When you are ready to get out of the rat race, you may want to get out of town as well. Retirement is a time to scale back on expenses yet also have the adventures and experience you were too busy to have when you were working. Choosing a new place to settle in your retirement can offer the best of both of those worlds.
To help you decide, we have collected some of the most advantageous countries to retire in and broken them down by the most affordable cities within them. The only problem you’ll have now is deciding which one! (Hint: if you don’t buy property, you don’t have to limit your choices.)
The United States
If you dream of settling down in America during your golden years, don’t let the high cost of living in cities like New York and San Francisco scare you off. There are lots of places in this massive country that offer a reasonable cost of living and plenty of adventure to boot.
One thing to consider is that health care is expensive in the U.S., and you won’t be eligible for Medicare until you have been a legal resident for five years. However, many doctors are willing to charge on a sliding scale based on income.
The cities on our list are all noted for a lower housing costs and more affordable healthcare than the U.S. at large, and they are all in warm climates.
• Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Tampa, or Tallahassee in Florida
• Birmingham or Mobile in Alabama
• Knoxville, Montgomery, or Memphis in Tennessee
• San Antonio or El Paso in Texas
The cost of living in Mexico is famously low, with many cities offering a luxury, beachfront lifestyle for the cost of one Social Security check. Depending on location, plan to spend between $1,500 and $3,000 per month as a couple on food, rent, and healthcare.
Spend your days exploring the history and culture of Mexico, and of course, relaxing on the beach. Seniors 60 years and older are offered a wide range of discounts on attractions, bus tickets, and even medical care.
Most retirees start out with a low-commitment temporary residence visa. It is good for four years, after which you can apply for permanent residence. At that point, you can enroll in the national healthcare plan.
• Playa del Carmen
• Puerto Vallarta
• San Miguel de Allende
You can’t beat the tropical climate and natural beauty of Costa Rica, and it comes with a low cost of living, affordable real estate, and top notch medical care. Costa Rica has a stable democracy, good banks, and is so committed to peace that it abolished its army in 1948.
Social medicine is available to legal residents for somewhere between 7% and 11% of your reported monthly income. Private policies are also available to purchase separately if you need more coverage.
Couples can enjoy a comfortable life in Costa Rica for approximately $2,000 per month.
• Santa Teresa and Mal País
• La Fortuna
• Puerto Viejo
• Costa Ballena
Malaysia is an exotic country that nevertheless is an easy transition for English speakers. As Malaysian law is based on the British tradition, most people speak English and all the road signs are in both English and Malay.
Malaysia has over 800 beaches to choose from. You can go every day if you want, as the temperature hovers around 82 degrees all year long. Get a nice three-bedroom apartment near the beach for less than $500 per month; the complex is likely to have a lot of great amenities as well.
You will never wait long for health care and prices are very low. An average physical with blood and urine tests can come in just over $40.
With such a great cost of living in Malaysia, a couple can exist very happily on $1,800 per month, though to qualify for a permanent resident visa you’ll need to show monthly income of at least $2,400.
• Kuala Lumpur
• George Town
• Penang Island
There are few places in the world as affordable as Ecuador for retirees. As a bonus, you can choose from a range of climates. Warm, sunny beaches give way to lush green hills and temperate climates that rarely require heating or cooling at home. And because Ecuador is positioned along the equator, it is rarely humid.
A two-bedroom condo rents for $500/month while a beach front home usually sells for around $150,000. Couples can live happily in Ecuador for $1,600 to $1,900 per month.
Comparing health care costs from around the world reveals that Ecuador is less expensive than Malaysia and Mexico. Doctors typically train internationally before returning to Ecuador and take their time with patients – the typical office visit lasts 30-45 minutes.
• Bahía de Caráquez
Even if retirement is a few years away, start dreaming now! Living life as an expat retiree is an excellent way to lower your monthly budget but not your lifestyle. There are income requirements for visas in each of these countries, but in most cases they are easily covered by your pension, Social Security, or retirement savings.