Best Countries for a Comfortable Retirement
These are the top countries affluent people consider for where to live out their lives.
Retirement. The word is often followed by thoughts of a new place to live. But a new country? Retiring abroad sounds appealing, but there are important issues to keep in mind, such as cultural clashes and distance from family and friends.
Still, as people plan for retirement, an increasing number are looking abroad, and as communications and travel shrink the world, more countries are becoming options to live out the golden years.
The Central American nation of Costa Rica is the most highly rated country to retire, according to individuals who were surveyed for the 2016 Best Countries rankings.
The 2016 Best Countries rankings, conducted in partnership with brand strategy firm BAV Consulting and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, asked more than 16,000 survey participants from four regions to associate countries with specific attributes.
The Best Countries for a Comfortable Retirement are ranked based on scores from individuals who are 45 years or older and who define themselves as “upper class” on a compilation of seven equally weighted country attributes: affordable, favorable tax environment, friendly, is a place I would live, pleasant climate, respects property rights and a well-developed public health system.
#1 in Best Countries for a Comfortable Retirement
#36 in Best Countries
Located in the heart of Central America, Costa Rica has been one of the most politically and economically stable countries in Central America since its birth in the 19th century The nation compares favorably to its regional neighbors in areas of human development, and it has used its landscapes of jungles, forests and coastlines to develop an international reputation for ecotourism.
Costa Rica’s constitution was adopted in 1949, and has since been amended to declare the nation as multicultural and multiethnic. The overwhelming majority of Costa Rica’s population is either white or mestizo – a combination of European and Amerindian descent. The population also includes indigenous, African and mixed descent groups. Like other former Spanish colonies across the Americas, Costa Rica’s official language is Spanish and the most commonly practiced religion is Roman Catholicism. However, a significant percentage of the population identifies with other religions, such as Evangelical Christianity and Jehovah’s Witness.
The country has had a functioning democracy since the mid-20th century, and its government features executive, legislative and judicial branches. The executive branch has one president and two vice presidents. Costa Rica avoided much of the conflict that plagued its Central American neighbors in the 1970s and 1980s.
Exports of agricultural products such as bananas, coffee and sugar form the backbone of Costa Rica’s economy. Years of political stability and a relatively highly educated workforce have made the country attractive for foreign investment.
On the other hand, periods of strong economic growth have not erased persistent problems with poverty and income inequality. The World Bank notes that both social indicators began to rise in the 21st century, as well as overall crime levels.
Culturally, Costa Rica draws influences from the indigenous Americans to the north, as well as South America. While the nation’s population enjoys artistic diversions such as film and music, Costa Rica’s culture may best be exemplified in the phrase, “pura vida,” which translates as “pure life,” and can be used as both a greeting and as a response to a question.
Costa Rica is a member of several international organizations, including the Organization of American States and the United Nations.
$49.6 billion GDP 4.8 million POPULATION $14,864 GDP PER CAPITA, PPP
#2 in Best Countries for a Comfortable Retirement
#18 in Best Countries
The Republic of Ireland is an island nation in the Atlantic Ocean, separated from Britain on the east by the Irish Sea. Nicknamed the Emerald Isle for its well-watered grasslands, the country is known for its rich cultural traditions, lively pub scene and its struggles for independence. The country comprises five-sixths of the island of Ireland – the remaining sixth is Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom.
Irish culture has been largely influenced by the Celtic tribes who reached Ireland around the 6th century B.C. In the following centuries the country endured invasions by the Vikings, Normans and British. After a bloody fight for independence and civil war in the early 20th century, Ireland became a republic in 1949.
Today, Ireland’s government is a republic with a parliamentary democracy. English and Irish, or Gaelic, are the official languages, with the latter spoken by about 39 percent of the country’s 4.9 million residents.
[Explore Ireland’s top universities]
Ireland has a small, trade-dependent economy. While Ireland’s rapid economic growth came to a sudden halt in 2008, today the Celtic Tiger is once again roaring, with low taxation policies in place to encourage international business development. The country’s export sector, dominated by foreign multinationals, has become an increasingly important component of Ireland’s economy. Not everyone is prospering equally, however, and some experts have raised concerns about the country’s inequality.
For its small size, Ireland has a large cultural imprint, particularly in English literature. The country’s famous authors include Samuel Beckett, James Joyce and Oscar Wilde – just to name a few. Ireland has rich musical and folklore traditions and is also the creator of Guinness, perhaps its most famous export along with St. Patrick’s Day.
Long considered a traditional, even conservative society, Ireland’s social norms are evolving, causing clashes between younger generations and the Roman Catholic Church. In 2015, Ireland became the first nation to approve same-sex marriage by a popular vote.
Ireland is a member of several international organizations, including the United Nations, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
$232 billion GDP 4.6 million POPULATION $49,195 GDP PER CAPITA, PPP
#3 in Best Countries for a Comfortable Retirement
#2 in Best Countries
Canadians pride themselves in encouraging all of their citizens to honor their own cultures. In 1971, Canada adopted a national policy of multiculturalism, which celebrates the country’s diversity. Canada has a long list of accomplished writers and artists. Céline Dion, Sarah McLachlan and Joni Mitchell are just a few of the Canadians who have made an impression on modern music.
Technically, Canada is a constitutional monarchy with the U.K. monarch as the head of state. The royal leader is represented locally by a largely ceremonial governor-general appointed by the Canadian prime minister. The country follows the British style of parliamentary democracy.
Canada is a high-tech industrial society with a high standard of living. Trade agreements in the 1980s and 1990s dramatically bolstered trade with the U.S., and now the two counties are each other’s largest trading partner. While the service sector is Canada’s biggest economic driver, the country is a significant exporter of energy, food and minerals. Canada ranks third in the world in proven oil reserves and is the world’s fifth-largest oil producer.
[Explore the top universities in Canada.]
Canada faces domestic challenges related to the concerns of indigenous people and those in the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec. While constitutional guarantees allow the province wide-ranging cultural and linguistic autonomy, movements for complete independence come in waves.
Canada is a member of the United Nations, through which it has participated in many peacekeeping missions. It is also a member of NATO and the Commonwealth of Nations.
$1.8 trillion GDP 35.5 million POPULATION $44,843 GDP PER CAPITA, PPP