The best islands for a seriously long stay

The idea of living on an island conjures up romantic images of dreamy white sands and clear blue waters. For many, it remains an out of reach dream. But a new report by International Living Australia lists six picturesque islands known for their friendliness and warmth. Each one also provides the infrastructure and comforts of home. You could retire to these islands without breaking the bank. Or, you could take a long gap year. Even six-months would make you feel fantastic. These are the six best islands for a long break according to International Living Australia.

1. Koh Samui, Thailand

Koh Samui, Thailand

Koh Samui, Thailand. Picture: Shutterstock

At 21 kilometres wide and 24 kilometres long, Koh Samui is Thailand’s second largest island after Phuket. It lies off the eastern coast in the Gulf of Thailand, around 684 kilometres south of the country’s capital, Bangkok. The laidback lifestyle and white-sand beaches have long attracted expats to the island. Even though Koh Samui offers so much tropical beauty and so many outdoor “adventure” activities such as deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, horseback riding, archery, tennis, jungle trekking and more, it also has just about every modern amenity you could ever think of within easy reach. Samui, one of an archipelago of 80 smaller islands, has a warm and mostly crystal-clear sea, with lots of opportunities for kayaking, sailing and boating. It is also fast becoming a golfer’s paradise. The island makes a great destination for anyone looking for a dream retirement by the sea. Expats live well here on a budget of $2,700 to $3,390 a month.

2. Bali


Bali is a great place for a long stay. Credit: Khoroshunova Olga_shutterstock

For many, Bali is the perfect paradise island. It’s not just about natural beauty, there is a spiritual energy that is uniquely Balinese and sets the island apart from the thousands of others that make up the Indonesian archipelago. Floating in aquamarine waters, Bali’s interior is filled with intense green rice paddies and lush jungle—a place where expats can enjoy life’s little luxuries at a fraction of the cost of back home and where little luxuries like relaxing massages are part of the everyday life. Bali is only eight degrees south of the equator, so you can count on most days being between 25 C to 32 C with 75% humidity. The mountainous regions get some slightly cooler temperatures and the monsoon season is from October to April. But even the rainy season has plenty of sunny days. In Bali a couple can live extremely well in most towns for $2,500.

3. Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has been named the best country to visit in 2019. Picture: Shutterstock

Tucked under India, Sri Lanka, known as the teardrop island, is roughly the size of Tasmania, but with 2,000-plus years of culture to be discovered, it’s a hidden gem. There’s a perfect beach for everyone along her 1,340 kilometres of coastline and whether you’re into hot, sunny days on the beach or misty mountain air, you’ll find your ideal climate here too. Average temperatures across the island stay relatively stable throughout the year with coastal areas ranging between 25 to 30 C and cooler levels of between 15 and 18 C typical in the highlands. A couple could live well here on a modest budget of $1,300 per month.

4. Malta

View of the famous village Mellieha and bay on a sunny day

View of the famous village Mellieha and bay on a sunny day. Picture: Shutterstock

Despite its small size of only 315 square kilometres, the tiny island nation of Malta packs a punch—from ancient walled cities and breathtaking coastal trails to countryside farmhouses and charming restaurants. Home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the islands—with over 249 kilometres of coastline—benefit from warm weather year-round. A legacy of British colonisation, the English-speaking population makes it easy for new arrivals to fit in. For centuries, Malta has been a sought-after destination and Valletta, Malta’s capital city—the European Capital of Culture 2018—is an especially desirable location. An expat couple can live comfortably on around $3,210 a month, depending on their lifestyle.

5. Penang, Malaysia

Best places for a long stay

Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang, Malaysia. Picture: Shutterstock

The island of Penang, off the coast of Malaysia, has been a firm favourite among savvy expats for decades. A couple can live well here on a monthly budget of around $2,000. It’s a luxury life on an affordable budget with all the comforts and conveniences of home. Penang’s international airport, which lots of low-cost Asian airlines operate from, makes exploring further afield in Southeast Asia easy. Known as a foodie haven, Penang’s capital, George Town, is home to eclectic architecture, a vibrant art scene and what many call the best street food in the world. Plus, as a former outpost of the British empire, you won’t have any trouble getting by in English here.

6. Mallorca, Spain

Cala des Moro, Majorca island, Spain

Cala des Moro, Majorca island, Spain. Picture: Shutterstock

The largest of the Balearic Islands, Mallorca is the autonomous Spanish region just off the coast of the Iberian Peninsula. You’ll find evidence of its long history in the Gothic cathedral of the capital city, Palma, and in the hilltop castles in the mountainous countryside, as well as Arab structures built before the Reconquest. You’ll also find Roman ruins—clues to its importance as an outpost of that empire. The whole coastline of this 3,639-square-kilometre island is ringed with marinas, harbours and natural rock-lined coves offering privacy. It’s the perfect place to weigh anchor in the western Mediterranean—and the year-round mild climate helps there too. Here, a couple can live well from $3,385 a month. More information on retirement overseas havens can be found, here: Read more: 10 things you didn’t know about the Philippines 17 Day Spain, Portugal and Morocco – save $992 3 cruise ship rules you should know