4 Great Places to Retire: For the intrepid traveler — Overseas

Jun 01, 2011

San Rafael, Argentina

Population: 173,000

Median home price: N.A.; listed from $150,000

Retirees have been getting bold in recent years, flocking to overseas locales like Mexico, Europe, and South America. In addition to adventure, they often find dramatically lower real estate prices. That's certainly the case in San Rafael, Argentina, a medium-size city in the heart of the nation's wine country, where the cost of living is about three-fourths that of the U.S. average, according to the Associates for International Research.

An hour and a half flight from Buenos Aires, San Rafael has plenty of amenities. It also has the feel of a small European town. Two major rivers flow from the Andes mountains toward the town, which means that rafting and fly-fishing destinations are a short trip away. Farms growing some of Argentina's best-known grapes (below) surround the town and have lured about 400 expatriates, largely retirees, from the U.S., Canada, and Europe.



Enterprising oenophiles might even earn an income from a vineyard. Attorney Tim Hagan, 48, and his wife, Susan, 44, are hoping to do just that. Now living in Dubai, the aspiring early retirees bought a 20-acre alfalfa farm in San Rafael this spring and have an agronomist planting grapes and olives for when they move there in a couple of years. They plan to supplement their income with whatever they can earn from the harvest.

Figuring out real estate can be tricky. Foreigners can own property outright, but there is no multiple-listing service, so available real estate can be hard to find. Moreover, people often lie on their sales records -- listing a lower price for tax purposes, says David English of English & Associates, so it can be hard to determine the fair value for a property.

But if you're up for the adventure, the lifestyle can be ideal. "Neither of us is thinking of retirement as a sedentary activity," says Hagan. "Once you go home, the adventure ends. We intend to stay expats for the rest of our lives."

You might also like:

Boquete, Panama. American-style gated communities for expats are plunked down in the midst of rain forests, cloud forests, and coffee plantations.

Ambergris Caye, Belize. If you're after empty, white-sand beaches and great diving and snorkeling, look to the less developed middle section of this Caribbean island.

Fortune Retirement Guide 2011: Take control and win

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