Affording a decent lifestyle on a working income is tough enough, but trying to do it on a pension can be even more challenging. If you want a better lifestyle than the one you'd get at home (and don't mind moving to get it), numerous countries will let you stretch your pension to the max while offering an excellent standard of living at the same time. If you're considering making the move, here are 20 of the cheapest countries to retire to.
Australia isn't a place that you'd normally associate with a cheap retirement, but according to Smart Asset, retirees hoping to combine low cost living with a high quality of life would do well to consider it. Monthly living expenses come to around $1,000 to $2,000 in the city center, and less in more rural areas. On top of the excellent affordability, there's also the beautiful scenery, gorgeous coast, and laid-back vibes to consider. Although the country ditched its Retirement Visa a few years ago, it's still possible to apply for a visitor’s visa or an investor Retirement Visa.
19. Costa Rica
As moneywise.com says, with its pura vida lifestyle, safety and stability, and fantastic travel opportunities, Costa Rica ranks as one of the most attractive retirement destinations in the world. It's also one of the most cost-effective, with low-cost housing and affordable essentials allowing expats to live comfortably for far less than they would at home.
Panama might have one of the highest living standards in Central America, but it's also surprisingly affordable. It also comes with advantageous tax laws which mean that any income earned abroad isn't taxed - a major plus point for anyone who wants to continue to invest in their home-based retirement accounts.
Belize offers retirees a host of attractive benefits, not least the chance to live in a stunning, English-speaking country blessed with one of the most gorgeous coastlines in Central America. Prices vary depending on location, but you can expect to live very comfortably on around $1000 per month. To apply for residency, you'll need to stay in the country for 50 weeks before applying for a visa, the only real requirement of which is to maintain a Belize bank account with a minimum annual transfer amount of $24,000.
It doesn't get as much attention as some of its neighbors, but while tourists flock to the beaches of Croatia, retirees in the know are turning to the equally charming Slovenia. Rich in historical villages, fairytale castles, lakes, and mountains, it's an incredibly attractive destination. It's also incredibly affordable, with a one-bedroom apartment in the capital city of Ljubljana costing as little as $600 per month. Healthcare, food and other essentials are equally affordable. To live here, you'll need to obtain a one-year temporary residence permit which can be renewed yearly. After five years, you can apply for permanent residency.
Chile is a country of extremes, moving from the driest desert in the world in the north to the glacial peaks of the south. It's also one of the most stable and prosperous countries in South America, offering retirees the chance to combine a high quality of life with a superbly low cost of living. Healthcare is excellent, while the developed infrastructure will allow you to explore the country without issue. Expect to live comfortably on as little as $1000 per month. To relocate, you'll need to first obtain a tourist visa and then apply for a retirement visa after remaining in the country for a minimum of 180 days. Unlike in some countries, there is no minimum income requirement for visa approval.
As internationalliving.com notes, Uruguay ranks as one of the safest countries in the world. It's also economically and politically stable, with a modern infrastructure, excellent healthcare, and a high standard of living. Despite its obvious advantages, it's still an incredibly affordable place to live, with food, housing, and other essentials all costing a fraction of what they would in the US. Obtaining a visa is a relatively easy process, with the exact requirements for each depending on whether you apply for a rentista visa (which comes with a minimum monthly income requirement of $1500) or a foreign retiree visa.
France isn't a name you'd expect to see on a list of cheap countries to retire to, and for good reason. Paris will eat up a pension in no time at all, as will several other big cities. But venture away from the major metropolises into the smaller towns and villages, and you'll be surprised at just how far your savings stretch. In many parts of the country, you can find a nice, one-bedroom apartment for around $550 per month. Combine that with very reasonably priced food, universal healthcare, and cheap transportation, and it's easy to see why France is such a haven for seniors. To relocate, you'll need to apply for a long-term visa, during which you'll need to provide evidence of your financial situation.
As cheapestdestinationsblog.com says, you don't often hear people talk about the Balkans in discussions about cheap places to retire, but in actual fact, the region is one of the most budget-friendly in Europe. Albania is particularly attractive, with a warm climate, a laid-back capital city in the form of Tirana, a gorgeous coastline, and the opportunity to live very comfortably indeed for around $1000 per month.
While your pension might not stretch very far if you decide to live in Rome or Milan, it could stretch indefinitely if you choose a more budget-friendly region of Italy. In Basilicata in the south, for example, you can snap up a very attractive home for as little as $30000. If you don't mind doing a small amount of DIY, you shouldn't have too many problems finding one for less than $15000. If you'd rather rent, $500- $600 should get you a very nice apartment. Food is also remarkably affordable. Although Italy doesn't have a specific retirement visa, you can apply for residency by meeting minimum financial requirements.
