5 Cheap Places To Retire

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.

2. Montenegro 

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.

3. Thailand

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?

4. Portugal

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.

5. Ecuador 

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.



Can You Really Make Money “Investing” in Collectibles?

My husband loves collectibles. He has bought nearly every action figure associated with the Lord of the Rings movies. For his birthday last year, he insisted that I get him nothing; instead, he opted to buy a high-end Batman statue/figure. He’s already decided to forgo Christmas in favor of a Darth Vader statue from the same company.

One of his justifications for spending on collectibles is that it’s sort of an “investment.” After all, collectibles can be worth a lot of money down the road, right? (Personally, I don’t care if he spends on them, as long as he keeps it to what we can afford, but he likes to have a rationalization for his spending.)

Unfortunately, how much a collectible is worth later doesn’t depend on its popularity now, or even its “cool” factor. Whether you collect sports cards, movie cards, action figures, or Beanie Babies, here are some things to keep in mind before you “invest” in collectibles:

Is It Mass Produced?

The reality of any collectible is this: The more there are, the less valuable it is. Rarity matters when it comes to collectibles. There’s a Magic the Gathering card that goes for more than $800 in some circles — because it’s rare. And the label “Limited Edition” may not be enough to determine rarity. In some cases, there are still millions of “limited edition” collectibles produced and sold.

Some of the collectibles my husband has are rare. Consequently, they are likely to go up in price. He has one international LOTR scene set that has already doubled in “value” since he bought it. But just because it’s worth more now doesn’t mean that it will still be worth as much later.

Someone Needs to Be Willing to Pay

What happens when the market drops out? At the height of the Beanie Babies craze, people were paying insane amounts of money for little plush toys. Unfortunately, the market dropped soon. Eventually they stopped being the “must have” toy. Now you can get them for less than $5 on eBay. While some versions are still expensive, the demand in general just isn’t there — and that means that they are no longer as valuable as they once were.

This is a possibility with any collectible that you purchase. If you plan to purchase a collectible for investing purposes, you need to consider demand, and realize that you will only get what someone, somewhere is willing to pay.

Keep it in Good Condition

Because my husband is a collector, he cringes at my son’s habits. My son loves Legos, and Lego sets. He has quite a few Star Wars and Harry Potter themed sets. And mini-figures (including some that go for more than $20 apiece). Of course, my son is a 10-year-old boy. He opens the boxes and puts together sets. Some of the older sets have even been mixed around. Mini-figures are missing heads and arms. My husband knows that the Lego sets won’t be worth as much later on as a result.

If you expect to make money later on, you need to keep your collectibles in good condition — preferably in “mint” condition. If you can manage to hit on a rare item that people will want later, and if you can keep it in near-perfect condition for a few years, a collectible can be a decent investment.

What do you think? Do you view collectibles as investments?