“Kathleen, have you lived in Costa Rica? I’ve been going my whole life on vacation there and have really bonded. I value your opinion and really love your writings and will be getting your book. I’m doing an early retirement in five years, when I will be 57. I’m leaning toward the central valley, maybe Santa Anna in a gated estate home community.
“I’m a gardener here in the United States, with a national garden radio show (www.gardenRebel.com), and hopefully can still do my show each week from Costa Rica. Please let me know your opinion. I love the plants, animals, etc., and feel so comfortable in the tropical environment. I’m now in central Florida.”
–Vince G., United States
No. I’ve traveled to Costa Rica probably 30 times over the past 30 years or so, but I haven’t lived there. I have friends who do.
Costa Rica isn’t my favorite place. I’ve written about why here.
Does that mean you shouldn’t plan your retirement there, given that you know the country well and have spent time there yourself over many years, as it seems is the case?
Definitely not. Costa Rica isn’t for me… but it could be ideal for you. The most important factor for anyone making this big decision is instinct. Your gut response to a place. It sounds like Costa Rica feels right to you. Go with that. It counts for more than anything else.
“I have yet to see anything in your columns about Australia and New Zealand. I spent time in both countries in the 80s, New Zealand is the most beautiful country that I have ever been in. What is your opinion on retiring in New Zealand?”
— Matt S., United States
Lief Simon replies: “New Zealand is indeed great. Unfortunately, along with Australia, New Zealand doesn’t make it easy for retirees to get residency. They don’t want older people moving there unless they invest a large sum (US$1 million last time I checked).
“Because of these restrictions and hurdles to full-time residency, part-time living makes more sense in both these places. You could live here during their summer, then return to the Northern Hemisphere during their winter, for instance.
“Options in New Zealand range from Auckland for city life to Christchurch for midsized town life to Queenstown for high-end expat life… and everything in between. Cost of living could be cheaper than in the United States, depending where you’re coming from in the States. But neither New Zealand nor Australia is an extraordinary bargain.
“Tasmania could be an interesting option. It’s beautiful, peaceful, and safe and is increasingly popular as a retirement destination among Australians.”
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