Imagine waking up under sunny skies in a Latin American paradise, in a spacious, open-terraced home, your backyard dotted with bougainvillea and palm trees. After a swim and a pitcher of fresh-squeezed orange juice, you greet your fellow expats at the plaza, take a short rain-forest hike, volunteer with the local kids, and in the evening savor a delicious dinner of grilled lobster and carne asada at a charming beachfront café—for $30 a couple.
See also: 10 Great Sunny Places for Retirement in the U.S.
Okay, life abroad is not all palm trees and grilled lobster. There can be restrictions and red tape, language problems and culture shock, distance and sometimes loneliness. But 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.
Intrigued? We thought you’d be. Which is why we investigated the overseas retirement scene, looking for mostly warm and sunny, attractively affordable locales with good-to-excellent health care that are hospitable to Americans of retirement age. What follows are snapshots of 10 great destinations that met our exacting criteria. Each has its own unique charms and pleasures, and all are safe and welcoming.
Be sure to send us a postcard once you’ve finally settled in, okay?
7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Packing
1. Have you thoroughly researched your target country? Have you traveled there at least two or three times? You shouldn’t go online to buy or rent abroad—you need to talk to expats and a reliable local lawyer.
2. Have you examined what it will mean to be away from family? This is why you have to consider accessibility to an airport, distance from the United States, costs of your travel, and costs to the family for visits.
3. Are you patient? Do things roll off your back? Inefficiency and delays are the order of the day in Latin America, and red tape in Europe can be daunting.
4. Are you willing to learn a new language? You’ll find English spoken widely, but knowing a little local lingo can deeply enrich your experience.
5. Are you willing to be in a minority? Other expats may be around for support, but you’ll still be a foreigner in your new home.
6. Have you asked yourself what you’re willing to do without? First-run movies? Oreos?
7. Are you really cut out for a life-changing adventure? “Don’t come just for the lower costs” is a common refrain among expats. You need to embrace the experience and the changes—both pros and cons.
You may also like: You could win a dream spa vacation — enter now!