International Living

International Living

Searching for Your “Just Right” Place Overseas?

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25 Countries Compared, Contrasted, Ranked, and Rated

Dear Reader,

In the country that takes the #1 spot on our annual Global Retirement Index, you could live a lifestyle that would easily cost you six figures at home…only do it comfortably on a retired teacher's budget.

It's a country with broad appeal…

You could live on a palm-fringed coast with a view out over the Pacific.

Or you might choose, instead, a spot tucked into a lush green valley along a stream.

Then again, maybe you'd prefer a fast-paced, eclectic city with all the cosmopolitan offerings of a thriving urban center—jazz festivals, great ethnic restaurants, museums.

Your options are varied—which is one reason we like this country so much—and whatever might appeal to you, rest assured: It's a place where your dollars will stretch.

“We live a life we couldn't have had back home,” says Connie L., who has happily settled with her husband into our #1 country pick. “If we were in the U.S., we'd both be working, at least part-time, and constantly worrying.”

Instead, they report, “Our stress level is 10% of what it used to be.” In part that's because the cost of living is remarkably low. “For trash collection we used to pay $17 a month…here we pay $14 a year…our rent is about half what our house payment was in the U.S….a cleaning woman charges about $15 for a day's work…

“We chose [this place] for many reasons, but primarily because we love the ocean. The beaches here tend to be un-crowded—unlike those in Southern California, where I grew up. The water is warm and usually clear. Hearing and seeing the endless ocean always revitalizes me,” Connie says.

Expand Your Life, Trim Your Costs

Retiring overseas isn't about being frugal and shrinking your life in retirement—as it is by default for so many people at home these days. Living abroad, it's the opposite. It's about expanding your quality of life—often exponentially—while you slash your cost of living.

“Life [overseas] feels like a dream—but one I don't have to wake up from,” says Erin M.

“The climate here is awesome…a cool breeze flows through the valley where I live, never allowing the temperature to get too high. I live in a house without air conditioning or heat and enjoy the fresh breeze as it wafts through an open window or door. Back in the States I suffered from allergies. Here they have almost entirely disappeared.”

“This town is like Mayberry in the Andy Griffith show. I can walk at night and not be afraid. Children play out in the street—that doesn't happen in the U.S. anymore.”

In this safe, welcoming, good-value escape, a couple can live very comfortably—even lavishly—on between $1,700 and $2,890 a month, depending on where they're based.

As expat Bonnie D. puts it, ”I look out at this view…all this greenery…the lovely blue water and the blue sky…and I think, 'You couldn't get this for $1,200 a month in the States…no way!'”

That's what she and her husband, Robert, pay to rent their ocean-view apartment on the beach, an hour from the capital city.

“The unit is 1,500 square feet, including a big balcony, which was a big plus for me,” says Bonnie. She enjoys views of the Pacific from nearly every room. “You can sit in the living room…lay in bed…wherever you are, there's this beautiful view.”

The couple's $1,200 rental includes trash collection, water, maintenance…everything but cable/internet and electric.

“Our electric bill is $70 to $90 a month, depending on whether we use our big meat smoker,” says Bonnie. “We pay about $76 for cable and internet and we got a great cellphone package for just under $34,” she adds.

With a pool area and a new Italian restaurant, it's the ideal gated complex for Bonnie and Robert. “It's perfect for us,” says Bonnie. “We don't spend a lot of time on the beach during the day, but we sure do love looking at it.”

And it's not just the low cost of living that's attractive. The weather is, too. From the warmth of the coast to the cooler climate in the hills, it's easy to find a spot that suits you here—unless you like snow. There isn't any snow.

“I'm a Canadian,” says Larke N. “I'm used to long, cold winters. But a few years back, my husband Gary and I had had enough.

“I refuse to spend my precious retirement years shoveling snow and huddled in front of my fireplace…not to mention donning layers of clothing from top to toe just to venture outside.

“And so each and every fall, we say goodbye to block heaters…snow shovels…hats, scarves, and outrageous heating bills…and head to warmer climes. We're now a 'perpetual summer' couple and love it.”

Great Bang for Your Buck

It's not just day-to-day costs that are lower than you'd expect in our top-placed finisher this year. You get a lot of bang for your buck on the real estate front, too.

At the beach—less than an hour from the capital, you can own a two-bedroom condo from $135,000—with a water view. It's in a nice building with a pool and gazebo and garden area. Here the beach is wide and you're in a small community, but you're just ten minutes from the heart of a bustling expat enclave. So you benefit from all the conveniences of the neighboring community, but avoid the weekend crowds that come in from the city.

Up in the mountains, the values are just as good. In one spot where expats have been settling comfortably for decades—they call it the Valley of Flowers and Eternal Spring, you'll find it easy to make friends and enjoy a slow pace of life. The weather averages a comfortable 70 degrees year-round. And this lush, green region is a tourism mecca with lots of hiking, birding, coffee-farm tours, and the like. If you like the idea of a retirement lived outdoors year-round, you'll like this spot.

Here you can own a furnished, two-bedroom, one-bath home for as little as $149,000, nestled into a grove of coconut palms and surrounded by manicured gardens. It has granite countertops and lots of built-in storage. And the outdoor areas are comfortably livable with plenty of covered patio space that functions as additional living area you can use all year.

In the heart of the capital city—a vibrant, cosmopolitan urban center, you can own a nice 1-bedroom apartment in a swank neighborhood for just $165,000. This is a truly cosmopolitan city—bustling and booming. But also full of green spaces and built along a coast so you can enjoy water views for miles. There's a historic center where restored colonial homes are splashed in pastels. And this is a city where you could be out every night if you wanted to be—eating at excellent restaurants, enjoying concerts, going to the cinema.

The point is: You have options here—great options—and they won't break the bank. Because it's a small country, even if you live outside the capital, you're always within easy access of it—which means you can, really, enjoy the best of both worlds…beach or highland living plus the conveniences of an accessible big city, too.

