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View IL’s Videos From the Best Retirement Destinations in the World

There’s no better way to get a feel for a place you may consider as your ideal overseas retirement destination than to actually see it.

Viewing a video might be the next best thing to being there yourself. Our editors and contributors around the world will show you the destinations they travel to and live in so you can really get a feel for a country that may be on your wish-list as the perfect retirement or relocation destination.

 
Take a look below at IL’s videos and get a feel for things like city life in Panama, countryside living in Costa Rica, laidback beach living in Belize, road trips in Ecuador…and everything in between.

IL’s editors are constantly on the move…and every time they go, they bring their cameras with them.

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jaco

Jacó, Costa Rica: A Video Tour

Located on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast, Jacó is a popular beach resort town that plays host to many international and local tourists throughout the year. It’s also home to a sizeable expat population. It’s known for great restaurants and vibrant nightlife, a wide beach perfect for long walks, and consistent surf. Sport fishing, kayaking, and hiking in the surrounding jungle are also popular. Local expats are active in community churches, volunteering in the community, and simply hanging out with friends.

Merida

Mérida, Mexico – The Colonial Gem on the Yucatán Peninsula

On the western side of the Yucatán Peninsula is Mérida. This Mexican town of 1 million hosts the third largest Spanish colonial quarter in the world. And the historic centro is full of centuries-old homes, churches, and public buildings, as well as charming plazas, parks, and squares. Retirees and other expats “discovered” Mérida in the late 1980s and every year more and more North Americans and Europeans make the move, many of them renovating colonial buildings, turning them into private homes, B&Bs, restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques.

Akumal-1

Akumal, a Beautiful Beach on the Riviera Maya

Just north of Tulum on Mexico’s Riviera Maya is the small beach community of Akumal. The beach curves gently around a small cove, which is home to endangered sea turtles who munch on the abundant sea grass.

Nosara

Video: The Perfect Beach Life in Nosara, Costa Rica

On the Nicoya Peninsula, on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, is the community of Nosara. Known for its consistent waves, yoga studios, and somewhat remote location, this collection of beaches (Guiones, Pelada, Nosara, and Ostional) has virtually no shoreline development thanks to a large wildlife refuge designed to protect nesting sea turtles. As a result there are no large resorts or condo or hotel towers looming over the sand. And most expats live in homes in the forest just inland from the water. Nosara is popular with retirees, young couples, and families…just about anyone seeking a laid-back life on the beach.

Costa Rica

Playa Hermosa: A Laidback Beach in Costa Rica

Located on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific coast, Playa Hermosa (not to be confused with the beach of the same name near the border with Nicaragua) is a haven for beachgoers looking for a low-key and largely undeveloped destination. The beach is known for its consistent surf, making it a world-renowned surf spot. And there are long-term residents as well, who live in beachfront homes and in a luxury gated community just off the water.

Mexico

900 Feet of Enchiladas in Guanajuato, Mexico

Guanajuato, Mexico, loves its food. And as Mexico considers its homegrown cuisine part of its cultural heritage, what better way to celebrate it than a public feast? The three-day Enchilada Festival culminated this year in an enchilada cookout that filled three long tables—over 900 feet—with enchiladas. It’s thought to be the longest enchilada in the world!

Lisbon

Enjoy a Low Cost of Living in Portugal

Love Europe but think you can’t afford it? Think again. I recently spent some time in Portugal and was wowed by the low prices. In Portugal, you can enjoy a low cost of living similar to that in Latin America’s more developed countries…with all the benefits of European life thrown in. For instance, you can get a sit-down lunch for about $15. You can grab a sandwich for less than $5 that’s big enough for two…but why bother? As in many Latin countries, lunch is generally a proper meal in Portugal, and you can get two courses, sometimes with beverage, starting from about $10. Or have dinner in a family-style restaurant for just a little more. Like wine with that meal? No problem. You can get a glass of wine in many restaurants for $4 or so…or half a bottle for about $7. Portugal is a wine-producing country, after all, and the local product is good, plentiful, and inexpensive.

