Why I’m Retiring at an All-Inclusive Resort

Why I'm Retiring at an All-Inclusive Resort - picture of woman sitting in lounge chair at tropical pool

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As a frugal travel and credit card rewards expert, people are constantly asking me how to save on family travel. Although my advice varies, I almost always suggest that families at least consider an all-inclusive resort. My husband and I have been to all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica, St. Maarten, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico so far. We even took our kids to an all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica for Spring Break 2015 – and all on points!

Even though these type of properties have their pitfalls, I think they offer some of the best value out there for families who travel. Think about it. By paying one nightly rate upfront, you can enjoy beaches, pools, entertainment, and all of your drinks and meals for one low price. This type of pricing model makes all-inclusive trips hard to beat when it comes to affordability. Furthermore, all-inclusive properties make the process of creating a vacation budget a breeze. Huzzah.

Does It Make Sense to Retire at an All-Inclusive Resort?

But, are all-inclusive resorts really just for vacation? If it’s really that great of a deal, why not just retire at one?

This thought crossed my mind, recently, when I was pricing out travel to Mexico. Most of the all-inclusive resorts we were considering were only around $120 per night for double occupancy. That’s only $3,600 per month, folks!

RELATED: How We Took a Family Vacation to Jamaica on Points

Considering the fact that nursing home care for one person now costs more than $6,500 per month (over $80,000 per year) on average in the United States, living my golden years at an all-inclusive resort sounds like a steal. But, would it really work? I think so. Here’s why:

  • The nightly room rate would include all of my utilities, cable television, plus all meals and drinks. Aside from some other living expenses that we’ll talk about later, the nightly room rate all-inclusive resorts charge pretty much covers all of your living expenses. By retiring at an all-inclusive resort, I would never have to worry about utility bills, cable bills, rent, or groceries ever again.
  • All-inclusive resorts offer plenty of opportunity for recreation. Have you ever been to an all-inclusive resort? There’s all kinds of fun events to take advantage of, and as a retiree, I know I would never get bored. Aside from having a constant stream of vacationers to entertain me, I would have access to yoga, aqua gym, and pools to swim in, plus the beach and ocean. Some all-inclusive resorts even have kayaks and paddle boats you can use for free.
  • No long-term commitment. If I ever got tired of enduring the same “theme nights” over and over, I could just switch things up. After a year or two in Mexico, I could migrate over to Punta Cana or Montego Bay if I wanted. Same deal there, just a change of scenery.

Challenges that Come with Retiring at an All-Inclusive Resort

It’s true that retiring at an all-inclusive resort seems fairly affordable, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t come without its challenges. Health care and health insurance, for example, could be hard to come by in a foreign country where I don’t have citizenship. Speaking of that, certain countries only allow you to visit for a few months at a time, which might mean having to switch destinations each time my time ran out.

Other downfalls I can think of include laundry. While some all-inclusive resorts have on-site laundry facilities, not all of them do. Furthermore, I would have to get a cell phone plan that included lots of time for international phone calls or just buy a prepaid phone in each country I traveled to. Either way, that could be a pain.

And let’s face it; I’m not sure I want to end up a drunk in old age. With 24/7 access to alcohol, nowhere to be, and nothing to do, I could see myself getting into a whole lot of trouble.

holly greg drunk
Now picture us old. Not bad, huh?

The Bottom Line

When you think about it, retiring at an all-inclusive resort isn’t such a bad idea. And at age 65, I’m pretty sure a beach chair, a good book, and a constant stream of mojitos won’t sound half-bad. Plus, think of all the people-watching I could do over the years – all the wild spring-breakers and drunk soccer moms I would see. Good times.

I guess it’s too early to plan, but I’m definitely adding the all-inclusive option to my list. It sure beats a retirement home, and it would be a whole lot cheaper to boot.

Would you ever retire at an all-inclusive resort? Why or why not?

RELATED: Advice for Saving on Family Travel

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  1. I think the novelty would wear off soon for me. It would be like Groundhog Day. The resorts basically do the same thing over and over because people come and go, and it’s new for each rotating set. Once you’re there, you get to repeat it , and l would get bored..and drunk….it would be nice for a while for sure though..

    1. Why would it get boring? You are not confined there just because you live there. Go out and be part of the populous. Travel, join clubs, do volunteer work, learn about your new home country. I can’t image being bored.

