# 4: Spain

Barcelona

Picture a sun-drenched, white, house with a shady courtyard, perched on a
cliff-top site in Spain. With the deep blue sea beyond, and an olive grove
nearby, it’s the stuff of which fantasies are made. Beaches…mountains…fabulous
cities…cracking festivals, and, of course, guaranteed sunshine. It’s not
surprising that Spain is the most popular country for Europeans seeking a home
overseas.

There’s far more to Spain than golf courses and a concrete sprawl of
look-alike apartments. Venture a few miles into the Andalucian hinterland, into
the far west, along the Bay of Biscay and along the Costa de la Luz and Costa
Azahar. The “real Spain” is waiting for you.

And then of course there’s our new favorite Spanish destination…Barcelona.
There’s something electric about port cities…and Barcelona is definitely high
voltage. Spain’s spruced-up second city has a 24-hour lifestyle and is popular
for weekend breaks with Europeans. They come to meander down Las Ramblas with
its bird sellers and all-night newsstands; sip cava (Catalan champagne)
in the Café de l’Opera; climb the mosaic towers of Gaudi’s temple, the Sagrada
Familia; wander the Bario Gotic’s twisty streets; eat $15 menu del dias
in fish restaurants in working-class Barceloneta.

It’s a wonderful city in which to live or invest…and is still worth a look at
if you are considering European real estate.

# 3: Panama

Panama City

Panama offers a very comfortable retirement solution, in part because the
nation is much more developed than most visitors expect. Many are shocked by the
modernity of Panama and the clusters of skyscrapers that define Panama City’s
skyline. All of the amenities one could wish for are readily available.

In Panama, you will enjoy the benefits of a developing economy where you can
still take a taxi across town for a buck or two, get your haircut for a couple
of dollars, or enjoy dinner for two with a bottle of wine at one of the finest
restaurants in Panama City for a mere $30. There are also lots of activities for
you to enjoy, from jazz clubs to art openings to English-language theater
performances. You may be wondering what you will do when you retire…but in
Panama, you will never find yourself bored.

Outside the city you will find the true treasures of Panama. There are
beautiful beaches everywhere, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the
Pacific on the other. But there’s more to Panama than a sophisticated city and
gorgeous beaches. There are rolling green tropical mountains, fertile farmlands,
lush rainforests, and small towns where foreign visitors are made to feel like
family. There truly is something for everyone in Panama.

First-World infrastructure in paradise

Panama is safe, stable, and friendly. And it boasts the best healthcare and
infrastructure in Central America. But these are only the bold headlines. As you
take time to learn more about Panama, you’ll find it keeps looking better and
better. Its climate is unrivalled in the world, with topical rain forests,
temperate mountains, and warm, tropical white sand beaches. Its wildlife is
abundant, with most of the bird species in North America, and its pristine
natural setting is an eco-tourist’s dream. No wonder that the Smithsonian’s
Tropical Research Center is located in Barrio Colorado. Plus, unlike its
neighbors, Panama is a stranger to hurricanes.

U.S. presence has been such a strong factor in Panamanian life that it can be
difficult to remember you are in Central America. Highrise condos of chrome and
steel rim the wide Avenida Balboa and overlook the Bay of Panama. Modern
shopping centers offer all the latest brands and gadgets anyone could possibly
need. Panama City is a bustling, vibrant, and exciting metropolis.

# 2: Mexico

hammock---Mexico

With its moon-lit fiestas, languid white-sand beaches, ancient colonial towns set in the rugged Sierras…Mayan pyramids rising from the misty Yucatan jungle…little silver mining towns where the winding streets seem to run straight up into the clouds…weekly markets where just a few dollars can fill your shopping bag to the brim with fresh fruits and vegetables…fishing villages where the boats land in the morning with the giant snapper you’ll have for lunch, sautéed with garlic or simmered in a Diablo sauce that will make you call out for another ice-cold cerveza. Or buy the whole fish right off the boat for a few bucks (plus the 50 cents you pay the fisherman’s son to carry it home for you) and cook it yourself.

It’s no wonder so many retirees are starting new lives in Mexico.

Whether your vision of the ideal retirement involves shopping, fishing, sunbathing, diving, biking, mountain climbing, parasailing, collecting crafts, visiting archeological sites, partying, going to concerts, attending the theater, or fine dining, in Mexico has all of these activities, and more.

Stately Spanish Colonial cities in Mexico are steeped in tradition, and soaring baroque church spires overlook gracious squares. Here you can dine in elegant cafés, and browse upscale shops on the very spots where the heroes of the Revolution declared independence from Spain and forged a new country. For all these reasons, and many more, Mexico is one of the world’s top destinations for those dreaming of a relaxed and romantic new life abroad.

Wherever you go in Mexico, the people will charm you, the natural beauty will seduce you, and the remarkably affordable cost of living will entice you to stay.

Whether your dream retreat is a graceful colonial home with lavish gardens, a simple beachfront bungalow where you can prop up your feet on the rail and watch the tide roll in, an expansive hacienda with enough acreage for horses to roam, or a cliffside villa with sunset views and cool, steady breezes, you are likely to find it in Mexico.

Slow down…and live the Mexican way

Whatever your motives for settling in Mexico—whether you hope to escape the fast pace of life up north, enjoy a better lifestyle for less than you’d pay at home, or discover a safe haven where the crime rate is low and you can enjoy a “small-town” existence—you’re likely to find your quality of life improved in this country.

Things take longer, so you learn to slow down. Goods and services cost less, you can afford the kind of luxuries only the very wealthy enjoy up north, like a maid, a cook, and a gardener. If you’re looking for a simpler way of life in a place where you don’t have to give up the amenities to which they are accustomed, then no further than Mexico. With its close physical proximity to the U.S., Mexico enjoys many of the good roads, high-speed communications, and top-notch healthcare that you’d expect from its neighbor to the north. Those who relocate find it is easy to live and do business in Mexico. The paradox to its increasing modernity and its attractiveness is that things still move a bit slower in Mexico.

You can enjoy a relaxed and refreshing lifestyle, like something out of a 19th-century travelogue, and yet it isn’t half a world away.

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