Top retirement destinations revealed - at home and abroad!

pensioners on benchAfter a lifetime of work, a decent spot in which you can enjoy your retirement is not a lot to ask for, is it?

And for some people that means a spot of sunshine, a different pace of life and a whole new culture to explore in a new country.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%For others, being near to friends and family is a priority, but they may choose to move somewhere closer to home that is tailored to their lifestyle and allows them to make the most of their work-free days.

So where are the best locations to spend your later years? According to two new studies, Spain and Skipton win the plaudits from the older generation when it comes to perfect places to retire to.

A place in the sun
The most popular overseas destinations to retire to probably come as no surprise, with the sun, sand and sea of Spain pushing it to the top spot, according to retirement income specialist MGM Advantage. Below are the top five:

Spain – Hours of sunshine, mid-afternoon siestas and a large ex-pat community, it's no wonder British pensioners are keen on spending their later years en Espana.

France – With its fabulous food and wine, France is a firm favourite with Brits who want to enjoy the countryside and the culture, and still be within easy reach of friends and family back home.

Australia – It may be a long journey but the thousands of Brits who immigrate to Australia each year, many of them retirees, are making a real lifestyle choice. With no language barriers and a beautiful coastline, it's popular for good reason.

Ireland – Whether they are going back to their roots or just looking for their own quiet spot on the Emerald Isle, it's easy to see why Ireland appeals to so many retirees. It's close, it's beautiful and the Guinness apparently tastes better there!

Cyprus – So many Brits adore Cyprus and plenty retire there after years of holidaying on the island. It's almost always sunny, it's extremely welcoming and, as a package holiday favourite, there are flights galore to the UK.

Don't forget your pension
When you dream of spending your retirement abroad, pension planning probably isn't top of your list of priorities – but it should be. Because if you don't do your homework on the laws and tax system of your dream destination, it could cost you dearly.

Andrew Tully, pensions technical director at MGM Advantage explains: "Retiring abroad is a dream for many people. The thought of an easier pace of living, better weather and potentially cheaper property than the UK can prove a strong draw. But without the right planning and advice you can quickly get caught out by the local tax laws. And that is before you even look at your pension and other financial arrangements."

He advises anyone thinking of retiring aboard to research the implications on their State pension, as different countries have different reciprocal agreements with the UK. You should also check with HMRC about any UK tax liability you may have while living overseas. It's important to find out about your welfare rights in a foreign country too, and check out the cost of healthcare there.

If that all sounds a bit too much like hard work, or you would prefer to spend your retirement closer to home, you have plenty of beautiful retirement options right here in Blighty.

Home comforts
A recent study from credit reference agency Experian and Guardian Money looked into finding the perfect retirement idyll in England, taking into account a whole range of relevant factors.

It included 40 key indicators including average rainfall, house price affordability, the quality of local hospitals, crime rates, transport links, access to countryside and neighbourliness, as well as life expectancy, population density and air quality.

And top of the list was market town Skipton in the Yorkshire Dales, making it the ideal place for British pensioners to call home.

The town (and its surrounding district Craven) is particularly well connected to the rest of the country by rail and road, plus it has very low crime rates and access to amazing countryside.

Eden in Cumbria was another northern favourite, an area that takes in part of the Lake District. As well as being in one of the country's most beautiful spots it's also one of the cheaper retirement destinations in the top 10 list.

Unsurprisingly the list is dominated by Devon and Dorset, with their wealth of picture postcard villages, beautiful coastlines and clement weather.

Below is the full list of England's retirement hotspots, with their average house prices, according to Experian and The Guardian:

1. Craven, North Yorkshire, £202,386
2. North Dorset, £239,571
3. West Devon, £250,501
4. Purbeck, Dorset, £286,658
5. East Devon, £247,299
6. West Dorset, £252,272
7. Torridge, Devon, £193,557
8. Eden, Cumbria, £184,800
9. South Hams, Devon, £286,271
10.Derbyshire Dales, £234,090

One notable point from the top 10 is that many of the supposed idylls are not particularly well connected, particularly in Devon and Dorset, despite access to public transport being very important to pensioners.

In addition, the average overall detached house price of the top 10 is an eye-watering £325,000 - unaffordable to most of the country. So if you fancy retiring to a rural retreat, you'd better get saving up for it – or settle for growing old in suburbia, where at least you'll have plenty of buses on tap.

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Top retirement destinations revealed - at home and abroad!

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