Interesting Places You Should Consider for Retirement
By 2030 almost 18 percent of Americans will be 65 or older, according to Pew Research Center population projections, as the post-World War II Baby Boomers continue to pass what’s popularly considered retirement age.
Where will all these retirees live? We’ve got some interesting places to consider.
The cities on this list were chosen for their access to outdoor activities, as well as arts, cultural events and other factors. Retirees often express a wish to take courses or pick up studies in their golden years, so one of the criteria for cities on the list is their proximity to colleges and universities.
Many of the cities mentioned already have a large older population, so seniors moving there will be able to find ready-made networks of other retirees, making it easier to find new friends, get referrals for doctors and find businesses and services that cater to older people. In general, house prices (pulled from Zillow) and the cost of living in these places is lower than the national average.
Otherwise, they’ve got some intangibles that should appeal to retirees looking for a little bit of something special during their retirement years.
Real estate: The median home value in Eugene is $296,500. Eugene home values have gone up 6 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Festivals, Nature, Outdoor Life
Eugene’s official city slogan is “A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors.” With a population of 160,000 and a median house price of $250,000, Eugene is best-known for its outdoor life and natural environment. Bicycling, jogging, rafting and kayaking are popular.
Eugene is also close to numerous lakes, waterfalls and hot springs, as well as two ski resorts. The city sits near the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers, which give Eugene its Mediterranean climate, with warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters.
Originally a timber town, Eugene has also emerged as a high-tech center. Many organic food manufacturers, such as Yogi Tea, are also based here. Annual festivals include the Microbrew Festival, the Oregon Festival of American Music and the Oregon Bach Festival.
Eugene is home to numerous museums, performing art centers, concert halls and live theater groups, as well as Columbia College and the University of Oregon.
Real estate: The median home value in Billings is $223,900. Billings home values have gone up 7.4 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Food Scene, Nature, Outdoor Life, Urban Life
If you’re into the outdoors, this might be the town for you. Outside Magazine rated Billings as one of the best places to live in 2016, given its small population and access to both the outdoors and a rich urban life.
Near Billings is the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, popular for hiking and camping, and a 35-mile network of bike trails. Anglers and water sports enthusiasts can choose between the Stillwater, Yellowstone and Bighorn Rivers. Yellowstone National Park is a three-hour drive away.
Best of all, Billings is affordable, with median house price of $223,600, according to Zillow. Billings, surrounded by fertile farmland, is giving birth to a food renaissance, with an explosion of small craft breweries, bistros and restaurants. Billings has a good offering of arts and live music, as well as a heritage center that displays local historical artifacts. Ancient rock pictographs can be found just outside of town.
Real estate: The median home value in Denver is $414,500. Denver home values have gone up 6.9 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Culture, Food Scene, Nature, Sports Urban Life
One of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., with a population near a half a million, Denver is rich with cultural events, food and sports. Its proximity to the Rocky Mountains means ample skiing, biking, hiking and other activities. Denver offers year-round outdoor activities, from hiking, running, fishing, rafting and skiing, as well as a citywide system of parks and botanical gardens.
The city’s lively arts scene features museums, theatres and galleries, and its food scene boasts a great selection of restaurants, including ample breweries and craft beer options.
Denver is also home to the University of Colorado Hospital, the region’s only academic hospital, nationally ranked in eleven specialties, including geriatrics.
Given its efficient public transportation system, Denver is a walkable and bikeable city, so you don’t need a car to live here. Denver is also a major transport hub for the Midwest region, for bus, train and plane, making it easy to get around both the region and the country.
Iowa City, Iowa
Real estate: The median home value in Iowa City is $219,800. Iowa City home values have gone up 6.6 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Parks
Chosen as a UNESCO City of Literature, Iowa City is truly a city of literary institutions such as the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Iowa City Book Festival. The city has a lively arts scene that includes jazz and music festivals, as well as a yearly Summer of the Arts program.
With median house prices around $200,000, the cost of living in Iowa City sits right on the national average. Plenty of parks and green spaces helped Iowa City earn “Silver” status as a bicycle-friendly community.
On the financial front, the state of Iowa doesn’t tax Social Security income and gives tax breaks for other types of retirement income.
