World’s Top Retirement Haven

Location, Location, Location

I made a strong parting recommendation yesterday:

“Get on a plane,” I said. Stop dreaming about your new life in Paradise. Start living it.

“But…but…but”…you may be thinking…

“But where should I go?”

Right…you need a destination.

I can’t tell you where your flight should be headed, specifically. There’s no one-size-fits-all overseas retirement haven. You need to find the Shangri-la that works for you.

But here are good places to focus your search…collectively, the world’s top retirement havens right now:

1. Ecuador

Best choice if budget is your primary concern. Invest in a home of your own, and you could retire well in Cuenca, for example, or in Quito or Otavalo, for as little as $660 per month. I met a couple at dinner last night who are doing just that. They’re counting down the days to the launch of their mid-November retirement to Quito. Cost of living is their main motivation for making the move from Miami.

“About a half-hour outside Quito, we’re building a home to our specifications,” they explained, “everything as we want it, completely custom. We could never afford to do that in this country. Everything costs at least two-thirds less in Ecuador than it does in the States. We’ll be able to increase our standard of living and to really enjoy ourselves.”

Ecuador also boasts an unbeatably pleasant climate.

2. Thailand

The other best choice if cost of living is key. Correspondents Paul and Vicki Terhorst, who currently call Thailand home, have been tempting you with details of the exotic charms of this beautiful and super-affordable haven.

And, yes, it’s still safe. See below.

3. Panama

Best choice if reliable infrastructure (Internet, e-mail, telephone, etc.) is important and if you want the support and services of a “real-world” city. In Panama City, you can shop for any brand of American breakfast cereal you could name, high-count Egyptian cotton sheets (I bought some the other day), a super-sized flat-screen television, and antiques imported from England, France, and Spain…

You could live more cost-effectively in other places today, but Panama remains a bargain in many ways. Dry cleaning, a trip to the barber shop, fresh flowers, those Egyptian cotton sheets, and the services of a maid and handyman around the house…these things are so cheap, you’ll be able to afford to make them regular indulgences.

The real plus of Panama right now is its thriving economy. This is the place to bring your entrepreneurial inclinations.

4. Uruguay

Best half-year choice. Uruguay’s seasons are the reverse of those above the equator, so if you’re thinking you’d like a place to retreat to, say, six months a year, when the temperatures drop back home, look to Uruguay.

Uruguay is safe, stable, peaceful, and orderly, well apart from the troubles of the rest of the world, a true escape.

And, yes, it’s in the Americas, but it feels, in many ways, more European than Latino. Your standard of living in this country could be elevated, even Continental, on a retirement budget of as little as $1,038 per month.

5. Italy

Our top pick on the Continent. Look to the beautiful, undiscovered, and surprisingly affordable region of Abruzzo.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. This is our short list for the world’s top retirement havens. A longer one would also include: Nicaragua, Belize, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and France.

P.P.S. How do you choose among these options, each of which is appealing for different reasons? Know thyself. What’s important to you? Consider:

Cost of Living
Stability and Safety
Accessibility to Your “Home” Country
Health Care
Recreation and Entertainment
Education Options (if you have children)
Business Options
Residency and Visa Requirements


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