The lure of island life is hard to resist…
Be it Treasure Island, Fantasy Island, or Gilligan’s Island, for generations of North Americans images of near-deserted, sun-soaked shores and the promise of overseas adventure left an indelible impression.
But not all islands are created equal… especially for those considering making the dream of living on a palm-fringed outpost a reality.
There are many factors to consider such as visas, health care, infrastructure, cost of living, expat community, and more. Which is exactly what my team here at Live And Invest Overseas and I do each year when we produce our annual Overseas Retirement Index.
This year we’ve identified 10 expat havens which our findings show offer the best opportunities for North Americans considering a move outside home borders this 2024—and two of them are islands…
So, if you’re looking to escape the 9-to-5 grind and cast away to a picture-perfect island escape but still enjoy the conveniences and comforts of the modern world, here are my top two recommendations for 2024.
Birthplace of Zeus, home of Europe’s first advanced civilization, the Minoans, and the crossroads of the three continents of the Old World: Africa, Europe, and Asia Minor, Crete is steeped in rich history and culture.
It’s also a dream destination for sun-seekers, offering the highest number of sunshine hours per year in all of Greece, and outdoor enthusiasts, with miles of sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains, and untouched wilderness to explore.
Here, a couple can enjoy a comfortable life on a modest budget. An average monthly spend of $1,865 is a good guide.
You won’t be short of company should you choose to seek it out. The island is home to around 18,000 expats—including a large contingent of Americans stationed at the Souda Bay naval base—and the locals are a welcoming bunch.
Though the official language is Greek, you can get by in English as just about everyone, from real estate agents to market stall holders, has some level of English.
The health care is of a good standard, the crime rate is low, and the Mediterranean climate means hot summers and gentle winters with no snowshoveling to worry about.
There’s also plenty of year-round entertainment options to stave off island fever, including museums, galleries, shopping, architecture, historical attractions, restaurants and cafés, and cultural events.
Start Your New Life Today, Overseas
Add to that, on Crete the infrastructure is solid, the lifestyle is laidback, and you’re never far from glistening blue waters…
To qualify for Greece’s Financially Independent Person Permit, you need to show that you receive €2,000 per month in income. This residency permit is available for two years and is renewable.
Greece also offers a golden visa program, Europe’s most popular, as well as a digital nomad visa.
If you’re looking for a Mediterranean island escape, I suggest you put Crete at the top of your list.
For those happy to travel farther from home shores, consider my number one choice in Southeast Asia…
Ringed by pearly white sands, hemmed in by limestone cliffs, and lapped by the warm waters of the Andaman Sea, Thailand’s biggest island, Phuket, is blessed with undeniable natural beauty but its charms don’t end there…
The tropical monsoon climate means you’ll enjoy warm weather year-round. English is widely-spoken, there’s a large expat community of over 100,000, good infrastructure, and a wide range of entertainment options.
It’s an easy place to make new friends, too. Social groups organize around diverse interests from sports leagues to volunteer opportunities, get-togethers at bars, trivia nights, charity fundraisers, networking events, and more.
Health care on Phuket is excellent, with a range of public and private facilities, many with English speaking staff. Medical fees vary, but you can expect to pay about $30 for a regular visit at a private hospital or $10 for the same visit at a public hospital.
Thailand’s retirement visa is called the Non-Immigrant O-A Visa and its basic requirement is that you are at least 50 years old and receive an income of about $2,000 per month. This visa is valid for one year at a time, and can be renewed indefinitely.
Overall, Phuket offers the opportunity to enjoy an enhanced standard of living on the same monthly budget (indeed, possibly much less) than the average expat had back in the States or Canada. A monthly budget of $1,702 will see a couple living comfortably here.
Until next time,
Founding Publisher, Overseas Opportunity Letter