5 Exotic Countries for an Affordable Golf Retirement

Golfers who retire overseas to sunny, good-value locales can indulge their favorite hobby year-round and pay much less than they would in the United States. In a new report, the editors at InternationalLiving.com explore five great retirement spots around the world where the golf is top-notch.

Source: Internationalliving.com

“A much-cited advantage—and joy—of retirement is being able to spend your days as you see fit, indulging in your favorite passions, such as golf,” says International Living’s Executive Editor Jennifer Stevens. “That can prove to be a prohibitively expensive pastime in North America, but in the right places overseas, you can play golf for a fraction of the price back home.

“If sun-washed fairways, perfectly groomed greens, and chilled cocktails at the nineteenth hole bar after a leisurely round feature in your retirement fantasy, then you need to look for the retirement spots worldwide that offer great, and affordable, golf.”

International Living’s report delves into five locales for a great golf retirement: Costa Rica, Portugal, Thailand, Mexico, and Ireland – Each offering a different appeal.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica draws tourists from around the world who come to enjoy its golden-sand beaches, rainforests teeming with exotic life, and intoxicating culture. And, as the winner of the Global Retirement Index 2018, it draws plenty of expats seeking a better retirement and the laidback Pura Vida lifestyle.

But if you’re a keen golfer, there’s another reason to enjoy this Central American paradise. Costa Rica is an ideal spot for both the novice and advanced golfer. Not only are the conditions of the courses exceptional, but – compared to prices in the US – golf here is a bargain. Most green fees are well under $100, and if you live here, the rates can be even cheaper.

The larger resort courses, located in the northern Guanacaste region, are geared for the experienced golfer, and they come with pricier green fees. Courses centered around the capital, San José, are better suited for novice golfers. 

Hacienda Pinilla, situated in Guanacaste, and minutes from the Pacific-coast beach town of Tamarindo, is a top priority for any golf enthusiast in Costa Rica. One of a few hundred courses in the world that is certified by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, which encourages golf courses to be environmentally friendly, this 18-hole championship course hosts many national tournaments.

A couple can enjoy a rewarding retirement in Tamarindo on $2,500 USD a month.


Portugal’s southernmost region, the Algarve, is known for its craggy cliffs, Atlantic beaches, whitewashed fishing villages and countless golf resorts. Originally conceived in the 1980s as a world-class golfing venue, the resort town of Vilamoura offers elegant hotels, fine restaurants, and a large marina in addition to the pristine Praia da Falésia beach.

As one of Europe’s best golf destinations, Vilamoura offers a host of championship courses – the perfect spot for an enthusiastic golfer. There are six challenging courses in the Vilamoura Resort area, including the championship Victoria Golf Course, the Millennium Golf Course, the Pinhal Golf Course, and the Laguna Golf Course.

In the Algarve, a couple can live a fulfilling retirement on $2,400 USD or less per month.


With more than 250 courses scattered throughout Thailand, it has fast become a golfer’s heaven. In fact, Thailand is riding high on the back of a golf-tourism explosion – a major boon for the country. Our friend and golf course architect Ron Garl designed Alpine Golf Resort in Chiang Mai and it remains one of his favorites to this day.

The resort city of Hua Hin, set on the Gulf of Thailand, has been a summer refuge for Thai kings and aristocracy since the 1920s. It’s the country’s original beach getaway. But these days it’s a popular golfing area, too, with a huge selection of courses including the first-ever 18-hole course in Asia. Due to the competitive green fees, every golfer can enjoy the quality golf on offer.

Black Mountain Hua Hin is a championship course considered one of the most challenging in the country. It has won copious accolades and caters to players of all levels. The course is located just a few miles away from the center of Hua Hin. Off the course, you can enjoy white-sand beaches lined with palm trees and seaside restaurants specializing in seafood.

Here, a couple can live well on $2,000 USD per month.


On Mexico’s Riviera Maya you’ll find a couple dozen golf courses, many created by top designers like Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, and Robert Trent Jones. They are usually on the grounds of the large resorts in this region – standouts include El Camaleon Mayakoba, Vidanta, and Bahia Principe. You don’t have to be staying at the resort to play. There are also country clubs.

This region has a great climate year-round, similar to Florida and perfect for golf. It also has the added benefit of being close to the USA – a flight to Miami is just over an hour.

The major towns in this area, where the golf courses are located, include Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Akumal, Puerto Aventuras, Puerto Morelos, and Tulum. It’s about an hour and 20 minutes’ drive from the international airport in Cancún to Tulum, with all those other towns in between. So, wherever you happen to live you can easily reach any of the golf courses.

A monthly budget for a couple in Cancún runs at $2,000 USD per month.


Lists of the top places to play golf consistently rank courses in Ireland among the world’s best. Home to 300 golf courses, it’s not surprising Ireland has many famous golfers such as Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, and Paul McGinley.

Many courses here are laid out in classic style, “links,” which is marked by a seaside location and built on the naturally undulating land. Another factor is the beautiful green countryside.

One of the best places to base yourself for golf in Ireland is Lahinch, a small seaside village on County Clare’s northwest coast. It’s a vacation resort and a surfing center, too. But golfers love its finely crafted links course.

The cost of living in Ireland can be a lot more affordable than you might think. In rural areas, rent on a two-bedroom property typically starts at less than $600 a month and utilities usually run about $100 a month. 

More information (plus one extra golf haven) can be found here: 5 Great Places for a Golfing Retirement

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