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November 03, 2009


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Argentina a great place to retire & very safe?!

Yes, I'm sure they do have a perfect safety record, but this is no doubt the product of someone paying someone off which is the traditional/only way to get anything done in Argentina.

I've traveled/lived extensively there. Great place to visit but you do not want to live there. Bribery is a way of life, civic services are low to non-existent due to graft, highways/schools/hospitals/libraries/sewer and water systems never get built/finished/equipped/staffed because the government money always vanishes, grinding poverty is widespread in rural areas, and (big plus!) the police carry submachine guns! Plus kidnapping and holding foreigners for ransom is a current growth industry because of the collapse of the country's economy (again).

From an American citizen point of view the list doesn't make sense. I'm shocked Italy and Frace made the top ten. The cost of living is very high and on top of that the exchange rate is terrible for the dollar. This study must have been done by some 'international body'. Plus why would you give infrastructure only 5%. My toilets have to flush and road have to be decent.

Ah yes, when I think of paradise, I think of Ecaudor. LOL

I call BS to this study if a country like Canada did not make the cut. Climate was only 5% weighting.

Not surprised to see most of the south american countries but definitely surprised to see Italy and France.

I lived in Argentina for 2 1/2 years in Bahia Blanca and really enjoyed it. I did not enjoy living in Holland as much for 6 months, but it was due to the weather more than anything, so it wasn't a fair judgement (we lived there between July-December...mainly cold and rainy).

I'm biased to the US since this is the culture I grew up with and understand...isn't it hard to leave something you are comfortable with for an unknown? Even if it is cheaper, etc. Maybe if you live there a while before you retire...ease into it and make friends...

I wouldn't mind trying out Canada for a while. :)

Some of the data they have might be an OK starting point but overall the study seems flawed to me.

They only put 5% weighting in safety & stability. So its more important that housing is cheap and its sunny than if there are raving mobs and an insane dictator? Personally I would cross off any country that isn't 100 on the safety item.

They also have the 'special benefits' category and I'd cross that item off on first comparison. If your native country is better than other choices without considering special benefits for incoming foreigners then you're better staying put. Or maybe give your native country 200 points on that one or something. Its certainly easier to stay where you are than emigrate somewhere else.

Healthcare cost might also need modification for your home country. They give USA a 70 score which is pretty bad. But if you're native US resident and of retirement age then you get Medicare so the costs aren't too bad. Maybe thats factored in but I doubt it.

I wonder how they figure one score for climate for each country given how much climate can vary within a nation? I mean the climate in the US varies drastically depending on where you live.

They have Italy and France housing being better than USA. I really don't see how that can be. If you're looking at apples to apples comparison of property I'm sure you can buy more for your money in the USA.

Entertainment & Culture seems more of a personal choice issue based on personal preferences. That should be judged by the individual.

it maybe just me but i think that safety may need a little more weight. If it is a great place to live, weather wise but if it isn't safe what's the point.

Would anyone really want to live in a country where they couldn't speak the language?
That almost puts you into living in an American enclave, often requiring security gards.

For me, Climate is very high up in the list, as is safety and stability.

I have been to Ecuador a couple of times and found it to be a nice country to visit but it is still a very poor country with three basic classes, white (descendants of European, mainly Spanish, settlers), native american indians, and mestizos (mixed blood). Most americans that go there are on their way to visit the Galapagos Islands.

We have also had vacations in Mexico. It used to be a nice place to vacation but I wouldn't go there these days because of the widespread crime.

We lived in Toronto, Canada for almost two years. The climate was absolutely the worst I have ever experienced, extreme cold, extreme heat, extreme humidity, and lots of bugs. British Columbia is altogether different, Victoria looks very appealing but they also get lots more rain than where I am in the San Francisco Bay Area.

If you have basically failed to acumulate enough wealth to retire comfortably in the USA then I suppose that Ecuador or Mexico look very attractive. However you would be going to a country with a far lower quality of healthcare, and a higher crime rate. When we were in Costa Rica I asked the tour guide why every window on every building had iron bars in front of it. His reply was that the bars are for decorative purposes - Right! - I wonder why we had an armed guard stationed at the entrance to our hotel.