Bella Vista, Arkansas
Real estate: The median home value in Bella Vista is $163,600. Bella Vista home values have gone up 2.8 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Outdoor Life, Private Lakes
First established in 1917, Bella Vista was purpose built as a summer resort town, and contains seven lakes and seven golf courses. The city, nestled in the Ozark Mountains, also has a marina, a beach, numerous parks and swimming pools.
Bella Vista elected to become a retirement community in 1965 and almost half the current population is over 65. With less than 30,000 people living here and a median house price of $167,000, Bella Vista is still a small community but is growing rapidly as more young families move into the area.
The city is unusual in that only residents and guests are allowed to use the lakes. In 2016, Bella Vista officially opened 40 miles of hiking and biking trails, the first section in what will ultimately be a 150-mile circuit of trails in and around the city.
San Marcos, Texas
Real estate: The median home value in San Marcos is $205,700. San Marcos home values have gone up 8.8 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Education, Food Scene, History, Outdoor Life, Shopping
Lying between San Antonio and Austin, San Marcos is a more affordable option to the trend of increasingly expensive small Texas cities (think Austin). With a population just over 60,000, and a median house price of $272,000, the cost of living is less than the national average, the crime rate is low and there’s no state income tax.
San Marcos, aka to some as San Marvelous, offers a mix of outlet malls and Victorian-era historic buildings, with a historic downtown district bustling with locally owned shops, live music venues, coffee houses, bistros and art galleries. The National Register of Historic Places lists over 40 local homes and buildings. The outlet malls provide one of the main sources of tourism for the city, with over six million people visiting them annually.
The city lies on the San Marcos River, which teems year-round with canoeists, anglers and swimmers. Texas State University is based here and anyone over the age of 65 can audit classes for free.
Sun City, Arizona
Real estate: The median home value in Sun City is $168,100. Sun City home values have gone up 8.1 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Golf, Sunshine
Sun City lies within the Phoenix metropolitan area, and has a neighboring sister city, known as Sun City West. Both are popular with retirees, given the dry desert climate and year-round sunshine of Arizona. Sun City has a population of around 40,000 and the median house price is about $165,000.
The city was built in 1960 as a retirement community. Local housing regulations mandate that each residence in Sun City must have at least one household member over 55, and no members under 19. The city has eight golf courses.
Real estate: The median home value in Pittsburgh is $142,800. Pittsburgh home values have gone up 11.7 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Education, Volunteering
Pittsburgh is easy to get around on foot or by bike, and has a high level of volunteerism. The median house price is $129,000 and the cost of living below the national average. Another financial plus: Pennsylvania also exempts retirement funds from state income tax.
Once known as the “Steel City” because of its manufacturing base, Pittsburgh is now a high-tech center, with companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and IBM putting offices here. With well-known schools such as the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, Duquesne and Chatham universities, Pittsburgh is home to a total of 68 colleges and universities.
A broad selection of museums, medical centers, parks, research centers, libraries and cultural districts contribute to Pittsburgh being considered one of the leading arts centers in the country. The Economist regularly selects Pittsburgh as one of the ten most livable cities in America.
Asheville, North Carolina
Real estate: The median home value in Asheville is $273,800. Asheville home values have gone up 4.7 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Architecture, Arts, History, Outdoor Life, Sports
Asheville is best known for its historic pre-Civil War architecture and growing art scene, including galleries, museums and former factory buildings that have been turned into artist studios. This city of just under 100,000 people lies nestled in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, near several national forests and the Great Smoky Mountains. Golf, soccer and whitewater kayaking are popular local sports.
Asheville holds numerous music and folk festivals each year. In addition, the city is home to a symphony orchestra and opera company, as well as a thriving dance community. And live theater. The Asheville Community Theatre was set up in 1946 by a young actor named Charlton Heston.
Asheville has a median house price of $255,000, no state income tax on Social Security and good air quality, as well as numerous doctors.
Real estate: The median home value in Burlington is $299,700. Burlington home values have declined 1.5 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Education, History, Ice Cream, Outdoor Life, Sports, Volunteering
If you don’t mind cold winters, or you love to ski, Burlington might be the place to consider retiring. This town of 42,000 people with well-preserved historical buildings lies on Lake Champlain, near Vermont’s Green Mountains. Burlington has a high number of doctors per capita, good air quality, and is both walkable and bikeable.
