Travel Scene: Want to retire in the South? How low can you go?

Looking for a place to retire? And willing to go anywhere?

The world's top retirement havens, according to the Annual Global Retirement Index published by International Living, "dot the landscape from Asia to Latin America to Europe" and offer "the best-bang-for-your-buck retirement destinations on the planet."

The Index says it profiles the best destinations for good value living and bases its conclusions on "real-world inslghts about climate, health care, cost-of-living" and other information.

Twenty-five countries are listed in the index, and the top score of 92.7 out of 100 was attained by Ecuador. That South American country received a perfect score in two categories — Real Estate and Climate — and high scores across the board in every other category.

The Global Travel Industry News publication quotes the senior editor of , Dan Prescher as saying, "From the quaint town of Cotacachi to the vibrant capital, Quito, from Salinas on the coast to the peaks of the Andes, Ecuador's diversity is a key part of the massive appeal for retirees."


Cost of living in Ecuador, particularly real estate, is quite low, according to the Index, and couples report monthly expenses of just $1,400 a month.

According to the Index, retiree benefits are difficult to match elsewhere. Discounts are offered on all sorts of purchases, including movies, utilities, air transportation and and public transportation.

Runner-up to Ecuador is Panama, a Central American destination. According to Index authors, Panama offers retiree expats the world's best retirement program: the Pensionado that's worth $1,000 a month. Plus discounts on just about everything — including medical costs that are off by 20 percent.

A couple can live comfortably for under $2,000 a month, the index declares.

Retiring in Mexico is rated third by the Index and Malaysia is fourth, in addition to topping Asia destinations. In Malaysia, "Health care is rated top-notch," reports the Index, "particularly in the larger cities where it is comparable to any First World nation and English is widely spoken."

For those with their eye on a European destination, retirement in Spain leads destinations there — it's also No. 5 in the overall Index ratings. Spain's health-care system is said to be routinely recognized by the World Health Organization as one of the best in the world, notes Global Travel Industry News.

So, take your choice — go overseas or stay in the U.S., which isn't listed.

And now there are only two


At one time — in the '60s and it doesn't seem all that long ago — there were hundreds of orange-roofed Howard Johnson restaurants that dotted the nation's major highways and towns.

But now there are only two remaining, after the closure of the third property that ended a 60-year-run in a New York village. That HoJos was located in Lake Placid, N.Y. and was run by a single family from its beginning.

According to the Associated Press, two Howard Johnsons still remain — one is attached to a hotel in Bangor, Maine, and the other is in Lake George, a tourist destination some 60 miles south of Lake Placid, It reopened in January after being closed for three years.

NYC visits up

New York City attracted a record 56.4 million visitors last year, breaking the old record of 54.3 million the previous year, local tourism authorities have announced.

Also last year, New York recorded a record 102,000 hotel rooms in its active inventory

The city now has several No. 1 ratings: It's the top big city destination in the U.S., the No. 1 entry port in the country for foreign visitors and has the highest share of overseas visitors in the U.S., approximately one-third.

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