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World's Top Retirement Havens 1 Through 9

By Kathleen Peddicord

Summary: Where are the best places to retire overseas? Which retirement haven is right for you? France? Ecuador? Panama? Nicaragua? Thailand? Kathleen Peddicord shares the pros and cons of the world's top 9 retirement havens.

Living Overseas:  - World's Top Retirement Havens 1 Through 9

The world can seem a scary place these days. You almost can't escape the news...and it's all bad. Threats to your safety, threats to your privacy, threats to your financial security, threats to your future, to your freedom...

Nothing but doom and gloom and all beyond your control.

As I explained to the nearly 400 in attendance at the Sovereign Society Total Wealth Symposium where I presented yesterday...not really.

What's required is a small shift of perspective.

The truth is, you can take control of your life and of your future if you want to. The key is diversification. Just as you spread your investments beyond one basket, so, too, should you work to spread your life around. If you, your assets, your business, your bank accounts, and your passport are all connected to one country...well, then, you're at the mercy of that country. Things fall apart there, things fall apart for you. But if you're residing one place, traveling on a passport issued somewhere else, banking in one jurisdiction, investing your money in others, and operating your business yet elsewhere...then you're protected, at least as much as you can be.

You can ride out ups and downs.

The world is also a playground of opportunity. Opportunity for starting over, for a second chance, for adventure, for fun, and for profit. When you begin paying more attention to these opportunities than to the doomsday theorists and their dire predictions, you find your way, organically, one step and one day at a time, to the kind of global diversification that I'm talking about.

Dozens of countries offer opportunity right now for living better, retiring well, investing for profit, and starting over. I highlighted nine:

Top Haven #1: Panama, the World's Top Retirement, Top Offshore, and Top Doing Business Haven

Pros:

  • This is the Hub of the Americas, meaning it's an easy, accessible place to travel to and from...
  • Best infrastructure in Central America...
  • A tax haven, meaning you can live and operate a business tax-free...
  • Best place in the world to start a business...
  • The world's Gold Standard pensionado program of special benefits for retirees...
  • A diversity of lifestyles, from big city to Pacific beaches, from mountain highlands to Caribbean isles...
  • International-standard health care...
Cons:
  • As developed as Panama is, this is still the Third World...
  • This is the Tropics (meaning the weather, in Panama City and on the coasts, is hot and sticky)...
  • No longer a banking haven...

Top Haven #2: France, the World's Best Quality of Life

Pros:

  • World's best developed-world living...
  • World's best health care...
  • World's most beautiful and romantic city...
  • More affordable than you might think...
Cons:
  • One of the most onerous tax regimes in the world (only an issue if you're a legal resident and earning an income)...
  • Miserable place to try to start a business...
  • You'll need to learn to speak at least some French...

Top Haven #3: Malaysia, Asia's Most Welcoming Retirement Haven

Pros:

  • Only country in Asia that makes foreign residency easy...
  • Diversity of lifestyles...
  • English commonly spoken...
  • International-standard medical care...
  • Very affordable...
  • Tax haven...
Cons:
  • Halfway around the world...
  • Asian lifestyle is more exotic for North Americans...
  • Third World...

Top Haven #4: Ecuador, Most Affordable Retirement In The Americas

Pros:

  • Probably the most affordable place you'd want to live in the Americas...
  • Established expat base in Cuenca...
Cons:
  • Nearly Fourth World...
  • Less accessible...
  • Less stable...

Top Haven #5: Thailand--Exotic and Super Cheap

Pros:

  • One of the cheapest places in the world to live or retire today....
  • Super exotic (this can be a pro or a con, depending on your point of view)....
  • Established expat base....
Cons:
  • Not easy to establish full-time legal residency (so live here only part-time)....
  • Halfway around the world....

Top Haven #6: Nicaragua--Beautiful, Romantic, and Super Cheap

Pros:
  • Nearby and accessible....
  • New program of benefits for foreign retirees....
  • Very affordable....
  • Established expat base....
  • The best of Costa Rica (only better)....
Cons:
  • President Ortega, who remains a wild card and insists he's running for re-election this year....
  • Third World....
  • Poor infrastructure....

Top Haven #7: Uruguay--Peaceful, Safe, and Tax-Free

Pros:

  • Stable, peaceful, relaxed, and removed from the troubles of much of the world right now....
  • Tax haven....
  • Great infrastructure....
  • Easy residency....
Cons:
  • Way down at the bottom of the earth....
  • Maybe boring....

Top Haven #8: Belize--Offshore Frontier

Pros:

  • Country of independent thinkers where you can make your own way....
  • Everyone speaks English....
  • Banking haven....
  • Tax haven....
  • Land values in the Cayo are a great bargain....
Cons:
  • Not super cheap, especially on Ambergris Caye....
  • Health care facilities are limited....

Top Haven #9: Medellin, Colombia--Emerging Haven Where Property Prices Are An Absolute Bargain

Pros:
  • Pleasant weather year-round, thanks to the elevation....
  • Pretty city in a pretty setting....
  • More genteel way of life than you'll find in most of Latin America....
  • Real estate values are a screaming bargain....
Cons:
  • This is a market in the workaround stage, meaning things like establishing foreign residency and opening a non-resident bank account can require "workarounds"....
  • Not a tax haven....
  • Exchange controls (which can be managed with proper counsel)....
Kathleen Peddicord
Publisher Live and Invest Overseas

About the Author

Established in 2008, Live and Invest Overseas is the vision of Publisher Kathleen Peddicord.

Kathleen Peddicord has covered the live and invest overseas beat for more than 25 years and is considered the world's foremost authority on overseas retirement. She has traveled to more than 50 countries, invested in real estate in 17, established businesses in 7, renovated historic properties in 6, and educated her children in 4.

Click here to peruse Live and Invest Overseas publications, conferences and more.

First Published: Jun 04, 2011

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