Since I was forced into early retirement by work injuries three years ago, I've had plenty of time to consider how I'd like to shape the years ahead. It's clear that there is little to tie me to Missoula, and there is much to recommend relocating to a warmer climate with more diverse culture, and easier access to nature. For a long time, my assumptions for possible destinations centered on the American West ~ I am a geophile, and the rugged, dramatic landscape of the western U.S. is where many of my roots lie.
Many, but not all. I've lived in all quadrants of the country, and found appealing qualities in each. Lately I've been casting my thoughts further afield. What would it be like to pick from my long wish list of global travel destinations, and simply relocate there? Ireland, New Zealand, Kenya/Tanzania, Spain, France, Central America? Many American expatriates settle, temporarily or permanently, in other countries to enjoy a lower cost of living, better health care, exotic wildlife, or to immerse themselves in a different language and culture. On my limited income, and with my lifelong curiosity, all of those reasons hold immense appeal.
Naturally, there are trade-offs. Such a move would make it harder to spend time with family and existing friends (but would provide a colorful place for them to come visit me, as well as the opportunity to make new friends I otherwise never would have met). One has to become informed about local crime, the financial exchange rate, weather, infrastructure, language and customs. Which is fine ~ it's like making up a wish list for birthday gifts, and then comparing and contrasting them to see which appeals most.
With regard to Central America, I came across this resource (only one of many) which suggests the best places to live, retire, and invest. Here are their recommendations ~
- World's top retirement haven ~ Panama
- World's most affordable retirement haven ~ Equador
- Best luxury beach retirement choice ~ Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
- Best Caribbean retirement choice ~ Ambergris Caye, Belize
- Best Old World retirement choice ~ southwestern France
- Best place to escape the world ~ Cayo, Belize
- Best place to start a business ~ Panama
- Best place to open an offshore bank account ~ Belize
- Emerging bests for investment ~ Medellin, Colombia ~ Philippines ~ China
- Emerging best for retirement ~ China
Click on the link above for more details on each choice. Many will be surprised that Costa Rica doesn't appear on the list. I learned while watching a travel program on PBS that so many have relocated to Costa Rica that the cost of living has risen there. I'd still want to check it out for myself. Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Ecuador, and France all sound appealing to me.