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Review of Forbes’ Top 10 Overseas Retirement Destinations Print E-mail
Friday, 20 November 2009 11:44
Yesterday we looked at the first five destinations that Forbes have determined are the top of the pile when it comes to ideal overseas retirement destinations.  The Forbes list has been complied on the back of their own research which has been looked at in relation to leading international surveys from the likes of Mercer about where in the world it’s affordable and safe, attractive and good to live.

In the list of ideal overseas retirement destinations are evergreen favourites like France and Australia, but there are a couple of surprising entries such as Austria and Panama too – therefore we thought we should delve deeper and present to you the main reasons for and perhaps against moving to each country in turn so that the list is more accessible and understandable.

After all, to be forewarned is to be forearmed, and if we can shed a little more light on why a given destination is in the Forbes list, this may help your own research and decision-making when you are thinking about where in the world you could perhaps live in retirement.  Yesterday we covered Australia, Austria, Canada, France and Ireland…and today we’re going to be looking more in depth at why Italy, Malaysia, Panama, Spain and Thailand have made the Forbes top 10 overseas retirement destinations list.

Italy as an Overseas Retirement Destination

When it comes to fine dining and arts and culture Italy is the number one choice with multiple global surveys on the best places to live abroad – which is quite possibly sufficient reason for the nation to appear in the Forbes list of the best places to retire abroad!  After all, in retirement the whole idea is that we will have far more time on our hands to enjoy such passions as good food, fine wine and arts and culture.

Italy also has a beautiful landscape and some incredibly fine and famous cities to choose from – alternatively you can select expensive Tuscany or affordable Calabria as a home depending on your budget!  So, Italy has something for everyone including a good climate, a stable economy and government, low levels of crime in most areas, good shopping, an affordable cost of living – but on the down side it also has ridiculously complex layers of red tape.  Try to do anything by the book in Italy and you’ll get tangled with it!

The language barrier can hinder some people too, and when you couple this with the ever present bureaucratic ‘noise’ in your every day life, it can be enough to put some people off the dream of living abroad in Italy.

Is Malaysia a Suitable Place to Retire Abroad?

Malaysia has become an attractive place to retire abroad because of the ‘Malaysia My Second Home Programme’ that allows qualifying people the right to a tax-free residency in the nation.  The country is undeniably stunning and exotic, it offers those on a budget a relatively affordable existence too, and health care in Kuala Lumpur is accessible and high grade for the most part.

However, Kuala Lumpur is not the best place to live – but there again, many don’t want to stray too far from this urban centre because elsewhere in Malaysia it is just too remote or basic or primitive.  Malaysia is certainly a country you need to explore before you commit to – and you have to be comfortable with the fact it is really an emerging nation at best, so the infrastructure and services are therefore basic for the most part.  What’s more, there are some racial tensions in the country and it is not the cheapest place to get to either.

For those seeking a tax attractive or affordable retirement destination in an exotic setting however, Malaysia deserves closer inspection.

Panama for Retirement Abroad

Panama has been on the American radar for some time as an overseas retirement destination, but for us Britons, because it has not be straightforward to get to in terms of direct flights, we have overlooked it.  However, to overlook Panama is to overlook what could be your perfect retirement paradise.

It’s easy to get to and from the States so you can have first world services etc., almost on your doorstep if you’re worried about that – although if you live in or around Panama city, you’ll be surprised how sophisticated it is.  Panama City is considered the safest city in Central America, and it is home to fabulous shopping, first class health care and the quality of life in Panama is good and affordable meaning you can have your cake and eat it!  Real estate away from the main urban areas is also affordable, particularly as Panama boomed recently and is undergoing a decent negative price readjustment!!

With the expansion of the canal there is strong investment and a sense of positivity in the country at the moment – and this certainly rubs off and is infectious!  You can live tax attractively in Panama and there are plenty of discounts for retirees on many services.  The main troubles you need to be aware of are that, as Forbes puts it, there are “pockets of corruption” – and this can make leading a straightforward life sometimes tricky as you have to learn who to bribe to get some things done!  If you’re happy to adapt however, you could find that Panama ticks all your boxes.

Retiring in Spain

Spain has long held the top spot with Britons looking for a place to retire abroad – it has the perfect blend of beauty, a fantastic climate, accessibility, culture and sophistication.  However, with the recent collapse in the nation’s property market, a lot of bad feeling has gone Spain’s way from us Brits.  But is it time to reconsider Spain as a suitable place to retire abroad?  It certainly ticks so many boxes, and now that property prices are falling, it could be a time to consider moving to Spain for retirement.

In many of the more touristy and popular parts of Spain English is widely understood – so this can be good for those who don’t fancy the thought of having to get to grips with another language in order to move abroad.  And for those for whom the idea of moving to such an area is abhorrent, there are plenty of pockets of more rural Spain where there are no English people!  This means that in theory, no matter what your preference, you can find a place for your retirement in Spain.

The weather in Southern Spain is the best – further north and you’re facing almost a similar climate to that which we ‘enjoy’ in the UK.  The food’s good, the healthcare’s good in terms of accessibility and quality, and for retiring and qualifying Britons, it’s free.  On the downside?  Well, you have to tread carefully when buying a property at the moment, make sure you involve a lawyer in the transaction to protect your interests.

Retire Abroad to Thailand

Thailand is not considered an ideal retirement hotspot with us Brits although it really has an awful lot going for it if you look beyond the long haul flights and the slightly dodgy politics!  The nation is beautiful, the people are very welcoming, it’s affordable in terms of property and day-to-day living, and there are some good hospitals in Bangkok – though you’re unlikely to want to live there!

You need to be the sort of person who can either look beyond poverty and exploitation or get involved and try and do some good though, because it’s almost everywhere you look if you move beyond the gated communities or the tourist resorts.  If you’re on a relatively tight budget it will go quite far in Thailand, and you’ll have a great climate and incredible scenery to enjoy.

That concludes our review of the Forbes top ten overseas retirement destinations – but tomorrow we’re going to add our own suggestions into the mix just for the fun of it and to give you some more choices to consider and research if you too are thinking of moving abroad either today, tomorrow or when you reach retirement.



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