Costa Rica

Esterillos: A Quiet Stretch of Beach on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast

Just south of the busy beach resort town of Jaco on the coastal highway is one of Costa Rica’s hidden gems. Esterillos is a quiet community (there are actually three sections: Esterillos Este, Esterillos Centro, and Esterillos Oeste) that a small but significant group of expats have come to call home. Laid-back beach living is the name of the game. No big hotels, no tall condos…not much development at all, although it is a popular weekend destination for Costa Ricans who live inland. You can walk the beach for miles and not see many other people. During the week, your only companions will likely be surfers and fisherman.

Salinas

Video Tour of Coastal Ecuador

Punta Blanca is a beautiful, exclusive area on Ecuador’s southern Pacific coast. Only about a four-hour drive from colonial Cuenca, where I live, Punta Blanca has a super-convenient location 30 minutes north of Salinas, the country’s most developed resort area, and 30 minutes south of the always happening party town of Montanita. Because Punta Blanca is residential, you need a vehicle to get there and to get around, as there are no stores or restaurants within walking distance. Rentals are available, and visitors are treated to a gorgeous and isolated beachfront experience with lots of activities and amenities nearby.

Plac

Belize’s Beautiful Placencia Peninsula

Belize’s Placencia Peninsula is 17 miles of white sands, blue Caribbean waters, and gently swaying palms. The paving of the road the length of the peninsula has opened it up for development, with homes and condos ranging from luxury to affordable.

Costa Rica

An Organic Farmers’ Market in San José, Costa Rica

The Feria Verde, or Green Farmers’ Market, is held every Saturday in the Aranjuez neighborhood of San José, Costa Rica’s capital. Founded in 2008, it’s one of the original organic and gourmet markets in the country, offering everything from produce to goat cheese to gluten-free pasta and a score of other unique products usually not available in most Costa Rican stores. The items are crafted or grown by small local producers.

Cuenca

Cuenca, Ecuador: A Low-Cost University Town Buzzing With Activity

Expats have flocked to Cuenca, Ecuador in recent years for its great weather, low cost of living, and excellent health care. But most people aren’t aware until they arrive here that my hometown boasts five universities. And because Cuencanos speak what is recognized as the purest Spanish outside of Spain, we also have many Spanish language schools attracting study abroad students from all over the world. Great university towns are known as cultural hubs and artistic centers with a fun, vibrant atmosphere, and Cuenca is no exception. No, you won’t find wild tailgating parties happening during the fall—they play that “other kind” of football here.

Water taxi, Belize

Video: Taking a Water Taxi in Belize

Water taxis, essentially small high-speed ferries, are a great way to travel from mainland Belize to the offshore islands, Ambergris Caye, the most visited spot in the country, and laid-back Caye Caulker to south. You can also travel to remote spots around Ambergris, between islands, and even as far as the town of Chetumal, in Mexico. Travelers often fly in to the international airport in Belize City, take a cab to the ferry landing of one of the two major companies Caye Caulker Water Taxi and San Pedro Belize Express, and then motor over to the islands.

Ecuador

The Top 5 Cultural Experiences in Ecuador

Travelers flock to Ecuador each year to enjoy the country’s diverse regions, exotic wildlife, and of course the famed Galapagos Islands. Some visitors become so enthralled with Ecuador that their vacation becomes a permanent stay. But whether you’re a passer through or a smitten expat, don’t miss out on Ecuador’s vast cultural options.

Panama-City

Why Panama is So Welcoming to Retirees

In 2005, I left my job in the cruise industry and decided to try my luck in Panama. I had a wonderful group of international friends—some from the Americas, and others from as far off as Australia. And I told them all to come visit me in Panama sometime. To my surprise, many of us actually did keep in touch and visit each other. I remember a girl from Venezuela asking me how come there were so many U.S. products on the shelves here.

