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Old December 2nd, 2019, 10:33 AM
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Post Great Small Retirement Towns - International Living

The editors at International Living have just released a list of 11 good-value, small-town communities around the world worth considering.

Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Despite a surge of growth, Tamarindo still offers that “place where everybody knows your name,” small-town vibe. Historically, this Pacific coastal town nestled along the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica’s northern Guanacaste region, was a quiet fishing town. Not until the 1970s did some curious surfers stumble upon this otherwise undiscovered beach town and recognize the incredible surf break that exists just offshore. Shortly after, in 1974, Coopeguanacaste (the electric cooperative servicing the Nicoya Peninsula) brought electricity to Tamarindo–while the arrival of landline phones was still far ahead, not arriving until 1996.

The hot, dry climate here offers sunshine nearly year-round in Tamarindo. A mix of locals, retirees, digital nomads, and surfers from around the world makes this an easy place to fit in. And it’s convenient. About 45 minutes away in Liberia is an international airport, which makes getting in and out easy, and lots of amenities—like a good hospital, fast food joints, and shopping (including Walmart). A couple can live comfortably in Tamarindo on a budget of $2,000-$3,000 a month.

Akumal, Mexico
Mexico’s famed Riviera Maya stretches from Cancun in the north, 80 miles south to Tulúm. Akumal (Mayan for Land of the Turtles) rests between Playa del Carmen and Tulúm. Famously known for its spectacular clear bay filled with sea turtles, Akumal has matured from a secretive dive destination to a growing tourist attraction and has become a relevant investment opportunity. The bay is a strong draw with easy access to the beach and nearby reef from several points. Akumal now attracts a growing number of day-trippers who come to dive and snorkel in the clear waters hoping to swim alongside some of the abundant and gentle sea turtles. New beach bars and restaurants seem to be popping up daily, making this an increasingly convenient place to live part- or full-time. And with Cancun nearby, it’s easy and affordable to get in and out. A couple can be comfortable here on a budget of $2,240 a month.

Nosara, Costa Rica
Nosara is an idyllic Pacific beach town located on the Nicoya Peninsula in northwestern Costa Rica. As the saying goes in Nosara: no shoes, no shirt, no problem—it’s a laidback place to live. The Nicoya Peninsula is one of only five Blue Zones in the world, and Nosara is included in this. As defined by National Geographic, a Blue Zone is a region of the world where people live much longer than average—these areas have more centenarians than anywhere else. Living longer here is attributed to natural eating habits, physical lifestyles, strong familial bonds, and good friendships. Yoga, meditation, and wellness centers are a huge part of the relaxed Blue Zone vibe here.

Nosara town has grocery stores, pharmacies, a post office, a police station, a clinic, and a small airport. As one of the last beach destinations in Costa Rica with unpaved roads leading to it, it has traditionally been kept a hidden gem as tourists tend to flock to the more accessible Gold Coast to the north. The local economy here offers well-paying jobs in the tourism and crafts industry and crime is almost non-existent. Nosara is also a perfect place for expats who want to escape the brutal winters of North America, with average tropical temperatures of 75 F to 90 F. A couple could live comfortably here for $3,775 a month.

Bocas del Toro, Panama
Bocas del Toro may well be the best-kept secret in the Caribbean, and that makes it a rare off-the-radar gem, indeed. Part-mainland and part-archipelago, Bocas is one of Panama’s two western-most provinces, right on the busy border with neighboring Costa Rica. It has hundreds of islands and smaller islets—bursting with lush rainforest growth—and many are completely uninhabited, making visitors feel like they have stepped back into prehistoric times. Others form part of the autonomous reserve lands of the Ngäbe-Buglé, one of Panama’s largest indigenous tribes. The myriad beaches of Bocas are quintessential Caribbean…turquoise waters and white sands, coconuts growing from a fringe of bright green palms.

