Site Search:

Places to Live and Retire

New Places to Live and Retire Around the World   by Phillip Townsend

Places to Live in the World: Emerging Alternatives

From Canada to Europe, Africa to Asia, it’s time for a fresh look

By Phillip Townsend

The advent of fast Internet communication and inexpensive air travel makes it easier to turn any far-flung paradise into a permanent home. Which places in the world have the most to offer? The perfect place to live or retire, of course depends on your idea of perfection.

I’m taking a different approach for this article. Instead of giving an overview of the better-known and increasingly-popular expatriate destinations around the world (Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Nicaragua, Ecuador, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, etc.), I’ve decided to introduce you to the below 7 locales you probably don’t know much about. All offer affordability and abundant recreational and cultural opportunities.

Nova Scotia
Just east of Maine, in the North Atlantic, Nova Scotia’s pristine coast is slowly becoming a sought-after affordable getaway. Only two hours from New York or Boston, it feels a world away. A pleasingly crowd-free province on Canada’s Atlantic Coast, little-known Nova Scotia could just be the perfect full- or part-time retreat. Halifax, the capital, has been luring tourists for years. Waterfront cafes, European architecture, and spectacular seafood keep them coming back. Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island boasts the some of the best scenery in the world, from the picturesque highlands to the picturesque Bras d'Or Lake (pronounced "bra door"), with the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop. In the winter months, the Gulf Stream keeps the climate milder than most northern U.S. states, with the area more rain showers than snow storms. Picture the American East Coast a century ago, and you get a feel for what Nova Scotia is like. Almost an island, it is best known for its stunning coastline, sleepy seaside towns and friendly people. The province’s natural beauty, cheap real estate and low cost of living make it well worth a look: oceanfront lots start at $10,000, three-bedroom homes on acreage from $50,000. A lobster dinner with a bottle of good local wine set you back no more than a twenty spot. Scenes of the Hollywood blockbuster Titanic were shot in Nova Scotia, and celebrities including Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore and Billy Joel maintain summer homes here.

Almost everyone has had dreams of living a laid-back, stress-free life on a tropical island. One by one, the Caribbean islands were discovered and eventually became sadly over-developed, terribly over-crowded, and ridiculously over-priced. Unfortunately, due to mass tourism, most places in the Caribbean have become little more than artificial, tropical Disneylands with luxury hotels and all-inclusive resorts. But there is one place that still maintains its original charm and natural beauty. This place is quite inexpensive (by Caribbean standards) and is virtually unspoiled. Relatively undiscovered, here, you can still find ocean view lots for as little as $22,000 and have a small cottage built for prices starting at $25,000. To protect it from the fate of its Caribbean cousins, I won't reveal the name of this special place just yet. You can find a link to more information at the end of this article.

Think Cuba, and vivid images come to mind: of men in Guayabera shirts and Panama hats, tropical breezes and cool drinks, steamy Latin rhythms and sultry women. It has always been an intriguing place, steeped in truth and in fiction by the novels of Ernest Hemingway. Because travel to Cuba is restricted by the U.S. government, relatively few Americans visit the island each year. While their counterparts from Europe, Canada and Latin America bask in the warm Cuban sun, most U.S. citizens can only hope to experience this "pearl" of the Caribbean after Castro is gone. Of those who do manage to get to Cuba via Mexico or Canada, few are disappointed. The largest Caribbean island (pop. 11 million), Cuba is also one of the most beautiful and unspoiled. There are miles of pristine, underdeveloped beaches, tropical forests teeming with wildlife and some of the best deep-sea fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling the world has to offer. And there is Havana, not only the capital of Cuba, but also long the most important city in the Caribbean. With tourism once again thriving, Havana has regained much of its past allure. Famous old bars, restaurants and hotels are enjoying a proud comeback, and stunning new places are being built. As one taxi driver put it, "We have the best cigars, best rum, best music, and most beautiful women in the world. What more could anyone want?"