This Nation Wants You to Come

But perhaps the most compelling reason to consider this top-place finisher in the Global Retirement Index is because this is a nation that's actively courting folks just like you.

They want retirees to come—and they're making it worth your while. A special incentive program designed to woo retirees offers qualified folks discounts like 50% off on entertainment like movies, concerts, and theater. You get 30% off on bus, boat, and train fares, and 25% off on airfares (including international ones). You save 15% on hospital bills and that much or more on dental and medical visits…and the list goes on.

Plus you're offered tax incentives as well—yet another way to save on top of the already-low cost of living.

Plus, the bar is pretty low to qualify for all these benefits. You need to show you have at least $1,000 a month to support yourself, but that's just about it.

“When my wife, Abbe, and I looked to retire overseas a few years ago, I found that [this incentive program] was a great way to stretch my Social Security pension,” says Jim G. “Naturally, the perks sounded like a perfect way to save some money, and they have proven to be just that—providing substantial discounts on many goods and services we regularly use.

Excellent-Quality, Low-Cost Healthcare

Healthcare is another place where this country shines.

Half the Cost, Double the Freedom

“For about half the cost, we have double the freedom.”

-Jackie M. in one of the world's top retirement havens

Many doctors speak English and are U.S.-trained. Not only that, but the standards at the top hospitals compare favorably with those in the U.S., Canada and Europe. The large, first-rate hospitals in the capital are affiliated with hospitals in the U.S. In fact, one of them is considered one of the region's most technologically advanced facilities.

And the low costs—they'll blow your mind.

“When my husband was being discharged from the hospital after a stay last year, I went to the business office to settle the bill,” Linda C. explains. “Since we have medical insurance through the hospital, the insurance manager came to the office (even though it was a Saturday), reviewed the bill in detail to verify all the insurance would cover (70%), and I paid the balance of 30%. This came to $3,263, including the doctors, all medications, a CT scan, and an MRI. I expect it would have been 10 times that much in the U.S.”

That assessment is pretty typical. Retirees Bill and Lynn C. tell a similar story. After Bill had heart bypass surgery and was diagnosed with diabetes, retirement was looking grim for him and his wife Lynn in the States.

“Even though Bill was on disability, Medicare, and we had supplement insurance, the medical expenses were outrageous,” says Lynn.

“We could afford our meds but little else. We felt this was no way to spend our final years, as we had both worked all our lives.”

Fortunately, they escaped to this year's #1 finisher in the Global Retirement Index where they can afford all the medical care they need, and a whole lot more, besides.

“Life is better here, because our money stretches a lot further. Bill's diabetes pens cost $400 a month in the U.S. (for a package of five). Here, five pens cost us $144.

“Bill sees the doctor regularly and his visits are only $25. He gets blood work every three months, and that costs $8.60.

“We have both used the emergency services, and both times the cost was nominal. It was amazing…it would have cost thousands in the States.”

Accessible, Close-to-Home, Easy, Familiar

Fundamentally, this is a place where it's easy to retire. Well-established expat communities dot the country, making it a cinch to settle in.

No place is just like home, of course, but here you'll find all sorts of ways that life is familiar. All over you can enjoy high-speed internet, cable television, and reliable electricity. You'll find grocery stores well-stocked with familiar items. And big box stores where you'll think you're back home.

In fact, you're not actually that far. This sunny escape sits just under three hours by plane from Miami—below the hurricane belt—and you can fly direct from Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, and a host of other destinations.

One happy expat sums up its appeal this way: “It's a democracy, the water is drinkable, the locals are used to expats…the electrical systems are the same, the driving is on the same side of the street, many doctors are U.S.-educated.”

Her husband continues, “I can golf with my friends twice a week at the country club and work out in the fitness center. I have time for reading, time for bridge…and time to just sit on my rear end and meditate!”

In other words: This is a great place to just plain trade up in retirement. While lots of folks are looking at working longer, scrimping and saving, and dialing back their expectations for their “golden years,” here in the country that comes in first in our Global Retirement Index, you can live way better.

In our top-place finisher for this year, you can upgrade your lifestyle and spend less than it would cost you to stay home.

Jennifer B. from Wisconsin puts it plainly when she says, ““In the States, you can't really live on the beach for a reasonable rent. Here, I'm by the ocean, on a perpetual vacation, enjoying my life. I play golf and I eat out a lot. It feels like I have a second lease on life.”

#2 Finisher Offers an Eco-Friendly,
Low-Key Escape

The country that takes the #2 spot on our annual Global Retirement Index is a quiet, safe, reliable, welcoming escape…a place that American retirees have been heading to with enthusiasm and success for more than fifty years now.

It's a country that “has its act together.” And in this sun-splashed haven, a retired couple could live very comfortably on $2,500 a month, or even less.

I Would Never Have Been So Indulgent at Home

“I used to daydream of getting hour-long massages while listening to spa music with lavender scents wafting in the air… Then someone would barge into my office asking for financial updates or such, bringing me crashing back to reality. Well, not anymore. Now each month I go to Bodyworks, where for two hours I am stretched and kneaded into oblivion for $50… I would never have been so indulgent…living in the U.S.”

- Donna S. in one of the world's top retirement havens

As expat Paul M. put it, “It feels good to know that we can live comfortably in this beautiful beach setting…and still have the resources to travel and spend time with family back home.”

You can understand how that's possible when you see that eggs are $1.63 per dozen, pork or beef costs a little over $3 per pound, and chicken is just $2 per pound. A loaf of whole wheat bread costs $1.80, and a Betty Crocker chocolate fudge cake mix goes for just $1.26.

You can eat at a little local restaurant for just $4 or $5. A housekeeper will come and clean once a week for $50 a month, and a visit to a physician will set you back $50 or less.

