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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In Pictures: Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast is a world apart from the rest of the country. The region is populated by Afro Costa Ricans, descendants of Jamaican immigrants who came to the area starting about 100 years ago

Life in This Beach Town Keeps Getting Better...

Life in This Beach Town Keeps Getting Better…

With our toes in the sand and mojitos in hand, my husband Gordon and I clink our glasses to another spectacular San Juan del Sur sunset. The sky is a brilliant hue of orange, yellow and red.

Ingrid Anderson saw that expats and tourists on the southern  Pacific coast of Costa Rica needed a place to be pampered, primped, and  peeled.

Costa Rica’s Southern Zone Is Open for Beauty Business

Starting a successful business overseas is much like starting a business in your home country: Find a need and fill it. California native Ingrid Anderson, 41, saw that expats and tourists on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, in the beach community of Uvita, needed a spa and salon—a place to be pampered, primped, and peeled.


How To Run Your Own Beach Bar for Profit

As a busy carpenter and contractor in his native Canada, Steve Quinn, 52, relished his regular trips to Costa Rica with his wife, Lisa, to relax and unwind on the beach. After six years of short visits, he decided to make this beach lifestyle permanent. He took over a beach bar and restaurant in Tamarindo, a funky surf town on the country’s northern Pacific coast. He’s leasing the property for three years, with an option to buy, which is a great way to test the waters without committing to purchasing property right off the bat.

Perfect Coastal Life in Nicaragua

Perfect Coastal Life in Nicaragua

It sounds a bit corny but… it’s been a long time since I’ve seen so many stars. It’s a good indicator of just how undeveloped, quiet, and sparsely-populated it is on the southern Pacific coast of Nicaragua.


Laid-Back Life in Small Town Costa Rica

When Valerie and Gaylord Townley first visited Tamarindo, it was a simple fishing village. The only visitors were pioneering surfers (Gaylord was one of them) and sport fishermen. There were a few small hotels, only a few phone lines, and no TV. The number of permanent expats could probably fit in one of today’s larger restaurants.


Costa Rica’s Five Best Expat Havens

Sandy beaches with tumbling surf, peaceful lakeside living, bio-diverse tropical jungles, cool highland areas with modern cities. . . Little Costa Rica offers plenty to choose from. And for decades, expats like me have flocked here, making it one of the world’s most popular locales for good living abroad.


IL’s Calendar of Events: Explore Green, Clean Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one country that may truly have it all: A year-round tropical climate, modern cities, Caribbean beaches, Pacific coastline, rainforests, lush valleys, and majestic mountains.


Americans Have Overlooked This Beach Gem

From the Via Costeira (Coastal Way), I descend the dirt path to the beach. Kicking off my sneakers, I jog barefoot south toward the breakwater


How We Found Our American Dream on the Spanish Med

There’s a slight chill to the breeze here in Castelldefels, on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. But the sun is bright and warm. It’s a perfect day to enjoy the long stretch of beach, just 30 minutes south of Barcelona, which is now my backyard. On a typical summer day, my Catalan neighbors would join me for a few hours of sun bathing, but at this time of year children are still at school, parents are busy at work and vacationers are just beginning to arrive.


Caribbean and Pacific Coast Fishing in Costa Rica

Fancy a few hours battling a half-ton striped marlin Hemingway style? The fish can get so big off the coast of Costa Rica that the skipper straps you into a chair to fight them. The waters of both coasts, the Pacific and Caribbean teem with legendary fish like marlin, dorado, and tarpon that, for decades, have drawn serious sport fishermen (and women) from around the world eager for record-setting catches.


IL’s Calendar of Events: “Jet Fuel” for Your Overseas Plans

Six months from now, you could be living in paradise… for much less than it costs you to stay home. In the best destinations overseas, your dollar just goes further…first-class healthcare is affordable… you can afford a housekeeper or gardener…and live better than you could back home for a fraction of what you pay now…

Freedom and Joy of Life in Belize

Freedom and Joy of Life in Belize

Michael and Amanda Cyphers retired early partly to give their 14-year-old son, Colin, a better way of life, away from the hustle-bustle of their Las Vegas suburban home. They find they have more quality family time now in Belize. “I have more time with my husband and son, because I’m away from the 101 things, the 3,800-square-foot house, the cars, everything we had.” We live a humble life here.

In Pictures: Laidback and Affordable Belize

For many years Belize has attracted people from all over the world who want to live in the sun while taking advantage of the country’s real estate bargains, low cost of living, protection of assets and terrific fishing and diving.


