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Economic Considerations & Climate





4)   QUALITY OF LIFE . . .


Super Cheap

#1: Leon (cheapest), Granada, or San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Main negative- high crime rate, avoided by staying in your gated community most of the time.


#2: Cuenca, Ecuador-

Negative? Read the extensive report by Ascoli Books


#3: Medellin, Colombia

Formerly high crime rate, but pretty safe now. Nothing not to like.


#4: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Exotic, Very safe. Most beautiful and available Nubile women in Asia.  Nothing not to like.

Great Food!



#1: Las Tablas (cheapest), Panama City, or Boquete, Panama

Very Safe- First World Infrastructure & Product Availability.

Uses the USA $ as currency.


#2: Montevideo, Uruguay


#3: Buenos Aires or Mendoza, Argentina


A reader comments: 

My cousin, a university professor in Buenos Aires,  slows down at red lights, then drives through without stopping. Why?  Because of fear hold-ups that occur at crossings quite regularly. Then too, utilities are no longer reliable. Occasionally we would experience a brown-out:  The utility companies are broke and cannot keep up with demand. The economic strain there is obvious. You see potholes in the streets.  Like the Favellas of Brazil here, entire slum settlements are called “villas miserias.” They are full of destitute people--“cartoneros.”  The inhabitants rummage through garbage awaiting (unreliable!) collection. They hope to salvage cardboard, which they sell for a little money to buy food. Many turn to crime to survive. Buenos Aires, therefore, is not a city where I would like to live. I would rather pick a spot in Uruguay, Paraguay, or Chile. If you are going to live in an area of high crime and poverty, you might as well stay in the US A. IMO It has a few more years of good quality of life and relatively low crime rates in many places before all the major cities decline to comparable levels with Buenos Aires.


#4: Ambergris Caye or Cayo, Belize

Belize City is one of the worst looking dumps in the world with high crime.


#5: Kuala Lumpur or Penang, Malaysia


Luxury on a Budget


#1: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, or many ex-pat settlements in Mexico.

Most are safe from the widely publicized Drug Lawlessness


#2: Southwestern or Small Town France

Grandpa Lives in the South of France

We believe France to have the highest quality of life anywhere in the world.


#3 Santiago Chile-

Chile is the poster child for a relatively unregulated, Libertarian oriented society.

Negative?  "In Santiago, the pollution gagged us," says Kathleen Peddicord."


After a full day of walking around the city, our throats were sore, our eyes were burning, and our heads were aching. Locals assured us the current pollution levels aren't so bad when you get used to it. I enjoyed Santiago and recognize that she has much to offer the would-be ex-pat and retiree.

But I couldn't recommend that anyone think about living here, certainly not full-time... As much as I liked the city, I've taken Santiago off my list, but not Chile. Chile is a developed, stable country that is also affordable and, in parts, exceptionally beautiful."


Grandpa says: For the quality of life, you can't beat Europe, but for "cheap" the above are some of my reader’s choices.

10 Countries Where Retirees Live Large

Retirement in the United States is nice and all until they ask you actually to pay for stuff.


When retirees' nest eggs are a finite and dwindling resource, rising local and federal taxes can put even the staunchest, flag-draped patriotism to the test. If retirees are willing to leave the states behind, the savings can be substantial.


The folks at International Living crunched the numbers and looked at the price of simple staples, assimilation, and staying in touch with family left behind. The following countries scored high marks not only for their inexpensive living but for overall friendliness toward American retirees:



A retiree has it pretty sweet in Panama, where a program commonly known as pensionado help retirees settle in quickly. International Living says retirees can live like kings here for $1,500 to $2,000 a month and score apartments for less than $500 a month or buy waterfront condos for less than $200,000. Pensionado, meanwhile, gives users 15% off fast food, 15% off at hospitals and clinics, 20% off professional services used in Panama, 25% off the price of food eaten in a sit-down restaurant; 25% off domestic flights on Copa Airlines, a 30% discount on public transport and 50% off movies, theater tickets and sporting events. There's no age limit for the service, either, so help yourself.



