We all dream of one day retiring to a tropical paradise, buying a second home in a quaint beach town where it's summer all year round, or relocating our lives to an island in the sun. But it can be more than just a dream…your tropical island or beach life can be a reality.
If you like the idea of getting away from it all on an island surrounded by crystal-clear waters, where the pace of life is slow and the lifestyle affordable…or would like to be near a beach that has all the amenities you could wish for…or perhaps you’d like a tropical climate where you can throw away your winter clothes and live year-round in a sunny paradise. Whatever your dream looks like, there are plenty of destinations that can match it.
In countries like Belize, Uruguay, Panama and the Dominican Republic you can live an affordable lifestyle. In these tropical paradises, your dollar will go further and you can live a better life for a lot less that you might imagine.
Find out more about tropical destinations around the world—where you can be by the beach, enjoy perfect weather, sip cocktails while swinging in your hammock, and generally lead a laid-back and stress-free lifestyle. Sign up for IL’s free daily postcards in the box below and we’ll also send you a FREE REPORT: The World’s Best Island, Beach and Tropical Retirement Destinations. (We value your privacy. You can unsubscribe at any time.)
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Living by the Beach
If there were ever two towns that complement one another perfectly, they would be Montañita and Olòn on the coast of Ecuador. About an hour north along the coast from Salinas—one of Ecuador’s best-known and most popular beach destinations—these two beach towns each offer a very different vibe. Montañita is named for the “little hill” that sits at its north end and separates its picture-perfect golden-sand beach from Olòn’s picture-perfect golden-sand beach. It’s less than a five-minute drive from one to the other, and a taxi ride will cost you just $2.
“Sometimes we just shake our heads in disbelief that we actually own a home right on the beach in one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen,” Paula Irvin says. “It’s absolutely amazing!” Hummingbirds zip around the bright-red feeder hanging from the balcony. “They always come at this time—just as the sun begins to dip into the ocean and the other birds start calling to each other a goodnight song,” says Paula.
“We chose Guanacaste [the name of the province] because of the proximity to the beach, the warm water, and the weather,” says Becky, who, thanks to a Costa Rican mother, was familiar with a lot of the country. “You don’t get as much rainfall as other areas of Costa Rica. And the weather is very predictable. From December to April there is no rain, and the rest of the year it mostly rains in the afternoon. You can do things outdoors year-round.”
When you move overseas, most things cost less. Health care is cheaper, beachfront property is cheaper and flights are cheaper when you qualify for a retiree program. You can even enjoy a symphony performance for far less than in the U.S., and have a better quality of life for less. Here is a list of five items that are cheaper overseas.
- Costa Rica Versus Panama: Which Country is Best for You?
Posted on November 21, 2013 by Dan Prescher
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…
- Five Expat Havens in Thailand Offer Low Costs and a High Quality of Life
Posted on November 20, 2013 by Laura Doyle
“Thailand is one of the world’s most popular locales for good living abroad,” says InternationalLiving.com writer Heather Van Deest, who has lived there with her family for the past eight years. “For pennies on the dollar expats gain a year-round tropical climate and access to modern comforts and conveniences, including affordable, high-quality medical care.”
- 3 Beach Buys on Ecuador’s Pacific Coast—$100,000 or Less
Posted on November 20, 2013 by Margaret Summerfield
A pound of fresh shrimp—$2.50. Someone to cook and clean for you—$20 per day. Property tax of $200-$250 a year on the beach homes below… It’s easy to see why Ecuador tops International Living’s Retirement Index. It’s a top spot for those looking for a comfortable lifestyle that won’t break the bank. And Ecuador rates as one of the best-value destinations on my beat, too. On the country’s unspoiled Pacific coast, in particular, you get a whole lot more for your dollar. And that applies to real estate as well as your cost of living.
- Ocean-Views that Won’t Break the Bank in Southern Costa Rica
Posted on November 18, 2013 by Jason Holland
The southern Pacific coast, officially known as the country’s Southern Zone, is the Costa Rica of postcards and guidebook covers. Palm tree lined, virtually vacant beaches. The wild sea with rocky islands just offshore. Deep, thick jungle surrounds you inland. One of the most biodiverse regions of one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, it’s home to howler monkeys, toucans, and sloths and hundreds of other animals, as well as lush plant life from towering tropical hardwood trees to delicate orchids and sturdy bromeliads sprouting from branches.
For Rebecca and Keith Clower, and their two young children ages three and five, their house by the beach isn’t just an address…it’s a lifestyle. They recently built a home in a development on the Bahia de Los Piratas, or Pirate’s Bay, on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, also known as the Gold Coast. They live on a hill, with an ocean-view, and you can see clear to Playa Flamingo and Playa Conchal, two nearby expat enclaves. The beach is mere minutes away on foot.
