Saturday, June 16, 2012

Best Places to Retire Outside the US

I recently wrote a post about the advantages of retiring in the country of Panama, and I have also written posts about the most affordable places to retire and the sunniest places to retire in the United States.  Now it's time to broaden our horizons and consider some places where Americans are moving overseas in order to retire overseas.

While moving to another country is not to be taken lightly, it is not an unusual decision.  Currently, over 600,000 Americans are receiving their Social Security checks in another country.  This figure does not include those people who have their checks deposited into a bank in the U.S., and use ATMs to withdraw it in other countries.  This is especially popular for people who only live overseas part of the year ... a growing trend. has recently compiled a list of countries that are affordable, beautiful, have good health care and that welcome retiring Americans. 

Here is the AARP List of Best Places to Retire Abroad:

Argentina:  Buenos Aires is called the Paris of South America.  It is an elegant, European style city.  Rents in neighborhoods that are popular with ex-pats range from $800 - $2200 a month.  It is a sophisticated city for people who want to live in an affordable, upscale urban area.

Belize:  Formerly known as British Honduras, this Central American paradise is famous for its beaches and beauty.  The official language is English.  Retired persons can be put on the fast tract to residency.

Costa Rica:  The outlying towns in Costa Rica have temperate climates, exceptional beauty, lovely beaches and misty rain forests.  A friend of one of our daughters moved to Costa Rica from New York City three years ago to teach school, and has decided to stay permanently.  She constantly tells us how lucky she feels to live in Costa Rica.  She and her husband live comfortably on less than $2000 a month.

France:  The Mediterranean region of France is particularly popular with American retirees.  The Languedoc-Roussillon area in the Southwest is more affordable than many other regions, yet it is only three hours from Paris by high-speed rail.  In fact, living in Europe is very appealing because it is so easy to use the rail system and travel all over the continent and into Great Britain.

Italy:  In this country famous for its art, culture and beaches, Tuscany has long been popular with Americans.  However, Tuscany has become quite expensive, so now ex-pats are discovering LeMarche on the Adriatic.  Here you will find lovely vineyards, fabulous beaches, and snow-capped mountains, as well as amazing food. 

Mexico:  When my husband and I were young,we seriously considered moving to an American community in the Lake Chapala region of Mexico, in the mountains between Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta.  Since then, however, we have been to Puerto Vallarta several times, and have heard that this beautiful city on the sea is drawing more retirees than ever.  Real estate is a bargain, compared to similar locations in the United States, and you can enjoy the gorgeous beaches and modern amenities.  Other areas of Mexico are also still popular with foreign retirees, including Lake Chapala, which still has a thriving American community, and San Miguel de Allende.  In fact, San Miguel has a bustling community of American ex-patriots and boasts retirement communities, assisted living facilities, hospitals and more.

Nicaragua:  The dollar goes particularly far in Nicaragua, making this one of the more affordable choices for American retirees.  While the capital city of Managua is rundown, the historic city of Granada or the resort town of San Juan del Sur are both lovely and affordable.

Panama:  I wrote a blog post specifically about retiring in Panama just a few weeks ago.  That article mentioned that many American retirees are moving to the affordable beach communities that are some distance away from the capital of Panama City.  This AARP article mentions the advantages of moving to the mountain village of Boquete as another possibility in Panama.  One aspect that Americans in Panama appreciate is that the U.S. dollar is the official currency in Panama, which makes it easy to handle your finances.

Portugal:  Retiring in Portugal can feel a bit like going back in time, with its castles and cobblestone streets.  However, you can also find plenty of golf courses, beaches and popular resorts, so you do not need to do without modern amenities.  Portugal is also less expensive than other areas of Western Europe.  The town of Cascais seems to be particularly popular with retiring Americans.

Spain:  Many American retirees are attracted to the quaint villages and spacious beaches in the Costa del Sol region of Spain.  There are currently some exceptional real estate deals in Spain, which makes it particularly affordable for relocating Americans.  There is no sales tax, and property taxes are very low.  There are golf course, hiking clubs, and a large ex-patriot community.

If there are other countries that you believe would appeal to retiring Americans, feel free to mention these places in the comments section below.

