I suspect that when Americans think about retiring abroad, they focus on Latin American countries, due to proximity and because places like Panama, Belize, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic usually show up on Best Places to Retire Abroad lists. Well, you won’t find any of those four countries in the Top 10 of The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2017 from Live and Invest Overseas.
What you will find is a preponderance of Europe (six of the Top 10) plus a smattering of Mexico (two places) and Asia (two places, both in Malaysia).
Another surprise: eight of those didn’t even make the Top 10 in the 2016 list from Live and Invest Overseas. “That surprised me too,” said Lief Simon, investment editor at Live and Invest Overseas and husband of the group’s founder and publisher, Kathleen Peddicord.
In this year’s Top 10, the Algarve region of southern Portugal ranked No. 1 (for the fourth year in a row). Rounding out the list: 2. Valletta, Malta (it was No. 2 last year, too); 3. Mazatlán, Mexico; 4. Abruzzo, Italy; 5. Saint-Chinian, France; 6. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; 7. Lisbon, Portugal; 8. Budapest, Hungary; 9. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and 10. George Town, Malaysia. (View the accompanying slideshow to learn a bit about each of them.)
By contrast, rival International Living’s Best Places to Retire Abroad list, which I wrote about earlier this year, had six other countries in its Top 10 for 2017. Only Mexico, Malaysia, Portugal and Malta appeared in both lists. International Living ranks countries; Live and Invest Overseas ranks cities, towns and regions.
Live and Invest Overseas’ Top 10 list had a seismic shakeup compared to 2016 for two reasons: The strong U.S. dollar has made Europe more affordable (though big cities like Paris, London and Rome are still pricey). And the rankers changed their methodology. As in the past, they combined data with on-the-ground knowledge of their editors. But this year, they broadened their list from 21 “Best Places” to 30 by selecting one winner and one runner-up in Latin America, Europe and Asia in five broad categories.
So, why won’t you find the likes of Panama or Ecuador on this year’s Live and Invest Overseas Best Places to Retire Abroad list? Simon, who with Peddicord has been living in Panama until recently, said: “Part of it is that a lot of the areas we’ve talked about [in Latin America] have become more expensive. And European destinations do so well on things like infrastructure.”
You can learn much more about the Live and Invest Overseas ranking and its winners at the group's site or by attending its Retire Overseas Conference in Orlando, Fla., Aug. 27 to Aug. 30 ($895 per per person).