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The World’s “Best Places” to Retire in 2020

InternationalLiving.com, the leading authority on global retirement and relocation opportunities, has just released its Annual Global Retirement Index for 2020. Tapping International Living’s vast network of on-the-ground contacts and correspondents around the world, this annual Index is designed to be a useful tool for potential expats trying to find the place that’s right for them.

The Index is constructed of statistics but also of real-world, practical, on-the-ground intelligence, experience, and opinion provided by International Living’s editors and correspondents based around the world. IL’s Annual Global Retirement Index is not a survey of all the countries in the world — it focuses on those International Living determines to have earned a place on the shortlist of the best nations for an affordable, high-quality retirement.

“All 24 countries we consider for 2020 are worthy contenders for a retiree seeking a good-value alternative to life in the U.S.,” says Jennifer Stevens, Executive Editor, International Living. “In compiling this Index, we consider a vast amount of data. But it’s not meant to be a scientific output. It’s designed to be a useful tool.

“We also ask our correspondents to use their well-informed judgment when offering up, for example, an apartment to use for comparison’s sake. We want them to be pricing out one that is attractive and in a desirable neighborhood, something they feel an expat would be quite comfortable living in. That’s a matter of opinion, yes. But that’s more useful to the retiree who’s trying to discern how much housing costs in Portugal versus Ecuador than would be an ‘average’ cost of apartments across entire countries. This Index provides a great jumping-off point for somebody who isn’t sure where to start looking overseas—we created it to provide some well-informed direction.”

A huge amount of solid data goes into the Index. International Living employs a worldwide network of experts who live in the locations they write about and the Annual Global Retirement Index brings together all that local knowledge and research into one indispensable document. The scores across the individual categories are then calculated, and a total score is determined for each country.

“Think of the Index as a kind of cheat sheet to help point people toward the spots that might make the most sense for them overseas,” says Dan Prescher, a senior editor for International Living. “If you come to it with some sense for your own priorities — if you ask yourself seriously ‘What’s most important to me in a haven overseas?’ — this index and its categories can really help clarify your decision. You might want to stay close to friends and family back home, or you might want perfect year-around weather, or you may want the lowest possible cost of living. Maybe you’re looking for great health care, or maybe you want a place you can easily fit in. You’ll find those categories and much more in the Index.”

According to International Living’s 2020 Global Retirement Index, the world’s top 10 retirement destinations this year are:

#1 Portugal

#2 Panama

#3 Costa Rica

#4 Mexico

#5 Colombia

#6 Ecuador

#7 Malaysia

#8 Spain

#9 France

#10 Vietnam

Portugalthe winner of the International Living 2020 Global Retirement Index, has been a constant in the Index, but this year reached the #1 spot—climbing from seventh place to scoop the top prize. “Whether you are looking for surfing beaches or ancient ruins, fine museums or hiking paths, a place to windsurf or to polish your golf game, you will find it in Portugal,” says Tricia Pimental, International Living’s Portugal correspondent. “I’ve lived in Portugal for six years, and as IL’s Portugal Correspondent, I have shared a lot about what makes this country great.”

“Perhaps the nicest thing about Portugal is the friendly people, who go out of their way to make you feel welcome,” says IL contributor Kevin Casey. Portugal is the second least expensive country in Europe, after Bulgaria. It’s also rated the third-safest country in the world in the 2019 Global Peace Index. Portugal is not only secure, but beautiful.

“I have absolutely no regrets about moving here,” says U.S. expat Jacira Paolino. “I do know it can be scary picking up and moving to another country. I only really had one friend here when I came—someone I’ve only known socially for a few years, but I’ve made new friends and continue to meet new and intriguing people,” Jacira says.

International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index is the most comprehensive and in-depth survey of its kind. International Living editors refine their methodology every year, and this year is no exception. Several categories have been combined for 2020. And the questions asked of correspondents have changed as well in some categories, in an effort to home in on data that’s more useful and more readily comparable across countries.

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