In the hours after one presidential debate recently, Google searches for “how can I move to Canada” reportedly spiked 1,150%. Here at International Living, we have nothing against Canada. But it should be said: There are warmer, better-value options to consider…all over the world. Each year at International Living we release our Global Retirement Index. Researched over months with the help of our ever-growing team of correspondents, editors, and contributors all over the world, this Retirement Index is the ultimate resource for helping you find your ideal retirement haven.
My wife Susan and I lived in more than 30 locations in eight different states before moving to Ecuador. A retired marketing executive who started an email company in 1981, I had always wanted to experience living in another country. Susan, retired from working in administration and finance, shared that dream. In January 2015, we realized our dream and moved to Cuenca. We originally explored the Andes region of Ecuador because of its low cost of living and spring-like climate. What really hooked us when we first visited though were the friendly people, the relaxed pace of life, and the year around availability of fresh fruits and vegetables.
“You don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy everything Malta can provide,” says Gigi Griffis. “Rents in the capital start from as low as $450 a month. Milk, bread, and other groceries can be bought for $1 apiece, while a bottle of quality wine can be had for $6. Private insurance is a fraction of what you would expect to pay back in the States, with annual premiums for a couple starting as low as $800 for expats I spoke to.”
Often referred to as the Hamptons of Italy, Forte dei Marmi sits on northern Tuscany’s Versilia Coast. Just as New Yorkers head to the seaside when summer debuts, wealthy Italians from Florence, Milan, and Genoa descend on Forte dei Marmi for balmy summer air. The population of 7,700 triples in July and August when the town becomes a people-watching mecca.
I live a few miles east of Malaga on the southern coast of Spain. Although I have a wonderful terrace at my house overlooking the Mediterranean, I still find myself enjoying breakfast most mornings out on the street. My favorite spot is an old family run Spanish bar on the beach of Benejarafe. The coffee beans are actually roasted only three miles away by Tamazor in Velez Malaga and the coffee is traditionally made through the hand pressed espresso machine creating a thick layer of natural coffee cream.
It was late in the evening...well after dark...and I had just finished up an interview in the countryside outside of Vilcabamba, Ecuador. The lodge where I was staying was also in the country, but on the opposite side of town. As I slid into the passenger seat of the taxi truck I hesitated, wondering if getting in was such a good idea. I am an adventure-loving traveler. But I'm also a product of a U.S. childhood in the '80s.
There's something endearing about Cotacachi, but what that something is, is far from definitive. My husband, Kim, and I each have our own reasons for loving this little mountain town we've called home for almost two years. Kim feels the people of Cotacachi make it special. He enjoys leisurely, morning walks into town and loves to stop along the way and chat with shopkeepers. It's not unusual to find him seated on a park bench chatting with locals. Invariably, men come up to him to shake his hand and elderly ladies often stop to give him a hug. I'm always surprised by how many people know him.
“In March 2003 I came on a relocation-type tour of Panama,” says Penny Barrett of her decision to move to the Panama highland town of Boquete. “It was our last stop and I fell in love with it...compared to Michigan winters, it’s like heaven.” Renowned for its year-round, cool, spring-like weather, Boquete sits in a mountain valley surrounded by verdant jungle. It’s an outdoor-lovers paradise, home to hiking, rafting, and exotic birds and butterflies.
“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.