Best places to retire, abroad


If you want to reduce expenses and maximize retirement income, consider retiring abroad.  The following countries offer a lower cost of living, reduced health care expenses and more agreeable weather.

Whether you are looking at making retirement savings stretch farther, seeking warmer weather or looking for adventure, considering retiring overseas.  According to US government statistics, close to a half-million seniors have already done that.  Moving abroad offers a reduced cost of living, decreased medical expenses and a more relaxed way of life in a beautiful setting.  Many countries have a large ex-pat population making it easy to make new friends.  If you are looking at making the move, here are a few of the best places to retire.

Best Undiscovered Retirement Bargain – Ecuador

While Ecuador is further down the list of places where retirees are collecting social security checks, it is slowly being discovered as one of the best places to retire.  The popular city of Cuenca, the third largest in Ecuador, offers beautiful cobblestone streets, historic buildings and homes, lush green hills, 18 hospitals, a large American ex-pat community and a mild climate where the average temperature ranges between 50-75 degrees – no AC needed!  But one of the best reasons to retire in Ecuador is that your dollar will stretch further than anywhere else.  You can own a beachfront home or a modern, three bedroom country villa for less than $150,000.  Fresh food is plentiful and inexpensive at local markets, household help can be had for $10-$20 per day and you can treat yourself to a pedicure for a few dollars.  Cuenca is also very walkable eliminating the need for a car.  A couple can live easily on $1000/month.  According to Jim Santos with International Living Magazine, “there are few places where living is as affordable as Ecuador.”

Best Place for Singles & Sun Worshipers to Retire – Thailand

Known for its beautiful resorts and cultural diversity, Thailand is quickly becoming one of the best places to retire.  The country has geographic and cultural diversity, everything from sandy remote beaches to hilly villages to vibrant cities.  With its hot, humid climate, Thailand is perfect for sun worshipers and those looking to escape cold winters (and save on utility bills).  While single men flock to Pattaya or Phuket, “in Chiang Mai there is a very active singles scene for both men and women,” according to Steve Le Poidevin with International Living magazine.  While Chiang Mai offers upscale restaurants, fancy condos, nightclubs, and designer shops, the cost of living is still low.  A visit to the doctor will only set you back $10, a studio apartment can had for only $400 per month and you can travel inexpensively across Thailand or to other nearby countries for several hundred dollars or less.  Singles looking for company can find lots of ex-pat communities and local interest groups to join where they can embrace sanook (fun).

Best Place to Retire for Those Who Love the Outdoors – Costa Rica

Like Thailand, Costa Rica offers beautiful beaches; a warm, tropical climate and bargain real estate.  Healthcare is very affordable – once you become a resident, you can pay 7-11% of your monthly income to have access to the government run medical program.  Private insurance is also available and many doctors take Tricare, the health insurance program for military retirees.  If you love the outdoors and staying active, Costa Rica is one of the best places to retire with its variety of activities such as fishing, golfing, hiking, diving and yoga.  The Costa Ricans are warm, friendly people and there are many ex-pats who will welcome you and help you acclimate to your new country.

Best Country in Europe to Retire – Portugal 

It is easy to see why Portugal made both International Living and U.S. News & World Report’s lists of the best and most affordable places to retire overseas.  A popular vacation destination for Brits, Germans and other Northern Europeans, Portugal boasts great golf courses, many museums and interesting historical sites and some of the most beautiful beaches in world.  Not only is Portugal the fourth safest country in the world but it is also the second lease expensive in Europe.  A multi-course lunch in a nice neighborhood bistro will cost around $10 per person and healthcare is a fraction of what it costs in the U.S.  English is widely spoken in Portugal, especially in the popular ex-pat city of Algrave, the locals are welcoming and the beach communities boast over 300 hours of sunshine a year.  If you do want to leave, it is easy to fly to other European cities from Libson.

Best Overall Country to Retire – Mexico 

Mexico also tops International Living and U.S. News & World Report’s lists of the best places to retire.  Perhaps because of its proximity to the U.S., Mexico has more North American ex-pats than any city in the world.  It is a country with beautiful, warm beaches, tropical lakes, mountains, deserts and world-class restaurants and entertainment in places like Mexico City.  Retirees are flocking to San Miguel de Allende, Lake Chapala, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán.  Mexico also has a low cost of living.  A two bedroom home with outdoor terrace in a resort community is less than $150,000 and, once residency is established, you can sign up for the “Seguro Popular” health insurance plan that costs a few hundred dollars per year.  In Mexico, a couple can easily live for $1500-$3000/month making it one of the most affordable places to retire.

Moving aboard is a big step.  Suggestions for those looking to retire overseas include spending time or vacationing in a destination you want to move to first, to see if you like it; moving to a city or town with other ex-pats and renting before committing to buying a home.  If you feel more comfortable retiring domestically check out our best retirement towns in America. To continue reading about the best places to retire aboard, click on the links below.

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