How much money do you really need to live well in retirement? While $1 million tends to be the conventional number thrown around by financial planners, the reality is that many of the warmest and most beautiful places in the world are also some of the most affordable areas to live.
People willing to move abroad and leave behind their go-go North American lifestyle will find that they can live quite well in retirement on as little as a $200,000 nest egg. For that amount they can kick back on a beach, sip local wines, and watch the sunset. Here are 12 of the best places to retire on $200,000 or less.
Vietnam is the ideal place for people who like hot, tropical weather, a rich culture and affordable cost of living. Throughout Vietnam, two people can live comfortably on about $1,500 a month in major cities, and about $1,000 a month in beach towns such as Nha Trang or Da Nang.
And these beach communities are already full of expatriates from Europe and North America and have plenty of Western restaurants and amenities to cater to them. A one-bedroom apartment in Da Nang cost $400 or less a month to rent, making it quite affordable on any budget.
Within North America, Mexico is, by far, the most affordable country to live in, especially on a fixed budget in retirement. And while urban centers such as Mexico City can be rife with pollution and crime, Mexico is also home to many beach areas that cater to foreigners and retirees, especially along the Yucatan peninsula that includes hot spot such as Cancun.
A small-town such as Ajijic in western Mexico offers amazing lake and mountain views and is relatively cheap, with rent a one-bedroom apartment costing less than $400 a month. Fresh local produce and fish can be bought in markets for pennies on the dollar. Healthcare is also comparatively cheap with doctor’s visits costing $10 and a specialist appointment costing $25.
Within Europe, one of the nicest places with arguably the warmest year-round climate and sumptuous food is Spain. And it has the bonus of being one of the most affordable countries to live in on the continent. Outside of major centers such as Barcelona and Madrid, the living is easy and not too expensive.
Smaller cities such as Valencia offer sun, culture and even Roman ruins, as well as access to beaches and the ocean. Rent on a one-bedroom apartment in Valencia runs about $675 a month. The beach community of Málaga and Murcia, located in the country’s wine region, have comparable costs of living.
9. Costa Rica
Most countries in Latin America are more affordable than retiring in the U.S. or many European countries. And Costa Rica is a standout when it comes to retirement destinations. A couple can live very well on between $1,500 and $2,000 per month.
The Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica offers beach life on a budget, with gorgeous scenery and pristine white sandy beaches. A large three-bedroom apartment rents for as little as $400 a month and a three-course dinner for two can be purchased for only $25.
Even cheaper than Spain in continental Europe is Portugal, which also offers tropical temperatures, world class beaches, a rich culture and delicious food at even more reasonable prices than neighboring Spain.
Portugal also boasts castles, wineries and numerous golf courses that cater to retirees and foreigners. Two-bedroom apartments rent for as little as $350 a month in coastal communities and local restaurants are extremely affordable, with a meal costing less than $10 per person. Even Portugal’s world-famous wine costs $5 a bottle or less in local markets.
If a Mediterranean island sounds like your cup of tea, then be sure to check out Malta. In addition to year-round sunshine and impressive architecture, English is also the official second language after Maltese, making for an easy transition for North American retirees.
A centrally located one-bedroom apartment rents for less than $500 per month, and Malta is known to have excellent health care at a fraction of the cost as in the U.S. Top of the line private health insurance coverage in Malta costs less than $115 per month.
Back to Asia, where Thailand offers amazing beaches and sunsets along with some of the lowest cost of living in the world. Most people can live comfortably in Thailand on less than $2,000 a month. A one-bedroom apartment can cost as little as $250 a month and a full dinner for two can cost less than $10.
Take note though that Thailand can get hot. Really hot. Summer temperatures regularly reach 105-degree Fahrenheit or higher, and there is a rainy season each fall that can bring Monsoons. The main city of Bangkok also is choked with smog and pollution. But for beach living, it’s hard to beat this Asian country and its relatively low costs.
People who love wine and wineries might want to look at Chile, where the temperate four-season climate is perfect for year-round wine production. Chile also has spectacular mountains and beautiful miles of coastal beaches, all of which can be enjoyed for about $1,500 a month.
Groceries, especially fresh produce, are cheaper in Chile. A nice, three-course meal for two goes for about $40, and a one-bedroom apartment rents for around $300 outside of Santiago in outlying communities such as Valparaiso.
Another South American destination worth considering is Panama, which offers bustling city life; a diverse climate and quality medical care. The two most common languages spoken in Panama are Spanish and English, making it an ideal spot for North American retirees.
Only a short flight from Miami and close to the Caribbean, this Central American nation is a great base for traveling throughout the region. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in beach community costs $500 to $625 a month. And public transportation costs only 35 cents per ride.
Greece seemingly has it all. A warm year-round climate, beautiful coastal communities and lush islands, plenty of history and delicious food. And, it is one of Europe’s cheapest places to live owing in part to ongoing domestic financial issues.
On the Greek island of Corfu, retirees can live like kings for $1,500 a month. A two-bedroom apartment rents for as little as $450 and a decent three-bedroom house can be bought for less than $20,000. Fresh fish, vegetables and grains can all be bought from local vendors cheap.
The island of Bali in Indonesia is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, offering stunning beaches and rich culture. Bali is also one of the most affordable places for people to retire. A couple can live extremely well on only $1,000 a month in Bali.
A two-bedroom apartment costs only about $300 a month, and meals in local restaurants cost less than $5 per person. Groceries in local markets are extremely cheap, and most of the local population speaks English thanks to a thriving expat community.
1. Dominican Republic
Speaking of island living and beach life, retirees who want it all – sun, surf and seafood – at very reasonable prices should check out the Dominican Republic. Situated in the Caribbean between the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic is a great option.
Close to Florida, the Dominican Republic provides affordable sun and fun to retirees. Two people can live well on $1,500 a month. A one-bedroom apartment on a beach costs about $600 a month, restaurant meals cost about $20 a plate and just about everyone speaks English.
The Bottom Line
Whether it is in Asia, Europe, South America or the Caribbean, there are plenty of places where people can retire and enjoy themselves on a fixed income. With $200,000 or less, people can live the good life in these affordable paradises.
With a little research and some careful planning, retirees willing to go overseas can find themselves basking in year-round sunshine on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and enjoying local cuisine and wine. Great living is closer than you may think.