“Kathleen, first of all, I have to tell you that coming across your book two years ago was life-changing for me! All I could picture was a bleak existence, struggling to make ends meet. Now I am actually excited for the next two years to pass quickly so I can begin collecting my Social Security and begin living my life (I am 64).
“Which brings me to my question: All I will have is a small savings plus Social Security benefits of US$1,800 to US$1,900 per month. Could I realistically live in Europe–maybe Ireland, Italy or France–without just scraping by? I’ve been doing enough of that. And could I qualify to become a resident in these countries? I would intend to live simply–rent a small furnished apartment, no car, not bringing anything but my clothes. Medical costs/coverage are a concern, so would like to take advantage of low-cost or free care. At present I have no medical issues at all.
“I’m not a tropical climate person. The culture and ease of traveling in Europe has the most appeal for me, but I have considered Panama if Europe is too much of a stretch financially.
“I am an avid fan and subscriber. I recently bought the audio tapes of your Arizona conference. Thank you for giving me something to look forward to!”
–Vicki W., United States
Yes, it can be possible to live in rural Europe fairly well on US$1,900 a month (about €1,500 at today’s exchange rate). Languedoc or Midi-Pyrenees in France, Abruzzo in Italy, and maybe even some parts of Ireland at this point could be good options. It wouldn’t be luxury living, but you could enjoy a rich, full, interesting life.
The big concern would be the exchange rate. Right now, your dollars would go far enough. If the dollar-euro exchange rate were to go against you, though, it would become harder. With only a very fixed U.S. dollar-denominated retirement income, it can be safer to choose a destination where your local expenses would likewise be in dollars.
You seem to have an open-minded perspective, though, so here’s what I’d suggest: Find a small, affordable corner of Europe and give it a try. If the exchange rate does eventually go against you, move somewhere else, perhaps Panama as you’ve been thinking, where you wouldn’t have to worry about currency fluctuations. Meantime, you’d have had your European adventure.
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