- The Chic Style of Rio with the Charm of Old-World Europe
Posted on November 18, 2013 by John Clites
Seated at a small table shaded by a large yellow umbrella, I sip my beer and savor the mid-afternoon sun of early autumn and the gentle but steady sea breeze. I’m surrounded by possibly the most beautiful collection of people that I’ve seen anywhere in my travels. Fit, confident, and stylishly attired, they hustle past to the last meeting of the week or grab one of the remaining available tables. I could be in Florence. Or Milan, perhaps.
In Ecuador, there’s something for everyone…from the die-hard adventurer who wants to follow the path of British mountaineer Edward Whymper up the slopes of 20,702-foot Mount Chimborazo to those who want to learn firsthand why Charles Darwin’s 1835 voyage to Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands is called “the most famous few weeks in the history of science.”
- Corn Islands: Nicaragua’s English-Speaking Caribbean
Posted on November 11, 2013 by Suzan Haskins
If you like peaceful beach living, white sands, and blue seas, then you might want to check out Nicaragua’s Corn Islands. Reminiscent of Belize’s Ambergris Caye 30 years ago or Honduras’ Roatan island 25 years ago, this is a spot for pioneering castaways.
- In Pictures: The Top Five Places to Live in Panama
Posted on November 5, 2013 by Barbara Ross
Panama has always been a top choice for retirees due to its tropical climate and many English-speaking locals. If you are considering retiring overseas, Panama should be high on your radar.Panama has a low cost of living and great retiree benefits. Here are our top five places to live in Panama.
On Tuesday, I will open my Ecuadorian bank account. No big deal; just a savings account with an ATM card. So, why am I so excited? When we arrived in San Vicente, Ecuador nearly 18 months ago, my wife Diane and I were as prepared as we were able to be, which is to say: we had a lot to learn! We had done our best to get ready for our transition, while attending to the myriad tasks necessary when making an international move.
- A Laid Back, Low Cost Lifestyle in Punta Gorda, Belize
Posted on October 31, 2013 by Glynna Prentice
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.
Living on an island conjures up images of white sandy beaches, sparkling blue water and no rush hour traffic.We all dream of one day retiring to a tropical paradise, buying a second home in a quaint beach town where its summer all year round, or relocating our lives to an island in the sun. But it can be more than just a dream…your tropical island or beach life can be a reality. There are tropical destinations around the world where you can be by the beach…
There are a lot of reasons you might want to be in Belize right now… For a tiny little country (only about the size of Massachusetts), it has much to offer, especially when it comes to scenery. Turquoise waters and white, silky sand beaches… Fertile farmland… Rolling hillsides dotted with pine forests… Amazing Maya ruins…
Veronique McKenzie didn’t exactly choose to make her home in Belize…more like, Belize chose her. In her former life, Veronique was working in sales, marketing, and advertising, splitting her time between Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Her job gave her the opportunity for plenty of travel…but as the years progressed, she knew she needed to make a change. She considered moving to Marseilles in France where she is originally from…but before she did that, she decided to take a vacation.
Where is the best beach town in Ecuador to hang your hat? Well, that depends entirely on the lifestyle, climate, and environment you’re after, of course. Because not every beach town is created equally. That’s especially true in Ecuador, where every journey along the country’s 530–mile long Ruta del Sol coast, from the border with Peru northward to Colombia, takes you through several diverse eco-systems.
There are situations in life we cannot escape. But fortunately, a long cold winter in the U.S. or Canada isn’t one of them. When it’s winter in North America, it’s summer in South America. And there is no better place in South America for a winter respite than the beaches of Uruguay.
- You Could Have Doubled Your Investment if You’d Taken My Advice…
Posted on October 23, 2013 by Ronan McMahon
At Real Estate Trend Alert my beat is to find places where real estate is undervalued and where something is set to happen that means values will increase. I call this “the trigger event.” This trigger event could be a fast-growing, new, middle class or new infrastructure projects that will bring improved accessibility.
- In Pictures: The Rugged Charms of Costa Rica’s Southern Zone
Posted on October 22, 2013 by Jason Holland
You won’t find all-inclusive resorts, high-rise condos, or touristy themed restaurants in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone. But, in this region on the southern Pacific coast, you will fall in love with vast empty beaches, wildlife-filled jungle, dramatic mountain backdrops, and sunsets to die for.
I first visited Manuel Antonio on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast as a newlywed back in 2005. It was everything I’d read about the country and seen in pictures: White-sand beaches lined with palm trees and green-blue Pacific Ocean with jungle-covered mountains as the backdrop. And let’s not forget the wildlife. Capuchin monkeys. Three-toed sloths. And dozens of birds with vivid plumage.
Just north of the border with Costa Rica on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast, San Juan del Sur is a sleepy former fishing village turned travel destination that has also drawn increasing numbers of expats seeking warm weather, low cost of living, and a very laid-back beach lifestyle.
You’ve heard the economy is slow. You can see it for yourself just walking down main street. But one place you won’t find any sign of it is among the pages of luxury real estate listings. Floods of cheap money are working their way into the luxury real estate market at home and in world cities like London, Melbourne, Hong Kong and New York.
