Whether you’re five months or fifteen years away from handing in that final two weeks’ notice, you’ve probably dreamt of the beachside digs where you’ll live out the best years of your life. And while it may seem like Florida is forever calling (we don’t blame you!), those who want to buck the trends might want to consider searching for real estate outside the U.S.A.
According to the State Department, more Americans than ever—8.7 million—are moving or retiring abroad. The big lure? Lower price tags. The editors at “International Living” recently compiled a list of the most affordable places to retireabroad, taking into account housing and utilities as well as things like transportation and food. Based on their calculation, couples can live comfortably in these destinations on less than $30,000 per year, or $2,500 a month (for singles, that drops to $1,500).
Ready to pack your bags? Here are the countries you might want to consider:
Claiming more than 1,100 miles of coastline on the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is rife with beauty, history, and culture yet manages to fly slightly under the radar in Europe. (“International Living” editor Jennifer Stevens calls it the “Best-value living in Western Europe today.”).
Those looking for the absolute best bargain should head to low-key Mafra, 15 minutes from the surf-centric beaches of Ericeira. The charming town is home to white-washed homes and cobbled streets, as well as a small but lively downtown filled with cafes, bars, and one of the country’s largest national palaces.
Long a mecca for expats (the country is notoriously welcoming to international residents), Costa Rica is beloved for its “Pura Vida lifestyle”. It’s also one of the cheapest places to snag real estate near the coast.
Costa Rica has a stable democracy and a peace-loving culture. They abolished their army in 1948 and pledged that budget to education and healthcare. Often called the “Switzerland of Central America” it is known for its safety, neutrality and good banking system—especially compared to many other countries in the region. The current government is progressive and LGBT rights are respected.
“International Living” suggests checking out the Central Valley, where you’ll get the moderate climate and lush green landscape coupled with safe, residential communities, great restaurants, and quality healthcare. (Pristine beaches are just a quick drive away.)
A single person can live on as little as $1,500 USA a month in the Central Valley, though one could get by on considerably less. A couple can live well on $2,000 USA a month. Also, part of its appeal: “The healthcare in Costa Rica is top notch and low priced, and it’s easy to access, too,” Remarks Stevens.
On paper, Panama often wins big among Americans looking to retire outside the States: It’s nearby, relatively easy to obtain residence, boasts quality healthcare facilities, many English speakers, and the U.S. dollar as its currency.
But while many expats might home in on Panama for its practicality, they fall in love with its exciting cities, lush mountain towns, and world-class beaches.
On Panama’s Pacific coast, the small fishing town of Pedasí is attractive for its rugged, expansive beaches, friendly English-speaking community, and lazy, rural feel. And according to “International Living”, a single person can live here on a modest budget of $1,391 per month (and as little as $1,665 for a couple). Explains Laura Begley, senior Contributor at ForbesWoman.
Looking for something a little more exotic? Cambodia may be far away, but its beautiful scenery, culture, food, and affordability, more than makes up for the distance. (It has been claimed the top spot in the cost-of-living category three years in a row in “International Living’s annual (Global Retirement Index)”.
While the capital city of Phnom Penh (where you can find a one-bedroom urban apartment for $250 rental per month), draws many expats, the laid-back coastline is equally as enticing, with many international residents settling down in the charming, cultured resort town of Kep.
This story originally appeared on Coastal Living and Forbes.