The city boasts a low crime rate, strong volunteering culture and is home to the University of Vermont, Champlain College and Vermont’s largest hospital, the UVM Medical Center. In 2015, Burlington became the first U.S. city to run entirely on renewable energy. The iconic Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brand was founded here in 1978 in a former gas station.
The American Association of Retired Persons has labeled Burlington as one of the top places in America for older residents based on the city’s livability. Burlington has a lively arts scene and its civic government includes an official arts department for showcasing art and cultural events, known as Burlington City Arts. The median house price is $273,000.
Real estate: The median home value in Jacksonville is $165,300. Jacksonville home values have gone up 8.5 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Beaches, Golf, Outdoor Life, Sunshine, Urban Life
Florida has long been popular with retirees, given its golden sand beaches and sub-tropical climate. Lying 340 miles north of Miami, Jacksonville is blessed with both beaches and a deep-water port. The area is home to naval bases and the third-largest military community in the United States. Tourism is also a big industry; the city's known for its golf tourists.
Jacksonville has the largest system of parks, wetlands and waterways in the nation, with more than 80,000 acres all within city limits. Water sports such as boating, swimming, fishing, sailing, jet skiing, surfing and waterskiing are popular. Jacksonville is also home to a wide range of museums, art galleries and performing art centers, as well as a flourishing music scene. Jazz musician Ray Charles and singer Pat Boone both got their start here.
Florida is another state that doesn’t tax retirement income, and Jacksonville has a median house price of $158,000.
Real estate: The median home value in Rochester is $217,700. Home values have gone up 9.1 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Culture, Education, Nature, Outdoor Life, World Class Medical Care
Rochester is home to the Mayo Clinic, the country’s largest non-profit medical facility. The city’s doctor-to-patient ratio is in the top 10 percent for the country, largely due to the city’s booming medical tourism business. The city also has an international airport and a campus of the University of Minnesota.
Rochester is just an hour’s drive from twin cities Minneapolis-St. Paul, with their world-class museums, fine dining, sports and theatre. But you don’t need to go far for great cultural and artistic experiences: Rochester has a 100-year-old Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, as well as a summer-long Market and Music Festival.
The area also offers a wide range of year-round outdoor activities, including skiing, fishing, boating and golf. The Quarry Hill Nature Center has 329 acres of hiking and biking trails which turn into cross-country ski and snowshoe trails in the winter.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Real estate: The median home value in Ann Arbor is $364,200. Home values have risen 9.2 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Culture, Education, Food Scene, Literary Life, Nature, World Class Medical Care
While Ann Arbor’s median house price is higher than many other places on the list, crime rates remain low and the state of Michigan limits or exempts taxes on pensions.
This city made Liveability’s Top One Hundred Best Places to Live for five years running, and this year, made it to the top. Home to the University of Michigan, and its medical center, the city ranks high for both education and medical care.
Ann Arbor hosts a well-known art fair in July that attracts almost half a million visitors. A revitalized downtown offers a wide choice of restaurants, cafes, bookshops, galleries, upmarket thrift stores and live music venues, and the city is known for its craft beer breweries.
Once home to over 20 bookstores, including the now-vanished Borders Books, which got its start in this city, Ann Arbor continues the literary tradition with frequent live readings, author events and book clubs.
The city has a vibrant outdoor life in warmer months, and miles of walking, running and biking trails. The Huron River, which winds through the city, is popular for kayaking, tubing and swimming. Gallup Park is a widely-used leafy green sixty-nine-acre open space near the heart of the city, with a dedicated band shell for symphony and musical performances.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Real estate: The median home value in Sioux Falls is $185,600. Home values have risen 7.2 percent over the past year
Retirees can enjoy: Nature, Outdoor Life, Shopping, World Class Health Care
Low crime rates and a high rankings on lists of affordable places to live in America make Sioux Falls a good place to consider for retirement. South Dakota doesn’t tax income or Social Security benefits. The city was rated the top spot in the country for health care, according to a study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Home prices and the cost of living are below the national average.
Because of the long, cold winters, many residents turn to indoor pursuits in the colder months. Sioux Falls is home to the Empire Mall, a 1.3 million-square-foot shopping center, that attracts up to seven million visitors annually, a butterfly house and more than 650 restaurants.
