A new report from the editors at InternationalLiving.com reveals the countries across the globe offering the best weather for retirement living. These five good-value overseas destinations score highest in the Climate category of International Living’s just-released Annual Global Retirement Index 2022.
Climate is one of the most critical considerations for retirees choosing where to settle overseas. In International Living’s 2022 Annual Global Retirement Index, the countries that score the best in the climate category are those that offer a true variety of options—from hot beach areas to highland spots with year-round spring-like temperatures.
“Lots of folks looking for good-value getaways overseas seek to escape the extremes of weather at home—whether it’s the bitter cold in a place like Minnesota or the unbearable heat in a spot like Arizona,” says Jennifer Stevens, Executive Editor, International Living.
“Living in a place where the climate suits, simply makes a person happier. If you love hot, sunny days and you dream about living at the beach—well, in the right spots abroad, the average person can afford to do that.
“On the other hand, if you’re somebody who likes to throw a light sweater over the shoulders—and you’d love to be able to do that year-round—no snow storms, no 100-degree days, well in the right spots abroad, you can find that spring-like weather, too.
“The countries that score best in the climate category of our Global Retirement Index this year are places where you have options. In a country like Colombia, for instance, you can be on the ocean at sea level and soak in the heat or you can go up into the hills at 6,000 feet and find temps in the upper 70s to mid-80s year-round, few bugs, and the ability to keep your windows open year-round.”
Each year, International Living relies on its network of editors, correspondents, and contributors all over the world to provide the on-the-ground input and recommendations needed to put the Index together—ranking and scoring each of the 25 countries in the Index across 10 categories, climate among them.
With 86 points out of 100, Mexico takes third place in the Climate Category of International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2022.
Climate-wise, Mexico has something for everybody. From hot and steamy jungles and rainforests in the far south of the country to dry deserts on the Baja California peninsula, which only get a few days of rain a year.
Those are the extremes. But within the borders of this country, which is about three times the size of Texas, the variety of landscapes and elevations leads to different weather patterns.
On the coasts, along the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and much of the central and southern
Pacific, you have warm and humid weather year-round, although it does cool off a bit in the winter months.
“It’s no wonder that this is when thousands of ‘snowbirds’ descend upon these areas, to towns like Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, Merida, Progreso, and Huatulco, among others,” says Jason Holland, IL Roving Latin America Editor.
“This is when these places have the best weather, with blue skies and no rain. Think of a climate very similar to Florida. On the flipside, the heat of summer can be very hot—with plentiful rain, especially in the afternoon.”
The place with what expats often consider the “best’”climate in Mexico is around Lake Chapala, which is about an hour south of Guadalajara, one of the largest and most prosperous cities in Mexico. Lake Chapala is the largest lake in Mexico and the town of Chapala is one of the longest-running expat havens in the country. Expats live in small towns and villages along the northern shore, which is surrounded by mountains. The high elevation has led to a unique microclimate where it never gets too hot or too cold.
(Peru, Colombia and Ecuador are all tied for second place in the Annual Global Retirement Index 2022 Climate Category with a score of 87.)
With a mixture of desert, high mountains, jungle, and everything in between, retirees are almost guaranteed to find a climate tailored especially for them.
Peru can deliver any combination of weather—the cool Andes Mountains, chilly Pacific Ocean, arid deserts, and humid Amazon jungle—making it one of the world’s top 10 most biodiverse countries.
Those looking for year-round sunshine and a temperate climate will discover that the southern city of Arequipa ticks all their boxes. When Steve and Nancy LePoidevin moved to Peru in 2016, this was their first stop.
Steve says, “We had to start somewhere, and Arequipa seemed like a good choice to begin with. We arrived in July and didn’t see a cloud in the sky until the end of December. By the middle of March, the skies were cloudless again.”
In the small coastal town of Huanchaco, located 350 miles north of Lima, you can enjoy all of this along with copious amounts of sunshine for much of the year. And this is only one of Peru’s 28 climates on offer—the entire world only has four more choices!
Colombia has long been a favorite retirement destination. Imagine a country where you can find practically any climate to suit your taste—warm, tropical Caribbean beaches; mild, spring-like mountain air in the Andes; a dry, arid climate in the Tatacoa desert; or the hot and humid Amazonian rainforest. There is even a snow-capped mountain just 25 miles from the shores of the Caribbean Sea. In fact, Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world.
