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.)
Get Your Free Report Here
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.
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.
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…
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 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.
“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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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…”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Here in our home on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, we’ve taken back the weekends. We sleep in a bit. A small breakfast of fresh fruit and rich Costa Rican coffee follows—just something to hold us over. We pack up and drive from our condo in Tamarindo north along the coast about a half-hour to Brasilito, a tiny fishing village.
Great boulders in the distance, half wet, half dry…cobalt-blue waters scrubbing sands of downy gray…white seabirds soaring above, their cries for fish occasionally audible above the sounds of the surf. This is Coronado Beach, Panama’s most popular Pacific coast destination.
Coronado, Panama, is a relaxed community. Only an hour from Panama City, this coastal town—now popular with expats—was once a vacation getaway for Panamanians, who came from miles around to sun themselves on the black-and-white-sanded beach and swim in the Pacific Ocean.
The tops of the palms wave cheerily in the breeze like giant green feather dusters against a soft blue, cloudless sky. I’m bobbing contentedly in the warm turquoise waters looking back at the beach, its silky white sands speckled with tiny seashells. Despite it being mid-summer I’m the only one swimming in this small cove…the only one enjoying this flawless slice of beach this morning.
“We don’t have white-sand beaches—we have a black and white one,” Ellen Cook says. “When the sun’s on it, it looks like diamonds, the sparkle on the black sand.” The beach Ellen is referring to is Coronado beach, located just two blocks from her house in the resort town of Coronado, Panama. This beach is one of the biggest perks of her life here, Ellen says.
I’ve long been a fan of haiku poems, those little word-paintings that capture fleeting moments in time and nature. But Katikati, a small country town in New Zealand, isn’t the obvious place to find a haiku pathway. Home to around 4,000 people, Katikati is only a speck on the North Island map. Yet it’s well worth a stopover if you love poetry, art, and nature.
The plans paid off and today you’ll find Colin, now 51, at the Banana Azul, his beachfront hotel on Playa Negra, just north of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, on Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast. After six years, he couldn’t be happier.
Flying in one always makes me feel a bit like Indiana Jones heading off for adventure… And Belize is definitely one of my favorite countries for adventure. Here you can climb ancient ruins, wall-dive off the end of the barrier reef, or trek in the jungle. And though you can feel like a Victorian explorer, you’re never really far from civilization…which is the way I like it.
This year find the country that’s right for you…you’re invited to network with the people who can make your move overseas effortless…cut your cost of living in half…and help you avoid the common mistakes made while moving or investing overseas.
My winters in Uruguay are very different than in my home state of Washington… There, my December, January, and February routine comprised keeping the house heated, wearing a coat to go outside, and occasionally scraping ice off the car windshield to drive to work. But in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are opposite. Now, in Uruguay, my December, January, and February routine includes keeping the windows open…
When Brian and Stephanie Gough went on vacation in Tamarindo, a stunning stretch of palm-fringed shoreline on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, their lives changed forever. They had such an incredible time that they couldn’t bear the thought of going back to their old lives. So they bought a local restaurant. “We fell in love with Tamarindo,” says Brian.
One thing that’s sure to make you homesick when you live overseas is the holiday season. Of course, one reason we left the States was to escape mall parking lot traffic jams, overcrowded superstores, and buying things we didn’t really need just out of habit. So I am glad to be away from the crass commercialism of Christmas shopping and constant TV commercials…
Coconuts and limes…briny breezes and salty skin…a translucent sea… This is Bocas del Toro, Panama. The risks of buying untitled property here keep me from recommending Bocas as a full-time retirement destination. But the fact remains that it continues to beckon to people from all over the globe with the brilliant, blinding beauty of its beaches.