Budget Your New Life Overseas
India is by far the cheapest place in the world to think about retiring right now. Intrepid Correspondent Paul Terhorst reports that a couple could live in this country for as little as US$735 per month, including rent. (We recommend against buying a home in this country, at least for now, because of political and legal problems related to getting and keeping clean title).
However, we realize that India is not everyone’s idea of an ideal retirement haven.
Our second choice for the world’s cheapest place to retire right now? Ecuador. You could live in this beautiful, safe country on as little a $660 per month if you own your own home or on as little as $1,240 if you rent.
Next most affordable? Thailand, where you could retire on a budget of as little as US$765 per month if you invest in a condo or apartment…or on a budget of US$1,055 per month if you rent.
Also temptingly affordable right now (as well as beautiful and, yes, safe) is Nicaragua. Live well in the second-oldest city in the Americas, Leon, a beautiful, historic city within 20 minutes of the beach, on as little as $954 per month if you invest in one of the city's grand old colonial haciendas for yourself...or on as little as $1,300 per month if you rent.
Another highly affordable option is Uruguay, where you could live comfortably on $1,038 per month if you purchase a home, on $1,555 if you choose instead to rent one.
We asked Correspondent Christian MacDonald, who has lived in both Cuenca, Ecuador, and Montevideo, Uruguay, and who has been spending time in Nicaragua and Argentina for the past half-dozen years, to do the math for us for those countries.
Intrepid Correspondent Paul Terhorst has kindly provided detailed monthly budgets for our Asian picks (India, Thailand, and Laos).
Before you begin reviewing our Country Budgets, please note that they reflect basic living costs for a retired couple—essentially housing and utilities, food, entertainment, and a few additional items. We recommend you use these budgets as a start--but only a start--in your retirement planning.
So many costs depend on you: your lifestyle, your medical concerns, your eating and drinking habits, your charitable contributions. You'll need to supplement these country budgets with your specific costs. You may want to include more maid service, for example…or more for dining out.
You'll want to include laundry costs, personal items (haircuts, manicures), cleaning supplies, and computer, camera, and gadget costs. If you drink fine wine, you'll want to include the cost in your budget, considering that wine in Thailand, for example, costs perhaps three times what it costs in Argentina.
You'll want to budget for medical costs. You may want to keep your same medical insurance when you move abroad, in which case your basic medical cost will remain the same. But you'll need to budget for prescription drugs (expensive in Panama), doctors visits (inexpensive in Panama), and surprise costs your insurance may not cover.
If you buy a house, you'll need to include that capital outlay, plus furniture and any improvements necessary to get the place the way you want it. Similarly, you'll need to consider your capital outlay to buy or to import a car.
In some country budgets we show basic operating expenses for a car, but you'll have to include amounts for parking and speeding tickets (and maybe bribes to the local police to avoid speeding tickets…).
You'll want to consider initial setup costs: moving, rental deposits, visa fees, and so on.
You'll want to consider ongoing travel costs, both in-country and back to the States, Canada, or wherever, depending on how much you miss the grandchildren.
With all that in mind, get started and enjoy yourself! In most cases, we believe, you'll find you'll save money moving abroad.
Plus, of course, you’ll have the adventure of your lifetime.
P.S. This Country Budgets section of our site is a work in progress. We’re preparing additional budgets to add here all the time. Right now, we’re finalizing our Panama and France budgets, for example. In addition, we’ll be adding budgets for the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Croatia, Italy…
Meantime, if you have questions about the cost of living in a particular place for which we haven’t yet produced a Country Budget, please get in touch here: CountryBudgets@LiveandInvestOverseas.com. We’ll do our best to help you determine the real-life cost of living wherever you’re thinking you’d like to call home.