These overseas retirement spots have water views and an affordable cost of living.
A beach retirement costs much less if you are willing to move overseas.
Perhaps the most common retire-overseas daydream is a new life at the beach. Mountain lifestyles and city living can be great options, but the promise of a beachfront retirement draws many people abroad. If you, like so many others, dream of a coastal retirement, here are five of your best choices.
1. Playas, Ecuador. Thanks to its tucked-away position in the Gulf of Guayaquil, which protects it from the open Pacific and the cold waters of the Humboldt Current, the waters at Playas are warm and calm year-round. The area boasts 320 days of sunshine annually (again thanks to its position in the gulf). This is an important distinction along Ecuador’s coast, most of which is overcast for a good portion of each year.
In addition, Playas is Ecuador’s most accessible beach, just 60 miles from the airport in Guayaquil. The drive takes about an hour and 15 minutes. Other beaches in Ecuador can be as much as a six-hour drive from the international airports.
Playas is a low-key, relaxed spot with the character and charm of a fishing village. The small fishing fleet that operates along this stretch of coast blends with the beach resort community to create a unique beach experience that is both homey and culturally rich. Fresh seafood is abundant and a bargain.
The cost of real estate is also affordable. A two-bedroom beachfront home in a private community can cost as little as $139,000.
2. Viña del Mar, Chile. Viña del Mar came into its own as a resort in the 1920s. Today, it’s Chile’s most popular seaside destination, drawing people from around the country as well as a large number of international visitors.
Despite its latitude, the weather in Viña del Mar is comfortable all year, thanks to the Pacific Ocean’s modifying influence on temperatures. The Humboldt Current keeps summertime temperatures cool and winter temperatures moderate.
The beaches at Viña del Mar are not only beautiful but also adjacent to a city, meaning that, retired here, you could enjoy the benefits of both beach and cosmopolitan lifestyles. Along the seafront are restaurants, clubs, cafés and the stately municipal casino. Just a few blocks inland, the city of Viña del Mar, with its population of 300,000, offers shopping centers, theater, an orchestra and administrative services. What’s more, Valparaíso is just a few minutes away with even more big-city entertainment and services.
At the current exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Chilean peso, you can own a two-bedroom condo in a full-amenity building with an ocean view for less than $200,000.
3. Santa Marta, Colombia. Everyone has heard of Cartagena, Colombia, this country’s best known destination. However, just 150 miles up the Caribbean coast from Cartagena is another coastal city, Santa Marta, that offers sandy beaches, calm waters and excellent diving. The city also has an upbeat and energetic culture, warm weather year-round and diverse and attractive retirement lifestyle options. Cartagena is for tourists. Santa Marta is for living.
Santa Marta is the oldest city in Colombia. As recently as five or six years ago, its downtown was seedy and rough around the edges. However, focused efforts in the past few years have restored the colonial parks, churches and other structures. This historic zone has been reborn. Its seafront now boasts small cafes, bars, boutique hotels, excellent seafood restaurants and a cruise ship port. The long-rumored 256-slip marina is now completed and operational, and new condo projects have sprouted up nearby. South of the city, higher-end projects are being developed along tranquil sandy beaches.
The currently strong dollar (the greenback is at an all-time high versus the Colombian peso) means you could buy in one of Santa Marta’s top neighborhoods, in a building with ocean views and direct ocean access, for as little as $125,000.
4. Mazatlán, Mexico. Mazatlán is an ideal choice for your beachfront retirement. Its large and restored colonial historic center is both an appealing place to spend time and very affordable. There are 20 miles of beautiful beaches, and great options for restaurants and cafés. The atmosphere is more Mexican than many of Mexico’s coastal cities, where foreigners can dominate the culture. There’s also easy access to the United States. Mazatlán is 1.6 hours away by air or 13 hours by car.
Mazatlán’s winter weather is about as good as it gets, with comfortable days and cool nights. No air conditioning is required. In the summertime, however, it’s hot, with mid-summer temperatures hitting 90 degrees almost every day. For this reason, Mazatlán can be a great part-time retirement choice.
Mazatlán is a popular resort and cruise destination, which explains why it has more than its share of amenities for a city this size. Tourism also explains why so much English is spoken here. But, away from the beach, it’s also a city with a sizeable fishing fleet and an industrial base that provides a non-tourism economic diversity.
A bit to the south lies the town of Puerto Vallarta, which is much better known and boasts a more developed tourist infrastructure. However, Puerto Vallarta is also more expensive. It is one of the most expensive property markets in all of Mexico. If you like the idea of coastal Mexico, Mazatlán offers a much more affordable option that has already attracted many expats. The foreign retirement community here is big and growing.
You could own in front of Mazatlán’s best beach and boardwalk for as little as $250,000 or just outside of town on the ocean for as little as $160,000.
5. Natal, Brazil. Natal is noted for its miles-long crescent beach, protected by a giant dune that shelters it from the onshore winds. The adjacent waters are calm, clear, warm and shallow. The cafés, restaurants and nightlife of Natal are renowned throughout Europe and Brazil. And thanks to the weak Brazilian real, property prices are attractive.
Natal is billed as one of the sunniest cities in Brazil, with more than 300 days of sunshine per year. There are only a few degrees of seasonal variation in temperature, with the warmest average high temperatures coming in at about 88 degrees. Bathers here enjoy warm waters 12 months a year. Water temperatures average a comfortable 79 degrees year-round.
One particularly appealing sector of Natal is the Ponta Negra district, which boasts a beautiful beach extending for miles, as well as a pleasant and attractive waterfront zone. Lined with restaurants, shops and nightclubs, the waterfront is busy into the wee hours every night. Then, the next morning, the beach is busy with a new crowd of strollers, sunbathers and swimmers. Some of the waterfront nightspots transform themselves into open-air seaside coffee shops at sunrise and begin each new day without ever closing their doors.
Natal qualifies as one of the world’s best beachfront bargains. Thanks to the current exchange rate, you could own an ocean-view apartment in Ponta Negra for as little as $85,000.
Original article attributed to US News & Kathleen Peddicord