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10 Best International Places to Retire

Category: International Retirement

March 26, 2013 — Note: This is Part 1 of a 2 part series on international places to retire. Part 2 is “The Pros, Cons, and Considerations of an International Retirement“.

Our friend Dennis asked us recently where we thought the best place to retire was – internationally. The question took us by surprise, partly because it came from a man who has traveled the world extensively, and who also has a home in Costa Rica – wouldn’t Dennis have a better grip here than us? The question got us thinking and looking back through our past Blog articles – just what do we think are the best places to retire internationally?

It turns out that, although we have written many articles about international retirements, most of them have to do with the issue of whether or not to retire abroad, rather than where to do it (see end of article for references). You will note that our list is quite different than what you might see from the usual providers of “best international places to retire”, especially those aggressively promoted by International Living. We can’t figure out what is so great about retirement in Latin America, other than perhaps the cost of living – so our list is much more Euro-centric. Call us conventional, but we like: stable governments; low crime rates; the ability to mix with ordinary people; great food, wine, and culture; and 1st world dependability and bureaucracies.

Caveats – Things you need to consider
As with all retirement decisions, this is a highly personal one. Assuming you have made a careful decision to retire abroad, here are some of the factors that might influence your own choice of where to make that stand:
– Your finances
– Ability with foreign languages (and which ones)
– Love of a particular country or culture
– Amount of adventure you seek (including crime rates, desire to experience other cultures)
– Live in a gated compound, or not
– Ability to cope with 2nd and 3rd world bureaucracies
– Flexibility

Our Top 10 Places to Live Internationally
This a highly subjective list. There are doubtless cheaper places to retire, and perhaps more beautiful. The choices on this list reflect those of a hypothetical person/couple with: low to medium ability in a foreign language, preference for Europe to Latin America or Asia, low to medium amount of adventure and flexibility, limited desire to live in a gated compound, low tolerance for bureaucracies where bribes and capriciousness rule. Note that it might not be possible for U.S. citizens to live full-time in some of these countries because of visa restrictions; you would have to live somewhere else for part of the year. Finally, our recommendations are more country than city-specific – there are many towns in most of these countries that would be great for retirement.

1. Ireland. We love Ireland, the land of many of our ancestors. We speak the language, more or less (excepting Gaelic), and the people and their names seem so familiar. In fact, the names on gravestones made us feel like we were in our old parish graveyard. Killarney on the Ring of Kerry is a small city with many amenities including restaurants, a very walkable downtown, and some world class golf courses. It would make for a great place to retire where there would be plenty to do.

There are countless small villages both on the coast and in the countryside that would also make great places to retire. Towns in the west like Lahinch, Doolin, Waterville, Tralee, Dingle, and Ballybunion are charming with many pubs and restaurants, small shops, and quiet neighborhoods. The towns we mention will be quite familiar to golfers; some of the world’s great public golf courses are located in these towns. (Photo: Cliffs of Moher on Ireland’s west coast). Galway is another town that people mention for retirement.

irelandIreland, the so called “Celtic Tiger”, was tamed a bit with the spectacular economic collapse that started in 2007. The silver lining of the collapse is that real estate prices are much more realistic than they were during the run-up.  It is relatively easy for Americans to reside here if you, your parents, or your grandparents were born here.  Even if that is not your case, you can probably also qualify for  a “permission to remain” residency if you can prove you can support yourself.  Scotland, a neighbor of Ireland, is a great place to retire as well and very similar.

2. France. This Gallic nation has been described as the best example of a country where you get what you pay for: the museums, culture, food, wine, atmosphere and health care are all excellent. While living in Paris is extremely expensive, it is possible to buy a small apartment for $200,000 or so in the countryside or small town. The Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France is along the Mediterranean and has a host of great towns to live in. Montpelier is a small city with many nice places to live, Nimes has Roman ruins, and Perpignan would be a great place to retire. Elsewhere in Provence are towns like Arles, Nice, and Avignon and countless other charming towns.
See “The Dream of France” from AARP. You will need to brush up on your high school french essential to fit in and really enjoy the life here.

3. Coast of Spain. Spain has long been popular with Europeans seeking a warmer place to winter and retire. Its sun-baked coast between cosmopolitan and exciting Barcelona and Gilbraltar is filled with cities and towns that might make an easy retirement. Like the rest of Europe, the food and wine is spectacular and the beaches are warm in winter. Almeria is an ancient town popular with tourists for its many sights, including the nearby Cabo de Gata Natural Park. Like in Ireland, the global financial crisis has not been kind to Spain. That’s bad news for the locals, good news for outsiders coming in.

4. Italy. Lucca or the Abbuzzo region of Italy could be great places to retire. It is hard not to be enthusiastic about Lucca. This charming little town in Tuscany about 50 miles west of Florence has become a popular retirement spot for British, French, and German retirees. The old walled city has a population of only 7,500 and is by far the most interesting part of town. It has spectacular squares, shops, restaurants, and churches. It is not inexpensive, but the setting and lifestyle are wonderful.

Square in Lucca, Italy

The Abbruzzo region, a bit more affordable than Lucca or Rome, is about 50 miles east of Rome and extends to the Adriatic coast. L’Aquila is the capital of the region and would make a nice retirement base. The region has many protected hill towns of great beauty and charm. Did we mention Italian food or ambiance? To fit in here you had best learn Italian, and get used to a Latin pace.

5. Costa Rica. Ask just about any knowledge international person what is the safest and most stable country in Latin America or Central America and you will probably be told – Costa Rica. This country in Central America above Panama is famed for having no army, a stable government and economy, and being in the vanguard of eco-tourism. Many expatriates from all over the world have retired here, although housing prices can be high. San Jose is the largest city and is located in the center. Limon is on the north (Caribbean) coast while Santa Cruz and San Isidro are on the south (Pacific) coast. Little towns like Tambor can make for an interesting retirement. Infrastructure is still a work in progress in Costa Rica, exacerbated by its hilly terrain. Most highways are not good. Also on the downside for Costa Rica, prices have gone up – you pay for the added security and confidence. See our Retirement Guide to Costa Rica.

6. Croatia. This is an offbeat choice, one hard to imagine 20 years ago. But the Dalmatian Coast is coming into its own since the civil wars of recent history ended. The residents are flourishing and construction is everywhere. Prices are affordable. The scenery and beauty of towns like Pula, Split, and Dubrovnick are breathtaking – ancient walled Roman cities on the Adriatic that lie beneath towering mountains. Montenegro, situated just below Croatia, is a tiny new country loved by expatriates. Speaking negatively, you would be in on the ground floor – and hoping that peace and prosperity continue. Photo below is from the walls above Dubrovnik. dubrovnik

7. New Zealand. Anyone who has seen “The Hobbit” film series, or seen a slide show from a friend who visited here, understands the beautiful appeal of New Zealand. Tall (990 miles) and narrow (widest part 250 miles), it is made up of 2 big islands and many smaller ones. It is situated southeast of Australia and below Fiji. The people are friendly and love the outdoors – hiking, fishing, skiing, climbing, golf, gardening, are popular and first rate. There are a multitude of parks – both national and city. The biggest cities are Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Hamilton. But there are many smaller towns that would make for a great retirement. On the downside – if you move to New Zealand, one of the last places on earth to be settled, you will be very far from whence you came.  Immigration to New Zealand is very difficult though unless you have some connection to the country. And it is so far away that living there part of the year would be difficult.

