Heading to the beach to relax in sunshine and sand once you’ve finished putting in desk time is the dream for many people. Fresh air, seafood, warm water, fishing, or other water sports, as well as beach walks, are available on your doorstep; you need to find the right place to settle.
With a growing body of research showing that spending time near the ocean is beneficial for physical and mental health, retiring in a beach town with a slower pace of life and lots of sunshine is a popular choice, with many options worldwide.
Read on to see where the best places are, what makes them good places to retire, and why exactly retiring at the beach is so popular. We’ll look at the top beach towns that offer an ideal home for retirement and what makes these choices such good ones.
What are the best places to retire at the beach?
Are you thinking of a sunny, cheap cost of living and easy life for your retirement? You’re not alone. These places might be options that you’d like to consider, and we’ll tell you why. There is a lot of research to be done before making the decision, and many independent agencies, consultants, or others can help with this process, but here are some ideas to get you started.
Hoi An, Vietnam
Vietnam offers one of the lowest costs of living in the world. With delicious food and growing wine culture, a remnant of French occupancy, world-class beaches, and some of the friendliest and most peace-loving locals you will meet.
Hoi An has mountainous surrounds on one side and some of the most beautiful, undisturbed pieces of beach within a stone’s throw. The city is a UNESCO world heritage site, and the monthly cost of living can be as low as between $500-1000.
Indonesia offers not only many small islands to explore, with a tropical climate and breath-taking beaches, but also a retirement visa that makes moving there a real possibility. With exceptional natural beauty and a large variety of biodiversity, the country is rapidly developing while still offering a lower cost of living.
Canggu is an eclectic mix of modern lifestyle with traditional Balinese culture. It is safe, with a strong sense of community and an excellent medical system.
World-renowned for excellent healthcare standards, Thailand is a sunny and friendly nation with a low cost of living. The easy visa system is a further bonus, making this an accessible option for most nationalities.
With sublime beaches and a well-established expat community (20% of the island’s permanent population), Phuket offers pristine beaches and a warm, tropical climate.
With plenty of islands to explore and the mainland, Greece has one of the longest coastlines in the Mediterranean for those beach lovers who want to explore. One of the richest histories in western civilization and one of the most affordable European residency programs means this is an excellent option for this part of the world.
The cost of living is lower than many other European countries, and the culture is one in which elders are held with great respect. Corfu has an abundance of natural environment, delicious local food, and friendly locals, with beaches, cliffs, and blue waters waiting to be explored.
With the fifth-best healthcare system globally and one of the safest countries with English as a national language, Malta is a desirable option for retirement. Located in the Mediterranean, with vineyards, dramatic cliffs, old forts, and charming fishing villages, the island as a whole has a lot to offer.
Gozo is a separate island with many beautiful rock formations off the coast of Malta. It has turquoise waters and fantastic sunny weather, with inexpensive property and rich history.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Belize offers one of the best retirement programs globally, only taxes on income earned in the country, and retains English as their official language, eliminating language barriers for many.
Ambergris Caye is a tiny island surrounded by turquoise waters and the longest barrier reef in the western hemisphere. One of the safest places to live, this slice of paradise offers sunshine, warm water on your doorstep, and all the benefits of living in the Caribbean.
Offering mountains, beaches, and a much cheaper cost of living than the USA or Europe, Panama is arguably a great country to retire. Still accessible to the world and with ample beaches and islands to explore for those wanting variety, this is one of the less developed, quieter destinations, an appealing characteristic for many retirees.
Surrounded by some of the most stunning beaches in the country, Pedasi offers twelve beaches nearby; some host international surf competitions to up the ante on beach entertainment.
Well connected to the USA and the rest of the world, many expat communities in Mexico will leave you feeling like it’s a home away from home. With warm temperatures all year, an abundance of beaches to explore, and a lower cost of living, Mexico is an attractive retirement option while still familiar with many US brands.
Mazatlan, in particular, offers city living with sandy beaches on the Pacific coast. With a strong expat presence, this city is still definitely a Mexican city. It offers city living on the shores of clear swimmable waters, with eleven miles of beaches to enjoy on its doorstep.
The Algarve, Portugal
Being the third safest country in the world with the highest density of blue flag beaches, this country has a low cost of living, tax incentives, and easy residency for expats. The Algarve, with year-round sunshine, excellent medical facilities, a low cost and high standard of living, easy access to Europe and the world, and a good infrastructure, is an obvious choice.
There are plenty of options for nature lovers, and with English being commonly spoken, this is a fabulous destination for retirement.
Croatia offers good and affordable healthcare, with low living costs and a relatively easy point of entry visa-wise. The country has miles of stunning coastline, with plenty of top-class beaches and small islands to explore. With generally good weather, low crime rates, and a very accessible location, both to Europe and the rest of the world, Croatia is a dream to retire in.
Dubrovnik offers some beautiful beaches and a city steeped in rich history, with many beautiful old buildings. A thriving culinary scene also offers an abundance of fresh seafood at very affordable prices.
Other great places
There are, of course, many other options besides these, both within the countries we’ve listed and others, everywhere from Cyprus to the Dominican Republic. Either way, you have a lot of homework cut out for you in deciding which option suits you best, is the most practical, and is also an accessible option for you, depending on your nationality.
