Best Islands to Retire On

Our top 5 picks are coming from the Best Islands to Live On database. And whether your retirement is tomorrow or far in the future, start planning or start dreaming with these places for where you can enjoy the true golden years.

** 1.** Ambergris Caye, Belize With good island homes starting at less than $100,000, the islands of Belize are popular not just for travelers, but for retiring expats too. Ambergris Caye features much of what people love about the Caribbean, crossed with Central America and all still very accessible from the grandkids in Texas. Direct flights from Dallas to Belize are very reasonable. ****

2. Nevis**** Expat Ted Cox bought four acres with Caribbean views way back in 1970 and has since retired to Nevis with his wife. As he says, "Leaving the United States -- that's a major change whether you're retiring or not. But for me, everything worked out fine. I have no regrets at all."

3. Aruba**** Many island travelers make Aruba THE place for their Caribbean escapes. It's one of the most popular destination guides on islands.com, and Aruba is an attraction for expats from the U.S. and about 80 other countries. It offers both the familiar comforts and the exotic cultural mix. And if you have a 50 percent down payment in cash, it offers lots of island homes.

** 4.** Maui**** A relatively easy retirement here, keeping you in the U.S. but allowing you to live among some of the world's most beautiful islands. No worries here of culture shock or immigration hurdles. And yes to having family easily visit for big reunions and special trips. Plus it's a launching pad to explore the remote Pacific for your own special escapes.

** 5.** Crete If you do want a retirement life much different from your working life, this Greek island may be the answer. Expats Eva and Rob Smith considered retiring to Mexico but were worried that wasn't far enough away -- literally and figuratively -- from their former careers in California. Now they swim year-round in the sea, make their own olive oil and lead the simpler life.