International Living has published its annual report Global Retirement Index, detailing the best countries to retire to in 2022.
The ranking examines countries according to 10 different categories, including:
- Benefits and discounts;
- Visas and Residence;
- Cost of life;
- Health care;
1. Panama was ranked as the best country to retire in 2022, ranking first in the Opportunity, Visa and Residency, and Benefits and Discounts categories.
“Panama’s cosmopolitan capital, Panama City, is the only true First World city in Central America. There are direct flights to Panama from all over the United States, as well as several cities in Canada and Europe. This modern and welcoming country is only three hours from Miami and five hours from New York. And it uses the US dollar as its currency,” International Living said.
However, the main differentiator is Panama’s “Pensionado” program, which International Living says is the best of its kind in the world.
The program makes it easy and inexpensive to become a legal permanent resident and offers a number of retiree discounts, including dental care and transportation. Things like entertainment and hotel stays are also reduced.
An applicant with a pension of at least $1,000 (R15,000) per month may qualify for the Pensionado scheme, which makes the bar for entry relatively low. And once your application is approved, you can take advantage of all the discounts, regardless of your age.
“If you want to apply with your spouse, you can qualify with less than $1,000 each. You can even include dependents if you need to,” said Jessica Ramesch, editor of International Living Panama. “You just need a pension of at least $1,000 plus $250 for each additional person on your application.
“The $1,000 pension requirement reflects the low cost of living here in Panama. While it’s true that most North Americans who choose to retire here spend over $2,000 (R30,000) a month, there are expats who live here on much less.
2. Costa Rica
As part of its post-pandemic recovery, Costa Rica has lowered its entry requirements to attract more foreigners.
“The country is now experiencing a slow economic recovery, with initiatives such as the new digital nomad visa and an updated law to attract retirees with benefits such as a lower threshold for investors ($150,000 or 2.2 million rand) and the ability to import a duty-free household goods shipping container, as well as two vehicles, without the high import costs,” said International Living.
A couple can live comfortably, but not necessarily extravagantly, in Costa Rica for around $2,000-2,500 (R30,000-38,000) per month.
“This includes renting a two-bedroom house/condo with North American amenities, air conditioning, as well as groceries, entertainment, transportation, and healthcare. If your monthly budget is over $3,000 (R45,000), you’ll find a relaxed lifestyle with most of the comforts you need.
Income requirements in Mexico are quite reasonable for the two most in-demand categories: a monthly income of around $2,100 (R320,000) per month or $36,000 (R550,000) in the bank for residency temporary, or $2,700 (R41,000) per month. month or $149,000 (R2.23 million) in the bank for permanent residency.
These amounts are approximate due to fluctuations in exchange rates which may vary from year to year.
Temporary residence can last up to four years at a time. At this point, you can reapply and remain a temporary resident or convert to a permanent resident. You can also apply for permanent residency early on if you meet the requirements, International Living said.
On average, a retired couple could live well in Mexico for around $2,000 (R30,000) a month, according to International Living. This covers housing, transport, health care, utilities and food.
“Some people get away with a lot less because they live a lot like the locals, others spend a lot more – if you want luxury and high end Mexico certainly has it. The popularity of a location, whether it is a large group of expats or a tourist destination, can also have an impact on prices.”
International Living estimates that a couple can live comfortably, but not lavishly, in Portugal on $2,500 (R3,800) a month, but the entrance fees could cost you a lot more.
However, it scores highly in other rankings, including climate, health care and governance, International Living said.
The Colombian property owner visa applies to people who buy property in their own name for at least $83,000 (R1.26 million), a very low threshold compared to many other countries. This visa is also issued for a maximum of three years at the discretion of the officer processing your application.
Your dependents, who may include a spouse, partner, minor children, or someone who is economically dependent on you, also do not need to apply for a visa. You can add them to your visa as beneficiaries.
Colombia legalized same-sex marriage in 2016, so spouses are covered as beneficiaries, International Living said.
Pension funds go much further in Colombia. A couple can live in many cities in Colombia for $2,000 (R30,000) per month or less.
Ecuador is one of the cheapest places to live on the list and a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo can cost as little as $500 (R7,600) per month.
There are few places where life is as affordable as in Ecuador. Consider that you can own a house on a Pacific Coast beach or a condo with great Andes views for around $150,000, International Living said.
Rentals are also plentiful and affordable, with a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo available in downtown Cuenca for $500.
France is one of the most expensive places on the list to retire – but scores highest for its health and social security benefits.
“Available to everyone after three months of residency, the system has no limitations of pre-existing conditions, age restrictions or entrance fees. Considered one of the best healthcare systems in the world, costs are incredibly low and the care is modern and reliable,” said International Living.
“Fees are set by the government and cannot be increased by any sole provider – you will be asked to pay the same fees at the best teaching university in Paris as with the local village doctor.”
Malta offers a few pathways for permanent residency. The fastest is the permanent residency program. It takes several weeks. But this requires €500,000 (R8.6 million) in assets, financial contributions to the government and a local NGO, and some property/lease obligations.
“The cheapest option is the ‘self-sufficiency’ visa. His biggest hurdles are €50,000 (R863,000) per year of income (may be partly social security), as well as proof of medical insurance and a tax payment of 15% per year based on the money you pour into the country,” Living International said.
The most viable Spanish visa options for retirees are the non-profit visa and the golden visa. For a non-profit visa, you must have the equivalent of €30,000 (R518,000) in a bank account or documented income from pensions or investments of €2,130 (R37,000) per month plus 532 € (R9,200) per month. month for your spouse and each dependent child.
Income from rentals or wages is not accepted, International Living said. Although expensive, Spain’s first-world infrastructure means it ranks highly on the list, he said.
“You can drink tap water. Electricity works 24 hours a day. Garbage is picked up every evening. Super-fast Wi-Fi is available almost everywhere. Public transport is convenient, fast and cheap. Clean and comfortable high-speed trains take you across the country in hours. And you don’t need a car except in the most remote places,” International Living said.
Most expat couples in Uruguay live well on a budget between $2,500 (R43,000) and $3,500 (R60,000) per month including rent.
To become a legal resident of Uruguay, you must both pass a criminal background check and prove a recurring monthly source of income to support yourself in Uruguay – this is often around $1,500 (R2,600) for a single person.
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