Ever since the Vietnam War, Canada has been a beacon of refuge for castoff Americans. But there is a major drawback to moving north: Canada's winters often look like the "Star Wars" blizzard scenes on the ice planet Hoth.
The truth is, whether you’re thinking you might want to get out of the States sooner rather than later… or you just like the idea of exploring the opportunities and adventures that other countries have to offer…
You have far, far more enjoyable, more affordable, and better weather options than our frosty neighbor to the north.
So if cold isn’t your thing, we say anyone contemplating changing their latitude after this past election should consider moving south instead of north.
Here, we’re looking at our top six sunny and inviting picks for a post-election bug-out…
Accessible, affordable, and offering diverse lifestyle options, Mexico is the easiest possible choice for North Americans…
Only an hour from Playa del Carmen, the town of Tulum is positioned nicely along the path of progress moving down the Yucatán Peninsula. Plenty of pristine beaches, coral reefs and nearby UNESCO World Heritage Sites will keep the visitors coming for years to come.
This area is easily among the most exotic and beautiful geographical areas on earth. Rocky coastlines intermixed with white-sand beaches and spectacular cenotes (crystal-clear swimming and diving pools), tropical jungles, and remnants of Mayan temples all compete for visitor attention. The expats that live here call it paradise—it’s truly a nature-lover’s playground.
The lifestyle in Tulum is calm and casual. Lying on the beach drinking a couple of cervezas is a typical pastime. For the outdoorsy adventurous types, take advantage of scuba diving, fishing, visiting ruins, backpacking, surfing and yoga.
You could live here on just US$1,300 if you own a home; if you rent, expect your monthly expenses to be closer to US$1,800.
The side streets radiating both southeast and northwest from the highway through town are disappointing… poorly kept with weeds and rubble alongside mostly sub-standard houses and vacant lots. What gives? Therein exist the investment and business opportunities.
Tulum has been popular with the backpack crowd for many years, many of whom have settled-in and started tourist-service business—small inns and B&Bs, cafés, restaurants, and bars. There are still plenty of small-business opportunities at all tourist amenity levels as the town grows and upscales. This will happen over a period of a few years, but there will be serious money made here in tourist services. Plus, the normal services that a booming tourist town needs, such mundane—yet scarce—services as mechanics, dry cleaners, well-stocked hardware stores, and construction materials will be needed, too.
"If the world has any ends, British Honduras [Belize] would certainly be one of them. It is not on the way from anywhere to anywhere else. It has no strategic value. It is all but uninhabited,” wrote Aldous Huxley in “Beyond the Mexique Bay” back in 1934, and it still holds true today.
This little country is strategically unimportant to any country other than the United States, the U.K., and Guatemala… no one cares about Belize… heck, some don’t even know it exists, or, if so, where it lies. This may well be the best place on the planet to fly under the radar.
In everything from politics to stray dogs and religion to bad roads, Belizeans are tolerant. Above and beyond that, Belizeans are fundamentally all about mutual respect and freedom. They have very little interest in meddling in other people’s affairs.
Modern utility infrastructure and information technology are relatively recent arrivals to Belize, so almost everyone could easily revert to an off-line, self-sufficient lifestyle. If people in Belize lost access to power, water, and telecommunications for an extended period of time, they wouldn’t panic… life would go on.
Nowhere in the Western hemisphere will you be able to remove yourself from the long arm of government better than Cayo, Belize.
Far from the coastal locations that Belize is known for, Cayo consists of Belize's lush, mountainous interior. Water and sunshine are in no short supply, which makes it easy to grow fruit, vegetables, and herbs. With a few solar panels, Cayo is ideal for becoming self-sufficient and living off-grid. Expect to spend around US$1,200 or so a month living in this rustic corner of the country.
Rain forests, reefs, ruins, and rivers… year-round tropical climate… the best place in the world to embrace the self-sufficient life, a great back-up residency option… plus everyone speaks English… This is Belize.
Panama City, Panama
The Hub of the Americas is warm and sunny year-round, the U.S. dollar is the official currency, and it boasts thousands of miles of beaches. Plus, whoever wins the White House won’t be able to tax the first hundred grand of your earned income if you are an official resident of Panama.
