Retirement Hideway?
September 7, 2012 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Anyone have recommendations on a hidden paradise to retire to in 10 years?

I'm in the midst of a divorce and realize that I soon I will be alone and able be to make decisions on where to retire, in ten years or so, without consulting a wife. After 16 years of marriage this is one glimmer of light in an otherwise depressing situation. I'd like to start planning my retirement location for periodic visits until I retire, learn the language if needed, and begin learning about the culture, history, and keep tabs on local events.

Here's my wishlist:
1. Near an ocean, preferably as close the ocean as possible. (Tropical or 4 seasons ok). I currently live in a high desert region.
2. Small, out of the way, and not a known retirement community (i.e. South Florida).
3. Able to exist with a moderate income. Not rich, not poor.
4. Can be anywhere in the world as long crime level is reasonable and the government is relatively stable. Though I'm not that much a fan of southeast Asia.
5. Adequate and available health care.
5. I basically plan on enjoying the ocean, reading, walking and enjoying the community.
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (28 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not so exotic, but coastal North Carolina would seem to fit the bill. Some parts are rather rich or rather poor compared to others, but you'd be able to find a place that was appropriate for your means, for sure.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:32 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


My parents moved out to Salt Spring Island in British Columbia a few years back, they love it and it's gorgeous. Property might be semi-pricy but I don't think the cost of living is.
posted by yellowbinder at 8:33 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are a number of sites that specialize in figuring this sort of thing out, like escapeartist.com. I would read some of their forums and repost your question there, where there's a dense community of people who have been researching this sort of thing. The places I hear people talk about a lot are Medellín and various spots in Panama.
posted by jeb at 8:33 AM on September 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know all the details, but a guy from our local woodworking group just took off for Panama with promises to write. Says there's a large American expat community down there, reasonable tourist trade so it's not just retirees, cheap cost of living, a chance for him to craft and have a market while living within his means.
posted by straw at 8:34 AM on September 7, 2012


Savannah, Georgia - for sure. It's historic and everything is within walking distance. Right near the ocean and extremely beautiful. My husband and I visit once a year.
posted by AbsolutelyHonest at 8:36 AM on September 7, 2012


Nthing Savannah. Or St. Simons, Ga.
posted by pearlybob at 8:42 AM on September 7, 2012


Rincón, on the west coast of Puerto Rico, is part of the US, so you don't need to emigrate, but it's a Caribbean island to which you can retire very nicely without a lot of money. It's a beach and surfing area, full of Americans young and old but without too much of a Margaritaville vibe.
posted by nicwolff at 8:42 AM on September 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'll meet you in San Sebastian, probably my favorite small (beach) city in Western Europe.

the variety of cultural activities crossed with stunning beaches and an enviornmentally concious population....there are so many things to do it would take me all day to list here.

or, you know, you could just surf!
posted by Wilder at 8:44 AM on September 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Man, Vieques, PR seems to fit this pretty well except you'd probably need to take a ferry for the health care stuff. You can absolutely get by without Spanish until you pick it up.

Honestly, it seems like ten years down the road all these places that are somewhat good now are going to be that much more crowded and expensive, I know 10 years ago Gulf Shores, AL was way more 'quaint' than it is now. That commercial creep is scary...

Anyway, if you end up living in PR you really should invite me down for a stay. /selfish notion
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:52 AM on September 7, 2012


I have a dream of retiring in South Alabama. There are plenty of places on or near the Gulf. There are rich folks, with their beach houses. Middle class folks in the towns of the area. Farmers abound, also poor and immigrants. There is a variety of health care levels, depending on your ability to pay. The people are friendly, and the waters are inviting. The area is known locally as the Redneck Riviera.

Having said that, it is still South Alabama. There is oppressive humidity, and hurricanes threaten every summer. The populace is not progressive, but there is a variety of thought out there. There is also a drug culture, with leads to property crimes.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 8:53 AM on September 7, 2012


Rarotonga, Cook Islands is definitely worth looking into, it meets all your criteria!
posted by Snazzy67 at 8:59 AM on September 7, 2012


I recommend Panama or Costa Rica.

You may get some recommendations for Bali, Indonesia. If you are interested in renting, I would definitely recommend it. However, foreigners CANNOT own property in Indonesia. There are ways people work to get around this law-- and a lot of people get swindled because of it. In addition, you would need to leave every month or two to renew your visa. (Again, there are ways to get around this, but its also illegal and if you get caught, depending on how long you overstay, you can go to prison.)
posted by emilynoa at 9:04 AM on September 7, 2012


I've lived in South Florida, and the Gulf Coast is nice, but the further north you go from SFLa, the further South you are (and all the non-progressiveness that entails. It's changing, but excruciatingly slowly).

Except for the whole hurricane thing, I'd say Puerto Rico. Close enough to fly back for medical care if you really really really have something you really really really can't get there.
posted by tilde at 9:06 AM on September 7, 2012


Sounds a lot like Whidbey Island, where I live.
posted by The otter lady at 9:09 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Croatia and Malaysia (which is obviously SE Asia, but untypically so in lots of ways) fit your bill.

Mexico would also fit your bill although there are lots of areas to avoid. Portugal is a retirement favourite in Europe, but not nearly as much so as Spain.

Croatia: Amazing coast. Now politically stable. Much cheaper than most of Western Europe. Lots of coastline to pick your spot. Cheap property. Language is a real toughie, but not a showstopper. It does, unfortunately, now tax foreign pensions as income. It is in the EU.

