Ecuador tops list of best countries for retirement; Malaysia in top five

Pedestrians walking next to handmade puppets on a street in Quito, Ecuador, Dec 30, 2014. Traditionally, at the end of the year, Ecuadorians burn puppets to symbolise the end of the old and bad and the starting of the good and new. Ecuador was named
Pedestrians walking next to handmade puppets on a street in Quito, Ecuador, Dec 30, 2014. Traditionally, at the end of the year, Ecuadorians burn puppets to symbolise the end of the old and bad and the starting of the good and new. Ecuador was named the best country to retire in by InternationalLiving.com. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Looking for a safe, affordable place for retirement? With its warm climate, affordable housing and generous benefits, Ecuador was named the best country to retire in by InternationalLiving.com.

The South American nation bordered by Colombia and Peru topped the website’s annual global retirement index of 25 best countries, scoring high points for affordable cost-of-living, entertainment and amenities.

Next are Panama, Mexico, Malaysia and Costa Rica, rounding out the top five nations in the index that looks at eight criteria to determine the best countries for retirement.

“The world’s top retirement havens for 2015 may dot the landscape from Asia to Latin America to Europe, but they share certain assets,” said Ms Jennifer Stevens, executive editor of InternationalLiving.com.

“They’re safe, offer good value and are places you can settle with relative ease,” she added in the statement announcing the results.

Ecuador scored 92.7 out of 100 points, with top marks for climate, cost of renting or buying property and discounts on flights, public transportation and utilities offered by the government for retirees.

“Although prices have risen slightly in recent years, Ecuador’s real estate is the best value you’ll find anywhere,” said Dan Prescher, senior editor at the website.

Panama is considered the best destination in Central America and offers a Pensionado visa, which is available to anyone with a lifetime pension of more than US$1,000 (S$1,330).

The visa offers discounts on medical services, entertainment, meals, air fares, as well as electricity and phone bills.

“For under US$2,000, a couple can live comfortably in a country with a well-earned earned reputation for being expat-friendly,” according to the website.

Malaysia, the top retirement country in Asia, earned high scores for ease of fitting in, entertainment and amenities, as well as low cost of living.

A meal with a bottle of wine can cost as little as US$5 and a visit to the doctor just US$15.

In Europe, sixth-place Spain was the top retirement nation thanks to its warm climate and low cost of living compared with other European countries.

Spain scored top marks for infrastructure, a health-care system recognised by the World Health Organisation as one of the best in the world, and entertainment.

Neighbouring Portugal came in at No. 9, followed by Thailand, which won points for low health-care costs, culture and affordable housing.

Seventh-place Malta and Colombia at No. 8 completed the top 10.

The full list can be found at http://internationalliving.com/2015/01/the-best-places-to-retire-2015/