One benefit of post-career life is that you are free to live wherever you like, no longer tied to a job location or a good school system. Adventurous retirees can even consider moving abroad and live comfortably for a fraction of what the same lifestyle would cost in the States.
Here are five low-cost countries where a couple can enjoy a plush retirement on $1500 a month or less. We’re talking the good life, too — dining out, hiring a gardener and housekeeper and living in a prime location.
1. Peru – In Peru, you’ll find a country that spans from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes, lending to a terrain that is as varied as its culture. This country boasts ancient ruins, rainforests, colonial cities, and long swaths of immaculate beaches. In addition to its diversity of character, Peru is an affordable place to live well. Housing prices are unbeatable, with brand-new, two-bedroom apartments with all the modern amenities coming in at about $400 a month. Groceries for a couple will average around $100 per month.
Dining out is also affordable, with many restaurants offering meals of fresh, local ingredients for between $3 and $5. Getting around by bus and taxi can be covered easily with $50 a month, and the same amount will get you cell phone and internet service. Healthcare and dental costs are similarly low, coming in at between $50 and $100 per month.
2. Cambodia – Located between Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and the Gulf of Thailand, Cambodia is a nation whose landscape includes low-lying plains, mountains, lush rainforests, and a pristine coastline with some of the best beaches in Southeast Asia. With monthly living expenses coming in at around $1200 per month, many expats came to Cambodia for its affordability and stayed for the picturesque landscape and warm hospitality of the local people. You can rent a one-bedroom apartment for as little as $200 a month, and basic utilities run less than $20 per month.
Eating out is also affordable, with Cambodian barbecue tallying less than $5 per meal and upscale French fare running about $15 per meal. The cheap cost of living allows many expats in Cambodia to live well on their Social Security checks alone.
3. Guatemala – Steep volcanoes, vast rainforests and ancient Mayan sites mark this Central American country south of Mexico. The coasts of Guatemala touch on the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, and between the shores, you will find innumerable Spanish colonial towns and cities, like Antigua, where many expats settle. While not as developed as its sister expat havens in Central America, like Panama or Costa Rica, Guatemala is an adventurer’s paradise. The country is known for its year-round warm weather and varied outdoor activities, including biking, climbing and kayaking.
Rentals for one-bedroom furnished apartments in town start around $300 a month, and a cabin-style studio apartment will go for around $350 a month, including internet, cable TV, and all utilities. A couple can live very comfortably for $1,500 a month. On this budget, you’ll have a gardener and house cleaner, regular massages, and three-course meals for only $20, among other little luxuries. Healthcare is also extremely affordable and the care provided is top quality; a visit to the doctor will cost a mere $25 on average.
4. Nicaragua – Set between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Nicaragua is known for its dramatic terrain of lakes, volcanoes and beaches. Long overshadowed by its neighbors to the south (think Costa Rica and Panama), Nicaragua offers a similar healthy lifestyle, great food, and fantastic beach living for even lower costs. Here, a complete meal with wine will set you back only $16. Furnished, one-bedroom apartments with water, electricity, and Wi-Fi go for as little as $300 a month, and for less than $8 a day, you can get hire a gardener and housekeeper to maintain your elegant abode. With health insurance available for just $500 per year through private hospitals, you won’t have to fret about finding quality doctors or care. Expats in Nicaragua can live a six-figure lifestyle easily on just $1,500 a month.
5. Columbia – At the northern tip of South America, Columbia is a country of rainforest, towering mountains and coffee plantations. The highlands are home to striking colonial cities, and the range of elevations and equatorial location ensures the perfect climate for you. A couple could live comfortably on just $1,200 a month. Rents range from $130 a month for a comfortable home in a working-class neighborhood, complete with amazing views of the surrounding mountains, to $430 for a modern three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in more upscale neighborhoods. You can live a pampered life on a small budget: housekeepers are available for less than $20 a day; dinner for two costs around $25; going to the movies is $5 per person; great haircuts are $18; and 75-minute massages only costs $30.