Are You a Small-Town or a Big-City Retiree? You Might Be Surprised

Are You a Small-Town or a Big-City Retiree? You Might Be Surprised

The big city versus the little village. It’s an age-old question, and it’s one that potential expats and retirees deal with all the time. Do I want to spend my time enjoying the slower pace and more neighborly atmosphere of a small town somewhere…or do I want to take advantage of all the shopping, entertainment, and modern amenities provided by a big city?

Video: Where to Buy Real Estate in Uruguay–Three Areas to Consider

Uruguay is the most economically, politically, and socially stable country in the region. The property registration system is among the best in Latin America. And you don’t need to become a resident or get a local tax ID number to buy, own, or sell real estate in Uruguay. Even though real estate values have climbed in recent years, with a little research it’s still possible to buy property in the most popular areas of the country for a very reasonable price.

Cayo, Belize

Another Side of Belize—Look Beyond the Beaches to the Cayo District

Belize is well-known for its aquamarine Caribbean waters, Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, idyllic cayes and miles of coastland. But not all expats opt for a coastal lifestyle. An increasing number have been captivated by the Cayo District’s charms. They’re drawn to the verdant broadleaf jungles…lush Maya Mountains…meandering rivers…and mystical Mayan ruins… Some come to stake out a piece of fertile land… Others yearn to live off the grid…

Lake Arenal

There’s Something in the Air in Costa Rica’s Lake Region…

After researching Costa Rica in the pages of International Living and seeing the country featured in real estate TV shows, Victoria, 67, and Larry Torley, 65, were ready to check it out for themselves.
And it didn’t take long for them to find a new home. “On that trip we checked out Jaco,” says Victoria, referring to a popular Central Pacific coast resort town. “But the beach areas are too hot and humid. So we drove up here to Arenal on a Saturday morning. By 5 p.m. we had made an offer on a house.”

costa-rica-watersports

Fun for All Ages: The Top Five Watersports in Costa Rica

With 763 miles of coastline on the Pacific and Caribbean, Costa Rica is blessed with its share of beautiful beaches…not to mention pristine waters. And inland lakes and rivers provide more outstanding scenery. But these waterways are more than just pretty to look at. They’re the playgrounds of watersports enthusiasts of many different disciplines. Below […]

Video: A Tour of Montezuma, Costa Rica

Video: A Tour of Montezuma, Costa Rica

Montezuma sits at the far southern tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. Still a working fishing village where locals go out daily on open boats called pangas, it has also become a destination for travelers and expats seeking a close-knit community on the beach.

Five Popular Beach Towns in Panama

Five Popular Beach Towns in Panama

Panama has much to offer, from mountain havens boasting year-round mild temperatures to colonial towns where the traditions of grand old Spain have shaped and enriched the local culture. But it’s Panama’s sunny beaches that get the most attention…and with good reason.

With its natural beauty, stunning beaches and low cost of living...Costa Rica has many reasons why you'll love it.

Five Reasons Why You’ll Love Costa Rica

There are many reasons people move to Costa Rica: low cost of living, high-quality health care; the warm weather year-round; the friendly people; the established expat communities…the list goes on. But in my case there were certain factors that attracted me to Costa Rica many years ago as a tourist and convinced me to eventually make the move down. The first is the…

Bajos del Toro, in Costa Rica's Central Valley, is a natural wonder on a grand scale.

Video: Costa Rica’s Bajos del Toro Waterfall

At the western end of Costa Rica’s Central Valley region, on the slopes of the Poas volcano, is Bajos del Toro. At 300 feet, it’s one of Latin America’s tallest waterfalls. With water cascading down a sheer rock face, surrounded by dense rain forest—it’s a natural wonder on a grand scale.

Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula is a real gem, with stunning natural beauty and empty beaches.

Video: The Ferry to and from the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, which sits on the northern Pacific coast of the country, is a somewhat isolated region. The journey to the Peninsula is however well worth the natural beauty, empty beaches, and unique beach communities strung along its length. The best way to get to some of the popular beach towns like Montezuma, Mal Pais/Santa Teresa, Nosara, and Samara from San Jose (site of the main international airport) is the ferry that leaves from the Central Pacific port of Puntarenas, which is about an hour from the capital.

