Ranks the Top 5 Tropical Islands for Retirees on a Budget

Share Article has just released a report on the best islands in the world to retire to, where expats can enjoy a laidback, tropical lifestyle for as little as $1,500 a month.

Roatan, Honduras

Island living offers unique appeal… and for anybody who feels the tug, we’ve created this ‘Island Index’ to document the best values today. (Jennifer Stevens, Executive Editor,

A new report from the editors of ranks and profiles the five best tropical-island paradises for retirees today.

Spread throughout the world, these islands are unique—but they share certain characteristics: They’re warm, offer good infrastructure, provide acceptable healthcare facilities either on-island or nearby, and they represent good value—a couple can live comfortably from $1,500 a month, housing included.

“Something about the word ‘island’ makes the mind race to ‘escape,’” says’s executive editor, Jennifer Stevens. “On an island, the pace slows, you live in the present, you shed concerns right along with your closed-toed shoes.

“Island living offers unique appeal… and for anybody who feels the tug, we’ve created this ‘island index’ to document the best values today.”

Among the world’s top islands for retirement is Roatán, the largest and most developed of Honduras’ Bay Islands. With its own international airport, a well-established expat community, and modern amenities mixed with rustic charm, Roatán provides retirees interested in islands near home an excellent value.

“Roatán offers breath-taking hillside views and affordable beachfront property,” says’s Roatán correspondent Amanda Walkins. “With growing interest in Roatán in recent years, now is the time to take advantage of the great deals still available in this lush, hilly, English-speaking divers’ paradise.”

In Roatán, apartment rentals with full amenities in popular areas can run anywhere from $600 to $1,000 per month for a two-bedroom unit. Typical utilities per month run $200 and most couples estimate spending about $600 per month on groceries. For a retired couple who own a home in Roatán (where mortgages and financing hardly exist), a typical monthly budget hovers around $1,000. For a retired couple renting on-island, a typical monthly budget is closer to $1,800.

With less than 20,000 residents, little Ambergris Caye, Belize—also English-speaking—offers expats a laidback, Caribbean retirement with easy access to mainland Belize and to the States.

Ambergris has racked up a series of “best island” awards over the last few years, but it is much more than a tourist destination.

“Every day I can enjoy the gorgeous Caribbean Sea and the sight of waves crashing on the offshore Mesoamerican Barrier reef. The Caribbean’s aquamarine hues never fail to dazzle me,” says’s Belize correspondent Ann Kuffner. “With the sea to the east, and the lagoon to the west, breath-taking water views surround us here on Ambergris. I just love how the weather is so balmy, year round, that we can dine at an open air beach café, day or night, without the need for a sweater.”

“You could live on Ambergris for under $2,000 a month, although this is easier if you own your own home. How much you pay in rent is usually determined by how close you want to live to the beach, with beachfront properties usually commanding a higher price. Away from the beach, lots of options are available for less than $750 a month,” Kuffner reports.

In Southeast Asia, Penang Island in Malaysia offers excellent healthcare, Western amenities and a low cost of living, with expats reporting a monthly budget of $1,500 for a couple, housing included.

One of the oldest outposts of the former British Empire, Penang delivers 110 square miles of tropical treasures. A lush, mountainous island oozing history and heritage, Victorians christened it “the Pearl of the Orient.” It lies anchored on the Spice Route, just off Malaysia’s west coast, a two-hour drive from the borders of southern Thailand.

“Penang is terrific for an outdoor lifestyle. I can be at the beach within minutes of leaving my apartment or in the jungles hiking in the same amount of time and never see another soul for hours on end. When I want, I can cycle around the whole island in a day,” says Keith Hockton,’s Asia correspondent.

The full report on the top five islands for retirees, which includes a breakdown of a typical monthly budget for a couple living on each, can be read here: The Best Affordable Tropical Islands for Retirees.

Editor's Note: Members of the media have full permission to reproduce the article linked above once credit is given to Photos are also available.

Media Contact: For information about content republishing, available source material or to book an interview for radio, TV or print with one of our experts, contact Associate Editor Carol Barron, 772-678-0287 (US), CBarron(at)InternationalLiving(dot)com or visit the Media Center. For automatic updates on the most current stories, follow International Living Media on Twitter.

For more than 30 years, has been the leading authority for anyone looking for global retirement or relocation opportunities. Through its monthly magazine and related e-letters, extensive website, podcasts, online bookstore, and events held around the world, provides information and services to help its readers live better, travel farther, have more fun, save more money, and find better business opportunities when they expand their world beyond their own shores. has more than 200 correspondents traveling the globe, investigating the best opportunities for travel, retirement, real estate, and investment.


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