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Getting There: Your Guide to 3 Top Retirement Destinations

When it comes to picking your ideal retirement destination, it can seem daunting to get out there and explore the unknown. Most of our Escape Artist readers are liberty-minded people who are very open to looking beyond the United States and Canada for their retirement. That being said, it’s still a huge step to go check out a totally new destination that feels very far away and foreign to what you’ve always known.

But getting out there and exploring new destinations so you can find your perfect retirement spot is essential.

And, the great news is, it doesn’t have to be a sketchy experience.

In this week’s article, I’ve put together a quick guide for three top retirement destinations to encourage you to get out and explore. I’ve included where you can catch a direct flight, where to stay, and some of the activities you should check out once you get there.

Are you ready to save money and stretch your pension further? To escape the drama at home? And, especially for all you Northerners, enjoy better weather? Then it’s time to explore these three top retirement destinations:

  • Nicaragua
  • Belize
  • Portugal

Let’s go!


Nicaragua is a favorite retirement and Plan B destination for us here at Escape Artist. And there are many great reasons for that, including its warm weather with cooling ocean breezes, beautiful landscape (it’s not called “The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes for nothing!), historic colonial cities, friendly people, and an extremely low cost of living. Whew, that was a mouthful!

How to get there

There are daily direct flights from Miami (2h 30min), Fort Lauderdale (2h 35min), and Houston (3h 25min) to Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, making the country easy to access for Americans and Canadians. No need to get stuck on a “milk run” – just get to one of these destinations and you are good to go.

Where to stay

If this is your first trip to Nicaragua, I’ve got the perfect recommendation for where to stay. A short 1.5-hour drive from Managua and nestled on Nicaragua’s gorgeous Pacific coast, you will find Gran Pacifica Beach & Golf Resort. Located on 3.5 miles of pristine coastline, you can stay in a beachfront condo, tiny home or colonial resort villa and enjoy amenities such as tennis, golf, horseback riding, and surfing.

And, since you are in Nicaragua to scope out the country as a potential retirement destination, you’ll want to check out Gran Pacifica’s ready-made vacation packages which include tours of Leon, Granada, Managua, and more! This is an ideal way to explore the country and make the best use of your time while you are there.

Visit the Gran Pacifica website to see everything they have to offer. And make sure to use this link when you book your stay to get 5% off!

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What to do

There is so much to see and do in this beautiful country! Here are some of the top activities you’ll want to put on your list:

  1. Visit the Leon Cathedral
  2. Go volcano boarding on Cerro Negro
  3. Visit the Corn Islands
  4. Take a night tour to the active Masaya volcano
  5. Explore the colonial architecture of Granada



Belize is another great option for retirees looking to soak in some sun and enjoy a lower cost of living. Known for its fabulous scuba diving off the coast of Ambergris Caye, rich history, and eco-friendly adventures, Belize may be calling your name as a retirement destination. An added bonus for North Americans? English is the official language spoken in Belize, making it easy for you to get around and converse with the locals.

How to get there

You may be surprised when you see how many direct flights you can get from the United States and Canada to Belize! This destination is definitely growing in popularity, and it shows in the number of flight options available. From the US you can get a direct flight to Belize City from over 10 major airports across the country. Shockingly, you can even fly direct from Canada via Calgary or Toronto on certain days of the week.

Where to stay

Whether you are looking to stay somewhere close to the scuba diving action or in the lush rainforest, I’ve got you covered!

Located five-minutes from the vibrant downtown of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, you’ll find the Best Western Grand Baymen Gardens Resort. Just two-minutes from white sand beaches, this condo-style resort includes everything you need for your base of operations as you explore the island or head out on an exciting scuba-diving excursion. Enjoy shopping at local supermarkets and fruit vendors or check out the bars and restaurants to meet the locals and try some authentic Belizean cuisine.

