Southeast Asian Countries are Among the Best Places to Retire in 2020

It’s time to enjoy a chunk of your retirement savings. 
Wednesday 8 January 2020
It's time to kick back and relax. Photo: Unsplash

What do you consider before deciding where to retire? International Living magazine compiled a list according to their Global Retirement Index, considering factors such as housing, cost of living, retirement benefits, ease of visa applications, governance and healthcare. For those looking to head abroad to enjoy old age, here are the top 10 best places to retire in 2020.


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Relax along the banks of the Duoro river. Photo: Unsplash

This southern European country on the Iberian Peninsular is the best place to retire in 2020, with an overall score of 86. This is hardly surprising, as Portugal was one of the top travel destinations for the past year.

The country’s hospitality and its affordable cost of living are among the major reasons behind its top ranked position. For US$2500, retirees can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. Add to that its third position on 2019’s Global Peace Index, beautiful landscapes and pleasant climate, it’s easy to see why Portugal is extremely appealing for people looking to enjoy some time off.


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Believe it or not, this is Panama City’s night sky. Photo: Unsplash

From its tropical climate and low tax burden to largely English-speaking community and proximity to the United States of America, Panama has emerged as an attractive destination for retirees from various parts of the world. You’re also able to rent an ocean-view apartment for as little as US$1500 in Panama City.

The country offers discounts for all retirees with 25% off airline tickets and monthly energy bills, as well as up to 50% off for hotel stays, thanks to its Pensionado programme. Additionally, with charming small towns set in idyllic beaches promoting local produce and freshly caught fish, Panama is starting to sound like paradise.


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Take a dip in the Perhentian Islands. Photo: Unsplah.

Malaysia ranks as one of the best places to retire in 2020 thanks to the tropical climate, lush rainforests and beautiful beaches. Top notch healthcare is another reason behind Malaysia’s appeal. With a score of 93 for healthcare on the Global Retirement Index, this Southeast Asian powerhouse is slowly becoming a hub for medical tourism.

Malaysia’s affordable living costs also make it an appealing retirement destination. With US$400, you can get a three bedroom seaview apartment in Penang. The country’s diverse culture is also another factor. There’s not many places where you can ride a colorful rickshaw, while seeing Dutch and Portuguese architecture, tasting Peranakan snacks and lending your ears to Bollywood melodies. Finally, travelling opportunities are also in abundance, with plenty of cheap flights to other regional destinations available from a host of airports in the country.


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Hoi An’s laid-back lifestyle is ideal for retirees.

Southeast Asia’s allure for retirees continues with Vietnam as one of the best places to retire in 2020. The country continues to progress, with skyscrapers popping up like dandelions in major cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. This has helped improve the quality of life, in what was once one of the world’s most impoverished countries several decades ago.

The country’s cheap cost of living is a vital factor to attract people looking to enjoy old age. With US$1500 a month, you can have a pretty comfortable life even in major cities. Locals are also welcoming, making it easy for expats to settle down. However, Vietnam’s biggest plus point lies in its ability to retain its old school charm despite the massive ongoing developments.

Other countries in the top 10 best places to retire in 2020 include Colombia, Mexico, France, Spain, Ecuador and Costa Rica.