Paul reports, “We load up with fresh fruits and vegetables at the Friday morning farmers' market for less than $20. That includes several large pineapples for $1.63 each.”

He's not the only happy expat thrilled with the low cost of living and high quality of life it buys.

“We wanted escape from northern winters, a slower-paced lifestyle, good healthcare, a tropical climate, beach access, and a sense of adventure, as well as ways to stretch our retirement dollars,” Mary M. says. “We found it all in [this country].”

Others say the same. When Jim and Irina J. looked abroad for a haven they could afford, they couldn't believe their good fortune when they discovered everything this year's second-place winner has to offer.

Their requirements were probably similar to what you're looking for. They wanted to be close to the airport, hospitals, and culture. They wanted great weather and great views. They wanted a vibrant expat community they could mingle with. And they didn't want to have to depend on a car.

That's exactly what they found…on a budget of $2,000 a month.

“This allows us to live really well,” says Irina.

“We had a terrific life in the States; we just couldn't afford it in retirement,” says Jim. “There is so much to do close to our home here. Irina walks to yoga, and we often use the local bus. The bus stop is a short walk from our house, and is an affordable way to run errands in town or to take in some culture in [the capital city] (an hour away), like a museum tour or a theater performance.”

A 2-Bedroom Condo Minutes from the
Beach for $99,000

Whether you're renting or buying in this country, you can find excellent bang for your buck.

For instance, aside a dramatic lake where year-round you can sail, kayak, fish, or simply revel in the vistas, you could own a 2-bed, 2-bath home with a water view for just $189,000. (On a nice lake in cold Minnesota, you'd easily pay 3 or 4 times that.) For a simple but tidy 2-bed cottage here a 3-minute walk from town with a huge, well-maintained yard, you'll pay a mere $38,500.

Just minutes from a Pacific-coast beach, a 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo lists for just $99,000. On the grounds of a small, lushly landscaped resort, it's a ground-floor unit with easy access to the shared pool with its swim-up bar. The grounds are beautifully maintained and full of exotic plants and wildlife.

You could easily rent at a low cost, too. A small, furnished house would typically go from about $600 a month. A one- or two-bedroom apartment, unfurnished, can be rented from $300 a month. If you're looking for something larger and more luxurious, figure on about $1,000 or $1,500 for a stand-along house or $700 for a big, swank apartment.

As Shannon E. says, “It's very affordable here. My wife and I pay $750 for a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom condo (double master suites) in a gorgeous gated community equipped with a pool and ample flora and fauna. It's also just 400 feet from one of my favorite beaches. It's a world away from my home in San Diego where I paid $1,450 for a tiny one bedroom close to a loud beach known for its crazy parties—something I didn't know until after I moved in…”

But the good-value living is just the beginning of the basket of benefits this winning locale has to offer.

This Year's Second-Place Finisher
Is Steady, Easy

After all, just because a place is cheap, doesn't make it a winner. It's the fact that you can both put your money worries behind you AND lead the sort of life you always dreamed about.

Life Here is Easy and Relaxed

“Yes, there's the low cost of living, the great healthcare, the beautiful beaches and warm weather, and the ease and conveniences of moving here…those are the logistics, the numbers, that make a move here possible and pleasant.

“But we expats, at heart we come and we stay because there is a special magic to this place.

“Colors are somehow more vivid here, and smiles brighter. The rich scents—of ripe guavas, bougainvillea blossoms draped down a wall, salt tang on a warm Caribbean breeze—these things all linger in memory. And music is everywhere.

“Life here is easy and relaxed…and also rich and complex in sensations and experiences. People are friendly and welcoming, their warmth genuine. And their roots run deep. You find a real sense of history and tradition all around you.”

- Glynna P. in one of the world's top retirement havens

This #2 finisher this year is a place with quiet character…a low-key, steady sort of locale—long a stable democracy—that provides a steady backdrop for a life that's easy, low-stress, and thoroughly enjoyable.

As expat Bob N. explains, “I moved to [this] paradise because I wanted to get back to a greater sense of natural beauty and wanted to live a simpler, less harried lifestyle as a retiree.

“Although the beaches where I lived in Sarasota were beautiful, rapid Florida development had led to the beach being completely surrounded by condos and other developments. Here I can hop on a bus and 15 minutes later I'm on one of the most beautiful beaches…and when I look around, all I see is pristine jungle and soft white sand. And the ocean is always warm here, even in December, January, and February when it can be a bit chilly in Florida.”

More than 50,000 medical tourists arrived on the shores of this top retirement haven last year to take advantage of the high-quality and low-cost care. In fact, healthcare costs can be as little as a fifth of prices in the U.S.

Private doctors, for instance, rarely charge more than $60 a visit, even for house calls. Specialists run $80 to $100 a visit.

Most expats in the country find their healthcare needs well met. And a big bonus: The quality of care is much higher than we're used to and the typical bedside manner is very comforting. Doctors don't rush you out of their office, and they'll take time to make sure you understand the diagnosis and treatment.

Accessible, Close-to-Home, and Welcoming

Beyond all that, this country is conveniently close to home, which makes it an ideal retreat for a part-time life overseas as it's quick, easy, and low-cost to get back to the States or Canada.

With modern shopping malls, world-class hospitals, and reliable high-speed internet available just about everywhere, you won't lack the comforts of home.

You'll pay zero income tax locally on income you earn outside the country—like your Social Security, investment income, or any funds you might earn working remotely.

If you buy a home here, your annual property taxes will usually run little more than $200 to $500, which can free up funds to spend in any way you prefer.

Property taxes have been a pleasant surprise for John M. He owns a three-and-a-half acre property with a 4,000-square-foot house on it that boasts verandas, balconies, and terraces that overlook lush gardens. It cost about $200,000 to buy.

He says, “I still own my place in Chicago and rent it out—the property taxes there are about $5,500 per year…my property taxes in [this year's #2 retirement haven] are $250 a year. That's just crazy—in the best possible way.”

