Best Places to Retire to That You've Never Heard Of

This southern Ecuadorean city of Cuenca is a favorite hot pick for savvy American expats. The city, Ecuador's third largest, topped International Living's list of places to retire last year.

"It has a little bit of everything," says International Living's Prescher. "It's big enough for all the services you need, but small enough so you're not overwhelmed with traffic and pollution."

Perched in the Ecuadorean Andes more than 8,000 feet about sea level, Cuenca has one of the healthiest climates in Central America. It's also close to the equator, which means the temperate weather doesn't change much throughout the year.

There's also some culture. Cuenca's historic downtown has been turned into a UNESCO World Heritage Trust Site -- and the country's biggest airport in Quito is just 45 minutes away.

"There's a growing expat community here, and it's pretty easy to stay in touch with the U.S.," says Prescher.

Cuenca has a "nice" hospital, and more serious conditions can be treated in one of Quito's world-class hospitals, according to Prescher.

The biggest bonus may be the prices.

"It's very affordable," says Prescher. "Compared to living anywhere in the U.S., it's remarkably affordable."

Cuenca's historic downtown.

Lunigiana, Italy

Most people hear Tuscany and lament they're not rich enough to afford a multi-million villa overlooking olive groves, or patient enough to fight off busloads of tourists. But parts of Tuscany are virtually undiscovered, making them not only affordable but refreshingly authentic.

"There are incredible deals," says Dan Prescher, special projects editor for International Living.

Lunigiana and its surrounding green hills are peppered with castles, churches and stone-built farm houses.

Compared to better known Tuscan towns where homes cost millions of dollars, retirees can buy a restored house with exposed stone walls and beamed ceilings for $100,000 or less, according to International Living.

Living in Italy offers the additional advantage of culture, easy transportation and excellent medical facilities. If you're looking for a retirement spot where you can spontaneously drop in on open-air opera performances, take a safe late-night bus home without selling of your family jewels, Lunigiana might be for you.

Affordable Tuscany in Lunigiana.

Deadwood, South Dakota

Retirees drawn to raw nature and motorcycles can find their bliss in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

"The buffalo still roam out there, and so do retirees now," says Abbott, editor of Where to Retire.

The Black Hills, set off from the Rocky Mountains, offer breathtaking scenery of tree-covered granite mountains and national parks including Mount Rushmore.

The Old West town of Deadwood, which became an economic hub after gold was discovered there in 1876, is now a national historic landmark known for its gambling halls and Wild West history. Its downtown area has been meticulously restored with turn-of-the-century streetlamps and Victorian architecture.

The nearby town of Sturgis is best known for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which has been taking place each year since 1938 and draws thousands of bikers each year.

Retirees who decide to take a chance on the Wild West won't be alone. Almost half of the population in Deadwood is above the age of 45, with an unusually high 16.8 percent older than 65.

New Old West in Deadwood.
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