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US retirees continue to flock to Ecuador

NEW YORK — With its low cost of living, balmy climate and cheap property prices, Ecuador has been ranked the top foreign retirement destination for North Americans for the fifth consecutive year.

The South American nation bordered by Colombia and Peru scored the highest marks in’s annual ranking of the best places to retire.

With monthly estimated living expenses ranging from $900 to $1,400, Ecuador surpassed Panama, Malaysia, Mexico and Costa Rica, which rounded out the top five countries.

“I think the combination of a welcoming culture, the great weather, the affordability and its proximity to the United States all go together to make it a good package,” Dan Prescher, the special projects editor for the website, said on Thursday.

“Panama has a lot of the same things going for it, but it isn’t quite as affordable as Ecuador,” he added in an interview.

Editors at analyzed data and information from correspondents in the countries most popular with American and Canadian retirees to compile the results, which were based on a host of categories: cost of living, climate, property prices, healthcare, ease of integration, retirement infrastructure, entertainment and amenities and special benefits for retirees.

A large part of Ecuador’s appeal is how inexpensive it is for retirees. A beer costs just 85 cents. A doctor’s visit is $25, roughly the same price as a one-hour massage.

“Seniors resident in Ecuador qualify for half-price entertainment and local transport, discounted airfares and refunds of sales tax,” Prescher added.

Panama, which came in a close second, won praise for its pensioner visa, which speeds up residency, retiree discounts on medicines, entertainment and restaurants, and its friendly people.

Malaysia, the only Asian country to make the top five, drew retirees to its shores with its tropical climate, low cost of living and cheap rents, similar factors that boosted Mexico and Costa Rica’s appeal to retirees.

Most of the better countries for retirees were Spanish speaking, including Uruguay, Colombia and Spain. Thailand, which placed ninth, was the only other Asian nation to make the top ten, thanks to its affordability, exotic locales and outdoor lifestyle.

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