Panama
Credit: Matthew Micah Wright / Getty Images

There's a reason so many North Americans are retiring to Panama. Panama City, the thriving capital, is like a cheaper (and arguably safer) Miami, the forests here rival Costa Rica's for biodiversity, and the scuba diving, surfing, and fishing in Santa Catalina and Bocas del Toro are world class. Add to that the fact the Economist Intelligence Unit recently named Panama the world's third cheapest major city and you can prepare to eat, stay, and go adventuring for far less than you'd pay in more touristy parts of Central and South America. Panama's economy is booming, leading to a rise in luxury hotels and restaurants, most of which are far more affordable than in equivalently sophisticated cities. Follow Anthony Bourdain's lead to the Mercado del Marisco seafood market in Panama City's Casco Viejo, where fresh ceviche costs less than a Big Gulp back home. And how's this for a sweet bonus: The country even offers 30 days of free emergency medical insurance for tourists visiting the country.