Retirees looking to stretch their pensions might consider spending their golden years in Ecuador, Panama or Mexico, where cost of living is low and the weather is warm, according to a new index.
International Living Magazine rated the three Latin American countries the top destinations in its Retirement Index 2012, followed by Malaysia, Colombia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Spain, Thailand and Honduras.
"The proposition is that you can live better for less, and not sacrifice anything, if at all, in quality of life and still live on half or less of what your cost of living would be in the United States or Canada," said Dan Prescher, special projects editor for International Living.
"As the world economic situation deteriorates that"s becoming more important," he added in an interview.
Prescher, an American who now calls Ecuador home, said he and his wife live comfortably on about $1,300 a month -- for everything.
Honduras, Thailand, Panama, Nicaragua and Mexico offer similar lifestyles for comparable prices, according to the magazine. Meals in some of the index countries cost as little as $3, local beers sell for $1.50 and there are discounts for retirees on public transport and utilities, among other perks.
The magazine assessed the nations in eight categories -- the price and availability of property, special benefits for retirees, cost of living, integration and assimilation into the local population, entertainment and amenities, health infrastructure, availability of high-quality healthcare and climate.
"You can go almost anywhere outside the US and live for less right now but there are some places that are easier to assimilate in," Prescher explained.
Apart from New Zealand, which was No. 6 and Spain at No. 8, all the other nations were in Latin America or Asia, largely because of the low cost of living and the integration factor.
"Most of Latin America is close to the United States. It is easy to get to, easy to get back and almost everybody has some English, which makes integration good. And the cost of living throughout Latin America is incredibly low," said Prescher.
Although security was not among of the categories assessed in the index, Prescher said most of the countries in the index are statistically safer than the United States.