Written by Richard Way,
Last Modified: 17th May 2019

Have you heard: 60 is the new 40? It certainly is for our readers, who see retiring abroad as the chance to enjoy themselves after a well-earned career. They’re more likely to be running half-marathons than playing bowls. More likely to be learning a new language, making new friends and taking up a new outdooorsy hobby than watching daytime TV and wrapping up warm in the UK. Here is why moving to the sun is your chance for a relaxing, healthy retirement abroad.

It won’t come as a surprise that Spain is the world’s healthiest country, according to the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, published earlier this year. Italy came second and France was 12th. As for the UK, it only just scraped into the top 20, while the US was way down in 35th. Here’s a reminder why retiring to the sun could be a boost for your overall health and not just your sun tan!

More time outdoors

Our time at last! Your healthy retirement abroad

Chances are you’ll spend significantly more time outside when you move to a warmer country. And we don’t just mean sitting on the terrace with a sun-downer or dining al fresco. Instinctively, we like to be out and about when the weather is good, whether that be taking a stroll along a seaside prom, enjoying the pool or time at the beach, or engaging in some other type of leisure activity, perhaps cycling, playing golf or bowls. When the sun is shining, small tasks like doing the grocery shop or popping to the bank become enjoyable. Keep active and top up your vitamin D levels with natural sunshine and your body will repay you for it.

Read our Healthcare Guide to accessing medical attention in 11 countries.

You are what you eat!

It’s proven that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest in the world. Indeed it’s a major contributor to high life expectancies in countries like Spain (highest in EU), France and Italy. According to the NHS website, the diet is high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy too. You’ll find that many of these foods are produced locally and available cheaply in markets, meaning they’re super fresh, rarely need freezing and taste delicious.

And if you have the space, why not consider growing your own?! Eat like the locals and save fry-ups or other unhealthy comfort meals from back home for special occasions!

Something in the air?

A healthy retirement abroad

A new hibby in the sunshine (Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock.com)

A change of climate alone could be surprisingly beneficial for certain aspects of your health. Just moving to a coastal resort or a peaceful rural area, which most expats tend to do, means you’re likely to be breathing in cleaner air than you were in the UK, especially if you lived in a busy, traffic-ridden town.

Those suffering from respiratory and skin problems, rheumatism and joint problems, often experience a huge improvement in their condition

And if you pick a destination with its own microclimate, where humidity levels and temperatures are deemed just right, the positive effects for some people are significant. In particular, those suffering from respiratory and skin problems, as well as rheumatism and joint problems, often experience a huge improvement in their condition. These healthy microclimates tend to be located where mountainous landscapes meets the sea. Places like Portugal’s Algarve, Spain’s east coast, Crete in Greece, France’s Riviera and Turkey’s Mediterranean coast around Antalya.

Slower pace, lower stress…

It’s well documented just how much stress can contribute to poor health. When you retire, you shouldn’t have to put up with any of that in your life! You’ve put in the hard graft during your working years so it’s time to kick back with nothing to worry about. Mediterranean nations are famous for their laid-back attitude, where a slower pace and appreciation of the simpler things mean the idea of stress is a foreign concept.

Cheaper living costs in much of Europe should also help keep your stress levels to a minimum. Pick a destination where the value of your pension income and savings goes further than in the UK, somewhere you won’t have to worry about making ends meet from month to month. If you’re transferring your income over from the UK, get extra peace of mind by securing an exchange rate for six months or a year in advance – speak to Smart Currency Exchange for more details.

If you’re buying soon, get your tickets to Your Overseas Home. It’s designed specifically for serious buyers, so you can get detailed information from lawyers, agents and currency providers.

Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index

So where did your favourite country come in the healthy country index? Click the links to read about accessing healthcare in each. Don’t forget to download your guifde to getting great healthcare abroad.

  1. Spain
  2. Italy
  3. Iceland
  4. Japan
  5. Switzerland
  6. Sweden
  7. Australia
  8. Singapore
  9. Norway
  10. Israel
  11. Luxemburg
  12. France
  13. Austria
  14. Finland
  15. Netherlands
  16. Canada
  17. South Korea
  18. New Zealand
  19. UK
  20. Ireland
  21. Cyprus
  22. Portugal
  23. Germany
  24. Slovenia
  25. Denmark
  26. Greece
  27. Malta
  28. Belgium
  29. Czech Republic
  30. Cuba

About The Author

Richard Way

Richard Way has been an influential and independent voice on all aspects of buying overseas property for over 15 years. He was editor of A Place In The Sun magazine, has edited books on buying in Spain, is a regular on the panel at Your Overseas Home, has appeared on the BBC and helped the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on expat matters. Richard is a property owner on the Costa Brava, Spain, and in Puglia.

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