Some countries have very appealing visa programs for retirees that make a living there permanently much more accessible than others, so this is an essential factor to consider if you’re planning on moving full-time or owning property in another country. Even for those just planning to escape the coldest months of the year in a sunny beach destination, consider the visa requirements that may be necessary for longer-term home rentals.
What makes somewhere good to retire in?
You save for retirement your whole life, you work, at some point, only knowing that you can retire and won’t keep having to work, so it feels like, in some ways, it’s what you work towards for much of your life. The day when, for most people, they can not answer to someone, be free, be their boss.
This lifelong build-up can leave one feeling like there’s a lot of pressure to do retirement right: to pick the right place to retire, the right hobbies, surrounded by the right people. So what makes a place attractive to retire in? There are, of course, many factors.
- The weather can play a huge role in enjoying your retirement, particularly if you like an outdoor lifestyle. Many people seek sunnier destinations to live out their days in nature, at the beach, in the mountains, or simply being able to enjoy their own back yards. The weather has a proven impact on one’s mood and having the freedom to be outside without rain and grey skies makes a huge difference to the activities one can do, which in turn impacts mood, health, and other factors.
- Affordability is another factor. For most people, once they retire, they have no more forms of income, so they are working with a fixed amount of money, planning carefully how much they have to live off of on a monthly basis for the next few decades. Living somewhere where there’s a high cost of living does not make much sense in this scenario, so places where rent, utilities, groceries, and other basics are relatively well-priced, is the logical choice to make.
- Good healthcare is essential. Your risk of encountering health issues becomes higher as you get older, and knowing that you have easy access to good healthcare should you require any medical treatment is a critical factor is your own, your partner’s, and your family’s peace of mind.
- Accessibility. Many people have families, friends, or loved ones they want to remain in contact with once they retire, even if they move. While a remote island may have great weather and a low cost of living, it is also impractical for staying connected with loved ones. Airports, trains, a good road network, and good infrastructure, as well as good access to the internet, are key features of a good retirement destination.
- The social scene is important unless you are someone who doesn’t much like being around people. If you retire somewhere outside of your own country, choosing somewhere with other expats is a popular decision. This way, it becomes easier to meet people who will likely speak the same language as you and be interested in some of the activities that your culture values. Even if you remain in your own country, being surrounded by a community of people who are in a similar life phase as you can help bring a greater sense of belonging and social security, which is a basic human need.
- Taxes are charged on various sources of funds differently in different countries, states, or cities. Depending on where your money comes from and whether you are still earning any or have any revenue streams that are still active, you might want to consider the extent to which local tax laws in your potential retirement destination can impact your economic well-being long term.
These are just some of the key factors considered when picking a destination in which to retire. Each person prioritizes these differently, and several will weigh in way more heavily for some than others.
Why are beach towns so popular to retire in?
Yes, many people like to retire near the ocean, but why? If you’re wondering what attracts people to the seaside on a more permanent basis, here are a few reasons.
- Scenery: The area along a coastline can often be very picturesque. Whether it’s a sand or pebble beach or simply a rocky shoreline, being near to the ocean is both beautiful and can bring a sense of calm and connectedness to nature, which many people enjoy. It feels more relaxing and laid back, and for a period in one’s life when a sense of time and schedule is less important than previously, it feels like a more peaceful space to be in.
- Fresh air or health reasons: The salty air can often make one feel better and is usually cleaner than city air too, perhaps as it is often accompanied by a fresh sea breeze, blowing away pollution. This can be a healthier alternative to living in a city with traffic and other pollution.
- Good exercise: Often encouraged by the landscape to get outdoors, people who live by the sea are often more active, whether it is simply going for a walk along the beach or boardwalk or doing something more active like sailing or kayaking. There are plenty of watersports that one can take part in, from fishing to surfing, that suit a variety of fitness levels, as well as walks and swimming for the less adventurous. Being more active leads to better overall health, so this is a major advantage of an oceanside lifestyle.
- Great for grandchildren: Being in a destination that is attractive for one’s family and friends to come and visit is an important consideration for many. With plenty of activities at the beach for people of all ages and with varied interests, this is an appealing option for many, a place they won’t have any problem enticing family and friends to come and visit in retirement.
- Community: When there are such a variety of activities on offer in seaside communities, finding like-minded people to connect with and feeling a sense of belonging to the community becomes easier. Particularly as many activities are outdoors, finding others who enjoy similar activities will be easier.
No matter your motivations or whether it’s a combination of all of these, beaches are attractive places to live for many reasons. Add to this the sentimental nostalgia that many people have of summer family vacations to the beach, and it’s easy to see why there are sunny recollections of happy times, making such destinations ever more attractive.
No matter where in the world you live, there is no doubt a great beach retirement destination not too far from where you that won’t leave you feeling too far away from your family and friends, and will no doubt open doors for new friendships and the opportunity to meet like-minded people. Do careful research, don’t base your decision on a one-time vacation, and consider the factors we’ve mentioned to choose your perfect retirement on the beach.