“Where should you retire?” We can bet you’ve asked this question of yourself more than once. If not, you will.

“Where should I retire?” is the question we hear most often at International Living (IL). And this January, like and every January IL gives us their most definitive answer in the form of their Annual Global Retirement Index.

The Index scores the world´s top 25 retirement destinations across 13 categories, including the cost of living, governance, retiree benefits, climate, healthcare, and more. This yearly Index examines safe, good-value destinations beyond the U.S. or Canadian borders—comparing, contrasting, ranking, and rating them to select spots across the globe where a retired couple can live a comfortable, carefree life on $1,800 or less a month, all in.

The Index is a unique tool that allows potential expats to quickly and constructively compare and contrast their best options abroad and give their search some smart direction

And IL should know a thing or two about the subject, they have been publishing the Index for the last 29 years.

The 2019 Index includes a much bigger and ever-growing selection of outstanding destinations where you can live a healthier and happier life, spend a lot less money, and get a whole lot more.

But how do you choose? The Index is still the most comprehensive and in-depth survey of its kind. It’s the best way to sift through the wealth of opportunity the world offers, bring some order, and help you pinpoint the best destination for you.

According to InternationalLiving.com’s 2019 Global Retirement Index, the world’s top 10 retirement destinations are:

#1 Panama
#2 Costa Rica
#3 Mexico
#4 Ecuador
#5 Malaysia
#6 Colombia
#7 Portugal
#8 Peru
#9 Thailand
#10 Spain

Costa Rica was #1 in 2018.

IL Coastal Costa Rica Corresponden, Kathleen Evans, writes this about Costa Rica:

Costa Rica attracts visitors with its tropical climate; low cost of living; top-notch, affordable medical care; bargain real estate; and natural beauty.

Costa Rica has a stable democracy and a peace-loving culture. They abolished their army in 1948 and pledged that budget to education and healthcare. Often called the “Switzerland of Central America” it is known for its safety, neutrality and good banking system—especially compared to many other countries in the region. The current government is progressive and LGBT rights are respected.

One of the things you hear very often from expats is how warm and welcoming the Ticos (Costa Ricans) are. Overall, they are wonderful people, eager to share the magic of their culture with foreigners. You will also find great communities of expats who will help you through the process of acclimating to new surroundings and language. I joined a girl’s dinner group and quickly bonded with women from all over the world. I found it very easy to make friends since many folks move not knowing anyone and are often looking to forge new friendships.

Nicole Rangel from Texas says “From the moment we stepped off the plane in September 2017 with our five suitcases ready to move to Costa Rica with our two elementary age children, I felt the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders. The community is so supportive of each other and the locals. I pinch myself often because of how lucky my kids are.”

Once you have acquired your residency, you pay between 7% and 11% or your reported monthly income, and the socialized medicine program is available to you. You can also blend public healthcare with a private policy. The country has three JCI accredited hospitals and numerous private clinics. More doctors are also taking the U.S. retired military insurance called Tricare Overseas.

Costa Rica also has an outdoor loving culture – with activities from fishing to golfing to horseback riding to hiking to diving to yoga. Plus, there are less processed foods, and more healthy choices with an abundance of locally grown fruits, vegetables, organic eggs and endless seafood. Most of the people I know who have moved to Costa Rica have shed unwanted weight, are taking less prescription drugs and overall feel better.

And, with a dozen microclimates, there is someplace for everyone to fit your personal weather preferences. Many people love the temperate “eternal spring” climate of San Jose, the capital and all the surrounding Central Valley. Or the dry, hot beaches of Guanacaste, or the lush, green landscape of the jungles in the south.

What are the other top destinations?

#11 France
#12 Cambodia
#13 Italy
#14 Belize
#15 Malta
#16 Honduras (Roatan)
#17 Bolivia
#18 Ireland
#19 Vietnam
#20 Uruguay
#21 Sri Lanka
#22 Dominican Republic
#23 Bali
#24 Croatia
#25 Nicaragua