If you can tolerate the altitude, Peru is definitely a place every retiree looking for a low-cost retirement should consider. It's got beaches, Machu Picchu, a fascinating culture, and a cost of living that will allow you to rent a decent property in a popular exat community for as little as $200 per month. With food costing a tiny fraction of what it does in the US (a swanky three-course dinner will cost as little as $5), it's easy for a couple to live the high life for around $1500 per month. If you want to make Peru your home, you'll need to apply for a rentista visa, a renewable retirement visa that can be renewed on an indefinite basis providing you can show a monthly income of at least $1000.
9. Czech Republic
The Czech Republic has got castles, gorgeous national parks, historic cities, spa towns, and some of the best beer in the world. It's also got some of the cheapest living costs in Europe, along with an ever-growing expat community seeking to take advantage of it. Most expats, including retirees, tend to live in the capital city of Prague, but other cities such as Brno and Karlovy Vary, along with the villages and towns on the outskirts of Prague, are also worth considering, especially for those looking to keep costs as low as possible. If you have an EU passport you can live in the Czech Republic without restrictions. Third-country nationals will need to apply for a long-term visa that can be renewed annually. After five years, it's possible to apply for permanent residency.
Providing you either buy a property or transfer a set amount of money (typically $24000 to $28000, depending on exchange rates) into a Thai bank account each year, you can apply for a Thai retirement visa and renew it yearly on an indefinite basis. Once you've got your visa, you can enjoy the delights of a country known for its stunning coast, intriguing cities, and welcoming culture for as little as $1000 or less per month.
It's warm, sunny, has spectacular food, a coastline to die for, and a very active expat community. It is, of course, Spain, a home away from home for millions of Brits and an increasingly popular destination for retirees from around the world. It's not cheap everywhere, but if you avoid the main hotspots like Barcelona and concentrate your search on smaller towns, you should be able to find an apartment to rent for as little as $600 per month. To apply for a visa, prepare to show evidence of a minimum income from your pension of $30,000 per year.
Malaysia has been an incredibly popular destination for retirees for years, and for very good reason. As if the laid-back lifestyle, excellent health care system, varied landscape, and world-beating cuisine weren't enough, it also offers an incredibly budget cost of living that will allow retirees to live like royalty for a fraction of the price it would back home. Renting property is particularly cheap, with the average one-bedroom house in a city like Penang costing just a little over $200 per month.
If French colonial architecture, breathtaking scenery, and fabulous food tick your boxes, it may be time to do what thousands of other retirees have done and switch your home country for Vietnam. With busy, vibrant cities, relaxing rural retreats, and balmy beachside villages, the country has something for everyone. With even the most popular resorts offering excellent living standards for as little as $1000 per month, it also has something for all budgets. Although it doesn't currently offer a retirement visa, relocation is easy enough on a renewable one-year multiple-entry visa.
A few decades ago, Colombia's reputation for crime, cocaine, and cartels was enough to deter most retirees from stepping foot in the country. But things have changed, and these days, Colombia is a warm, inviting country with an ever-growing expat community. Some areas of certain cities are still best avoided, but providing you do some basic research before deciding on a place to live, you shouldn't run into any problems. Housing and food are both attractively affordable, while the excellent standard of healthcare, vibrant culture and amazing landscape are definite plus points.
If you want to get a permanent residency visa for Mexico, you'll need to show that you've either earned $2,388 per month over the last six months from pensions and other sources or have savings of at least $25,880 from the past year. If you can do that, you can look forward to spending your retirement enjoying the country's beaches, food, and lifestyle for a tiny proportion of what a similar lifestyle would cost in the US.
Relocating to Ecuador is a relatively simple process. All you need to do is apply for a pensioner residency visa at an Ecuadorean consulate and provide proof that you will be receiving at least $800 per month in income. Once the visa is approved (and you've signed up for public or private health insurance), you'll be free to enjoy the country's gorgeous countryside, bustling towns, and low cost of living, which, in some places, could leave you living very comfortably on between $500 - $1000 per month.
When it comes to deciding on a country to retire to, money isn't the only consideration. Safety is also paramount, something which makes Portugal (a country retirable.com describes as the third safest country in the world) a particularly attractive proposition. Factor in 300 days of sun per year, appealing tax benefits, amazing cuisine, glorious scenery, a welcoming culture, and, last but not least, a cost of living that ranks as one of the lowest in Europe, and it's easy to see what makes it such a hotspot for retirees.
Written by Liz Flynn
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