Considering the tensions over the state of Mexico/U.S. immigration law, it's at the very least amusing to consider American workers streaming south to chase their retirement dreams. But great homes on Mexico's Caribbean coast go for less than $170,000 while places such as Lake Chapala are home to dozens of expat communities. It's not such a bad place for snowbirds, either. It's the only retirement destination on this list within driving distance, and retirees can rent out their properties in the off months to cover costs.



The country's My Second Home retirement benefits program for all foreigners is a great draw, but so is the quality of Internet access, cellphone coverage and roads. It also helps that it's dirt cheap. A sea-view apartment with a pool and gym on Penang Island goes for $1,000 a month, and big-budget movies usually premiere here, are shown in English, and go for about $4. Oh, and there's plenty of English being spoken as well.


Medellin has a notorious reputation among Americans who know it mostly for its drug-laden past, but that hasn't prevented a huge expat population from springing up within city limits. Medellin's El Poblado district has Japanese, French, seafood, and Italian restaurants within each other's block. Its health care system ranks atop any other stop on this list, while the cost of everything from housing to entertainment is a great fit for a fixed income. 


New Zealand

The English speaking certainly helps, but so do the winters that come during an American summer. That's some pretty costly snowbirding, so maybe the proliferation and low cost of every day amenities, as well as more frivolous items, should be seen as long-term investments. New Zealand's reputation for healthy living and near-absent pollution should also appeal to those who want to extend retirement as long as possible.



A visit to the doctor is $15. Overall, health care can cost as much as 60% less than the U.S., while U.S.-trained doctors speak English and will make house calls. A huge expat population in Granada's colonial city spends about around $1,200 a month to live there, considering a small house can be $500 to $1,000 a month to rent. The best steak dinner in town runs about $13, while regular meals go for half, and "local meals" are $2 to $3. Local beer, meanwhile, runs between 75 cents and $1.50. This makes Florida's cost of living look like Manhattan's.



Wait, the same Spain that just dodged a bailout and is still dealing with crushing debt? Yep, that's the one, but austerity measures haven't bitten into the best of what Spain has to offer. This is by no means the cheapest option on the list and, in fact, has the most expensive real estate of any country listed. That said, it's really easy to fit in, with near-ubiquitous English, three-course meals for less than $20, and modern infrastructure that places a high value on convenient, punctual rail service. Combine that with teeming culture and tons of ways to pass the time, and Spain can be a great fit for retirees who've already weathered a shaky economy. 


About $500 a month is enough to score a nice new home just about anywhere in Thailand. One of International Living's contributors pays just $222 a month for a beachside bungalow with air conditioning, hot water, Wi-Fi, and a refrigerator. Altogether, the cost of living in Thailand sets retirees back only about $1,000 a month while giving them great amenities and vibrant cultural and entertainment options. Bangkok still gets pretty wild, but loads of expats and lots of English speakers help ease the transition. 



The benefits offered to retirees beyond the three-hour flights back to see the kids are fairly substantial, especially considering that expats living on the beachfront property can do well here on less than $1,500 a month. Scuba diving, fishing, sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, and surfing are lovely too. But even Honduras can't top the last entry on our list:


This basically is Florida or Arizona for the expat community. The country's retirement benefits package includes 50% off transportation, utility bills, international round-trip flights originating in Ecuador, and tickets for cultural and sporting events. Foreigners can also enroll in Ecuador's Social Security medical program for $57 a month. Those over 65 also pay a lower income tax. Penthouse suites and beachfront condos go for $50,000, while beachfront rentals hover around $500 a month. A retiree's entire cost of living rounds out to roughly $800 to $1,500 a month, and the neighbors more often than not are either A) other expats or B) English-speaking locals. We'll warn that this isn't exactly undiscovered country among retirees, but it's several steps up from the costly retirement kennels and golf carts of more costly American hot spots.

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