I’ll retire at 62 with $1.2 million and want to live in an affordable, safe place near the beach — where should I look?
I am 43 years old and plan to retire at 62. As a member of Gen X, I already know that Social Security will most likely not be around for me. I plan to retire on $1.2 million in retirement savings. I’ve already decided it won’t be in the U.S. Where can I live to stretch my retirement dollars? It must have a low cost of living, low health-care costs, low crime and be near a beach. Thank you for your help.
I’m getting more interest from readers these days about retiring abroad — mostly because they feel they can get more bang for their buck outside of the U.S. They often can, but going abroad can have big downsides, sometimes including higher crime, being far from your family and not-so-great health care.
That said, your $1.2 million future nest egg could stretch a lot further in many spots abroad than it would in the U.S. Plus, though you doubt Social Security will be around for you, many experts say that you can, in fact, count on it — even if benefits are curtailed somewhat. As MarketWatch’s Alessandra Malito recently reported: “Many Americans believe Social Security won’t exist when they retire — they’re wrong. Social Security does face serious challenges, and the payout may decline — but the program itself is not going anywhere.”
Here are some places that meet most of your criteria, with one caveat: While this is all true today, a lot could change over the next 19 years. Still, I love that you’re planning so far ahead. Bravo!
Panama is known as a safe country and ranks in the top 100 (82nd, to be exact) in the world for health-care quality and access, with residents saying Panamanian health care is generally affordable. And Coronado in particular — it’s around 40 miles west of Panama City on the Pacific Ocean — is considered a very safe community with “a top-notch medical facility,” says Suzan Haskins, a senior editor at International Living.
Once a resort town for affluent Panamanians, in recent decades Coronado — whose beaches feature black-and-white speckled sand — has become popular with expats, who enjoy the golf, shopping and restaurants in the area.
It’s also pretty affordable: If you don’t live right by the beach, you can get by on under $2,000 a month, with the added bonus of a pensionado visa program that offers a ton of discounts for seniors. One downside is that, because Coronado is a resort town, it can feel hectic at times because of tourism.
George Town, Malaysia
Malaysia snagged the top spot in International Living’s rankings of international health care and landed on Investopedia’s list of the top 10 cheapest and safest countries to retire in. What’s more, George Town itself scored a spot on U.S. News’ list of the best places to retire in Asia, with that publication noting that it is one of “Southeast Asia’s most livable destinations” with “low costs,” “excellent” health care and expat perks like the fact that “foreigners are welcome” and “English is widely spoken.”
As for those beaches you’re dreaming of, U.S. News points out that “almost on the city’s doorstep are stylish seaside settlements with palm-fringed sandy beaches and a backdrop of lush rainforest.” You’ll also enjoy great food, interesting architecture (one section of the city is a Unesco World Heritage site) and a fun arts scene. However, it’ll be a long flight — you’ll often spend more than a day traveling — to come back and visit stateside friends and family.
Affordable and culturally rich, Mérida — which I recently recommended to a woman who was hoping to retire near the beach in Mexico on under $1,200 a month — seems to meet most of your requirements, too.
Though it’s not right on the beach, it’s just 25 miles from the famed sugar-sand beaches of the Yucatán’s Gulf Coast (it’s hard to beat those beaches in terms of natural beauty) — and Mérida, which has a population of upward of 800,000, has the added benefit of offering great food, plenty of events to entertain you and a thriving expat community. Dan Prescher, the senior editor at International Living, points out that health care here costs “a fraction of what you’d pay in the U.S.” and many of the doctors went to medical school in America and speak English.
Though it might not be the safest place on this list (the U.S. Department of State puts the Yucatán Peninsula as a whole at a Level 2, which connotes the suggestion that Americans traveling there exercise increased caution), Mérida itself is known as one of the safest cities in Mexico, and people generally say they feel safe living here. “For my money, Mérida, the capital of Yucatán State in Mexico, has it all when it comes to affordability, low crime, and access to great health care,” Prescher says.
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