Survey suggests ten best comfort zones for overseas retirement

Published:  20 Jul at 6 PM
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Retirement overseas means different things for different people, but the essentials remain the same when searching for an affordable comfort zone.

Given the political chaos spreading across the Western world, it’s no surprise that more and more people are looking for an escape hatch to exotic climes. Essentials aren’t likely to be as they were in the home country, but neither are the stresses of living in uncertain times.

Affordability as regards cost of living and real estate, acceptable, accessible health care, low crime levels, a warm climate, English language abilities and a welcoming expat community are essentials for all but the most adventurous retirees. A recent survey included all the above and came up with 10 destinations fitting the bill.

Top of the list is Portugal’s Algarve, although would-be UK expats might not have the formerly easy access to its delights thanks to Brexit. Great beaches, sunny weather, an established expat community, cheap property, good medical facilities and a cheap cost of living tick all the boxes. Importantly, as Portuguese is a tough language to learn, English is widely spoken.

The tiny island of Malta has much to offer as second favourite, with rugged scenery, historic buildings, a Mediterranean climate and hordes of retired expats. The cost of living is reasonable given that Malta is an EU member state, but British expats may have the same Brexit problems getting in. Mexico’s Puerto Vallarta is beachside, safe and with a thriving expat community, although property and taxes will take more of your pension than its European equivalents.

For more affordable real estate and lower taxes, Cayo in Belize hits the spot and is comparatively safe. Health care here is problematic, but English is spoken. Central European Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, is tricky to pronounce but fun to live in for its quaint architecture, museums, genuine farmers markets, nightlife and music festivals. Venice is two hours away and the Mediterranean coastline is just an hour from the city.

Exotic Kota Kinabalu is Malaysia’s answer to tired Thai towns and has excellent, inexpensive medical care along with traditional festivals and pretty beaches. English is also spoken. Closer to home, Mexico’s Playa del Carmen coastal resort boasts a large, welcoming expat community and is a good place for investors in local property due to high returns and appreciation levels.

A unique destination for its fascinating antiquity and sheer beauty is the Greek island of Crete, ever popular with British expats and reassuringly inexpensive as regards property and costs of living. Belize crops up again in the survey at number 10, famed for its warm seas and almost tax-free living for Qualified Retired Person status. Its Caribbean setting offers fine diving, white sand beaches and an established expat community. If it’s permanent residency you’re after, an income of US$1,500 lets you join the expat community.
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