Generally speaking most Latin countries that I am aware of do not allow Americans to own real estate but you can rent a nice hacienda, and probably afford servants.

Personally, nothing could induce me to leave California. I love my retirement, the year round healthy climate, the healthcare, the local police and fire protection, the reliable utilities, public amenities, abundance of state & county parks and open space preserves, the excellent safe highways, and the people that travelled West in search of a better life.

I bet if you put a US Midwest city in that list it would come out very low. Cheap housing would help but its score would really be drug down by poor climate and a lower culture score.

On the other hand, if you put Tuscany Italy in the list then realistically the housing cost should make it horrible but housing is only .15 of the weighting so it would still come out relatively high.

Using their methodology I figure that retiring to a Los Angeles ghetto would come out pretty high score. Great climate, cheap housing and high culture scores would raise them up pretty good. THe low safety would not hurt them much since safety is weighted so low.

Are there any decent foreign options for unskilled WORKING (i.e. not yet retired) Americans? I've occasionally read about other countries letting in guest workers. On the other hand, it's my understanding that most countries would never let in unskilled foreigners.

Didn't the US infrastructure supposedly score a "D minus" in some sort of grading system, leading to people last election cycle talking about how we need all sorts of new government spending to fix the problem? Could it be that the infrastructure study might have been funded by people who could *gasp* profit from that spending?


The ranking algorithm itself is fairly poor, as evidenced by how much any given country would shift if you changed the weighting on a couple of factors. I experimented with it a little by pasting the data into excel and modifying the weights...

If special benefits were weighted at 5 and infrastructure at 20, France jumps to number 1 by a large margin, and the US jumps to number 10 (spots 2-10 are all very close in this scenario.) Seeing as safety is important, I rescaled the "safety" column (such that 70 became zero and each point above that was worth about 3) and then set safety equal to 20 percent and benefits to 5 percent. Under this scenario, Thailand, Nicaragua, and Columbia all dropped to near the bottom, while Panama dropped from 3 to 14.

It's really interesting to play with. One thing I'd love to see is rankings for some individual US states -- Florida, Cali, NY, Texas, Colorado, Montana, Washington, and Vermont would be a nice mix. Some of them would score quite well in housing, benefits, and cost of living (the categories where the US as a whole does the worst) but might suffer in culture and climate ratings. I'd bet Texas would be up near the top of the list.

I suspect Australia or Canada, or any other country with government-run health care, isn't going to make it easy to retire there.

Interesting I guess for chat fodder but doing this on a country by country rather than city by city basis seems a bit useless to me. I'd live in NYC or Florence again in a heartbeat, but "the US" and "Italy" as a whole are pretty meaningless. Plus I assume it was done before the crash given that Ireland is on it and Canada isn't!

Terry: if you have some sort of degree, you can find work as an English teacher in many East Asian countries: China, Taiwan, HK, Korea, and Japan are common places, although you can find Americans in Thailand or Vietnam as well.

You won't get rich, but you'll usually be paid decently in local terms and will typically get a city apartment as part of the compensation. Since your expenses will be very low, you can save money quickly, and if you pick up the local language, you'll have a useful skill.

I live in Argentina and I can't think how it got a perfect 100% in safety. Obviously the person making that up can't read newspapers in Spanish.

Being Argentinian, I have to agree with MC in almost all. I disgress with the healthcare part: MC, we don't go to the public (free) hospitals to get treatment because they're just as you describe. We pay a monthly fee to be covered and when we get sick, we go to top of the line private (paid) clinics with state of the art technology and extremely trained doctors. Difference with your insurance is, we don't pay a penny for that treatment, we paid for it in advance. People don't have to get in debt here to get medical treatment.

Categorizing an entire country is pretty hard. I mean even in the US, would you consider Detroit or Camden high in safety versus Beverly Hills or Main Street America? So when people say X country isn't safe, I have a hard time grouping every location in the entire country together.

I live in Thailand and can say it's a good place for people to retire- that is if you don't mind the year round heat (like Southern Florida). If you are willing to learn a bit of a new culture you would find the food and accomodation are both inexpensive with good value for money and the healthcare is modern and affordable.

That said a California climate agrees the best with me... will try to retire there for myself.


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