Home #WHERETONEXT Best Retirement Destinations for Adventure-Seekers

Best Retirement Destinations for Adventure-Seekers

Photo by Anukrati Omar

Most people believe retirement means slowing down, but that doesn’t sit well with some seniors. For them, growing older means emptying their bucket lists and having the time of their lives.

The yearning for adventure continues even after someone reaches a certain age, but most retirees live on a fixed income. That can preclude a jet-setting lifestyle. Fortunately, there are places where you can go for your retirement that allow you to bask in year-round sunshine, experience different cultures, and embark on adventures at an affordable cost. Many of these countries are tax havens, though retirees abroad still have to pay US taxes.


Colombia’s location near the equator ensures 12 hours of sunlight a year. With its charming colonial towns, stunning mountain ranges, and beautiful beaches, it is no wonder many expats retire here.

It has an abundance of snow-peaked mountains and one of the world’s most extensive barrier reefs off the San Andres and Providencia islands. They provide plenty of things to do for avid mountaineers and scuba divers.

Colombia’s days as the “murder capital of the world” under Pablo Escobar’s reign in the 1980s are over. Now referred to as the “Medellín Miracle,” the city has enjoyed significant urban development, including an efficient overground system, rejuvenated parks, and a sizeable government redevelopment program.

Colombia is also very affordable. For example, weekly groceries cost 100,000 Colombian pesos (~$21). 

To obtain a Colombian retirement visa, you must show a passive income of at least three times the national minimum wage. For 2024, that is 1,300,000.00 Colombian pesos (~$330).


When you think of Cambodia, you might recall its difficult past under the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s. But today, this Southeast Asian country is becoming popular with retirees from other countries. They are drawn to Cambodia’s beautiful pagodas, tropical islands, and famous attractions like Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious monument.

Many retirees live in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s lively capital city. It mixes old and new with preserved French colonial buildings and modern shopping malls. For those who love nature, there are plenty of activities to enjoy in Cambodia, from kayaking through mangroves to bird-watching.

In Cambodia, it’s relatively easy to get a business visa, which allows retirees to work or start a business. You can renew it every year.

Like many other developing countries, Cambodia’s low cost of living attracts many, and it is among the lowest in Asia. For example, you can lease a two-bedroom apartment for about $381 a month and live on groceries for $229 a week.

However, Cambodia’s healthcare standards could be improved. You might be better off seeking treatment in neighboring Bangkok or Singapore for more complex conditions and illnesses.

Costa Rica

The world recognizes Costa Rica’s commitment to environmental sustainability, which has made it known as the “Switzerland of Central America.” Costa Rica offers a unique retirement destination with lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and a solid commitment to renewable energy.

Renowned for its ‘Pura Vida’ lifestyle, Costa Rica offers retirees a tranquil and enjoyable experience. It offers a diverse range of lifestyle options, from bustling city streets to serene beaches.

With a cost of living starting at $1,200 a month, Costa Rica provides a high quality of life at an affordable price, making it the perfect haven for nature lovers and eco-conscious retirees.

The country’s favorable visa policies and healthcare system, warm-hearted residents, and beautiful landscapes make it the ideal place for a peaceful and affordable retirement.


Malaysia is a hidden gem in southeastern Asia with its mix of modern conveniences and natural beauty. It is an attractive destination for those seeking an affordable retirement haven. Popular retirement destinations like Penang Island and Kuala Lumpur provide a comfortable lifestyle that keeps the bank intact.

Whether you prefer the busy life of Kuala Lumpur or the calm beauty of Penang Island, Malaysia offers many lifestyle options to suit every preference. It has long been a destination for divers and snorkelers, attracted by its crystal-clear waters, abundance of tropical fish, and tempting water temperatures (close to 30°C year-round).

Malaysia is an excellent place for retirees due to its lower cost of living. It offers everything from beautiful beaches and rainforests to the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur. Urban areas like George Town are affordable, with one-bedroom apartments costing $278 monthly in the city and $174 in the suburbs.

Malaysia offers a retiree visa through the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program, which provides up to a ten-year visa for foreigners. Foreign retirees must have the Foreign Worker Hospitalization and Surgical Insurance Scheme for medical treatment at fixed rates at public hospitals. The program requires a minimum monthly offshore income of 10,000 Malaysian ringgit (~ $ $2,112). It allows retirees to draw their pension or social security income without paying Malaysian taxes.


Nicaragua is one of the most attractive places for those looking to make the most of their retirement dollars. With coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, it scores high for affordable retirement living globally.

Retirees can enjoy beautiful rainforests, miles of stunning beaches, and plentiful lakes and volcanoes. Popular destinations include San Juan del Sur, a lively resort town on the Pacific Coast, and Granada, a historic colonial city nestled along Lake Nicaragua.

Older surfers find the country’s Pacific coast attractive, which still offers uncrowded, quality beach breaks. San Juan del Sur provides an array of surf schools and board rentals.

Nicaragua attracts expatriate retirees with financial benefits, such as the opportunity to bring in up to $20,000 worth of household items (like furniture and clothing) and a duty-free car valued at up to $25,000. In addition, all foreign income is exempt from taxation.

Its Pensionado Residency program makes it easy for expats to stay, and it is renewable after five years. Once you obtain a residency card and retiree status (typically takes up to six months), you can open a bank account, make credit purchases, and get a local phone plan. Retirees interested in building a home can buy up to $50,000 of construction materials tax-free.

Foreign nationals can retire in Nicaragua at 45 with a passive income of $650 and $150 per month for each dependent. They must spend at least six months per year in the country to keep residency status.


Portugal offers a high quality of life and an affordable lifestyle with its vibrant blend of old-world charm and modern convenience. It is sure to make you love your retirement.

Embracing the Portuguese way of life entails immersing oneself in a culturally vibrant setting, enjoying the mild climate, and forming connections with friendly locals. The relaxed, cozy atmosphere is perfect for retirees searching for a tranquil yet stimulating lifestyle.

The robust expat community offers a built-in social circle for retirees to connect with, enabling you to engage with local culture and embrace international living.

The country offers a straightforward visa and residency process for retirees, with a five-year residence permit. Health insurance proof is required. The income requirement varies depending on the visa type. For the D7 visa, non-EU citizens must show a minimum passive offshore income of about $900. You can extend your stay annually until you obtain permanent resident status.

Portugal’s National Health Service allows legal residents to access public hospitals and health centers. However, retirees are advised to obtain private insurance for comprehensive healthcare coverage. Moreover, expats with NHR qualifications are exempt from income tax for 10 years.

Making the Most of Your Golden Years

Each of these destinations offers unique charms, adventures, and cultural experiences, ensuring a retired life that’s anything but boring. However, US citizens must remember that living abroad does not exempt them from obligations back home. 

Staying informed and complying with US tax laws is crucial, ensuring your adventurous post-retirement life is enjoyable and responsible. With the proper preparation and mindset, the dream of an adventurous retirement in these beautiful locales can be a thrilling and enriching reality.