For many of us, age 65 is far enough off as it is, but with governments around the world raising the age of retirement, the prospect of ever getting to kick back and relax seems dimmer by the day. This says nothing of the endangered pension plan, or of the vulnerability of the 401k accounts that have largely replaced it to the stock market.
The good news is that amid all the negative changes in our world, there are at least as many positive ones. When it comes to retirement, for example, more and more people are bypassing the age and financial requirements to stop working by heading to places that are not only lush and idyllic, but affordable as well.
Whether you're a digital nomad who takes your work with you, or a salaryman who's saved dutifully enough to say "Sayonara" to your desk, here are the world's most paradisical places to retire early.
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Backpackers have long loved Ecuador's affordability, a characteristic of the South American nation which applies to short stays as well as long ones. Other advantages of retiring in Ecuador include a year-round temperate climate and a wide array of properties for rental and purchase, to say nothing of the nearby Galapagos Islands.
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Like Ecuador, Thailand is a backpacker hot spot, but one area the Southeast Asian kingdom sets itself apart from the South American wonderland is in terms of affordable healthcare. Not that you could ever get sick of Bangkok, Chiang Mai or the islands, where you'll find plenty of other young people who behave like they're retired, even if they aren't.
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New Zealand loses points when compared to other amazing places to retire young for its rather high cost of living, but gains them back when it comes to healthcare, infrastructure and things to do – bungee jumping, anyone?
Retirement can be boring, as any older retiree can tell you, so take a break from the North Island's beaches and the south islands hiking trails to work on an organic farm. Or, take weekend trips to tropical South Pacific islands like Fiji and Tahiti, which are literally in New Zealand's backyard.
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It's understandable if you don't know where Malta it – it isn't marked or visible on most maps. But in spite of how invisible Malta is to all but the most detail-oriented Google Maps user, it's a place you won't forget once you set foot here.
Whether you hang out in the Venetian-inflected capital Viletta or swim in the crystalline waters of the Blue Lagoon (Brooke Shields not included), Malta may be the best place in Europe to retire young, particularly if you're trying to avoid someone. They'll never be able to find you!Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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You totally don't want to retire young in Panamá – there are too many decisions. Do you surf in the Pacific Ocean, or swim in the Caribbean Sea? Do you go urban chic in swanky Panamá City, or incognito in the San Blas Islands? Do you hit up tourist hot spots like the Panamá Canal, or make friends with lively locals and follow them to their favorite places.
With complicated choices like this, Panamá's low cost of living, modern infrastructure, welcoming hospitality, high-quality healthcare and abundant housing just can't compete – retire somewhere else!