The city sits along the Big Sioux River, and has more than 70 parks and golf courses, including the one-hundred-twenty-three-acre Falls Parks, which has a café, observation tower and historic mill overlooking waterfalls. The Stockyards Ag Experience is a museum and learning center inside the park that highlights the state’s agriculture and dairy history.
Real estate: The median home value in Boise is $272,400. Home values have gone up 14.3 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Breweries, Culture, Nature, Outdoor Life
If you’re active and enjoy an outdoor lifestyle, Boise may be a good fit for you. The city features a surrounding twenty-five-mile greenbelt, great for biking, walking or running. There are also 104 parks in and around the city, covering over 2,000 acres, so you can always find a spot for a picnic or a brisk walk with friends.
The city has low crime rates and five major hospitals, and the state of Idaho doesn’t tax Social Security payments.
The Boise River is popular for fishing, rafting and kayaking. Miles of bike trails wind along the banks. In the winter, Bogus Basin, located in the Boise National Forest just 16 miles away, offers alpine skiing and snowboarding runs, as well as Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. Bogus is operated as a non-profit by the city, which keeps ticket prices low, and there are additional ski resorts a few hours away.
In warmer months, cultural offerings include the Idaho Shakespeare Festival and the Gene Harris Jazz Festival. Boise also has a Philharmonic Orchestra and several theatre companies, as well as an annual comedy festival.
Dozens of breweries are based in the region, and have given rise to the Boise Ale Trail, a free app that encourages locals and visitors to try all the local beers on offer.
Real estate: The median home value in Anchorage is $339,700. Anchorage home values have gone up 0.2 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Festivals, Food Scene, Nature, Northern Lights, Outdoor Life, Urban Life
If you love the outdoors and don’t mind cold weather, Alaska may be the place for you to retire. With thousands of lakes and rivers, as well as a long shoreline, fishing, kayaking, sailing and boating are popular. Alaska is renowned for wildlife and bird watching, as well as for its Northern Lights, glaciers and spectacular scenery.
Not only is there no sales or income tax in Alaska, but seniors receive an exemption for (part of) their property tax. In addition, the state pays people to live in Alaska: a yearly mineral royalties dividend of roughly $2,000 to each resident. Numerous small breweries and distilleries are based here and Anchorage hosts annual folk, art, music and cultural festivals.
The number of seniors living in the state is increasing, although the total population density is very low, one person per square mile. Rents start at about $1,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment and house prices are higher than the national average.
Real estate: The median home value in Orlando is $237,900. Orlando home values have gone up 9.7 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Food Scene, Golf, Outdoor Life, Sunshine, Theme Parks, Urban Life
If you prefer warmer climates, Orlando might be a good place to consider. Year-round sunshine, Disney World and balmy temperatures are Orlando’s best-known offerings. While there may be a lack of beaches in the area, outdoor activities here include walking, hiking, water sports and golf (170 courses).
This metro area of more than two million people has a performing arts center, four professional sports teams, and plenty of concerts and festivals on offer. A wide range of restaurants and markets in the area mean that Orlando is a very healthy place for eating out.
The city has a wide range of senior housing choices and Florida doesn’t charge state income tax. Rentals start at $600 for one-bedroom apartments.
Real estate: The median home value in Nashville is $262,600. Nashville home values have gone up 8.3 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Education, Music, Urban Life
If you love music, consider retiring to Nashville. In addition to being a center for country music, the city boasts plenty of jazz and blues venues, and many places have open-mic and songwriter nights. This metro area of almost 2 million also has a thriving arts scene with an opera, ballet, musicals and theater.
The city is home to Vanderbilt University, which has the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, offering non-credit courses to anyone over 50. Vanderbilt Medical Center is one of the leading academic medical centers in the region.
A recent city partnership with the Urban Land Institute is leading to the creation of more open green spaces and parklands in Nashville.
Monthly rentals start at $700 for a two-bedroom house. The state also offers property tax breaks for seniors.
Charleston, South Carolina
Real estate: The median home value in Charleston is $321,800. Charleston home values have gone up 8.4 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Beaches, Food Scene, History, Urban Life
Originally founded in 1670, the historic city of Charleston sits on a deep-water harbor in the Atlantic Ocean, and has a large number of historic buildings, churches and Civil War sites, including Fort Sumter.
