An inevitable part of aging is… well, you don’t get around on your own two feet quite as well as you used to.
Some health conditions exacerbate the problem, speeding up the timeline. In those cases, stairs to a second or third floor become a safety and convenience issue. Even landings, or rooms with multiple levels, can be a challenge.
If that’s a concern (or you, wisely, think it could be at some point), you don’t have to give up a dream to live your golden years abroad. Far from it.
Many countries are improving accessibility for those with mobility issues. And plenty of expats and locals find a way to get around. Plus, life is so much easier when you live in a place with one level, whether it’s a home, luxury condo, or beach apartment.
Jacó, Costa Rica: A Fun-Filled Life on the Beach
Once known as Costa Rica’s premier party town, Jacó has grown up in many ways. It’s still a busy beach town with plenty of fun to be had. But you’ll also find chic condos, gated communities, shopping districts, craft beer bars, smart boutiques, and more. It’s a walkable community, set on a wide bay on the country’s central Pacific coast, with the “main drag” paralleling the beach about two blocks inland.
It’s lined with restaurants, shops, and more, catering to both tourists and longterm residents, many of whom are North American expats who come for the year-round warm weather, laidback lifestyle of Costa Rica, and modern conveniences like top medical care, good shopping, and more. Plus, the country’s main international airport, with many flights to North American destinations, is just a 90-minute drive. A furnished two-bedroom ground floor condo one block from the beach—and close to everything else you want to do—is listed at $120,000. A three-bedroom home close to the beach and shopping, with a large fenced yard and private pool, is available for $249,000. It comes furnished. See: Remaxocr.com.
Porto, Portugal: A Laidback Second City
Set in northern Portugal, the coastal city of Porto is the country’s second-largest urban area (but it doesn’t have an overwhelming big-city feel), famed for its port wine and brightly painted—and tiled—buildings lining the hills that rise from the banks of the Douro River, which empties in the nearby Atlantic beyond the estuary. It benefits from a temperate climate. The historic town center is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site with Romanesque, medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, neo-classical, and other architectural styles from a millennia represented, although the city’s heritage goes back to Phoenician and Roman times.
Aside from attractive surroundings, Porto expats also enjoy wine (and not just the fortified port) and food (try local fave francesinha, which is ham, sausage, and thin steak between thick bread slices covered in melted cheese and a tomato beer sauce, with a fried egg on top. Plus, golden-sand beaches that are only 15 minutes away.
It’s a chance to live in a sophisticated European city for less than $2,000 a month for a typical couple living well. In the heart of town is a modern one-bedroom apartment on the ground floor for $218,245. Also for sale is another ground floor one-bedroom apartment in a newly renovated building in the historic center. See: Portugalproperty.com.
Cotacachi, Ecuador: Small Town Life in the Andes
A perennial favorite of expat retirees, Cotacachi, Ecuador, is a mountain town in the foothills of the Andes—it’s in a valley between two volcanoes—offers a low cost of living, a moderate climate, and good-value real estate.
The expat influence—there are just under a thousand in town—according to estimates, has brought gated communities and similar amenities. But it retains a traditional vibe with its strong indigenous culture and colonial architecture in the historic centro—think ornate bell towers, brightly painted homes with terracotta tile roofs, and well-kept plazas.
And there is plenty to do: expat clubs, farmers’ markets, craft markets, cafés, and restaurants serving up American fare.
A new two-bedroom home, sold fully furnished, in a small gated community is listed at $134,900. Enjoy a fireplace, granite countertops, vaulted ceilings, custom cabinets, and other high-end finishes.
This three-bedroom house is located in the center of Cotacachi, just three blocks from the main park and comes with an indoor pool and beautiful garden. It’s listed at $130,000. See: Santana-realty.com.