If you are nearing retirement age, plan to retire early, or if you just like to think ahead, you may want to consider the best countries retire Americans.
There are many appealing countries to live in, and some countries you may want to avoid altogether.
Everyone has different ideas about what would make a perfect retirement destination, but there is some criteria that most of us would agree is important.
This list of top countries to retire to is based on various criteria. These are cost of living, favorable climate, quality and access of health care, access to a major airport or airports, and infrastructure.
In addition they feature low crime rate/safety, expat population, availability of technology such as internet access, cell phone coverage, proximity to shopping, restaurants, entertainment, stable economy, stable political situation, and ability to find work or start a business if necessary.
Proximity is another important consideration. I live in the U.S. so as a result, I give more points to destinations that are reasonably close to the States.
You may know how difficult, expensive, and time consuming it can be to find a convenient flight home from half way around the world, especially on short notice.
Something else to keep in mind with my list of best countries retire Americans is that within these countries are cities/areas that don’t fit the criteria I have put forth.
For instance, some cities, and areas have a higher cost of living, higher crime rates, etc., yet when the country is taken as a whole it still ranks as an appealing place to live/retire in.
Of course, you should do your due diligence once you have narrowed down your choices of where you might like to retire. I highly recommend that you schedule a visit so that you can see first hand how your location measures up.
Find and talk to expats that live in the area, and inquire with the locals regarding things that are important to you.
Since English is now spoken in most parts of the world, it is no longer a major concern if a different language is spoken in a foreign country.
Of course, it may be a good idea to learn the native language of your new country to make your transistion that much easier, and to help you bond with the native folks.
Ecuador is relatively small country in south America. It is in the northwest part of the continent.
It borders Colombia to the north, and Peru to the east, and south.
Quito is the capital. It has recently become a somewhat popular retirement destination for Americans, and Canadians.
The Ecuadorian city with the most expats is Cuenca. The largest city by population in Ecuador is Guayaquil.
Another appealing retirement city in Ecuador is Vilcabamba. This city has somewhat warmer temperatures than both Quito, and Cuenca.
Ecuador features the Galapagos Islands, sun splashed beaches, snow peaked volcanos, and the Amazon Jungle. The climate is spring like for most of the year.
The cost of living is affordable compared to the U.S. Expect to pay 30%-35% less for housing, either to rent or to buy than comparable U.S. offerings. Their healthcare system is high quality, and low cost.
The food is healthy and low cost with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, and other local dishes. There are many outdoor activities to enjoy thanks to the mild climate.
The larger cities offer cultural events, sporting events, and theatre. The pace of life is slower, and the people are friendly. There is also a good, cheap public transportation system.
There are no taxes charged on your income if it comes in to you from another country. You will only be charged an income tax in Ecuador if you work in the country.
It is also easy and reasonable to apply for, and become an Ecuadorian resident.
Belize is a small country in Central America. It borders the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico to the north, and Guatemala to the west and south.
To the east is the Caribbean Sea. Formerly British Honduras.
The largest city in Belize is Belize City. The capitol Belmopan is the third largest city.
Belize has a rich diversity of cultures that make up the country. The official language is English, but many other languages are spoken throughout the country.
With it’s lush jungles, sun soaked beaches, many islands and cays, the great Blue Hole, and fabulous reef system, it’s not hard to see why Belize is one of the most beloved destinations in the Caribbean.
There is also lazy running rivers, fertile farmland, rolling hills, and tropical rain forests. There are hundreds of small islands all along the coast.
With it’s Mayan ruins, and 150 mile long barrier reef, the second largest in the world, Belize offers many unique attractions. It offers some of the best diving in the world, and is know for it’s water sports offerings, sailing, fishing, wind surfing, as well as world class diving.
Just like the people of Belize, the food/cuisine is a mixture. It stems from European, North America, and Caribbean menus. There are many fine restaurants in the mainland, and on the cays and islands. The local produce is very inexpensive.
Belize’s tourism industry is very successful. Belize is a relatively safe country, based on interviews with expats. These diverse cultures include Germans, Chinese, Lebanese, Mayan, Mestozo, American, and Spanish cultures.
The cost of living is less than many other countries. There are some real estate bargains to be found. The northern beaches offer low prices for beachfront property, as well as other items.
Buying property in Belize is less risk than many other countries primarily due to the fact that it is an English speaking country.
All the paperwork is in English, and the process to buy property is very similar to that of the United States.
Healthcare is inexpensive, and all legal residents are entitled to receive free services from the state healthcare facilities. There are long waiting lines for the public services however.
Private care is available but for a higher cost, of course depending on your insurance company.
Checking out Belize to see if you would like to live there is relatively easy. A visa is not required for up to a month.
Extensions are available for only $25. This can be done for up to 6 months. It is also easy and inexpensive to become a resident.
Despite it’s former reputation as a hotbed for drug smuggling, and drug dealers, and crime rates, Columbia has recently become a popular retirement destination.
A strong U.S. dollar, outdoor excursions, and cultural activities, a surprisingly safe environment all make for an appealing retirement life.
If you enjoy nature, Columbia boasts over 50 national parks. It’s termperate climate close to the equator is ideal for outdoor activities all year round. Each day has 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness.
It has high quality, low cost healthcare and dental care with state of the art equipment, and facilities. With trained doctors, and modern hospitals it resembles the best of the U.S. and Canada.
Columbia boasts many colonial cities and towns on the Caribbean with beautiful beaches such as in Cartageena. The Andes mountain range is in the western part of the country.
Bogota is the capital city, but the most popular retirement city is Medellin.
The infrastructure includes good roads, safe public transportation, and up to date internet service technology and equipment.
The cost of living in Columbia is surprising low and affordable. There are many discounts for seniors on most products and services.
With low rent, affordable food costs, and very low utilities due to the climate where heat or air conditioning is not needed in most parts of the country. You can live quite well for $1000 – $1500 per month including rent.
There are no restrictions on foreign buyers for real estate, regardless if you are a resident or not. Buying real estate is roughly one third of what you would pay for comparable property in the United States.
The Columbia retirement visa is affordable, and easy to get. You also have to show proof of financial stability by showing an income of approximately $700 per month or more. All financial information needed can be sent via the internet.
Planning for Retirement is a Journey, not just a Destination
No matter your age, planning for retirement is just a smart thing to do.
The sooner you begin to plan financially, the better your retirement years can be.
There are many great retirement destinations, and havens, and it is fun to look at and evaluate countries that would make for a great retirement home.
Ecuador, Belize, and Columbia are 3 very tempting countries to retire in due to their many outstanding qualities. All 3 feature a low cost of living, comfortable climate, beaches, friendly natives, scenic landscapes, outdoor activities, cultural activities and events, and an expat population.
They also all have affordable and extensive food and restaurants, affordable and uncomplicated residency requirements, high quality and affordable health care, up to date technology, good infrastructure, international airports, and reasonable proximity to the United States.
So, do your research, plan a trip, talk to expats and other locals, travel within the country, experience the culture, sample the local fare, look at some property, make a pro/con list, and enjoy the process of picking your perfect retirement country.
Do you have a favorite retirement country or destination? I would enjoy knowing about other great places to retire. I still have a few years left before I am ready to retire so my mind is not completely made up.
Feel free to leave your comments, feedback, and questions below.