On mainland Belize, if you are looking for a truly back-to-nature experience in the rainforest, you need to check out Table Rock Jungle Lodge for the ultimate eco-adventure. This award-winning eco-lodge is situated on the Macal River and features 10 intimate cabanas, farm-to-table cuisine, and an abundance of outdoor adventure opportunities. For a truly unforgettable experience in Belizean nature, you are definitely going to want to check out Table Rock Jungle Lodge. And make sure to use this link when you book to get 5% off your stay!

What to do

There is no shortage of things to do in Belize, whether you are looking to chill out or go on an adventure. Here are a few of the most-recommended activities:

  1. Scuba diving at the Belize Barrier Reef
  2. Hike the ancient Mayan ruins
  3. Explore the caves of Actun Tunichil Muknal
  4. Snorkeling at Hol Chan Marine Reserve
  5. Paddle or float down the Sibun River



The final retirement destination on today’s list is perennial expat favorite, Portugal. One of the sunniest places in the world, Portugal offers that warmth you crave while also giving you more variation between the seasons than Nicaragua and Belize. With cobblestone streets to wander down and old-world architecture to admire, Portugal is a world-renowned expat haven for a reason! Could this be your ideal retirement destination?

How to get there

A well-established destination for North Americans, you can easily hop a direct flight to Lisbon or Porto from several major airports in the US, plus Toronto and Montreal in Canada. Bring your best neck pillow and some granola bars for sustenance, though, because it is going to be a long-haul flight of at least 8 hours. All the more time for you to think about all the adventures you will have once you get there!

Where to stay

If you are really looking for the ultimate in relaxation and low-cost living in Portugal, you should definitely check out the Azores. Just a two-hour flight off the coast of Portugal, the Azores islands have been described as what it would look like if Ireland and Hawaii had a baby. Comfortable temperatures and lush green fields combined with 500-year-old Portughese architecture makes for a beautiful combination. Oh, and about that low-cost living I mentioned? You’ll be saving about 20% off the cost of living compared to Portugal’s mainland.

While visiting the Azores, Solar de Lalem on São Miguel is an ideal place to stay. Built in the 17th Century, this historic boutique hotel is the perfect blend of relaxing island resort and European charm. Live like royalty with all the modern amenities you’ve come to expect, along with exquisite antique furnishings to elevate your experience. Did I mention you are right next to the ocean, too?

Experience the Azores in style and at an affordable price when you stay at Solar de Lalem and use this link when you book your stay to get 5% off!

What to do

When you venture over to the Azores, you will get the perfect combination of relaxation and adventure. Here are just a few of the activities you can partake in during your visit:

  1. Whale and dolphin watching tours
  2. Hiking/quading the Sete Cidades ridges
  3. Walking tours of São Miguel’s historic villages
  4. Visit the Parque Terra Nostra botanical gardens
  5. Take a soak in the Poça da Dona Beija hot springs

Which retirement destination will you explore first?

Which retirement destination will you explore first?

When it comes to picking the perfect retirement destination, you can do all the research you want beforehand, but it comes down to actually biting the bullet and visiting the places on your list. You can’t go wrong with any of the destinations above, but what really matters is where you feel most at home. Which climate, geography and location do you prefer? Which location is the best fit from a cost of living and lifestyle perspective?

I hope this article has helped to give you an idea of what a vacation to each of these destinations could look like when you decide to head out on your mission to find the ideal retirement spot. And hopefully it’s helped to demystify the process for you a bit as well with the information on how to get there, where to stay, and what to do. I wish you good luck on your upcoming journey!

Stay on top of the latest trends in the offshore world by subscribing to Escape Artist Insiders magazine, where our experts share their on-the-ground experience and insights to help you build your offshore retirement plans. This month’s issue is all about Taxes and Estate Planning, an extremely important aspect for anyone looking to move overseas that you don’t want to overlook. Get moving on those offshore goals and subscribe today!


LisaLisa is an aspiring expat from Canada who is working to put together her Plan B with a young family in tow. She is excited to pair her lifelong love of writing with her passion for offshore strategies and outside-the box investments in her weekly articles for Escape Artist readers. Follow this “rebel with a cause” as she walks the path less traveled and shares her experiences along the way.
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