8. Panama. The home of the famous canal between the oceans has much appeal for the expatriate retirement. For one, it has many Americans there already, many of them living in active communities or developments that feel familiar. It is a stable country with no currency risk, since it uses American greenbacks. There is a big coastline with plenty of beaches, and of course it is warm all year round. Boquete, a lush resort with a cooler elevation of 3,200 is a popular retirement spot to consider.

Lake Chapala

9. Mexico. Mexico has several virtues for retirement. For a big starter, the cost of living is lower than north of the Rio Grande. Medical care is first rate and inexpensive – doctors even make house calls. Many of the stores are familiar, and much English is spoken. There are many towns away from the border that are considered safe, and those include the World Heritage site San Miguel de Allende, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Lake Chapala. Although just about everyone in North America is familiar with the horrendous drug-related violence in northern Mexico near the U.S. border, there are parts of Mexico where you can feel safe. Your editor was on the lower Baja Peninsua 2 years ago and from a security standpoint it felt like we were in a part of the USA.

10. Ecuador, especially Cuenca. Cuenca is already a favorite place for many people to retire. This World Heritage Site was founded in 1557 and sits in the mountains at 8,000′, surrounded by 4 rivers. There are old cathedrals and an inviting wilderness to to explore. Salinas is another town that has been recommended for retirement. Many people come to Cuenca for the low cost of living, where a decent income from Social Security can support a nice lifestyle. Although there are parts of Ecuador that a lot of North Americans would not feel at home in, Cuenca is expatriate friendly.

Honorable Mention
We hear many good things about retirement in Uruguay. The country is stable politically and economically, it has beautiful beaches, and the dollar or euro goes far.

For further reading
You can use our Directory to find lists of towns and communities within most of these countries. Note that we will be expanding our international city reviews in the coming months – suggestions and your experiences are encouraged.
Part 2: The Pros, Cons, and Considerations of an International Retirement

See “10 Questions to Ask Before You Retire Abroad
Our Mini-Retirement Guides to 50 States and Many Countries
A Move to Ireland: A Texas Couple Moves to County Sligo
Mexican Retirement Gone Bad
Taking Baby Steps to a Mexican Retirement

Do you have experience with retiring abroad that you can share? Or have you been thinking about moving overseas for one reason or other? Please share your experiences, hopes, and ruminations in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on March 26th, 2013


  1. Cotacachi, Ecuador is where my husband and I have purchased a condo for our retirement. Right now we only spend winters there but are looking forward to more time there soon. The American dollars is the currency, electricity is the same so no plug converters needed and the people are welcoming. It’slike living in Mayberry, RFD. More North Americans all the time, including single women who can’t survive on paltry Soc. Sec. payments. Safe, small town.

    by Priscilla Purinton — March 27, 2013

  2. I’ve been subscribing to a newsletter called “Live and Invest in Overseas” and it’s quite interesting how many American ex-pats have been moving to places like Belize, or Cuenca, Ecuador, etc. Would be a “huge” move, but when I read about the places in the newsletter and see the pictures, it sure can make me want to move there. A friend of a friend is moving from Redding, CA to Cuenca, Ecuador and I’ll be interested to hear how she likes it once she has been there a while.

    I just read a lot about Medellin, Colombia and the pictures that are on the internet look fantastic. I’m subscribed to a website about retiring to a place that is cheap and nice. Sure is tempting, but I don’t know how I would move all my things and car down there. The company that has the website (the one I’m subscribed to) is going to have a conference down there in May for about $1,000 or less so that anyone who is interested in maybe moving down there can personally see what it is like. Looks pretty good to me.

    by Ursula — March 27, 2013

  3. Ursula, I don’t want to dissuade you from deciding to move to Columbia (or anywhere), but i do urge you to be cautious and investigate everything carefully before you make a decision. If you search on the Internet you will find that there are many unhappy people who made a retirement move abroad because they saw some pretty pictures and heard some tall promises. Moving abroad to a 3rd world country is a big deal. Of course many who do this are happy with their decision too. My point – don’t believe everything you read, and be a smart consumer!

    by John Brady — March 27, 2013

  4. Everything that’s been said about using caution before moving to a 3rd world country is is true, but I could say the same of a New Yorker moving to Texas (or vice versa). It may be the same langurage but wildly different cultures. I’ve lived in VA/CO/CA/Thailand and Brazil. Now I’m retired and planning on renting someplace I’ve never been to for 6 months, then I’ll probably move again. One day I may find the “prfect” place (if it exists), but until then I think moving and renting will suit me just fine.

    by John — March 27, 2013

  5. I’m a Texan who has lived in England for the past 11 years. Living overseas has its charms, but aside from personal safety and the cost of living, as retirees we must also consider access to health care. Not only cost but in terms of desirability. Europe generally has good health care provided you are granted access to it. I would recommend France without reserve but only if you’re willing to become fairly fluent in the language. Generally they are the least likely folks to want to speak English. Spain is a good second choice but beware of areas being too remote.

    by JaneHakes — March 27, 2013

  6. I would like to ask John how he finds his rentals. The usual places (vrbo, homestay, etc) cater to short term and are, hence, very expensive. Does he have other suggestions? Thank you.

    by Bev Reusser — March 27, 2013

  7. Interesting article on CNET re Ecuador:
    Amazing country, and would make my short list if I wanted to retire overseas. I just don’t think you can justify it for purely financial reasons.

    by Kathy — March 27, 2013

  8. I live in Chiang Mai, Thailand for the past 8 years and will probably live here the rest of my life.:grin:

    by Joseph — March 27, 2013

  9. Anyone thinking of retiring in New Zealand should start by checking the strict immigration rules related to age.

    by Ron — March 27, 2013

  10. Joseph – one of my Doctors recommended Chiang Mai- and would like to get more information I am a little wary of some of the things I find on the internet – some been there done that would help me decide – reliable links etc. Thanks

    by BillS — March 28, 2013

  11. My wife and I have been very happy in the Philippines now for nearly 7 years. Moving here was a great decision. If for some reason we had to move, Thailand (where I lived several years in the past) would would be my next choice.

    Asia is not the choice for a great many Americans, which is fine with me … I took a look at many popular US places, ike “Adult Communities” in Florida and they left me cold. I cna spend the whole day without one depressing discussion regarding the ills of Medicare or who is in the White House or what Congress is or isn’t doing. Suits me fine.

    by Dave Starr — March 29, 2013

  12. Roberto
    I’m retired also,and I’ve learned a few things myself. never underestimate anyone or anything. There a good number of us who have been around, and I can say unequivocally that there are places where “gringos” are readily accepted and places where they are targets. I am well aware of anti-Americanism, it was part of my “job” so to speak. Having said this “etal”, there are places where we Americans are welcome, will remain so, because they are accepted into, even integrated into the society/culture. If one accepts these people and adapt to their culture etc, there is no problem. Blend in, be a part of, do not set oneself aside, much less “above” the population. It’s most often arrogance and the ignorance that goes with it that alienates.

    by Jeff — March 29, 2013

  13. To DAve, just askin What does an Expat do for health care in the Phillipines? and isn’t the humidity horrible??

    by Mark P — March 30, 2013

  14. @ Mark P

    Good questions, mark. First of all, I feel I enjoy excellent care here. I have several good doctors, had a double cataract/lenes replacement operation done a couple years ago for less than 1/4th the cost in the USA, see a specialist when I want to for about $9.00. That’s not my co-pay, that’s the whole pay at his office in our local hospital. I also have something not many Americans back in the USA have .. my doctor’s cell phone number in my phone, along with his receptionist’s. When I need to see the doc, I text the receptionist, she puts my name on the list and texts me back when I am 10 or 15 minutes away from the doc being ready for me. Great service from great people.