Charleston’s active Preservation Society ensures that the city’s architectural legacy remains very much alive. Charleston’s thriving arts scene is as old as its houses, having both the oldest theatre in America (1736) and the oldest community theatre company in the state. To these, the city has since added a ballet company, symphony orchestra, museums and art galleries.
Blessed with a mild climate year-round, Charleston has miles of beachfront: three within 20 minutes of downtown. Charleston is also famous for its Low Country cuisine, a fusion of Southern comfort food and seafood.
For medical care, Charleston has six facilities, including a teaching hospital at the Medical University of South Carolina, and Trident Health System, known for its cardiac care and sleep disorders clinic.
One-bedroom monthly rentals start at $895.
Real estate: The median home value in Austin is $363,400. Austin home values have gone up 9.8 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Food Scene, Music, Outdoor Life, Sunshine, Urban Life
This city ranks as the best place to live in America and the fourth-best place to retire by U.S. News & World Report. Billed as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin is home to the Austin City Limits music festival, as well as South by Southwest, a film, media and music festival.
With hot summers and mild winters, the climate is another draw. Austinites love the outdoors and the city has more than 250 parks for hiking, biking and jogging, as well as the Colorado River and lakes for kayaking, swimming and boating. Austin also loves dogs. The city has 12 parks where dogs can happily run off-leash.
Austin’s economy is healthy and it is considered one of the best cities in the country for tech and tech start-ups. Apple, Dell, Google, Intel, Facebook and others have offices here.
Austin is also home to the Seton and St. David’s Medical Centers. Seton offers heart and stroke units, and St. David’s specializes in hip and knee replacements. Seniors over 65 can take tuition-free credit courses at the University of Texas.
With median monthly rents at $1,098, Austin is certainly more affordable than many other American cities. State and local taxes are low. and Texas doesn’t charge personal income tax to residents.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Real estate: The median home value in Grand Rapids is $157,900. Grand Rapids home values have gone up 13.6 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Food Scene, Urban Life
This metro area of over one million people is widely known for two things: art and craft breweries.
Situated along the Grand River in Michigan, Grand Rapids is home to numerous artists and musicians, art museums, a 200-acre sculpture park, murals, art walking tours and numerous galleries. The city gives away $500,000 in arts funding every year through its ArtPrize awards. Grand Rapids is home to the Kendall College of Art & Design and 14 other colleges and universities.
Grand Rapids has a Beer City Ale Trail that features tours and tastings at dozens of small breweries. The city also has a live music trail, a symphony, a ballet company and comedy and theater companies. There are more than 1,200 acres of parkland, and Lake Michigan is less than an hour away.
The cost of living is lower than many other urban areas, with median monthly apartment rentals at $786.
U.S. News & World Report ranks Grand Rapids the sixth-best place to retire in the U.S. Thirteen percent of the local population is 65 or older.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Real estate: The median home value in Salt Lake City is $394,400. Salt Lake City home values have gone up 18.1 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Outdoor Life, Skiing, Urban Life
Salt Lake City is very much an outdoor city: warm and sunny in the summer and cold and snowy in the winters, with ski resorts nearby. The economy is very healthy and the local University of Utah generates a vital start-up culture in the city, a plus for people who are considering working past retirement age.
Salt Lake City is also a great place for longevity, according to a “Journal of the American Medical Association” study. Men here live to an average age of 86.6, and women to 89. Having three top-rated hospitals and two universities with health sciences programs (Brigham Young University, University of Utah) may help.
Salt Lake City is home to the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, a host of smaller art galleries, the Utah Symphony and Opera, Ballet West and numerous smaller dance and theatre companies. Summer cultural offerings include the Utah Arts Festival and Twilight Concert Series.
A light rail system and bike sharing programs means that you can get around the city without a car.
Rent for two-bedroom town houses start at $910 a month, while house prices are higher than the national average.
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Real estate: The median home value in La Crosse is $152,200. La Crosse home values have gone up 8.3 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Outdoor Life
Located on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River in Wisconsin, the small city of La Crosse has a population of just over 50,000, and is situated in the middle of gently rolling green hills. With plenty of open space, bike paths, hiking trails, golf courses, water sports and skiing in winter, La Crosse is the perfect place for an active retirement.
La Crosse has a regional arts center, a community theater, a symphony and three local colleges and universities, including a branch of the University of Wisconsin.
