When You’re Spoiled for Choices Overseas, How Do You Choose?

“We’re looking at retirement options,” she wrote, “and I’ve appreciated your insights, particularly on Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, and Uruguay. I know that seems like a lot of countries, so I’m hoping you can help us narrow it down. We plan to take a trip to at least two of these this year; one country at a time. Which country would you suggest we visit first? And can you please suggest some travel itineraries?”

This was the email I received from a reader last week. It’s typical of many queries I get these days. Look beyond your home borders and there are so many paradisiacal retirement destinations out there that you’re spoiled for choice.

So here’s what I explained to my cyber-friend:

The countries you’ve chosen are all very different and your comfort level with any of them will totally depend on your lifestyle wants and needs.

With a climate similar to the southeast United States, you’ll find four pretty distinct weather seasons in Uruguay: spring, summer, fall, and winter. It also has European charm and a very First-World feel.

In Panama, on the other hand, you’ll find a warm and more humid tropical climate for the most part, although you’ll find more temperate weather in one of the mountain communities like Boquete.

Ecuador offers an even bigger climate range, from cool crisp temperatures in the Andes mountains to the more tropical Pacific Coast beaches. It’s probably the least costly but most “rustic” of the countries listed (at least outside the major cities.)

Mexico, of course, has it all: a First-World infrastructure, a range of climates in its range of destinations, from tropical beaches to perfect-weather communities in the Sierra Madre mountains.

Any of these places can be affordable, however, when you learn to live like a local. I recently returned from a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for example, and I’ve discovered a beachside restaurant with dollar margaritas, dollar beers, and dollar tacos—and that’s not just during Happy Hour but all day and night.

So with all these great options, how do you choose the retirement destination that’s right for you?

You dig deep. You profile yourself ruthlessly and figure out what’s critically important to you. What can you tolerate and what can you not? What kind of climate are you after? What’s your realistic budget number? What about language issues and health care needs?

Once you figure those things out, you’ll have a pretty strong checklist that you can apply to all the best destinations for retirement available overseas today.

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