A Solid, Dependable Choice for
Retirement Overseas

Plus, you should know: This country has quietly, but systematically, worked toward creating an environment that's sustainably healthy.

With lots of clean water and fresh air, more than 25% of this nation's land mass is protected in national parks and reserves. It's one of the only countries in the world to reverse deforestation.

And today it's home to a whopping 10,000 species of plants and trees and over 850 types of indigenous and migrant birds.

A staggering 99% of its energy comes from renewable sources (compared to just 15% in the U.S.).

It's is a relatively small country, but this second-place winner this year boasts one of the most diverse varieties of landscapes and climate in the world, offering the perfect harmony between the lush, green jungle teeming with wildlife and long, soft, pristine beaches.

Picture thick layers of jungle climbing up into the mountains, dotted with cascading waterfalls, flora every color of the rainbow, and exotic animals like toucans, parrots, monkeys, and sloths.

In Our #3 Choice, You Can Live Well for Half What It Costs to Stay Home

We're really excited about our #1 and # 2 picks this year—and with reason: As I hope you will agree they have lot to recommend them.

Yet they are just two of the 25 top overseas retirement havens we compare, contrast, rank, and rate in our annual Global Retirement Index—our 28th annual index.

You know, “spend less, live better” is a theme the folks who've relocated to all our top choices return to again and again.

Like San Francisco-native, Jack B., who lives today in our #3 pick—exactly half a block from the beach. He says, “The cost of living allows me a fun life on my Social Security check.”

He doesn't scrimp. “There are great restaurants and tons of cool bars on the promenade. My rent is $575 a month for a two-bedroom apartment with a great modern bathroom and nice kitchen.”

He's not alone in relishing the good values…and the good lifestyle he can afford to enjoy when prices are so low.

“I live well here on my Social Security,” says Chicago native Steve G. “My expenses are $1,200 a month, including rent. I have a two-bedroom house with a terraced garden.”

This is a country where you can easily slash your cost of living…while you improve your quality of life.

For $15 to $20, a housekeeper will spend four hours cleaning your house. A lunch special out at a local restaurant typically costs $3 to $7 for a full meal. For a good steak dinner with wine, you can expect the bill to come to about $15 a person.

So you can see how it can be easy here to upgrade your lifestyle and gain the luxuries of a rich-man's retirement…but do it on a tradesman's budget.

As on expat put it, “We spend significantly less than back home, about 50% less… and here we eat a meal out at least once a day, often twice.”

And it's not just the prices that appeal…

In this #3 Retirement Haven for this year, you have a wide variety of options when it comes to climate and locale. You'll find white sand beaches and turquoise seas…centuries-old colonial cities with winding, cobblestone streets and fountain-filled plazas…towering ruins left by ancient civilizations…guitars being strummed on moonlit evenings…and you have all kinds of communities to pick from…

An Oceanview Apartment for
Under $500 a Month

A Greater Sense of Freedom

“It is economically sound…politically sound…it's a beautiful little country, with varied climates and happy, peaceful people. Life is better here, as we have more time for ourselves…a slower pace…a greater sense of freedom.”

- H.P. in one of the world's top retirement havens - Hellmut and Linda Pederson in Panama

Like one colonial-era town with cobbled streets and tidy, renovated homes—this one painted terra cotta, the next one bronze, its neighbor a lovely mustard yellow—here a 3-bedroom, 3-bath partly furnished home a 20-minute walk from the town's center square with sweeping views out over the city lists for $228,000.

If you prefer an ocean breeze, palm trees, white-sand beaches, and quiet turquoise waters…you can have that, too.

In one town popular with expats, I know of a couple renting a very nice, multi-level condo right on the beach with a spectacular ocean view for $980 a month. (In Miami, you'd pay at least $3,000 for something comparable.)

But you can spend much less and have the ocean in your sights…in another beachside town, expat Mike H. says he rents a one-bedroom, oceanview apartment for just under $500 a month.

Often people assume they'll have to endure huge trade offs when they go overseas. But—as with our #1 and 2 picks—that's not the case here. Expats agree: This is a remarkably easy place to live…

Great Healthcare for Half—or Less—
Than You Pay Now

One reason is because in this overseas gem of a country you can access truly excellent medical care for between 25% and 50% of what it costs you at home today.

In other words: You save 50% to 75%—huge savings across the board, for doctor's visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medical devices, lab tests, medicine, and more.

As one expat says, “Most of the doctors have been trained in the U.S. As a patient, when the doctor comes in, you are the priority. They pay attention and they don't look at their watch or think about the other patients waiting.”

And the pluses go on: This country is close to the States, so travel back and forth is both simple and affordable. You'll regularly find tickets for as little as $200.

Plus it's easy to gain residence. In fact, it starts with tourist visas that extend six months, instead of the more-common three. So right off the bat, it's an easy place to spend part of the year, no bureaucratic hoop-jumping required.

And there's a good chance you'd feel better, when you do.

You wouldn't believe how often we hear from expats living in all our top destinations that they've lost weight, feel better, and look younger.

As an expat living in our #4 destination explained, “After we bought our condo, we came for five weeks to set things up…without any deliberate attempts to change our diet or lifestyle, my wife and I each lost 10 pounds.

“The type of food consumed plays a big role in this change. [Here] for the most part, fresh foods are grown without pesticides and chemical additives. The milk, cheese, and eggs come from animals that have not been fed steroids.

The good climate is also a factor. “The beautiful weather encourages walking or just being outside,” he says.

“Most days we take a morning walk down the boardwalk or an evening walk after dinner—or both. Even walking the dog becomes a nice stroll outdoors. If we were back in the States, with sub-freezing weather and six inches or more of snow on the ground, we would not be lingering over the dog-walk.”

As I trust you're beginning to see—each one of the nations on our list of the world's top retirement havens is a worthy contender. They all offer good value and a variety of locales and climates to suit everybody's individual preferences and needs.

