A healthy lifestyle is essential to maintain good health as you age. An ideal retirement spot needs to have the right conditions to help you sustain or even improve your health.
The following countries have track records for being healthy places to retire, due to the quality and availability of their health care systems and the healthful benefits of their lifestyles and cuisines. These are places where day-to-day living can help promote good health. If you have a health concern, you’ll have access to international-standard care, typically at a fraction the cost of comparable care in the United States.
Consider these healthy places to retire:
Portugal is one of the world’s healthiest places to live, with low rates of disease and an average life expectancy of 81 years. The population is generally well informed about how personal behaviors affect health, and they take the advice seriously.
If you should fall ill while retired in Portugal, you won’t have to worry about the quality of care you will receive. Portugal has the 12th best health care system in the world, according to the World Health Organization’s survey of 191 countries. The United States, by comparison, ranks 37th on this list.
The Portuguese universal health system is residence-based, meaning that if you establish residency in the country, you can access top-notch health care for free or with a modest copayment. The price of prescription medicines is subsidized, so they cost much less than in the United States.
Greece is home to one of the world’s “blue zones” where locals regularly live to or beyond age 100. Among the population of Ikaria, a tiny Greek isle in the Aegean Sea, rates of heart disease are low, there’s almost no dementia and many people make it to their 90s, perhaps due to the culture, diet and low-stress lifestyle.
Among the country’s overall population, life expectancy is 81 years. This longevity is attributed to the famous Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fish, olive oil and other sources of omega-3s. It may also help that Greeks, the founders of the Olympic Games, are famous for being physically active. The Greek health care system is ranked 14th in the world by the WHO.
Italy is home to another one of the world’s “blue zones.” On the island of Sardinia, geographic and cultural isolation means that the local lifestyle hasn’t changed much over the centuries. People still harvest, fish and hunt their own food the traditional ways. The result of this simple, wholesome way of life is one of the highest rates of centenarians in the world.
Italy has a free universal health care system that’s ranked second best out of 191 countries considered in the World Health Organization’s annual surveys. However, rates of avoidable hospitalization in Italy are some of the lowest in the world. With a life expectancy of 83 years, the population of Italy boasts one of the longest lifespans in the world.
Cyprus is another example of the positive benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Heavy on fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and olive oil, these ingredients combine to create mouth-watering dishes and to prevent heart disease and stroke.
Cyprus has an expected lifespan of 80 years. The health care system is ranked the 24th best in the world by the WHO. Visitors from around the world travel to Northern Cyprus to take advantage of its affordable and high-quality medical care. Medical tourists come here to access low-cost MRIs, CT scans and other complex medical investigations.
France comes out on top of the World Health Organization’s ranking of the best health care systems in the world. If you’re a member of French social security, most of the cost of this extraordinary health care is covered for you. The average life expectancy in France is 82. The French walk and bike whenever possible, rather than using motored transportation.
French cuisine is one of the most studied and celebrated in the world. It doesn’t skimp on high-fat dairy or carbs, but portion sizes are always moderate. The indulgent foods are balanced out by lots of salads and veggies, helping the population to keep healthy.
Thailand has successfully increased the life expectancy of its citizens to an average of 77 years. Diet has a lot to do with the country’s health levels. Traditional Thai food is healthy, emphasizing vegetables, fresh herbs and spices and lean proteins. Many dishes contain coconut milk, which may be better for you than dairy and can boost heart health.
Improving access to medical care has also helped Thailand enhance public health over the past several decades. The country has achieved universal health coverage by bolstering its primary health care system and making it geographically and financially accessible to all residents.
The WHO ranks Thailand’s health care system at No. 47. Thailand is one of the world’s top destinations for medical tourism because of its world-class facilities with low costs.
Turkey has made major improvements to its health care system over the past few decades, and the country has seen life expectancy go up and infant mortality decline as a result. Life expectancy in Turkey is now 76 years. Turkey has provided universal public health care since 2003, financed through social security. It comes in at No. 70 on the WHO’s health care rankings.
Turkey is also a top medical tourism destination. Some people come to Turkey for cosmetic surgery and dentistry. Turkey offers access to high-quality medical services at affordable rates.
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