10 Shortcuts to Find a Retirement Haven Abroad

Here’s how to pick an overseas retirement spot that will suit your tastes.

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There’s no such thing as the world’s best place to retire. There are many appealing options for a new life in retirement overseas. It’s easier to narrow your choices if you can clarify a primary agenda. Here are the most common reasons for seeking out a new life overseas and where to look in each case to find a lifestyle that’s sure to satisfy those objectives.

1. The world's most affordable retirement havens. India is one of the most affordable places in the world to think about retiring. A couple could live in this country on a budget of as little as $750 per month, including rent. My second and third picks for low cost, yet appealing places to retire are Ecuador and Thailand. A couple could live in beautiful and safe Ecuador on as little as $700 per month if you own your own home or $1,250 if you rent. And in Thailand, a budget of as little as $800 per month for a condo or apartment or $1,100 per month if you rent is enough to retire comfortably, although there are restrictions on foreign ownership of property in this country. Also temptingly affordable right now are:

  • Nicaragua
  • Uruguay
  • Southwest France
  • [See 12 Overseas Retirement Spots Ranked.]

    2. Luxury living on a budget. You aren't going to live a luxury lifestyle in Belize, for example, no matter how much money you have. Belize isn't the place to go for fine dining, great shopping, or haute couture. Luxe living has as much to do with opportunity as it does with income. Where could you enjoy the good things in life on a budget of around $2,500 to $3,000 per month?

    • Buenos Aires
    • Kuala Lumpur
    • Panama City
    • You could also add Paris to this list if you can buy an apartment there and not rent. Living in Paris is as luxe as it gets, and it doesn’t have to be jet-set expensive. A couple could have a hard time spending $3,000 per month in this city, assuming they are not paying rent. Many of this city's finest offerings come gratis, or nearly so. And transportation from one end of the city to the other costs just 1.20 euro on the Metro. Telephone, cable, and Internet are a bargain. And, outside the tourist zones, everyday things like haircuts and groceries also can be very affordable.

      3. Entrepreneurs welcome. Don't move to France to start a business. Instead, if you’re considering starting a business as part of your retire overseas plan, your two top options are:

      • Malaysia
      • Panama
      • 4. Best health care. If health care is an important consideration for you, you'll want to choose a big city, and probably a capital city. Consider:

        • Paris
        • Kuala Lumpur
        • Panama City
        • [See One Move Could Boost Your Retirement Security.]

          5. Eternal spring. If you don’t like it too hot or too cold, here are three places where the weather is just right year-round:

          • Boquete, Panama
          • Cuenca, Ecuador
          • Medellin, Colombia
          • 6. They speak English. Don't want to learn a new language in retirement? Consider:

            • Belize
            • Honduras (specifically, the Bay Islands)
            • Ireland
            • 7. You're connected. If you can't imagine a day without high-speed Internet, your best bets are:

              • Kuala Lumpur
              • Panama City
              • Paris
              • 8. Part-time paradise. Some people don't want to leave their children, grandchildren, and their old life behind entirely. If that sounds like you, think about seasonal living in:

                • Argentina
                • Belize
                • Mexico
                • Nicaragua
                • Thailand
                • Uruguay
                • [See 10 Places to Buy a Retirement Home for Under $100,000.]

                  9. Quick escape. You could return to the U.S. quickly and easily from these places:

                  • Belize
                  • Mexico (you could even drive back and forth)
                  • Nicaragua
                  • Panama
                  • 10. Super tax-friendly. If mitigating your tax burden is part of your move overseas agenda, focus on countries that tax you only on the money you earn or remit locally. For example: 

                    • Belize
                    • Malaysia
                    • Panama
                    • Uruguay
                    • 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.