Retirement havens: the top 25 countries to retire to in 2010

A recent report by International Living magazine has listed the top 25 places to retire in the world in 2010. Its Global Retirement Index takes into consideration factors such as the cost of living, climate, healthcare, recreational offerings, culture, real estate prices and infrastructure, to work out the most desirable places to settle once you are out of the workplace and looking to improve your quality of life.

The countries that came out top in the survey are not too dissimilar to those of 2009, but there may still be a few surprises for those who have never seriously considered retiring overseas. The usual suspects of France, Italy and New Zealand have their place in the top 25, as you may expect, but countries such as Panama, Colombia and Malaysia also feature highly.

As for the number one spot, who would have thought that Ecuador would rank highest for the second year running? 

Here is a brief overview of the top 10 countries to retire to, and where you can learn the language once there, as there can be no doubt that being able to communicate with the locals will greatly ease your immersion into a new environment: not only will you make friends quicker and get around easier, but you’ll feel the indescribable thrill of new words rolling off the tongue and understanding what is being said back to you.

For a complete list of the top 25 places to retire to, and for further information, please see International Living.

1. Ecuador

Ecuador is blessed with superb natural landscape ranging from Pacific beaches and dense jungle to the snow-capped Andes and rural highlands, with magnificent colonial cities dotted in between. With the cost of living very low – real estate equally so – and added factors such as a warm climate, duty-free import of belongings and discounts for retirees, it is easy to see why this South American country is the no. 1 place to settle in 2010.

Tempted to retire in Ecuador? Learning the language is key to immersing yourself quickly into your new surroundings and to making friends. Ease the transition with a Spanish course in Quito or Cuenca.

2. Panama

Hot on the heels of its southern counterpart, Panama wins lots of points for its retiree residency (pensionado) program: if you choose to retire here you will receive huge discounts off everything from public transport to airfares, eating out and entertainment. Not that things are expensive – in Panama you benefit from developing world prices whilst enjoying an infrastructure, efficiency and economy akin to the Western world. With vibrant cities, beach retreats and cool mountain hideaways your potential retirement havens, this is a worthy no. 2 on the Retirement Index.

Learn Spanish and you’ll soon be chatting to the locals in thriving Panama City or in tropical Boquete.

3. Mexico

Three Latin locations in the top 3! I am packing my bag already. Already a popular vacation choice, it is easy to see the allure of Mexico: beautiful colonial cities, spectacular ancient ruins, stunning climate, long golden beaches, rugged highlands, delicious food, easy access, low property prices and plenty of English speakers.

Be more than a tourist and immerse yourself into the local community by taking a language course. Cactus offers Spanish courses in many wonderful locations across Mexico, each tempting in its own way: Cuernavaca, Guanajuato, Merida, Mexico City, Morelia, Oaxaca, Playa del Carmen and Puerto Vallarta.

4. France

As mentioned before, it’s not difficult to see why France makes the top 5. The epitome of the good life, this is a country where long lazy lunches laden with cheese, wine and baguettes are the norm. And, compared to other western countries, you don’t have to pay much for a dream home amongst the fragrant mauve lavender fields of Provence or the orchards of Normandy. Perhaps this easy path to happiness mixed with the best health care in the world – according to the World Health Organisation – is the reason why more and more French people are living past 100 years. And you could be joining them.

Learn French with Cactus in one of 19 locations across France, from sophisticated Paris to charming Aix-en-Provence and sun-kissed Nice.

5. Italy

La dolce vità is an apt description of life in Italy. If you choose to retire in Italy you will be sure of sumptuous food, delectable wines, beautiful landscapes and a pleasant climate for years to come. Whether you opt for a rural village, a bustling town, a thriving historical city or a seductive island, you won’t have to look far for your weekly market or traditional festivals which are great places to meet the locals. 

Most people learn Italian for the sheer love of the language and the culture that embraces it, so why not be one of them and choose from one of over 20 locations to learn Italian in Italy.

6. Uruguay

7. Malta

8. Chile

9. Spain

10. Costa Rica

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