The Ecuadorian craft town, Cotacachi, has plenty of affordable real estate for expats to take advantage of. ©Colleen Clapp
You can live better for less abroad, even on Social Security. Whether you want the sophisticated big city life…to escape to a deserted stretch of coast…to dance the night away in a beach resort…live in history in a colonial town…or follow rural rhythms in a small farming village…you can find it overseas at a fraction of your current budget.
And the benefits go far beyond not having to pinch pennies. You’ll get practical benefits like high-quality but affordable healthcare, warm weather year-round, bargain real estate, and communities where you’ll fit right in among expats and welcoming locals. You’ll also enjoy the relief of leaving your stress-filled lifestyle behind, and finding a place where you can truly relax.
There’s great value to be found in overseas real estate. But you don’t have to buy something to try a place out. Here are five top communities where you can rent for pennies on the dollar.
Ajijic, Mexico: A Lake-Side Expat Retreat
For decades, expats have been flocking to Mexico’s Lake Chapala. Many of them settle in and around the brightly painted village of Ajijic, on the lake’s north shore. This central Mexican region is blessed with a year-round mild climate and sunshine-filled days with temperatures in the mid- to high 70s F. As this is a popular expat spot, you’ll have plenty of friends and an active social life…and you can get by in English, too. The city of Guadalajara is only an hour’s drive away, so shopping, world-class medical care, and an international airport are close by.
Within walking distance to town is a two-bedroom with large outdoor terrace and swimming pool. It comes fully-furnished and rents for $750 per month. In downtown Ajijic is a small two-bedroom home for $495 a month, fully furnished.
Pedasí, Panama: Beautiful Beaches Off the Beaten Path
Pedasí, on the eastern tip of Panama’s Azuero Peninsula, is known as a center for traditional culture and Panamanian folklore. It hosts many festivals throughout the year—the most famous is its Carnival. It’s also an ideal beach destination, thanks to miles of undeveloped Pacific beaches, many of them great for surfing. Being five hours from Panama City means that, while Pedasí does get its share of visitors, it’s still quiet and off the beaten path. It remains a simple fishing village. In fact, there’s great sport fishing (they don’t call it the “Tuna Coast” for nothing).
A three-bedroom villa with a large fenced-in yard perfect for pets, fully-furnished and five minutes’ walk from the town center, is available for $900 per month rent. Outside of town, on the road to the beach, is a one-bedroom apartment renting for $520 per month. It comes furnished.
Cotacachi, Ecuador: Traditional Village Life in the Andes
This tidy little mountain town is set in a valley between two volcanoes, Imbabura and Cotacachi. Ecuador is known for its low costs, so even though Cotacachi has become a well-known expat destination, you’ll still pay a fraction of North American prices for real estate and everyday purchases.
The pace of life is slow in this artisan village—local artisans are especially renowned for their leatherwork. The views of the surrounding Andes are awe-inspiring. And the expat community is thriving, with an active social calendar and regular gatherings at bars and restaurants.
In the heart of Cotacachi near markets and restaurants is a two-bedroom condo, fully furnished, available for $650 per month. For the same price is a two-bedroom townhouse just four blocks from the main plaza. It’s turnkey and ready to move in.
Grecia, Costa Rica: A Market Town in Coffee Country
Costa Rica’s Central Valley is said to have one of the world’s best climates…t-shirt weather all day, cooling off at night so you need a light jacket. That’s thanks to the high elevation—between 2,200 and 5,000 feet is where most people live. You’ll find farming communities among the hills and valleys, including in the bustling market town of Grecia.
Homes here are set on ridges and hillsides outside of “downtown.” They are surrounded by coffee plantations and have panoramic views of the valley below. You can enjoy idyllic country living here, yet have the big-city amenities of Costa Rica’s capital, San José, just an hour away by car or bus.
Medellín, Colombia: South America’s Sophisticated Mountain Metropolis
One of South America’s hippest and most cosmopolitan cities, Medellín (population: 2.5 million) is the place these days for expats searching for the excitement and energy of big-city living at a low cost. Great nightlife, world-class restaurants, and a full cultural calendar are all on the agenda. The city spreads out across the floor of the Aburrá Valley and up into the surrounding mountains. You also enjoy a mild climate year-round—figure temperatures ranging from the mid-80s F to the mid-60s F. This weather helps nourish lush vegetation year-round, which is why Medellín is known as Colombia’s “City of Flowers.”
Editor’s Note: This article was taken from a past issue of International Living’s monthly magazine. Delivered straight to your door each month, we delve into the details you need to take action. We share our contacts. We lay out the pluses and minuses. And we keep you up-to-date on the latest developments with the best havens abroad, including…7 Great Retirement Towns You’ve Never Heard of…
In 7 Great Retirement Towns You’ve Never Heard of Where You Can Live Better for Less we’ll pull back the curtain and introduce you to communities where you can embrace the retirement of your dreams…and do it for less than it would cost you to stay home.
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