A New Start in an Unusual Home in Nicaragua

Lee’s biggest business is advising people how to build eco-friendly homes out of shipping containers, throwing in alternative-energy systems, like solar panels, if they’re interested. He’s also the go-to guy in San Juan when expats and business owners have computer trouble. And he helps fellow expats transition to life in Nicaragua…

Lifestyle in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Lifestyle in Tamarindo, Costa Rica: Beach Living at its Best

You couldn’t accuse it of having a secluded, deserted beach. But living in Tamarindo, Costa Rica certainly has its rewards. As one of the country’s most popular beach towns with a large expat community, Tamarindo has a lot of advantages and amenities. You’ll find a variety of options when it comes to housing, from low-cost apartments and condos to large ocean-view homes


A Perfect Day in Tropical Boracay, the Philippines

A 50-minute flight from the capital, Manila, the Philippine island of Boracay is a place of in-your-face beauty. There’s no waiting to get to the beach to see if the stories are true. The minute you step off the plane, you can see that the postcards don’t do it justice. The sands are as white as they say, if not whiter…a pearly glitter that stays cool under your feet.


Affordable-Living by the Beach in Placencia, Belize

“In 2004 we’d looked at property in Belize and decided to let the euphoria settle down while we really thought it out. But then a day came when it took me two hours to go 60 miles on the Florida Turnpike and cost me $13 in tolls. That was the final straw. I had it. That was the turning point. I called Kim and told her to contact the real estate agent.”

Living in Jaco, Costa Rica

Living in Jaco, Costa Rica: A Favorite With Expats and Tourists

Located in the heart of the Central Pacific coast region of Costa Rica, Jaco (pronounced: ha-ko) has long been a favorite of vacationers and expats.
This lively beach town features several large resorts, as well as many options for longer-term residents, like condos, gated communities, and lots for building.The wide range of housing options in all price ranges, from budget to luxury, as well as many amenities and comforts of home, make living in Jaco, Costa Rica a great choice for lifestyle and retirement overseas.

Living in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Living in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

The Manuel Antonio area on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific coast has been a long-time favorite of visitors. Just two hours from the capital San Jose on a well-maintained modern highway, Manuel Antonio is the site of the country’s most popular national park. In 2011, Forbes magazine named it one of the world’s best.At 4,000 acres, it’s a relatively small refuge and one of the smallest national parks

Living in Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica

Living in Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica

Those looking for a beautiful, unspoiled beachfront setting, as well as a sizeable community of expats, should find living in Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica to be a good match.Playa Flamingo is located on the northern Pacific Coast, in the heart of what is known as the Gold Coast.

Affordable Properties in the Best Areas of Punta del Este, Uruguay

Affordable Properties in the Best Areas of Punta del Este, Uruguay

Believe it or not, you can still find a nice condo in a coveted Punta del Este neighborhood for less than $150,000. There’s a secret to buying affordably here. And it’s simple. Folks from North America determine a property’s value by three factors: location, location, location. But in Punta del Este’s condo market, a property’s location is less important.


The Relaxed Freedom of Life in Belize

Living on a hillside in San Ignacio, Belize, just a short car ride away from the Guatemalan border, Michael and Amanda Cyphers have finally found the simplicity they looked for so long. “I wake up every day and think, ‘What do I do with all this freedom?’” says Amanda. “At home, we had to do, we had to perform. We had bills to pay, places to go, schedules to keep. So much so that we were up at night worrying about how to get it all done.”


Enjoy the Secret Beach Life of Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

Sunlight filters through swaying palm fronds. My feet are in the sand, I have an ice-cold Pilsen beer in hand, and I’m savoring my lunch: a heaped plate of rice, beans, plantains, and chicken that cost just $6. Coconut milk and a secret blend of spices are commonly used in Caribbean cooking and it’s delicious.


Travel Where Surfers Arrive by the VW-Beetle Load

In the middle of the Lesser Sunda Islands, in the Flores Sea, lies the island of Sumbawa. It’s a magical island, beautiful, traditional, and one of Indonesia’s best preserved. And the warm, turquoise waters surrounding it are a relaxing 90 F.


IL’s Calendar of Events: “Jet Fuel” for Your Overseas Plans

Six months from now, you could be living in paradise… for much less than it costs you to stay home. In the best destinations overseas, your dollar just goes further…first-class healthcare is affordable… you can afford a housekeeper or gardener…and live better than you could back home for a fraction of what you pay now…


Making New Friends in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador

When the old man waved first, and offered the faintest of smiles, I knew we’d made progress in making Puerto Cayo, Ecuador our home. I begin almost every day with a one-hour walk from our home into town and back. And every day, without fail, I see the same local people, going to the same places in their own morning routine. In the beginning, the Puerto Cayans weren’t unfriendly at all. They just didn’t seem overly friendly.

