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20 of the coolest places to retire in the world

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By Charlene Oldham/GOBankingRates

Retirement means more than golf and gardening for an increasing number of Americans, who are instead looking for fun outdoor activities, international adventures and cutting-edge cuisine.

Click ahead for a look at 20 cool places, each of which offers something unique.

This article was originally published by GOBankingRates.

​Ottawa, Canada

  • Average cost of living: $749.68/month/person

The Canadian publication MoneySense ranked this Ontario city first on its list of the best places to retire in the country, based on factors including cost of living and access to health care. Attractions in Ottawa include Senators hockey games, where some seats for weekday contests can be purchased online for less than $20 each.

​Phoenix, Arizona

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  • Average cost of living: $830.78/person/month

The capital of Arizona also made U.S. News & World Report's list of the 10 best American cities for those who want to live on less than $100 a day after retirement. Additionally, Phoenix gets points for its weather -- the city is sunny 85 percent of the year. And there's easy access to sporting events. From the city, it's easy to attend Phoenix Suns games, Arizona Cardinals games, Arizona Coyotes games and Arizona Diamondbacks games, where bleacher seats for afternoon weekday games go for just $15 each.

Portland, Oregon

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  • Average cost of living: $939/person/month

"Oregon is a 'come-as-you-are' state where you can carve out the life you want to live. We embrace quirky and consider it one of our greatest attributes," said Vassar Byrd, CEO of Rose Villa Senior Living, a Portland retirement community. "Our world-class wine region, beautiful mountains, easy ocean access and lack of sales tax make Oregon a compelling place to retire."

Portland is also known as one of the nation's top cities for foodies.

​Buenos Aires, Argentina

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  • Average Cost of Living: $692.08/person/month

AARP Magazine considers this South American capital one of the best places to retire abroad, in part because of its scenery and sophistication. Palermo Soho is just one of the many neighborhoods where retirees can sample the city's eclectic mix of food, drink, boutiques and outdoor markets. Active and adventurous types can try mastering the tango or just watch others dance at venues such as the Salón Canning, which offers shows and classes.

​La Paz, Mexico

  • Average cost of living: Exact estimates for some expenses weren't available. However, monthly rent for a 900-square-foot furnished accommodation is about $258.

Horseback riding and dune buggy driving are just two of the many activities that residents can enjoy in this part of Mexico. La Paz is the capital of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, which also includes the cities of Todos Santos and Loreto.

"My place at El Dorado Ranch, I've had for over 20 years, a small house that cost $25,000 to build, $700 annually to maintain and, if I was there full time, I'm sure it wouldn't cost us more than $1,000 [per] month to live in style," said William Seavey, an author who writes about retirement, investing and other topics. "There's a golf course about two miles away, a pool complex about a mile [away] and stores near the resort."

​Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

  • Average cost of living: $391/person/month

English is widely spoken in Puerto Vallarta, where retirees will find many of the comforts of home, including good infrastructure, Internet, hospitals, frequent flights to the U.S. and Canada and access to items found in most North American chain stores -- all in a tropical setting.

Said Claire Newell, owner and president of Travel Best Bets, "Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos and Riviera Maya are havens for retirees who are enjoying the sun, sand and the low cost of living."

​Panama City, Panama

  • Average cost of living: $694.79/month/person

The Panama Canal, a fascinating engineering marvel, is located just a short drive from Panama City's downtown district. Retirees can also explore attractions like museums, historic ruins in Casco Viejo (Old City), French monuments and Indian villages located on the outskirts of this multicultural capital city. As an added bonus, Panama offers incentives for U.S. retirees.

"[Panama offers] the 'Pensionado visa' which is available to anyone with a lifetime pension of over $1,000 a month," Newell said. "With the visa, you are eligible for discounts, including 20 percent off medical services, 50 percent off entertainment, 25 percent off restaurant meals, 25 percent off air fare and 25 percent off electricity and phone bills."

​Cascais, Portugal

  • Average cost of living (Lisbon): $561.60/person/month

Located 19 miles west of Lisbon, the seaside town of Cascais boasts 10 major golf courses, a castle and quaint cobblestone streets lined with cafes and seafood vendors. Retirees and visitors can even tour the interior of the castle, the Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães, for free.

The city offers a variety of affordable housing options. It's no wonder that Cascais has made the list of best places to retire for AARP, Conde Nast Traveler and other media outlets.

​Bangkok, Thailand

  • Average cost of living: $590.18/person/month

Retirees in Bangkok can spend weekends at the Chatuchak Weekend Market, one of the largest bazaars in the world. Additionally, they can explore the city's many ornate temples.

"In Thailand, there is really something for everyone: some of the best beaches in the world in the south, gorgeous mountains in the north and a world-class city in Bangkok. Many people retire here because of the amazing travel opportunities, the cheap cost of living," said Stefanie Parks, who teaches English at an international university in Bangkok and operates the travel blog, The Stave Diaries. "While many people retire in the beach towns of Thailand, I think that Bangkok is a great retirement spot because of its ease of access to everywhere else in the country -- and Asia -- and the fact that you can get anything you want here."