Malaysia: English speaking. Amazing coastline and beautiful hill country. Reasonably cheap. Great healthcare. Can get fiercely hot/humid. Politically stable. But a long way from home and retirees are typically British, not American.

Mexico - Cheap. Close to the US. Crime is an issue but there are safer places to live away from big cities and the US border. It will be a major US retiree mecca - so negatives are mini Florida, pluses are ease of selling up if needs be.

Portugal - In the EU. Language is not so hard to learn. Property and cost of living are reasonably cheap. Can get very hot in summer. It does have economic issues affecting provision of services by town councils. Great food and wine. Expensive fuel. Can be a bit retirement centric (esp for Brits and other Europeans) but avoidable if you want to.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:51 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sounds a lot like the Gulf Islands on the BC coast.
posted by islander at 10:04 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I live in Savannah, and beach access is a bit of a drive. I would recommend St. Augustine instead, if you're into being in the US; a few miles south of the city center there is a beautiful state park with miles of pristine and deserted beach.

A teacher friend of mine has bought land near San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua and she loves it there.
posted by mareli at 10:07 AM on September 7, 2012


It's not an ocean, but I think Boulder City, NV is a pretty awesome place. You can get a house with a view of Lake Mead, and the town of Boulder City is adorable.

There's no state income tax in NV, so there's that, if you want a part-time job, you can probably get one, counting money in a casino, desk clerk at a hotel, stuff like that. (I know the economy sucks right now, but it'll improve.) I have dreams of dealing blackjack in a locals place when I retire. Big long fingernails and a beehive hairdo. I can just see it.

There are little condos and townhouses for $49K and there are mansions for $3M. Just depends on what you want.

Great healthcare in Las Vegas, plus you'll still have access to all the stuff you like about living in the US.

I'm kind of seriously on this bandwagon. It really is pretty there.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:11 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I vote New Zealand. Amazing beaches, beautiful country, stable government, good healthcare. There are hundreds of locations in the country that would fit the bill for what you describe, enough adventuring to give you years of entertainment, and as a bonus, English is the native language.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:37 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If ocean just means big body of water to relax by, there are hundreds of small, safe and charming communities along the Great Lakes. For instance, Bayfield WI or Petoskey, MI.
posted by lstanley at 12:55 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised nobody's named Belize yet. I spent a few days on Ambergris Cay and it seemed like half of the businesses were run by retired ex-pats (who all seemed relaxed and happy). It's certainly cheap, and it's gorgeous, and as a bonus, everyone speaks both English and Spanish. I have no idea about the health care, however.
posted by chowflap at 1:50 PM on September 7, 2012


any of the coast range area from cape Mendocino up to the Columbia bar in the pacific northwest is a great place to live if you don't need a good job. If you don't want a beachfront property (and really a little inland is nice when the winter storms roll in from the gulf of Alaska) the land can be suprisingly affordable. It rains A LOT and is often foggy and cloudy and misty. The communities are pretty isolated and insular from the rest of the state they are in and very much backwaters culturally but really, really awesome if you want a an active outdoor life. Depending on which part of the cost you have old growth douglas fir/redwood forest, sand dunes, surfing, fishing(fresh and salt), crabing, hunting, and not too far of a drive to actual big cities (portland/eugene/medford/redding) that have stuff like hospitals and so on. these days with amazon and such you don't need to live near a big city for decent access to material goods.
posted by bartonlong at 1:57 PM on September 7, 2012


in Central America: Costa Rica, Belize & Panama are all diverse, lovely & popular with ex-pats. Costa Rica and Panama have great and inexpensive private health care.
posted by changeling at 2:19 PM on September 7, 2012


The southern British Columbia gulf islands might fit the bill. Homes there are affordable if you don't absolutely need waterfront property. Low crime (almost no crime), good health care, stable government, etc.
posted by thewalrus at 3:46 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think you might want midcoast or Southern Maine. It meets all your criteria. The winters aren't that bad.
posted by Miko at 6:44 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Adequate and available health care"--I think this requires more information--You can not assume you will be eligible for public/national health services in a country in which you are not a citizen or permanent resident--how old are you--will you be able to afford private health insurance/self pay in another country. How much is medicare a necessity for you. are you likely to have any problems with managing a chronic illness. I ask these questions because I spend considerable time in three different countries--all of which present different health care issues. In Ireland I (must) carry a certain level of private insurance to cover emergencies/hospitalization as my stays are more 3 months (other health care is out of pocke)t--in the Bahamas medical evacuation insurance and access to health centers can be an issue--In the states I have medicare and supplements. It is very different implications whenr retiring and living in a country rather than a visit for 2-3 weeks. BTW--I am obviously partial to SW Ireland--ocean, lakes, green, language, generous of heart, safe, stable government, adequate primary health care and moderately expensive/inexpensive based on life choices
posted by rmhsinc at 7:13 PM on September 7, 2012


I'm retiring to Ecuador, where my wife has family. Money goes far there.
posted by troywestfield at 7:34 PM on September 7, 2012


I'm currently intrigued by the idea of Vietnam, though I've done zero research beyond talking to some Vietnamese people :). Cheap, great food, and they report that folks there are eager to learn English and welcoming of Americans. Cheap travel from there to lots of other fun places.
posted by purenitrous at 7:27 AM on September 8, 2012


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