It’s easy to see why people flock to Thailand for the ultimate in sea, sand, and sun. with miles of white-sand beaches, lush jungle, and crystal-blue waters, the kingdom’s southern islands are, for many, paradise on earth. whether you snorkel and swim the day away, explore hidden emerald bays by sea kayak, or simply lounge on your choice of palm-fringed beaches, you won’t be disappointed.
- A Very Affordable Beach Lifestyle in Phuket, Thailand
Posted on October 15, 2013 by Heather Van Deest
Nothing quite prepares you for the beauty of Phuket, especially when approaching the region by air…the sparkling, turquoise waters and jungle-topped mountains, the rocky outcrops and white-sand beaches. The country’s largest island is paradise for many expats.
For us, the daily grind in the States had begun to require too much work for too little reward. Expenses were rising and both my wife and I had reached a level of dissatisfaction with our careers. It was time for a major change. It was time to slow down, work less, and enjoy more of life! This would not happen by accident. We made a plan. After some months of research, Ecuador emerged as the location for our next chapter. Having spent many years in Alaska…
Can you guess what all these Americans have in common?• William Jefferson Clinton: 42nd President of the United States • John Kerry: 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Senator, current U.S. Secretary of State • Jack Lew: U.S. Secretary of the Treasury • Mitt Romney: 2012 Republican presidential candidate, former governor of Massachusetts • Michael Froman: President Obama’s U.S. Trade Representative
The breeze is gently swaying the hanging bed, perched over a terraced hill, with views of three islands in the foreground. The South Pacific, an intoxicating mix of jade, turquoise and cobalt, is just a few steps down the stairs. Behind me is the pool with a mosaic, blue starfish in the bottom and lounge chairs—farther back, a three-bedroom, three-bath house…each room with its own view of this unspoiled paradise.
When Karen McCrea, 56, and Axel Santana, 46, were looking for an ideal spot for their guest houses, they had a few criteria. The location had to be unspoiled, yet with amenities their guests might expect like hot water, high-speed Internet, and quick access to grocery shopping. The couple found their spot during a trip to the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica in 2006. The region, also known as the Southern Zone…
I have a confession to make. I don’t like the beach. I know tropical beach is supposed to be the dream of every sensible expat. We’re supposed to want to swing in a hammock on it, listen to the surf gently lapping on it, stroll barefoot on it, drink ice-cold beer under umbrellas on it, and walk out of the front door of our seaside bungalows directly on to it.
- Seven of the World’s Best Islands for Good-Value Living
Posted on October 4, 2013 by Laura Doyle
The Caribbean island of Roatan is great for good-value, laid-back living in the sun. It’s a good pick for anybody who likes to dive, snorkel, swing in a hammock or sit with feet in the sand. Thirty-five miles off the coast of Northern Honduras, English is widely spoken. That, along with an established expat community, makes it a relatively easy place to settle in.
Islands are places where the stars shine bright at night. Out in the ocean, a profound quiet exists (no traffic jams, hassled commuters, sirens). And because not everything is always so easy to get on an island, one tends to care less about “getting” at all. Life really does become simpler. That stretch of water that separates an island from the mainland is nature’s moat. It keeps these places special…apart.
Called the “Turquoise Coast,” the water really is turquoise—usually a brilliant shade of the color. You may argue that it’s cyan, azure, or a shade of blue-green, but you won’t dispute its beauty. If you like sailing, you will love it here. Until the 1970s, access to most villages was by sea only. There are still beaches and hidden spots you won’t reach without a boat. You can easily and affordably take a cruise aboard a traditional wooden gulet (a type of sailboat), or charter one and go it alone.
It’s like it was fate that brought Sandy, 69, and Chip Bublik, 75, to their home on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast nine years ago. First, their step-son offered to give them land to build a home. Second, Sandy had just retired and the going-away gift from her employer—she was a receptionist at an ad agency—covered the cost of a container to ship their household goods to Costa Rica.
The landscape is the first thing you notice about the Southern Zone, the region on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. It’s so dramatic that it dominates every viewpoint. Picture high mountains, covered in lush plants and trees in a thousand shades of green, running along the coastline. They drop dramatically near the shore, where a narrow jungle-filled lowland gives way to palm-tree lined beaches.
Islands are places where the stars shine bright at night. Out in the ocean, a profound quiet exists. There are no traffic jams, hassled commuters, or sirens. And because not everything is always so easy to get on an island, one tends to care less about “getting” at all. Life really does become simpler.
Cariocas, the laid-back residents of sensuous Rio de Janeiro, welcome 1.5-million vacationers a year. But when it’s time for their own vacations, many of them head to the Região dos Lagos, or “Lakes Region,” also known as the Costa do Sul (Southern Coast).
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Thank you IL for your marvelous, unique and simply fascinating publication in addition to sharing your experiences among those, whom you so accurately have described as “like-minded”- an audience with similar interests , goals and ambitions, if you will.