Three Places to Retire on the Beach AND Cut Your Cost of Living

At 1,350 miles, Florida has the most coastline of any state in the lower 48 United States.

Add year round warmth, and it is no wonder that Florida nets about 80,000 retirees moving to the state yearly, based on census data.

But today Florida tops the list of states where real estate prices have skyrocketed since 2020.

For example, home values in Cape Coral, Florida grew 63% from 2020 to 2022. St. Petersburg, in the Tampa metro area, saw the average home value climb by over $120,000 during that time.

Over on the Pacific coast, your prospects of finding an affordable seaside retirement are even worse.

The median sale price on all California homes went from $551,000 in January 2020, to a peak of nearly $844,000 earlier this year.

Beachfront homes in some of the most desirable locations are topping $70 million or more. It’s nuts.

With so much craziness in the world, a lot of people are understandably thinking about escape… and finding a quiet, stress-free place to retire with scenic view and tropical breeze.

Beachfront homes in Florida and California are now unaffordable for most people (and California is anything BUT stress-free).

But if you take a global view, suddenly your options multiply. And there are plenty of great places in the world where you can retire on the beach, even on a fixed income.

We started by taking a look at countries which offer retirement visas, and then zoomed in on seaside areas of these countries known for their beautiful beaches.

Then we factored in data from our cost of living index to determine which locations allow a retiree to live comfortably on a fixed income. Our scale runs from “dirt cheap (1/7)” to “extreme (7/7).

Cancun, Mexico, and its southern coastline down through Playa del Carmen and Tulum offers some really lovely and varied settings. Our founder, Simon Black, just had his second child in Cancun and really enjoys the city.

A single retiree could support themselves comfortably in Cancun on about $1,710 per month, which we rate “very cheap (2/7)”. And that includes everything— rent, food, entertainment, and other expenses.

A family of four would spend about $3,600 per month living comfortably in Cancun, so a retired couple should expect to spend somewhere in between. Rent for a beachfront condo will start around $1,500 USD per month.

Cancun’s famous “Hotel Zone” where many of the beachfront homes and condos are located, is incredibly safe. The restaurants are excellent. And the quality and variety of food and drinks in the grocery stores are fantastic.

Another great benefit of Mexico is that retirees can easily obtain permanent residency.

In many countries, new immigrants must first start with a “temporary” residency that expires in a year of two, after which you’d have to apply for permanent residency.

But Mexico allows retirees (in some cases including people in their 30s and 40s) to skip straight to permanent residency, as long as they can prove they are officially retired and financially solvent.

There are two ways to show that:

  1. Proof of investments or bank balance or retirement account balance with a monthly average equivalent to 20,000 days of Mexican minimum wage per person for the past twelve months.

That translates to approximately $142,000 per applicant. However, these requirements vary from consulate to consulate.


  1. Proof of monthly pension (after tax) greater than the equivalent of 500 days of Mexican minimum wage for the past six months. That translates to approximately $3,500 a month. You will also need to add about $700 a month or so for each dependent co-applicant.

And permanent residency in Mexico is truly permanent, meaning it never has to be renewed.

Furthermore, after holding Mexican residency for five years, you become eligible for naturalization— which means becoming a Mexican citizen, and receiving a passport.

Another option is Florianópolis, Brazil, located on Santa Catarina Island (connected to the mainland by two bridges). It consistently ranks as one of Brazil’s safest cities.

It is ranked “dirt cheap 1/7” in our cost of living index, costing about $1,250 in total expenses per month for a single, and less than double that for a couple.

You can find plenty of nice apartments for rent for under $1,000 USD per month. Or go for something bigger with a view of the ocean, like this three bedroom three bathroom apartment for about $1,100 per month.

Brazil offers a retirement visa to those who prove they are retired, for example with a Pension Verification Letter or Social Security Benefits Statement.

You also must earn at least $2,000 per month, AND transfer that amount to Brazil each month.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic is a classic tropical paradise, with an average year-round temperature of 25°C (77°F). While summers there are hotter, winters are very pleasant, with no air conditioning necessary.

In the past decade, the country’s economy has been one of the fastest-growing in the Americas at about 5% per year.

Yet, it remains surprisingly inexpensive. We rate it “very cheap (2/7)” in our cost of living index. For a single person, a comfortable life would cost around $1,700 per month (and around $3,600 for a family of four).

In comparison, the cost of living in neighboring Puerto Rico is at least 50% more expensive.

A full-time, live-in domestic worker will cost you only around $200 per month in the Dominican Republic.

Restaurants are also affordable – $5 to $7 will feed you well in most places where locals dine. Having a three-course meal in a fancier restaurant in Santo Domingo (the capital) or Boca Chica resort would cost around $40 for two people, including a bottle of wine.

To give you an idea of housing costs, this beautiful apartment with ocean views in a complex with a pool is renting for $1,100 per month.

According to Law No.171-07 (in Spanish), you can apply for near-instant permanent residency if you are a retiree or “pensionado”.

You have to prove that you earn a pension of at least $1,500 per month. Add $250 for each dependent applying with you.

Income can come from any public sources (e.g. Social Security, IRA and 401k benefits in the US, Canada Pension Plan, etc.), or it can be a pension from private companies. You are allowed to combine various types of retirement income to reach the required income threshold.

Note: You already have to be receiving your retirement income by the time you apply for Dominican residency. A mere balance (in your 401k, for example) is not enough, even if it is very sizable. You need to be drawing that income by the time you apply.

If you want to keep exploring the best place for you, check out our Global Explorer interactive map.

You can select between 11 criteria, including cost of living, crime, climate, residency options, and more.

The map is color coded based on your selection. And when you click on a country, you get more information. This includes our take on the country, and the premium resources on the country that our Sovereign Confidential members receive.

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