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Latin America's Favorite US Export? Senior Citizens

Latin America, retirement

Never mind your tired and your poor: Many Latin American countries want your retired instead.

Researchers at International Living magazine have found that Ecuador, Panama and other Latin American countries are going all out to encourage American senior citizens to retire within their borders.

The countries have introduced a string of incentives, such as a program in Ecuador that offers seniors 50 percent discounts on a multitude of expenses and items: public and private transportation within the country, tickets for all cultural and sporting events, movies, and even utility bills.

In Mexico, benefits include national health care coverage with a top rate of less than $300, and discounts on property taxes, airline and bus tickets, and entrance fees to concerts, museums and archaeological sites.

"An ever-increasing number of Americans are worried about how they are going to fund their retirement," said International Living editor Eoin Bassett. "What many don't realize is that in many countries it's possible to avail of attractive benefits, live much more affordably and have access to cheaper high-quality health care."

The Panamanian government is doing all it can in its bid to entice U.S. retirees by offering discounts on everything from travel and entertainment to prescription medicines and energy bills. Those who retire to Panama are also entitled to a one-time exemption of taxes on the importation of household goods and an exemption every two years of taxes for the importation of a car.

The magazine put together a ranking of the best international retirement destinations, based on factors including the price of bread, the average humidity, utility costs and the friendliness of locals. Six of the top 10 are in Latin America.

The top 10 are:

1.     Ecuador

2.     Panama

3.     Mexico

4.     Malaysia

5.     Colombia

6.     New Zealand

7.     Nicaragua

8.     Spain

9.     Thailand

10.   Honduras

The full rankings of the Retirement Index 2012 can be found online at

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.