Retiring abroad can make your dollars stretch a lot further 

Retiring abroad may appeal to those who are not keen on the idea of working into old age to afford their lifestyle. In many attractive places around the world, the Canadian dollar is strong enough to allow for a healthy and stimulating lifestyle for a fraction of the cost at home. Those on fixed incomes can live well in exotic cultures and enjoy affordable health care, temperate climates and fabulous scenery by choosing to reside abroad full or part-time.

Beach scene

International Living Publishing Ltd., a Baltimore-based publisher of a magazine catering to people wanting to live abroad compiles an annual list of the top destinations.

After examining 22 locales, the magazine has named Ecuador, Panama and Malaysia the top three locations in the survey for 2013. It's the fifth year in a row that Ecuador has come first. Rounding out the top five are Mexico and Costa Rica.

In assessing locations, International Living examines everything from internet availability to the price of beer. The eight main categories in its rankings are; real estate, cost of living, ease of integration, entertainment and amenities, health care, climate, special retirement benefits and infrastructure . The survey also considers lifestyle issues such as staying in touch with people back home, making friends, safety, language, getting around and dining out.

In conducting its research, the magazine consults expats who live in various locations, asking about how amenable they find the roads, the doctors, housekeeping staff and their neighbours.

The Choices

Even within one country the choices can be ocean and beaches, mountains, small communities or cities. For some, priorities may include being near an international airport or a hospital; for others the locals must speak English. A cozy cottage may hold a special appeal and likewise, for certain individuals, a luxury condo with a gym, pool and other amenities. There are even countries that offer access to national health-care plans or very affordable private health insurance.

Some countries are so inexpensive that an expat couple who live frugally could get by on government pension and old age benefits alone. In other situations, they can spend more and enjoy such luxuries as maids, gardeners and cooks.

International Living estimates that a two-bedroom apartment could be rented in Cuenca, a medium-sized city in Ecuador, for US $500 a month, and all other costs, including a maid, entertainment and healthcare, would add up to about US $1,415 a month. That means a couple could have a comfortable lifestyle for less than US $17,000 a year. In Panama, a couple could live for US $1,865 a month, including rent of US $800, adding up to about US $22,400 a year and in Malaysia for about US $1,100 a month.

The low cost of living allows for increased travel, new hobbies and enhanced quality of life.

It's also possible for retirees to generate income in foreign locations. Jobs in such fields as writing, translating, investment management and consulting are made easier with growing Internet access. Other retirees are opening art galleries, boutiques, small inns and restaurants.

For more information on retiring abroad here’s a link to the top retirement havens as chosen by International Living...Click here

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