Top 10 locations in the world to retire

As your working commitments wind down, the time and brainpower demanded by your career is often replaced with an increasing amount of freedom and choice. This lifestyle change is much more conducive to heightened travel or even permanent moves abroad.

David Spalding moved with his wife from England to Australia when they had reached retirement age. The couple have now lived happily on the Gold Coast for four years. David said he would definitely recommend emigration to other retirees because it makes sense to change scenery from the place you worked for so many years.

“I’ve got my life back again and to stay in a place where I’d lived and worked for 40 years, it seemed nonsensical. So we wanted to travel the world; now we’ve come [to the Gold Coast]. You’ve got to do it because you’ve only got one life and if it doesn’t work out we can always go back. But unless you try it, what’s the point of staying in the same place?”

With that sentiment in mind, here are 10 of the top places around the world to retire. Do you have a different opinion? Don’t forget to let us know which one is your dream location!

The embankment of Reuss at night Lucerne, Switzerland

1. Switzerland
Marketwatch reported a list based on data collated from the World Bank and World Health Organisation, which ranks countries on the criteria health care, life expectancy, unemployment, income equality, tax burden, savings yields, investment environment, overall financial stability and quality of life.

Switzerland has a strong economy and banking system, top-quality universal health care, a mandatory pension system and a stunning, clean environment with a plethora of beautiful lakes and mountains.

The country boasts of a 9.1 out of 10 for quality of life and a score of 8.5 for material wellbeing. Because of the massive influx of retirees to Switzerland in recent years, the government has even set up a special retirement residency program, making it easier for expats to settle down.

However, because of the high cost of living, it is a good idea to consider working there for a few years before retiring, particularly if you don’t have family that might help create a tie to the country. Switzerland is a multicultural nation with a scrumptious choice of food, chocolate and beer, and it is an ideal transport hub to the rest of Europe.

A view of Lago San Pablo in the Andes Mountains near Otavalo, Ecuador

2. Ecuador
The global media company concerned with retirement abroad, International Living, considers Ecuador to be the prime retirement location. According to the Expat Insider 2014 Survey of 14,000 expatriates in 160 nations, Ecuador is the best place for ‘meeting people’.

The South American country was also ranked 2nd best place to live by the 2014 Retire Overseas Index. International Living correspondent Dan Prescher lived there for six years and said that Ecuador is “the perfect location for someone in search of a happy and fulfilling life overseas.”

Mr Prescher stressed the low cost of living (particularly rent), the incredible discounts and benefits for over-65s, the socialised medicine system and the ideal climate as some of the major highlights of retiring to Ecuador.

Classic local rickshaw in George Town, Penang, Malaysia (Photo: Filmlandscape /

3. Malaysia
Malaysia is widely considered the optimum Asian retirement location on account of its affordability and high standard of living. The island of Penang is a tropical oasis located just a short drive or bus ride away from the capital and transport hub, Kualar Lumpur.

On top of incredible weather and astonishing natural beach and rainforest scenery, Malaysia also offers very low rent, great and cheap local food, an abundance of social occasions and festivities and widely spoken English.

Malaysia also boasts great public transport options, affordable health care and, of course, close proximity and cheap flights to Australia (and elsewhere in Asia). Malaysia has one of the most robust economies in Asia and provides the perfect combination of old-world Asian charm intermixed with modern comforts.

Colourful boats fill the beautiful harbour of Birgu in Malta

4. Malta
The Telegraph rated Malta as the top place to retire in 2015 on account of its abundant sunshine, mild temperature and the high prevalence of English being spoken. On the downside, Malta isn’t the cheapest retirement location and it doesn’t provide non-Maltese foreign citizens with access to the national healthcare system.

However, its rich and diverse influence from many civilisations makes it an alluring haven for history-lovers and the bohemian spirit attracts those looking for a simple life. The health care system is very high quality, the people are warm and friendly and the crime rate is also very low.

Sunrise on point Cartwright, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

5. Australia: Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Australia is consistently the highest ranked non-European country according to the Global Retirement Index. Relative to other nations, Australia has low inflation, low levels of public debt and a superior Superannuation system.

Don’t discount the beauty within your own backyard and consider moving interstate if you desire a change of location in retirement. Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is often considered one of the most ideal locations in Australia to retire.

It combines the friendly atmosphere and tranquillity of small town Australia with the convenience and amenities of a much larger city. And it's all intermingled, of course, with jaw-dropping beaches, a phenomenal array of water and nature activities, and an affordable housing market.

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A spectacular view of Panama Bay and the city skyline

6. Panama
Panama was widely cited as the best place in the world to retire in 2014. While it may have been taken over by Ecuador this year, it remains an idyllic country with perfect scores in benefits and discounts for retirees (thanks to its premier retirement program known as the 'Pensionado visa'), entertainment options and amenities.

Retirees will also fit in very easily, enjoy a low cost of living, and high quality health care.

Phoenix Metro light rail bridge across the Salt River in Tempe Arizona

7. America: Mesa (metro Phoenix), Arizona
The consumer financial services company, Bankrate, recently released a list of the best US cities for retirement. Taking numerous factors into consideration, Mesa, Arizona was ranked as the top place not only on account of it’s glorious weather, but also its impressive safety and financial scores.

Mesa enjoys mild winters, a dry climate and blazing sunshine. The city was graded with an average cost of living, low crime rates, low taxes and average health care. Bankrate also determined that Mesa's residents maintained good general wellbeing, which is always ideal for the retirement lifestyle!

An astonishing landsacpe view in Geiranger fjord, Norway

8. Norway
Norway has ranked as MarketWatch’s second best place to retire for two years in a row. The Scandinavian country has a strong economy and universal healthcare system, while also rating well on retirement security.

Even though Norway's taxation rates are relatively high, it scored the highest of any country in ‘material well-being’.

The picturesque landscapes, plethora of activities and stable economy renders it a dreamlike retirement location for any retiree.

Cityscape of Queenstown with Lake Wakatipu

9. New Zealand
Aside from its profusion of nature-based activities and stunning scenery, New Zealand is also a fantastic place to retire thanks to its geographical and cultural vicinity.

Australia’s close relationship with Kiwi-land means that retirees can experience the adventure and excitement of retiring overseas while remaining in a similar culture and within a close distance to loved ones.

New Zealand also enjoys a strong retirement security index, a robust economy, low inflation and a solid healthcare system.

Enjoy beautiful views of the Pacific coast at the resort town of Mismaloya near Puerto Vallarta

10. Mexico
Expat havens Puerto Vallarta and San Miguel de Allende are so popular on account of their mix of Western and English-speaking cultures and the vibrant traditional Mexican culture.

Mexico offers affordable property, plentiful (and also highly affordable) cultural activities, pristine beaches and a range of climates to suit different tolerance levels.

Don't forget your travel insurance!
Each traveller has to assess which travel insurance policy best suits their needs. However for a good starting point - whether seeking travel insurance for domestic or overseas travel, a single trip or an annual policy, and travelling an individual, a couple or as a family - you can get a free quote now by clicking here.

The best news? Boomers travel insurance is underwritten by Allianz, one of the world’s top travel insurers. There is no upper age limit for general policies and provides automatic cover for more than 30 of the most common types of pre-existing medical conditions, skipping the difficult approval procedures and offering simple online forms that rarely require a trip to the doctors.

Have you ever considered moving overseas for your retirement? Share your thoughts and comments below.