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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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.
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.
Costa Rica has a huge variety of landscapes – from looming volcanos to steamy rain forests to vast hillside coffee plantations and much, much more.
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).
No matter how affordable the destinations we talk about are, the simple fact is: You can’t live anywhere for free… But what if you had an income that went with you? An income that could give you the freedom you need to just pick up and go?
If you want to “get away from it all,” tropical-island style, there may be no place better in Belize to do it than Caye Caulker. This five-mile-long island—only half of which is really inhabited—sits in dream-worthy, turquoise Caribbean waters. Its three main streets are packed sand.
One way to live better is to live more simply…to lessen the burden of possessions and get off the “keeping up with the Joneses” treadmill.
Spain is in a terrible mess. The banks and the country are broke, by any reasonable measure. Spain’s regions (like U.S. states) have also borrowed too much. Unemployment tops 27%.
The Mediterranean Sea, a warm and sunny climate, a peaceful lifestyle waiting to be lived…where are we talking about?
Since our arrival in Nicaragua nearly two years ago, my husband Gordon and I have made many changes to our lifestyle…but one thing that hasn’t changed is taking time to enjoy a night out together. Although we live in the small beach town of San Juan del Sur, there’s no shortage of unique…
There’s a lot to be discovered in Nicaragua… A country bursting with opportunity, culture and magnificent wildlife, it’s a place that’s been overlooked by the majority of tourists and expats.
Ecuador, “The Land of Eternal Spring”, has it all—low cost of living, great health care and one of the most perfect climates in this region.
We’re all alone on the beach of this picture-perfect paradise. To get here, we took a road that winds its way through hills of rich green palm trees.
It feels too perfect to be real. Blindingly bright white sand. Shallow flat turquoise waters teeming with brightly colored fish. Palm trees dotted along the soft sands.
The beach town I’ll tell you about today is a special place. When the ﬁrst visitors came over the hills on donkeys a couple of decades ago, all they found were ﬁshermen’s colorful beachfront huts.
It was something my grandfather said that made me decide to buy a vacation rental property overseas. A small-town barber, he said that the smartest/luckiest thing he did was to pay cash for a new car…just one month before the 1929 stock market crash.
Over the years, Barry and Claudia Leon lived happily all over the States. They both had full and varied careers in psychology, college teaching, business, and biology.
My “home away from home” is on a small, exotic island in the South Pacific. Most people in my adopted hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, don’t really know where it is. On this side of the country, we tend to go toward the Caribbean or Europe.
Living in Southeast Asia is a lot easier than you probably think…it’s easier to get around, to get what you need, to find a community that will welcome you. While the distance may be intimidating, the reality on the ground is much less so than you may imagine. Expats living in this part of the world report that life is at once exhilarating, comfortable and affordable.
I’ve heard about the sunsets here. At first, rays of gold and fuchsia shoot down from the sky. White deck chairs, cabanas, and boardwalk bars are thrust into a rose-tinted world. At the last minute, the setting sun changes from tangerine to blood orange…then a lurid flicker of red disappears out on the horizon. A 50-minute flight from the capital, Manila, the Philippine island of Boracay is a place of in-your-face beauty.
Would you love a life on the water? If you spend your weekends fishing, surfing, diving, sailing, or kayaking, have you ever come home wishing it could be like that all the time? Maybe it could. You could wear a wetsuit to work, use your boat as an office, and spend your days showing vacationers your favorite reefs or rapids.
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.”
It’s the friendly and welcoming people, the natural beauty, and the tropical lifestyle that will really steal your heart. “Costa Ricans are a gracious people,” says Rene Aoki, who has lived in the Arenal region for 19 years. “It’s an easy place to live where you can make close friends.” New expats find well-trodden ground and benefit from the experience of those who came before them.
To borrow a phrase from rock group REM, Punta del Este and the Uruguayan coast is, “the end of the world as we know it.” Dig your toes into the silky sand..
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
I’m from Florida, where a day at the beach means fighting for parking—often for an outrageous fee—struggling to find a bare patch of sand, and spending the day listening to loud music and shouting kids.