Retire To The Beach
If your heart is set on a new life at the beach and that’s your clear and driving agenda, here are the top four sandy overseas havens to consider right now. These spots boast world-class sea, sand, sun, and surf, plus they make sense bigger picture. Each of my top beach picks is in a country that offers other important advantages for the foreign retiree.
Top Beach Pick #1: La Barra, Uruguay
La Barra, Uruguay, is my number-one choice for a sophisticated retirement by the sea. This is oceanside living that’s also cosmopolitan and international. La Barra is a tidy town of neat white houses perched on a peninsula that stretches into the clear blue Atlantic. It’s a small, walkable city that boasts the comforts, amenities, services, distractions, and entertainments of much bigger ocean resort communities, minus the high-rises and the tourist trappings. The beaches are among the best in Uruguay.
The cost of living is low. Yes, you could live for a little less elsewhere in Uruguay–in Atlántida or Salto, for example–but, in La Barra, you’re buying a higher standard of living. La Barra is this country’s (and one of the worlds’) best seaside choices.
Uruguay is also a remarkably easy place to obtain foreign residency and a great place to raise a family.
Top Beach Pick #2: Samana, Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is known for its beaches, which are world-class and attract big volumes of tourists every year. These powdery coasts, though, make sense not only as a vacation spot, but also as a place to consider longer term, for there’s much more to the D.R. than its beaches.
The Dominican Republic is small, about twice the size of the state of New Hampshire, yet it offers an estimated 1,000 miles of pristine, white-sand beaches, most of them completely people-free. The tourists congregate in the resort areas. Travel just a few miles away in either direction, and you find yourself completely alone on some of the most picturesque stretches of sand you will ever lay eyes on.
But the Dominican Republic isn’t your typical Caribbean getaway. It’s more international than you might expect, more cosmopolitan. Have a craving for blue cheese, authentic French baguettes, or fresh gnocchi? In the D.R., you can find all of these things. French and Italians settled on the island about 30 years ago and have since developed an extensive and diverse culinary, business, and service infrastructure geared toward other expats.
Top Beach Pick #3: Las Tablas, Panama
Within a 20-minute drive of the little town of Las Tablas, Panama, you can reach five different beaches, all beautiful, all undiscovered. This is a big part of the reason why dozens of U.S. and Canadian expats have settled in this part of Panama’s Azuero Peninsula, about four hours west of Panama City.
The other draw is the cost of living. It’s dramatically lower in this region than in this country’s capital city. You could buy a fixer-upper beach house in Las Tablas for as little as $20,000, and you could rent a small house, right on the beach, for as little as $200 to $300 a month, long term.
A retired couple could live comfortably in this part of Panama on as little as US$1,100 per month, including rent and full-time household help.
Top Beach Pick #4: Ambergris Caye, Belize
Belize’s biggest attractions are its natural beauty, its beaches, and its barrier reef, the second largest in the world, teeming with colorful fish, coral, and unusual marine life. Add to the list the facts that the people in this country speak English and that the cost of living is affordable, and you understand why this country’s biggest outlying island, Ambergris Caye, makes my list of Top 4 Overseas Beach Retirement Havens.
Furthermore, and worth mentioning in the wake of recent global banking debacles, Belize’s international banks are solid. Banking is the second-most-important industry in Belize (after tourism), and Belize banks are required to keep 24% of their assets on deposit liquid at all times.
Finally, Belize offers the world’s most user-friendly foreign residency program, the Qualified Retired Person (QRP) program, which allows you to “retire” to this country as young as 45.