Whether just starting out in the workforce or are approaching retirement, many of us dream of retiring away to an exotic world. Of course, many choose to stay in the United States upon retiring, but others move to an entirely new area. Escaping away to a new country is a great way to enjoy retirement life and experience something new.
When you begin planning for retirement, safety and money are among the top concerns. Each of the 13 countries to retire on our list is affordable and is great for stretching your retirement fund. Using this list, you can narrow down your search even further and find the best budget-friendly spot to retire.
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- Golson, Barry (Author)
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- Leffel, Tim (Author)
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- 368 Pages - 11/05/2020 (Publication Date) - Bowker (Publisher)
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Where is the Cheapest Place to Retire in the World?
Our comprehensive list of amazing retirement locations helps you find countries that offer safe, but very affordable living. You will want to do your own deeper research on the specific country you are considering, but this should help you get your list started.
This may not be a country you automatically think of when it comes to your retirement, but it is a great option for those who want to save money and live a nice life.
- This amazing country is located in South America and has good weather, interesting geographical features, and a low cost of living.
- The country is known for its salt flats.
- The country is full of rich history and a unique way of life many love.
- Healthcare is not as amazing as in other countries. However, health insurance is available, and the low cost of living makes affording private clinics possible for most.
- Knowing Spanish can be very beneficial when living here.
This is truly one of the most beautiful and affordable countries to retire on our list. You can live comfortably in Bolivia for around $1,000 a month.
You are sure to fall in love with Costa Rica’s amazing climate, low cost of living, and affordable healthcare options. They have a great government that has been making peaceful and strong moves for years. Early on, they abolished their army to help enhance the country’s education and healthcare systems.
In addition, some great benefits are:
- They are known for their immense safety and neutrality. This leads to a slower way of life.
- The country is very progressive, LBGT rights friendly, and very judgment-free! If you do not fit the “norm” you are sure to still fit in here.
- The healthcare system that is offered in Costa Rica is very unique. Residents of the country can pay a small percentage of their income to be on a socialized medicine program. This can also be blended with a private policy for optimum coverage.
To live comfortably in the country, you will need to make around $2,000 a month. Of course, if your retirement budget can handle it, a little more money can always give you a more luxurious life. However, there are several housing options and you can find things that fit your budget in a location you love.
This is a very welcoming and historically beautiful retirement location. If you want to find a retirement country that has not only affordable living but also the best views, this is it.
- The country is known for its amazing castles, medieval towns, unique architecture, and other wonderful sights.
- The Czech Republic has a very low cost of living. More and more individuals are retiring here each year due to this affordability.
- The increase in retirees has led the country to increase its amenities. A recent wave of new businesses has made living here even more luxurious.
- The capital of Prague is more affordable to live in than many other capital cities.
- Some apartment buildings are not offered to foreigners, but often working with a real estate agent can help with this. There are several housing options beyond apartment living.
- The healthcare system here is very inexpensive.
- U.S. retirees can apply for permanent residence in only five years of living in the country.
If you want options, Ecuador is a great choice with its vastly differing climates throughout. In fact, you can pretty much choose if you want year-round warm weather or prefer more temperate options like the Andes. In addition to this weather, some other great benefits are:
- They have large cities and they have small villages, ensuring there is truly something for everyone.
- You can get beautiful beach views with a lowered risk of hurricanes and tropical storms than other tropical areas. The weather is also not as hot as other options, as Ecuador is not as close to the equator.
- Different areas offer differing costs of living. Allowing you to choose an area that fits your budget.
- Produce and other foods are super affordable. You can find cheap public transportation options and tons of free activities in the country.
You can live easily on around $1,800 a month, with a little extra cash giving you a more lux home. Even in the more expensive areas of the country, homes with great views come in at $150,000 or less!
For many, France seems like an expensive country that they could not retire to, but it is actually quite the opposite. When it comes to France, there are several very affordable areas that you can live that are the perfect mix of historical meets modern. There are countless villages that are home to beautiful cottages of all shapes and sizes.
- The area is superior when it comes to food, offering the best bread, cheeses, fresh vegetables, and wines.
- France has similar pricing to the United States, with many expenses actually being even more affordable.
- The lifestyle is much slower than in the U.S. Great for those who have retired and want to relax.
- France has an extremely high-quality healthcare system. Many move to the country for this healthcare system alone, as doctor’s visits are a fraction of the cost of other countries.
This is one of the more expensive countries to retire on our list, and you will need to make a bit more to live in France comfortably. In fact, most can comfortably live here for between $2,500 and $3,000 a month. Of course, if you want to live more lavishly, there are plenty of amenities and fun outings you can do in the country with extra cash.
Taking a break from our more tropical destinations, let’s take a look at a country that comes straight from a storybook, which is Ireland. The country is more affordable than many think and offers some of the most amazing sights.
- Even if you do not plan to retire here, visiting to view the amazing castles and historical sites is worth the trip.
