5 Southeast Asian Locations Named Best Places in the World to Retire

The Philippines isn't one of them.

Travel and lifestyle magazine International Living released its latest Annual Global Retirement Index, a ranking of countries and locations best suited for American retirees. It assesses these countries based on several factors such as cost of living, healthcare, climate, and residency requirements, all taking into account how easy and convenient it will be for someone to retire in the country.

As the list focuses on retirees from the U.S., it’s no surprise that the upper ranks consist of countries in the Americas: Panama leads the list this year, with Costa Rica, Mexico, and Ecuador completing the top four.

But number five is on the other side of the world: Malaysia, which International Living chose for its “idyllic beaches, islands that seduce the senses and some of the most pristine ancient rainforests in Southeast Asia.” 

The region is represented well in the whole list with other Southeast Asian locations in the top 25: Thailand (No. 9), Cambodia (No. 12), Vietnam (No. 19), and Bali in Indonesia (No. 23).


And the Philippines? It didn't make the list.

But it isn’t for a lack of trying—International Living has written several articles that talk about the Philippines, highlighting appealing factors such as its low cost of living and tropical climate. Last year, it even ranked the country among the best places where retirees can easily fit in, citing the friendly and English-speaking locals.

Many of these write-ups also mention the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa that gives several monetary and travel benefits to foreigners who want to retire in the Philippines. It’s one of the initiatives of the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) to boost the country’s potential as a “retirement haven.”

So what’s keeping the country from joining its Southeast Asian neighbors as one of the best places in the world to retire in? It’s a question PRA is determined to answer. In a Philippine Daily Inquirer article, PRA general manager Bienvenido Chy says he wants to increase the number of foreign retirees in the country from around 53,000 in November 2017 to 80,000 by 2020.

For now, the country will have to settle for being slightly behind many of its Southeast Asian neighbors in attracting foreign retirees.

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Lorenzo Kyle Subido
Lorenzo Kyle Subido is a staff writer for Esquire Philippines.
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