    The negative for some folks is, as you may know, Medicare does not pay overseas so the only way I have access to Medicare is to go back to the US .. something I doubt I’ll ever do.

    I have medical insurance from the US military (I’m a retiree) and it does cover me here, so if my bills get high enough, I can submit for reimbursement through them. Or, I can buy commercial health insurance from Blue Cross Philippines which is very cost competitive with anything available in the USA.

    Regarding humidity? Well some day’s it’s sticky, someday’s it’s dry as the dickens, same as any other sub-tropical areas like, say, Florida. Frankly, the worst places I have ever been bothered by humidity in my career which spanned the globe is Washington DC and Tokyo,Japan, both farther north in the temperate zone. Meanwhile I look at the weather cams in US cites where I used to live almost every night (morning back there) and chuckle as I watch the little worker bees shiver and slip and slide on their morning commute. I’ll tkae humidity over snow any day in my life.

    Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

    by Dave Starr — March 31, 2013

  15. On needs to be aware that there are many companies selling the wonders of Latin America and they are doing so for profit and without regard to your well-being whatsoever. Simple fact (“Small Arms 2012”-Univ of Geneva): Latin America is 6x more violent than the rest of the world. As an American you can easily become the target for a plethora of crimes for which there isn’t ample space here to describe. Do research and avoid Internet hucksters. Consider Europe.

    by JimyP — April 1, 2013

  16. I have read some of the comments left by those seeking a new and exciting place to spend their retirement. I have been living in Costa Rica for the past 4 years and have traveled to Guatamala, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, and Nicaragua. I went to see Cuenca and was frightened. Sure, people live there. Happy Gringos, I expect. But on my first day, a young man told me how he had been robbed at gunpoint coming from the beach. They took his Blackberry and his cash. The next morning at breakfast I met an elder man and his wife whose portable Mac computers (2) had been stolen on the bus. That same day, when I went to a shop selling indiginous crafts, the owner told me to “put your camera away, the boys in the streets with knoves will take them from you.” The next day two missionary ladies told me how they had had earrings, jewelry, and a purse stolen from them. Now, I had just spent a month in Peru and never had this experience. Likely I will not go back without an armed guard or an Ecuadorian friend. Too bad, I am a photographer, but travel solo.

    by John — April 1, 2013

  17. Interesting review and comments. Did you notice that the profane and angry remarkers feel safer in the US? I have lived overseas when I was younger and now facing retirement am thinking about going back. You take yourself and your own predjudices/behaviors with you. Every place has it’s issues, and I will consider them carefully. Keep the articles coming. Thank you.

    by Erica — April 1, 2013

  18. We live in Ecuador, if you want to be robbed this is the place to come!

    by Tom — April 1, 2013

  19. Dave you forget to mention that in the Philippines there is no 911 and traffic won’t yield and give ways to ambulance. Yes it’s true that there is an easy access to good doctors as long as you have money. Even if your in the ER they will let you buy your IVY.My point is you can’t go to a hospital if your not loaded with money. In the US hospital would save you first before they will let you pay but not in the Philippines. Also, unlike in the US you could check out with account balance and you could pay through installment but again not in the Philippines. Let’s say your total bills is $1000.00 for five days confinement in the hospital. Your doctor gives you the release order but you can’t come up for the total amount for that day. You cannot get out and of course every day extension of your stay in the hospital is additional to your bills because they will charge you for the room. You need a prayer too that you won’t be a victim of malpractice. Literally you could sue but in the Philippines? goodluck for that.

    by Helen C. — April 1, 2013

  20. Never had a problem in Ecuador. Should be higher on the list. Its safe, cheap, uses the dollar and has great topography. Ecuador is number one in my book. Here is how we moved there at

    by Luna — April 1, 2013

  21. Indonesia, such as Bali or Bandung are not in the list???..the writer might have not visited Indonesia.

    by Yudho — April 1, 2013

  22. Don’t come to Honduras. Besiodes being deemed the murder capitol of the world. There are missing sewer covers, blackwater and potholes on several streete. Beggars won’t leave you alone and everyone erlse will consider you wealthy if you are visiting here. Corruption and crime are ways of life for many.

    by Ron Gamble — April 1, 2013

  23. What happened to Roatan? A few years back every top ten places to retire out of the the U.S. had Roatan, Honduras on it. I know Carnival recently bought a big chunk of it so their cruise ships can port there now. I would think this would add to security but did it also make the cost of living go way up. I was stationed in Honduras in 2000 and absolutely fell in love with the Bay Islands. Does anyone have any feedback?

    by Matt — April 1, 2013

  24. The absolute jewel of Costa Rica is the Little Switzerland area, famed for its mountains, waterfalls and gorgeous views. Turrialba is the main town. Google either “Little Switzerland, Costa Rica” or “Turrialba”. YouTube also has some videos

    by David Rushton — April 1, 2013

  25. Really? Mexico? the place you go to get killed. It is not safe there. Have you checked Vanuatu? They speak english, and the Cost of Living is excellent. And they allow you to go there to retire. Tax rate of 0%

    by mark — April 1, 2013

  26. I have been living in Costa Rica for 2 years and love it! I live in the Turrialba area (Little Switzerland) close to both San Jose and the beach but without the humid weather and crowded city. For me, this area is perfect. Do locals see me as a “Gringa”? Maybe, but, after all, I am a “Gringa”. I am however treated fairly. Perhaps because I ask questions and price shop… just like I did while living in the states.

    by Shelly — April 1, 2013

  27. All things considered the Philippines! Low cost of living, nice culture and awesome traditions year-round, great places all over, good cuisine, friendly and hospitable people, English-speaking, fun activities 24/7!

    by Bonjie Mart — April 1, 2013

  28. I have been to the Philippines 24 different times in the last 14 years. That is the place to go. Tagolog is the national language, but English is the official language. Some 70 differnt languages and/or dialects are spoken there. When you drive by an elementary school you will hear first graders (and kindergarden kids) singing english nursery rhymes. Of all the asiand, James Michener in his book Hawaii, said the Filipinos were the ones best trusted and have the most love for Americans and other ex pats. Very friendly people. Cheap living – rents, taxis etc.

    by Tommy — April 1, 2013

  29. There are places where Americans, (and Europeans), are targets, period. There are places in the US where we are targets also. Any place where there are poor, mostly lawless, people, anyone with apparent cash or valuables will have a problem. On the other hand, When Manual Noriega was showing himself in Panama, the indigenous population protected, hid, and otherwise cared for Americans who lived there. The same can be said of parts of Nicaragua when Daniel Ortega was showing off. I would not move to parts of Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, or San Salvador anymore than I would retire to Detroit or L.A. Panama, Belize, and English speaking country, or Costa Rica are on my list. Becoming part of the indigenous population does not mean one has to live in a hut with a thatched roof off some jungle path surrounded by howler monkeys either.

    by Jeff — April 1, 2013

  30. Ever consider Monaco? Very nice indeed. Just kidding. After all, it’s April 1st. Happy April Fool’s Day!

    by — April 1, 2013

  31. I’m not american,but I’ve been in the US for more than 3 years and I traveled to many countries. I don’t undesrstand why you want to retire in another counntry? y’ve get a great country but the problem is with you: the society,family & neighbors relations…I think a retiree should close to his family & friends.

    by monce — April 1, 2013

  32. Why not Portugal, Madeira island, Azores ?
    don’t understand some of the criteria used. Aorry.

    by Expat — April 1, 2013

  33. Hi.. great article. I have been seriously thinking of retiring in The Dominican Republic. Does anybody have any information that I may look into? I was there on business last year, and I saw somo serious possibilities.


    by JOE LOPEZ — April 1, 2013

  34. Admittedly, I think lists like this are foolish because they encourage Americans to settle into boring overseas expat communities and limit their interactions with locals. However, I think fear mongers are even more foolish — and dangerous.

