International Living’s authoritative annual Global Retirement Index once again includes Portugal among its top-ranked countries. Overall, Portugal is rated fifth when all factors are taken into account, but it is recognised as number one when it comes to climate – a reputation significantly enhanced by the Algarve’s renowned year-round sunshine.
Portugal is one of only two European countries in the top-10 (also including France at eighth), which is dominated by South American destinations – thus reflecting the index’s predominant focus on American retirees. Costa Rica leads the way, followed by Panama, Mexico and Colombia.
Portugal has been a long-time favourite among couples and individuals contemplating an overseas retirement, with International Living highlighting the country’s Old World charm and laidback lifestyle. Retirees can opt to base themselves in “a sleepy fishing village, a thriving beach resort, a mountain retreat or in the heart of vibrant Lisbon – where the restaurants, museums and attractions rival anything else in Europe”. Once settled in, the new residents can enjoy friendships with “some of the most relaxed, family-oriented, helpful and courteous folks you’ll meet anywhere”.
Portugal also has the advantage of “affordability with a first-world lifestyle”, while the country’s other main selling points are “nearly flawless weather; the abundance of golf and water sports (the country’s entire west coast looks to the Atlantic); and superb and abundant fresh food (king-pinned by the fresh fish brought in daily by fishermen up and down the 350-mile stretch of coastline).
In a personal testimonial accompanying the report, Terry Coles said it was no surprise that Portugal continued to top the retirement charts. “This tiny country in the south-west corner of Europe has something for everyone. Vibrant cities full of Old World charm, miles of golden sandy beaches, green, rolling hills, some of the best healthcare in the world, low cost of living and safety.
“But for me, the best part about living in Portugal is the people. The Portuguese people are warm, friendly and greet everyone with double-cheeked kisses. Since English is taught in the schools, many Portuguese speak some English, which makes retiring here a little easier.
“Last year my husband Clyde took our car into a service centre for an oil change. To pass the time he went next door to a family-run café for a cup of coffee. The lady of the house was in the next room preparing to serve lunch to her family and insisted that Clyde join them. Since he had already eaten, he declined but had to smile about her generous offer.”
Exceptional Algarve Climate
The Algarve gained a special mention in the report, thanks to its beaches, fishing villages, golf resorts, water sports and leisure activities – and, most impressively, its climate.
“Although on the Atlantic,” explained International Living, “the Algarve’s climate feels Mediterranean, and it has long been a favourite spot for European vacationers and second-home buyers.
“The famed Algarve region boasts of having over 300 days of sunshine per year. Summer temperatures are hot and dry with 12 hours or more of sunshine daily. Temperatures range from 80 to the 90s (25 to mid-30s centigrade) during the day and cool off into the 70s (low-to-mid-20s centigrade) at night. During the winter this is the mildest part of Portugal, with cool temperatures dropping only into the 40s (4 to 9 centigrades) at night then rising in the daytime to the mid-60s (around 20 centigrade).
“What Portugal lacks in size it makes up for in its variety of weather that changes with just a short drive… So, whether you are a warm or cold weather person there is something for everyone here in Portugal.”
About the Index
According to International Living, the Global Retirement Index is compiled by taking into account hundreds of opinions and real-life experiences. “In no way is our Global Retirement Index meant to be a scientific output. It’s designed to be a useful tool for people, constructed out of real-world, on-the-ground information interpreted through a lens of well-informed experience and opinion.”
The index covers such categories as housing, benefits, visas/residence, fitting-in/entertainment, development, climate, healthcare, governance, opportunity, cost of living – and the final overall average. In addition to topping the climate category, Portugal was ranked second behind Mexico for housing; fourth for fitting-in/entertainment (following Mexico, Costa Rica and Malta); and fourth for healthcare (behind Costa Rica, Colombia and Spain).
Global Retirement Index Top-10
- Costa Rica
Other selected countries: 11 Spain, 14 Ireland, 19 Italy, 23 Croatia