Brenna LaBine – Stunning shorelines, sand-fringed neighborhoods, and a laid-back atmosphere— It is no secret that beach cities boast a certain appeal no matter who you are. Whether you are drawn to warm weather, natural beauty, an active lifestyle, or, simply enough, a relaxed culture, beach cities around the globe offer it all in spades.
At Live and Invest Overseas, we regularly update you with the best spots for retirees overseas today. But what if you are looking for that pristine, upbeat beach-vibe in retirement? We’ve got the best cities right here—the spots encapsulating all there is to love about a beach community.
Here are 10 of Live and Invest Overseas’ top picks for beach-city retirement…
10) Almunecar, Spain: The Costa Tropical is the little-known,quieter, and more Spanish of the Mediterranean Costas in the province of Andalusia (or Andalucía, in Spanish). It lies to the east of the infamous Costa del Sol and to the west of the desertlike Costa Almeria (Spaghetti Western country). The Costa Tropical’s position between the brilliant blue Mediterranean and the soaring Sierra Nevada Mountains, rising to 10,000 feet just 62 miles inland, creates a sub-tropical climate where bananas, papayas, and mangoes flourish. Attracting visitors for its climate, beaches, and impressive scuba diving, it also makes a great base to explore inland Andalusia and the beautifully preserved white villages of the Alpujarras, Granada’s mesmerizing Alhambra Palace, and the Sierra Nevada National Park. Plus, Morocco is easily accessible from here.
9) Sosua/ Cabaret, Dominican Republic: Where the rolling hills of verdant-green jungle slope into the bright-blue waters on the North Coast of The Dominican Republic, rest the sand-fringed, tranquil towns of Sosua and neighboring Cabaret.
These are true beachfront utopias. There are no crowds, no large towers obstructing views, no worries. This is a coastal jungle paradise at its finest. There are many desirable expat communities and more under construction now. You can take your pick from luxury living (US$400,000–US$800,000) or affordable communities (US$130,000–US$150,000)—both are seemingly upscale.
Cabaret has more in terms of nightlife and beach activities, and Sosua is a bit more relaxed. Both are up-coming and reasonably priced options for retirees and expats alike.
8) Salinas, Ecuador: Ecuador correspondent Mike Sager remarked at our Ecuador Conference in October 2013, “I think of Salinas as Little Miami without the crime. This horseshoe bay is the most developed beach in Ecuador with the best swimming and foot-high waves. These are vacation homes, not residences, making this a good (I’d say the best) place to invest for rental. You could buy a condo next to the beach and the marina for US$70,000!”
Salinas has ample sunshine, amenities, and real estate options for the retiree or second-home owner. If you are not looking to invest, you can still come enjoy the vibrant feel of the city.
7) Costa de Oro, Uruguay: Uruguay makes perfect sense for beachfront retirement.
Aside from beautiful beaches, first-world amenities, and livable, shady towns, the Costa de Oro offers something that most of the Atlantic coastline does not: incredible sunsets, thanks to the general east-west orientation of its shoreline. But best of all, you’re in Uruguay; a haven that offers a peaceful, genuinely laid-back culture, along with a notable absence from the world’s conflicts…a place where expats can obtain residency easily and even a second passport.
The real estate on the Costa de Oro is inexpensive by any standard, with a nice selection available for under US$100,000.
6) La Serena, Chile: Two months out of the year, the streets of La Serena are bustling and crowded, but outside of January and February, La Serena is a sleepy, boutique-like beach town. There are nature preserves, valleys, lakes, and open-air markets to explore. They are also well-known for their fishing, or you can take a boat tour along the coast. Art enthusiast? Fear not—La Serena has an intriguing history and there are bountiful museums here for your enjoyment.
Residency is simple here in Chile. Their retirement and income visa is the most popular. There is no set price for this visa. Simply prove you are receiving a recurring income via pension, savings, investment, etc. The Chilean Immigration department will deem if this is acceptable. It is recommended that you are receiving an income of US$800-US$1,000 per month, but again, there is no mandatory price.
