take a vacationRetiring abroad can be an enriching experience, and it’s already a popular option. According to the Associated Press, the number of Americans retiring outside the US has grown by 17% between 2010 and 2015. But uprooting your life and replanting it on the other side of the world is a huge undertaking. You want to make sure the place you choose is the right one beforehand. That’s why I recommend you take a vacation.

Do Some Reconnaissance

Maybe you still have a few years of work left in you before you retire. Take your vacation time as an opportunity to visit and investigate potential places to retire.

First, do some research online. I like to use Numbeo to get detailed information about living expenses in different places around the world. Make a list of places where your retirement savings will stretch a lot further. Research their visa requirements. Some countries may have retirement visa programs.

Once you’ve learned all the internet can tell you about a potential place to retire, take a vacation. Visit the country, but not just the Hilton in the capital. Head to a city or town you can see yourself retiring in.

See the sights and spend time mingling with the locals. Is their language and culture something you’d be interested in learning more about?

Importantly, take a look at some local real estate. See if the kind of retirement homes you would want are available for an affordable price. You may want to travel to other towns to compare.

Even if you don’t fall in love with a place on your vacation, you still have other opportunities to do reconnaissance on future vacations. And you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’ve made an informed decision about where to spend your Golden Years.

5 Places to Explore

Getting excited about your reconnaissance vacation? Good. Here are a few popular retirement hotspots you can explore.


If healthcare is one of the biggest selling points for reitring overseas, then Portugal is a great option to investigate. The country has public health care, which legal foreign residents have access to as long as they register. Portugal is ranked 12th in the world in overall health care, better than what the US can say.


Mexico is a great option because of proximity. To visit your family or have them visit you, it won’t cost an arm and a leg. More than a million Americans already live in Mexico, and take advantage of affordable cost-of-living and elder care. Having Social Security or some savings is usually enough to get residency.


Ecuador is one of the most affordable retirement locales on the list. There’s plenty of affordable real estate you can rent or buy to build long-term savings and stretch your nest egg.

In the major cities, healthcare is world class and the weather is great everywhere. Ecuadorians also respect their elders. Retirees get discounts on flights, movies, sporting events, public transport, and many other areas.


Nicaragua is a developing country with constantly improving infrastructure. And every year it becomes a more attractive retirement locale. Development is ongoing and cost of living is low, but your creature comforts can easily be found at Walmart, PriceMart, and other familiar stores around the country.

Getting residency is fairly simple, and it’s also easy to start a business in the country, if that’s something you’re interested in post-retirement. 


Belize is a great retirement option for a lot of reasons. If you like the tropical environment of Mexico, Central and South America but fear it’s too late to get a grip on Spanish, then Belize is for you. The country’s official language is English, and everyone speaks it.

Another reason it’s an option to explore is Belize’s Qualified Retired Persons (QRPs) visa. Some countries have financial asset requirements before issuing retirement visas, but the QRP is available to anyone over the age of 45.

These are just a few of the many countries you can investigate. Turn all your vacations into reconnaissance missions before you retire abroad.

Also, check out our other articles that might help.

Worried About Retirement? Time to Move Abroad

Yes, You Can Start a Business and Keep Your Job

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