The Key To Living The Retirement Of Your Dreams
The secret to taking control of your retirement and making this phase of life a grand adventure, even if your retirement nest egg is modest, is expanding your horizons.
What if you could go anywhere, do anything, and spend your time and your money any way and anywhere you wanted?
My question is not rhetorical. You could, indeed, go anywhere, you could do anything, and you could spend your days and invest your capital however and wherever strikes your fancy.
All you have to do is to open your mind to the possibilities.
On one hand, this living, investing, and retiring overseas thing is terrifying. The opportunities I introduce to you in these dispatches can seem intimidating, especially at first. The easy thing would be to ignore them and keep on living the way you’ve been living… where you’ve been living. What a thing to create a whole new life for yourself in a foreign place. What a terrifying thing.
And what an exhilarating adventure.
The big challenge is identifying the right where.
At my fifth annual Retire Overseas Conference, taking place Sept. 13–16 in Orlando, Florida, with the help of more than 70 expats, experts, colleagues, advisors, and friends from across the globe, I’ll introduce you to the best places in the world for retirement today… dozens of them. We’ll focus our attention on 21 countries. However, you aren’t going to retire to Panama or Portugal… nor to Nicaragua, Argentina, Uruguay, Malaysia, Thailand, Italy, France, Spain… and not to any other country either.
To identify the Shangri-la that’s calling your name, you’ve got to thin-slice your options, and, over our three-and-a-half days together in Orlando, that’s precisely what we’ll help you do. Coastal, island, mountain, riverfront, lake-view, and bright lights, big city… uber-modest, super affordable, and luxury standard… whatever lifestyle you’re in the market for, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s a short list of top choices right now, each of which will be showcased live, in person, and in full during this year’s Retire Overseas Conference in Orlando…
#1 Algarve, Portugal
Portugal’s Algarve is home to more than 100,000 resident foreign retirees. This Old World region on the Atlantic Ocean is the best place in the world to retire that nobody’s talking about. Portugal’s southernmost province offers the best of Europe, including medieval towns, fishing villages, open-air markets, and local wine, plus some of Europe’s best sandy beaches.
This is a land of cobblestoned streets and whitewashed houses with lace-patterned chimneys, surrounded everywhere by fig, olive, almond, and carob trees. Thinking more practically, the Algarve also offers great weather, with 3,300 hours of sunshine per year, meaning more sunny days than almost anywhere else in Europe.
The Algarve has a longstanding reputation as a top summer destination among European sun-seekers and as a top winter retreat for those looking to escape Northern Europe’s coldest months. Health care is international-standard in this part of the world, and medical tourism is a growing industry.
Thanks to Portugal’s strong historic and cultural links with England, English is spoken more widely in the country in general and especially in the Algarve than you might expect.
The cost of living in Portugal is among the lowest in Western Europe, on average 30% lower than in any other country on the Continent. A retired couple could live here comfortably but modestly on a budget of as little as US$1,500 per month. With a budget of US$2,000 per month or more, you could enjoy a fully appointed lifestyle in the heart of Old Europe.
#2 Cuenca, Ecuador
If you’re looking for the world’s best place to retire overseas on a budget and live better for less, Cuenca, Ecuador, will be hard to beat. This is a beautiful colonial city in a fascinating and diverse country. Many of the Spanish-colonial structures that line the streets of central Cuenca are given over today to cafes, restaurants, bars, and bookshops, operating alongside the traditional butchers, tailors, repair shops, and bakeries. At the heart of the city is the town square, anchored by the original cathedral at one end (dating to 1557) and the “new” cathedral at the other (dating to the 1800s).
Perhaps the biggest appeal of Cuenca is its cost of living, which is among the lowest in the Americas. Real estate prices, too, are rock bottom, if you’re interested in owning a home of your own in retirement. The health care is high quality, honest, and, like everything else here, inexpensive. The climate is temperate 12 months a year, and the city’s large and growing expat community is one of the most diverse and well-blended in the world.
#3 George Town, Malaysia
The Malaysian island of Penang, recognized as both the Pearl of the Orient and the Garden of the East, offers retirees one of the best overseas living opportunities in the world and stands out as a top retirement choice in Asia. Retired here, you could while away the hours exploring George Town, Penang’s colorful and lively state capital, kick back on the beach, explore the mountains and waterfalls, shop till you drop, and eat out every meal if you wanted. The cuisine is so diverse you’ll never tire of it and so affordable you can indulge without worry even if your retirement budget is modest.
George Town’s population is about 750,000, small enough that it’s easy to make friends and meet your neighbors, yet large enough to support the infrastructure and services of a real city. The center of historic George Town is a maze of 19th-century streets. Even beyond its UNESCO heart, this city is a cornucopia of Chinese shop houses, pagodas, temples, clan-houses, churches, mosques, British colonial buildings, and landscaped parks.
Malaysia offers sophisticated, international-standard health care at an affordable cost and is one of the world’s top five destinations for medical tourism. Many private hospitals are internationally accredited.
The Malaysian government actively encourages immigration and welcomes foreign retirees. There is no pressing need for you to learn a second language in Malaysia and even less so in George Town. This is an international destination, and nearly everyone you come in contact with will speak and understand English.
#4 Northern Belize
Northern Belize is a remote region of tropical rivers, hardwood forests, traditional farms, sleepy rural villages, and breezy Caribbean seashores. This is a refreshingly off-the-radar place where residents embrace a simple, friendly, by-the-sea lifestyle.
