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Best Places To Retire Abroad

by retirebyforty on October 20, 2011 · 42 comments

in early retirement, guest post

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Author Bio: This is a guest post by YFS from yourfinancessimplified.com

The US economy currently isn’t at its best. Right now the economy is on a topsy-turvy ride as it battles the influences of the European debt crisis. This would have been ok, had it not been for the recent 2008 economic recession. According to a special index made by the Labor Department that measures the actual cost of living of Americans, this year hit a record high, surpassing even the highest point of July 2008. And this new record was set only in February of 2011. This index is influenced by factors such as economic instability, rising consumer goods prices, and unemployment.

Considering the expensive cost of living in the US, retirees are now looking for feasible options where they can enjoy their retirement life to the fullest. According to CBS Money Watch back in 2010, there are 500,000 retirees living overseas, and that number is quickly increasing. So where exactly is the best place to retire abroad? Below is a list of the top 6 best places to retire abroad. This list takes into consideration the cost of living, adequate health care services, and real estate components. And of course, an English-speaking nation will always be a plus.

1. Bocas del Toro, Panama

One of the reasons why Panama is on top of the list is because of its close proximity to mainland USA. The area of Bocas del Toro is just a one-hour flight from Panama City. The climate is of course tropical, so retirees can enjoy the warmth of the sun with just a few rainy seasons. Hospitals are available in the main island of Bocas del Toro, but most expats prefer the hospitals in Panama City. The cost of living is also generally cheap, as a retired couple can comfortably live on a $1,500 budget a month.

What makes Panama so enticing for retirees is of course the presence of turquoise waters, sandy beaches, and tropical rain forests. Although Spanish is the main language, there are many locals who can speak good English. And to make it even easier, their currency is the US dollar.

2. Nha Trang, Vietnam

Situated in the coast of South-Central Vietnam, Nha Trang features miles and miles of beautiful beaches and large mountain ranges. The Cam Ranh International Airport is just 25 miles from the area and there is also a 1,000 bed Khanh Hoa General Hospital located in the city. What makes this place so alluring aside from its beautiful beaches is the ridiculously cheap cost of living. A retired couple can live comfortably with less than $600, and having a budget of $1,000 can allow you to live a luxurious life. Although English isn’t widely spoken, there is a small population of foreigners, with restaurants and bars that cater to them.

3. Roatan, Honduras

The Honduras is well know for the world’s second largest coral reef, and it has stretches of white sand beaches and warm ocean waters. One of the best things about this area is the nonstop flights from the U.S to Roatan International airport. There are also two hospitals and several clinics on the island, with larger facilities in the mainland. The average temperature is about 81 degrees which is considered to be tropical. The cost of living is also fairly low, as a retired couple can live well on a $1,200 monthly budget. There is also an established expat community, making retirees feel right at home. The only downside is that the Honduras lies in the hurricane belt.

4. Merida, Mexico

Different from the previous retiree getaways, Merida is less of beaches but more of city colonial charm. The city holds a European feel with many opera houses and cathedrals to see. The climate is tropical and there is an international airport with nonstop flights to the US. Mexico City is just 2 hours away by plane. There is also a growing population of retirees which has resulted in English newspapers and libraries. Mexico is in third place on the Global Retirement Index for cost of living, and a retired American couple can live the good life for only $1,700 per month.

5. Bearn, France

If Europe is more of your feel, Bearn France would be one of the best places to go. The area takes you back in time as it is an epitome of a quaint medieval town. It is complete with castles, churches and vineyards, and hunting and fishing are the favorite past times. The cost of living in Bearn is much cheaper than other well-known areas in France. For only $2,000, it is possible to live a comfortable retirement there. Although there is no main airport in the area and no nonstop flights to the US, it is possible to get connecting flights via Paris, London, etc.

6. Corozal Town, Belize

For those retirees who are looking for a peaceful place to live but yet has the convenience of large amenities such as malls and museums, Corozal Town in Belize is the place to go. It has a warm climate all year round, and one of its biggest perks is that English is the main language. The government is also supportive of retirees as it runs a “qualified retired persons” programs that allows retired individuals to get tax-free imports of household goods and other products. A retired American couple can enjoy living in the city for only $2,500 per month.

