Changes in latitude, changes in attitude. Many Canadians long to give up the daily grind and live where flowers bloom year-round, snow doesn’t exist and their retirement dollars stretch further than at home. These low-cost paradises exist around the world in a variety of locations, including Thailand, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Mexico, and are increasingly being discovered by adventurous retirees.

“Increasingly, retirees from Europe, Britain, Canada and the U.S. are interested in living outside their native country,” says Dan Prescher, 57, special projects editor for, a magazine and website that specializes in living abroad. “We do a lot of writing about how people on a fixed income can make their nest egg go as far as possible and still live a good life.”

Prescher says a lot of North Americans are finding that with increases in the cost of living, they are being “priced out” of retirement at home. But in a less developed country, retirees can find everything from a tropical abode overlooking the ocean or a mountain retreat with spring-like weather all year to a colonial city brimming with music and art.

“People who once thought they could retire in style are now looking at rice and beans and a cold-water flat if they stay at home,” Prescher says. “They are looking for ways to cut the cost of living without giving up quality of life.”

There are several factors to consider when choosing a potential retirement location. In’s global retirement index, published every September, the magazine ranks 23 countries in the following categories: real estate prices; special benefits for retirees; cost of living; culture, entertainment and recreation; health care; infrastructure, including telecommunications; safety and political stability; and climate.

For the past three years, Ecuador has ranked No. 1 in this survey. estimates a couple can live there on $600 a month, and extremely well for less than $1,200 a month, including housing. Ecuador is known for its beautiful beaches, rainforest and mountains. It has a high standard of health care and beautiful colonial architecture. It boasts a mild climate; neither heating nor air conditioning is needed. There are many restaurants, outdoor markets and access to fresh, locally grown food. A furnished, two-bedroom apartment in an historic centre costs US$220 a month. Or a large condo can be bought for US$66,000.

No matter which country is chosen, the Internet and web-based phone services such as Skype have made it easier to communicate. And that’s encouraging some people to take the leap into foreign lands even before retiring. “Any job that can be done online can be done anywhere in the world,” says Prescher. “And that includes online trading, editing and consulting.”