5 of the Top Places to Retire Outside of the U.S.

While it may sound sensational or romantic, retiring in a foreign country also has more pragmatic benefits, leading to a rise in the population of Americans choosing to spend their golden years in other countries. Whether it’s the draw of low costs of living, inexpensive and accessible health care, warmer climate or the charm of a distant locale, many of the following foreign locales already have large pools of retired expats, and as more and more baby boomers start retiring, coupled with a constricted economy and burgeoning medical expenses, this trend is projected to continue.

Check out the highlights of the five countries, and perhaps you’ll see retirement as a whole new adventure — an adventure certainly well-lived.

One of the most popular countries for Americans to retire to is Panama, and this tiny country packs a lot of appeal. Known for its friendly locals, stunning beaches and beautiful mountains, Panama uses a dollar-based currency and has a relatively low cost of living. With access to good and inexpensive health care, retirees also get discounts on everything from their medical care to entertainment.

In addition to its tropical Caribbean climate and enviously warm waters, Belize has a stable economy bolstered by its Retired Persons Incentive Program, fast making it a hot destination for expat American retirees. Belize also offers outstanding health care, and since English is the official language, you can get your medical care in a language you can comfortably understand.

When it comes to the European hemisphere, Italy has long been a favorite retiree destination. Known for its reverence for culture, fine wine and food, Italy sets a warm and relaxing pace, making it one of the most popular European retirement locations. While the cost of living isn’t dirt cheap, it’s not bad, either, and Americans who retire to the Italian countryside or stately cities tend to live well. Health care is also affordable, especially for retirees.

Costa Rica
Panama’s neighbor, Costa Rica has a long history of medical tourism, and the facilities are both top-rate and numerous — so much so that the life expectancy is higher than in other developed nations. With one coast on the Caribbean and one on the Pacific, the climate is nothing if not tropical. In lovely Costa Rica, money also goes a long way, with the going rate for a hair cut running at about $3, cheap real estate and even tax benefits for retired individuals. What’s more, this nation is already home some 50,000 U.S. citizens, so finding friends can be easy in certain expat-heavy regions.

South Africa
Though it’s by far the most distant foreign land on this list, South Africa’s vibrant culture appeals to those who enjoy a bit of excitement in their otherwise financially comfortable lifestyle. Outside of the big cities, impressive homes can be purchased inexpensively, and the outstanding health care system pairs well with the favorable tax laws.