    I’ve visited over 60 countries in my life. Born and raised in the Midwest, I’ve lived overseas for at least 6 months and for up to 2 years in each of the following countries: UK, Singapore, Malaysia, China, and India. I’ve been to 5 of the poorest countries on earth; I wouldn’t recommend them to the average American, but I did’t have any problems there. And I even spent a month last year in Mexico and have to agree with the writer — in places like Baja, you have nothing to fear.

    The only crime I’ve ever suffered was back home in the US. If you’re smart, open minded to the bigger world, and not an offensive stereotypical hawkish lout, you’re not going to have any problems going overseas. You don’t have to be afraid. And you don’t have to go where every other white American goes. The world is big. Have some guts and get out there. And go sooner than later — because your dollar won’t always be worth what it is now.

    by David — April 1, 2013

  35. I’m surprised there wasno mention of how much cheaper medication can be elsewhere. I don’t know if the doctors are any better or worse, but medication often seems to be cheaper.

    by Sophie — April 1, 2013

  36. 😕
    Any reason for leaving out Ghana West Africa the best place on earth God created almost at the Centre of the world with Gold almost everywhere, diamonds, bauxite, manganese, 12 hours of Sun, chocolate galore, best democracy in Africa, friendly industrious people, great talents in many area, peace loving people, A very green country. Just check Ghana out the Capital of the Global world. You can’t best the rich Ashanti culture in the Kingdom of gold!

    by Anthony Ossei — April 1, 2013


    by George K — April 1, 2013

  38. I am from Panama and we can’t wait until my hubby retire to move there. If you like the ocean we have both Pacific and Atlantic (less than 1 hour driving) and if you like mountains we have spectacular ones. A pcp doctor charge around 8 dollars per visit and specialist 25 dollars, even if my husband is a retired from USA he will have same benefits as a panamanian, 20% dicounts in hotels, restaurants, dr offices, plane tickets, utilities etc. and if you do not like humidity or warm weather there are many reliable ac companies in Panama City.

    by Annie — April 1, 2013

  39. […] For further reading: 10 Best Places to Retire Internationally […]

    by » A Puerto Rican Retirement: Glenn Shares His Thoughts Topretirements — April 1, 2013

  40. My wife and I moved from a delightful community high in the Colorado Rockies to Boquete, Panama, in August, 2011. Friendly people (the happiest in the world per one recent study); mild climate (60F – 80F, year round); abundant, affordable fresh fruits & veggies; an economy growing @ 10%/year; the Panama Canal ($2B/year revenues [currency is called the “Balboa” but paper currency is the $US], expected to double when the widening is completed); the “Pensionado” visa benefits program; less expensive and less crime than Costa Rica; strong and rapidly improving infrastructure. IMHO, would be #1 on the list if this article were properly researched. : )

    by Mike — April 1, 2013

  41. Mark beat me to it, consider Vanuatu, a cluster of 80 South Pacific islands, great climate, friendly people, little or no crime, no income tax, no CGT, no inheritance tax, no property taxes. Low cost of living and housing and only 2 hours from Brisbane, Australia.

    by mitch46 — April 1, 2013

  42. Wanted to alert folks that we just published another article about International Retirement, Glenn Shares His Thoughts About Puerto Rico”, that you might be interested in.

    by Admin — April 1, 2013

  43. Seriously guys, it’s worth considering Portugal!

    by John Jesus — April 2, 2013

  44. Ive lived in Mexico on and off for years. Been robbed by the cops twice,;but other than that, I havnt had any problems down there. The second time I was robbed by the cops, they gave my money back after i told them that was my last 100 dollars:) All in all, its much cheaper getting robbed by Mexican cops than getting robbed by the US IRS or the US court system.

    by Shawn Wilcher — April 2, 2013

  45. @ Helen C.
    Thanks for you comments, Helen. However, a couple things to keep in mind.
    1. I am not trying to SELL the Philippines. I even said most Americans will not care for it here.
    2. In particular, people who have trouble coming up with $1,000 have no place living any where overseas, IMO. The USA id the best country in the world to be poor in, without question.
    3. You may have missed what I said about insurance. I have adequate insurance, paid for, and as a backup, a couple US platinum cards that I kept just for medical emergencies .. I use them once a year fto kepe them active and that’s that.
    4. So far as malpractice? It can happen anywhere, but I have no concerns … one of the reasons I left the USA is to get out of the medicare, medical insurance, medical malpractice quagmire that most Americans seem to take as normality. The US has about the 37th worst medical care in the world, but is BY FAR the most expensive in the world.
    5. I watched both my mom and my dad die miserably due to incompetent, uncaring docs and hospitals in the USA, mainly made a bad as they were by the US Medicare system. I have other things to think of in my life, thank you very much.

    It works fine for me … it may not for you. Godspeed.

    by Dave Starr — April 2, 2013

  46. Costa Rica? Not any more! The cost of living it’s so high. To much red tape
    on the Goverment, banks,etc.. It use to be not any more!

    by bert delgado — April 2, 2013

  47. You have to be kidding me! Croatia is horrible advice for Americans especially. Having lived overseas, including in Croatia, I can promise it is one of the most corrupt and difficult places to live in year round. Visa would nearly be impossible and the cost astronomical, and this before dealing with corruption. If you are planning on buying property in Croatia, save yourself some time, flush the money down the toilet and simply stay at home!

    by Gio Azonos — April 2, 2013

  48. the life is so funny, most people from Brazil have a dream to live in the US.
    keep in mind guys, South America is not a paradise, specially Colombia.
    I think the best country to live in South America would be Chile.
    If you like sun, beach think about Northest of Brazil but is not safe, gringo living in Brazil or South America always will be rich.

    by Carlos Pereira — April 2, 2013

  49. >Your editor was on the lower Baja Peninsua 2 years ago and from a security standpoint it felt like we were in a part of the USA.

