When it’s time to wind down from the daily grind and step into retirement, you’ll likely ask yourself a few (if not many) questions. Perhaps one of the most significant choices you have to make is where to call home during your post-career years.
If you feel constrained to local locales because of your budget, don’t. There are several exotic places abroad where you can live like a king or queen on much less than it costs to live stateside.
Here are a few of our favorite exotic destinations from across the globe that offer happy – and budget-friendly – retirement living.
1. Bali, Indonesia
Bali is renowned as one of the most stunning tropical destinations in the world. This Indonesian island is home to forested volcanic mountains, beaches and coral reefs. Along the idyllic coastline of the Indian Ocean, you can find great places to dive, surf or just delight in the pristine waters.
Dotted along the island are picturesque religious sites, like the cliffside Uluwatu Temple. On the Southern part of the island, you’ll find the favorite resort towns of Sanur and Nusa Dua. Those seeking a bustling cityscape can look to Seminyak, also to the south, and full of luxury hotels, spas, cultural events, high-end shopping, restaurants and bars. Other popular activities on the island include yoga and golf.
Expats will have no problem here. The island locals are mirrors of the landscape – some of the most pleasant, serene and friendly folks you’ll find.
Check out the small town of Sanur. This little sanctuary is a suburb of the city of Denpasar. Here, you’ll find a laid-back vibe and remove from the swarms of tourists that flock to the island year-round.
The best part is you can live affordably in Sanur, but you won’t live cheaply. Delicious street food is available for next to nothing, and white-glove restaurants will equally fit into your budget. Your neighbors may also be expats, as this town has seen an increase in foreigners putting down roots here. All in all, your monthly budget for living well in this little slice of heaven comes in at only about $1,700 a month.
2. Saint-Chinian, France
I know what you’re thinking: How could any place in France be affordable to live on a budget? When we think of La France, we typically imagine lively (expensive) Paris or the ultra-chic (ultra-expensive) French Riviera. But there is so much more to this country than pomp and grandeur.
In the south of France lies Languedoc, home to Saint-Chinian. This classic French country village is as affordable as it is lovely. While it sits deep in the countryside, Saint-Chinian is also just three hours from Paris via the TGV, and you could even quickly head over to Spain for the day. Plus, there’s no need for a car because of the town’s superb bus and train services.
The residents of Saint-Chinian debunk the stereotype that the French are aloof; the people who live in this town are very friendly, and warmly welcome expats to their little town. Home to a budding wine industry, the cost of living in Saint-Chinian are about half of that for the more expensive parts of Provence and the Côte d’Azur. A couple can live here for about $1,600 a month for rent and everyday expenses. Très bon!
3. Cali, Colombia
For so long, travelers and would-be expats have avoided Columbia for fear of crime and the belief that it is an unsafe place. This is no longer the case, as the country is now safe and thriving. The city of Cali, located in the Valle del Cauca department of Columbia and southwest of Bogotá, has particular appeal, thanks to its beauty, moderate climate, and rental rates 25% to 30% lower than in the sister city of Medellín.
Founded in 1536, historical Cali is home to tree-shaded streets, winding boulevards, and an abundance of parks and green space. In the city’s oldest quarter, you’ll find the neoclassical San Pedro Cathedral, which contains paintings of the Quito School. Just a little while away is the 18th- and 19th-century San Francisco Religious Complex. At La Merced Chapel, you can see where the very first mass was held after Cali was founded.
The residents (called “Caleños”) are as delightful as is the scenery. What’s even more delightful is how affordable it is to live in bucolic Cali. A couple can live comfortably for as little as $1,000 a month, which includes rent and expenses. If you’re looking to buy, you can snag a three-bedroom, two-bath apartment in a great location for as little as $45,000.
4. Lisbon, Portugal
This coastal, hilly, elegant capital city Lisbon makes this list thanks to a cost of living that’s among the lowest in Western Europe. Living in Lisbon is a bargain thanks to modest taxes and numerous real estate deals. Although living here is cheap, you wouldn’t know it. There are a multitude of things to do and see that would astound any traveler.
Scattered throughout the city are historic sites that are an homage to Lisbon’s rich past. There’s the National Azulejo Museum, which boasts five centuries of decorative ceramic tiles. Most of the buildings date back to the Golden Age of Discovery and include centuries-old roads laid with cobblestones in contrasting colors, parks with ornate fountains, and pastel-colored stone structures with formal gardens. Want a change of scenery? Located just outside Lisbon, you’ll find a string of pristine Atlantic beaches.
With a monthly budget of just $1,300 a month for rent and daily living expenses, a couple can live quite handsomely. For those who want a real estate deal, a 540-square-foot apartment can sell for as little as $90,000.
5. San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
Caribbean beach living? Check. A warm community? Check. Affordable pricing? Check. Located on Ambergris Caye, you’ll find your perfect piece of paradise on the tiny island of San Pedro, Belize.
It’s like a dream come true for many. San Pedro is a place where you can indulge in soft white sand beaches and a dazzling azure. Here, golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation and quality restaurants, supermarkets, art galleries and wine shops are around just about every corner.
And you won’t ever feel alone in San Pedro. This town is so desirable that it has become home to an ever-growing community of expats, who are opening businesses, organizing events and creating close bonds with their neighbors and fellow new residents.
While this dream destination is a little pricier than the other locations on our list, it’s still wildly affordable for the Caribbean. You can find a rental on the beach for as little as $1,000 a month. All total, you can expect to spend a little less than $2,000 a month total for rent and living expenses.
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