I have visited all of 3 of these countries and I certainly wouldn’t mine living in each, for at least a while.

# 7: Uruguay

view-from-sugar-loaf-punta-del-este

From its Old-World theaters and opera houses to its jazz festivals and exquisite restaurants, Uruguay looks and feels like Europe, but it is much more
affordable. The truth is that Uruguay is one of the most diverse, affordable, and sophisticated countries in the region. It is a special place. From gaucho (cowboy) country to small towns to those stunning white-sand beaches, a quest for beautiful beaches and low property prices is certainly worthwhile.

The diversity and quality of life in Uruguay is everywhere. You’ll speed down the excellent highways—flying past ancient cars from the 20s through the 50s—passing gauchos in traditional dress tending their herds along the way. This is Uruguay.

Or you’ll enjoy swimming in the South Atlantic Ocean, sunning yourself on the beach of South America’s most dazzling beach resort. And while doing this you can look forward to a mouthwatering seafood dinner along the water, a visit to a highrise casino, perhaps followed by a stroll through one of the most exclusive shopping districts in this part of the world. This, too, is Uruguay.

So is the old city of Montevideo, with its shady sycamore-lined streets, fine restaurants, granite structures, colorful markets, and artisan fairs. And also
Colonia with its historic buildings and authentically restored Old Town, as well as La Paloma with its miles of unspoiled beaches, and Chuy, sitting on the border with Brazil with its wild-west atmosphere.

Uruguay is located between Brazil and Argentina, and is the second smallest country in South America after Suriname. It boasts 120 miles of Atlantic
coastline, and 270 miles on the Uruguay River. The country is something of a
paradox. South America’s second-smallest country—about the size of Missouri—it looks and feels like Europe, but the prices are Third-World. If extensive infrastructure, ease of access, and an established expatriate community are retirement necessities for you…you can have all that in Uruguay.

# 6: France

Corsica, France

La vie française. Imagine relaxing in the garden of your own French home, a pretty stone cottage set among orchards, vineyards, and flowery meadows.
The sun is shining, there’s not a cloud in the sky. The only sound is the drone of honeybees and the blissful strains of one of Satie’s Gymnopédies playing in the background. You’ve just returned from the market, and now you’re savoring the thought of lunch. It’s such a perfect day, you decide to dine picnic-style, spread out over an old oak table under a shady canopy of trees.

Freshly baked baguettes, a ripe Camembert cheese, a tangy ratatouille of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant—and don’t forget to add those deliciously plump black olives straight from the stallholder’s barrel.

This pleasant-sounding lifestyle can be more than just a daydream. La belle France (beautiful France) seems to have more than its fair share of good things—not least of which are food, wine, and haute couture.

Whether you’re looking to retire to Europe, relocate, or simply plan an extended adventure, France should be at the top of your list of possibilities. It has all the ingredients that we at International Living look for: a good climate, unspoiled countryside, top-notch culture, excellent healthcare, affordable real estate, colorful traditions and history, and, of course, the glitter and sophistication of Paris. It’s not surprising that France is the
world’s favorite destination, receiving in excess of 82 million overseas visitors each year.

# 5: New Zealand

Blue Lake, New Zealand

Wine festivals, whale-watching, and concerts in the park…mile after mile of coastal walks…geysers, glaciers, and the Southern Alps. For those who love uncrowded places and a temperate climate, New Zealand is one of the world’s most livable countries. Home to around 4.4 million people, it’s one of its safest, too.

Divided into the North Island and South island, it’s known as Aotearoa (“the Land of the Long White Cloud”) to its Maori inhabitants. But there’s no need to learn a new language. Generations of immigrants from the English-speaking world have long been drawn to a lifestyle that puts as much emphasis on play as on work.

Kiwis see nothing odd about festooning Christmas trees in tinsel when it’s rapidly approaching their Midsummer’s Day. While the northern hemisphere is wrapped in winter, they’re enjoying long evenings at the beach or fishing from sailboats. Most towns are near the coast—you’re never far from the sound of the ocean.

Salaries can be low compared to North America, but so are most living costs, including healthcare. For residents, accident and emergency care is free. It’s estimated that 70% of Kiwis don’t even bother with medical insurance.

Although New Zealand’s immigration department doesn’t offer a permanent retirement visa, you could spend part of the year here. If you have substantial funds, another option is a renewable temporary retirement visa. And some people in their 50s obtain permanent residence as skilled workers, with a view to working for a short time and then retiring.

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