The 20 Best Places To Retire In The World

When it comes to retirement, the Europeans prove once again that they know something the United States doesn’t, according to the recently released Natixis Global Retirement Index.

For the second year in a row, the U.S. barely made it into the top 20 in its capacity to meet retirees’ financial needs and expectations. European nations, meanwhile, took eight of the top 10 spots.

The index, now in its second year, is put together by Natixis Global Asset Management and CoreData, and measures the ability of 150 countries to care for their retirees.

The index examines 20 key performance indicators grouped into four broad categories: health, including life expectancy and access to quality health services; material well-being, or the means to live a comfortable life in retirement; quality of life, including factors like crime rates and air pollution; and finances, including the strength of the nation’s financial system and its tax rates.

We’ve highlighted the 20 highest-ranking countries for retirement, according to the index.

18. United Kingdom

Health: 8.1/10
Finances: 5.8/10
Quality of life: 8.7/10
Material well-being: 7.2/10

The U.K. hopped two places this year and managed to improve its quality of life despite experiencing its wettest January since 1766, thanks to massive flooding in the Thames Valley west of London.

16. Czech Republic

Health: 8.3/10
Finances: 6.3/10
Quality of life: 7.6/10
Material well-being: 8.0/10

Despite recent increases in the cost of consumer items, Prague remains fairly inexpensive compared to most European cities. Its architectural and natural beauty attract more than half of its population each year in visitors.

15. France

Health: 8.8/10
Finances: 6.1/10
Quality of life: 8.5/10
Material well-being: 7.4/10

For those in need of a good health care system, look no further than France, whose socialized system -- while controversial in the States -- was rated No. 1 by the World Health Organisation in overall quality and affordability of care.

12. Belgium

Health: 8.6/10
Finances: 6.2/10
Quality of life: 8.1/10
Material well-being: 8.2/10

Along with its famously delicious waffles, Belgium's health care system ranks just behind France's. Belgium's economy is also on the mend following the euro crisis, expanding in the fourth quarter of 2013 at its fastest pace in almost three years.

11. Iceland

Health: 8.5/10
Finances: 6.0/10
Quality of life: 8.5/10
Material well-being: 8.3/10

Icelanders have the strongest sense of community on the OECD life index, perhaps because they number just over 320,000. During the economic meltdown in 2008, Iceland's politicians decided to let its major banks fail, allowing it to continue social support programs that shielded Icelanders from the worst of the crisis.

9. New Zealand

Health: 7.9/10
Finances: 7.2/10
Quality of life: 8.7/10

Material well-being: 7.5/10

New Zealand zoomed up the chart to break into the top 10 this year. With its beautiful and dramatic landscape, New Zealand appeals to active retirees looking for a health-conscious and outdoorsy community.

7. Germany

Health: 8.8/10
Finances: 6.3/10
Quality of life: 8.5/10

Material well-being: 8.2/10

The economic powerhouse of Europe, Germany is a great place to live if you're looking for cheaper rent than in the U.S. It's also tied with France in access to quality health services for retirees.

4. Sweden

Health: 8.3/10
Finances: 6.8/10
Quality of life: 8.7/10

Material well-being: 8.2/10

The cost of living in Stockholm is comparable to San Francisco. In other words, it's very high. But if you're environmentally conscious and eager to be in nature, there are few cities that have as much access to green spaces as Stockholm. The city was the inaugural winner of the European Union's Green Capital award in 2010 after it successfully cut its green house gas emissions by 25% since 1990.

3. Austria

Health: 9.0/10
Finances: 6.3/10
Quality of life: 8.6/10

Material well-being: 8.9/10

Once again, Vienna was ranked as the No. 1 city with the highest quality of life, thanks to its excellent public transportation system and high culture. Austria overall has boasted the highest ranking in the Natixis health category for two years running.

2. Norway

Health: 8.6/10
Finances: 6.6/10
Quality of life: 8.9/10
Material well-being: 9.7/10

It's no wonder why Norway scores head and shoulders above the other countries on material wellbeing: the population-to-oil-reserve ratio in this northern nation would make any Texas tycoon weep. When it comes to wealth, health, and happiness, this northern country comes out ahead.

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