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Are Asian destinations losing their shine for retirees?


CHIANG RAI, 12 January 2022: Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam all lost ground in the International Living’s Global Retirement Index 2022, dropping out of the top 10 country list for the first time in three years.

Malaysia that figured 5th in the top 10 ranking in 2019, slumped to 15th in the latest index that measures the value of destinations for the magazine’s mainly US retiree audience. Vietnam fell from the 10th spot achieved in 2020 and 2021 to 18th in the 2022 index.

Thailand dropped a couple of places from 9th in 2019 to 11th, making it the highest placed destination in Asia out of Living International’s pick of the top 25 destinations worldwide.

Only six Asian destinations figured in the 2022 rating – Thailand 11th, Cambodia 14th, Malaysia 15th, Bali Indonesia, 16th, Sri Lanka 17th and Vietnam 18th.

According to Living International’s blurb, the rankings are based on various factors, including the cost of living, food, medical cost, visa convenience, weather, things to do, security, tradition, and culture.

But the factors that gain the attention of most retirees are cost-of-living, medical, housing and immigration rules.

Topped placed Asian destination, Thailand gathered an overall score of 74.6 compared with Vietnam lowest-placed Asian destination at 68.9.

Living International’s assessment suggests foreigners can live in Thailand for as little as USD1,000 or around THB33,000 per month, a cost of living budget most retirees in Thailand would call mission impossible.

Now rolling into its third year, the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the high cost of health insurance in Thailand for most retirees and excessive medical costs charged by international hospitals.

Due to Living International’s focus on North American retirees, destinations in the Americas and Europe dominate the annual list. Still, in recent years, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam earned places on the top 10 chart.

Top 10 places to retire

Panama topped the Annual Global Retirement Index for 2022 as the world’s safest, most affordable and most welcoming country – with an average score of 86.1.

Costa Rica was in second place, while Mexico was third, followed by Portugal, Ecuador, Colombia, France, Malta, Spain and Uruguay.


  1. Malaysai should be NOWHERE on this list. Someone at Internatiinal Living really dropped the ball on this one. A retiree is required to have over $10,000 a month pension AND put around $250,000 in a malaysian bank account. Malaysia was at the top of our list for my wife and I. No more… thanks, but no thanks. We’ll take our not-so-rich selves to Europe.

  2. Again a strange evaluation! Look at the climate. The warm and sunny weather of Thailand gets the same points as Ireland with almost constant rain and uncomfortable low temperatures. Just forget such lists and do your own expertise.

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