The 10 Best Affordable Places to Retire Overseas in 2019

Bargain retirement spots overseas

A move overseas allows you to reduce the cost of retirement as you seek adventure. The best affordable options for retirement overseas in 2019 include six destinations in Europe. The strong dollar makes the eurozone an increasingly realistic option for retirees on a budget. Potential retirement spots were rated based on factors that are important to potential expat retirees, including the cost of living, affordability of real estate, infrastructure, residency options, taxes, health care, recreation, international access, crime, expat community options and whether English is spoken. Consider these low-cost places to retire overseas.

1. Algarve, Portugal

The Algarve region is beautiful, affordable, welcoming, friendly and safe. It boasts some of the world’s best beaches and golf courses, plus a long and interesting history. The area is protected from winter by the movement of the ocean in the Gulf Stream, and, as a result, has an ideal climate with 3,300 hours of sunshine every year, more than any other country in this part of the world. English is widely spoken in the Algarve, so you would not have to learn a new language if you don’t want to. The infrastructure in the Algarve is top-notch, while the health care is world-class and a fraction the cost of care in North America.

2. Cascais, Portugal

Cascais is spectacularly beautiful with a rugged coastline, white sandy beaches, stone buildings, cobblestone sidewalks, museums and parks. This is a well-heeled, high-end destination that is one of the world’s most affordable places to embrace a luxury-standard lifestyle on the ocean. The cost of living in Cascais is significantly greater than in the Algarve, but it’s a bargain given the standard of living offered. While you could get by here without learning to speak Portuguese, English is less widely spoken in Cascais than in the Algarve region. Just a 40-minute train ride from Lisbon’s city center, Cascais is the best of both city and beach living.

3. Mazatlán, Mexico

Among Mexico’s many attractive lifestyle options, Mazatlán stands out for its beautiful beaches and walkable colonial center. This popular expat choice is an authentic Mexican resort town that manages to feel homey. From December through March, daytime temperatures in Mazatlán hover in the high 70s and there’s little to no rain. But temperatures and humidity levels are much higher between July and October, which makes Mazatlán an ideal choice for snowbirding. Moving to Mazatlán can be as hassle-free as an international move gets. Nothing’s as easy as loading up a truck and driving south. Your moving budget could be gas and tolls.

4. Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca is one of the world’s most affordable places to retire well. A couple could live here comfortably on a budget of $1,000 per month or less. Cuenca is a beautiful city with cobblestone streets and a well-preserved historic center. It is also a walkable city, meaning you don’t have to invest in the expense of a car. The mild climate means no heating or air conditioning costs, another budget savings. Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as its currency, so there’s no exchange rate risk. Ecuador is part of the developing world, but Cuenca enjoys reliable electricity, modern internet service and drinkable water throughout. Cuenca has a large expat retiree community, so newcomers have plenty of support to help with the transition.

5. Valletta, Malta

The three-island, 122-square-mile nation of Malta, with a population of just over 400,000 people, is a first-world jewel in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. An EU member where English is almost universally spoken by the multilingual population, Malta is a safe, stable haven boasting an excellent overall standard of living and top-notch health care. Malta’s rugged coastline boasts dramatic cliffs alternating with tiny coves dotted with ancient forts and quaint fishing harbors. Inland, stone walls separate fields of olives, wheat and potatoes, and, in season, vines hang heavy with grapes. From its weather and food to its history and culture, Malta is one of your most affordable options for embracing Mediterranean Europe.

6. Occitanie, France

In the Occitanie region of France is a quintessential French country village, Saint-Chinian, where everyday life is like something out of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Its property prices are half those of Provence and the Côte d’Azur, and its wine industry is growing. Saint-Chinian is home to 1,900 inhabitants and 200 winemakers. Over the last dozen years, growers have specialized in producing world-ranking red wines from the original Carignan, Cinsaut and Grenache grapes, with the addition of Syrah and Mourvèdre varieties. Sitting on a hillside in Saint-Chinian, enjoying the idyllic French country scene, you may think you are in the middle of nowhere. However, Spain is near enough that you could pop over for dinner, and Paris is just three hours away by train.

7. San Ignacio, Belize

The wide-open spaces of Cayo appeal to the adventuresome and the independent. This is a land of mountains and Mayan ruins, rivers and waterfalls. Driving along the Western Highway from Belize City to Cayo, the view from your window is of fields and pastures, trees and jungle, rivers and livestock. Farmers grow corn, sugar cane, watermelons and citrus. San Ignacio is Cayo’s biggest town and home to a large and growing community of foreign retirees and expats. You could settle in among them easily, as everyone speaks English and Belize residency is easy to establish. Cayo is one of the top choices worldwide for getting back to basics and going off the grid. Amidst Cayo’s virgin rainforest, you can live self-sufficiently in style and good company.

8. Annecy, France

Only a few cities in the world can hope to meet the expectations of a nature lover, a museum aficionado, a foodie, an adrenaline junky and a fashionista. Annecy offers a lifestyle that satisfies all these agendas. Annecy is best known for its skiing and its lake, one of the cleanest in the world. Annecy serves up more than its share of castles, museums, pastel-colored townhomes and other historical sites alongside modern theaters, cinemas and festivals. If France is the country of cheese, Savoy is its heart. Annecy residents lunch on tartiflette (a melted potato and bacon pie smothered in reblochon cheese) and dine regularly on fondue de raclette.

9. Città Sant’Angelo, Italy

Abruzzo has everything Tuscany offers and more at a fraction the cost. The construction of new highways made it more easily accessible from Rome, opening up the area domestically and attracting state and private investment. New development is taking place across the region, and small towns are working hard to attract investment to save their historically significant streets. Yet the area remains affordable and is one of Europe’s greatest bargains. Nowhere is this truer than in Città Sant’Angelo, perhaps the most appealing spot in this welcoming region. This would be an ideal place to embrace the best of traditional Italian life. However, if you’re living in Città Sant’Angelo, you’ll need to learn to speak Italian.

10. Georgetown, Malaysia

Life here is both traditional and 21st century, exotic and comfortable. Beyond the high-rise apartments of modern Georgetown is one of the best-preserved old cities in Asia. Hidden along the winding streets of this UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site are old shop houses, guildhalls and clan houses. Thanks to its colonial past, English is widely spoken. Then there’s the great outdoors. Almost on the city’s doorstep are stylish seaside settlements with palm-fringed sandy beaches and a backdrop of lush rainforest. This city is recognized as an Asian culinary capital. Delicious specialties like Char Koay Teow, noodles with shrimp, chili paste and cockles are less than $2 per portion.

Consider these affordable places to retire overseas in 2019.

— Algarve, Portugal

— Cascais, Portugal

— Mazatlán, Mexico

— Cuenca, Ecuador

— Valletta, Malta

— Occitanie, France

— San Ignacio, Belize

— Annecy, France

— Città Sant’Angelo, Italy

— Georgetown, Malaysia

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