Expats living here tend to be drawn to water activities like snorkeling and paddleboarding and very involved in island life. Many of them volunteer for local organizations or start charitable initiatives of their own. Much good has come of this growth, with the community working to protect the flora and fauna, find innovative uses for recyclable plastic, and more. Note that a lot of the land you’ll see advertised for sale in Bocas, however, is untitled or Right of Possession (ROP). For this reason, it’s best to rent here rather than buy…at least until you’re familiar with the landscape and well aware of the risks. A couple could live comfortably here from $1,095-$2,200 a month.

Placencia, Belize
Placencia is a charming little seaside town found at the tip of a peninsula off the coast of mainland Belize. It’s fast becoming Belize‘s most desirable location as it fronts the gorgeous Caribbean Sea to the east and a resplendent freshwater lagoon, full of wildlife and with a view of the gorgeous Maya mountain chain, to the west. The Placencia Peninsula, a 16-mile spit of land that parallels the mainland, offers scenery of vivid blue waters and pure white sandy beaches. Often referred to as the “caye you can drive to,” Placencia is equipped with the same beauty and activity of the other Belize islands at a more relaxed pace. The palm tree-lined beaches are nothing less than exquisite.

A couple can live well here, including rent for a two-bedroom apartment and utilities, for just $1,760 per month.

Ambergris Caye, Belize
Ambergris Caye is Belize’s most popular tourist and expat haven. It is commonly referred to as the “Isla Bonita,” this term of endearment becoming popular after 1987 when Madonna released a song about the island. Stunning turquoise seascapes surround this Caribbean island. Frothy white waves break on the offshore Mesoamerican barrier reef, a home to exotic, colorful sea creatures, coral, and sponges. If white sands and aquamarine waters are what you’re seeking on an island paradise, then look no further. Divers, snorkelers, fishermen, and sailors won’t be disappointed with Ambergris Caye.

Only one of three villages on the entire peninsula, Placencia is still largely seen as a vacation spot, but has all you would need to build a life, including supermarkets, brightly painted restaurants, a small domestic airport, and a medical clinic. A couple could live comfortably here for $1,760 a month.

Lagos, Portugal
Lagos in Portugal’s Algarve, is blessed with a year-round moderate climate, with average temperatures ranging from 52 F in winter to 75 F in the summertime, when the normal average population of 22,000 swells with visitors from Europe and elsewhere. While landlubbers enjoy golfing, tennis, horseback riding, and hiking, the ocean offers the best of conditions for kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, kite surfing, windsurfing and more in the area’s tourist-based economy. It’s easy to get around Lagos on foot.

Much of Lagos is fairly flat, especially around the lovely marina, which makes for easy walking. Though the town is built up into the hills, buses and taxis are readily available to help residents get around, and trains provide transport to other regions of the Algarve and even up to Lisbon and beyond. Lagos offers good shopping, lots of restaurants, and a well-established expat community. All these ingredients—a pleasant climate, natural surroundings, dining and party venues, and easily available transportation—make Lagos an ideal choice for retirement. And a couple could live comfortably here for $2,080 a month.

Nazaré, Portugal
Nazaré , situated along Portugal’s central Atlantic—the Silver Coast, as it’s called—enjoys a temperate climate, with highs reaching toward 85 F in summer, dipping to averages around 50 F in January, the coldest month. It might not suit those who are looking for year-round sun, but even in November, for example, rainfall averages only three-and-a-half inches compared to the five inches the capital, Lisbon, receives. Just 32 square miles in area, Nazaré is a livable place, especially with available bus and taxi service, although it’s delightful to explore on foot. There’s a local market in town as well as supermarkets, more than 100 restaurants and cafés, and other amenities. There’s already an established expat presence here, although the city is not overrun, as some more popular places in the Algarve are.

Known best for its big waves—some of the largest found anywhere in the world—it's a surfer’s haven (particularly from October through March). Perhaps the most attractive part of Nazaré is not Praia, the beach zone, but Sítio, the primarily residential area old town.

Perched high on a cliff above the coast and town, this suburb offers magnificent views and can be reached by walking (for hearty souls), driving, or taking the funicular from below.