5) Hoi An, Vietnam: In Hoi An, you can shop in vibrant markets, visit ancient temples, and sample the healthy and unique cuisine particular to this town. You can have your clothes tailor-made by experts, be pampered in your choice of spas, improve your golf swing at internationally acclaimed courses, or while away the hours on the shores of the lovely South China Sea. Step back in time and wander the vehicle-free streets of downtown during the full-moon, when lanterns and candles take the place of electric lights.
The region surrounding Hoi An offers many enticing opportunities for exploration. With the South China Sea to the east and the central highlands to the west, this is a part of Vietnam rich in natural and man-made attractions.
There are five museums in Hoi An, all located in Old Town. Hoi An is a town with a strong focus on art and traditional craftwork.
4) Coronado Beach, Panama: As publisher Kathleen Peddicord explained, “[Coronado] offers a high quality beach lifestyle with all amenities and services you could want. Coronado town has developed into a busy commercial center that makes for a turn-key retirement choice, and, indeed, this is the direction this former weekend retreat is evolving…into a full-fledged retirement community with an established population of full-time foreign residents supported by a developed infrastructure, including good medical facilities.” She adds that Coronado is not a cheap option and it beyond the point of being a good buy for investment, but it is still a top-tier retirement option.
3) Istria, Croatia: The cobalt blue of the Adriatic Sea off Istria’s coast is almost otherworldly. This is a sailor’s paradise, and all up and down this coast you see flotillas of white yachts offshore from ancient towns hidden behind thick walls. This is a fairy-tale land of fortresses and bell towers that so attracted and impressed the Romans that they invested in some of their best building here, including a large and largely intact coliseum at Pula where lions and Christians once entertained. Later, this region was ruled by the Venetians, who also left an architectural legacy. As Kathleen Peddicord explains, “In Istria, both nature and man have worked together over many centuries to create something very special, almost magical. In fact, the ancient Romans named it Tierra Magica.
“The hinterland is a beguiling patchwork of meadows, vineyards, and olive groves, plus carefully tended gardens where trees hang heavy with ripening cherries, figs, and walnuts. This fertile land also grows wild asparagus and truffles, for which it is becoming famous. High in the hills, behind more medieval walls, are yet more toy-town settlements of fountains, chestnut trees, and frescoed churches.”
2) Ambergris Caye, Belize: Ambergris Caye is an English-speaking Caribbean island with an intriguing past and a promising future. From Mayan trade post, to pirate hideout; Mestizo fishing village to ‘Temptation Island’…this once sleepy tropical paradise is coming of age.
Ambergris Caye offers retirees a quintessential Caribbean town—and more than that, it offers a community. And the outdoor activities one can embark on here are seemingly endless. Sitting alongside the second most impressive barrier reef in the world, the snorkeling, diving, fishing, boating, swimming conditions available in Ambergris Caye will surely amaze.
Kathleen Peddicord visited Ambergris Caye years ago, when they were both young girls. But this is what she says of Ambergris today: “You wouldn’t describe property prices today as a steal, but they can be a bargain compared with elsewhere in the Caribbean. More to my point, though, Ambergris Caye, Belize, today is a place where anyone interested in a new home and a new life in the Caribbean would do well to take a close look.”
So come string up your hammock and sway in the cool breeze of Ambergris. And it is worth mentioning that Belize offers a very enticing retiree residency option called the QRP program, which allows retirees to spend as much or as little (at least 2 weeks a year) time here as they’d like.
1) Phuket, Thailand: Our correspondent Robert Carry put it best: “Phuket is a living, breathing master class in how to attract tourists. Over the past 20 years the pearl-shaped vacation island, dangled into the Andaman Sea by a road bridge linking it to the Thai mainland, has evolved from a quiet, laid-back destination into the complete package. Phuket’s stunning coastline, world class sailing and diving, its fantastic high-end dining, spa and accommodation options, as well as its pulsating nightlife are all delivered with that inimitable Thai smile. From family groups to backpackers to single male travelers, Phuket has got it covered. It’s hardly surprising that Phuket has surged ahead of the country’s other vacation islands to become the undisputed king of beach destinations.”
One European developer, Beach Projects, recently relocated its headquarters to Thailand and is building luxury investment-grade beach properties in Phuket. Silver Beach, with units starting at US$186,000, is currently under construction with completion set for the summer of 2014.