Dream Retirement: Finding Your Perfect Paradise At Home Or Abroad

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As retirement approaches, many people look for a location that offers comfort, affordability, a vibrant community and access to amenities that enhance their quality of life.

Whether it's a coastal town with serene beaches, a bustling city with cultural attractions or a quiet countryside retreat, finding the ideal retirement destination involves balancing personal preferences, financial realities and lifestyle goals. Factors such as climate, health care facilities, cost of living and recreational opportunities must be considered.

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Retiring abroad is an attractive option for many people seeking a change of pace, a lower cost of living, and new cultural experiences. According to U.S. News & World Report, countries such as Argentina, Mexico, Malaysia, and Bulgaria offer affordable homes that cost less than $100,000.

Mexico is popular for those wanting to stick close to the U.S.

"You can still find a home near the beach in Mexico for $100,000," said Tim Leffel, expat and author of "A Better Life for Half the Price" in an email to U.S. News & World Report. Although that is becoming more difficult, "the interior is a whole different story," Leffel noted.

Bulgaria, which borders the Black Sea, is another low-cost option, but buyers can only buy the building, not the land beneath it.

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"You could buy a studio apartment in some towns and put it on your credit card," Leffel said. If you want a house, you can find one for as little as $50,000 in some areas.

Foreign nationals aren't permitted to purchase properties in some countries but there are workarounds such as long-term leases. It's also important to visit a country for several months to ensure it's the right fit for you, so a long-term lease may be the way to go at first.

Living abroad isn't for everyone, and the United States has plenty to offer those who don't want to venture out of the country.

According to Realtor.com, the top retirement towns in the United States tend to have good weather, access to urban centers, and proximity to quality medical centers. In addition, they're affordable.

Sun City Center, Florida, topped Realtor.com's list of America's best retirement towns this year.

"This top-ranking retirement town, on the south side of Tampa, [offers] buyers easy access to the beach and the amenities and resources of the large metro area," Realtor.com economic research analyst Hanna Jones said.

Other top-ranking retirement towns such as Green Valley, Arizona, and The Villages, Florida, offer retirees the nice weather they crave while still being near high-quality medical services.

"These areas tend to be more affordable than areas within the city center and still benefit from proximity to the area's health care system, entertainment and other activities," Jones said.

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