The 11 Best Islands in the World to Retire To—

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You don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy the romance of island living in retirement. The editors at point to 11 great-value, picturesque islands across the globe known for their friendliness and warmth, which also provide solid infrastructure and the comforts of home.

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.

“The romance is built into the idea of island living—lots of people, I think, muse about slipping away to a dollop of sand someplace where they could escape the pressures of everyday life,” says Jennifer Stevens, Executive Editor, International Living. “But most people assume it’s just a fantasy—that it would be too expensive or too complicated to actually pull a move like that off.

“But that’s not so. On each of the 11 islands we highlight in our report, it’s possible to live comfortably on a modest income. 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. And island living is something that works well for a part-time escape, too. 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.”

International Living’s report—11 Best Islands in the World to Retire on—details islands in Europe, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Below are five of the 11 the full report explores.

Penang, Malaysia

The island of Penang, off the coast of Malaysia, has been a firm favorite among savvy expats for decades.

A couple can live well on a monthly budget of between $1,500 and $2,500 a month. It’s a luxury life on an affordable budget with all the comforts and conveniences of home.

Penang’s international airport, which lots of low-cost Asian airlines operate from, makes exploring farther afield in Southeast Asia easy.

Known as a foodie haven, Penang’s largest city, George Town, is home to eclectic architecture, a vibrant art scene, and what many call the best street food in the world. Plus, as a former outpost of the British empire, Penang has a largely English-speaking populace.

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Belize’s largest island, Ambergris Caye, is surrounded by stunning turquoise seascapes. This Caribbean island is a center for ocean sports during the day and for socializing at night.

Ambergris and the small nearby islands are not overly developed, which means they’ve maintained a laidback vibe. San Pedro is the major population hub on Ambergris.

Moving to Belize is easy. It’s the only country in Central America with English as its main language. The U.S. dollar is accepted, credit cards are widely used, and well-known U.S. brands are available too.

A couple can enjoy a comfortable retirement in Ambergris Caye, including rent, for between $2,950 and $3,150 per month. If you own your own home on the island, then expats report it’s possible for a couple to live quite comfortably on less than $2,000 a month.

Cork, Ireland

A land full of poetry and song on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, the island of Ireland is extremely alluring. It’s a first world, modern country where people still make the time to talk.

It could rain at any time, but the Irish weather is not something to endure, it’s to be embraced. This Atlantic climate has shaped the land and its people. It’s the reason fields are emerald-green and hillsides blaze purple with heather.

The English-speaking populace coupled with a welcoming culture, makes the Emerald Isle an easy place to fit in. It’s straightforward to get to and it makes for a convenient jumping-off point from which to explore Europe.

Cork, in southern Ireland, is not only the third largest city in the whole of Ireland, it’s also the country’s largest county. Arguably, the four regions—north, south, east, and west Cork offer some of the most beautiful, perhaps most remote, scenery to be found anywhere in the Republic of Ireland.

On a budget of $2,399 to $3,015 a month, a retired couple could live quite comfortably in the Land of a Thousand Welcomes.

Roatan, Honduras

The most populated of the Bay Islands, Roatán, is 35 miles from the northern coast of Honduras.

Although, Honduras is Spanish-speaking, Roatán is largely English-speaking thanks to a long colonial relationship with the United Kingdom.

A mountainous interior covered with jungle gives way to white-sand beaches and rocky coves, interspersed with colorful fishing villages. The island is most famous as a diving destination and retirement haven in the western Caribbean. The Mesoamerican Reef just offshore provides the world-class scuba and snorkeling Roatán is best known for.

It’s the affordable Caribbean. A couple could live well here on $2,000 to $2,500 a month.

Isla Mujures, Mexico

Clear, azure waters and white-sand beaches are never far away in Isla Mujeres, about eight miles from Cancún in Mexico.

This relaxed island is a world away from its more tourist-developed neighbor—golf carts are preferred to cars as the main mode of transport.

The island enjoys a warm tropical climate (low to mid-80s F for most of the year), which means there is plenty to do on Isla Mujeres. Naturally, water activities top the list as the nearby reef offers amazing opportunities.

And the cost of living is far lower than a similar lifestyle would cost back in the States. A couple can live a nice life on Isla Mujeres for $2,500 to $3,000 a month, including rent.

The full report can be found, here: The 11 Best Islands in the World to Retire On

Editor's Note: Members of the media have permission to republish the article linked above once credit is given to

Further information, as well as interviews with expert authors for radio, TV or print, is available on request. Photos are also available.

For information about content republishing, source material or to book an interview with one of our experts, contact Editorial Director for Web Content, PR, and Social Media, Donal Lucey, +001 667 312 3532,

Twitter: @inliving —

About International Living

Since 1979, 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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