If you’re settling down and looking for a place to retire, you don’t have to just head down to Florida like everyone else. Retirement can be a big opportunity to try living in a new place and experiencing new cultures, without having to worry about the burdensome question of finding work in a foreign land.
But if you want to use your golden years as an opportunity to explore the world, there are some factors that any retiree should think about before picking a country or city. Access to good healthcare, a low cost of living, and a pristine environment are just a few things to consider. And most importantly of all, any country you pick has to be one where you will have minimal visa issues and can let you return to your home country quickly and easily.
Want to head south but don’t feel very confident in your Spanish skills? Then head to sunny Belize, an English-speaking country that is one of the most welcoming countries for retirees in the world.
Belize offers a Qualified Retirement Program which allows foreigners to become full-time residents of Belize providing that they can transfer $2,000 per month in income. It also offers additional incentives such as an exemption from Belizan taxes and import duties. And once you are in Belize, you can see wildlife sanctuaries, the Belize Barrier Reef, or otherwise enjoy life in pleasant Cayo with its mixture of English and Spanish culture.
There are some downsides. While Belize offers a low cost of living, the catch is that its infrastructure is not that well-developed and the CDC does recommend that travelers to Belize should receive vaccinations for typhoid and Hepatitis A. But overall, Belize offers a new culture and land that is highly welcoming towards foreign retirees.
If you don’t want to move too far away, then there is Canada. Canada’s culture is obviously similar to the United States, and it boasts the best infrastructure and healthcare out of this list. Don’t forget that like the United States, Canada is a massive country where you can see a huge variety in cultures and cities.
The biggest challenge with moving to Canada will be getting a visa. Canada does not offer a retirement visa, and permanent residency visas are more biased towards those who work. But if you are well-educated and have plenty of savings, then you should still be able to get a visa without significant trouble.
Given the importance of Irish culture to the United States, it would be little surprise to see that many American retirees are interested in moving back to their ancestral homeland. Ireland has the advantages of both being a European nation while not being as expensive as the major European nations. It combines urbane civilization along with the beauty of the Emerald Isle and a chance to take a short jaunt to London or Paris.
If your grandparents emigrated from Ireland, then you can become an Irish citizen. Otherwise, you can apply for a “permission to remain” for three months and can then re-apply for longer periods of time. Like Canada, retiring to Ireland likely requires a strong savings account in order to be let in.
Thailand is probably the biggest challenge on this list. It is a truly exotic culture where you really will need to try and learn the Thai language to get the most out of living in this Southeast Asian nation. The Huffington Post has just a few examples of some of the cultural concepts which you should understand.
But Thailand is an incredibly cheap country that accepts expatriates from all over the world. If you want to live someplace that may feel more like home, then the city of Chiang Mai is a great location. You can meet both young foreign workers, retirees, and Thais mixed together in a city that offers a unique culture and can give you a new perspective on the world.
5. Costa Rica
This Caribbean island is repeatedly cited by experts as one of the best places in the world to retire, and for good reason. Like Belize, Costa Rica offers a retirement program designed to attract retirees. Even a mere Social Security check can be enough to qualify for permanent residence and a chance to settle down in Costa Rica.
In addition to its retirement package, Costa Rica offers a rich natural heritage unmatched by any other country in the world. The country just announced that it produced all of its electricity using renewable sources for 76 straight days, and it has one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean. Costa Rica is more expensive than other countries in the region, but it is still far cheaper than the Western world.
Costa Rica may no longer be a hidden gem as over 20,000 American expatriates are enjoying life on the island. But that just shows what a fantastic spot it is.
Featured photo credit: Hector Alejandro via flickr.com