    If feeling like you were in the USA is your criterion of security, should you really be writing articles like this for others to read?

    by David Battanbong — April 3, 2013

  50. […] prominent position was given by the U.S. portal when ranking cities, “Top 10 international locations to […]

    by Costa Rica in Top 10 Locations to Retire | Welcome to Costa Rica — April 3, 2013

  51. First let me say that the primary thing you need to ask youself is: Am I looking for “an “American in Paris” experience, or am I willing (able) to exist in that nation’s culture. Many of us aren’t. 😕

    Second, Culture varies a lot from locale to locale, even with in the USA! I found Los Angeles (birth/raised) was slightly but observably different from Sacramento (6 of my military years) which was very different from Seattle (2nd marriage) which is different from my current Saint Louis experience and our goal is the even still different New Mexico culture post retirement. Friends and neighbors plus your attitude deternmine the success of your living in an area. For many areas language is an issue (+/- depending on your mindset/ability.):cool: or 🙄

    @Robert Third, living in a “English speaking country is great” for many but fluency in another language should be part of the package of living overseas. Living overseas should not be an attempt to create an “Exotic locale America” experience. You lose so much of the culture of a spot if you don’t speak the language. 😥

    Lastly, Family 😀 – for me it’s part of the attraction of New Mexico – almost exactly half way between my kids/brother/grandkids in Sacramento/San Jose/Whittier, CA, and my kids in Springfield (MO) and (what ever Midwest location my youngest settles in.) Unless you have no sibling/children/grandchildren you will want to to visit family and the commute from half-way around the world costs time and $$$. 😯



    the multi-racial mutt 😆 🙂

    by Glenn — April 3, 2013

  52. Dave:

    I agree 100% with your comment. If US living is the criterion for safety then almost any country would meet that criterion.

    by Tom McCauley — April 3, 2013

  53. I love that Ireland was first on the list but, as with most countries – you cannot just pack a suitcase,get on a plane and show up at Dublin Airport and tell them you’re here to retire! We lived in Scotland during our early married years and would LOVE to go back there but the UK has strict rules about emigration and the fact that you have to have a certain amount of money deposited in UK banks. What about visas, work permits, health care? Is Ireland the same? Different? We love Europe and its history so would love to retire there but our kids are still in the US and at some point it will be difficult for us to travel. I see from older relatives that as time goes on they miss family more and more.

    We are a few years from actual retirement and my projected solution is to purchase a small, inexpensive condo in the northeast US and spend summers renting a place in Europe – each year a different city if we choose – getting to know people, culture and language. I have recently found much about my family roots. Would love to spend a few months in the towns our families were from, soaking up our heritage, visiting museums, making new friends and traveling short trips from there.

    There are several websites for hobbies that are open to the whole world. I have already corresponded with several knitters and fiber artists in Europe through I am sure there are other websites that cater to hobbies and interests like the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), Historical re-enactors, crafts, cooking, etc. so you can easily make some contacts before you go!

    I agree with one poster that you should NEVER pack up your household and move, enmasse, to someplace you have never been! (like New England to Tennessee) Rent for a few weeks during the year, or for a few months, before you settle in. We are currently in Tennesse for work, so had to move but, we do NOT want to stay here! New England is home and Europe is calling!! Good luck to all!

    by Holly — April 3, 2013

  54. I spent 2 years in MX, near Lake Chapala…..nice spot, local folks
    are friendly….but the problem, is medical care….sure, the Doctors are excellent, but have little or no experience with older people….make sure you have plenty of medical insurance, and make formal contact with a hospital before you need help….Doug

    by Doug Consul — April 5, 2013

  55. Enjoyed reading the comments. As I near retirement, I have been looking at relocating to Negombo, Sri Lanka or Pondicherry, India. SL has several options including a visa for pensioner’s and although India would be tough to get into, my wife is a former citizen. Both have good schools for our elementary age son and both have developed infrastucture. Affordable , modern health care is available. With my modest teacher pension and social security we would be comfortable and able to afford just about anything we would need in either place. We have family in India. I agree with David’s comments about having some guts. Common sense teaches a traveler to keep a low profile, stay quiet, listen to what is going on around you, avoid crowd situations if possible, don’t talk politics or religion. Be polite. Don’t attract attention to yourself. See you out there on the road.

    by John H. — April 7, 2013

  56. Glen, I speak German (Almost fluently)and I love Germany, Austria and Switzerland BUT as a SEASONED CITIZEN – I cannot afford to live in these charming countries (especially parts of Austria). Someone mentioned Portugal. It’s part of PIGS mention on the news so often. According to the news most are in deep financail do do (?). We are planning a trip (visit) to Ireland this September and I am astonished at the prices listed. Was there 20 some years ago and of course prices were different them. Grandad came from coounty Clare. Later – Robert

    by Robert — April 8, 2013

  57. Forgot to mention that living in i.e., Ireland or an Englilsh speaking country you at least do not have to learn a new language. that doesn’t mean you have to congregate around Americans only. Then again learning a new language is interesting and I have found in my military travels most people appreciate even the smallest attempt at their language appredciated.

    Not sure about the French – LOL

    by Robert — April 8, 2013

  58. Robert is quite right that making an attempt to speak the language of the country in which you live or visit is much appreciated by the people – yes, even the French. I lived in France for 4 years (3 on Cote d’Azur, 1 outside Paris) and found the French people to be gracious and helpful. I even had perfect strangers drop everything they were doing and come to my rescue while in dire straits. It was personally embarrassing watch other Americans behave as loud oafs as they violated simple French social norms (greeting shopkeepers upon entering and departing shops, speaking in lowered voices in restaurants, etc.)
    While it was true may of the French did not support the Bush Administration, they have not wavered in their support and affection for the American people. It would probably surprise most Americans to realize that there are ANNUAL events that recognize and thank Americans for the sacrifices made during WWII in communities all over France.
    I think it’s hard for Americans to realize that although the French people may resemble us, their cultural history and social norms do not. The more history I learned, the more their “ways” made perfect sense 🙂 It’s a beautiful country to explore and live in, IMHO.

    by Karen — April 8, 2013

  59. Karen,

    I could not agree with you more. I also lived in France for a year, widely toured Europe for another, and had there been an economic opportunity I would not have left France. Now that we don’t need a job to provide income, I am tempted to return…at least for part of the year.

    But as you say the key to living anywhere different from what you are used to is to be observant and interested in the new culture. Learn what is considered acceptable and work to fit in. I can’t tell you how many times I apologized for a fellow American as I traveled in Europe. From the old lady in Portugal berating a waiter for not using “real money” to loud insulting tourists on public transportation in Paris, who assumed that no one around them understood their rude comments, I can’t say that I was always proud of my fellow countrymen.

    Being interested in their way of life, respecting their personal boundaries, (we Americans are often viewed as too aggressive, such as using first name right away,) goes a long way towards insuring you enjoy your new residence. And avoid referencing how you used to do things “where I come from,” unless asked. When I lived in the Caribbean, (USVI,) there was even a bumper sticker that read “I DON’T CARE HOW YOU DID IT WHERE YOU CAME FROM.”

    That said, as much as I enjoyed my travels, it has taught me that warts and all, this is a pretty good country. Work has allowed me to experience extensive periods of time overseas, which I loved, but it is great to be home.

    by Julie — April 9, 2013

  60. Costa Rica is an amazing place to live. Glad it made the list. I will say that for those who are interested, please do your research. In many places, the infrastructure needs work. My advice would be to try the southern pacific area.

    by Jason — April 10, 2013

  61. To Mike from CO now living in Panama:

    I live in CO too and have been looking at Panama to live for maybe a few years. I have read that Boquete is getting over populated with expats and consequently prices on everything have gone up. Is petty theft a problem as it is in all Central and Latin American countries? Have you gotten homesick yet for CO? I have read one can live well on just SS in Panama. Do you agree?

