7 Countries Where You Can Afford to Retire by the Beach
Retiring to a quiet place by the beach is a dream for many Americans and others around the world. Perhaps the last two years of pandemic-related upheaval have intensified the dream of getting away from the daily grind to resettle in an ideal place. And for many, life by the beach is that ideal.
In most of the U.S., property by the seashore comes at a premium, and home prices are out of reach for many retirees. However, quite a few countries around the world offer pristine beaches, low cost of living, and attractive lifestyles, making them affordable destinations for those whose hearts are set on beachfront living.
These are some of the countries that make it possible to find that place by the sea and live comfortably for a fraction of what it would cost in the U.S. Most have expat communities, reasonably priced healthcare, affordable homes, and residency options.
Five hundred miles of shoreline, quaint fishing villages, and moderate weather are good starting points for retirement in this South American country. Another big plus is that they use the United States dollar for their currency. Good quality healthcare is available at reasonable prices, and public transportation in many cities makes a car unnecessary. In the city of Cuenca, for example, the cost of living is 66% less expensive, and rents are about 88% lower, when compared with New York City.
Located in Central America, Nicaragua is nicknamed "The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes." The country faces the shores of both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, so there's plenty of beachfront to go around, in addition to rivers, lakes, and rainforests. The cost of living is low, and there are residency options for retirees requiring a monthly income of at least $600. In most places, U.S. dollars are accepted, and the Nicaraguan government offers tax incentives and encourages investment in the country. For example, out-of-country earnings are not taxable.
Retirees have their pick of beachfront locations in Thailand, including a number of tropical islands. The cost of living is low, the people are friendly, and the food is delicious — making this country a great retirement destination. The overall cost of living is around 38% lower than in the United States, and rent is about 64% lower. Retirement visas are available for those at least 50 years old with a valid passport, background check, at least $24,500 in a Thai bank account, and monthly income of about $2,000.
Related: 11 Best Cities to Retire in the U.S
With 2,000 miles of coastline, finding a place to live near the beach should be relatively easy. Retirees will most likely rent since foreigners are restricted from owning land, with the exception of certain condo developments in large cities. For comparison, rent is about 69% lower than in the United States, and the cost of living is low — about 47% lower than in the U.S. Most retirees opt for the private health care system where costs are low and quality is high. Food is delicious and prices are low.
While it's not the lowest cost option for retiring on the beach, Belize offers many advantages. First, there are miles of gorgeous coastline, and for a change of scenery, there's a dense rainforest on the mainland. The overall cost of living is about 28% lower than in the United States, and rent is 73% lower. Residents speak English, and both Belize currency and the U.S. dollar are accepted. The Qualified Retired Person Residency Program, an easy way to establish residency, requires income of at least $24,000 annually along with a background and medical check.
This South American country offers coastline on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, so retirees seeking beach living have many options, and the Andes Mountains and Amazon rainforest are nearby for a change of scenery. The cost of living is about 61% lower than in the United States, and rents are a bargain at an average of 80% lower than in the U.S. Medical and dental care are high quality and affordable, with both public and private institutions available. Several visa categories are available, and the most common Migrant Pensionado Visa requires a minimum monthly income of about $717.
With borders on the Gulf of Mexico in the east and the Pacific Ocean in the west, Mexico offers around 6,000 miles of coastline. Baja California, Acapulco, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Rosarita, and La Paz are a few well-known beach areas, and quiet fishing villages might attract retirees with lower costs and casual atmospheres. Mexico's low cost of living, climate, and affordable healthcare are attractions, with rents about 70% lower than in the United States. Becoming a resident is relatively easy. For temporary residence, monthly income of about $2,100 is required, and for permanent residence, the minimum income is $2,700. Bank account requirements are about $36,000 and $149,000 respectively.