Everyone wants it…an affordable, trouble-free, easy retirement. But where in the world would you find the best spot for such a dream retirement?
According to Jackie Flynn, Publisher of InternationalLiving.com, it depends on what’s most important to you.
“Maybe you’re most concerned about being close to friends and family in the States,” said Flynn. “Or you might want to avoid dealing with high taxes and maddening bureaucracy. Or you may want to make sure that you’re surrounded by a community of like-minded friends.”
“We’re constantly asked by our readers where we think it’s easiest to retire,” said Flynn, “so we decided to find out.”
Flynn recently polled InternationalLiving.com editors and contributors around the world to find out where they thought an easy retirement was most possible.
John Louden, a long-time expat residing in Puerto Vallarta, says the town on Mexico’s Pacific coast has something for everyone, including an international airport, professional tournament golf courses, designer shops, world-class restaurants, and as many as 20,000 expats. “That means you’ll find a large, ready made expat community,” says Louden.
Suzan Haskins, Latin America Editor for InternationalLiving.com, says Merida in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is a place not just to retire, but to live. “It’s a real city,” says Haskins, “a very old one, founded in 1542, and some of the most magnificent Mayan ruins on earth are just 90 minutes from town. And beach lovers will be happy, too. Warm Gulf Coast beaches are just 30 minutes away.”
Haskins also recommends Cotacachi, Ecuador. “Remember when people went for strolls in the park in the evening, chatted with their neighbors on the sidewalk, called their grocers and waitresses by their first names, and knew just about everybody in town? That still happens in Cotacachi,” says Haskins. This small, friendly town is perched on the equator between mountain peaks at 8,000 feet, and the weather is spring-like year round. If it’s small-town atmosphere you’re after, Haskins says Cotacachi is the place.
Ecuador is also the location of Cuenca. Larger than Cotacachi, Cuenco is a vibrant city that topped InternationalLiving.com’s 2009 Retirement Index. Not only does Cuenca have everything from tiny cafés to upscale restaurants…indigenous outdoor markets to supermarkets…pre-colonial festivals to modern art galleries and orchestra. It also has one of the most welcoming expat communities you’ll find anywhere where expats can actually start successful businesses. Leslie Breen opened Café Eucalyptus, one of Cuenca’s most successful restaurants and night spots, and David Morrill founded CuencaRealEstate.com, the city’s premier real estate agency.
The official language of Mexico and Ecuador is Spanish, but in Belize the official language is English, making for a very easy transition to retirement. San Pedro is the bustling, sand-paved beachfront town on Ambergris Caye, one of Belize’s most famous tourist spots… perfect for diving, snorkeling, and living a laid-back island retirement lifestyle. According to Ann Kuffner Brunette, real estate agent and International Living’s San Pedro correspondent, this combination of exotic beauty and ease of communication makes San Pedro an ideal pick for easy retirement in the Caribbean.
Jessica Ramesch, InternationalLiving.com Panama editor, says Panama City defines easy retirement.
“There’s simply no city that out-values Panama City,” says Ramesch. “It’s the perfect place for thoroughly modern living. It’s easy to buy property; easy to qualify for residency; easy to do business. The government and the people are accustomed to foreigners and welcome them. There are special discounts for retirees, zero income tax on offshore earnings, protection against probate, property tax exemptions…the list goes on.”
Before choosing any retirement destination, says Jackie Flynn, you need to do your own in-depth research.
“Here at InternationalLiving.com we’ve been exploring the world of living and retiring abroad for 30 years now,” says Flynn. “But no one can tell you exactly which place is right for you but you. These Top Six are quick picks we’ve assembled from our own experience, but everyone has their own particular needs, desires, likes and dislikes. We simply try to provide enough detailed, first-hand information on the places we think are best so that individuals can do the research and decide for themselves where they want to retire.”