Moving to Punta del Este

Video: Three Areas to Consider When You Move to Punta del Este, Uruguay

Punta del Este’s identity is evolving. In addition to being the area’s most popular beach resort, it is becoming an education center. It currently has four bi-lingual schools and a new university is being constructed. There is also a new large conference center in the works. In addition to traditional resort businesses extending their seasons, there are new stores and businesses being set up.

Five Reasons to Live in Punta del Este, Uruguay

Five Reasons to Live in Punta del Este, Uruguay

Punta del Este is South America’s premier beach resort. It is often compared to the Hamptons of Long Island, New York, or Europe’s Saint-Tropez. For decades, it has been a prestigious vacation destination. Now, a growing number of people are living in Punta del Este, Uruguay, making their favorite summer resort their full-time home.


The Trick to Buying Affordable Property in Punta del Este, Uruguay

Punta del Este, less than two hours from Uruguay’s elegant capital of Montevideo, has long been the most fashionable beach resort in South America. An apartment sold here a few years back for $7.2 million… but believe it or not, you can still find a nice condo in a coveted Punta del Este neighborhood for less than $150,000. There’s a secret to buying affordably here. And it’s simple.


Rent in Thailand from $400 a Month

Thailand is one of Asia’s most popular countries for expats. It’s safe, women can travel alone without problems, the cost of living is low, and getting a retirement visa is simple. But buying property is tricky. Which is why so many expats in Asia rent instead of buy. Renting is easy, affordable, and sometimes the only way to live in a country. Plus, if you want to move on and try out a new place, you just pack up and hit the road.

Michael and Sylvia enjoy summer all year round—splitting their time evenly between the United States and Mexico. ©Kbuntu; Fotolia.com

Where to Find an Endless Summer…

In our part of coastal Mexico, there is a cadre of people who migrate annually from the Northern U.S. or Canada. Like us they enjoy the warm months in the north, and the warm winter months in Mexico. We sometimes call our lifestyle, “the endless summer.” I rarely have to wear long pants and own more pairs of sandals than shoes. During our time in Mexico, we rent out the small mother-in-law apartment attached to our main two-bedroom house…


Nicaragua: A Top Retirement Destination

Nicaragua is on the cusp. It’s being gussied up. Yet it remains—for the moment—a place for in-the-know travelers and adventuresome expats. They’re drawn to the elegant colonial towns and the natural beauty of the Pacific. Then there’s the super-low cost of living, real estate for a fraction of what you’d pay in the U.S. for similar locations, and the opportunity for a new way of life.


Open a Beach Bar in Belize

Tired of the risks and weary of working for someone else, Craig dreamed of opening his own beach bar. “I was sick of jumping out of bed each day to an alarm clock and fighting the crazy traffic. And each year, when the weather began to turn in the fall, I found myself wishing for the warmth of a tropical climate,” Craig says. So when a friend suggested he look into Belize, he did exactly that. “My friend had heard it was a great place to make a fresh start…”


Simple and Slower-Paced—My Second Life in Small-Town Brazil

Tonight is samba night at Armazem de Paraty (Paraty Warehouse), a small restaurant and craft shop in the historic city center. Amateur musicians will begin to drift in around 8 p.m. Within an hour it will be standing room only. The regulars will nod and smile when I arrive. Someone will press a homemade maraca into my hands.


How to Try Out Life in Asia—Three Havens Where Renting is Easy

Buying property anywhere as a foreigner always means jumping through a few hoops. But in Asia, there’s an added complication: Legal restrictions on how (and if) foreigners can buy property are common. It’s a big reason why so many expats in Asia rent instead of buy.


Opening a Beach Bar in Belize

After 25 years as a union glazier, Craig Pearlman was ready for a change. “I installed windows in commercial buildings, sometimes as high as 42 stories up,” says the 47-year-old New Jersey native. “We worked right on the window ledge of high-rises in Jersey City and Hoboken. I almost fell a couple of times. That scared the hell out of me.”


International Living’s Calendar of Events

Panama’s a place of sunshine, 365 days a year. You have hundreds of miles of beach…highland retreats with green valleys where the weather is spring-like, even in January and August…and a genuinely cosmopolitan capital city, too, with one of the world’s largest financial districts. And Panama offers the world’s most generous retiree benefits.


Ecuador: The New “Land of Opportunity”

The moment I arrived in Ecuador I knew my decision to abandon my old life in the U.S. was the right one. With the shrinking economy and very little chance of scratching out a living in the home building business, it was time for change.

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