The top ten best places to retire overseas

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As the nights start to draw in, it's easy to see the appeal of retirement overseas - despite any concerns sparked by the Brexit vote. You don't necessary need wall-to-wall sun, sea and sand. Slightly longer and less chilly days would make an enormous difference.

Faced with an entire world to retire to, it can seem like an overwhelming choice. Fortunately insurers Castle Cover have looked into the cost of living, property prices, healthcare costs, crime rates, tax, and climate, and have tracked down their ten best places to retire overseas.

10. Greece
Despite the real economic turmoil in the country, if you have no need to earn a living, you can take advantage of a low cost of living and affordable property prices, and enjoy the kind of climate and landscapes that mean the attractions of this troubled nation continue to endure.

9. Morocco
You'd be forgiven for being surprised to see this on the list, because it's not a major retirement destination. However, the study points out that the low rainfall, balmy temperatures and rich cultural life mean there's plenty to recommend it. The reason this isn't higher up the list is because buying and selling property - and trying to make improvements and changes - can be a complex business.

Bab Bou Jeloud gate (The Blue Gate) located at Fez, Morocco

8. Jamaica
The stunning island scenery and warm climate are near the top of the list of attractions for many people - along with the fact that English is the most commonly-spoken language, and that living costs are low. However, Jamaica isn't without its problems, and anyone here will have to be comfortable with a relatively high crime rate in some areas.

Hillside View of the Island of Jamica

7. Thailand
For those who want a real break from home, Thailand offers an incredibly low cost of living - including bargain properties. Combine that with spectacular scenery, a rich culture and a beautiful climate, and you can see why tens of thousands of expats are drawn here.

Freedom beach

6. Australia
Recent currency movements haven't been kind to anyone exchanging their pounds for Australian dollars, and as a result the cost of living and the price of property - especially in big cities - isn't cheap. However, the fact that English is the main language, the landscape can be so beautiful, and the climate is so pleasant, mean it's hardly surprising that it's home to more than £1 million Brits.

Aerial view of Sydney cityscape, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

5. The US
Living in the US isn't cheap - especially given that your state pension will be frozen, and your health insurance will be pricey. However, low property prices could offset some of these effects. There are, of course, hundreds of thousands of different retirements you can enjoy in the US, from a fast-paced New York lifestyle, to ranch life in the heart of California or relaxing on the Florida coast.

july 2012. night view of empire ...

4. Barbados
This is one of the furthest-afield of the top ten, and its Caribbean location offers plenty of sun, sea and sand. There's also the fact that the main language is English, and that there's a large British expat community. However, the incredibly cheap healthcare and low cost of living may be the biggest attractions over time.

Mullins Beach, St Peter Parish, Barbados, Caribbean

3. Spain
There's a reason why Spain has the largest expat community in Europe. The beauty of the country, fantastic climate, affordability and low crime rate are all appealing. However, there's also a reason why this country isn't in first place at the moment - and that's largely down to the impact of the economic crisis. Falling house prices, planning permission issues, and large numbers of virtually empty coastal developments mean moving to Spain isn't without risk.

Cala Macarelleta - one of the most popular natural beaches of Menorca Island, Spain

2. Portugal
The enormous numbers of Brits who have retired here seem to have made a brilliant choice. Anyone who has holidayed in Portugal knows about the great climate and the low cost of living. Retirees will also be impressed with the affordability of property and the quality of healthcare. It's no wonder that so many studies before this one have actually edged Portugal into first place.

Albufeira,Algarve region, Portugal

1. Malta
The climate here is not to be sniffed at - with over 3,100 hours of sunshine a year. Life is also straightforward for retirees, as English is the most commonly spoken language, and there are plenty of English shops and supermarkets. Malta also has a large population for a small state, and plenty of ex-pats, so making friends should be straightforward.

malta boats

7 ways to improve your retirement
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7 ways to improve your retirement

If, like many Britons, you have failed to save the cash you need to maintain a comfortable standard of living in retirement, one option is to sell your home and downsize to a smaller property, using the money leftover to cover your living costs.
If moving out of the family home is too much of a wrench, however, the good news is that equity release schemes allow you to stay in your house or flat while still using the equity built up in it to provide some extra cash. The downside of the schemes, which work a bit like mortgages, is that you may not have much left to pass on to any children or other relatives.
But that's a small price to pay for a reasonable standard of living. For more information, try Age UK on 0800 169 6565.

Choosing the right annuity can have a significant impact on your retirement income. And as with most pensions, you automatically have what's called an 'open-market option' (OMO), you can scour the market for the highest annuity rate.
It is worth checking what your pension provider is offering first, though, as some companies offer guaranteed rates for existing customers that are likely to beat those available elsewhere. The Pensions Advisory Service on 0300 123 1047 is a good place to get some free advice.

On retirement, most people convert their pension fund into a guaranteed income annuity that pays out the same amount every month for the rest of their lives.
However, you can also choose an increasing annuity that pays out smaller amounts in the first few years but offers larger payments further down the line. This may prove a wise move if the rate of inflation remains at over 2%.

It is now easier to work later in life because the "default retirement age" has been scrapped.
People approaching retirement age and worrying about money can therefore choose to work for a few years longer - potentially transforming their financial situation. Other than the extra income from working, these people can look forward to higher state pensions, and higher annuity rates due to their greater age.
They can also benefit from bigger tax allowances and the fact that they no longer have to pay National Insurance contributions. Check out this nidirect website for more details.

You could get a much better rate with an impaired-life annuity if you have a medical condition that is likely to reduce your life expectancy.
Incredibly, even snoring, which is a common symptom of Sleep Apnoea could have an impact.
According to figures from MGM Advantage, a man with this condition could receive an extra £12,000 retirement income over the course of their retirement - or £571.44 extra money each year. Click here to find out more.

To maximise your retirement income, it is vital to ensure that you are receiving all the benefits to which you are entitled. These include the basic State Pension, and in some cases, the additional State Pension.
If you are on a low income, you could also qualify for the guaranteed element of Pension Credit, while those with some savings may get the savings element of this benefit. For more information about these and other benefits such as the Winter Fuel Payment, click here.

Many older couples rely on the pension income of one person - often the man. Should that person die first, the other person can therefore be left in a difficult position financially.
One way to prevent financial hardship for the surviving person is to take out a joint life annuity that will continue to pay out up to 67% of the original payments to the surviving partner should one of them die.
The disadvantage of this approach, however, is that the rate you receive will be lower. Again, the Pensions Advisory Service on 0845 601 2923 is a useful first port of call if you are unsure what to do.

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