And that's really the point here: There's something for everybody. You just have to figure out what you're looking for…and using our annual Global Retirement Index, we'll help you find it.

Simplifying, Relaxing…You Can Do It Affordably in Europe, Too

If it's a European retreat you've always dreamed of…you'll find those on our list of top picks, too.

In one top-rated European country, expats say it's the people that make life there so enjoyable. “They're mellow, and very receptive to foreigners,” says Molly A., who bought an apartment there five years ago.

Another big plus is the affordable lifestyle. As our correspondent there reports, “My husband Keith and I find we spend about a third of what we did to live in the States. For example, a simple lunch of soup, main course, beverage, dessert, and coffee runs about $10. A taxi start is about $4. Monthly utilities for a two- or three-bedroom apartment average $100 a month. We pay just $1,000 a month for a four-bedroom, four-bath home half an hour from [the capital].”

In another warm-weather European escape the annual Global Retirement Index highlights, you have access to Mediterranean beaches…big cities with world-class museums…and a vast interior of green, rolling hills dotted with sun-baked villages. This is storybook Europe…yet here you can still get a meal for two with wine or beer for as little as $22.

On a budget of less than $2,200, a couple could live comfortably—housing, meals out, healthcare, even household help, included.

Southeast Asia Offers Hidden Gems Where the Values are Extraordinary

You might be pleasantly surprised by the appeal of several nations in Southeast Asia today as well…

Like Florida in the 1940's

“We can now have a lifestyle like Florida in the 1940's, but at a price we can afford. Living next to the water was always something we wanted to do.”

- J.B. in one of the world's top retirement havens

In one that makes the Index top ten this year, for instance, a couple can live luxuriously on $2,000 a month. You can understand how when, as one transplant from Chicago explains, “Our apartment, that we rent for $750 a month, is a 2,200-square-foot, three-bedroom, four-bathroom condo overlooking the sea as well as the jungle. We can see the monkeys cascading along the rooftops of the neighboring homes and from our couch we can watch the sea eagles diving into the ocean for a quick catch of the day. Sometimes I feel like I live in a National Geographic magazine.”

The values here are serious. The premier cable TV package, which includes favorites like HBO, CNN, BBC, and numerous sports and movie channels will set you back only $40. You can enjoy a filling meal for $5…get a pedicure for $13…and hire a housekeeper for $3.50 an hour…

In this special place, the weather averages 82 degrees year-round, and there's lots to do—from outdoorsy activities like sailing and hiking to cultural offerings like concerts and art shows.

This place offers a perfect balance of nature and First World amenities that make it a wonderful haven for expats. It boasts lush jungle-covered hills bursting with wildlife, as well as fancy modern high-rises and pristine beaches. Almost everyone speaks English…so communicating is rarely an issue.

This year's Global Retirement Index reveals a tremendous variety of retirement solutions for somebody looking to live better for less overseas. We rank, rate, compare, and contrast a full 25 countries worth your consideration today.

Maybe you're in the market for a part-time escape…or maybe you're looking for a full-time adventure…perhaps you dream about a day when you can see the ocean out your window…or live within sight of the mountains in a place where the sun shines and the weather is cool…

Whatever you dream about…in the destinations profiled in our Annual Global Retirement Index…you could find a new reality. A lot sooner—and a lot more affordably—than you may imagine.

So Let Me Give You a Little Assignment…

Now to be honest, the decision about where you live is not always readily subject to logical analysis. In the end, it's about where you feel good. It's about finding the place that's just, well, a good fit.

So here's a little task for you. You start imagining your ideal retreat.

And while you're busy musing…we'll sort out for you the “logical” concerns. Like where your dollars buy you most…where the weather is best…where the locals are friendliest…where it's most comfortable and safe…where the healthcare is both excellent and affordable…and more.

In fact, we've just spent the past few months concentrating on exactly this task.

Our staff has been traveling, crunching statistics, and talking with our contacts and correspondents around the world…all in the interest of compiling our annual picks for the world's top retirement havens.

It should be said: In an era when most news outlets have slashed their budgets and cut their overseas bureaus…and at a time when “fake news” has made it harder than ever to ferret out the truth…we put our Global Retirement Index together “the old fashioned way.”

That is to say: We put boots on the ground…just as we have each of the last 28 years we've published this country comparison.

We spend, in fact, more than $850,000 a year to keep our people in place overseas, reporting back with real-world, up-to-date recommendations and guidance. In an era when it's all the rage to wave the “fake news” flag around, I want to assure you: What we do is real. We take it seriously. We don't make this stuff up.

Is Global Retirement Index subjective? You bet. We rely on the informed judgment and real-world experience of in-country expats…folks just like you who have made the move and learned all their lessons the hard way. They live in the countries they're an expert in. And they've been there long enough to get under the skin of their host nation and provide us with real understanding about what it's like to live there.

As I said, where you end up is really as much about feeling as it is thought. When it comes right down to it, only you can decide what will make you happy.

But we can point you to the places that are likely to suit you best. (And be easiest on your wallet, too.)

Our annual Global Retirement Index lists the best places in the world to retire overseas today.

It'll point you to the places most worth your attention…and, most importantly, save you the trouble, time, frustration, and expense of trying to figure that out on your own.

Here at International Living, we've been showing readers where to go for nearly four decades now. So we know the questions to ask, we know the critical issues to consider.

We take the time and invest the funds…so you don't have to.

And right now, I'd like to give you our latest Global Retirement Index—FREE.

I'll tell you how to get your copy in just a minute. But first, I want to be clear about one thing. It's the one, big, fundamental idea that drives this index. It's our belief that…

You Don't Need to Be Rich to
Enjoy a Pampered Retirement… You Just Need to Know Where to Go

In one of our top picks—a place of old world charm—a couple could easily live comfortably for $1,620 a month (including rent). Though, in fact, we know retirees there living simply for half that. With a budget twice as large, you could live like royalty.

