $1,200 a month. There are first-rate hospitals throughout the country, and it’s not hard to find someone who speaks English. Residents over the age of 60 receive an INAPAM card, which offers discounts on everything from groceries to restaurants to both local and airline travel. There is a wide variety of climates and cultural environments from which to choose. And life in Mexico has never been more affordable for Americans.
Marilyn Murray Willison has had a varied career as a six-time nonfiction author, columnist, motivational speaker and journalist in both the U.K. and the U.S. She is the author of The Self-Empowered Woman blog and the award-winning memoir “One Woman, Four Decades, Eight Wishes.”