Top Retire Overseas Havens For 2011

Making Choices

I’ve given you my picks for the best places in the world to move on, to start over, to reinvent yourself, to launch a new life, and to live better, perhaps for less, in the New Year…

To remind you, here are my recommendations for the World’s Top Retirement Havens for 2011:

Super Cheap

#1: Leon (cheapest), Granada, or San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

#2: Cuenca, Ecuador

#3: Medellin, Colombia

#4: Chiang Mai, Thailand


#1: Las Tablas (cheapest), Panama City, or Boquete, Panama

#2: Montevideo, Uruguay

#3: Buenos Aires or Mendoza, Argentina

#4: Ambergris Caye or Cayo, Belize

#5: Kuala Lumpur or Penang, Malaysia

Luxury on a Budget

#1: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

#2: Southwestern France

Now…what in the world are you supposed to do with this list?

Ecuador is cheap, but is it cheaper than, say, Nicaragua? Chiang Mai could be the cheapest choice of all, but it’s also the most exotic. That could be a minus for you…or a plus.

And, of course, cost of living is but one consideration. Maybe it’s a critical one for you, but it’s certainly not the only thing you need to think about as you try to identify the overseas retirement haven with your name on it.

In addition, you’ve got to understand options for establishing foreign residency and the available standards of medical care…

You want to know about health insurance plans and costs…safety concerns…infrastructure…the language…the climate…taxes…accessibility…

Would you find more interesting ways to spend your time in Buenos Aires, Argentina, or Montevideo, Uruguay? Would you enjoy more reliable Internet access in Chiang Mai, Thailand, or Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia? Where would a beachfront lot for building a house be cheaper–on Ambergris Caye, Belize, or in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico?

Panama’s pensionado residency program is user-friendly and packed with benefits, but is it easier to qualify for residency in Panama than in Belize, for example?

The standard of available medical care is top-notch in Panama City. Is it as good in Medellin? Better? How does medical care in Uruguay, Argentina, Malaysia, Thailand, Mexico, and France stack up in comparison? And where is international-standard health care more and most costly?

Where is it easier to open a bank account as a non-resident? Uruguay…or Belize?

Where will you find more fellow English-speakers? Boquete or Cuenca?

Boquete, Cuenca, and Medellin are all mild-weather choices, but how does the climate compare one to the other?

Formulating a plan to retire overseas is all about making choices. Knowing that the cost of living in Cuenca is cheap doesn’t help you much. Knowing that the cost of living in Cuenca is cheaper than in Granada but not as cheap as in Chiang Mai might.

In other words, my telling you that Granada, Nicaragua; Cuenca, Ecuador; Medellin, Colombia; and Chiang Mai, Thailand, are the world’s most affordable places to think about relocating for a comfortable retirement right now doesn’t really do you any good.

To take action as a result of any recommendation on my list, you need, first, to carry out some comparative analysis.

When I say, “you”…I mean, “we.”

We need to help you compare and contrast not only cost of living, but also ease of establishing residency, ease of settling in and of setting yourself up, availability of medical care, cost of health insurance, concerns over safety and stability (including currency stability), risks associated with investing or doing business (exchange controls, for example)…

And we need to show you how options for ways to spend your Friday nights and your Sunday afternoons in Retirement Haven ABC compare with those for Retirement Haven XYZ.

We need to draw out both the pluses and the minuses, the advantages and the disadvantages, so that you can connect the dots and make your choices.

This, therefore, is our editorial mandate for the New Year. More comparative analysis, one country, city, town, beach to another.

Starting in this month’s issue of the Overseas Retirement Letter, featuring our report on Medellin, Colombia, written by yours truly.

This month, I not only introduce you to Medellin, a safe, pretty, affordable, and genteel retirement option…but I also compare Medellin with one of our most long-standing top retire-overseas picks, Panama City.

As I explain in my report, in many ways, these two cities couldn’t be more different. Yin and yang.

Which one might be right for you? I hope my comparative discussion helps to progress your thinking toward finding an answer to that question.

Lief and I couldn’t decide and finally gave up trying to choose. Instead, we’re making both cities a part of our long-term retirement plan.

I explain why in this month’s issue of the Overseas Retirement Letter, due in subscribers’ e-mailboxes by week’s end.

Kathleen Peddicord

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