When we make that fateful decision to retire overseas and become a part of the expatriate community, we set in motion so many variables that we can become bewildered even thinking about them.
Probably the most significant variable relates to our new lifestyle abroad. Are we looking to emulate our previous lifestyle in our new destination country? Can we do it even if we want to? Do we go native? Or, do we plan for a happy medium in between the two extremes? Our other major choices will be related to this variable. Our choice of lifestyle will in many ways limit all other choices, including our choice of country in which to retire.
For Americans and many Canadians the Caribbean islands, Central America, and South America have been top choices over the years due to the proximity to the United States and Canada. Within certain of these countries, entire English Speaking communities have developed with all the amenities of home. A person visiting these communities might find it hard to believe that they are not in a community in the United States or Canada. I will not attempt to name a large number of these, but there are several scattered throughout Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama.
If you wish to have the beaches and fishing near English speaking fellow expatriates, you can easily find these in Bocas del Toro in Panama and in some communities in Costa Rica. If you wish to live in a tropical paradise with great weather year round you also have numerous choices. El Valle de Anton fits the bill well in Panama. Mexico is also noted for such environments.
If you like a temperate climate which hovers around 75 degrees Fahrenheit year round and which has been rated the second best climate in the world by the National Geographic Society, you might entertain the idea of living at mile high Lake Chapala near Guadalajara, Mexico. In Lake Chapala, there are over 50 English-speaking organizations in which you can participate. You can find all the conveniences of home including English movies, high speed internet, and a multitude of international restaurants.
If you are more like me, you will want to be living mostly among the native population, yet have easy access to the metropolitan areas. I prefer to not live among a population which is predominately English speaking. But then again, I also speak Spanish fluently.
Basically, your decision to live more like the natives or try to emulate your previous lifestyle back home depends on your temperament and what your previous lifestyle was like. If you were a city dweller, you might not want to live in a rural area in your new country. If you previously lived in the country, you might want to continue to avoid city life. On the other hand, your temperament may be such that you wish to live in the exact opposite environment. We all have a little bit of rebellion in us. Check out both alternatives, make your decision, and start your golden years of retirement.