Where to Retire Abroad in 2012

By Fawn Farley , last updated February 1, 2012
The question may not be where to retire abroad in 2012, but where NOT to retire abroad in 2012! As the cost of living in America skyrockets, the allure of living in a more affordable, warmer, and exotic location appeals strongly to those adventurous folks seeking retirement. Aching bones long to leave the cold, working world behind in pursuit of life's next chapter, and, fortunately, this can be done at a fraction of the cost it would take to retire in America. Close your eyes and consider the following retirement destinations: Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, Belize, and France.
Ecuador topped the charts of International Living's World's Top Retirement Havens for 2012 as the cheapest place to retire. Located between Colombia and Peru on the Pacific Ocean, Ecuador's largest cities of Cuenca and Quito offer Western conveniences that Americans have grown accustomed to, such as the Internet and cellphone towers. It is easy to live well on $1,000 a month, and the country boasts an excellent health care system known as Caja. Paying $40 a month for healthcare is an Ecuadorian reality unheard of in the U.S. This country also has some of the best-valued real estate in the world!
Panama also boasts a distinctly affordable retirement, while offering supreme incentives for foreign retirees. Known as pensionado, this discount program offers great discounts on entertainment, professional services, public transportation, hospital visits, food, and more. There isn't even a minimum age to qualify. Imagine getting 50% off the ticket price on movies, theaters, and sporting events just for being a foreign retiree!
One of the greatest benefits of retiring to Mexico is its proximity to the United States. You can easily fly home to see the grandkids, and you have the option of driving your possessions to your newfound home, as opposed to checking them at the airport. Weather is comparable here to Florida and Arizona, popular American retirement spots, and many Mexican hospitals have American-trained staff fluent in English. Mexico's largest retirement community, in Lake Chapala, has over 80 interest groups for retirees to engage in a variety of fun activities.
An amazing retirement destination for those in love with the sea! Can you imagine spending the rest of your years on the ocean, scuba diving, sailing, or simply lounging near the tidal waves on the white sand beaches? A real perk to settling in Belize is that it's an English-speaking country. Many restaurants and hotels even accept U.S. currency, and the exchange rate is an even two Belize dollars on each American dollar. Its Qualified Retirement Program offers many benefits for foreign retirees, including a fast track to gaining residency.
To diversify this list from the popular South and Central American retirement spots, France deserves a mention. Although France is not quite as friendly on the pocketbook, it offers affordability in the southwest regions. Take the bustling city of Montpellier, for instance, which is a quick three-hour train ride into the heart of historically rich Paris, and offers castle ruins and a Mediterranean shoreline. The World Health Organization has ranked France's health care system the best in the world.
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