Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - With spiraling costs compelling more and more North Americans to retire overseas, retiring abroad has never been more attractive. But finding the right location among the myriad options available can be daunting.
That's what the annual International Living Global Retirement Index does. Using input from their team of correspondents on the ground all over the world, they combine real-world insights about climate, health care, cost of living, and much more to draw up a comprehensive list of the best retirement destinations on the planet.
Out of the top ten countries listed on the 2018 index, Latin American destinations took the top 3 spots. Costa Rica was given the title of "The World's Number 1 Retirement Haven," followed by Mexico, with Panama coming in at number three.
Mexico could be the retirement spot for you if you seek an adventure overseas, but don't want to give up all the comforts of home. Almost anything you use or consume in the U.S. is also available in Mexico, though how easily available depends on where you base yourself in the country.
With two long coasts, mountains and colonial cities, the challenge is that Mexico offers many appealing lifestyle and climate alternatives, and you need to decide where you might be happiest.
Here's International Living editor Glynna Prentice's take on retirement living in Mexico:
In Mexico's Colonial Highlands, where I now live, I enjoy sunny, temperate weather basically all year round. A concert ticket costs me $4, a first-run film about the same, and a doctor's visit about $40. Last week an evening out - drinks and dinner with friends, a symphony performance, and a taxi home - was less than $20 USD, all in.
When I first moved to Mexico over 10 years ago, I did it for Mexico's convenient location and low cost of living. (A couple can live here for anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 a month, depending on location—and that includes rent and healthcare.)
I have my pick of climates, from tropical beaches (thousands of miles of them) to temperate mountains. I can live in romantic, Spanish-colonial cities... or choose beach lifestyles that range from chic, sophisticated Puerto Vallarta to small, laid back villages on the Yucatán Gulf coast.
Healthcare is good to excellent, too. You can opt for private healthcare that tends to cost a quarter to a half of U.S. prices (and your doctor may speak excellent English, too). Or, if you have a residence visa, you can sign up for Mexico's public healthcare, which costs a few hundred dollars a year. If you're a legal resident over 60, the public system is free.
But at heart, what I and most other expats love most about Mexico is the vibrant life and culture. Round a corner and you may find a perfect, tranquil plaza where bougainvillea blooms, a lone musician playing a tune, or a local parade of costumed dancers or riders on horseback. "Mexico is my bliss," says expat Mona Primlani, who lives in the Colonial Highlands. "There are so many things that make me happy here... the 'comida' [food], culture, and colors..."
Expat Steve Garcia considers himself "privileged to be able to experience culture in a way I never knew before - the music, the arts, the history..."
Throw in the many colorful traditions, such as the Day of the Dead celebrations, and you have a place that delights and stimulates your senses.
If you're looking for your own slice of Mexico to call your own, there are plenty of expat havens where you can live a rich, varied, fulfilling life for pennies on the dollar. In fact, thanks to the current favorable dollar-to-peso exchange rate, Mexico is arguably less expensive today than it was when I moved here, over a decade ago. For instance, I recently saw a small, furnished one-bedroom, one-bathroom house in Mérida, capital of the Yucatán Peninsula, renting for $650 a month.These are just some of the things that have drawn an increasing number of adventurous expats to call Mexico home, even those still working, including me. When you decide to make the move, take into account your personal preferences, needs, budget, and desires, and look at the options available to see which destination best suits your needs.
You can see the entire 2018 Global Retirement Index at internationalliving.com.