Ethel reports that they
love the “bright, sunny,
sensational views from
our windows, terrace, and
balcony overlooking the
Vidourle River.” Both are
impressed with French
health care, which the
World Health Organization (WHO) has rated the
best in the world. Ethel
describes it as “
astronomically cheaper and far
more humane than” the care offered back
in the States. “Paul had prostate surgery
last September,” she reveals. “Five days in a
private room, all fees and medications paid,
came to $3,000, covered by our insurance.
The same operation in New York two years
earlier came to $25,000!” GREAT PLACES 2010
Climate: Mediterranean—hot and dry
summers; cool winters.
Expat community: A European melting
pot—British, Dutch, Germans—with relatively fewer Americans, so far.
Cost of living: Not cheap, but a comfortably frugal life can be had for $30,000 a
year. Dinner out: $60 a couple.
Housing costs: For renters, a modest
apartment in Montpellier starts at $1,200
to $1,500 a month. For buyers, mid-price
houses and apartments are $250,000 and
up. Coastal prices are similar or higher,
although they drop sharply inland.
Health care: Excellent. French health care has been
assessed as the best in the world by the World Health
Culture and leisure: Museums, festivals, hiking, swimming, bustling markets, day trips to the awe-inspiring
walled city of Carcassonne.
Access to the U.S.: Fair. Local airports connect to European cities, then it’s a transatlantic haul. (Or three hours
on a high-speed train from Montpellier to Paris, then a
AL FRESCO Locals gather at a
popular wine bar in Senigallia, on
the Le Marche coast in Italy.
Many retirees have settled
in Panama City, a fast-paced
financial hub with a Latin/Miami vibe. Others have gravitated to the Pacific Coast towns west of Coronado and the
Panamanian version of Key West, hip and laid-back Bocas
del Toro on the Caribbean Coast. But if you want a temperate
highlands retreat surrounded by unmatched natural splendor, the mountain town of Boquete, an hour’s flight from
Panama City, is close to heaven. Here expats settle amid rain
forests, coffee plantations, burbling streams, and hummingbirds hovering over dazzling flowers.
Boquete is decidedly gringo-friendly, offering a wide range
of back-home amenities, from a golf course to high-end gated
communities. For some expats it also offers an opportunity
for reinvention. Retired teachers Rich Lipner, 65, and his
wife, Dee Harris, 61, moved from Berkeley, California, to
Boquete, where in 2003 they bought a seven-acre organic
coffee farm for $135,000. “Over the past seven years we’ve
Discover five more sunny, spectacular places
to live the good life at aarp.org/retireabroad.
Panama is a smart choice for retirees who want it all—in
a country that really wants them. Not only does it feature
attractive retirement destinations—sleek capital city, hot
beach towns, cool mountain villages—but it also offers an
unbeatable package of retiree benefits and discounts (and a
currency tied to the U.S. dollar). Little wonder there has been
a steady influx of expats in the past few years.