Picking a foreign destination for retirement involves a bunch of trade-offs that are very personal. Other than the biggie — health care and costs — you also want to consider ease of everyday living, travel restrictions, scenery, food, culture, amenities, the weather and the law. Then there’s also this one: will you like your new environment full time?
These questions come into play no matter where you choose to retire, whether it be North America, Europe, Asia, or South America. But have you ever considered Africa? In most African countries the cost of living is much lower than in industrialized Western nations, the pace is slower and more friendly, and there are certain perks (but also drawbacks, of course). Here are 12 great cities to retire to in Africa where we think you can get a lot of bang for your buck, and a decent standard of living.
This article originally appeared on AFKInsider.com.
Grahamstown, South Africa
If you plan on devoting your attention to the arts and literature during retirement, Grahamstown is the perfect place. The city is home to the famous Rhodes University and hosts the National Arts Festival each year, so it is a hub for cultural activities such as art exhibits and literary readings. You can enjoy a meal at a nice restaurant for around US$25 and rent a three-bedroom apartment in the city center for less than $700 per month.
Ibadan isn’t far from Lagos, so if you want the conveniences of a big city, you can get there easily, but have the pleasure of living in a smaller, less frenetic place. There are secure units throughout the city, which not only has ancient roots and historical sites to explore, but also gorgeous hotels and upscale restaurants. The cost of living is quite affordable, too.
Located amid lovely green hills, Kumasi a country-living feeling, while still being a bustling place. Educational offerings include dancing and drumming classes, and you can explore fascinating cultural sites such as the National Cultural Center, which boasts an enormous library. Kumasi is also within easy driving distance of the airports in Accra and Tamale, so retirees can easily receive visitors. A quick peek at a Kumasi real estate website will show that you can buy a multi-bedroom house in the city for between US$300,000 and $700,000 in the city.
One of the most important things retirees should know about Tunis is that the life expectancy there is 74.6 years. If you’ve got access to Western medicine and lead a healthy lifestyle, life expectancy can go even higher. Nation.co.ke ranked Tunis the second happiest place to live in Africa on its “Happy Index.” From the colorful, cosmopolitan seaside suburbs, to the bustling city center, souks and Medina, to the ruins that fringe the city, there is plenty to do and see, at minimal cost compared to Western countries. Fresh, delicious food is abundant, and there is easy access to Europe and other North African countries. The city also has a very manageable railway system.
Libreville is a modern city near the Atlantic Ocean so it’s great for those looking for a beach-centric lifestyle. As one of the largest cities in Gabon, you can find modern conveniences that might not exist in smaller towns in Gabon or other parts of West Africa. The downtown area has luxury apartments with satellite TV and air conditioning. Libreville is home to one of Gabon’s major universities, so it is a hub for cultural and educational events.
This dynamic port city was formerly a French colony, and the French influence is still felt in the shopping, stylish wide boulevards, and fantastic food. In fact the city’s nickname is the name “The Paris of Africa” — and who wouldn’t want to retire to a lower-cost version of Paris? Of course knowing French helps if you decide to retire, here, as it’s the dominant language (aside from Arabic). As a Mediterranean city there is a breezy feeling to the cafes and beaches, and it is easily accessed from Europe or the Middle East, making it easy to travel to and fro, or welcome guests from abroad.
Asmara was recently named the world’s safest city by Madote.com — crime is so low that people don’t even lock up their bicycles. It’s also very friendly — visitors will find that strangers will offer to help you if you’re lost. Asmara boasts a distinct Italian influence, so you’ll find Italian cuisine and 1930s Art Deco architecture mixed with the local desert culture. Cost of housing and meals is very low, and hotels are inexpensive for visiting family.
Enugu is ideal for those looking for a laid back vibe. Recently the public transportation and housing have improved greatly. You can rent a three-bedroom, four-bathroom home for around US$2,000 per month or buy a three-bedroom house for around $75,000.
Windhoek is home to many expats, so you can bond with others adjusting to a new culture. Since Windhoek isn’t far from South Africa, the city enjoys many of the major South African brands, but none of the traffic. Windhoek also has gorgeous and dynamic landscapes with sand dunes and mountains, and it’s safe to travel around.
With welcoming locals and a large community of expats, Kigali offers the best of many worlds including luxury hotels and restaurants amid stunning, lush wildlife. If you’re a foodie, Kigali is your spot: it has a vibrant, fun and dynamic culinary culture and you can dine in upscale restaurants for relatively low prices.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg might be one of the pricier cities on this list, but it is still relatively inexpensive compared to American retirement cities. You can dine at an upscale restaurant for around $30, get a monthly metro pass for less than $50, join a fitness club for less than $30 a month and rent a three-bedroom apartment in the city center for just over $1,000. It’s also very clean and has gorgeous shopping centers.
Diani Beach, Kenya
Diani Beach might be best for a vacation home-away-from-home in Africa. The beach is one of the most famous and pristine in Africa. Diani has a vibrant seaside village full of supermarkets, local craftspeople, and charming cottages for rent or sale.