Turns out one of the best places to find small-town America… is in Costa Rica. I’m talking about Atenas, a village of 5,000 in the Central Valley region in the interior of the country. Expats that have made their home here—mostly retirees—say the warm and friendly locals and a very welcoming expat community remind them of where they grew up.
Not surprisingly, Europe delivers strongly on healthcare; in each of our five picks, you’ll find healthcare professionals and facilities of a world-class standard. But perhaps more surprisingly, the care on offer in these countries won’t leave you counting pennies.
Mexico is not only the nearest destination abroad for U.S. and Canadian expats; it is also one of the most popular. More than a million expats are estimated to live in Mexico full- or part-time…the largest concentration of North American expats anywhere in the world.
Panama is a diverse country with differing climates and geography. In Chiriquí, many expats seem to settle in David, Boquete, and Bocas del Toro. These three locations are uniquely different from each other in climate, location, and the size of their expat communities.
Several years ago, I found the dream car I’d always wanted, sitting on a lot in Phoenix, Arizona. It was a 1988 Mercedes 560SL—a two-seater with a removable hardtop—with only 40,000 miles, for just $15,000. And for just another $800, the guy even delivered it to my driveway in Vermont. It was the perfect car for going on a Sunday drive…when it wasn’t raining or snowing that is, and when there was no salt on the road.
Playa del Carmen lies about midway between the all-inclusive resort hub of Cancún and the up-and-coming, low-key, and still somewhat bohemian destination of Tulúm. It’s a happy medium between those two extremes and a favorite for those seeking to live an active retirement in an atmosphere that is sophisticated, yet laidback at the same time.
Penang ticked all the boxes for me when I was researching a place to live overseas. This cosmopolitan island in Malaysia provides me with all the things I wanted from my new home, including a lower cost of living and friendly locals and expats.
The deep influences of centuries of Spanish occupation are clearly visible almost everywhere in Mexico, from small villages and large cities. The spectacular architecture and beautiful stonework, along with the layout of villages and cities, provide a distinctive and historic European feel throughout much of Mexico.
Belize is well-known for its famous Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. For decades adventurous scuba divers and anglers have vacationed in Belize, in pursuit of their favorite marine sports. But this tiny country also has some fine beaches. But they aren't always obvious to the first-time tourist. Fortunately, the majority of Belize's beaches are public and accessible. The 60-foot strip of beachfront adjoining the Caribbean Sea is usually public property.
When planning your retirement overseas, many factors come into play. Low costs, real estate, and healthcare are some of the main concerns…but what about being able to mix well with the community or make friends with the locals?