AN encouraging number of Asian countries have been listed in lifestyle publication International Livings list (IL) of the World’s Best Places to Retire in 2019.
Rounding up the best 25 countries in the world where retirees and settle down and stretch their dollar, IL’s Global Retirement Index identifies places where retired couples could live comfortably for US$1,800 or less a month.
But while much of Asian countries offered attractive retirement schemes for those particularly from the west, Latin American countries dominated the top 10.
For the 10th year running, Panama was named the world’s best place to retire due to its proximity to the US, the use of American currency, large English-speaking population and tropical climate.
Panama was trailed by regional neighbours Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador at second, third, and fourth place respectively.
However, one popular Asian country cracked the top 10 list and another made its first-ever debut.
According to the AFP, to compile the list of top 25 retirement destinations, editors consider 13 criteria: buying and investing, renting, benefits and seniors discounts, visas and residence, cost of living, fitting in, entertainment and amenities, healthcare, healthy lifestyle, development, climate, opportunity and governance.
Jennifer Stevens, IL’s executive editor, points out that retirees look into their priorities when looking for a place to call their home.
“Ask yourself, ‘What’s most important to me in a haven overseas?’ Maybe it’s good weather year-round. Maybe it’s proximity to the US. Maybe it’s a low cost of living. Maybe it’s the ease with which you can fit in. Maybe it’s access to top-notch healthcare at a low price. Those are among the many qualities we consider when we produce our annual Index,” she said in a press release.
As to why Panama topped the list, the country is described as a “Central American gem” that packs a lot into a small area: fast-paced eclectic capital city, beaches and forested valleys.
Offering a special retirement visa for those with a lifetime monthly pension of at least US$1,000, Panama grants special discounts to seniors on everything from medical consultations to movie tickets. The climate was also praised for being warm and tropical and relatively out of the range for hurricanes.
The publication also pointed out that Southeast Asia offered astounding geographic and cultural diversity, and climates to suit all tastes, ranging from hot beach resorts to cool highland hill stations.
“You’ll find sophisticated cities, ultra-modern, affordable healthcare, and luxury accommodation for a fraction of North American prices,” one editor noted.
Nevertheless, here are the top 5 Asian countries that made it to the top 25.
At fifth spot, Malaysia is the top Asian country to retire owing to its location which made it a great base for exploring neighbouring Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia.
“Idyllic beaches, islands that seduce the senses, and some of the most pristine ancient rainforests in Southeast Asia—this is Malaysia. And these are just some reasons why I call it home,” Keith Hockton, IL Malaysia Correspondent wrote.
He said all road signs which were in both English and Malay made driving around easy while the unofficial first language of the country is English “so you don’t have to learn another language here if you don’t want to.”
“A family of six can dine out in a good local Chinese restaurant (10 courses) for less than $5.70 per person, including beer. A men’s haircut costs just $2.16. In Penang, a couple can live comfortably on $1,800 a month, including rent.”
Hockton added the healthcare prices, especially for surgery was cheap compared to the US.
Thailand, which made its debut in the top 10 of the list is nestled between Myanmar (Burma), Laos, and Cambodia, enjoys the warm-water coastlines of both the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.
“This is a country that has never been colonized by any Western or European countries, so Thai culture is untouched, rich, and ancient. What’s more, it’s ideal for expat living,” Rachel Devlin, IL Chiang Mai Correspondent, noted.
Devlin said rentals in Thailand can be as little as US$400 per month for a modern studio apartment while utility bills are also significantly cheaper as the monthly water could average US$32.
“Thailand generally has a tropical humid climate. No cold winters here. Perfect for people who like swimming and sunshine. Arthritis sufferers find great relief in this climate,” she said.
“There are many modern private hospitals in Thailand. Doctors practice with current medical knowledge and general practitioner visits can cost as little as US$10.”
Coming in at 12 place in the list, Cambodia was placed just one spot after France with a final score of 81.2 for the ‘Visa & Residents’, ‘Healthcare’, ‘Climate’, and ‘Cost of Living’ criteria.
Vietnam was placed 19th in the overall list, just behind Ireland and before Uruguay with a final score of 78.6.
5. Sri Lanka
With a final score of 77.4, Sri Lanka was situated in number 21 on the list after Uruguay and before the Dominican Republic.