by Laura Cohn
Friday, June 4, 2010
Worries about the stock market are leading some Americans to look outside U.S. borders for inexpensive places to retire. In many cases, retiring abroad offers the added draw of warmer weather, a lower cost of living and a slower pace of life. Whether it’s South America, Europe or Southeast Asia, a number of destinations offer Americans the ability to stretch their dollars and still live the dolce vita.
• Population: 5,685
• Climate: Mild, averaging 50 degrees Fahrenheit in winter months and 90 degrees in summer months.
• Proximity to water: Located in the center of southern Italy, Calitri is about 75 miles from the Mediterranean Sea.
• Proximity to major airport: It’s about 80 miles to Naples International Airport (NAP).
The Draw: This town in southern Italy offers scenic vistas and low-cost real estate, and it’s close to the Amalfi Coast.
Tip: As a retiree with a residency visa, you may be able to gain access to the country’s national health-care system. But many expatriates prefer to buy their own health insurance because private hospitals tend to be more upscale than their state-run counterparts.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
• Population: 1.6 million in the province; 250,000 in the city.
• Climate: Tropical; from March to May, temperatures reach 100 degrees; average high for the year is 89 degrees and the average low is 68 degrees; dry season typically runs from mid November to early May.
• Proximity to water: The Ping River runs through the city, but otherwise it’s landlocked.
• Proximity to major airport: Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) is less than ten minutes from the city center.
The Draw: Far from the civil unrest in Bangkok, this city in northern Thailand offers cooler temperatures and a calmer environment. Renowned as a medical-tourism destination, it is home to an ample supply of private hospitals, state-run clinics and full-service pharmacies that provide high-quality health care at bargain prices.
Tip: As an outsider, you cannot own land in Thailand without a local partner — but you can buy a condo or an apartment.
• Population: While Panama’s population is about 3 million, one estimate puts Coronado’s population at about 2,500.
• Climate: Tropical, with daytime temperatures between 85 to 90 degrees.
• Proximity to water: Right on the Pacific Ocean.
• Proximity to major airport: Tocumen International Airport (PTY) is about 65 miles away.
The Draw: Just over an hour’s drive from Panama City, this beachfront town hosts gated retirement communities, a low cost of living and inexpensive medical care.
Tip: As a U.S. retiree, you may be able to participate in Panama’s generous pensionado program, which offers discounts on airline tickets, doctor bills, hotel stays, movie tickets and cultural events.
• Population: 467,000 (618,000 metro area)
• Climate: Mild with an average temperature of 58 degrees; dry season falls between June and December.
• Proximity to water: Four rivers, including the Rio Tomebamba, run through Cuenca. The Pacific Ocean is the closest major body of water, but it’s not nearby.
• Proximity to major airport: Aeropuerto Mariscal LaMar (CUE) is about a mile from downtown.
The Draw: Ecuador’s third-largest city offers low-cost living, inexpensive real estate and affordable health care. And as a foreign retiree, you can get special benefits, such as discounts on utilities, public transportation and cultural events.
Tip: The U.S. dollar is the country’s currency.
• Population: 206,000
• Climate: Mild; hottest in August with an average temperature of 75 degrees, and coolest in January averaging about 40 degrees.
• Proximity to water: Right on the Adriatic Sea.
• Proximity to major airport: Pula Airport (PUY) is about three miles from the center of town.
The Draw: Expats say Istria is like Tuscany, only cheaper and less touristy. The mountainous region — which, in fact, used to be part of Italy — is across the Adriatic Sea from its former ruler. Istria has low-cost real estate and mild weather. As an expat, you may want to opt for private health insurance through a global carrier such as Bupa International (www.bupa-intl.com).
Tip: Doctor visits are much less expensive than they are in the U.S., running as little as $50.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
• Population: 1.4 million
• Climate: Very humid and rainy, with average temperatures between 70 and 91 degrees.
• Proximity to water: About 50 miles to the Indian Ocean.
• Proximity to major airport: Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is 33 miles away.
The Draw: This buzzing spot in southeast Asia just north of the equator offers inexpensive living for big-city types. If you meet the financial requirements (which means depositing roughly $150,000 in a Malaysian bank account), you can participate in “Malaysia My Second Home” (www.mm2h.gov.my), a program that includes a variety of tax incentives as well as property-buying and business opportunities.
Tip: English, the second language, is widely spoken here.
Punta del Este, Uruguay
• Population: About 7,000 permanent residents.
• Climate: Average temperatures are 86 degrees in the summer and 54 degrees in the winter.
• Proximity to water: There’s 31 miles of coastline between the Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic Ocean, which meet at Punta del Este.
• Proximity to major airport: Laguna del Sauce Airport (PDP) is ten miles away.
The Draw: You’ll find inexpensive living, natural beauty and affordable homes near the beach in an area known as the Riviera of South America. Low-cost health care is a plus.
Tip: As an expat, you can buy private hospital insurance, which covers you at specific medical facilities, for about $50 a month.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
• Population: 3 million
• Climate: Mild, with the average temperature about 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Proximity to water: Right on the Rio de la Plata, which feeds into the Atlantic Ocean.
• Proximity to major airport: Ezeiza Ministro Pistarini Airport (EZE) is 26 miles away.
The Draw: Okay, you’ve heard of this one, but if you retire to the capital of Argentina, you’ll enjoy low property prices in a South American city with a European flair, a slow pace of life and a reliable health-care system. Spanish is the official language, but English is spoken widely.
Tip: Doctors, dentists and other medical-care providers generally expect you to pay cash upfront.