The World’s Best Retirement Quality Of Life

This developed European country can be surprisingly affordable.

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Linda and Richard Culper took off two years ago with their two small children to spend a year in Central America scouting potential retirement locales. They’d just cashed out of their business and decided to take the opportunity to hit the road while their children were still young enough to be easily portable.

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They were sure that, eventually, they wanted to settle in Central America, maybe in Mexico, Costa Rica, or Panama. After spending two months in each of these countries, the family of four abandoned their scouting trip. They’d learned something important: The developing world isn’t for them.

They then turned their attention to Europe and after two more months of research they settled on France. France is a country of superlatives—world’s best food, best wine, most romantic city, best health care, best infrastructure, and, many would agree, the best quality of life.

[See 5 Places to Retire On Social Security Alone.]

The Culpers have a reasonable nest egg, thanks to the sale of their business. But they’re thinking long-term. They want what they’ve got to last and they have two children to raise. Given that, what made them think they could afford to settle in France?

Some regions of France are as affordable as some parts of Central America. My top pick for French country living on a budget is the South of France, the Languedoc. Life in this region, west of Provence, is delightfully relaxed, quintessentially French, and surprisingly modestly priced.

[See 7 Affordable Places to Retire Abroad.]

This is wine country. The earth is rich, red, and fertile. The infrastructure is excellent, even in the smallest villages. Life is simple, sweet, and relaxed. It’s a throwback to another time. There’s a great respect for family and elders.

And perhaps the best part is that you could own an old and cute home here for less than 1,000 euros per square meter (think $100,000 or less) or rent for as little as 350 euros (right now, about $450) per month.

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.