There are small markets up here, as well as shops and stalls, a lovely square, a lighthouse, and a church which draws tourists. A couple could live comfortably in Nazaré for $1,845 a month.

Lucca, Italy
Sometimes overlooked by tourists to Tuscany, the ancient city of Lucca is well worth attention. It is strategically located less than an hour west of Florence and a half-an-hour east of Tuscany’s best beaches. This Tuscan city is special because it boasts not one, or two, but four circles of walls which are, in many cases, intact. Lucca is preserved without being sterile and visited without being trite.

Birthplace of Giacomo Puccini (La Bohéme, Madam Butterfly), Lucca hosts an Opera Festival in July/August. The annual Lucca Summer Festival held in the Piazza Napoleone has seen such artists as Eric Clapton, Elton John, Santana, Tracy Chapman, and more. And the town hosts Europe’s largest Comic Book and Gaming festival each October. With many restaurants and cafes, squares lined with bakeries and shops, it’s an easy place to live and a couple can enjoy a comfortable life in Tuscany for $1,800-$2,100 a month.

Canggu, Bali
Canggu, pronounced “changoo,” is a village located only 9 miles north of the more well-known party resort, Kuta. The western coastal stretch spans about 5 miles, running from Berawa beach to the village of Cemagi. It was once a hidden corner of the island, only known by a select few, but today is one of Bali’s up-and-coming hotspots. Driving into the region of Canggu evokes a country feel. The traffic thins, the crazed pace of the southern tourist areas is left behind and there’s a definite change to the urban sprawl. Fields of rice, banana plantations, and old-style warungs (small local eateries) line the roadsides. Local homes are dotted among the new villas and boutique hotels that are popping up. Despite the changing scenery, Canggu retains an undiscovered surfing town sort of feel.

As a potential retirement location, Canggu offers a laidback lifestyle, close enough to the bigger town amenities without the hustle and bustle. The international airport is only a one-hour drive away and popular Seminyak only 15 minutes. A couple could live comfortably here for $1,266 a month.

Langkawi, Malaysia
Langkawi is actually the name of a group of 99 islands. Pulau Langkawi is the largest island in the group and one of only a handful of the islands that is inhabited. This extraordinarily gorgeous hideaway in the Straits of Malacca is just a stone’s throw from Thailand, and many of its residents head to Thailand on the weekends for shopping or just for a break from island life. Sprinkled with tiny exotic seashells, the sands in Langkawi really are talcum powder white. On the horizon, jungle-clad limestone formations look like a scroll painting. The expats who live here like a quieter, slower pace of life, untroubled by traffic jams and the glitzy shopping malls of Penang and Kuala Lumpur. The majority of them run their own businesses such as boutique hotels and yacht charters. (One IL contributor makes beef jerky and exports it to Penang and Kuala Lumpur.)

Langkawi is a 90-minute flight from Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, or a 40-minute flight from Penang. Alternatively, you can come via ferry (30 minutes from the mainland or a little over two hours from Penang Island, which now allows cars). The cost of living here is incredibly good-value with a couple living comfortably for as little as $900 a month.

Further information, as well as interviews with expert authors for radio, TV or print, is available on request. Photos are also available.

For information about content republishing, source material or to book an interview with one of our experts, contact PR Managing Editor, Marita Kelly, +001 667 312 3532,

Twitter: @inliving

About International Living
Since 1979, has been the leading authority for anyone looking for global retirement or relocation opportunities. Through its monthly magazine and related e-letters, extensive website, podcasts, online bookstore, and events held around the world, provides information and services to help its readers live better, travel farther, have more fun, save more money, and find better business opportunities when they expand their world beyond their own shores. has more than 200 correspondents traveling the globe, investigating the best opportunities for travel, retirement, real estate, and investment.

For More Info:
Contact Author
Marita Kelly
+001 667 312 3532
Real Palm Trees News & Reviews - Please feel free to comment or post about the relevant subject. All rights are reserved and pertain to authors, writers, and/or collaborators.

Last edited by Palmhugger News; December 2nd, 2019 at 10:54 AM.
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