Banking Overseas…Top Retirement Choices For The Good Life On A Tropical Beach

Banking Overseas…Top Retirement Choices For The Good Life On A Tropical Beach

“Thank you, Kathleen, for your letter today. This gives indeed a more balanced view. Focusing on negatives like climate, educational system, politics, etc., is useful before one moves to a new country. Remember Honduras, which has been hailed as a great place. Then, before you know it, a Chavez friend is flipped for some crazy general.

“Also, I think indeed that your story on the difficulty of opening a bank account is only related to being a U.S. citizen.

“I read a piece a few days ago how, in Switzerland, banks are closing accounts from U.S. citizen as fast as they can because of the harassment from the IRS, SEC, etc. The article states that Americans are now pariahs for most non-U.S. banks because of the arm-wrestling of the U.S. government. Even people working at the United Nations for many years are now being told to close their accounts.

“I doubt that European citizens have these problems. They are probably still welcome at many banks.”

Bert S., United States


“I am a fairly new subscriber and thoroughly enjoy reading your e-mails every day. My husband and I have been planning to move out of the good old U.S.A. for a few years now, but we cannot decide where to go despite all the research we both have done over the last three years or so.

“We are both 44 years of age, and we’re childless (and probably will remain that way). We will likely be getting a pension of US$1,800 per month. We are in the midst of repairing and remodeling our co-op here in Brooklyn, New York, so we can sell it, but we don’t expect to walk away with much equity. Maybe US$50,000 or so.

“We love tropical weather, beaches, nightlife, and restaurants and are used to the city life. We don’t necessary want to live in the midst of a very busy city, but I am sure we would feel lost if we were not near a major city. We also want to be among expats, because we’re social and would love to make new friends. We don’t speak Spanish (although I know a few basic phrases).
“Can you help us to come to a decision? We first considered the Dominican Republic, then Chile, then Ecuador, and now Panama. We don’t have the funds to travel before we move and plan to rent, of course, in the beginning to feel a place out. Would you kindly make a recommendation for us?”

— Tina C., United States

It’s your interest in being near to a major city that makes your situation challenging. Tropical weather and beaches with some nightlife and even restaurants aren’t hard to come by. The Dominican Republic and parts of Ecuador could both be good choices according to these parameters. However, I wouldn’t recommend the major city in the DR (Santo Domingo) as a place to live, and the cities in Ecuador that I think might provide the kinds of distractions you’re looking for are nowhere near the coast.

Mexico could make sense. Puerto Vallarta, for example. This isn’t a big city, but it offers restaurants, bars, art galleries, and other diversions. Plus, the region is home to an established expat community you could plug into. You could get by here without speaking Spanish, and, yes, you could live comfortably on a budget of US$1,800 a month.

Panama also could make sense. The best beach living in this country is along the coast of the Azuero Peninsula (not nearby Panama City, where the beaches are disappointing and the real estate over-priced). More developed is the east coast of the peninsula; look at Las Tablas. Less developed is the west coast; look around Mariato. On the west coast, you could position yourself on the beach and still be less than a half-hour from the city of Santiago. Not a city to write home about but a place to go out to dinner or to see a movie. In either Las Tablas or on the coast around Mariato, you’d be about 3 ½ hours drive from Panama City, the most cosmopolitan city in the region, with restaurants, nightclubs, casinos, bars, cafes, live theater, a comedy club, etc.

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