The city has a smaller branch of the Mayo Clinic and the main hospital center is an hour’s drive from La Crosse. Large urban centers Minneapolis-St Paul and Madison are close. Residents say La Crosse has a small Midwestern-town feel.
Median monthly rentals are about $750.
Real estate: The median home value in Wenatchee is $294,200. Wenatchee home values have gone up 14.7 percent over the past year.
Retirees can enjoy: Outdoor Life
Wenatchee is a small city on the Columbia and Wenatchee Rivers. As you would expect from a city in this state, there are several state parks and national forests nearby, and year-round outdoor activities. Water sports are popular. The city rests on the drier side of the Cascade Mountains, so it doesn’t receive the rainfall of wetter cities nearby.
The cost of living and house prices sit right on the national average, monthly rental for a one-bedroom about $800.
In addition, according to Forbes Magazine, Wenatchee has a low crime rate, a high number of doctors, a healthy economy and low unemployment, for anyone wanting to continue to work in later years.
Many American retirees are choosing to head abroad, and become either part-time or full-time residents of countries where the cost of housing, food and health care is much cheaper than in the United States. Here are three Latin American countries that are becoming popular with American retirees, as well as six others in Asia, Europe and South America.
Retirees can enjoy: Expat Life, Outdoor Life, Sunshine, Urban Life
A lush, tropical country in Central America, Panama has become one of the most popular places for Americans to retire. With a stable political and economic outlook, Panama combines a low crime rate with a low cost of living. A couple can look forward to spending about $2,000 per month for all their housing and living costs.
Beautiful beaches and mountains attract outdoors lovers, and a capital city brimming with arts and culture draws those with more urban interests.
Panama offers a retirement visa to anyone over 18 who can show a retirement income of at least $1,000 per month. (If you buy a property or land in the country, your minimum monthly income requirement drops to $750.)
Panama also offers good, affordable health care for retirees, with basic insurance plans for about $145 a month for a couple in their 60s.
Retirees can enjoy: Expat Life, Outdoor Life, Sunshine, Urban Life
As with Panama, you just need a monthly income of at least $1,000 to qualify for a retirement visa. Most Americans who live here choose to rent a home or condo, and pay between $300-850 a month on rent, in a city. Housing in rural areas is much cheaper.
Some retires choose to buy a home in Costa Rica, with an average house costing about $75,000. With a stable democracy and perfect tropical weather year round, Costa Rica offers modern shopping malls, good health care and high-speed Internet, along with beautiful beaches and unspoiled rainforest.
Retirees can enjoy: Cultural Diversity, Food Scene, Nature, Outdoor Life, Urban Life
Malaysia is a former British colony, so English is widely spoken. Although Malaysia is officially a Muslim country, it is also home to Malays, Chinese, Hindus and Sikhs and considered liberal.
Malaysia comes in at the top of the “Entertainment and Amenities” list put together by International Living, largely due to the amazing food scene. In addition to a long tradition of Chinese, Malay and Indian “hawker” food, young Malaysians are embracing a new sustainable, organic food movement. A range of vegetarian and fusion eateries have opened in the cities, catering to locals and tourists.
In Malaysia, a retired couple can live comfortably on $1,500 a month, which includes rent, utilities, frequent eating out, as well as activities such as yoga or golf. Health care standards are the same as the U.S., but with costs up to 90 percent less, which drives a booming medical tourism industry. Malaysia has launched an emigrant program, called “Malaysia My Second Home” which allows foreigners to stay on a long-term visa for up to ten years, and then apply for permanent residency.
The country has a range of micro-climates, from white sand beaches to high-altitude, cool mountain retreats, to pristine rainforest, including the UNESCO heritage-listed Kota Kinabalu Park, home to over 4,500 species of plants and animals. Malaysia’s climate is tropical, with distinct wet and dry seasons, and warm to hot, humid weather year round.
The country has several UNESCO listed-heritage sites, including the island of Penang, the city of Malacca and colonial Georgetown.
Retirees can enjoy: Beaches, Expat Life, Outdoor Life, Sunshine, Urban Life
Despite a turbulent political past, this small South American country has emerged as a stable and low-cost retirement haven for Americans. International Living Magazine named this country the fourth-best place in the world to retire (after Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama). Ecuador’s official currency is the U.S. dollar, so there are no fees for changing money.