Video Tour of Grecia, Costa Rica

In the heart of Costa Rica’s Central Valley is Grecia, a charming town of about 16,000. Like the rest of the Central Valley, Grecia has an ideal spring-like climate and enjoys quick access to the capital of Costa Rica, San José. There you can find the best medical care and shopping in the country, as well as the main international airport.

Video Reveals Belize’s Lesser Known Caribbean Island (Very Affordable)

You’ve probably heard a lot about the stunning, tiny Caribbean island of Ambergris Caye (pronounced “Key”), Belize. But if you’re looking for a quieter, even more laid-back slice of the Caribbean, you’ll want to check out Ambergris Caye’s little sister, Caye Caulker. The motto of this island is “Go Slow”… Spend any time with the easy-going locals and expats who live here, and you’ll discover it’s a motto they take very seriously.

Indexes like the Annual Global Retirement Index are great places to start your research.

What Good is a Global Retirement Index?

For many years now, we’ve contributed to International Living’s annual Global Retirement Index. It’s a ranking of the 24 countries that International Living editors feel offer the best potential for anyone considering moving abroad for a more affordable or adventurous retirement.

The cloud forest of Monteverde is a high-altitude rain forest where the clouds sweep through the trees, leaving a lush, moisture-rich environment.

Video: The Cloud Forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica

Just three and a half hours or so northwest of San José, Costa Rica’s capital and site of the main international airport, is a unique mountain community. Monteverde, with its main town Santa Elena, is the site of a large protected swath of land, including the cloud forest the area is best known for. This is a type of high-altitude rain forest where the clouds sweep through the trees, leaving a lush, moisture-rich environment. Trees are covered in orchids, moss, and bromeliads.

High in the Tilaran Mountains of Costa Rica, best know for its cloud forest, is the Monteverde region.

Video: A Look at Santa Elena, Costa Rica

High in the Tilaran Mountains of Costa Rica is the Monteverde region. It’s one of the top tourist destinations in the country thanks to the natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and opportunities for adventures sports and hiking. It’s a bit over three hours to the west of Costa Rica’s capital, San José. The main town of the region, Santa Elena, serves as a home base for travelers and long-time foreign residents alike.

costa-rica-sea

Costa Rica Versus Panama: Which Country is Best for You?

My wife, Suzan Haskins, and I were married in Costa Rica 14 years ago and have been back for business and pleasure almost every year since. We also lived in Panama in 2006 and, like Costa Rica, have returned nearly every year for International Living events, editorial trips, and vacations. So it is inevitable that…

san-jose-costa-rica

The Benefits of Living in San José, Costa Rica

I have a pretty standard morning routine. I’m awakened very early by roosters but stay in bed for a while as the sunrise filters into the bedroom. I start the coffee, open the sliding doors, step out to my deck, and look down into the valley below. I usually see hummingbirds buzzing around my flowers, sometimes a blue-crowned mot-mot. Some mornings one of my neighbors, a farmer, has been up even earlier…

punta-gorda

A Laid Back, Low Cost Lifestyle in Punta Gorda, Belize

Every now and again, when life feels hectic or I fear I’m getting into a rut, I think of little Punta Gorda, Belize. It’s become one of my favorite places to dream of visiting again. Right down near the southern tip of Belize, Punta Gorda looks out on the blue Caribbean. The barrier reef and its wealth of marine life—one of Belize’s main claims to fame—is 30 miles offshore here.

Video: Día de Los Boyeros, Costa Rica

Video: Día de Los Boyeros, Costa Rica

Every year, on the second Sunday in March, residents of Escazu, a suburb of Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose, gather to celebrate the agricultural heritage of the region during El Día de Los Boyeros.

Video: A Tour of Costa Rica's Arenal Region

Video: A Tour of Costa Rica’s Arenal Region

The Arenal region of Costa Rica, dominated by an active cone volcano and 33-square-mile unspoiled lake, is one of International Living Costa Rica Correspondent Jason Holland’s favorite parts of the country.

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