    Thanks! And enjoy the beauty and excitement of living in another county!

    by Vicki — April 12, 2013

  62. The wife and I are looking at Belize, Panama, or Costa Rica. We are going on a self directed tour of these countries in June, (I know,the weather)When we return we’ll report back. There are several, though different things we like about each country.

    by Jeff L — April 13, 2013

  63. Jeff L. Belize is an old dream of mine. I have been eight times starting three weeks after Independence but violent crime across Belize is the problem. You are just a victim waiting to be plucked by those that are willing to take it by force. There are lots of good people in Belize but there are lots of scum too. Now they have guns and a break down in society. It could have been such a beautiful dream but it is a failed weak state. Beware.

    by John H — April 13, 2013

  64. I have been to Beize several times over the last 10 years. While I hear all sorts of talk about the crime I find myself feeling safe driving throughout the country. I really prefer the Maya Beach area of Placencia. I to would like to live in Central America someday. Belize is easy as it is English speaking.

    by Wayne — April 14, 2013

  65. Belize city seems to be the site of the majority of the crime in Belize. We have talked to several people who have , and some still live in Belize, that the rest of the country is safe as long as you don’t lend yourself to be victimized. Careless attitude and leaving valuables laying around invites petty theft however. I have been in areas where you take your life in your own hands and am aware of situations as they arise.

    by Jeff L — April 15, 2013

  66. My husband and I have been retired on the island of Vis in Croatia now for 13 years and love it. We have obtained citizenship so have no problem staying here. My book, AS THE TREE FELL,(Amazon) tells the story of the joys and challenges we have encountered. No crime on this island; friendly folks, maybe corruption, but it doesn’t impact us much and it is definitely improving. Health care is good.Food is a healthy Mediterranean diet. Climate is fantastic. Sea is amazing, etc etc. Great place to retire.

    by Patricia Repanich — April 21, 2013

  67. […] April 23, 2013 — Note: This is Part 2 in our recent series about International Retirements. Part 1 listed our list of the “10 Best International Places to Retire“. […]

    by » The Pros, Cons, and Considerations of an International Retirement Topretirements — April 23, 2013

  68. I lived in Costa Rica for some professional training some years ago. I found it a beautiful, cordial country with a decent cost of living. However,petty crime is rampant and if you decide to reside there, you would need to hire security to protect your home and property.
    You should also learn to speak Spanish adequately to communicate with the locals (I’m fluent so it helps a great deal), since few people speak English fluently. This is especially important in banking or legal matters.
    Health care is excellent in Costa Rica and reasonably priced, compared to the US. The country is amazingly pretty and if you love nature,this is the place for you. However, there is a dearth of cultural arts such as theater.
    hope this helps.

    by Marilyn — April 24, 2013

  69. Panama is a dichotomy (personally)… Having lived there prior to Carter’s GIFTING The Canal to the Panamaaneans—-my emotions are split. Most postings are Spot on. We called it ‘Paradise’ then—today—umm I don’t know…
    Maybe I can’t let go—-but during a recent visit—I was not comfortable. The City’s skyline & revitalization astonished me. The former Canal Zone —Ug:sad:
    If your not at all familiar with Panama—do your homework and befriend an EXPAT RAPIDO!
    The word is out on Boquette—-prices aren’t cheap—nearing saturation.The DEALS are NO MAS!

    DO NOT leave your vacation home (unssecured)…
    I would move back in a second (especially) with OBAMA’S destroying of America. My wife WOULD NOT. Doesn’t rule out I’m still considering!:razz:
    Stay out of El Salvador… As a former defense contractor in San Salvador—I was targeted to be (kidnapped) — Thank God ‘leaked’ comments to the Consulate permitting me to flee prior…
    Good Article–& great comments from your readers….

    by Bob — April 24, 2013

  70. So glad nobody mentioned Uruguay. Wouldn’t want it to be ruined by a huge influx of ex-pats. Very stable country. Not much happening, which is fine with me. You’ll need to be able to converse in Spanish. English is not widely spoken, even in Montevideo. Very reasonable cost-of-living.

    by Steven — April 24, 2013

  71. My wife and I are retired former Federal employees, and we currently live in France. The food and wine are good, and I like to characterize the country as an “amusement park for adults”, because of the cuisine, culture, natural beauty, art, etc. However, the bureaucracy is quite difficult, and we are heading back to the US as soon as we sell our house because we cannot seem to acquite a long term residency card. As a result, we are essentially prisonners in our own house for 5 months a year while we go thru the annual residency card renewal process. We also sail our boat in the Atlantic between Spain and Scotland, and are stopped frequently by customs from Spain, France, Ireland, etc, looking for the opportunity to hit us with import taxes and VAT charges.

    It is too much, so we have now bought a house in Florida, and will be moving back as soon as the house sells. I would advise anyone thinking of retirement in a foreign country to rent an apartment there, first, and don’t ship your goods out of the US till you have lived there for at least one year, preferably 2, to make sure that you can deal with the cultural differences. Some differences can be charming, educational, and life-expanding, but others can really stress you.

    by rxc — April 24, 2013

  72. I concur with Rxc regarding cultural differences in a foreign country. I have lived in 7 foreign countries for work and education and have traveled extensively worldwide. While I have enjoyed my overseas experiences, by far the cultural differences are the most challenging. It is especially difficult in a high context culture where conformity is expected and norms and values are the opposite of the US (such as time, personal space, independence, etc). Now that I am nearing the time of my life when I am considering moving into full retirement, I do not think that I will permanently live outside the US, although the draw of a lower cost of living is always present. For me, I’m staying put and traveling abroad whenever I can.

    by Marilyn — April 25, 2013

  73. My comment on Ursula’s question about Medellin,Columbia—stay clear of Colombia unless you are willing to risk being caught in drug cartel “activities”. A friend lived there years ago and had to hire a bodyguard to feel safe. I also concur with others’ opinion that Mexico, Central America and South America are less than desirable places to retire, even though the cost of living may be lower. My advice is to rent a place for a few weeks or months in a place of interest before making any permanent move abroad. It’s much easier to come home and regroup than to regret having made a big mistake.

    by Marilyn — April 26, 2013

  74. @ Marilyn

    Wise words, Marilyn. I’m a US guy who lives in the Philippines. 7 years now and looking forward to many more.

    It is a LOT cheaper here than many places I could live in back in the USA, but choosing a retirement location based on local cost of living is a very poor way to chose. If a person can’t “fit in’ or the local environment, infrastructure and such is not+ a good “fit” with what they are comfortable with, the “sweetness” of a cheap price is fast overcome by the “sourness” of dissatisfaction. Cost of living is one of the last factors to consider, IMO, certainly not the first.

    by Dave Starr — April 26, 2013

  75. Which countries permit the private ownership and carrying of guns?

    by StevenC — April 26, 2013

  76. Regarding Portugal, it is definitely worth consideration. I visited the country 2 years ago and enjoyed it immensely.I found the people warm and friendly, educated (but not stuffy like some are in Spain), and genuinely interested in knowing people from other lands. It has a rich history, natural beauty and if you like fado (the Portuguese folk music), and excellent wine, Portugual won’t disappoint. The cost of living seems to be reasonable, but I don’t know about property values. While the government has had some financial troubles, it doesn’t seem to affect the citizens in any overly negative way.
    I would rank Portugal high on the list of potential international retirement places.

    by Marilyn — April 27, 2013

  77. I haven’t seen many comments or questions about retirement in Australia. Having spent 3 weeks there a few years ago, I fell in love with Australia and the Aussies. They have a wonderful sense of humor and positive outlook on life and make visitors feel welcome. It is an English speaking country (after you get used to the Australian accent) so language is not a problem for Americans. The country is immense and very diverse in ecology and geography so there is plenty to see and do. The cost of living is reasonable (the airfare is the most expensive part of traveling there) and there is an orderly feeling, based probably on the British influence. If it weren’t so blasted far from the US, I would seriously consider retiring there.

