Where's the best place to retire abroad?

It might not be where you think

View on Pacific coast of Mexico resort town of Mismaloya near Puerto Vallarta

At this time of year, the thought of moving to sunnier climes is a tempting one, and if you're no longer working, there may be little to keep you here.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office figures show that more than a third of Britons aged 55-plus want to live abroad, with Spain the most popular destination.

But is it the best country to retire to? No, according to InternationalLiving.com, which has just released its annual Global Retirement Index for 2017.

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It has ranked the top 24 retirement destinations in the world in 10 categories, including buying and renting property; benefits and discounts; visas and residence; cost of living; fitting in; entertainment and amenities; healthcare; healthy lifestyle; infrastructure and climate.

And top of the list - for the fifth time - is Mexico: a low-cost country with friendly locals, and plenty of other expats.

"It offers an appealing balance of exotic foreign culture and familiar First World lifestyle," say the report's authors.

"The cost of living offers extraordinary value — expats report living well for as little as $1,200 [£970] a month."

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There's an efficient and affordable health service, and legal residents over the age of 60 are entitled to special discounts.

"I love my senior discount card," says expat Marty Kramer who lives in Playa del Carmen.

"All Mexican citizens, including resident expats, can get one when they turn 60. With it, I get discounts on almost everything: healthcare, public transportation, groceries, restaurants, hotels, and even some airlines. It's up to the business how much of a discount they offer, but it's usually around 10%."

Perhaps because of a focus on US expats, central and south America feature heavily on the list, with Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Colombia making up the rest of the top five.

The best European country to retire to is Spain, the survey concludes, mostly because of its low cost of living, laid-back lifestyle and good weather.

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"Spain's miles of beaches, the warm climate along its coasts, its low cost of living and real estate, and its relaxed, laidback lifestyle all help to make it a top retirement destination," say the authors.

Portugal, for similar reasons, comes in at number nine on the list, while Malta is at number 10, partly because of the large number of English-speaking locals.

InternationalLiving.com's 2017 Global Retirement Index top 10 retirement destinations:
1. Mexico
2. Panama
3. Ecuador
4. Costa Rica
5. Colombia
6. Malaysia
7. Spain
8. Nicaragua
9. Portugal
10. Malta

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