- Housing prices can range drastically here. Larger cities are far less affordable than their more rural counterparts.
- If you want to retire here for less, look into areas like Emerald Isle and avoid larger areas like Dublin.
- Hospitals and healthcare options in Ireland are often quite nice and highly rated.
- You will want to pay for health insurance to cover extra healthcare costs. These insurance options are often more affordable than most U.S. plans.
There are several housing options in the country, including many rental choices. However, many quality and decent sized homes sell for around $100,000, fractions of U.S. costs.
Adding to our list of amazing retirement countries is Italy. Truly there is not a country with a richer history and more beautiful views. If you want a place that offers rich culture, beyond amazing foods, and a great climate, this should be a top choice for you.
- There are several areas in Italy to choose from, depending on where you want to call home. You can choose from beautiful sunny beaches or city areas.
- U.S. retirees can enroll in the country’s national health care system. This can save you money. This national healthcare system is actually ranked second in the world!
- Many consider Italy to be a rich and expensive country, but it can be very affordable.
- You can find homes in smaller villages for only around $30,000. Many locations in Italy are so desperate for inhabitants, they’re practically giving houses away. This is practically impossible in the United States.
- Apartments in larger cities are available for only around $600.
Malaysia is an absolutely beautiful Asian country that is also very inexpensive to live in. The beaches here are absolutely stunning, along with rainforests that you just will not find elsewhere. Many retirees are calling Malaysia home and falling in love with this beautiful country.
- Road signs in Malaysia are in both English and Malay, great for many retirees. This is because Malaysia has a British law system.
- The unofficial language of the country is actually English. This means there is often a smaller learning curve and you can easily communicate throughout the country.
- Malaysian healthcare is much more affordable than in other countries. The healthcare industry is of high quality and you will find almost any medical service you may need throughout the country.
- The country offers several homes and apartments that are extremely low in cost. You can find apartments with sea and mountain views, along with beach rentals.
A family could live comfortably here for less than $2,000 a month. Of course, if you are a single retiree or a couple, this can be even less monthly.
If you want something more tropical, Mexico is a great choice with its crystal-clear waters and laid-back lifestyle. Though many have fears about Mexico, it is actually fairly low in crime rate and many cities are extremely safe with some of the most hospitable locals.
- The country is great for tourist attractions and activities. You can also find areas that are more subdued for daily living.
- There is something for everyone here. You can find beachfront homes, farmlands, small towns, large cities, truly anything you may want.
- You can live a very, very affordable life in the country or you can live more lavishly in bigger, tourist cities.
- If granted residency, you can sign up for the country’s national healthcare plan. This has improved greatly over time and keeps getting better.
If you have anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 a month to live on, there is somewhere for you in Mexico. You will find a wide range of rental costs, with even beach front options costing fractions of U.S. homes.
Panama is very close to the United States, which is great for those who want an entirely new view but want to stay closer to family. This area is very sunny, warm, and a great tropical location. However, Panama rarely gets bad weather and is out of the hurricane belt area.
- Panama does use U.S. currency and they largely speak English. This makes moving here even easier.
- There are several beautiful views here, including amazing beach condos and retirement areas.
- The food here is amongst the best you will find. They have countless restaurants and delicious foods.
- There are several amenities and activities you can enjoy, like golf, tennis, and a variety of outdoor activities.
- If you want something more laid back and affordable, try Pedasi. If you want something more exciting and vibrant, try Panama City. This area is a little more costly though.
You can easily live in Panama for around $2,000 to $2,500 a month. While the country is similar to the U.S. most areas are far less expensive. Also, most do not pay any income tax to the country and rent is very affordable!
This is a top choice for many retirees and has become a hub for retirement and has a growing number of people each year. The country offers some of the most amazing people, the perfect mixture of city and calm living, beautiful beaches, and perfect weather. If you want to learn more about a country’s rich history and culture, this is a great choice for you.
- There is a lifestyle for everyone in the country of Portugal, from tropical lifestyles to golf courses.
- You can spend your days exploring ancient ruins, museums, and many other historical locations. You will not run out of things to do here. One can truly live at their own speed of life.
- Portugal is the second least expensive country in Europe. You can live in the country for a fraction of the costs of U.S. living.
- The country was ranked the third safest in the world. You can live in this beautiful area with little fear!
You can easily live in Portugal for around $2,500 a month and even living in the larger cities or beach areas can be lived in for around $3,000 a month. If you live outside of any major city, the price of housing and amenities will drop significantly!
Moving right along, Spain is one of the absolute best beach destinations on our list and gives you the taste of European culture with a vacation feel. This is one of the best places in Western Europe to retire as they have every luxury you will need.
- There are several amazing beaches in the country that you can live on. Along with a climate that provides everything that you could need.
- There is a large English-speaking population, making the move here much simpler. Also, the Spanish people are extremely helpful and friendly.
- You can find delicious fruits and vegetables here that are locally grown. Since fresh produce is abundant here, you can purchase these foods for far less than many areas.
