Dreaming of a touch of excitement when you leave the workplace for good?

Looking for a place where retirement money will stretch a bit farther while still allowing you a piña colada on a sunny beach every now and then?

Or maybe you have a craving for some peace and quiet far away from the madding crowd, where you can paint landscapes, sketch ancient temples or even wander through jungles seeking strange species of animals or plants.

Well, look no further, because the kind folks at Live and Invest Overseas have come up with what they say are the 12 best countries in which to retire if you're determined not to stay in the good old U.S. of A.

Among the amenities boasted by these locations are sunny beaches, skiing, restaurants in which to laze away the hours over exotic cuisine, and places where you can tend your own olive trees. Here's a look at the top five (see the complete list on BenefitsPro.com.)

1. Algarve, Portugal

Not only is Algarve the top finisher among choice ex-U.S. retirement spots, it just won Live and Invest Overseas' top spot for the third year in a row.

What makes it so attractive?

Lots of things, including the “low cost of living, low cost of real estate, great weather, established expat community, user-friendly and low-cost retiree residency program” and the ability to get along speaking English rather than have to polish up one's foreign language skills.

That cost of living runs 30 percent lower than anywhere else on the European continent, and a weak euro coupled with low real estate costs mean

“a retired couple could live here comfortably on a budget of as little as $1,500 per month.”

2. Cayo, Belize

Both Central American and Caribbean in flavor, Cayo also offers English speakers lots of incentives—although infrastructure isn't one of them, since it's “most kindly referred to as 'developing,'” according to LIO.

But if you've a mind to run a post-retirement business, you can do it here tax free—or, on if you prefer, you can spend your time wandering the rivers and rainforest.

Just bear in mind that if you want more than the basics, your otherwise-low cost of living will go up substantially, since anything not grown or produced locally will cost you big time.

3. Medellín, Colombia

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