How To Choose The Best Place To Retire Overseas

What Gets Your Blood Flowing?

So many choices… what do you suggest?” wondered one dear reader over the weekend.

If you have a particular agenda, your challenge is mitigated. If yours is a strict and modest budget, for example, you must choose a country where the cost of living is low (Ecuador, Nicaragua, Portugal, or Thailand, say).

If you intend to start a business in your new life overseas, then your top choices are entrepreneur-friendly jurisdictions (Panama is the front-runner).

If you have an ongoing health concern, then you can think about moving only to those places that offer top-notch medical care (typically this means sticking close to a city big enough to have international-standard facilities).

If you’re moving with children, international-standard schooling options are the make-or-break issue (Panama and Colombia offer great choices in the Americas).

But what if you’re not limited in any of these ways? What if you’re not restricted by cost of living or health issues or school-aged children or the need (or desire) to start a business and earn a living?

Well, then, you could go anywhere.

And that’s the trouble… filtering the whole world to identify the place that’s best for you.

What do I suggest?

“Your Latin America Correspondent Lee Harrison has almost convinced me to choose Colombia, at least as a first move,” wrote a friend earlier this week.

“My father has relatives in Bogotá, and I’ve made a couple of Internet friends there, so I know a few people already…”

That’s what I suggest.

Open your mind and cast your net. Read these dispatches (every day!). Join country-specific Yahoo groups. Read books by those who’ve done what you’re thinking about doing. (I’d recommend starting with mine, of course, “How To Retire Overseas,” published by Penguin and available on Amazon.)

Explore the possibilities until you find a place that catches your fancy.

Friend and part-time Nicaragua expat Jay Snyder explains that he was inexplicably drawn to Central America. The places he read about in that part of the world captured his imagination, and he wanted to know them firsthand.

Friend and full-time Colombia expat Rich Holman says that, after decades of hard work building a career in the United States… then a difficult divorce… Medellín offered him a chance to start over in a place that is friendly, welcoming, lively, interesting, and, important for Rich, bursting with opportunity for the would-be entrepreneur.

Expat friends in Paris moved from the States to Paris years ago (and stayed), because, well, it’s Paris.

Another friend settled a few years on the west coast of the Azuero Peninsula because he likes to fish and the fishing in that part of Panama is among the best in the world… and two other friends decided to reinvent their lives on that same stretch of coast just a few months ago. This couple had always dreamt of retiring to the beach but had only a schoolteacher’s pension to fund this stage of life. On Panama’s Azuero Sunset Coast, they found the sunny, sparkling sea lifestyle they’d long fantasized about, at a cost their budget could support.

Friends launched new lives in Belize’s Cayo District to fulfill a lifelong dream to live self-sustainably. The home they’ve built for themselves is completely off the grid.

I’ve known artists who were drawn to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico… enthusiasts of the Great Outdoors who chose New Zealand… wine-lovers who settled in Mendoza, Argentina (and love it)…

Intrepid Correspondent Paul Terhorst thrives on exploration and discovery. So he hasn’t settled anywhere. He and his wife Vicki have been perpetual retirees for more than three decades, moving from country to country and from continent to continent as their wanderlust inspires them.

Likewise, Lief and I don’t think we’d be happy living in any one place for the duration. Our ultimate retirement plan is to follow the seasons each year, moving among the places where we most enjoy spending time (springtime in Paris… summer in Istria, Croatia… September to November in Medellín, Colombia… and on Panama’s Azuero Peninsula during the U.S. winter).

What’s your passion?

If you could fill your days any way you wanted, what would you do? If you could have any view you imagined outside your bedroom window, what would it look like?

Start there.

Kathleen Peddicord


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