The perks of living abroad are already quite obvious. First of all, retirees can enjoy beautiful surroundings with either a choice of pristine beaches, sweeping countryside, or cultural beauty. And even more than that, the value of their dollar can go a long way. Retirees can purchase beautiful homes on the cheap, plus it will just seem as if they are on a long vacation without pending work to get back to.

If you were to retire now, which one of these places would you choose and why?

retirebyforty> I choose Belize. Final answer! :) Belize has great beaches and English is their official language. We visited Caye Caulker and snorkel at the Blue Hole and other spots about 10 years back. It was a great visit, but $2,500/month is quite expensive. Actually, I would consider Thailand too since I can speak the language and it is much more affordable than the US.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Alexa October 20, 2011 at 6:16 am

I would pick France just because I love Europe and I dont really see myself at 80 out on a beach. I see myself tending to my garden and relaxing with a glass of wine!

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retirebyforty October 20, 2011 at 1:42 pm

France sounds nice too. I’ve only been to Paris, but would love to explore the countryside more.

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changeonabudget October 20, 2011 at 5:27 pm

You won’t regret visiting – its so beautiful and the people are 1000x friendlier than in Paris! I spent 3 months in France biking through the countryside and camping for less than 15 euros a day! Wish I could go back every day.

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retirebyforty October 21, 2011 at 10:04 am

That sounds great! We’ll probably have to hold off for about 5 years or so. Once the kid is a bit older, we can all have a lot of fun visiting.

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MoneyCone October 20, 2011 at 6:42 am

Something that’s on my mind! I would choose one that has a history of stability and a lower cost of living than the US.

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YFS @ YourfinancesSimplified October 20, 2011 at 8:14 am

MC,

Good suggestion.

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Little House October 20, 2011 at 6:45 am

I’ve posted about retiring abroad and Belize sounds very nice, especially since it doesn’t require learning a new language to move there. The one draw back many people have (myself included) is being far away from family. I don’t have kids yet, but even if I don’t ever have kids, I’d be far from my siblings. I don’t really live near them now, but most of us live in the same country (one of us lives in Dubai, so it would be very similar to his situation). As I get closer to retirement, this might be an option for me, but it would really mean building a support network in another country.

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retirebyforty October 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm

That’s true. I haven’t thought about the family aspect all that much. There are so many ways to connect these days and the family can always come visit me at the beach. :)

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Alex | Perfecting Dad October 21, 2011 at 8:20 pm

I’ve visited Belize. It’s not that nice. The beaches aren’t great. The diving is supposed to be great, but unless you just want snorkeling it’s a boat ride to get there. The interior is quite bland except for the border city of San Ignacio, which is absolutely delightful. But then you’re hours from the ocean. Belize is also expensive because they havee the queen on the dollars.

Many North Americans have bought property there.

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YFS @ YourfinancesSimplified October 20, 2011 at 6:51 am

Nice choice on Belize! That was my choice as well especially with the qualified retired persons program.

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Suba October 20, 2011 at 8:09 am

I am form India, so my first choice is India. Belize does sound good. Just by reading this post, I like Panama next. But as MC said, my first choice would be safety & stability.

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retirebyforty October 20, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I hear ya. It’s easier to go with what we know and it is much more affordable in India.

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Bill Birnbaum October 20, 2011 at 8:12 am

For anyone interested in retiring abroad, I would suggest spending some months in the intended country as a “trial run.” Upon retirement, my wife and I moved to the Peruvian Andes where we lived and worked voluntarily. We made a number of Peruvian friends and got a good feel for the culture. I’d advise those interested in moving overseas to do similarly. Bill

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retirebyforty October 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm

That’s a great advice. I think you need at least a 6 months trial run. A short vacation aren’t the same as living there.

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Financial Success for Young Adults October 20, 2011 at 8:15 am

I like Vietnam or Panama as a choice, the picture got me! :)
I’m definitely considering retiring abroad, it would be nice to wake up to the ocean everyday.

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MoneyforCollegePro October 20, 2011 at 9:04 am

My wife and I are heading to Roatan Honduras in a few weeks on a Cruise. I will report back and let everyone know whether or not it will be worth it to retire there!

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retirebyforty October 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Excellent! I’m looking forward to it.