It is also the best value destination in Belize and one of the most affordable options for retirement in the Caribbean.
Northern Belize is an area of about 2,500 square miles and the point where the Caribbean and Central America meet. As that geographic juxtaposition suggests, the population is diverse, and it is becoming more so as North American retirees are beginning to recognize what this overlooked part of Belize has to offer and settling here in growing numbers.
#5 Dumaguete, Philippines
Located along a sheltered coast on the island of Negros, Dumaguete is protected against most of the typhoons that periodically batter many of the Philippines’ 7,107 islands. The weather is tropical and balmy, rarely too hot but occasionally cool enough to wear a sweater in the evening. Dumaguete offers excellent medical care, too, care that has been getting even better since the city was named one of the five top retirement destinations in the Philippines.
The Philippines offers one of the best residency programs in the world, helping to explain why more than 5,000 foreigners have chosen to retire here. The financial requirements to qualify are low, and the benefits are globally competitive, including duty-free importation of household belongings and the ability to own a business, work, or go to school.
The biggest advantage for the retiree in Dumaguete is the cost of living. A couple could retire comfortably here on less than US$1,000 per month.
#6 Pau, France
No border marks the entry to the Basque region, but you’ll know when you’ve entered this part of France. The most obvious change is the architecture. Every house is painted white with accents of Basque red. You buy the paint at any Home Depot-type store; the can will be labeled “Basque Red.” In this part of the world, there’s just one red. This collective approach to home decor has the effect of making everything appear pristine and cared for. The Basque people also have their own language, music, dance, sport, cuisine (one of the best in France), myths, flag, and even alphabet typeface.
France’s Basque region is made up of seven provinces that sit astride the French-Spanish Atlantic border. The geography is intense, bringing to mind a young child’s drawing of the countryside where every type of geographic feature is squeezed onto one sheet of paper. Small steep valleys, rolling hills, towering mountains, meandering rivers, a wild coastline, forests and woodland, all crammed into about 31,000 square feet and all gloriously green and lush.
The retiree who has dreamt of France but who can’t afford Paris should consider Pau. A couple could retire here on as little as US$2,000 per month.
#7 Medellín, Colombia
Medellín is a city of parks and flowers, pretty, tidy, and, despite its checkered past, safe. It’s also architecturally consistent and pleasing. Most every building is constructed of red brick and topped with red clay roof tiles. The overall effect is delightful.
Thanks to its mountain setting, Medellín is another of a handful of cities around the world that bills themselves as lands of eternal springtime. The cost of living is affordable, though not super-cheap. The medical care is excellent, with 5 of the 35 best hospitals in Latin America located here.
The European undertones in Medellín are strong, from the way the women dress to the way people greet you in passing on the street. This is South America, not Central America, and the differences between the two regions can be striking.
Medellín was named 2013’s World’s Most Innovative City and is finally beginning to shed its bad-boy image from Pablo Escobar days and to become appreciated for the romantic city it is, with good wines, great coffee, outdoor cafes, and open-air music venues. It’s a top choice for chic but affordable city living in retirement. A couple could retire here on as little as US$1,600 per month.
#8 Abruzzo, Italy
It’s hard to think of a lovelier corner of Italy than Abruzzo. The beaches are golden, and the sea rolls out like a giant bolt of turquoise silk. There are mountains, too, meaning that, living here, you’d have both skiing and beachcombing on your doorstep, depending on the season.
This region is one of Italy’s secret treasures. No overcrowding, no heavy industry, only castles, vineyards, and villages made of stone. Life in Abruzzo hasn’t changed much over the years, and exploring here is like wandering into a gentler, kinder yesterday, a time with little or no crime and neighbors who watch out for one another.
Old ladies in pinafores bring their chairs outside and sit in gossipy groups, stringing onions into plaits. Instead of playing computer games, young boys are outside playing soccer. Families shop at open-air markets, not hypermarkets, and if they don’t produce their own wine, they buy it from local vineyards.
Food is important in Abruzzo, as it is everywhere in Italy. In most trattorie, everything is home-cooked and just like nonna (grandmother) used to make. In fact, sometimes, nonna still makes it. On the coast, dishes feature fish; inland, the cuisine becomes heartier, based on roast kid, baby lamb, and wild boar.
This delightful and culturally rich region of Italy is also one of Europe’s best bargains. A couple could retire here on as little as US$2,000 per month or less, including rent.
#9 Pedasí, Panama
Panama’s Azuero Peninsula is home to more traditional Panamanian culture and folklore than any other region in the country. The east coast of the peninsula is dotted with quaint villages steeped in history, folklore, and tradition. Queen among them is Pedasí, a town with a village atmosphere where you feel like an active stakeholder in a thriving community.
The waters offshore from Pedasí’s “Tuna Coast” provide for some of the world’s best big game fishing, and this coast is also one of the best places in the world to see the annual migration of the humpback whale.
This is a tidy and charming village with a rural feel and relaxed lifestyle that is beginning to attract attention among North American retirees. Pedasí is today’s best beach retirement choice in Panama, the country that continues to stand out overall as perhaps the most foreign retiree-friendly in the world.
The world is alive with options for living better and retiring well, for reinventing your life and having a grand adventure.
Where should you go?
I have no idea. Meet me in Orlando, and we’ll figure it out together.
Continue Reading: Applying For Belize Citizenship And Relinquishing U.S. Citizenship