Saving for a nest egg is always a good idea, but how much does it actually cost to retire in North America? Experts say that a couple needs to save anywhere from $275,000 to $1,025,000 to retire comfortably at the age of 65.
Retiring in America can be expensive. In addition to paying for housing, food, and clothing, you need to cover old age health care expenses. Fidelity Investments calculates that a retired couple would need $260,000 to cover just their healthcare!
If you’re looking at these numbers and starting to curse under your breath, take a moment to consider this option: go hang your hammock somewhere else!
Barry Choi, a budget travel expert, writes that with $200,000 saved and some retirement benefit payments coming in, you can retire comfortably outside America and enjoy your senior years in the sun.
Here are ten places where you can really stretch your retirement dollars!
1. Costa Rica
Thousands of North Americans have discovered the pleasures of a simpler life in Costa Rica. Towns like Atenas and Tamarindo are renowned for their lovely climate, affordable food and home prices, and a friendly environment where locals and expats mingle.
Year-round t-shirt weather and long stretches of golden beach are punctuated by eateries, bars, and all the amenities you need. While the locals speak Spanish, you’ll find plenty of folks to chat with in English, too.
Given the influx of tourists and expats, Costa Rican rental prices have risen in the past few years. In Atenas, rental rates range from $650 to $3,000 per month depending on how much space and luxury you want.
An ILM contributor also confirms that healthcare is very affordable in Atenas. This town has a public health clinic, pharmacy, and emergency room at its center. Some expats choose to pay from $75 to $150 for full coverage under the national public health insurance system, called Caja. Private consultations with Caja doctors cost less than $20 per visit, and private and national public hospitals are just a short drive away from city centers across the country.
Leave your winter wardrobe at home: all you’ll need is shorts, t-shirts, and sandals in Thailand! English is widely spoken in tourist centers, but you’ll probably need a Thai phrasebook to get by in smaller towns and rural areas.
With its tropical climate, Thailand’s hot season can hit temperatures upwards of 105F (40C) from March to May. Here, the best time to enjoy the outdoors is between November and March, when the weather hovers around a balmy 86F (30C).
The price of living varies among different areas, but overall ILM says you can expect to live comfortably on $1,500 to $2,000 per month in Phuket. A full Thai dinner with beer for two costs less than $10 in Chiang Mai, and a Western dinner for two costs about $15.
Thailand also ranks among the world’s 50 best healthcare systems, according to the WHO. The best private hospitals are in Bangkok and hospital fees cost a fraction of what you would pay in the West.
This Central American country has a gorgeous landscape dotted with lakes and lined with volcanoes in the west and beaches along its eastern shores. The main language is Spanish but English is widely spoken, especially along the Caribbean coast. Given its geography, the weather in Nicaragua is lovely all year.
According to long-established expat source International Living Magazine, a couple can live comfortably in Nicaragua on $1,200 per month. Spending $2,000 a month equates to a life of luxury. A beer at a restaurant costs $1.25 and a full lobster dinner is about $15. One month of groceries costs less than $300!
Nicaragua also has high-quality, low cost healthcare, especially in the Managua area. Some hospitals offer a tiered health program or a membership program whose pricing depends on age and health conditions. However, generally people aged 41-50 pay $50 per month, ages 51-65 pay $61, and those over 65 pay $65 per month, says ILM.
According to ILM, Malaysia is South Asia’s most popular destination for retirees. English is widely spoken by expats and locals alike, and temperatures range between an ideal 77F (25C) and a humid 95F (35C) throughout the year. It’s worth noting that there is a serious monsoon season from October until the end of March.
Internationals are flocking to Kuala Lumpur and the island of Penang to take advantage of the low cost of living and affordable entertainment. An inexpensive local meal goes for $3, or you can get a two-person three-course dinner for $15. Renting is also affordable: a one-bedroom condo in the city center costs about $550 per month. Life in the cultural melting pot of Penang is even cheaper, with a one-bedroom apartment in the city costing only $265 per month.
Malaysia also offers world-class healthcare at a lower price than you’ll find at home. Expats often go to private clinics to get the quickest service.
Offering some of the lowest cost of living in Europe and a warm, sunny climate, Spain is a dream retirement destination for many. It’s hard to beat the country’s relaxed lifestyle, affordable food and wine, and the fact that “winter” translates to a bit of rain lasting about three months. A growing English-speaking population and freedom of mobility within the EU also make Spain a comfortable and convenient base for travel and adventure — although there’s plenty to explore without ever leaving the country!