    by Marilyn — April 27, 2013

  78. Please allow me to add my “professorial” 2 cents’ worth (I am a college prof)regarding cultural adaptation to a new country. One’s native culture is learned from birth and is largely unconscious until one is in a culture that is markedly different. Then the differences become apparent and people begin to think and feel “That’s not the way we do things where I come from”. Then,culture shock starts in a predictable pattern. The first stage is the honeymoon stage, a short period at the beginning of residency in a foreign country,one in which the newcomer feels great excitement and happiness about the foreign country. The second stage starts about 2-4 months later,on average. Then, the newcomer realizes all the differences are becoming uncomfortable or even unacceptable,and the complaints among expats start to increase.The final stage in culture shock is gradual adaptation,one which may take a year or longer,depending on the length of stay,one’s personality,involvement in the local culture,etc. One of the keys to a successful and happy retirement abroad is the ability to adapt fully to another culture. Some people do,but many don’t, causing them to move back home or live abroad less happily. I hope this “lecture” sheds some light on international retirement.

    by Marilyn — April 28, 2013

  79. Marilyn’s comments will also apply to those just relocating within the US. I moved from the north to Texas 15 years ago for job reasons. It was initially quite a shock for several reasons. I gradually adapted and adopted what I found useful and rejected what I didn’t like. Probably won’t stay here when I retire but I’ll take with me some things I picked up locally and try to fit in at my next landing place.

    by LS — April 28, 2013

  80. Marilyn’s comments are right on! We relocated to Houston, Texas from the North about 8 years ago. We found the people friendly and so we thought that would make it easier to make new friends. We were blown away by the inexpensive cost of buying a house too. Our daughter and grandchildren were here so we thought why not? The culture was very different from where we came from but it was still America, after all, we reckoned, so no big deal. Hah! Well, the people were friendly but that doesn’t mean they want to “befriend you”. We found they would much rather stay friendly within their own family or interest groups and don’t necessarily welcome “strangers”. Yes, property was very inexpensive. But you don’t make any money on resale. We bought a property and invested almost $100K renovating and fixing it. We’ll never see that money returned to us. Homes just don’t appreciate as they do in the North. We live in a bedroom community north of Houston. And altho’ HOuston has a lot to offer in the ARts, not much going on in our community. We have to drive everywhere – few sidewalks and can’t go to a bakery nor butcher down the block. Everyone seems to want to live the biggest house and drive the fanciest car. Not our culture at all. But that never occured to us when we were making the move! We also didn’t really do our research on the costs of property taxes nor insurance in a “gulf” state. Both are very high. One insurance agency – for military – told me they don’t even insure in Texas because of the uncertain/high risk weather conditions (hurricanes, flooding)! And then there’s the weather and political climate – both of them seem extreme to us, because of the culture from which we came. So while we thought we’d hit pay dirt when we first arrived, I reckon we should have rented for a couple of years before making the final decision. That would have allowed us to scope things out and consider culture – in all its various meanings – before we “leapt”.

    by sheila — April 28, 2013

  81. To rxc: given your travels and background, it would be interesting to know the location you decided on in Florida. I live in Florida, however, I am seeking a place without a high traffic mode of existence. Would you be kind enough to share an approximate area?

    by KKD — April 30, 2013

  82. Some of you folks might be interested in my e-book on Home Swapping – a perfect way to find out all you need to know about a location, the culture and the people before you burn your bridges.

    by Jackie — May 5, 2013

  83. I have been looking over the past several years for a nice warm place to retire with good health, safe, and friendly. I plan on purchasing prior to that day of retirement which is not so far off in the future. 9 years and counting but the problem I am having is that once a place hits the charts and is mentioned as a retirement area the prices of property exceed what one can expect. Recently I looked in Panama at an expat community and when I heard the prices of a condo @ $350,000 behind a gate because the outside of that area was still a little somewhat deemed to be unsafe as an investment I stood there in awe. Lets see I want to retire somewhat comfortable and would love to make it another country but at those prices I could buy a condo in Florida on the water for around $125,000 and take the ballance of that money and invest it or put it in the bank. It has to make sense and this doesn’t so in the mean time I will keep on looking. But I do need the water so it makes my options a little tougher.

    by Rick — May 11, 2013

  84. I love being in France, speak the language, and have found a town in Provence where I have friends and connections. Last fall, I lived there for 4 months and “seriously” looked at buying a small apartment. Between the paper work, taxes and laws, and a good friend who bought and now says “don’t ever buy in France!” I have decided that renting a furnished place is far preferable. If one plans to stay -most- of the year for several years, furnishing it yourself would also work. Living there is wonderful! That’s why it is overrun with other Europeans, mostly Brits. I now buy my expensive prescriptions there (saving 65% of US costs, even counting shipping), have an MD there, and plan to rent several months every year. It is not the cheapest way to retire but the quality of life, safety, the beauty, the culture, the ambiance, food, wine, etc. are unparalleled. I also don’t need a car and walk much more than in US, plus lose weight. It is
    -extremely- difficult to actually move there, but a renewable annual visa is obtainable. However, knowing the language is extremely helpful if not required. Rigid Americans with an attitude that “the US is the best country in the world” can do all a favor by staying here!

    by Liz — May 20, 2013

  85. […] Rica also appears in the same ranking on a similar list on the website, beating countries like […]

    by Costa Rica Attracts Foreign Retirees | MonteCielo's Blog — May 22, 2013

  86. […] more on each location, check out the article on or (photo […]

    by Where to: Retirement destinations | aandmtravel — May 22, 2013

  87. An interesting place to retire might be the south of Italy or even Bucharest.
    You can read more here

    by marie — July 2, 2013

  88. Bucharest? Never!! I just returned from Romania and found Bucharest very depressing, looking like the Post Communist city it was for years. The city is also run down, especially in the downtown area, and has little to offer, in my opinion. It is also not a cheap place to visit or live and there is obvious corruption in operation. My advice is to stay clear of Romania.

    by Marilyn — July 3, 2013

  89. I was in Costa Rica a few weeks ago for medical reasons and found it improved from its state some 15 years ago, my first visit there. San Jose is still pretty dicey as a place to live, but other areas in the north and west are quite pretty, peaceful and economical. There tends to be many “American colonies” in the Pacific beach areas and these are luxurious and pricey places. However, as in any other foreign country, it helps to know Spanish (I am fluent and it helps a lot) and to understand the culture.

    by Marilyn — July 3, 2013

  90. I agree with Liz that renting abroad is better than buying property–fewer headaches and more flexibility.Besides, what is the advantage of having real estate abroad?

    by Marilyn — July 3, 2013

  91. Check out Punta Playa Vistas near tamarindo/Playa conchal costa rica -ppv is nr beach has condos patio homes and custom built homes the owners/builders r frm NJ and have lived there for about 5 yes they r involved in community church and have made beautiful friends from all over

    by Da fautz — July 4, 2013

  92. […] Further Reading: 10 Best International Places for Retirement […]

    by » Announcing 9 New Country Mini-Guides to International Retirement Topretirements — November 19, 2013

  93. China. Im retired there since 2 years ago and having a great time. Of course you can live verrrry cheaply here, but need to spend a bit more to have a western standard of living. Still a lot cheaper than US. Many people think bureaucracy and redtape and bribery are what you can expect from China, but I really have no idea where that silly preconception comes from. It’s completely wrong. Weather is not always ideal though, but then its only a stones throw from, for example, Philippines. $100 does a return trip. Chinese people are lovely and fantastic, very helpfull, though a little Chinese language(not as hard as you might think, 6 months worth of classes is enough) is usefull, even necessary, at times. Stable government, excellent healthcare available, both natural and chemical, good housing (if you pay for it), cheap utilities, unlimited dining and shopping options, more elderly-orientated sports activities (example taichi, golf, pingpong) than anyplace else on earth. Plenty to see and do every day, local parks always have something going on from morning till night. The best.