Because Colombia is so close to the equator, it has an equal 12 hours of daylight and darkness with very little variation during the year.
Medellín, Colombia’s second-largest city and fastest-growing expat haven, sits at 5,000 feet above sea level. The climate at this altitude gives Medellín its nickname “City of Eternal Spring,” with daytime highs in the upper 70s F to mid-80s F and evening temperatures that dip to the mid-60s F every day of the year.
“I’ve lived in Medellín since 2012,” says IL Colombia Contributor Nancy Kiernan. “I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there are no thermostats in any of the buildings. There is no heat, and in most cases, no one has air conditioning. If you are hot…open a window. If you are cold…close the window.”
In Ecuador, it’s not too hot, not too cold; the weather is just right. Largely due to both the altitude and its proximity to the equator, Ecuador provides near-perfect weather no matter where folks choose to live.
Ecuador has four distinct geographical areas—the La Costa (Pacific coastal plains), the Sierra (mountains), the Oriente (eastern rainforests), and the Galapagos Islands. And because Ecuador lies directly on the equator, the entire country enjoys 12 hours of direct equatorial daylight 365 days a year.
Ecuador’s capital, Quito, lies between the Andean Mountains’ eastern and western ridges. The equator is less than 20 miles north of the city, yet at an altitude of 9,250 feet, the climate in Quito is spring-like year-round: 50 F at night and 69 F during the day.
Most expats choose to live in the sierras, either in large cities such as Quito or Cuenca, or in smaller towns such as Cotacachi in the north or Vilcabamba in the south.
“I’m an outdoorsy girl,” says Donna Stiteler, IL Ecuador Correspondent who lives in Cuenca, “so temperate weather was top of my checklist for where I wanted to live. The summers had gotten so hot in Florida, that the only times I got outside were early in the morning and late at night. My car heated to 140 degrees during summer, hot enough to scramble eggs. It was time to find a place where I could actually walk outside, every day, all year round.
“In Ecuador I can enjoy being outside, which allows me time to hike, walk the dogs, go shopping, and eat at outdoor restaurants any time I want.”
For the second year running, scoring 88 points, Portugal takes the top place in the Climate category of the Annual Global Retirement Index 2022.
Portugal has some of the best weather in all of Europe. Whether you are a cold weather person, love the intense heat of summer, or prefer a year-round, spring-like climate, Portugal has something for everyone.
“Take the city of Évora as an example,” says IL Portugal Correspondent, Terry Coles. “Typically summer reaches highs of 100 F or more while winters bring a freezing chill accompanied by gusty winds. But come springtime, the surrounding fields bloom into a colorful array of wildflowers. Cork oak and olive trees bloom and the first leaves can be seen sprouting on the grapevines. Springtime temperatures range from the mid-40s F to 60 F.
“The coldest part of the country is the North Coast from the Spanish border to the city of Porto. Summer temperatures range from 70 F to the mid-80s F, with low humidity and plenty of sunshine. During the fall temperatures drop into the 50s F and 60s F with some rain showers. This is the perfect time to get out for some leaf-peeping before the winter rains set in. In December, the heavy rains come and last through springtime. Snow in Portugal is only found in the mountain range of Serra de Estrela, where there is even a ski resort.”
What Portugal lacks in size it makes up for in its variety of weather that changes with just a short drive.
Summers in Lisbon, the capital city, tend to be a bit warmer than the Silver Coast, with highs reaching the mid-70s F to 85 F. Winters bring rain, like the rest of Portugal, with cooling temperatures of 40 F at night, reaching into the 50s F during the daytime. Again, the humidity here can make it feel colder than the thermometer says, especially in the coastal areas.
“Sintra, just a 30-minute drive from Lisbon, is microclimate frequented by fog and mist,” says Coles. “But when it burns off, the fairy tale castles glisten.”
In the famed Algarve region, and the temperature changes yet again. While summertime temperatures remain spring-like in the center of the country, for those that can take the heat the southern regions offer summertime highs averaging 85 F. Cool sea breezes and milder nights in the high 60s F make it perfect for sleeping.
So, whether folks consider themselves as a warm or cold weather person, there is something for everyone here in Portugal.
More details on the top five countries in the Climate category of International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2022 can be found here: The World Best Climate