Congratulations! You’ve lasted 40 years at your job, and are now ready to throw off the shackles of employment for 5 PM dinners, shuffleboard. and afternoons babysitting your grandkids. Yes, I’m talking about retirement, which I fantasize about for hours daily while I’m supposed to be doing my job. I should probably stop doing that.
Unfortunately, for Canadians, there are some major downfalls for spending your golden years in the great white north. There’s the weather, first of all, which has to be difficult on old, creaky bones. There’s also the high cost of living, especially in Canada’s two largest centers, Toronto and Vancouver. Everything from real estate to food to getting around costs more than ever, which can present a challenge to retirees who didn’t dilligently save over the years.
But fear not, person without millions! Rather than retiring here in North America, why not head abroad? You can experience the same standard of living without breaking the bank. You won’t end up being the default babysitter for your grandkids. You’ll never shovel a flake of snow again, and you can just hire some cheap local to care for your lawn. And you’ll be able to say ‘adios’ to Alan, your annoying neighbor who’s always coming over to borrow your tools. Alan is the tool, amirite?
Let’s take a look at 5 possible retirement destinations.
1. Costa Rica
While Costa Rica is perhaps the most expensive country on the list, it makes up for it by being a commonwealth country, having a good medical system, and by being packed with other North American retirees. Oh, and the average temperature of 24 degrees Celsius and your selection of beaches and golf courses probably doesn’t hurt either.
Costa Rica has rolled out the welcome mat to North American retirees, allowing them to live there providing they can show an income of $1,000 per month. Most retirees can pull that off just from government pensions, so most shouldn’t have a problem gaining entry. You can also live quite well for a reasonable amount of money, as a 1 bedroom apartment will only set you back $300-$400 a month, depending on what part of the country you settle in.
Located on the Adriatic Sea, Montenegro was part of the former Yugoslavia, eventually gaining their independence from Serbia in 2006.
Montenegro is a beautiful country, whether you’re on the coastline or the mountains further inland. They use the Euro as their currency, but don’t let that fool you into thinking the country is expensive. You’re looking at 200 Euros per month to rent a 1-bedroom apartment, or a mere 500 Euros per month for a 3 bedroom retirement pad. It’s close to Italy and other European countries, allowing you to scratch all those European sites off your bucket list. Yes, Montenegro is still considered a middle income country, but the stable government is working to modernize things.
No list of cheap retirement destinations would be complete without southeast Asia, and Thailand is always a popular choice.
Thailand offers it all, a cheap cost of living, (especially food) cheap rent, beautiful weather, proximity to China, Japan, and South Korea, and plenty of fellow expats to join for an adult beverage. Speaking of that, the average cost of domestic beer in the country will set you back less than $2 (Cdn), so feel free to have a few. If you live outside of Bangkok, you should easily be able to rent a place for $300 a month. Add in another $100 for utilities, and you’re living quite well for just $400 a month. Where can you replicate that in Canada?
Up next is Portugal, arguably the cheapest place to live inside of the European Union, which gives a retiree all sorts of perks.
Portugal is blessed with nice weather year round, close proximity to the ocean, as well as having low crime, a decent health care system, and delicious food. It’s a little pricy – at least compared to Montenegro or Thailand – but you can still easily rent an apartment for $400 a month, assuming it isn’t in downtown Lisbon.
And finally, capping off the list is one of the more underrated destinations in South America, Ecuador.
The country features a stable government, plenty of Aztec ruins for the history buff, as well as all sorts of cheap food and booze. A moderate apartment rents for under $300 per month. It also boasts the world’s largest volcano, the Amazon jungle, a variety of different climates, and a very low crime rate.
Sure, moving away from your family can be difficult, especially during your retirement years, but the financial rewards can more than make this worthwhile. Retiring abroad can help stretch thin retirement savings, or can greatly improve the quality of life for a retiree who has a decent nest egg. It can quench your thirst for adventure, and your kids will be dying to visit. Although I’m quite a few years away from retirement age, I’d definitely look at retiring abroad if I was retiring now.