Two people can live comfortably in Ecuador for less than $20,000 a year, which covers the cost of rent for a spacious apartment, weekly maid service, gym and yoga memberships, and frequent dining out. Ecuadorian people are family-oriented, spend a lot time with friends and generally have a more relaxed attitude to life.
The process of obtaining resident or pensioner visas is fairly easy – as long as you can show a minimum monthly income of at least $800 – and requires about one to two months to obtain.
Ecuador is rich in natural beauty, with a range of landscapes from tropical beaches, to dense rainforest, to mountain ranges, and is home to the Galapagos Islands, where Darwin first postulated his theory of evolution. The climate is generally sunny and warm.
A new international airport opened recently just outside the city of Quito, making travel to and from the States much easier.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Beaches, Cultural Diversity, Expat Life, Food Scene, Outdoor Life, Urban Life
Peru is another South American country that is becoming a popular retirement destination. The country stretches along the western coast of South America, between Ecuador and Chile. The landscape is diverse, from the high altiplano where herds of wild llama roam in the Andes Mountains, to the lush Amazon basin and cloud forests, to the semi-arid coast and beaches.
Best-known for ancient Inca ruins, such as Machu Picchu, and historic Spanish colonial cities, such as Cusco, Peru is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the region. The food reflects the country’s history starting with traditional Incan, combined with Spanish conquest and Chinese immigration, to produce a spicy fusion cuisine based around corn, potatoes, cheese, chili, stews and roasted meats. Highlights include Peru’s national dish, ceviche, marinated sea bass, and the national drink, pisco sour.
The capital city, Lima, has a wide range of art galleries, museums, theaters and a busy international airport.
Rentals on two-bedroom apartments start at $250 and a retired couple can live on about $1,000 per month. Peru offers a special visa for emigrants and retirees, called the Rentista visa. You can obtain residency after three years in Peru, and citizenship after eight. People who hold the Rentista visa are exempt from paying income or pension tax. Peru has a good network of private hospitals and clinics, and health insurance plans start at $100 a month.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Beaches, Expat Life, Nature, Outdoor Life, Urban Life
Once plagued by civil war and drug violence, this South American country is now stable and thriving, and fast moving up the list of desirable places close to the U.S. to retire. International Living rated Colombia number six on their list, writing that the country is both “sophisticated and affordable.”
Colombia is one of the most bio-diverse nations in the world, and has a range of climates from hot, tropical beachside living to cooler mountain areas, with lots of lush green forest.
The Colombian lifestyle is healthy and outdoor focused, due to the mild weather. Most people walk or bike daily and eat a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables. Colombian society is very family and community focused.
A retired couple can live comfortably in Colombia for less than $2,000 a month. Applying for a Colombian retirement visa is easy and can be done online. Retirees need to show a monthly income of at least $723. The retirement visa is valid for a year, and after five years, retirees are eligible to apply for residency.
The World Health Organization ranks Colombia No. 22 (of 191) for good quality and affordable health care, better than either Canada or the U.S.
Retirees can enjoy: Culture, Low-Cost Health Care, Food Scene, Nature, Outdoor Life, Sunshine, Urban Life
Portugal is considered Western Europe’s most affordable country, with living costs about a third that of the U.S. A couple can expect to spend from $1,700 to $2,200 a month to live. The country is small, nestled next to its larger neighbor, Spain. You can drive the length of Portugal in less than six hours.
The country was ranked third on the list of safest countries in the world in 2017, according to International Living.
Portugal, like many countries in Europe, has a public health service available at low cost, even to foreigners. Private health insurance costs about $90 a month for a couple.
Portugal’s infrastructure, including transportation, telecommunications, internet, roads and highway systems, is excellent. The country has extensive, low-cost public transport systems — rail, subway and bus — in the major cities and across the country, and three international airports.
With a mild, Mediterranean climate, Portugal tends to have more of an outdoor culture than many colder European countries. Seafood, vegetables, wine and olive oil – the healthy Mediterranean diet – are staples.
Portugal is rich in culture, with museums, concert halls, theaters, art galleries, libraries, restaurants, cafes, bars and much more.
