The World’s Top Retirement Destinations – Their Ratings Are a Constantly Moving Target

Each year several major organizations come out with their list of the world’s top retirement destinations. The top ten is not usually the same from year to year and the criteria for ranking of these destinations varies by source. I recently analyzed top ten retirement destination lists from four major organizations to see how they correlated. The differences were significant although several countries showed up on all or most lists.

The four organizations were: International Living; Global Post; Forbes Magazine; and Live and Invest Overseas. All lists were the last one done by the organizations. All were published between late 2009 and May of 2010. The results are illustrative of the problem of rating retirement destinations, but also indicative of some trends.

Here are some of the results. Only one country, Panama, was on all four lists. The ratings for Panama were first, third, fourth, and seventh on the respective lists.

There were four countries that had ratings on three of the lists. These countries were: Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, & Malaysia. Argentina rated sixth, seventh, & ninth on its lists. Ecuador was ranked first, second, and fifth on its lists. Uruguay held fourth, fifth, and seventh ranking on its lists. Malaysia was rated fourth on one list and eighth on the other two lists.

To show how varied these lists are I found that seven other countries were on at least two of the four lists. These were Australia, Belize, Costa Rica, France, Italy, Mexico, and Thailand.

Finally, there were ten other countries that show up on only one of the four lists. How they rated individually on their respective lists demonstrates further how variable these lists can be. The rating follows the countries name in parentheses. These countries were:

Austria (# 1);
Brazil (#6);
Canada (#10);
Chile (#10);
Croatia (#8);
the Dominican Republic (#9);
Ireland (#5);
Malta (#9);
Spain (#10)
and South Africa (#6).

OK, so how do we use the ratings to help us in our retirement destination decision making? I am not a statistician, so I will not try to analyze these rankings mathematically. However, if I were to base my decisions upon the number of times a country was on one of these lists and their comparative rankings, my ranking of the top five would probably be from those which were on at least three of the four lists and would be in this order.

1. Panama

2. Ecuador

3. Uruguay

4. Malaysia

5. Argentina

For you to make an informed decision, you would have to know what the criteria used were for all four lists, and compare them to what your own retirement criteria are. The groups analyzed above are generally considered respectable and honest in their evaluations. However, there may be ranking of a given destination by some groups that may be effected by which country the group presenting it is emphasizing at the moment in their seminars. So study any new lists carefully.

For your own purposes, you may limit yourself when making a destination source by considering the geographical area, the language spoken, economic factors, or any number of factors that relate to your specific needs. The important thing to remember is that these ranking are indicative of certain factors that effect most retirees. Take that into consideration but ultimately your retirement destination choice must fit your criteria and your projected lifestyle. After all, next year’s rankings may be totally different.

Dr. Lamar Ross has a special interest in training individuals for expatriate living and providing information on unique travel destinations. He is an author, educator, photographer, internet entrepreneur, and international traveler. He has lived in the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and India and has traveled extensively in 29 different countries. He speaks both English and Spanish fluently and has a basic ability in several other languages. For more information on expatriate living, check out the blog Expatriate Traveler Notes.


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