The thought process during a new chapter in your life always feels a little like you’re reading it off a pamphlet or an infomercial in the beginning. So you’ve retired—now what? Years of hard work, making ends meet, and going through the motions are behind you. You’ve done your part and you’ve done it well. It’s not exactly hard to understand why it would be difficult to ask yourself: What’s next? It’s time to live, that’s what. Regardless of age, your best years may just be still ahead of you.
If you’re eager to pack it all up, soak up the sun, and finally enjoy those carefree days you’ve spent so long working to earn, here are some of the best cities to do just that.
Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
With a name like that, it’s no wonder that Sunshine Coast is becoming a popular place for another chance at settling down. If you’re planning to put your legs to use and get fit, there are mountains for leisure hiking with spectacular views. Good weather, fantastic beaches, a welcoming suburban community, and peace and quiet are all great reasons to go, but it’s the quality of life, healthcare provisions, and good governance that will convince you to stay.
Norway was declared the best country to retire in 2016 by the Natixis Global Retirement index, thanks to its healthcare and financial systems. Tromso, which is 217 miles from the Arctic Circle, may take some getting used to for people used to a tropical climate, but the cold is the least of your worries when you’re busy indulging in winter sports and visiting museums, operas, and festivals. There’s also the Norwegian law “allemannsrett,” meaning “the everyman’s right,” that allows natives and visitors to traverse and rest on any area in the country.
Cebu City, Philippines
For foreigners, the Philippines is quickly climbing on several lists of the best places to retire because of the oft-mentioned hospitality and the decent cost of living—so why should it be any different for the Filipinos themselves? Cebu’s friendly community, diverse lifestyles, and laidback urban culture make it the perfect place to stay just far enough from (and close enough to) home. With resorts and beaches all around you, it’ll be like a year-round vacation, while still feeling warm and familiar.
George Town, Malaysia
If you’d like to rest on stranger shores, but not too strange, pack up for George Town instead. The city provides excellent healthcare and reasonable cost of living, and its colonial history shines through in its architecture and worldly culture. Old British buildings now house galleries, museums, community centers, and cafes, and the beaches and the vibrant art scene are something to behold. The food’s not too bad at all, either.
Panama City, Panama
Culture on its streets, history in its ruins, low crime rate, and low cost of living—Panama City, touted the most modern in Central America with its growing abundance of skyscrapers, is shaping up to be a hidden paradise. It also happens to have the best incentives for retirees: The Pensionado visa allows tax exemptions and discounts ranging from 20% to 50% off the likes of medical services, restaurant meals, airfare, electricity and phone bills, and entertainment. —Fiel Estrella
Art by Maine Manalansan