    by james faraday — December 9, 2013

  94. Hi BillS,

    I still think Chiang Mai, Thailand is a great place to retire.

    by BillS — December 26, 2013

  95. […] further reading: 10 Best International Places to Retire Why This Gringo Can’t Wait to Move Back to the USA (with 49 comments!) The Pros, Cons, and […]

    by » The Darker Side of International Retirement – 6 Reasons Not to Do It Topretirements — February 3, 2014

  96. Hi everybody !Have you ever considered Canary Islands? It is a beautiful place, a melting pot full os spanish people, english, irish, germans….Health assistance is really good and you are well linked to the rest of Europe. Weather is fantastic and you have no idea about living “safely” unless you try there….

    by david — March 30, 2014

  97. Was thinking about Canary Islands before, but did not really found useful information about it. How is hte cost of living there David? It would be great if you compare it to other countries and give some specifics, etc thanks a lot.

    by Octave Malta — July 15, 2014

  98. I am a retired travel/editorial photo-journalist who has visited and lived in many of the countries mentioned here . One thing of huge importance is being overlooked : speaking the language fluently or extremely well . I have a B.A. in Latin American Studies and have learned to speak excellent Spanish from scratch . As a result my experiences over the last 50 years of traveling there have been 99 per cent positive . Knowing the language and understanding the culture is the key , folks !!
    Let’s take ” dangerous Mexico ” : I have traveled in 28 of its 31 states . People have been very kind to me . The second you start speaking their language and talking about other places you love in Mexico , you will make good friends who do not want to take advantage of you and who will help you in ways most of our fellow countrymen will not .
    I have thought about buying property in Mex. , C.A. or S.A. for the past 35 years . I have driven from Calif. to Panama 2x , round trip as far back as 1970 when Tamarindo was an empty beach . I should also mention that after my journalism career ended I became a real estate investor in the U.S. and acquired a lot of construction knowledge . With all these advantages going for me I have always concluded that renting vs. buying is the way to go . The reasons would take an hour to type , but take it from someone who has analyzed the question of buying into a south -the-border retirement – – – it is better to rent than buy . Learn Basic Spanish before you go and your experience will be enhanced 1000 per cent .

    by Don Smith — September 17, 2014

  99. I’m compelled throw my proverbial hat into the ring. I was born and raised in the good old USA. I went to school in American schools (very goods actually). I played Little League…bla bal bla. Then the 60s happened and I had grown up in the SF Bay Area…………….dope, Rock n Roll, actively working to end our involvement in Vietnam, jail, getting beat up by cops, guitars, hair down to my ass…………just the usual stuff…right???

    Well, I’ve gone through many changes, but since my 50s I’ve returned to many of those old values. I’m about to turn 67. I have my hair down to my ass once again. I HATE golf, the NFL, the NBA, baseball is Ok. I’m dismayed by the materialism, racism, religious bigotry, and the manic pace of life in the USA. I’m still a professional musician who no longer needs to worry about financial destitution thanks to my family’s inheritance. I’m going to check out Ireland as an option to take seriously. It’s English speaking. I much prefer colder climates with plenty rain (Lived in Seattle for 18 yrs). There are plenty of pubs about to get to know folks and join in on the music making. I have documentation from my hopelessly Irish Catholic extended family that will make it a breeze to acquire dual citizenship. It sounds like something right up my alley. I will have to figure out where I can get my weed!

    by Tom — February 10, 2016

  100. Haha! Lucky you, Tom. I agree that the state of politics has descended so much: no dignity, no statesmanship, just pure bigotry and hatred.
    Best of luck in Ireland. Keep us posted.

    by Lana — February 11, 2016

  101. Good for you, Tom! What happened to the idealistic, loving baby boomers?!
    I agree, the sad political state is depressing: hatred, bigotry, etc. Good luck in Ireland. Keep us posted.

    by Lana — February 11, 2016

  102. This article is on vacation places but good information on more places not to consider for full time living.

    by Louise — January 6, 2017

  103. I retired years ago to Vieques, Puerto Rico. This is a beautiful island with many people from the states. Since this is a US territory we still get our US benefits. The population of Vieques is about 10,000. We have a community feeling. We know each other by site, if not by name. We all help each other when needed. Life is slower here. Almost every day is sunny and we are surrounded by some of the most beautiful uncrowned beaches in the world. We are off the east coast of the main island of Puerto Rico. To get to the main island is an inexpensive ferry ride of about an hour and a half or an 8 minute flight. Our restaurants are wonderful and the feeling is relaxed. I highly recommend Vieques as an ideal retirement spot. I have lived in a number of places in the states and have never felt safer than I do in Vieques.

    by June — January 8, 2017

  104. I moved from NY to Barbados in 2009. Life in the islands is totally different than living in the U.S. Most people move to another country with the expectations that life will be almost like home or like it is on vacation. Not realistic. Depending on where you relocate to there are certain things one must realize.
    Choice of products may be severely limited. On Islands must things are imported and thus much higher in cost
    Medical and Insurance must be researched extensively
    Visas for long term living may be costly.
    Currency laws may be burdensome when trying to send money back home.

    People come to an awakening when they “pickup and move”. Planning is a must and then you still may end up forgetting something and it can cost you.

    by Tim O'Dwyer — January 9, 2017

  105. I had never visit Ireland before but it is my dream destination. I made so much researches on Ireland and you mentioned very well that there are countless small villages both on the coast and in the countryside that would also make great places to retire. Towns in the west like Lahinch, Doolin, Waterville, Tralee, Dingle, and Ballybunion are charming with many pubs and restaurants, small shops, and quiet neighborhoods. To know more top lists visit @

    by Priyanka Rajput — January 18, 2017

  106. Ajijic, Mexico if you have not considered Mexico before you might want to now. With the peso now 21 to the dollar, prices are close to half of those in the US. This is an international community where everyone speaks English, the weather is better than Hawaii, always Spring, and there is a club, The Chapala Society on the 50 mile lake where you can new people, borrow books and tapes, attend lectures and meet friends for lunch . Taxes are $50 a year and you can find housing for $600 a month or under $100,000.
    (Comment provided by Tom)

    by Admin — April 15, 2017

  107. I know a lady who is retired there and she loves it! She has nothing but good things to say. She does come back to here studio apartment here several times a year for medical care however.

    by Jennifer — April 16, 2017

  108. New Zealand should not have been on this list – only because it is nearly impossible to move their due to their immigration laws. I have spent months in NZ (thanks to our visa program) but can not figure out how to move there since I am retired, If you have a job there, your employer can sponsor you for a 2-year work visa, which would be the first step toward residency status and then possibly citizenship.
    If one can prove that they have $5M to invest in NZ, they can get an investor’s visa (2 years).
    Other than that, forget about getting in on a permanent basis!

    by John S — July 24, 2019

  109. This article should be updated…posts go back to March, 2013–over six years ago. Much of the material may have changed or could be no longer relevant. Administrators?

    Note from Editor: Yes, some of the Comments go back 6 years. One of the beauties of posts on important subjects like this is that most of the comments have lasting relevance, particularly the ones that mention new countries to consider or personal experience with a place. There is a great variety of interesting viewpoints here which we love! (We did remove some of the repetitious and off-target posts, so you thanks for the suggestion).

    by Jennifer — July 25, 2019

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