One of the most important choices you have to make when you launch a new life overseas is whether you are up for learning a new language. Moving to a new country can be daunting, especially if you don’t speak the local language. But there are countries throughout the world where grappling with a language barrier isn’t required. In some places English is an official language, while in others the expat community is so well established that English is widely spoken.
Consider these English-speaking overseas retirement destinations:
— Boquete, Panama.
— Ajijic, Mexico.
— The Algarve, Portugal.
— George Town, Malaysia.
A former British colony, Belize stands out as the only English-speaking country in Central America. This small country offers a range of lifestyle opportunities, from Caribbean beaches to bucolic villages surrounded by farmland or dense jungle. Expat communities are well established across Belize, helping to make settling in easy. This is a top choice for beach and nature lovers, and outdoor recreation opportunities are endless, from fishing and scuba diving to trekking and river rafting. The cost of living is low, but you will probably need to invest in a four-wheel drive vehicle to traverse Belize’s dirt and often potholed roads.
From its rugged green landscapes to its vibrant urban areas, Ireland is rich in history, culture and lore. Ireland has beautiful countryside to explore, fascinating history, friendly locals and plenty of activities to keep you busy. Outside Dublin and Cork, many parts of Ireland feel like a small town. In Ireland’s many villages you are likely to be enveloped in the Irish community spirit and made to feel at home. However, Ireland isn’t a low-cost destination, and costs for rent, transportation and general living expenses are high.
Boquete is a small town in the highlands of western Panama with one of the biggest and most established expat communities in the world. Boquete also stands out for its stunning natural beauty, lush tropical forest and exotic flowers. While Boquete has banks, small grocery shops, eateries and some health care services, it doesn’t have a major hospital, and the cost of living is closer to what you would expect to pay in a small U.S. city rather than a rural Panamanian town. Panama offers a visa specifically for retirees that includes countrywide discounts and perks.
Ajijic is a picturesque colonial town situated at 5,000 feet above sea level on the shores of Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest lake. More than 500 years old, Ajijic is full of historical charm. Its narrow cobblestone streets are lined with colorful houses, boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. Unlike other parts of inland Mexico, English is widely spoken in Ajijic. This village is home to an established expat enclave of retirees from the United States, Canada and parts of Europe. The U.S. dollar to Mexican peso currency exchange rate also makes Ajijic a very affordable place to live for Americans.
The Algarve, Portugal
Located at Europe’s westernmost tip and boasting 100 miles of Atlantic coastline, Portugal’s Algarve region has beautiful beaches, sunny weather and a variety of scenic golf courses. The expat community has been established for decades, and English is widely spoken. The cuisine is healthy and delicious, and it’s easy to stay fit thanks to the many opportunities for outdoor recreation among the stunning landscapes and seascapes. The cost of living in Portugal is among the lowest in Western Europe, and this country can be a great base for exploring other parts of Europe and North Africa.
George Town, Malaysia
Modern George Town is a fascinating combination of British colonial architecture, traditional Chinese shophouses and diverse international culture. It is home to a large expat community hailing mostly from Asian countries and the United Kingdom. George Town has historical sites, beautiful natural areas, golf courses, culture and other English-speakers to connect with. The city is a top medical tourism destination, and Malaysian health care standards are high and costs are low for critical health services and elective care. The prices of goods and services in general are significantly lower in Malaysia than in the West. Malaysia is also well connected, with flights from all over the world.
Malta is a tiny island nation in the Mediterranean Sea where English holds official language status alongside Maltese. Malta was once part of the British Empire, and many British expats continue to live here. Made up of three islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino, this country is famous for its stunning coastline full of rugged sandstone cliffs, caves, blue lagoons and gold sand beaches. Malta is rich with history and has ancient ruins and architectural treasures scattered across the islands. But this country is also a modern European capital with great shopping by day and entertainment by night.
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Best Places to Retire Overseas Where English is Spoken originally appeared on usnews.com