Friday, October 21, 2011

Cheap & Exotic: 8 Great Places to Retire Abroad

Cheap & Exotic: 8 Great Places to Retire Abroad

by Richard Eisenberg | Sep 7, 2010

Whether your inspiration is Hemingway in Paris, Kerouac in Tangiers, or some other generation of American expats, there’s something oh-so-romantic about retiring abroad. There’s also a practical consideration: A buck goes a lot farther in Costa Rica. At a time when nearly half of Americans approaching retirement age don’t have enough dollars stashed away, the best retirement planning decision you can make might be to change planes in Florida instead of settling there. More than 500,000 retirees live overseas, and the number is increasing.

To make your expat dreams a reality, however, will take a whole lot of research. The easy path is to flock to Boca with all those other snowbirds; it’s quite another thing to head off to a place where English isn’t spoken everywhere, the water may or may not be potable and SportsCenter isn’t even one of the premium channels. If you complain about Obamacare, just wait till you need to get cataract surgery in a hospital that doesn’t take Visa.

The good news is that there are scads of Web sites, media outlets, authors, and bloggers who can help guide you to the best, most affordable places. CBS reviewed recommendations from the most prominent list makers for their best advice and favorite destinations. We’ve also put together a list of sources for further research, and explained how to use them.
Most Recommended Countries

First, the bottom line: The eight countries or regions below came up repeatedly as great, affordable places to live, based on recommendations from International Living, AARP, Forbes, U.S News, Kiplinger’s, Retiring-Overseas, and Global Post — as well as from expat Barry Golson, author of Retirement Without Borders and Gringos in Paradise.


Currency tied to dollar; retiree discounts; some hospitals have U.S. affiliations; favorable tax treatment on earned income and new homes

You may need to travel for top medical care; rural and quiet in many spots; some corruption and infrastructure issues


Currency tied to dollar; super cheap; rated Top Retirement Haven by International Living; beaches; hiking

Limited health care outside major cities; political instability; some crime pockets


Great beaches; Montevideo rated best in Mercer’s 2009 South America Quality of Living city rankings

You may want to head back to U.S. for serious medical issues; may be too quiet for urbanites


Easy to visit U.S.; many expats; good health care near big cities; can import household goods tax-free

Avoid border towns due to drug cartels; expect petty crime and corruption

Costa Rica

Good economy; retirement income and real estate profits are untaxed; beaches and birdwatching; lush Central Valley

More expensive than other Central American countries; infrastructure is straining; Golson rates food variety a C+


Food and culture; No. 1 in 2010 International Quality of Life Index; health care rated best by World Health Organization

High taxes and maddening bureaucracy; prices high in Paris, Riviera and Provence


European vibe; low housing prices; English spoken freely; wine and tango

Though inexpensive, it’s getting pricier; red tape; cold in the south


Food and culture; weather; best bargains are mostly in the south

Labor strikes; hot summers; big cities — and some regions aren’t cheap

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