The country offers one of the most hassle-free residency programs on the planet, and, for retirees, a pensionado visa is the Gold Standard for retirement visas worldwide and gives you discounts on a long list of items, including movies tickets, restaurants, hotels, health care, utilities, and real estate closing costs. The "Friendly Nations Visa" is both affordable and easy to acquire if you're from one of the nearly 50 countries designated as "friendly," including the United States, Canada, and U.K.—and this visa even gives you a work permit, should you want one.
With these benefits in mind, North Americans have been flocking to Panama City and its nearby beaches along the Pacific coast, just west of the capital. The city offers First World infrastructure, international-standard shopping, and easy access to the rest of the world. If beaches are more your speed, just an hour from the big-city hustle and bustle are miles of beaches, condos, and surf shacks.
Panama is not the cheapest place to live south of the border, a comfortable city-living budget might land somewhere between US $2,000 and US $3,000… but it is certainly one of the easiest places to set up shop, and so is one of the most attractive options for those still looking to earn some money.
Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic
A sand-fringed island nation with a low cost of living and bargain-priced property markets that is also the best go-offshore destination (for residency, citizenship, and banking) that no one is talking about…
Welcome to the Caribbean as it once was, priced as it used to be.
The Dominican Republic offers you a rich, relaxing, and truly diverse lifestyle (even on a pensioner’s budget). Plus, recent infrastructural developments mean it has never been safer or easier for foreign retirees and investors to stake their claims.
Las Terrenas may be in the Caribbean, but this beach town has a distinctly European feel. French, German, Polish, Swiss, Italian, Dutch, British—Europeans have been flocking here since the 1970s. Swiss cheese, French wine, and German sausages can be bought in local stores, and pétanque, the French lawn game, is a popular pastime.
Like many of these locations, the cost of living in Las Terrenas is surprisingly low. A couple could live comfortably here for just US$1,500 per month.
The Dominican Republic makes establishing residency easy, and the country embraces—even rewards through incentives—foreign investors. In addition, residents can and do work here.
Who would have ever guessed that someday it would be Americans wanting to flee their internal politics and head to Colombia?
Colombia is far safer today than it was 20 years ago. Pablo Escobar is dead, the FARC are negotiating for peace and the country has moved on. You're more likely to be a victim of violent crime in Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit, or New Orleans than in Medellín, Colombia's second largest city.
The lifestyle and culture in Medellín are bar none, not only in Colombia but the world. Theater, museums, festivals and fairs, clubs and restaurants, and two professional football teams offer plenty to keep entertained.
Residency is easy to obtain, and real estate is a bargain for buyers with U.S. dollars. The exchange rate between the Colombian peso and U.S. dollar has nearly doubled in the past three years, making Colombia's growth that much more attractive for investment.
The world’s next live and invest overseas destination… you read it here first… and right now, thanks to the strong dollar, the cost of everything in Colombia is a screaming bargain… Right now, you could live very comfortably in Medellín for less than US$1,000.
Yes, you can afford to retire to the Old World… in fact, Portugal is our 2016 pick for the world’s best place to retire, period.
Until recently, Portugal had not been a well-known destination and attracted very few foreign visitors. Portugal remained largely undiscovered until the mid-1990s, when Europeans began immigrating en masse. Expats to Portugal enjoy its beautiful landscapes, historical architecture, stunning beaches, and welcoming residency programs. Nowadays, Portugal is home to hundreds of thousands of (mostly European) expats and North Americans are just picking up on the trend.
Enjoy the Algarve’s mild climate, hospitable locals, and beautiful white-sand beaches. The country is rich with artistic and cultural treasures, tasty cuisine, and a unique architectural style. As a bonus, Portugal ranks as the 17th safest country in the world.
English is spoken by most in Portugal and visitors are welcomed. The cost of living in Portugal is among the lowest in Western Europe, on average 30% lower than in any other country of the region. A couple could live well here for about US$1,200 a month.
The Algarve offers the best of the Old World, from medieval towns and fishing villages to open-air markets and local wine, plus some of Europe’s best beaches. The Algarve arguably boasts some of the world’s greatest weather, too, enjoying 3,300 hours of sunshine per year, more than most anywhere else in Europe.
Nowhere in the world could you embrace a better overall retirement or living experience than in Portugal’s Algarve region.
Author Kathleen Peddicord is editor and publisher of Live and Invest Overseas. She has covered the international beat for nearly 30 years and is considered the world’s foremost authority on overseas living and retirement. More info at www.LiveAndInvestOverseas.com.