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How much cheaper can it be to retire in a foreign country — and which countries are the most budget-friendly? According to a recent study by International Living, Americans could retire 10 years earlier — and enjoy a higher standard of living — by moving beyond our country’s borders. The South American country places second (after Panama) in “special benefits” programs for retirees.

In a comparison of 19 foreign countries, Ecuador is the overall winner, with the lowest cost of living and real estate, reports the 2012 Global Retirement Index.

While many do return and attend church at least "sporadically," 34 percent said they had not returned by age 30."Lots of alarming numbers have been tossed around regarding church dropouts," said Ed Stetzer, director of Life Way Research, the research arm of Life Way Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, in the study.

"We wanted to get at the real situation with clear research – and there is some bad news here, no question.

But you can get by in your native tongue in parts of Panama, Ecuador and Mexico, says International Living.

In all 19 countries, health care in the larger cities and capitals is usually on par in quality with that in the United States, according to the survey’s findings — largely pooled from foreign-living retirees — but much less expensive: A visit to a physician (and many trained in the United States) at a modern facility costs about in Panama (at low-income hospitals you’ll pay as little as ) and only in Nicaragua.



Gone are the days when young adults attended church because they're "supposed to," said Scott Mc Connell, associate director of Life Way Research.

Panama offers the pensionado, which provides foreigners with 30 percent discounts on public transportation within the country; tickets for cultural and sporting events, including movies; and 25 percent off restaurant bills.

And in Ecuador, folks older than 65 pay lower income tax and get free domestic landline phone service.

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With a few exceptions, WLJ follows the Associated Press Stylebook.

Of course, there are barriers such as language, cultural acclimation and distance from family.



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