1. Mallorca, Spain Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands, the autonomous Spanish region just off the coast of the Iberian Peninsula. It has a long history — evidenced by Roman ruins; the Gothic cathedral in the capital city, Palma; hilltop castles in the countryside and Arab structures built before the Reconquest. The year-round climate is mild.
A couple can live well from $2,500 a month, depending on lifestyle.
2. Penang, Malaysia Penang, off the coast of Malaysia, is former British empire outpost with an English-speaking populace. Penang’s largest city, George Town, is home to eclectic architecture, a vibrant art scene and terrific street food. As Penang is located in the middle of Southeast Asia, residents can easily reach other destinations in the region as well as Australia and New Zealand.
A couple can live well on a monthly budget of between $1,500 and $2,500.
3. Ambregris Caye, Belize Amgergris Caye, Belize’s largest island is a center for ocean sports during the day and for socializing at night. San Pedro is the major population hub on the island. Belize is the only Central American country where English is the main language. The U.S. dollar is accepted, credit cards are widely used and top U.S. brands are available.
A couple can comfortably retire here for between $2,700 and $2,900 per month, including rent. Expats who own their own home on the island outright report it’s possible for a couple to live comfortably on less than $2,000 a month.
4. Ireland Ireland, situated on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, is a modern country replete with seascapes and mountains, between tranquil lake lands and verdant river valleys. The English-speaking populace coupled with an inclusive culture makes the Emerald Isle an easy place to fit in. It’s easy to get to, and it makes for a convenient jumping-off point from which to explore Europe.
A retired couple can live quite comfortably on a budget of around $2,800 a month.
5. Roatán, Honduras Roatán, a 50 square mile dollop of sand off the coast of Honduras in the western Caribbean, fringed by a reef rich with sea life, has quietly graduated from secret divers’ getaway to livable island haven. A mountainous, jungle interior gives way to white-sand beaches, and rocky coves Although Honduras is Spanish speaking, Roatán’s populace is largely English speaking.
A couple could live well on $2,000 to $2,500 a month.
6. Isla Mujeres, Mexico With temperatures in the mid-80s F, warm Caribbean waters on all sides and a perpetual sea breeze, Mexico’s Isla Mujeres maintains a loyal complement of full-time residents and seasonal snowbirds. Located about eight miles from Cancún, it has grown into a mature destination where expats can enjoy an affordable island retirement in casual, Caribbean comfort.
A couple can live a very nice life here for $2,500 to $3,000 a month, including rent.
7. Malta This tiny island nation — only 122 square miles — is home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and its capital city, Valletta, was the European Capital of Culture 2018. The English-speaking population makes an easy adjustment for North Americans. Weather is warm year-round.
Couples live comfortably on $2,600 per month.
8. Isla Colon, Panama Isla Colon is one of nine main islands in the Bocas del Toro grouping amid numerous smaller keys and islets dotting the Caribbean waters close to the border with Costa Rica. The expat community is welcoming and organized. In seaside Bocas Town, where many brightly painted buildings stand on stilts, fishing, water sports and whale watching are popular pastimes
A couple can live here on as little as $1,400 a month, renting a simple, cozy, island-style home.
9. Bali The island of Bali is one of the most visited places in Indonesia, and has lured many an expat to a tropical life. Its interior is filled with intense green rice paddies and lush jungle. Located just eight degrees south of the equator, temperatures most days are between 78˚ to 89˚ F with 75% humidity, while mountainous regions are slightly cooler.
A couple can live well in most towns on Bali for $1,900.
10. Koh Samui, Thailand Koh Samui, which lies some 425 miles south of Bangkok, has become one of Thailand’s most coveted expat destinations. It boasts spectacular scenery: world-class beaches tucked away in secluded bays, expansive inland jungles, magnificent waterfalls and inland natural pools. Opportunities for kayaking, sailing and boating abound. It is also fast becoming a golfer’s paradise.
Couples can live well here on a budget of $2,000 to $2,500 a month.
11. Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic A fusion of Europe and the Caribbean, Las Terrenas on the Dominican Republic’s northeast Samaná peninsula was originally the place of choice of the French. Expats will find beaches, food ranging from lobster on the beach to upscale restaurants, French bakeries and supermarkets. It boasts 19 miles of walkable public beaches, palm trees and warm breezes.
A couple can live here for around $2,000 a month, although most choose to spend closer to $3,000 a month.
Clients often dream of retiring to an island in search of romance, fun and adventure.
“On each of the 11 islands we highlight in our report, it’s possible to live comfortably on a modest income,” Jennifer Stevens, International Living’s executive editor, said in a statement.
“A budget from $2,500 a month for a couple stretches quite nicely in places where life is simple and the pleasures of sunshine, sand and surf are included, free,” Stevens explained.
Not only that, she said, island living also works well as a part-time escape. “In Mexico, for instance, a tourist visa lets one stay for up to six months, which makes it quite straightforward to winter over in the island sun.”