So you’ve decided to retire to a Caribbean island paradise. You can already see yourself, toes in the sand, sipping a mojito by the turquoise-blue sea. Behind you, children laugh as they cartwheel down the beach, and by the waterfront fishermen chat as they haul in the catch of the day…but where are you?
Three years and 45 pounds ago, I moved to Costa Rica with my wife. We left corporate America behind, searching for a healthier and happier life; we found it in the hills of the Central Valley. As the name implies, living in the Central Valley means living in an area surrounded by mountains. The valley includes many popular expat locations such as San Ramon, Atenas, and Grecia. The region also incorporates the country’s largest cities: the capital San José, Alejuela, and Cartago. Nearly three quarters of the country’s population live in the Central Valley.
Every Wednesday and Saturday, Piazza Garibaldi, the central square in the small Italian town of Sulmona, fills up with stands selling fresh farm produce, antiques, flowers, kitchen wear, baskets, clothes, and artisan furniture. The setting of the weekly market is stunning: A large Baroque fountain in the middle of the old square, ancient noble palaces around it, the 12th-century medieval aqueduct and the snow-capped mountains as a backdrop. I feel lucky to live near Sulmona and visit it as often as I can.
“It reminds me of the small town I grew up in. The people are friendly and pleasant,” says Mel Rosiechuk, 70, of his new home in Costa Rica. Like many northerners, Mel, who came to Costa Rica in 2008 from his native Edmonton, Canada, was motivated to move here because of the weather…and soon discovered other benefits as well.
A growing number of expats are relocating to the Corozal District of Belize, on the Bay of Corozal. It’s high on their list due to the affordable cost of living and the welcoming expat community. Only one other Belizean coastal town is as affordable as Corozal. That’s Punta Gorda, at the extreme southern end of Belize. But Corozal offers significantly more amenities and convenience, as well as easy access to Mexico.
Kuala Lumpur is a big thriving city of about 1.6 million people. Expats living there have all of the conveniences of the Western world mixed with a Malaysian flair. There is a good public transportation system consisting of buses and trains, but taxis are common throughout as well. It isn't just the capital of Malaysia; it is the largest city, too. There are thousands of restaurants serving up everything from local noodle dishes to Australian steaks and burgers.
It’s been three-and-a-half years since my wife, Rita, and I moved to Cuenca, Ecuador…and in those years we’ve experienced things that would have taken a lifetime to accomplish living back in the U.S. In early 2012, we decided to retire early. Our life in New Mexico was similar to most: hectic, stressful, and costly, with little time for the things we wished we could do. After many discussions about what we wanted to do and where we wanted to do them, we signed up to International Living and began researching.
I’ve been living in Panama full-time since 2005, and one of the best things about life here is the medical care. I’m not the only one who thinks so, either. Over the years I’ve met dozens upon dozens of...
Weeks with the temperatures below zero. Snow, snow, and more snow. It was a particularly brutal winter two years ago that convinced Jim, 67, and Barb Kohlmetz, 62, that it was time for a change after living in Wisconsin all their lives. Now they jet down to Costa Rica after the Christmas holidays and stay in their home in a quiet beach community on the central Pacific coast until after the spring thaw. As retirees—they were in education for a combined 73 years—they have the flexible schedule perfect for part-time residents.
It may well be the best little beach town in the world... With 22 beaches for you to enjoy and a surge in foreign residents and travelers, San Juan del Sur, on Nicaragua's southern Pacific coast, is perfect for any lover of ocean views, warm waters, and fun in the sun. After eight years of living here full-time, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Even if I'm away for only a few days, I find myself missing it. Many people come here to visit and end up staying or going home to plan their permanent return.