Top 10 Best Countries: Where to Live and Raise Kids

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By Vittorio Hernandez | January 9, 2013 9:32 AM EST

Not unexpectedly, Switzerland topped the 10 best countries to be born in 2013 list made by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Australia and New Zealand tied for second place.

The basis of the EIU in drawing the top 10 countries that offer a good quality of life for infants born this year and who would be adults by 2030 is a 10-point criteria, namely: material wellbeing measured by gross domestic product per capita, life expectancy from birth, quality of life based on divorce rates, state of political freedom, job security based on unemployment rate, climate, personal physical security ratings, quality of community life, governance based on corruption measurements and gender equality.

A separate measure called Better Life Index explained why Switzerland is the perennial number one. The index pointed to the European country's high employment rate of 79 per cent, 87 per cent of citizens with a high school equivalent degree and a life expectancy of 83 years.

For people who may want to be specific and know what cities it would be good to live in Switzerland, this video provides the answer.

The two lands down under jointly share the second spot because of their healthy level of public participation and sense of community and highly rated educational system. Another index, the Mercer Quality of Living, named New Zealand's financial centre, Auckland City, as the third most liveable city after Zurich and Vienna.

Rounding up the top 10 are mostly Scandinavian countries, namely Denmark, Norway and Sweden, two Asian nations - Singapore and Hong Kong (now an autonomous region of China), The Netherlands and Canada.

The U.S., which used to be number one in 1988, is way down on the 16th place due to its bad healthcare system, growing social stratification and workplace policies.

Ironically, while this list is dominated by western economies, the top 10 countries to retire in 2013, ranked by InternationalLiving.com, are led mostly by South American and Asian nations. The rankings are:

1.     Ecuador

2.     Panama

3.     Malaysia

4.     Mexico

5.     Costa Rica

6.     Uruguay

7.     Colombia

8.     Spain

9.     Thailand

10. Malta

It was the fifth straight year that Ecuador topped the annual list which used as basis in its ranking various criteria such as price of groceries, average temperature, utility costs and friendliness of locals.

Jennifer Stevens, executive editor of International Living magazine, explained that Ecuador is number one because for $1,600 a month, an overseas retiree could live comfortably because his dollars are really stretched here. The amount includes rent.

For retirees who are considering buying a condominium unit in a coastal area, the price tag is less than $150,000 compared to $1 million or more for a similar unit in California.

Besides the affordable lifestyle, Ecuador offers sunny beaches, temperate mountain villages, college towns brimming with cultural offerings and historic colonial cities.

Here are more of Ecuador's charms in this video.

To contact the editor, e-mail:

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