- You can travel to local areas through their bus system for extremely cheap.
Spain is one of the more costly options on the list but is still very affordable compared to other Western European nations. You can live here for around $2,500 a month for a couple. If you do make more, you can find plenty of lavish activities to do.
Vietnam has practically everything you could be looking for when it comes to a retirement country.
- This beautiful country boasts beaches and mountains, cities, and more rural areas.
- Vietnam has developed quickly compared to other Asian countries, offering great healthcare, quality roadways, and every amenity you could ask for.
- If you are interested in a rich history, Vietnam has some amazing historical sites. You will fall in love with the old temples, emperor’s tombs, and ancient mansions.
- The major cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi offer more advanced amenities, but can also be a little more expensive than some other rural areas.
If you have a very limited budget or simply want to live somewhere for cheap, this is one of the best countries to retire that you can choose. You will be able to comfortably live in Vietnam for around $2,500 a month. Most luxuries that are very costly in the Western world are more affordable here as well.
Cheapest English-Speaking Countries for Retirement
While many amazing countries today are becoming English friendly and have businesses that speak English, it can be challenging to live in an area that does not speak your native tongue. If you do not speak another language and do not want to start now, living in an English-speaking or English friendly country can be helpful. There are some very safe and inexpensive English-speaking countries where you can retire.
Ireland, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Panama are all countries from our previous list that have a huge English-speaking population or speak English entirely. However, some other great countries that speak English or widely use English are:
- South Africa
Can You Collect Social Security If You Retire Outside the U.S.?
Of course, a major part of retiring to another country will involve having the money you need to live in this country. Not being able to collect your social security could really put a damper on your plans. Luckily for most retirees, you can still receive payments while living in most other countries!
The two countries that the Treasury Department will not send money to is Cuba or North Korea. If this is a concern to you, avoid these countries. However, you can recoup these payments once you move to a new area or back to the U.S.
The AARP actually has a full breakdown of how this works and how you can still get your social security money. Visiting the site can help you understand the process more effectively. However, to check on your eligibility to receive benefits in a foreign country, you should:
- Use the Social Security online screening tool for international payments.
- Call the Office of Earnings and International Operations to ask about international payments.
- Contact a Social Security office abroad in the country you are planning to move to.
- Look over the Social Security publication entitled, “Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States.” This document gives you additional information you may need.
How is Money Sent from Social Security?
You are only considered living in a country outside of the United States if you are not in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, or American Samoa. You have to live in an area other than those listed for at least 30 days in a row.
Receiving your social security money when living abroad is pretty simple:
- Most retirees get their Social Security money abroad and the benefits can be deposited electronically.
- You will want to find and set up an account at a U.S. bank if possible. If not find a financial institution that the U.S. has a direct deposit agreement within your new country.
- Be wary of the fact that you can get charged fees on these international transactions. This will be up to you to cover and can lower your payment amounts.
- You will always get payments in U.S. dollars.
Checklist for Retiring Abroad
Now that you have browsed our list of the 13 best countries that you can retire to, you probably have a few key choices in mind. Of course, you will want to do further research into the areas you are considering and ensure your retirement budget will work there.
You also want to keep some legal things in mind, such as:
Check All Visa and Residency Requirements
Like the U.S., most countries will not allow you to simply move there without proper documentation and by following the correct steps. You will want to look into the specific immigration and residency laws for the countries you are considering. You can often find this information online and learn more about the legal steps needed to move into the area.
Look Up Foreign Ownership Rules
If you are planning to purchase property in your new country, you want to look into any rules regarding foreign ownership. Some countries do not allow everyone to own property and can govern how the property is used, which could restrict you from purchasing. You will want to consider these rules before moving to a new area.
Make Sure Your Assets are in Order
Of course, you have probably been paying into a retirement fund or have planned out your retirement budget in some way. However, you want to make sure you have all of your money and assets in order well before you actually retire, including figuring everything out with your social security and sending it to your new country. If you have been retired for some time and are just now moving, relook over all of your financial information and even consult an expert before making this big move.
Always Visit Before Moving
You should absolutely never move to an area that you have not visited for at least a small period of time. Ideally, you will want to spend a few weeks or even months in the area before making your big move just to ensure it lives up to your dreams. There is nothing worse than moving to the area and not loving it so you need to be certain beforehand.
Consider How You Will Keep in Touch with Family
This is a fairly easy process, but you should consider how you will keep in touch with your family back home and ensure your phone plan can be used in foreign countries. Of course, there are also several online options that allow you to chat or communicate with family members. You may also want to consider flight costs to your new country if you plan on traveling back to the U.S. often, this can make closer countries more appealing as they are often less expensive.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of which countries are affordable and safe for retirement. Do your own further research on each country you are considering and be sure to visit the location beforehand, asking questions about healthcare, social security accepting banks, crime rate, and other necessities. Once you have narrowed down your search and found a beautiful country to escape to, enjoy the planning of your dream retirement, you have earned it!