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Your Personal Bailout Plan, Part 2

Bailout Out To Cuenca, Ecuador – Part 2

Forget the government bailout program. The secret to how you’re going to be able to afford to retire, worldwide financial meltdown notwithstanding?

A bailout plan of your own.

Make a plan, now, to restart your life somewhere new, beautiful, safe, exciting, welcoming, fun…and really cheap. Your standard of living could be dramatically improved, the quality of your life greatly enriched.

You could walk away from the worry, the stress, the uncertainty, and the recession.

You could launch the greatest adventure of your lifetime.

And, bottom line, you could discover that this new-and-improved life? It costs a whole lot less than your old-and-troubled one.

In this “Personal Bailout Plan” series, I intend to show you just how much less.

In Part 1, I introduced you to Cuenca, Ecuador, the city that our man Christian MacDonald says is “the best place for an expat to retire…not the cheapest, but the best quality of life for the money.”

Retire to Cuenca today and live comfortably in this welcoming colonial city for as little as US$651 a month, I explained last week.

Not interested in Ecuador?

How about Nicaragua?

We asked Christian to take out his sharpest pencil again to detail the best options for retirement on a budget in this beautiful and romantic country with such a colorful history.

“Most will be surprised at my first choice when it comes to retiring to Nicaragua on a budget,” writes Christian. “But I’d say that the place to look is the colonial city of León.

“Sure, I love the Pacific coast,” Christian continues, “and the relaxing, luxurious lifestyle that you can enjoy in one of the planned communities on the water. I’m also particularly fond of Granada, with its old colonial center, markets, restaurants, and thriving expat community.

“But León is different. It’s Nicaragua in its natural state. If you want to experience Nicaragua without the expats–and the false economy that follows them around–then León is worth your attention.

“Filled with original colonial architecture and charm, León sits about an hour north of the capital of Managua astride the Pan American highway. The climate is hot, but humidity is generally low and evenings are usually comfortable. Founded in 1524, León is home to about 110,000 people.

“Always a center for Nicaragua’s liberal and progressive thinkers, León is home to bookstores, coffee shops, museums, and a generous cadre of university students. It was the heart of the Sandinista movement during the civil war and of the Liberal Party during the 1800s.

“Today it’s a friendly, non-hurried place with more than its share of old colonial architecture plus an impressive cathedral.

“And, even though it’s an ‘inland’ colonial city, León is close to the Pacific coast. Las Peñitas is less than 15 miles to the west, when you’re in the mood for swimming, seaside sunbathing, or fresh seafood in an open-air restaurant. Frequent bus service runs between León and Las Peñitas, making the trip easy and inexpensive.”

What cost to call this city home?

“All things considered,” Christian explains, “a budget of US$1,480 per month should keep you nicely in León, including full-time household help and rental of a high-end property.

“León has most of what you’d need right in town, so you can get along nicely without a car. If you’ve got more than walking distance to cover, local buses or taxis should do the job.

“And, of course, as in most countries, you could live like a local for considerably less.”

But “local” living isn’t for everyone. So how much to live like a non-local…that is, very comfortably?

Here’s how Christian’s budget (for two…Christian’s assuming for the purposes of these budgets that you’re retiring with a significant other) breaks down:

  • Rent (for a new and modern apartment of about 2,600 square feet): US$500
  • Food: US$360
  • Transportation: US$50
  • Electricity: US$70
  • Gas (for hot water and cooking): US$20
  • Telephone: US$20
  • Internet and Cable: US$30
  • Entertainment: US$250
  • Full-time, live-in maid: US$180

Note that in Nicaragua, unlike in Ecuador, as a renter, you’d have no HOA or building fee.

Also note that, if you don’t require full-time household help, your budget falls to US$1,300 a month.

And, finally, remember that this budget is for the renter. Invest in your own home in or around León, and you can subtract the US$500 a month in rent…then add US$40 for HOA fees, US$50 for property taxes, and US$54 for homeowner’s insurance.

Bringing your total costs (again, for two) to: US$944 a month.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Where else might your Personal Bailout Plan lead you? In the Americas, I’d also propose Argentina and Uruguay. If you’re up for something more exotic and more distant, you should be thinking about Asia. Intrepid Correspondent Paul Terhorst is scouting in that part of the world for you. Watch for more from him as our Personal Bailout Plan series continues.

P.P.S. What if cost of living isn’t your biggest concern? Say you’ve got US$3,000 a month or more to live on in retirement. Where should you think about? Again, keep reading…

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