The Algarve region provides all that a continental lifestyle has to offer, from medieval towns and fishing villages to open-air markets and local wine.
Retirees can choose to live or retire in any country in the world. A move to a new country can allow you to live better, reinvent your life and have a grand adventure. Here are ten global destinations to consider for retirement.
1. Algarve, Portugal. Portugal’s Algarve is a land of cobblestone streets and whitewashed houses with lace-patterned chimneys surrounded by fig, olive, almond and carob trees. Located at Europe’s westernmost tip and boasting a hundred miles of Atlantic coastline, Algarve boasts beaches, golf courses, sunny weather, friendly folk and a low cost of living. It is an old world lifestyle at a very affordable cost.
Silves and Lagoa are two top options in the region that offer history, charm and spectacular beaches. Silves is nestled in verdant valleys on the banks of the Arade River and surrounded by fields of citrus. The warm microclimate makes it feel like summertime all year long. Lagoa, with a capital town of the same name, is a much smaller municipality located close to the ocean and boasting top beaches, specifically around the fishing towns of Carvoeiro and Ferragudo. Estimated cost of living: $1,835 per month.
2. Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is more than an all-inclusive resort destination. While this country sees lots of tourists every year, thanks to its miles of sandy beaches, it’s also a top Caribbean choice for foreign expats and retirees. Dominicans are friendly and hospitable, and the country feels warm and welcoming to newcomers.
Las Terrenas, on the country’s northeast coast, is not just another sandy Caribbean beach town. This island outpost is more cosmopolitan than you’d imagine. This means fresh baguettes, sophisticated restaurant menus, kisses on both cheeks in greeting, waitstaff who are alert and attentive and other similar niceties. Estimated cost of living: $1,500 per month.
3. Medellin, Colombia. Medellín is a city of parks and flowers that is pretty, tidy and pleasant. Most buildings are constructed of red brick and topped with red clay roof tiles. The overall effect is delightful. Thanks to its mountain setting, Medellín is one of a handful of cities around the world that qualifies as a land of eternal springtime. This means no heating or air conditioning is required, helping to keep utility costs low.
The current exchange rate between the Colombian peso and the U.S. dollar makes the area feel affordable to Americans. It’s possible to enjoy a penthouse lifestyle in Medellín on a shoestring budget. If you like the idea of living large, but your budget is small, put Medellín at the top of your list. Estimated cost of living: $1,900 per month.
4. Abruzzo, Italy. The Abruzzo region is the most overlooked and undervalued in central Italy. You can buy property here for far less than in Tuscany or Umbria. It is also at least as appealing as Italy’s more famous regions, with both mountains and seacoast. At certain times of year you can even ski in the morning and swim in the afternoon. Low cost flights give you affordable access to the rest of Europe.
Abruzzo is a top choice for old world living on the Continent. Near the 16th century thermal spring town of Caramanico, you could live in an old majella stone house nestled in an extraordinary natural setting. In this charming medieval town day-to-day life continues as it has for centuries. Estimated cost of living: $1,500 per month.
5. Mazatlan, Mexico. Mazatlán is one of the few places in the world where you can walk for miles on an uncrowded beach within the city limits. Located about midway along Mexico’s Pacific coast, Mazatlán is making a comeback. The renaissance has been focused on the city’s historic center, which has undergone an impressive facelift. The focal point is Plaza Machado, which is now surrounded by busy outdoor cafés and international restaurants. Forming the eastern border of the plaza is Calle Carnaval, which is pedestrians-only at the square.
Mazatlán lies about 720 miles south of the Arizona border, making it a 13-hour drive down Highway 15D. You can throw everything you need in the car and drive to your new life overseas without worrying about what the airlines will let you bring. If you’d rather fly, Mazatlán is a two-hour nonstop flight from Phoenix. You can choose to associate primarily with fellow expats, speaking mostly English, or live in a Mexican setting, speaking mostly Spanish and immersing yourself in Mexico’s culture. Estimated cost of living: $1,370 per month.
6. Ambergris Caye, Belize. For many, the retirement dream is all about the Caribbean, and nothing else will do. If your overseas retirement fantasies are similarly aquamarine and sandy, put Ambergris Caye at the top of your list. The diving and snorkeling, the color and clarity of the water and the abundance and variety of sea life in this country is unparalleled.
On Ambergris Caye you can live a simple and relaxed life by the water. There are only a handful of streets and very few cars on the island. People get around primarily by golf cart and their own two feet. At the same time, the established and growing expat community, one of the biggest in the Caribbean, continues to import services, products and amenities to make life here more comfortable. Estimated cost of living: $2,170 per month.
7. Cuenca, Ecuador. You begin to appreciate that Cuenca is a special city as you make your approach from the air. Passing through the surrounding Andean peaks, you’re able to make out the more than fifty church steeples poking up from a sea of red clay tile roofs.
Cuenca is a lovely and historic town that predates the arrival of the Incas in a majestic setting. Cuenca’s large center has a wealth of colonial homes with interior courtyards, thick adobe walls and iron-railed terraces looking down onto the street, punctuated regularly by plazas and squares. Travelers come from the world over to enjoy these square blocks of history, study in Cuenca’s world-class language schools and to experience a rare glimpse of unadulterated life in an Andean colonial city. Estimated cost of living: $1,135 per month.
8. Languedoc, France. This region may not be the cheapest place in the world to retire, but it is in many ways one of the most appealing. Languedoc is historic, colorful, eclectic, always changing, authentically French and at the same time very open to retirees. Villages here date from prehistoric times, but the feel of this part of France is medieval. Living here is simple and traditional, while still offering all the services and amenities of modern life.
Languedoc has a fascinating history, even including its own ancient language, Occitan, which is still taught in some schools. The region was once independent from France and ruled by Raymond IV, Count of Toulouse. It was here in the Languedoc province that the Cathar religion (a sect of Catholicism) first appeared in the 11th century. Estimated cost of living: $1,590 per month.
9. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Located just north of the equator, Malaysia is a tropical country divided into two parts, Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo. Most people live near the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, an attractive and ecologically diverse strip of land that borders Thailand to the north and Singapore to the south. Malaysia’s largest city, Kuala Lumpur, with a population of around 1.76 million, sits in the west-central part of the peninsula.
This is a country of contrasts. The ultramodern city center in Kuala Lumpur, with its many skyscrapers, overlooks Kampung Baru, a traditional Malay village and the city’s oldest neighborhood. Kampung Baru has somehow managed to survive completely untouched by modernity, less than half a mile away from the downtown area. Beneath the shadows of the Petronas Towers and the Public Bank skyscraper, Muslim families raise vegetables, hold open house on their front lawns and tend to chickens roaming freely on the quiet streets. Estimated cost of living: $1,580 per month.
10. Chiang Mai, Thailand. The cost of living in Thailand can be temptingly affordable. The way of life is exotic and idyllic, full of adventure and discovery and, at the same time, completely at peace.
Life in Chiang Mai is both traditional and increasingly influenced by the growing and active expat community in the region. Living here, you could fill your calendar completely with expat activities. You will meet people from all around the world, who are all looking for new lives in an exotic, beautiful, welcoming and almost unbelievably affordable part of the world. Estimated cost of living: $1,365 per month.