Retire and Expat: Long Lunches, Never-Ending Sunsets, and Morning Coffee Around the World

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So you’ve won the lottery. You choose the Cash – this time, it’s $2.1 million. Enough to pack it in and start the greatest part of your life – retirement. With all the money you need for freedom.

If you’re like so many out there, you’ve dreamed of one day living somewhere across the globe. You’ve seen the books and the photos, you’ve thought of a beach or Europe or somewhere sunny every day you were cooped up at work, and now you can afford to make that dream a reality.

Well, congratulations!

Here are some of the best places in the world to retire – the cities, countries, and regions where you can enjoy a slow morning coffee, a long lunch, a relaxing evening, and a never-ending sunset. We got some inspiration from Conde Nast Traveler, which listed its Top 10 Places to Retire earlier this month:

“You’ve clocked out for the last time, and now it’s time to check in to a future of sun and relaxation during retirement, but where to go?”

CN Traveler has Coronado, Panama first, Penang, Malaysia second, and Cascais, Portugal third. They also rank San Miguel de Allende, Mexico… Killarney, Ireland… Corozal, Belize… Concord, California… Grand Haven, Michigan… Santa Fe, Mexico and Louisville, Kentucky in the rest of the top 10.

So we added and expanded on those below… Enjoy!


Belize – Underwater world with corals and tropical fish.

Conde Nast had Coronado, specifically, on its top 10. But we’re pretty sure anywhere in this tropical, natural paradise will do! The magazine loved Belize for expats because its first language is English, making the country a pretty easy transition for Canadians or Americans. It has a low cost of living (relatively, we’re sure) and plenty of activities to keep you healthy and scuba diving well through your post-work years.

Northern California

San Francisco Northern California

Concord, California made Traveler‘s list, but we expanded this one, too. Because really, the entire area around San Francisco is tremendous – golf, open air, breathtaking cliffs and friendly, beautiful ocean-straddling communities like Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo. It has the metropolitan pull of San Fran, the wine of Napa Valley, and its very authentically Golden State without the jammed freeways of smoggy skies of Los Angeles. (Although Hollywood’s close enough if you want to have a blast in Tinseltown and live among the stars, too!)

California State Flag

Kentucky and the American South

They say Southern Comfort is worth the wait. And we mean ‘wait’ in a couple ways – because life moves just a little bit slower in the American Southeast, apparently, which makes for a humid and lovely vacation. Maybe even a permanent one. There are beautiful buildings and communities like Louisville, Kentucky or Savannah, Georgia or Charleston, South Carolina (which made our ‘Most Romantic Cities in the World‘ article, too). Certainly, art lovers and literary types will flock to Oxford, Mississippi. And there’s magic in fun hubs like Nashville, Tennessee and the entire Florida Panhandle.

Kentucky Grass

Georgia Peaches

Savannah, Geogia Riverfront Promenade

Australia and New Zealand

Down Under will always be a dream for us Westerners. Oh, it’s just across the Pacific… and in Vancouver, we’re certainly closer to Oceania than the rest of Canada. And both countries are pretty similar to our own – they are in the British Commonwealth, of course. But maybe it’s all that familiarity that makes it so desired. I bet every one of us knows someone from Canada who’s made the move to Australia or New Zealand, and I bet we know a couple people from either Australia or New Zealand who are now living in Vancouver, too. We share a lot, but they have more Koalas, a Great Barrier Reef, fun accents, and better weather!

Australia Reef

Sydney Harbor at night

Auckland Summer Skyline

Wellington at dusk


Florence. Rome. Cinque Terre. Tuscany. Sicily. There are just so many places in Italy we know so well, even if we’ve never been. Italy will always be a favourite and a dream for expats – the idea of owning a vineyard somewhere in Tuscany, the idea of zipping through Rome’s eternal streets on a Vespa or in a stylish little car with sunglasses and a black suit, the idea of pizza and coffee and pasta all at once… all of these ideas are dreams for many of us. The country has an ever-lasting cool.

Couple Italy

scenery of Italy series - Monarola village (Cinque terre)


Aloha! Hawaii is a perfect spot for many, whether they’re looking for a quick family vacation, a romantic getaway, a beachy escape, or something more permanent. It’s got all the conveniences of the United States – with a little exotic flair mixed in! Honolulu is a great city that mixes these two worlds, the modern Western metropolis with the authentic Islander identity. And the rest of Oahu is naturally rich, the North Shore especially. There’s also Kauai and Maui – with Lahaina, Kihei, or Wailea.