  2. Now THERE’s an idea. Meals are really included? I have never looked into resorts because I figured they were all very expensive. It’s got to depend where you are. You’ve got my wheels turning now.

    1. Yes, meals are included.
      All-inclusive resorts vary a lot in price. Some lower-end resorts are cheap, but luxury all-inclusives can be crazy expensive! It depends. The most expensive all-inclusive we have stayed at was in St. Maarten, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

      1. Jason Damewood says:

        My wife and I are seriously considering this, no joke. We own our house, so we have a place to go to if needed. We could air bnb it went we are gone and hire a management company to maintain it…seems like a fairly rational plan to me, and one helluva retirement life.

  3. Interesting idea but I think it would get old. It would sure beat a nursing home but if I had to go to one it would be because I wasn’t able to take care of myself so I doubt the resort would help me go to the bathroom. I would also probably weigh 300 pounds from all you can eat 24 hours!

  4. Ha. I guess it depends on what age you retire. But I think it would be fun for a bit, but get a little old after a few years.

  5. I would hate this! haha. Just my personal style. While I do like traveling and spending a week on a beach, it’s just not “who I am” 24/7. I would much rather be in a city or somewhere less-vacation oriented to live.

  6. Now that we’ve stayed at two of them (Punta Cana & Riviera Maya), I think my husband may have this exact plan. In fact, he’s never talked about working remotely until this last trip. Fantastic photo of you two on the beach!

    1. HA! Thanks. I’m not sure what was going on there, but I think I wanted a piggy-back ride.

  7. kruidigmeisje says:

    With care and health Costs Being the big shopper in the last few years of my life, i am not dure an all inclusieve resort would be cheap. But a long stay in Thailand or philippines, hiring a private nurse there in villa+package deal might be a serious option.

  8. I know a handful of retired people (they are all men for some reason) that spend their golden years drinking and they all seem to be having a great time. So retiring at a all inclusive resort would save theses people a lot money. I definitely think we’ll be retiring in a foreign country at least in the early years, but I think I would get tired of the food at an all inclusive.

    1. I know, right? If you are already a drunk, an all-inclusive could save you thousands =)

  9. I’ve heard about some doing something similar on a cruise ship. I think that’d get old a lot quicker than the all-inclusive option. That being said, I think it would be fun for awhile but think I’d get bored of it after a few months – not to mention that unlimited access to food and drink would not be good for my waistline. 😉

  10. the all inclusive resort price mentioned is for one person. For two, we are starting to talk some real money $7,200 which is not so much of a deal.

    1. Nope! As I mention in the post, those prices are for double occupancy. $120 per night for two people, so $60 per person per night.

  11. I’ve heard about a woman who retired on a cruise ship. I think that would be fun!

    1. That sounds amazing! Kind of takes away from the “Groundhog Day” feel someone mentioned above but still with the all inclusive feel and a forever vacation!

  12. Yea, I don’t about retiring to an all-inclusive resort, like KemKem said, I think the novelty would wear off eventually. I do see the allure of retiring to a low cost of living country though. You can still have a lot of the benefits of the all-inclusive resort. I’m sure rent or housing would be cheaper…even one near a beach. Food wouldn’t be included but once again cheaper (and probably healthier) since you’ll shop for groceries…I’m sure you can hire someone to cook and shop for groceries for a reasonable price as well. I have read that many countries offer quality and reasonable priced healthcare to ex-pats.

  13. I think it sounds like it could be pretty fun and not too expensive compared to nursing home care. I probably wouldn’t want to do it long term though because I would miss being around my family and feeling like a have a stable place to live that feels like home.

  14. That’s an interesting idea, Holly. That would probably be a fun thing to do for a few years early on into retirement. I’m not sure comparing it as an alternative to a nursing home is entirely fair, since, by the time you actually needed to be in a nursing home you probably wouldn’t be up to or able to handle life in an all-inclusive resort. Pretty creative thinking though…I wonder how many current retirees actually do this?

    1. Very true. If you need hands-on medical care, an all-inclusive wouldn’t work! You would definitely have to be in decent health to make it work.

  15. I think I’m with Kem on this one. The idea of it all would eventually wear off, and I actually enjoy cooking my own meals so not having a kitchen (or full kitchen) doesn’t sound like fun. I think ideally I’d live somewhere affordable, then take lots of those kinds of trips instead.