(To put this in perspective, the average U.S. Social Security payout for retirees is $1,419 a month. Stateside, that doesn't buy you much of a life. But in the right places overseas, those funds easily provide comforts and conveniences that would be well out of your reach at home. Like dinners out, a housekeeper once a week, even vacations…)

One couple living in this haven right now says, “Living in Southern California, we were spoiled by the warm climate and beautiful beaches. Retirement would—or should—have given us time to enjoy all that more fully. And yet we had no realistic chance of retiring anywhere near a beach in California.

“Looking back now, we're glad we needed to look elsewhere to fulfill our retirement dreams. Otherwise, the chance of living in one of the most beautiful and exotic retirement havens in the world might have passed us by.”

Kiplinger's Personal Finance put it this way:

“For retirees with a sense of adventure and a taste for the good life—even if they lack a bank account to match—a change in latitude might be the perfect plan.”

I think that's right…and that's why we put our latest annual Global Retirement Index together. To give you the specific guidance you need to find the place that's right for you.

The Best—and Easiest—Way to Target Your Search for the Perfect Paradise

In our annual Global Retirement Index, we consider each destination by category: buying and investing, renting, benefits and discounts, visas and residence, cost of living, fitting in, entertainment and amenities, healthcare, healthy lifestyle, development, climate, opportunity, and governance. And we include a full report on the top picks.

Point being: This resource gives you a well-rounded view of each place. It's not just facts. It's the perspective we bring to them.

Living Well for Less than Half the Price at Home

“We have a full-time maid who does all our chores and a gardener who cares for the yard. We spend our days going to the gym, taking Spanish classes, horseback riding, hiking nearby volcanoes, going to the beach and exploring the country.

“And we do all this for less than half the cost of a moderate lifestyle in Atlanta.”

- J. and N. G. in one of the world's top havens

And that's what's so important. Because everybody is different. And what's a priority for you might not be for somebody else.

Say you're of “retirement” age and looking for a place to stretch your savings. The cost of living and the availability of good-quality, affordable healthcare might be your top concerns.

On the other hand, if you're in your twenties, thirties, or forties with school-aged children, their education and the ease with which you can do business locally might be more important to you.

Or maybe you're in the market today for a place you could visit regularly for now and perhaps retire to eventually…so you're looking for a spot that's easy to get in and out of, where the weather is good…

No matter what your own personal priorities are, you can use our annual Global Retirement Index to easily home in on the places that make sense for you and your situation, your priorities.

It is a powerful tool.

Take A Sneak Peek…

You'll find details about all the top picks—and right now, I'd like to make you a special offer that hands you full access to the annual Global Retirement Index at no charge.

All I ask in exchange is that you take a look at our monthly magazine, International Living.

You already know something about International Living since you get our free daily Postcards. But what you may not realize is that these emailed dispatches are just the beginning. There's always a lot more to every story.

In fact, there's a whole world of ideas and benefits that we reserve exclusively for readers of our magazine. Our annual Global Retirement Index is just one of them.

I'd like to give you a sneak peek at all of it.

Take me up on the special deal I'll make you today, and you'll have unfettered access to our annual Global Retirement Index—and all of the extraordinary secrets International Living reveals to subscribers about good-value ways and places to live, retire, invest, profit, travel and enjoy life for less overseas.

Plus I'll toss in an extra bonus, too—altogether nearly a $100 value, yours for less than half that—just for giving International Living a try today. (But again, I encourage you to act now. This offer is good for a limited time only.)

International Living Gives You Access to Opportunities Nobody Else Talks About

You know, in the newspapers and on TV, you get lots of political posturing…and lots of discussion about our nation's woes…but what you rarely learn is what to do about any of it. I don't mean “macro” fixes.

I'm talking about what you, personally, can do to improve your life, retire better, save on taxes, gain freedom and control, and travel more…even if you have only a modest nest egg (or no nest egg at all).

Here at International Living, we're all about solutions that really work. Recently we've shared with our readers secrets like…

It Could Be the New Sun Belt

“Lured by affordable housing, inexpensive healthcare and vibrant ex-pat communities, more Americans are heading south of the border to spend their golden years. Some are calling Latin America the new Sun Belt.

- Miami Herald

  • Three Caribbean islands within easy access of the States where sugar-sand beaches and warm, clear waters will grab your heart…and the good-values will keep you coming back. In one, grilled lobster and a fresh juice costs $8.
  • Eternal summers…the how-to secrets of a snowbird life, including where to go and how to spend half overseas what you'd pay to stay home.
  • Dollar-stretching real estate plays—right on the ocean—including one where $79,900 buys you a condo on the beach with all the trimmings.
  • Where to find U.S.-standard healthcare for half (or less) than you pay now, including how to get fully insured from $80 a month.
  • Secret retirement retreats still just under the radar where the bang-for-your-buck is unbelievable and the natural beauty, the friendliness of the locals, and the conveniences are hard to beat.
  • Tax-saving strategies—smart ways to protect your assets and pay less with structures and systems overseas.
  • Social Security loopholes that could hand you tens of thousands in “extra” benefits overseas…but you have to know to ask…
  • How to live off the land: Ranches, farms, and vineyards for sale around the world at bargain prices…
  • How to travel better—and spend less—including tips on enjoying a months'-long journey for pennies on the dollar (no sacrifice required)…how to fly in Latin America for as little as $60 a ticket…tech tips for the non-techie, which make travel instantly easier…
  • An American doctor's frank and forthcoming take on healthcare overseas…the news is good.
  • The three top citizenship-by-investment programs in the world—and what you really need to know about the rest of them if you want a second passport.
  • Three easy ways to profit from your wanderlust—and get paid to tell people about your experiences, turn your phone into an income-earner, and travel on somebody else's dime.
  • Everything you need to know about Medicare abroad—including the pluses, minuses, and pitfalls you should know about, too.
  • Six red flags to look for before you buy real estate overseas.
  • Europe's royal beach escapes…the Golden Age of Europe's royal houses may be long over, but the Old World beach resorts where the continent's aristocracy summered still cling to a fin de siècle grandeur… In these spots, you can enjoy urban luxuries as fine as the enticing, sandy beaches. We'll show you where…
  • How to save up to 60% on dental care when you fix your smile in overseas…
  • The bewitching escape where the beaches are jaw-dropping, the pace is relaxed, and the prices are so low you can rent a place for $3,760 a YEAR.
  • The best ways to stay in touch from overseas…insider advice from expats who know the best-value, most-reliable, and most affordable ways to keep family and friends “close by” even when you're in another country.

