Monday, February 14, 2011

Corozal in Belize named one of the Best Places to Retire Outside of the USA

by Cindy Perman of CNBC

Retiring in another country used to be a foreign concept to most Americans but it's becoming more common thanks to two main factors: the Internet and the economy.

The Internet has provided some much-needed connectivity and the economy has priced many retirees out of warm-weather cities in the U.S.

"You can live better for less in a tropical paradise," said Dan Prescher, the special projects editor for International Living magazine. "All you have to do is think outside the border."

AARP found 10 of the best places to retire outside the U.S., using five criteria: the cost of living, housing costs, health care (both quality and accessibility), cultural and recreational options and if there's already an expat community there. They include Buenos Aires, Argentina; Corozal, Belize; Le Marche, Italy; Boquete, Panama; and Cascais, Portugal, as well as five other locales.

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Both scenic and sophisticated, Buenos Aires is often referred to as the "Paris of South America."

"This falls into one of those fantasy places for people," said Ken Budd, the executive editor of AARP magazine.

It's got a lot of museums and restaurants, with beautiful cathedrals and opera houses. And since the country's economic crisis in 2002, it's been a very affordable option. Rents start at $700 a month in some popular expat communities, and you can buy a nice condo for a couple hundred thousand dollars, AARP reports. Plus, it's close to the beautiful beaches of Uruguay.

And let's not forget, Buenos Aires is home of the tango. Ole!

Corozal, Belize

The convenience of Belize sets it apart — the official language is English, it's very easy to get residency status and they offer tons of special benefits to retirees.

Oh, and it's got some pretty amazing scenery — lush forests and picturesque white-sand beaches.

"It's got fantastic beaches," Budd said. "Classic warm weather, lots of great outdoor swimming, boating and biking — there's a high pleasure factor there," he said. "And you get it a lot cheaper than you would in, say, California."

One American couple built a ranch with a water view for $125,000, AARP said.

Le Marche, Italy
Le Marche has vineyards, mountains, beaches, and "some of the best fish dishes in Italy," Budd said. It's close to the Adriatic Sea, yet still close enough for a weekend trip to Florence, Milan or Venice.

Many people have been priced out of Tuscany, and Umbria was thought to be the next Tuscany, but then they made that movie and it was just as expensive as Tuscany!

"You want to stay away from those places and find the places that are under the radar… You're looking for the next Tuscany before it becomes Tuscany," he said.

And guess what that is? Ding! Le Marche. Budd said you can rent a place for as cheap as $700 a month, though that rises to $1,500 the closer you get to the coast.

Boquete, Panama
This mountain town offers a beautiful retreat, yet it's a short ride or flight to the city and beach.

The currency is pegged to the dollar, so the weak dollar isn't an issue. Plus, Panama really rolls out the red carpet for retirees: They offer 20 to 50 percent discounts to retirees on airfare, buses, trains, concerts, movies, medical bills and more, AARP reports.

It's amazingly affordable: One couple from California bought a seven-acre organic coffee farm for $135,000, AARP said.

Plus, it has a lot of the comforts of home — everything from golf courses to gated communities.

Cascais, Portugal

Portugal has everything you could want in retirement — golf, beaches and restaurants — and yet it's cheaper than most everything else in western Europe. It's one of those great off-the-radar finds if you can take advantage of it before everyone else gets there.

The nation prides itself on being laid back — the opposite of a bustling city like New York, Budd said.

Cascais is a scenic resort town on the Atlantic coast and the people are very friendly.

It's just 15 miles away from the capital but extremely affordable: One expat told AARP that she rented a huge apartment/office with a pool for $1,000 a month and that you could buy a nice home for $250,000.

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