If you are interested in additional information about where to retire in the US or overseas, financial planning, medical issues that could arise, and changing family relationships, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional articles on these topics.

You may also be interested in reading one of the following articles:

Americans Retiring in Panama
Why Retire in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands or Guam
Live in Ecuador Comfortably on Social Security
Retiring in Luxury to Hua Hin, Thailand

You are reading from the blog:

Photo is property of author, Deborah-Diane.  All rights reserved.


  1. They all look wonderful! We've decided on Ecuador, and I think this should be on your list, too. Really enjoyed all of the details that you provided. From your list, and I would probably choose Argentina. I understand there is a small rail system there and that people Tango in the street!! Thanks for the info.

  2. Thank you for your comments about Eduador. I have a friend who is planning to move there within the coming year, and I plan to write a post just about moving to Eduador, soon. From what my friend says, it is a lovely place to retire.

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  4. Shaina, you are absolutely correct that it is absolutely essential that people plan ahead if they want to have an enjoyable retirement. Young people cannot start their retirement planning too soon!

  5. Pretty cool places suit for retirement.I think in retiring overseas we must consider also our likes and dislikes.If you are a couple, you must agree where would both of you spend your retirement age considering that both of you agreed to that decision.

  6. I am single and considering early retirement at age 50 in about 3 years. I would be drawing about 2k per month from my Virginia state pension if I am receiving good info. I like the sound of Panama as I spent some time there in the military and love dark skinned spanish women, but I am afraid Panama City would be too expensive. Where would you recommend my retiring too based on the following ....1.cheapest place to rent or buy 2. Easy access to my American bank account 3. Reasonable cost to fly back to Virgina say once per year 4. I have to have access to high speed internet and cell phone service or I would lose my

    1. Thank you swvaco for your question about retiring in Panama. I hope you will read my other blog post, "Americans Retiring in Panama." It is one of several articles about retiring overseas that you will find in my index article that is linked above: "Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas."

      Some of the facts that you will find in "Americans Retiring in Panama" is the suggestion that Americans may wish to retire in a small Panama city like Las Tablas. It is estimated that you can live comfortably there for about $1200 - $1500 a month, which should leave you enough money to return to the United States for a visit about once a year. It is a modern city with many other Americans living in the area. The U.S. dollar is the official Panamanian currency and you will have easy access to your American bank. Hope you find this information to be useful!

    2. We live in David Panama, and are very happy here. If I can answer any questions let me know, or check my website Internet is an absolute requirement for me too! We have everything else we need here too, and at a cost much less than the US.

  7. Very fascinating places to visit.These places are wonderful places of world with excellent surrounding and great environment.

    Wholesale Escapes

  8. Hello Deborah

    My name is David Marini, I am a former US Marine who opened his first IRA account at the age of seventeen. I am writing to you today because I need your professional advice on our website.

    I am from which is a news and information website dedicated to providing accurate content on the subject of Retirement accounts, planning, and tax rules.

    We are looking to make IRASuccess a credible resource for all those seeking quality data on Retirement and planning for the future. We want to make those plans happen.

    I was looking and reading through I was thoroughly impressed by how much you generate for your audience that’s informed, technical, yet still broadly appealing and practical. As a matter of facts most of your articles and resources on your site are precisely of the financial and charming sort that we find to be of great value for our constituents, and yes I would love to retire in Belize.

    It would be a privilege if someone with your experience and focus on the subject of finance, planning and emotional understanding took a look. It would mean a lot if you could offer any advice/tips on what you have learned about engaging an audience, anything to make this site even better. It can be just a few sentences, whatever works for you. If a call is easier, I would love to schedule one.

    We would also be very excited about the possibility of you writing content for us.

    We look forward to hearing from you.

    Thank You
    New York, N.Y. 11354

    1. David - I will be happy to take a look at your website and offer my suggestions. However, even without seeing it, I want to suggest that it takes time, patience and plenty of interesting content to attract an audience. In addition, you have to engage your followers on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus or other social media accounts. I wish you the best of luck. IRAs are very important to a happy, successful retirement! Deborah-Diane

  9. Great resource!

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