Practically speaking, comfort and cost of living vary widely among Spain’s provinces. The influx of tourism has already driven Barcelona’s prices through the roof, and the trend is trickling to other popular regions. Luckily, some areas remain immune to this trend.
For example, the southern city of Valencia mixes warm weather and low-cost living with fantastic food and high doses of culture. Renting a one-bedroom apartment costs $525 per month in the city center or $400 outside of the city.
Life in Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria has a similarly affordable price tag and boasts year-round sun (320 days a year) and idyllic temps ranging from 68F (20C) to 80F (27C) throughout the year. Maybe it’s the sunny weather that keeps everyone smiling, but many attest that the island is home to some of the kindest, most welcoming locals you’ll ever meet.
A competitive public health system ensures high quality of care and affordable private healthcare is readily available in Spain. Plus, you can pick up generic brands of medicine at pharmacies for rock-bottom prices and often without a doctor’s prescription.
Malta is a lesser-known international retirement option but it’s one of the best for English speakers! English is the second official language after Maltese, making for an easy transition for North American retirees.
The islands of the Maltese archipelago have year-round sunshine, an extremely temperate climate, and offer a unique mix of prehistoric and colonial history, lovely architecture (there are nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites among the islands), and plenty of outdoor adventure.
The cost of living is lower here than in other Mediterranean countries, with a one-bedroom apartment renting for about $750 to $800 a month. ILM confirms that Malta’s healthcare system is ranked among the top five countries in the world by the WHO.
One of the jewels of South America, Ecuador has an amazingly temperate climate and a stunning combination of sandy beaches, metropolitan cities, and the famous Galapagos Islands. Popular towns attracting retirees include Quito, the capital, and the smaller town of Cuenca.
In Ecuador, renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center only costs about $430 per month in Quito and about $340 in Cuenca. A nice three-course meal for two goes for $35 or less, and everything from beer to wine to groceries can be found for much cheaper than at home. Ecuador also offers high-quality private healthcare options, especially in these two cities. Your retirement dollars will take you far in Ecuador!
Mexico’s lovely towns and villages offer some of the most popular retirement destinations in the world. Along with gorgeous beaches and historical colonial towns, just $200 a month can get you a one-bedroom apartment to live in, and a few dollars a week will buy bags of fresh produce and fish from local markets and fishermen. The Yucatan peninsula is considered to be one of the safest areas for international travelers and retirees.
Mexico also has all the amenities you could want, including cable TV, internet, and modern appliances. Here, private health insurance gets more expensive as you get older, so many retirees hold on to medical coverage plans from their home countries and opt to pay out of pocket for minor medical fees in Mexico. A specialist appointment in Mexico costs $25 to $30, while a local doctor outside cities costs only about $10 to $15 a visit.
Even with its lower cost of living than Spain and other European countries, Portugal has its fair share of castles, charming towns, and unique culture in food and wine. Everyday expenses are very affordable, and rental pricing starts at $375 a month for a one-bedroom in smaller cities. A one-bed might cost about $1,000 a month in Lisbon, though.
When it comes to healthcare, international retirees will benefit from choosing private insurance. Although most medical professionals in larger cities speak English, it helps to have a bit of Portuguese under your belt if you settle in a smaller town. In addition to its wine regions and friendly beach towns, Portugal makes for an excellent base to enjoy traveling around the rest of Europe. What’s not to love?
A tropical wonderland of mountains, rainforests, and sandy beaches, Panama is also home to first-class city living, dining, culture, and medical care. It’s located just a short flight away from Miami and many locals speak English as a second language after Spanish. Yet even in its cosmopolitan capital of Panama City, the cost of living is very affordable here. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center only costs about $1,035 a month, and the same size living space outside the center goes for about $620 a month!
Panama also has an amazing Pensionado Program that subsidizes medical care and expenses, property taxes and car taxes, and offers many other benefits for retirees. To gain residency, all you need is to provide proof that you have a minimum $1,000 per month pension from your home country. This program essentially pays for your main retirement costs!
Whether your retirement is close at hand or decades away, you can never start planning for it too early. And with travel getting more affordable every year, why not enjoy an adventure abroad when you’re choosing where to settle down? Many international destinations make it easy to stretch your retirement dollars as far as they’ll go.
Still, the common message from finance professionals is to start a saving as soon as possible. If you begin saving early, you’ll have to save less money per month to reach your goal.
No matter which strategy is best for you, it’s a good idea to seek out guidance from an experienced financial advisor. They’ll be able to help you fund a great retirement lifestyle within your budget — no matter where you hang your hammock!
Do you have a friend who could use some advice in planning for their future? Share this article with them and start making those beach dreams a reality!
This article was originally published by MoneyWise