It's a safe bet that at some time in our lives we've all harboured a secret fantasy of retiring to a tropical island to live out our days in peace and luxury with a perma-tanned body. The good news is that today's retirees really can create their own real-life tropical island lifestyle abroad! |
With British over-50s looking to get more out of their retirement years, many are looking to create a permanent expat life in places as far flung as Asia and The Caribbean. Apart from the ubiquitous 'sun, sea, and sand', an affordable luxury lifestyle, sound infrastructure, and a high standard of healthcare are the common ingredients of the most popular tropical islands chosen by retirees.
Panama: Bocos del Toro
This delightful archipelago is classic Caribbean: white sand beaches, swaying palm trees, dazzling waters, and an ambience so laidback it can reduce a 40-year corporate career to a distant memory with one icy rum cocktail. While it offers a super mellow lifestyle, Bocos has all the mod-cons including satellite TV, fast internet, mobile phone service and a good public hospital, with the hi-tech medical services of Panama City just an hour away by air.
There's a strong expat community and Bocos is extremely affordable for long-term rental properties, with prices for three bedroom homes starting from as low as the equivalent of around £430 a month (although purchasing a property can prove a little tricky and it is quite a difficult process for foreign investors). Eating out is super cheap as is the general cost of living, and you won't need a car! For a retirement typified by peace, quiet, and a slow pace of life, Bocos del Toro is the original 'island-life' fantasy come true.
The Caribbean: St Lucia
St Lucia is an evergreen holiday destination for Brits and a growing number of retirees are making the move more permanent. With its long ties to the British Commonwealth (the Queen still remains the official head of state) and its familiar systems of banking and government, British retirees are tempted by the relative ease with which they can slip into the large, established expat community.
Healthcare is of a high standard, with a large hospital in the capital, Castries, as well as numerous health centres with state of the art facilities scattered throughout the island. But it's in the property market where the savvy retirees are really sitting up and taking notice.
For those who want to invest their capital in bricks and mortar rather than rent, The Landings St Lucia offers the unique opportunity to live a 5-star beachfront resort lifestyle with the investment value and security of freehold ownership. Compared to Europe and even other Caribbean islands, the cost of long term renting is also very reasonable, so even for those not in a position to invest in property like The Landings, St Lucia is definitely financially viable for Brits looking to retire abroad.
Thailand: Koh Samui
With a vibrant expat community, year-round sunshine, spectacular beaches, and a stunning natural landscape, Koh Samui is as exotic as it is accessible to retirees. Healthcare is top-notch, with a sophisticated public system, English widely spoken, and the presence of a number of high profile insurers, including Bupa. There's a modern infrastructure in place, with superb 3G coverage, fast internet, and extensive retail outlets stocked with familiar branded goods.
Financially, as well, a permanent move to Koh Samui is an appealing prospect, with plenty of bang for the retirement buck. With an abundance of new apartments and houses springing up aimed at the burgeoning expat demographic, a fully-furnished two bedroom home with a pool and land can be purchased for under £150k. With an estimated 50,000 expats settled in Koh Samui, foreign investment is well-regulated and the process is not hard to navigate.
Those facing or planning for retirement today are faced with a very different future than that of even 10 years ago. Whether it’s the exotic appeal of Koh Samui, the old fashioned 'island time' of Bocos del Toro, or the growth investment appeal of The Landings St Lucia, that tropical island retirement dream is well within reach.
Adam Gobat is a renowned expert on the Caribbean, with a passion for its culture, history, people and places. His in-depth local knowledge and wealth of experience in the luxury property market are key to the marketing and sales of the luxury villas and penthouses in The Landings, St Lucia, a unique freehold opportunity for beachfront property in the Caribbean.
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