  16. I think you’ve hit on a new business model: the all-inclusive 50+ resort community! It is a really intriguing idea as all-inclusive resorts can be a great deal. I agree that being surrounded by theme nights and drunken college kids might get old quickly. The other downside to me is that often the food at these resorts isn’t the best/healthiest, so might get old after a little while.

  17. I think this does sound like fun but probably would get old after many years. I wouldn’t be able to fit through the door after gaining a couple hundred pounds from the boundless food!

    To me the exciting part would be trying this for maybe one year. It think it would be awesome to have an experience of spending a year in a couple different resorts. What a cool adventure!

  18. Me and a friend might go to an all inclusive resort in Mexico. It would be my first time being at an all inclusive. The big problem I think I would have is feeling very little personal space in my room. I’m not sure how big they are for that price but I imagine a standard size. If you’re an outgoing social person though, you may be out and about a lot and rarely in your room I guess. I like my quiet time though.

  19. LOL. I’ve never been to an all inclusive resort when I’ve been of the age to drink. It’s really an open bar the whole time? That can be a problem…. 😀

  20. Wouldn’t work for us – we don’t bring home that much a month.

  21. What an interesting idea! I think I would enjoy it for a little while but would get tired of it (especially the meals!). I’m also very fair skinned and don’t do well on beaches haha. I’d consider to moving to lower costs of living states/cities though.

  22. DH and I don’t actually enjoy all-inclusive resorts now. :/ Some retirement communities look pretty fun (I’ve been trying to convince my parents to retire to one in Portland), but they’re a lot more expensive.

  23. Would I retire full-time to an all-inclusive resort? No. Do I plan to spend some of my retirement enjoying all-inclusive resorts around the world? YES! We are big fan of all-inclusive resorts too. They are great for kids because they have so many great activities to keep them busy so Mom and Dad can also enjoy a date night or two! 🙂 Chris and I are looking forward to doing extensive travel when we retire, but we want to do lots of exploring. We tend to chill and veg out at resorts. Might be all the access to yummy drinks. 🙂

  24. I’ve never thought of this but the idea has some merit. I love being on the beach near the ocean. I think it would be fun for a time but then wear off. I’d rather spend my time traveling to many locales that are resort-y instead of just being at one.

  25. This is my ideal retirement. Imagine that it is an all inclusive resort! It would definitely be amazing! But I think not for a long-term as excitement of being in a resort for long time wears off.

  26. I hate resorts, so no. Also the medical care thing. Were it not for that, it’d be pretty straightforward to live anywhere in the US pretty cheaply when retired.

  27. Hmm interesting idea, Holly! I would actually prefer to simply visit an all-inclusive for long periods of time rather than live there permanently. I could definitely see myself spending 2-6 weeks at an all-inclusive to truly “relax.” I don’t really get bored so I would always find something to do.

  28. I am just coming out of a season of very great financial hardship, so I haven’t traveled in forever. I like this idea. Having never stayed in an all-inclusive resort, I don’t really know much about them. Are there all -inclusive resorts here in the US? Do those tend to be a good value as well? I would love to see this idea extrapolated. Where else could a person live, here in the states, where food and lodging is included, but is a place that most people would never think of living?

  29. I’m not a huge fan of all-inclusives for vacations, but only because my husband and I really enjoy trying various restaurants and eating our way through our trip lol. The food is a huge part of that for us, and although some all-inclusives have pretty good food, it’s never as good as trying somewhere new for dinner every night. Now that we have a kid though, the convenience of it might entice us to start staying at all-inclusives again. I do really enjoy the entertainment factor, it’s very fun.

    And as far as retiring to one….I think that’s absolutely GENIUS. I might be adding that to my retirement plan too haha it would actually be pretty cost effective!

  30. Honestly, the thought never crossed my mind. But, I do love everything that is included and it WOULD be way cheaper than a retirement community.

    You’ve got the wheels in my head churning… 🙂

  31. There would be some other great perks too like room service and a maid! I can see how people would consider this!

  32. Someone above mentioned retirees on cruise ships. Apparently, this isn’t as rare as you think: http://www.snopes.com/travel/trap/retire.asp

    As the linked article points out, a big downside is no true community. The new friends you meet (unless several of you retire on the same ship or in the same resort) leave in a few days never to be heard from again.

