What is the best third-world country to retire to?

Cheap, nice, safe… these are some essentials… friendly would be up there too…

So many Americans and Canadians retire in Mexico, Panama and Ecuador… but are they safe?

What about Nicaragua? I hear it’s maybe the safest country in Latin America, and a nice place to live (but not the capital city Managua) – is this right?

What about Asian countries? Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia… or someplace else?

Are there any nice, clean places in India, or maybe not?

10 thoughts on “What is the best third-world country to retire to?

  1. Norbert G

    Hi AJ,

    I spent a few months in Nicaragua, Panama, and Ecuador among other countries last year. All of these countries are safe, beautiful, and have a lot to offer. All of these countries are also very inexpensive.

    Yes, Nicaragua (except Managua) is the safest country in Latin America. One drawback in my mind is that the healthcare system in Nicaragua is not good. Outside of Managua you will not find any hospitals that are up to Western standard. In Panama and Ecuador, however, good healthcare is available in the major cities.

    Also, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines are good countries to retire.

    And here’s one of my favorite, regardless of what everybody else thinks, and that is Colombia. I spent a couple of months in Colombia last year and will go back this August for about 6 months time. Colombia is a very beautiful country, has different climate zones (something for everybody’s taste), has the friendliest people in South America, and if you like women, Colombia also has some of the most beautiful women in the world.
    Even though you hear bad things about Colombia what safety is concerned, most stories are pretty old, and Colombia has become a relative safe country.

    Before you decide where you want to retire you need to spend at least a few weeks in several countries to narrow it down to maybe 2 or 3.

    Have a great time.

  2. Jon

    Thailand is amazing. I staying in Patong for 5 days and I loved it, but you have to take all these places with a grain of salt. Thailand is great, but I doubt you’ll find too much high-speed internet there.

  3. Ian M

    It’s a matter of what countries will grant you a retirement visa.

    Thailand is possible and reasonably safe. Of the countries in Central America I suggest Costa Rica as a possibility, it’s fairly safe (No more risky that Miami) but without a working knowledge of Spanish it will be tough going.

  4. Jin Hayashi

    It really depends on the area.
    Every country regardless will have some kind of crime and be not clean

  5. xXKaryXx

    a lot of people that retire in mexico are very happy, specially in small beach towns (rosarito and nayarit are good examples)
    nicaragua is going through civil wars so i don’t think it’s the safest

  6. John Shade

    Something that hasn’t been mentioned are geographical regions and how it may impact health among older and/or retired people especially those who are not native to the region. Take for example Ecuador, a relatively small country but with a geographical diversity that is larger than Mexico. Quito, the capital of Ecuador, sits on a plateau located more than 9,000 ft (2,750 m) above sea level, and as a result it has a "spring-like" climate throughout the year despite being just a few miles south of the equator line. In contrast to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, it sits about 9 to 15 ft (3 to 5 m) above sea level; it’s hot and humid for about 10 months of the year. It’s also grittier (in some parts) and more polluted due to its larger population.

    Quito is a beautiful city. This city may appear to be ideal due to its climate; less pollution; well preserved historical old town (first city along with Krakow, Poland declared World Cultural Historical Site by UNESCO in 1978); modern shopping malls, hospitals and other amenities. In general, it is. BUT its air is thin. People who have respiratory ailments or high blood pressure may not fair well in this city. It’s also difficult for the average person to practice any sport like jogging because it takes time getting used to the low quantity of oxygen in the air. (FIFA wanted to ban international soccer matches in Quito because of this.) Also, Quito is as hilly, if not more, than San Francisco, especially the Old Town. So, someone with arthritis, knee and back problems, or dependent on a wheelchair may have difficulty moving about within this city.

    Guayaquil is hot and humid, and it is also more polluted. This is not a city for people suffering from allergies. Because it’s a tropical city, foreigners are at a greater risk of getting sick by any number of viruses that they are not immune to. Also, parts of Guayaquil are gritty, and foreigners from Europe and North America will stick out like a sore thumb because it’s assumed that they are ‘rich’ and ‘weak’ (though hippies and backpackers do O.K). Guayaquil is a fairly modern lively city and with it comes its share amount of noise and chaos, especially on the weekends. Older people may not like the idea of a city thinking that it is still 8:00 pm when in fact is 2:00 am.

    So, you need to consider much more than a just a few countries. Consider also the geographical regions within each country by making notations of each. Then you will be able to see which country and city will be best for you.

    Also, consider countries in Europe like Portugal, Spain, Croatia, or Malta. In general, these countries are well developed, have good climates, and English is spoken by many especially in Malta.

  7. Tom M

    The Philippines is the destination of choice for many western expats when retiring. Tropical climate, low cost of living , easy access to modern facilities in big towns, (including good – and affordable medical facilities), English widely spoken and understood (and government forms also in English), resident or renewable visas easy and cheap to obtain. Suggest you get a copy of The Philippines Expat Survival Guide (ISBN 978-971-94601-3-8) or visit http://www.expat-survival-guide.info

  8. Grey Bit

    Hainan Island in China is my first choice.

    West Malaysia on the east coast is my second choice.

    Indonesia like Bali is the third choice.

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