Honolulu Hawaii

Senior Couple On Holiday Sitting On Sandy Beach


Conde Nast had Killarney on their list, specifically. It’s the jewel of Kerry County – “We are all very proud of our vibrant ‘little’ town and the incredibly beautiful surrounding countryside which makes Killarney a very special place indeed,” reads the city’s website, “Brim full of history, heritage, activities, and world class hospitality. Killarney is populated with enthusiastic and welcoming people, and this enthusiasm is reflected in many national and international awards.”

Killarney Ireland Horse

Northern Thailand

Bangkok is a blast. The beaches on the islands like Koh Samui, Phuket, and Krabi may just steal your heart and your ambition. But Northern Thailand is the relaxing and spiritual heart of one of the world’s most beautiful countries. It centers around Chiang Mai, a lovely city with the vibe of a soothing small town, and spreads like a clenched fist from there. There’s so much culture, tons of things to see and do, the weather is amazing, and the food is so good you’ll forget what a burger even was…

Chiang Mai Northern Thailand

Bangkok Buddha Thailand

Red pork coconut curry : Delicious and famous Thailand food

The South of France

Like with Italy, just saying France gets a traveller’s engine going! It’s also a much-talked-about dream for anyone looking to retire and retire in style. Imagine yourself in the Riviera or in one of the region’s many cities – Cote d’Azur, Arles, St Tropez, or Nice – sipping something sparkling with a big hat and a lunch that never ends… oh, and the wine and cheese, of course.

Tourist in Nice, France

Beautiful Mediterranean Sea landscape. French riviera

St Tropez South of France


CN Traveler tells us Coronado is the best place to retire in the world – “a two-hour drive down the Pan-American Highway from cosmopolitan Panama City lies the Pacific coast beaches and perfect sunsets of Coronado,” it says.

Panama Hats

San Miguel de Allende and Mexico

San Miguel de Allende is known as the cultural capital of Mexico, which is why Conde Nast has it on their ‘Best Places to Retire’ list for 2016. But we’ll throw a couple more pictures of Mexico below, as well, because the entire country is beautiful.

San Miguel de Allende Mexico

Beach heaven.

Beach in Cozumel, Mexico


Portugal has been popping up on several ‘Best Places to Retire’ lists for years now – it’s cheaper than most of its European carbon copies, like Italy or France, and is less clogged. It’s a perfect destination for expats in search of a new home, or a new place to fall in love with. Conde Nast ranked seaside resort town Cascais – a gorgeous, tiny city, only about 40 minutes from Lisbon by train – on its list but, really, there are so many more places you might find suit you perfectly – somewhere in the Algarve like Lagos, cosmopolitan and vibrant Lisbon, cultural Porto, or any other of the country’s wonderful, livable, affordable towns up and down the Atlantic coast!

Beach, town and dock of Cascais at summer, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal Skyline and Castle

New Mexico and the Southwest

Santa Fe, New Mexico has been pulling in people for decades now – its art scene and history is deep and strong, and its a unique cultural capital of the entire United States. There’s also beauty in the desert. And if you’re looking for a new place to stretch and spend your post-work days, there’s a lot of pure pleasure to be had in snowbird-heavy states like New Mexico, Arizona, even Utah and Southern California.

Sedona Arizona

Santa Fe New Mexico

Antique Wooden Bench in Santa Fe

Penang, Malaysia

We’ve tossed a couple photos of Singapore below, as well. They’re obviously not the same but they’re close by – Penang is a favourite for expats, says Conde Nast, while Singapore is the A-list hub nearby. (You’ll probably have to fly through Singapore or Kuala Lumpur to get to Penang, as well.) Both are culturally rich and food heavens.

kek lok si chinese new year lantern

Singapore Marina Bay

Chinese Food - Singapore

British Columbia, of course!

Well, duh! You know how good we’ve got it in B.C. So maybe you’ll decide to just stay here and enjoy your retirement in one of the world’s most liveable, most beautiful regions. Or you can go somewhere else for a little while, enjoy an extended vacay overseas, and come back. Vancouver is a great city – and with $2.1 million cash, you can afford to live there now! The Okanagan and Vancouver Island are also hot spots for retirees, not just for people from B.C. but from all of Canada and the world.

Vancouver Island

Victoria BC Vancouver Island

Sign to Okanagan, B.C.

Wine Country – Osoyoos, Okanagan

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