Retirement Haven – Another List

Hong Kong

We all search for that imaginary retirement haven.  However, the main question is still the same: “Can we afford it?”   Almost every retirement magazine, publishing company, and retirement experts have their own list of the best retirement places abroad. Are you gonna be happy there?

For me, the main reason to retire abroad is to afford the early retirement, and maintain the current comfort of living.  If I will not have enough money to fit at least in the middle class category, then I will not be comfortable and therefore, happy.   And that country, regardless of how high it is ranked, will not be a good fit for me.

Recently, the CNBC published the article by CNBC Reporter & Editor Robert Frank  The Perfect Income for Happiness? It’s $161,000.


According to the article, “…the global average “happiness income” is around $161,000 for 13 countries surveyed. The United States wasn’t specifically measured.”

“Dubai residents need the most to feel wealthy. They said the needed $276,150 to be happy. Singapore came in second place, with $227,553, followed by Hong Kong, with $197,702.”   “The region with the most modest needs for happiness is Europe. Germans only need $85,781 to be happy, placing them lowest on the list. The French need $114,000, while the British need $133,000.”


Singaporeans took the lead on the “wealth” needs, with $2.91 million needed to feel wealthy. Dubai ranked second with $2.5 million, followed by Hong Kong with $2.46 million

Consider this information when you will read the next article – “The Best Foreign Retirement Havens” published in FORBES by Deborah L. Jacobs and then look at FORBES’ list of 15 retirement havens.  If you budget is less than $227,553 you might skip Singapore.

The list of the countries below can be found on the FORBES website.


Folks who don’t want to master a foreign language—and don’t mind long plane rides—might feel at home in Australia; Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Canberra all rank higher in the Mercer Quality of Living worldwide city rankings than Honolulu, the top-rated U.S. locale. Austria,


Vienna is the European city with the highest quality of living, according to Mercer’s surveys. Yet costs there are lower than in London or Paris. A one-bedroom apartment in the center of the city rents for €750 ($973), compared with €1,050 ($1,362) in Paris. And if you like to ski, the Austrian Alps will look like a bargain compared to those in Switzerland.


Charming Brussels is 80 minutes by train from Paris, two hours from London, and a lot less expensive to buy in than either. There’s talk of Belgium adopting a wealth tax, as France and the U.K. have recently done, though. And their idea of “wealthy” might not jive with yours.


Belize has tropical rain forests, mountains and beaches. As an incentive to retire there, it offers people 45 and older who have a retirement income of at least $2,000 per month, a tax exemption on all income generated (through work or investments) outside of Belize.

Costa Rica

Eco-friendly Costa Rica has volcanoes, lush rain forests, abundant national parks, beaches and a large expat community, some of whom boast that they can live there on nothing but their Social Security check. Still, there are minimum income requirements for expats retiring here: a pension of at least $1,000 per month, or investment income of at least $2500 per month. Your neighbors may include noisy monkeys, like this white-headed Capuchin in Manuel Antonio National Park.


You can soak up small-town life against the backdrop of the Andes in Ecuador and cut your cost of living at least in half. You’ll have a hard time getting around if you don’t speak Spanish, though, and high poverty levels make crime an issue.


Along with Spain, France is the top choice for expat retirees, according to HSBC’s 2012 Expat Explorer Survey. A studio apartment in Paris will set you back about $325,000 dollars. But there are good real estate deals (and great wine) in the Dordogne, long popular with British buyers.


Unless you have family in India, or have spent a lot of time there before retiring, the chaos, lack of sanitary conditions and gross disparities between rich and poor could send you into culture shock. On the other hand, living there is a chance to cut your living costs significantly and enjoy exotic sights.


This is one of Europe’s real estate bust areas. Along the scenic Ring of Kerry (shown here), $100,000 can get you a country cottage, a modern newly built home, or a building plot with views of the Atlantic. All would have fetched $500,000 at the 2006 to 2008 peak.


The Italians’ love of life is contagious, and what better time to catch the bug than during retirement, while lingering in sidewalk cafes like this one near the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence? But dying there poses complications: like most of Europe, it operates under civil law, which means children share inheritance rights with your spouse—sometimes called “forced heirship” —and the more kids you have, the less your spouse gets.

New Zealand

A healthy lifestyle and beautiful scenery, with beaches, mountains and forests, make this island country a nice place to visit – and live. But if you plan to reside there long term, get ready for their stiff visa terms. The retirement category is only for two years, and there are minimum investment and income requirements.


Sunny Panama welcomes retirees with its pensionado program — discounts on everything from utility bills and transportation, to restaurants and movies. Plus, you don’t need to worry about currency risks, since they use the U.S. dollar. If you hate humidity, don’t settle in Panama City (this is Costa Viejo, the historic part of the city), but visit when you need low-cost, quality medical care; Punta Pacifica hospital there is affiliated with Johns Hopkins.


Multiethnic and English-speaking, Singapore is the top Asian city on Mercer’s worldwide quality of living rankings. It’s a chowhound’s paradise, consistently ranks high for personal safety. And is a short hop by plane to Myanmar’s pagodas, Cambodia’s Khmer temples and life along the Mekong in Laos and Vietnam.


Despite its Eurozone woes, Spain remains an expat retirement hotspot. Deal hunters are scooping up apartments in failed developments, now being sold by banks for one-third of the 2007-2008 list price. For example, you can get a two-bedroom, two-bath on the Costa del Sol with distant views (on a clear day) of the ocean less than a mile away for $100,000.


Thailand gets raves from expats for increasing their standard of living. The city of Chiang Mai, in the north, surrounded by mountains and filled with Buddhist temples, is second in size to Bangkok, considerably less expensive and more serene. You can live well there on very little – a one-bedroom apartment in the center of town costs about $325 per month, and an inexpensive restaurant meal costs about $2. The downside: Thailand has been politically unstable in recent years.”

2 Responses to Retirement Haven – Another List

  1. Marie says:

    What about Romania? Sibiu, the Eurpoe’s capital of culture in 2007 is a nice and cozy medieval city. The prices of the properties are quite low these days.

    Pictures here :

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