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Options for an Island Retirement
Islands have a romantic allure – self-contained, surrounded by water and beaches, a place to get away from it all. If that sounds like your idea of a perfect place to retire, Travel + Leisure has some suggestions:
Malta (pictured). Located in the Mediterranean, Malta has a warm and sunny climate and a cost of living that is (slighty) lower than the United States. English is widely spoken, and health care is very good – although you need private insurance because Medicare does not apply outside the U.S. except in very specific circumstances There also is a large expatriate community, including many Americans.
Puerto Rico. Only a short flight from Miami, Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, which means that Medicare is accepted. There are beautiful beaches, the cost of living is lower than in the U.S., and there are several tax advantages available to residents of the island. There is a down side, though: hurricanes.
Isla Mujeres, Mexico. A short ferry ride away from Cancun, this beautiful island has become a popular tourist destination. The cost of living is lower than in the U.S. The main language is Spanish, although English is fairly widely spoken. Good health care is available on the island, and even more so in Cancun. But you need private insurance.
San Juan Islands, Washington. Not all islands are tropical. These islands, located in Puget Sound, are temperate – but with about half the annual rain of Seattle. There are lots of outdoor recreation options. The cost of living is high, but Washington does not tax Social Security or retirement account income.
Barbados. Barbados is a former British colony, so English is very widely spoken. It also boasts beautiful scenery, excellent health care, and a stable economy. It is an expensive option, but its location in the Atlantic is not in the path of most hurricanes.
Mallorca, Spain. This Mediterranean island is part of Spain, so Spanish is widely spoken as well as the official language, Catalan. It has beautiful mountains and beaches, as well as many cultural and dining opportunities. Health care is excellent although, again, you need private insurance
The Big Island of Hawaii. The terrain ranges from mountains to beaches. The east side of the island, which is drier and sunnier, is more popular with tourists – and therefore more expensive. The west side is rainier, but it also is quieter and less expensive.
Penang, Malaysia. Tropical climate, historic and cultural opportunities, and a low cost of living draw many expatriates to this island off the west coast of Malaysia. Since Malaysia was once a British colony, English is common.
U.S. Virgin Islands. Like Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands are part of the U.S. That means you don’t need a passport, Medicare applies, the dollar is the currency, and English is spoken. However, it is a relatively expensive place to live, and the infrastructure is still recovering from some recent hurricanes.
Dominican Republic. Only a two-hour flight from Miami, this Caribbean island boasts lovely beaches, lots of outdoor options, and a low cost of living. But Medicare does not apply, and there are problems with crime in some of the larger cities.
Anguilla. Natural beauty and tax advantages for the wealthy are among the main draws for this island about 150 miles east of Puerto Rico. However, the island has only one hospital, so make sure your private insurance includes transport to the U.S.
Turks and Caicos. A great spot for fishing or scuba diving, this group of islands in the Mediterranean offers plenty of outdoor activities as well as resorts with dining options and shows. It is expensive, though, and your private health insurance should include transport.