    As Texas Tech’s Dr. Michael Finke’s research (to be published) shows, retirees are happier when they are part of a community – friends to socialize with and a life of meaning. Unless you’re on a ship like ResidenSea or several of you pick the same place/ship, you lose that. Friendships are fleeting, which will make you less happy in the long run.

    Not to mention the serious weight gain from all those buffets! 🙂

  33. To say that you would live in an all-inclusive resort instead of a nursing home is not correct. A nursing home is for someone who needs daily care, and some nursing home residents cannot even get out of bed by themselves and need a lot of care, hence the high monthly cost. Facility types go by different names in different parts of the country. If someone is truly considering an all-inclusive resort as a place to retire, they need to compare prices with a facility that calls itself “independent living” or “retirement living” or something like that. These will also differ. Some offer housekeeping and common dining rooms, which is probably a lot of what a person might be looking for in a resort. Prices also differ in different areas of the country. Keep in mind though that if you have no relatives or close friends nearby, you will eventually have to depend on the staff for many things, such as taking you to doctors’ appointments when you can no longer drive. You may have to pay an extra fee for this. When you need more care, you will need an “assisted living” facility. Nursing home is usually the last level. Larger cities may have facilities in between these levels. A facility could offer all levels in one location, and the resident simply moves to a different floor or building to receive higher levels of care (at a higher cost, of course).

  34. I’ve had this idea for a looooonnnnngggg time as I love spending time at the All-Inclusives along Mexico’s east coast. My favorite is a little north of Playa del Carmen. I’ve tried to find information on the maximum length of time that you can stay at one. I would think the resorts would be happy for a customer to book a room for a month at a time. I would even think that they might discount the price slightly since you are guaranteeing that the room is booked for at least a month in advance.
    For those of you that think it gets too expensive when you bring multiple people, my spouse has a retirement fund, also, so it wouldn’t be any problem. At $3600 per person, per month, we would still have over $1000 a piece from our Teacher’s pension to spend on whatever. But, we wouldn’t need it unless we just decided to run into Playa, or Cancun, or see the ruins, or go on a tour, or something.
    For those that think the novelty would wear off, I don’t think I’d ever get tired of the novelties of no property taxes, no home maintenance, no pool maintenance, having my bed made and room cleaned, having my fridge restocked twice a day, free food, free drinks, meeting new people from all over the world, the occasional tropical storm/hurricane, etc., etc., etc.
    The only thing that I’d miss would be my kids, and I could pay for them to come down or for me to go back home whenever I wanted a visit.
    Sounds like a great time for at least a year or two.

    If anyone has information on this, please let us know. I can retire next year, and I’m going to need something to do.

    1. I totally agree with you. For those who believe the novelty would wear off, think about how you live now. It is what you make it. If you still love to travel, then do it.

      If you want to be part of the community, do it and make permanent friends. Life just doesn’t stop because you find a home or villa:). You determine your lifestyle. You can exercise, eat healthy, learn, live, do charitable work and still travel. If you want to eat poorly, you can but have options to exercise and eat better again. It’s all up to you!

      If I can work remotely, this would be my lifestyle.

  35. Perhaps I missed it in the article, but that you know of, are there AI resorts that offer long term ‘rentals’?

  36. This idea has crossed my mind already and it seems like a great idea. You dont need cell phone there just skype/whatsapp and that’s it. Only extra cost would be clothing and laundry. Some carribean countries have a pretty decent PUBLIC health care system so… Not much worries there too

  37. We we’re just talking about the this very idea.
    Excellent concept. Do any resorts offer long term? I’m sure they would if asked.

  38. I travel to cozumel every summer with my family and just got back from Pubta Cana. I’ve thought about this before. Think about the price you pay for a week, now subtract the airfare portion of the deal(about half). Pretty cheap. You could probably negotiate a cheaper rate to fill that room long term. Probably even cheaper if you negotiate just weekly maid service. Some travel agent that lost their job to the Internet should market to retirees and remote workers and negotiate for group rates. It could work for sure.

  39. Hugo Chouinard says:

    Hi Holly, I thought about that lately ! Retiring or living full time on a all-inclusive resort is just so interesting when you are sport lover !!! Have you got some resorts (chain of resorts) in mind? Sounds great if you can live a couple months on one and travel to another one. Thanks a lot !

  40. If you go to Cuba you can find “decent” places for $1200-ish a month all inclusive. They will have a beach and a pool, 3 meals a day, nightly entertainment and unlimited booze in comfortable rooms.

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