… and much, much more.

Our Readers Find the Best Places,
Ahead of the Crowds

International Living brings the entire world, with all of its rich, rewarding, exciting opportunities, to your door every month. You'll discover secrets like…

Living a Six-Figure Life…on Much Less

“I'm happy to report that, in many ways, our standard of living exceeds the lifestyle we enjoyed in the States with two six-figure incomes. We live in a beautiful two-story penthouse apartment, eat fresh and healthy food, regularly enjoy things we once considered luxuries (like fresh flowers, massages, and mani/pedi's), and go to free symphony performances and film festivals.”

- E.S., in one of the world's top retirement havens

  • How to find your perfect home in Southeast Asia from $350 a month—housekeeping included.
  • Portugal's secret towns…and how you can live well in any of them from
  • Three great-value highland towns in Latin America where you can live life outdoors, enjoy mild weather year-round, and retire with all the comforts you could want for $2,000 or less a month.
  • A less-expensive alternative to Paris where the wines are world-class, a dozen museums will keep you in culture, and the antique shopping is excellent.
  • Your back door to the EU… Irish citizenship is on sale again. Here's what you need to know to get your own second passport, even if you're not of Irish extraction.
  • A highland haven in the Philippines where the temperatures are cooler, the community is friendly, and all told $1,500-$2,000 a month makes for very comfortable living.
  • How to take a world-class luxury cruise for less than half the regular price.
  • How to choose a massage parlor in Thailand—discretion required—and get a great 90-minute massage for as little as $8.
  • How to leverage your house back home when you head overseas for a few weeks or months each year…and cover the cost of your trip.
  • How to get a luxury upgrade in retirement—in Italy—and do it for under $3,000 a month.
  • The top six destinations to buy on the beach in Latin America…where you can trade up to a more luxurious life while you slash your cost of living…
  • What you need to know to take smart advantage of Costa Rica's “secret travel season” when you can save 40% to 50% off regular prices…
  • South America's undiscovered Land of the Incas and how you can live well for pennies on the dollar—rents start at $150 a month, a filling three-course meal is just $2.50.

…and lots, lots more only available to International Living subscribers. In truth, we cover the world in a way nobody else does. It's all doom-and-gloom in the mainstream press.

But we pinpoint opportunity…and bring it to you. Because seeking out better-value living overseas can make very, very good sense.

As the AARP put it:

“…at a time when nest eggs are shrinking and Social Security looks less likely to cover basic expenses, living for less in a foreign locale can make good financial sense. There's also the prospect of adventure in a faraway land, the allure of the unknown, and the joy of serendipitous discoveries.”

The best place to start is with our latest annual Global Retirement Index, and it's yours when you put your name on our reader list today.

But you need to act now.

This is the good stuff…and you can only get your hands on it when you request it today. After that, it's too late.

Your Window into a Whole New World of Possibility and Profit

Here at International Living, we've been covering this beat for nearly four decades. When publications like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and AARP need an expert opinion about alternative retirement solutions and the places where retirees can get the most bang for their buck…they call us.

That's because every month International Living is jam-packed with insider secrets, how-to advice, useful contacts you can call or email, and real-world recommendations for saving money, making money, living better, embracing adventure, and enjoying life more overseas…

Our IL Postcards give you but a tiny taste of what we do, frankly.

International Living magazine is where we share the full story, connect you directly to the people you need to know, and share insights, advice, and guidance from our many contributors in the field.

We're the experts…and there's a whole world of information and benefits that we reserve exclusively for subscribers to our print publication…

Like a way to grow your nest egg outside stocks and outside the dollar.

Low-Stress, More Peaceful

“I love the lowered level of stress in day-to-day things. You walk through neighborhoods, and on every corner will be a little store or restaurant/bar, and folks will just be hanging out having a cold beer or shot of espresso. The elders are telling stories and the kids are playing soccer across the street. Picturesque and peaceful comes to mind.

- M.S. in one of the world's top retirement havens

It's nothing complicated. It's a simple, very accessible investment play. A way to add to your retirement nest egg while you're retired…instead of watching it dwindle.

In 1984, for instance, we told readers about an investment on the Samara Bay in Costa Rica. Back then, you could get in for between $2,000 and $4,000. Today, that investment would be worth close to $140,000.

In the 1990s, we pointed readers to this kind of play again in Belize…and watched as the values soared. A reader who bought on the tropical, palm-lined island of Ambergris for $29,950 back then could sell for $215,000 today.

And we're still showcasing opportunities like that…

Like a window of opportunity along a postcard-perfect stretch of Pacific coast we've told readers about…where lush, green virgin tropical forest tumbles down to white-sand beaches. The weather and topography here are ideal…and you can grab a lot for less than $40,000 or a condo that looks like it should cost $1 million—for just $195,000.

As an International Living reader, you'll know exactly where the deals like that are. And how—even with very little in the bank—you can take advantage of them.

The Retirement You Always Dreamed of…for 13 Cents a Day

Agree to take a trial look at International Living today, and you will receive the Annual Global Retirement Index, FREE, but you'll also pay only $129 per year for 12 monthly issues delivered to your doorstep!