Retirees can enjoy: Beaches, Expat Life, Low-Cost Health Care, Nature, Outdoor Life, Urban Life
Malta is the smallest country in the European Union, consisting of a chain of five islands in the Mediterranean near Italy. English and Maltese are the official languages. There’ a large expat community, and groups like InterNations and Malta Social have weekly meet-ups to help newcomers adjust and meet other expats.
Retirement visas are easy to obtain and entitle people to access discounted ferry and bus travel, as well as affordable health care. Monthly apartment rentals start at $250 on the smaller islands, up to $600 in the larger cities, such as Valletta. You can purchase a property starting at $140,000. Food and dining out are both inexpensive.
From Megalithic stone temples, to medieval and Baroque forts and churches, Malta is full of history to explore. The Maltese love festivals, and the islands host dozens of them annually, based around food, religion, music and many more.
Given that Malta is surrounded by ocean, swimming, snorkeling, sailing, kayaking and other water sports are popular. Malta’s location ensures a balmy, mild climate year round, with hot summers.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Beaches, Expat Life, Low-Cost Health Care, Nature, Outdoor Life, Urban Life
Spain is a mountainous country, with a climate characterized by semi-arid regions, cooler areas with winter snowfall and Mediterranean climate on the coasts.
Historically, Spain has a been a vibrant center for arts and crafts, from Moorish designs and architecture in the Middle Ages, to Baroque painters Velazquez and Goya, to modern artists such as Picasso and Dali, and the visionary architect Antoni Gaudi, synonymous with the city of Barcelona. Some of the world’s best art museums and collections are here, particularly in Madrid and Barcelona.
In addition, the Spanish love their food. Spain has been called the “perfect destination to indulge in food and wine, art and culture.”
In Madrid, Spain’s most expensive city, one person can live comfortably on about $1,450 per month, including rent. Retiring to a cheaper city, such as Valencia, will drop monthly costs by about $200. Spain has a national healthcare system and retirees can qualify for coverage.
Spain offers a special long-stay visa for retirement. After five years, retirees can apply for permanent residency, and after ten, Spanish (and EU) citizenship.
Retirees can enjoy: Expat Life, Outdoor Life, Sunshine, Urban Life
A retired couple can expect to spend just over $2,000 a month for all their living expenses in Mexico, including housing, utilities, food, health care and more. Mexico has the advantage of being next to the United States, which means visits home to see family and friends don’t involve extended travel.
People wishing to retire in Mexico need to show proof of retirement from their home country, as well as an income of at least $1,500 per month. Once these conditions are met, retirees are issued with a visa that allows them to stay in the country for an unlimited period of time. Another plus: Residents can sign up for the national healthcare plan at low rates.
Mexico City, Mexico
Population: 8.9 million
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Expat Life, Food Scene, History, Urban Life
If you’re looking for a particular place in Mexico, consider Mexico City. It’s rich with the country’s artistic, cultural and archeological history. With temples and ruins, museums, art galleries, a lively arts scene, many of the best restaurants in the country and an official language – Spanish – that is easy to learn, Mexico City is home to an estimated 700,000 Americans.
Mexico City International Airport is Latin America’s busiest airport with frequent, cheap flights to the U.S., so Americans living here are just a short plane ride away from family for holidays and visits.
Retirees can enjoy: Arts, Food Scene, “Game of Thrones” Vibe, History, Outdoor Life, Urban Life
Lying beside the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is a country rich in history. Ruins dating back to the Roman era, together with medieval walled cities and thick forests, give the country a northern Italian feel. A cuisine based around olive oil, cheese, wine and seafood speak to the region’s roots.
The city of Dubrovnik has a great balance of mild winters and dry summers, not to mention UNESCO World-Heritage status, beaches and over 1,000 islands off the coast. The city served as the main filming location for the popular TV drama “Game of Thrones.”
Outdoor activities include swimming, kayaking, sailing and boating. In the summer, the Dubrovnik Summer Festival offers music, dance and theater for 45 days. Croatia affords easy travel to other European destinations – Paris, Berlin and London are only a few hours away by plane.
The cost of living in Croatia is significantly less than much of Europe and the U.S., with monthly rents for a one-bedroom apartment ranging from $260-$350. Healthcare is of same standard as the U.S., although retirees need to purchase private health cover.
People wanting to live in Croatia need to first obtain a one-year temporary residence visa. After five years, visa holders can apply for permanent residency.