Retirement is often a time to live better, reinvent your life and have a grand adventure, sometimes in a new part of the world. Here are 10 top options for living or retiring overseas in 2017:
Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal. Portugal is the best-kept secret of Old World Europe. For three years running, Live and Invest Overseas has named its Algarve coast as the world's best place to retire overseas. Coastal Carvoeiro, in particular, qualifies as an appealing place to call home if you want to live on the water in a developed setting.
The take-your-breath-away views from Carvoeiro's rocky coast, the constant sunshine, the near-perfect weather year-round, the food and wine and the history all add up to top-shelf living for a very bargain price. Thanks to the current down value of the euro, the enviable coastal Continental lifestyle on offer in Carvoeiro is further reduced, and the cost of a very rentable home or condo is irresistibly discounted.
El Poblado, Medellin, Colombia. One corner of Medellín in particular offers a comfortable, tranquil and idyllic way of life for an affordable cost. At the current exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Colombian peso, the luxury-level cosmopolitan lifestyle available in El Poblado is an even greater bargain. Medellín is culture-rich and Euro chic. Its people are well-dressed, well-mannered and welcoming. Medellín's heart, El Poblado, is a top choice for city living on a budget.
Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic. Las Terrenas is quintessential Caribbean with a French twist. The big and established community of French expats living in this white-sand beach town means fresh baguettes, great restaurants and kisses on both cheeks in greeting. Infrastructure is improving, establishing residency is easy and the cost of living is one of the great bargains of today's Caribbean, making Las Terrenas a place to start a new life with a Caribbean Sea view.
Santa Familia, Cayo, Belize. If you want to leave the troubles and worries of our age behind, little Santa Familia village in Cayo, Belize, is calling your name. Life in Cayo is back to basics, simple and sweet. You know your neighbors, they know you and you all look out for each other. Belize's Cayo is a region of wide-open spaces, fresh air, warm sun and fertile land, making it a place to disconnect and unplug.
Pau, France. France is a country of superlatives. It's known for its high quality of life, excellent health care, rich food and cutting edge art and fashion. It is among the most beautiful and romantic places in the world. To many people, living in France is the definition of a good life, and the charms and appeals of French country life are unrivaled. In this context, consider Pau, which is known as the "Green City" and the "Garden City," thanks to its ratio of greenery per square meter per person, one of the highest of any European city.
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Pau's landscape is accessible woodlands, the steep slopes of Jurançon wine country, the history-packed Plaine de Nay and its main town of Nay and the pretty rolling countryside and ancient towns of the Gaves de Béarn. Pau is also a university town, with close to 12,000 university students living on and off campus, helping to keep it lively. Brits and other North Europeans have been seeking out this part of France for retirement for years. The area includes a friendly bunch of people with a wide range of backgrounds and interests who are always ready to welcome newcomers.
Chiang Mai, Thailand. Since the 1800s, the Thai city of Chiang Mai has been luring expats from the West with is low cost of living, great weather, rich history and distinct culture. The heart of Chiang Mai lies within its old city walls where ancient and modern Buddhist temples coexist with public and international schools and residential and commercial neighborhoods.
Modern Chiang Mai has grown beyond the ancient walls and offers mega malls, huge multinational grocery and department stores and all other trappings of life in the 21st century. The biggest advantage to life in Chiang Mai is its cost in general and of health care in particular. A couple can live here comfortably on as little as $1,100 per month, and you can see an English-speaking doctor for $20.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Playa del Carmen is a little beach town that sits about an hour south of Cancún on Mexico's Riviera Maya. Once a sleepy fishing town, the port was inadvertently put on the map by Jacques Cousteau in 1954 when he filmed an underwater documentary of the Great Mayan Reef just offshore.
Divers began seeking out these Caribbean waters for themselves, and in the 1970s a port was built to ferry the tourists from the mainland to Cozumel. Today Playa is home to more than 10,000 foreigners, including Europeans, Americans, Canadians, Argentinians, Venezuelans and many other people of all ages including 20- and 30-somethings, young families and retired couples. Playa is also a welcoming destination for the LGBT community.
Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona, in the northeast of Spain on the Mediterranean Sea, is a vibrant, colorful, proud city that combines the passion of the Spanish with the efficiency and organization of the Catalans. This is a city with a strong energy that has not been dampened by Spain's ongoing economic woes and the economic, cultural and administrative capital of Catalonia.
Spain's second-biggest city is easily and quickly explored thanks to its compact, well laid out design, and there are many opportunities for diversion, entertainment and discovery. Art and architecture from pre-Roman to Modernista is around every corner. This is a city of galleries, museums, monuments, theaters, restaurants, and shopping – all near the beach.
Granada, Nicaragua. Nicaragua is a beautiful country with a troubled history that appeals to the romantic, poet, eco-traveler, surfer and bargain hunter. The cost of living and real estate is a steal. Geographically, Nicaragua is blessed, with two long coastlines and two big lakes, plus volcanoes, highlands, rain forest and rivers. At night the backdrop is an ink-streaked sky that, just before the sun sets, illuminates the yellow and white cathedrals. Architecturally, Nicaragua is notable. Colonial Granada is an architectural jewel. This city is one of the oldest in Latin America and continues to be busy and lively today, attracting tourists and expats in record numbers.
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo. This laid-back and quiet city is one of the most pleasant places to live in Asia and is incredibly welcoming. Its biggest practical advantages are the low cost of living and the high standard (and low cost) of health care. A couple could live well here on $1,200 a month or less.
The city is small and walkable, less than three kilometers from end to end. Life revolves around the water and is lived out-of-doors. At home here you'd fill your days snorkeling, diving, boating and ferry hopping from the city center to neighboring islands. This is a little-known, low-key and low-population destination offering a tranquil, serene and close-to-nature lifestyle at a cost that's a global bargain.
[Read: How to Afford Retirement in Paris.]
Bonus choice: Paris, France. Life in Paris can be as good as life gets anywhere. What you may not realize is that the cost of living in Paris can be manageable. Paris is a place where even a modest lifestyle can feel rich and where some of the greatest pleasures – strolls along the Seine or picnics in the Luxembourg Gardens – come free.
Paris is also a city where a car is an unnecessary liability. You can walk to the butcher, the baker, the grocer, the wine shop, museums, movie theaters and cafés and restaurants. When you want to venture beyond your quartier you can take the metro. For just a euro and 90 cents, you can get from anywhere to anywhere in this city you might want to go.
Other things in Paris can be cheap, too, including necessaries of modern living like cable, telephone and internet. You can get a phone plan in France that includes unlimited calls to anywhere in Europe, North America and the Caribbean, plus internet and cable, for about 45 euros per month.
Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group.
Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report
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