by: Lone Jensen Broussard
Expats have been cool ever since Hemingway was running around Paris and Spain with his writer pals.
But rather than just being a temporary season in life, more and more Americans are choosing to move abroad for their retirement. Their dollars go farther in certain countries, life is more relaxed and, in many cases, retirees can get much more house in their retirement paradise than what they could get in the United States.
Earlier this year, popular magazine International Living released the results of their 2017 Annual Global Retirement Index, an in-depth study that covers “cost of living, retiree benefits, climate, healthcare, and much more,” the intro to their summary of results reads.
Some of the results on their list surprised us, whereas there were other results that were no surprise at all.
With all this in mind, we’re going to give you our list of top three places for future American expats to retire.
Malta: Uniquely Mediterranean
Spain’s coasts are flooded with expats from all sorts of countries, to the point that author and Spain expert Giles Tremlett says the British expats swarming the Costa del Sol view other Europeans as foreigners.
You can avoid all this craziness by heading to Malta, an enclave of peace and beauty located in between the African coast and Sicily.
As International Living points out, the island is a literal paradise for expats.
“You can expect 300 days of sun with warm weather lasting through mid-November … mild winters … and a laidback atmosphere with a large and welcoming international, English-speaking country,” IL wrote.
Cost of living here is very reasonable, with two-bedroom apartments going for around $800 a month. And here’s the kicker, IL points out: Malta’s healthcare system is top-notch.
Private health insurance plans are a fraction of the cost of U.S. plans and far more generous in what they cover.
As for activities, IL says the island is full of them: snorkeling, diving, sailing, local celebrations and a wealth of Maltese food, wine and music.
Malaysia: The Newcomer
Malaysia has long been known as an affordable, amazing place for budget travelers to visit as they explore East Asia.
The demographic there is diverse: Malay, Chinese, Indian and Europeans, IL said, and the country is teeming with fun experiences for all budgets.
Investopedia lauded Malaysia as a retirement destination, claiming that you could retire there with $200,000 in savings.
“The 18th-century city of George Town is a top pick for retirees, with attractions that include a dozen museums, jungle parks with secluded beaches and amusement parks,” Investopedia wrote. “Expats get together regularly for club activities, healthcare is first rate and public transportation is modern and efficient.”
The cost of a 900-square-foot apartment in George Town? According to Investopedia, $450 a month.
Costa Rica: The Talk of the Town
Costa Rica was, for a long time, the secret spot that few Americans knew about and those who did know were delightfully haunted by the country’s beautiful shoreline and rugged forests.
The veil was lifted on the country in the late 2000’s and is now one of the hottest travel and retirement destinations in North and South America.
AARP says getting residency in Costa Rica is a matter of showing that you’ve got at least $1,000 a month coming in.
“Costa Rica’s breathtaking landscapes and unspoiled beaches have long fueled this country’s popularity among travelers. For retirees, a highly regarded health care system, with costs just a fraction of what you might pay in the U.S., is also a huge draw,” AARP wrote.
However, expats issue a warning to those who want to retire in Costa Rica, and it’s a warning that all retirees should consider before moving abroad for retirement.
In a 2013 article from NPR, Fran and Andy Browne, a married couple who left North Carolina in 2009 for Costa Rica, now conduct paid “due diligence” tours for expats who are thinking about retiring in the Central American destination.
During their tours, they repeat the mantra that’s proven itself true over and over again: Rent in Costa Rica, don’t buy.
Their tours also include taking potential expats to the homes of retirees to ask them questions and get a clear picture of the good and the bad that comes with living in Costa Rica.
We’ll close with the same advice: As you’re contemplating your move, make sure you study up and are certain of residency rules, tax law and other issues affecting expats.
Schedule a one- to two-week trip your potential destination and speak with expats who who’ve lived there for a few years. Most likely, they’ll be open and honest about the frustrations and joys of living in their location.
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