Home TRAVEL TIPS 5 Places to Live Like a Movie Star…Without Their Bank Balance—InternationalLiving.com

5 Places to Live Like a Movie Star…Without Their Bank Balance—InternationalLiving.com

Photo by: Steve Drake for DRIFT Travel magazine

Movie producers and directors pick exotic locations with extraordinary scenery for their movies. Everyone has seen these lush jungles, deserted beaches, breathtaking mountains, quaint villages, and bustling cities on the big screen. But the settings for these idyllic bits of cinema are real places that, in many cases, offer high-quality, low-cost lifestyles for retirees.

In a new report, International Living correspondents detail five of the most stunning movie- set locations on the planet, which also afford a luxurious and highly affordable lifestyle for North American expats and retirees.


International Living Italy correspondent Valerie Schneider says that if all the world’s a stage, then Italy is a natural as its beautiful backdrop.

“The dreamy landscapes from Rome, Tuscany, Venice and Lake Como have been used in so many films it would takes pages to list them all. But my region of Basilicata has quietly emerged as a favored shoot location, especially for those needing ancient streets for Biblical era or fantasy flicks.

“Matera, Europe’s oldest city, has been the stand-in for the Holy Land in many a movie, most famously The Passion of the Christ and The Nativity Story. It also featured prominently in the recent remake of Ben Hur, in Quantum of Solace and Wonder Woman, as well as several Italian movies. The city’s old quarter, the Sassi district, exudes an ancient feel among its network of pedestrian lanes and rock-built houses.

“Closer to my home, enchanting Castelmezzano has seen several film crews for Italian movies and TV shows clamoring among the rocky mountain peaks, and its unique lofty aerie shows off well on the screen.”

And in Italy, explains Valerie, a Hollywood budget isn’t required to live the good life—depending on the region a couple could live well on a monthly budget of $1,829.


As International Living Bali correspondent Josephine Brierley says, “Let’s face it, the Bali you encounter when landing at the international airport is far removed from the idyllic setting depicted in Eat Pray Love.

“Released in 2010, many still flock to the village of Ubud for their own Eat Pray Love experience. Much of the movie was filmed in and around Ubud, featuring the terraced rice fields and the village streets. The iconic beach scenes were filmed at Padang Padang, situated 15km away from Ubud on the Bukit Peninsula. Unfortunately, you’ll never find the beach bar, as it was specially created for the film. And sadly, Ketut Liyer, the healer who was featured in the movie, passed away in 2016.

“Still, there are many others now offering psychic-healing readings.”

Josephine says that an Ubud experience can be had by visiting the Tegallalang Rice terraces or by taking the Campuhan Ridge Walk.

“And for the bold, take a walk through the Monkey Forest. The cheeky monkeys are even taking their own selfies these days!”

The tropical climate of Bali has enticed retirees for many years and it offers a relaxed, simple lifestyle with world-class dining at very affordable prices. Here, retirees can enjoy a comfortable life with a budget of around $1,500 to $1,800 per month.

Costa Rica

Kathleen Evans covers Costa Rica for International Living, a destination that has been the scene of many a film.

“Jurassic Park was famously filmed in Costa Rica. The local rainforests and jungles are the perfect setting for a paleolithic flick, and the dinosaurs look right at home. Pay attention to the opening sequence. When showing the fictional Isla Nubar, they show a full shot of Costa Rica’s Isla del Coco.

“In Spy Kids 2, Island of Lost Dreams, Costa Rica’s most popular National Park, Manuel Antonio Park, was chosen as the Island of Lost Dreams. Any scenes depicting the island are shot inside this popular park, with a few select scenes based around the Arenal Volcano.

“Paddington Bear tells the story of a family who tries to adopt and raise a bear from Peru, but any home-based shots are actually quite far from Peru. Costa Rica was chosen as the filming location due to the dense rainforests and magical plants.

The best news, says Kathleen, is that all this natural beauty costs less than many might imagine. A couple can enjoy a great retirement in Costa Rica on $2,000 a month.


International Living’s Mexico correspondent Jason Holland says, “Much of the inspiration for the Pixar movie Coco came from Mexican traditions. And the town was modeled after several different towns in Mexico.

“And of course, Night of the Iguana was filmed in Puerto Vallarta and really kickstarted the town’s popularity as a tourist destination.

“The movie Predator (the original from the 80s) was filmed in the jungles outside Puerto Vallarta.

Jason says that Mexico is such a large country that costs of living for retirees can range widely, but it’s possible for a couple to live very well on $1,890 per month.


International Living correspondent Wendy Justice lives in Hanoi. She says that Halong Bay is one of the most photographed areas in Vietnam and has been featured in many major motion pictures.

“The most recent and famous one was Kong: Skull Island. Three more, Pan, Life, and Indochine, were all filmed at least partly in Halong Bay.

“Hanoi has also been featured in many major films, including The Quiet American.

“Since there was a major war in Vietnam, there have been a ton of war movies made that are set there; many of the more recent ones were, in fact, filmed on location.”

Vietnam is one of the highest-value and lowest-cost retirement destination in the world. According to Wendy, couples can still live well (depending on where they settle) on as little as $1,000 per month, or even less.

More information on movie-set retirement destinations can be found here: 5 Places to Live Like a Movie Star…Without Their Bank Balance


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