That's just 35 cents a day. And that's not all. If you act now—I'll send along something extra, too...

** Special Bonus **
The Ultimate Overseas Shortcut: How (and Where) to Retire Better, Travel Smarter, and Enjoy the Good Life for Less Yours FREE Today

When you take me up on this offer now—I'm going to toss in an extra something for you…a FREE copy of a unique report called The Ultimate Overseas Shortcut: How (and Where) to Retire Better, Travel Smarter, and Enjoy the Good Life for Less, (yours FREE with this special offer).

While in the U.S. today a comfortable retirement is rapidly becoming a luxury only the very wealthy can afford…in the best-value spots overseas, it really IS possible to use a modest retirement income to fund a full life rich with adventure and travel.

When you know the right shortcuts, you can live large…and effectively double, or even triple your disposable income. Doesn't matter if you're ready to live full-time abroad or just want to take advantage of smart opportunities overseas for travel or part-time living.

In The Ultimate Overseas Shortcut, we show you how you can do things like—

  • Stay for free, in luxury, in some of the world's best destinations—Tuscan farmhouses… English heritage homes…luxury Costa Rican villas… Caribbean Ocean retreats…when you know how, you can spend a few weeks or a few months at a time, no charge.
  • Snowbird escapes on the beach, including where you can rent a fully furnished, beachside condo with three bedrooms and an ocean view for $410 a month. It comes with amenities like access to a pool, squash court, and tennis court.
  • Get paid $500 a day exploring the world's best locales—places you've always wanted to go—doing something you probably already do anyway.
  • Cruise to Europe for up to 70% off standard prices…
  • Plus we share eight great-value spots we like where you can live like royalty on less than $30,000 a year—from beach retreats to big cities to highland villages. You have excellent options and we point you to them and hand you the shortcuts you need to identify the spots that might be best for you.

The Ultimate Overseas Shortcut: How (and Where) to Retire Better, Travel Smarter, and Enjoy the Good Life for Less, (value: $29) is yours FREE with this special offer.

Recommendations Worth Thousands… Yours for Pennies on the Dollar

Living Better than Ever

A couple we know had been living in the Ventura-Santa Barbara area of California. Life was good there, but it was also hectic, stress-filled, and expensive.

Now—in one of the places overseas near the top of our Global Retirement Index—their costs are about 40% of what they paid to live in the U.S. And they haven't sacrificed a thing. In fact, they're living better than ever.

Their home, near a crystal-blue brook, overlooks the 9th hole of a lovely golf course. Their windows open to lush, green-valley vistas. The nearby community center houses a state-of-the-art spa and health club. They've got high-speed Internet, satellite television, gourmet food…all the comforts of home, but at a fraction of the price.

“It's a lot like the U.S. was back in the 1950s, when I was a kid,” says this expat who's living in one of the world's top havens.

You know, the opportunities we deliver in the pages of International Living every month and in the wealth of solutions and secrets we've got catalogued on-line could be worth thousands—even tens of thousands—of dollars for you.

Both in savings…and in potential gains.

They've proven their worth many times over for thousands of readers.

Folks who, today, have their nest eggs tucked away in a beachfront home or in a cosmopolitan escape in a burgeoning market…people living like royalty on a Social Security income…

They're everyday folks enjoying a caviar lifestyle on a hot dog budget, employing a maid to clean, traveling and loving an adventure-filled life…

And you could be, too…

All you have to do is give International Living a try. It's guaranteed.

Our Good-Will, Good-Value Guarantee

Once you see our magazine for yourself, I feel confident you'll agree: It delivers you a world you just don't find anywhere else.

But if you decide the good-living, good-value opportunities International Living profiles every month aren't for you after all, just let us know and we'll send you a refund on your un-mailed issues. No questions. No fuss.

The Special Bonuses are yours to keep, with my compliments. With this special deal, you receive…

  • A full year of International Living delivered to your door (value: $129)
  • Special Digital Report #1: The Global Retirement Index
  • Special Digital Report #2: The Ultimate Overseas Shortcut: How (and Where) to Retire Better, Travel Smarter, and Enjoy the Good Life for Less (value: $29, yours free today)

All told, this offer hands you $158 worth of live-better, travel-smarter, profit-more, retire-sooner advice and guidance from International Living for just $129.

If you're like many folks these days—not entirely sure your retirement savings will go the distance…or not sure where to put your nest egg so it's safe and growing…

Then I encourage you to give International Living a try right now.

Wouldn't it be nice to know that while most Americans are feeling pinched, you could relax and breathe easy? We'd like to show you how fun and easy it really can be.

Six Months from Now, You Could Be Living Large on a Whole Lot Less than You Spend Now

The truth of the matter is: An international lifestyle isn't just for the rich and famous. It's for anybody willing to take advantage of the best-value opportunities in welcoming communities around the globe.

And it's our mission at International Living to help you do just that!

With our annual Global Retirement Index in hand, we can help you find the place that makes the most sense given your own personal priorities…

Whether you're looking for a friendly, good-value city…beach…highland retreat…historic colonial enclave…or lakeside getaway…we can point you to your best options on the planet today.

I hope you'll take me up on this offer to gain access to the Annual Global Retirement Index now along with full International Living subscriber benefits…and your special report, too.

Click below to activate your subscription today and put yourself on the path to the good life overseas.


Jackie Flynn

Jackie Flynn,
Publisher, International Living

P.S. Seeking out your own dream retirement in a place where you can live a comfortable life for little…investing ahead of the crowds and profiting from the upswing…

What those ideas have in common is good value. Nobody wants to pay more than they have to—for anything.

I know I don't. And that's why I've designed this special welcome for International Living this way.

Check out our annual Global Retirement Index and all the subscriber benefits of International Living today and we'll put you on the path toward the place that's “just right” for you.

Please Note: This is an Auto renew offer.

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