Best known for Transylvania, the legendary home of Count Dracula, Romania is steeped in history, myth and folklore. Unlike other Eastern European countries with Slavic origins, Romania, whose name means 'land of the Romans,' absorbed much of the culture, religion, and language of the Roman Empire. Bordered by the Black Sea (which is being called “The Next Riviera”) and the Danube River, with the Transylvanian Alps and Carpathian Mountains nestled in the center of the country, Romania has long stretches of seacoast, mountains, forests, medieval villages and gothic castles galore, giving it all the makings of a fairy-tale setting. The capital Bucharest, a former communist citadel, has a growing number of discos, while restaurants at most major hotels double as nightclubs, there are several Parisian-style cafés, and cheap wines and plum brandy flow freely everywhere. Due to its wide boulevards, sidewalk cafés, and Triumphal Arch, Bucharest, was known as the "Paris of the Balkans" prior to World War II. Today the city’s 19th century neoclassical architecture and numerous tree-lined streets still maintain its charm. A sizable enclave of foreigners (Germans, Jews, Turks, Russians, Ukrainians, Serbs, Croats, and Gypsies) live in Romania. French is the most widely-spoken second language and English is spoken by many of the younger generation. The real estate prices are some of the lowest in all Europe (the country’s economic woes spells opportunity for you).


Asia's best-kept secret for expatriates, Malaysia has a vibrant mix of foreign and indigenous tribal cultures, creating a veritable melting pot of peoples, traditions and religions. A sizable enclave of foreigners (Brits, Americans, Australians, and Canadians) live full time or maintain holiday homes in Malaysia, and you'll find that just about everybody speaks English, since its compulsory in local schools. Not only are three world-class playgrounds (Thailand, Bali, and the Philippines) all within a few hour's travel from Malaysia, but miles of beaches and numerous coastal islands add to its tropical appeal. Despite being the capital of a developing nation, Kuala Lumpur is a modern cosmopolitan with clean streets and every modern convenience to found in New York or London. Compared with other major Asian cities (Tokyo, Singapore, and Hong Kong, for example), Kuala Lumpur is downright cheap. The cost of 2-bedroom rental apartments begins at around $225 per month and 3-bedroom houses start at $35,000. Naturally, comparable housing in expatriate communities or the luxurious homes that date from British colonial period can set you back considerably more.

New Zealand
Imagine an interesting land of breathtaking and contrasting scenery: craggy coastlines, golden beaches, lush forests, snow-capped mountains, bubbling volcanic pools, fish-filled rivers and glacier-fed lakes, all beneath a brilliant blue sky. New Zealand is accessible, spread over three relatively small islands with modern and efficient transport, quiet roads, plenty of flights and two stunningly scenic rail journeys. Other pluses are friendly, English-speaking people, virtually no crime, and a trio of rich cultural influences: adventurous Polynesian navigators (Maori), pioneering European settlers who followed a thousand years later, and modern Pacific Rim immigrants. The plant and animal life are unmatched, giving opportunities for close-up experiences with birdlife (including kiwis), seals, dolphins and whales. Enjoy the chance to explore two of the richest wine regions on the planet, taste wonderful cuisine, stroll on sandy beaches. Prefer urban living? Immerse yourself in the culture of the capital Wellington or the large cities of Auckland or Christchurch.

Many people tend to associate African countries with wars, famine and political unrest rather than the good life, but Zanzibar, Tanzania is an exception. Located only a short distance off the east coast of Africa, exotic Zanzibar has lured explorers, traders and colonists for centuries. The islands’ powdery white sand beaches, swaying palm trees and turquoise waters continue to attract European and Asian tourists. Outside of an unusual mix of black African and Arab cultures, you’ll find the islands teeming with tropical forests, remote villages and idyllic coastline. Despite flare-ups between residents of Zanzibar Island and the smaller island of Pemba (due to differing views on unification with the mainland), Zanzibar is usually quite stable. Cheap real estate (oceanfront or raw land with fruit trees), mouth-watering seafood, some of the world’s best scuba diving, and pure tropical bliss make it an attractive expatriate haven. A few wealthy Europeans and African aristocrats have already made Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania home. Why not join them?


For more information about living abroad, visit:

For travel articles and news from countries around the world, visit:

Reviews / Comments for Places to Live and Retire

No reviews have been written write a review now.

Developed by Wetstone Technologies