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Other Places Worth a Look

There are plenty of other great countries for retirees. Here's a look at a few that just missed our list.

We haven't included all the world’s countries that may be fine candidates for retirement. For the sake of sun-loving boomers, we focused mainly on warm-weather locations. Even so, there are other affordable countries that prospective expat retirees might find appealing, such as the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Uruguay, Croatia, and Malaysia.

Worth noting: Ghana, where hundreds of African Americans have relocated over the past few years. Ghana was among the first sub-Saharan countries in Africa to achieve independence in 1957, an event hailed by leading African Americans of the time—Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X visited—and a first wave of black U.S. expats settled there in the early '60s. The government eventually became corrupt, and most expats returned home. More recently, with a stable Ghanian government in place, a new wave of African Americans has found a home on their ancestral continent.

What about some places you may have expected us to cover? Americans often say their dream is to retire in English-speaking Australia or New Zealand. But those two countries have expensive and restrictive residency requirements: Immigrants must invest at least $500,000 even to be considered. Thailand has been popular, with an expat community in beautiful Chiang Mai. But political instability (which resulted in riots in May) and difficulties in owning a home led us to omit it.

If weather and cost are not factors, you’ll find numerous lists of "best" places in which to retire based on quality-of-life indexes. In these lists, look for ratings by such international agencies as Transparency International, which measures corruption, the World Health Organization, The Economist Intelligence unit, and the Mercer surveys of quality of life.