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krantcents October 20, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Although I love to travel, I will continue to live in the U.S. because that is where my children live. I want to see them often. When grandchildren come along, those are additional reasons.

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changeonabudget October 20, 2011 at 5:29 pm

France without a doubt for me. I feel in love with the culture and being Canadian, could get by with the French I learned in school. I am always conniving and scheming up ways I can move there!

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changeonabudget October 20, 2011 at 5:30 pm

More specifically, I vote for Corsica. If you have never been, its the place I most recommend. I can’t believe how amazing it is there!

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MR October 20, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Whenever I see place like these, it makes me wish I could travel more…

I think “Corozal Town, Belize” sounds great too, but “Nha Trang, Vietnam” also looks awesome, and I would like to visit there now (even just for a vacation)!

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retirebyforty October 21, 2011 at 10:05 am

Belize would be a nice visit. It’s not that far away and it’s easy for English speakers.

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Barb Friedberg October 20, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Travel abroad, you bet. Retire abroad. I don’t think so. Medical care and family keep me in N. America!

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Squirrelers October 20, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I think at this point, my long-term plans are going to involve staying home in the U.S. Can’t imagine moving away from people close to me. At least that far away, anyway. Additionally, to me there’s something to be said for staying with my country. Not to mention top health care here, despite stories about basic procedures being cheap abroad.

Now, would I like to vacation to certain places abroad…yes! With the lousy weather here in the Chicago area today (40′s, rain, wind), a tropical vacation already sounds nice. Perhaps it’s not great that I’m saying this already, and winter hasn’t even arrived yet :)

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retirebyforty October 21, 2011 at 10:06 am

Do we really have the best health care? I know we have the most expensive…
I don’t know if I can live in other countries full time either. Maybe 10 months out of the year or something like that would be a good compromise.

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Roshawn @ Watson Inc October 20, 2011 at 11:02 pm

I’ve wanted to go to Belize for some time. However, retiring there is probably not going to happen. That’s said, this post is very interesting. Still, like Ray said, I couldn’t imagine leaving the people close to me. That sacrifice seems too great right now.

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adie andrews October 21, 2011 at 3:18 am

Speaking about retirement I can’t wait for that time and for sure I will choose some of this untraditional destinations.

Greets property inventory service

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Alex | Perfecting Dad October 21, 2011 at 8:21 pm

I read that St Kitts is a great place because they will give you citizenship easily. Is that true? Anyone been?

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Dividend Mantra October 22, 2011 at 9:02 pm

I’m surprised the Philippines didn’t make the list. English is widely spoken, it’s extremely cheap compared to living in the U.S., health care is pretty solid in the big cities, tons of white sand beaches, major airport hubs and a warm climate. They also have a very friendly visa program in place. It’s currently #1 on my list of places to retire outside of the U.S. if I decide to do that.

Panama and Belize both seem nice, but from my research I’ve found them to be expensive and rising due to popularity.

On this list, Roatan would probably be my pick. Fairly cheap, pretty beaches and safe. Vietnam would be cheaper, but the lack of infrastructure, language barrier and a few other obstacles would make me pass.

Great article!

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retirebyforty October 23, 2011 at 10:01 pm

I’ll have to visit visit Philippines at some point. Sounds like they have pretty good food too.
Yeah, Belize is a little pricey.

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Kevin @ Thousandaire.com October 24, 2011 at 9:20 am

I’ll take Panama. And I don’t think I’ll wait until I’m 65 to do it. Yay retirement!

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Panama Deja Vû October 25, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Panama is the Place to be!!

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Kevin@RothIRA October 25, 2011 at 6:15 pm

This sounds like an excellent way to stretch retirement assets, especially if they aren’t quite what you need them to be to cover retired life here in the US.

It would take some long-term planning to make an international move like any of these. The real advantage would be to be prepared for the cost of retirement in the US, then to take a move to a less expensive country as a bonus. Who knows–you might do it for a few years, then move back to be closer to family or just because you miss home!

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Teri Green November 16, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Yes there are a lot of options for a retiree to chose from as far retirement places outside of the U.S. With a bit of research and advance planning I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to find or make your own list of places you think might be suitable for your lifestyle, of course considering some factors like the language, the cost of property and the cost of living, health care services, weather, and etc. Having the cheap one doesn’t mean you can’t have the best right?

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