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Your Escape Blueprint

The Perfect Abode Country Index

Where are the best countries to to start the search for “The Perfect Abode“?


International Living and Live and Invest Overseas have both published an annual Global Retirement Index or an Annual Retire Overseas Index.

During our slow travels over the last two years, we have lived in some of the countries on these lists and visited many others in the past. I have often thought that the indexes show only part of the story (the warm fuzzy parts).

That is why Your Escape Blueprint has taken a shot at creating our own list (which includes the cold prickly bits) “The Perfect Abode Country Index”.

Warning – Don’t believe a word we say!!!!

Like Mark Twain mused “Lies, damned lies, and statistics“. The use of statistics is a very effective and persuasive tool. With so many statistics to choose from, they can be used to promote completely varying points of view, especially if you use only a few selectively chosen statistics. Unfortunately our index like others has its own flaws– it uses statistics–these indexes are after all only starting points from which to do your own research.

The reality is that the best country to retire in, might be the one you are living in right now or it may be on the bottom of the list. Who knows it may not even be on this planet? Luckily, a perfect place for one person is not for another. If we all wanted to live in the same place, it would be rather crowded.

Remember the Lyrics from the Eagles tune “The Last Resort” –

They call it paradise
I don’t know why
You call someplace paradise,
kiss it goodbye

Our gypsy lifestyle –  wandering around the globe in search of our perfect abode is what juices us. However, I personally would not want to live in many of the countries on the International Living list or Your Escape Blueprints “Perfect Abode Country Index ” list.

We spent almost 6 months of the past year in Panama – The number one retirement spot in the world according to some. The reality is that neither Yvonne nor I would currently want to live there permanently (maybe because we are not done exploring?)  Panama is awesome in many respects, but in others, Panama drove us totally fricken nuts!

The bottom line is this – When you find your perfect abode you will know!

Ok lets get to the Lies, damned lies, and statistics…….

We decided to use the 2014 International Living 2014 Global Retirement index as a comparison,

Global Annual Retirement IndexCourtesy of International Living

International Living uses the following categories to rate each country:

  1. Real Estate: Countries where real estate prices are low and the purchase of real estate is relatively easy receive good scores
  2. Special Benefits: This category considers government provisions that make moving to and living in each country easier and more affordable for foreign retirees.
  3. Cost of Living: This score is based on information collected by International Livings editors and contributors.
  4. Ease of Integration: International Living looks at the degree to which English is spoken, the friendliness of the locals, the size of the existing expat community and the availability of home comforts.
  5. Entertainment and Amenities: The ranges of activities open to expats. Ratings include restaurants, movie theatres, outdoor activities and local music and art.
  6. Health Care: Considered in this category are the cost of health care and the quality.
  7. Retirement Infrastructure: This category considers; the quality of the roads, the availability of good public transport, the number of cell phones, Internet penetration, and how easy it is to get to and from the U.S. and Canada by plane.
  8. Climate: Countries with temperate weather throughout the year, moderate rainfall and little risk of natural disaster come out on top in this category (Hurricanes can ruin your day!)

Live and Invest Overseas uses the following categories in their index:

  • Climate
  • Cost of Living
  • English Spoken
  • Entertainment
  • Environmental Conditions
  • Existing Expat Community
  • Health Care
  • Infrastructure
  • Real Estate
  • Residency Options
  • Safety
  • Taxes

Introducing The 2014 Your Escape Blueprint Perfect Abode Index …………… Drum roll please!!!!

2014 Country Index

Note; we added The United States and Canada for reference.

To give a more extensive or rounded view, we included some of the categories used by International Living as well as additional categories using other people’s information such as the United Nations, The Human Security Index , The Heritage Foundation, and Education First.

The International Living Categories (and numbers) we used in the Perfect Abode Country Index include:

  1. Special Benefits: 
  2. Cost of Living:
  3. Retirement Infrastructure:
  4. Climate: 

In addition to the four International Living categories, we used the following five of our own.

Security: It’s not much fun living in a country where the biggest source of gossip among your expat friends is who was robbed recently. To give each country its score we used the information from The Human Security Index 

Health: We decided to use the United Nations Human Development Health Index to rate individual countries. 

Property Ownership Rights: What good is it, if property is inexpensive but a nightmare to purchase? We spoke to many expats in Panama and Belize with horror stories about buying property. We used the information provided by the Index of Economic Freedom; an annual guide published by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation to rate countries property ownership rights.

Freedom from Corruption:  In some countries, ripping people off is a sport. Corruption results in daily frustration, especially when you are unable to speak the language. We used the information provided by the Index of Economic Freedom, to rate how free each country is from corruption.

English Spoken Index:  Moving to a new country is a challenge in itself. Moving to a new country where you do not speak the language is more difficult. We used the Education First English proficiency Index to rate countries on their adult English proficiency levels.

This is not to deride the valuable information provided by International Living and Live and Invest Overseas. If it were not for them, many people would never even consider leaving home. Many people have successfully and happily retired to countries that score high in the corruption and property ownership rights issues. However, it is a reminder for you to look at the whole picture–including the sharp prickly bits—and do your research and planning accordingly.

Please remember the map is not the territory – go explore. The more time you spend in a country the better idea you get about what makes it tick and if it is a fit for you and your requirements.

As always we look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences.



About the author: Apparently born under a wandering star, Michael spent hours as a kid poring over maps, atlases and plotting where he wanted to travel when he grew up. Sadly Engineering school got in the way….. “it takes 5 years to complete and a lot longer to get over”. He still considers himself a “recovering” Professional Engineer. He escaped the rat race at 44 and now pursues his passions for travel, photography, Tai chi, scuba diving, cooking and sampling the world’s wines. Michael is also… Fiercely independent, a bit of a rebel, is on a self-imposed media diet & married to an incredible lady.

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