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By: Joy Aquino

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February 18th, 2015

What are the best retirement places for expats?

Pensions

Perhaps not where you think

When we find ourselves exhausted because of life’s everyday strains, some of us think of retirement as a reward at the end of the tunnel – fine, white sand beneath our feet, the feel of our sun-kissed skin, waking up to a beautiful sunrise on a cosy cottage beside the beach, and a carefree life that is just bliss.

But where do expats go to make the most out of their hard-earned retirement?

International Living recently published its Annual Global Retirement Index for 2015, which ranks different retirement destinations according to buying and renting costs, infrastructure, benefits and discounts for retirees, cost of living, healthcare, climate, entertainment and amenities, among others.

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For those considering retirement abroad, whatever life you want and deserve in your twilight years, there is a retirement destination for you. AES International takes a look at the best retirement places for expats, according to International Living.

1. Ecuador

The Index ranks Ecuador as the top retirement destination for 2015. Retirees are drawn to the country’s relatively low cost of living, beautiful landscapes and in much of the country an ideal climate. There are also a lot of benefits that retirees can take advantage of, such as discounts for public and private transportation (50%), utility bills (50%), and tax reductions. Throughout the years, Ecuador has become a popular retirement destination for expats, and a place in which one should not find integrating with the local population a challenge.

2. Panama

Panama held the top spot last year, and it continues to rank as number 1 in terms of benefits and discounts for retirees. The country has its Pensionado visa program, which entitles retirees (if they have over $1,000 of pension income per month) to entertainment, transportation, and healthcare discounts, among others. Those who are trying to escape the cold climate of their home countries will find Panama to be their utopian retirement home, where gloomy days are rare and outdoor activities are never lacking.

3. Mexico

Third in International Living’s list is Mexico, whose proximity to the US makes it a comfortable retirement destination for expats. Those accustomed to the American and European style of living will not find it difficult to integrate in Mexico’s retirement havens, such as Puerto Vallarta and San Miguel de Allende. Pristine beaches and historic sites are not difficult to find. With the cost of living relatively low, expats will not find themselves at a disadvantage if they retire in Mexico.

4. Malaysia

Malaysia tops the best retirement destination for expats in Asia, and ranks 4th in International Living’s worldwide list. With the low cost yet high standards of living, expats might consider living in this tropical country a treat. Its stunning beaches, fun loving people, and diverse culture have drawn tourists and expats alike to this Asian hot spot. English-speaking people will also not find it difficult to integrate in the communities as most locals can speak English well, as a result of its history of being a British colony from the 18th century until the mid 20th century.

5. Costa Rica

Perhaps one of the main reasons expats retire in Costa Rica is the country’s reputation as a tropical paradise. The country has one of the highest standards of living in Central America, and compared to European and North American destinations, the cost of living is still relatively low. One can enjoy the luxuries of life without much financial sacrifice. The country’s excellent healthcare, stable democracy and beautiful landscapes make its reputation as a retirement haven well-deserved.

If thinking of retiring abroad, perhaps you will have reasons for doing so other than those found in the countries above. Needless to say, expats choose their retirement destination because of lots of different factors – whether it is because of their dislike of cold winters, or their pensions not being enough to sustain their lifestyles in their home countries, or just the experience of pure adventure.

But choosing where to retire should not be a decision taken on a whim just because you are lured by golden beaches and breathtaking sunsets, with a promise of a worry-free life, bathing under the sun. Your taxes might not end when you leave your home country, and despite the exciting expat stories you hear over drinks, it is a life filled with challenges – physically, emotionally, and financially exhausting. Your pocket might be able to sustain your lifestyle in the first ten years of retirement, but what about the next? And this is why you should carefully plan out your retirement

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About Joy Aquino

Joy Aquino served as a Marketing Associate for AES International before relocating to Germany.