​Chiang Mai, Thailand

  • Average cost of living: $454.32/person/month

"It's a country that combines the best of authentic Asian culture and cuisine with enough North American influences to help retirees feel at home," Newell said. "Retirees enjoy a great lifestyle with lots to explore."

She went on to note that larger cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai already boast large communities of retirees, as do resort areas such as Phuket and Hua Hin. Along with the beautiful weather, retirees can visit Chiang Mai's temples while enjoying its street markets and proximity to Doi Inthanon National Park, a 1,000-square-kilometer oasis of trails and waterfalls.

​Killarney, Ireland

  • Average cost of living (Cork): $813.70/person/month

According to Conde Nast Traveler, Killarney, a small city in County Kerry, ranks high for safety, cleanliness and overall charm -- in no small part thanks to the horse-drawn carts that still travel local roads.

Fishing is a popular hobby in this part of Ireland. Not only can retirees fish for brown trout from the lake shores of Killarney National Park for free, but anglers don't even need permits.

​Sliema, Malta

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  • Average cost of living: $721.18/person/month

"Malta is has so much to offer, and most people don't even know about it -- a gorgeous island south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea," Newell said.

Famous for its warm, sunny weather, Sliema is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities, as temperatures rarely cross the line into sweltering. Newell suggests visiting Mdina, the Silent City, St. Paul's Bay, Rabat and the capital, Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Additionally, retirees can take a ferry ride to Gozo, Malta's sister island, which features the Ggantija Temples dating back to 3600 BC. Tickets for adults over 60 are 7 euros each ($7.81).

​Antigua, Guatemala

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  • Average cost of living (Guatemala City): $513.10/person/month

This scenic city, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is full of Spanish Colonial architecture and boasts temperate weather year around. Antigua also features great restaurants for those who enjoy fine dining.

​San Jose, Costa Rica

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  • Average cost of living: $675.39/person/month

Costa Rica is home to rainforests, unique wildlife, active volcanoes and gorgeous beaches. In fact, the country protects its natural resources through an impressive national park system that covers more than 12 percent of the land. Entrance fees for the country's 28 national parks vary, but residents enjoy a hefty discount.

Retirees should consider a visit to La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park, a privately owned preserve near San Jose that's not part of the national system. Admission is $22 for locals and residents, and the park features walking trails, waterfalls, animal exhibits and more.

​Penang, Malaysia

  • Average cost of living: $466.69/person/month

A government initiative named "Malaysia My Second Home" (MM2H) allows foreigners to apply for a 10-year visa with ease. This news is good for retirees, as Penang offers historic architecture, a robust art scene, high-quality healthcare and an English-speaking community. Penang itself is an island and George Town is its capital.

"It's a food capital, hosting a plethora of restaurants, cafes and street food, selling dishes from several different cultures. And, no matter your budget, there is something for everyone," said Rinita Vanjre Ravi, co-founder of the online social platform BonAppetour.

Indeed, street food vendors offer skewers of deep-fried meats for less than 20 cents each, and upscale options with a variety of cultural influences are available at restaurants housed in hotels like The Blue Mansion.

​Naples, Italy

  • Average cost of living: $776.65/person/month

Naples is an enticing place to retire to permanently. The city offers cultural institutions like the National Archaeological Museum, where admission is about $9. Visitors get to see one of the world's finest collections of Greco-Roman artifacts, according to Lonely Planet.

Nearby Sorrento is also a popular destination for mature travelers taking long-stay vacations to escape the winters and experience life like a local in apartment-style accommodations, according to Newell.

​Valencia, Spain

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  • Average cost of living: $607.17/person/month

With its churches, monuments and cobbled streets, Valencia is one of the largest historic centers in Europe, according to International Living Magazine. Additionally, Spain's third-largest city offers tons of shops, restaurants, bars and urban beaches that are accessible via public transportation.

One of the area's historic restaurants, Bodega Casa Montaña, offers tapas dishes for under $2 and wines for just over $10.

​Quito, Ecuador

  • Average cost of living: $514.51/person/month

Ecuador offers a wide variety of natural charms, including everything from snow-capped peaks to dense jungles, from sunny Pacific beaches to the famously diverse Galapagos Islands, according to International Living Magazine.

Cultural and fine dining options can also be found in the nation's capital.

​Managua, Nicaragua

  • Average cost of living (country average): $895/couple

Nicaragua offers a generous benefits program that includes significant tax incentives for foreigners over 45 years old with a monthly income of at least $600, according to International Living Magazine. Moreover, a modest pension goes a long way in Managua.

​Bordeaux, France

  • Average cost of living: $870.59/person/month

Bordeaux is home to a large English-speaking community and a significant number of university students from around the world. The city of about 240,000 is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its food, wine and mild climate that makes al fresco dining and other outdoor activities enjoyable almost any time of year.

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