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.



10 thoughts on “5 Cheap Places To Retire

  1. I’ve toyed with the thought of living overseas during retirement for various reasons. If I ever would do it, I think I would most likely end up in Central America somewhere. I would want to be able to get back to the US rather quickly and easily. While Thailand would be awesome, it just seems like a lot of work to come back to the states.

  2. This is something I’ve had on my mind for quite a few years now…..and like Jon, I think I’d go to Central America for the same reasons – travel time & convenience.

    These are some great places & a few I’d never really considered.

  3. Great post about places to retire. In Thailand, the weather there is like other South East Asian countries. With great beach resorts and cultural places like Pattaya, and Bangkok, it is a great place to live in while you’re retired from work.

  4. You forgot to mention America.

    It costs ~30% more to live in Canada than the US.

    For elderly people who don’t have to desire to learn the Portuguese language or battle the Thai traffic, America can offer some great options with all the familiarity and comforts of Canada.

    (p.s. — if you really want a deal, you might be able to get into one of the many Chinese “ghost cities” for absolutely nothing!)

  5. I plan to retire in a small province here in our place. I’d like to buy a piece of land and have a little farm of vegetables.

  6. I would rather live on our farm rather to live on busy and unfamiliar places. And Conner Harley was right, At least I could sell my plants and fruit on the market and I can support myself even my pension is not enough for my cost of living.

  7. hmmm… interesting…

    On one end we have people that would walk through fire, to immigrate through these countries to North America…
    On the other end, we have people that for the sake of being cheap would give up on their beautiful country.

    If you do decide to move to third world, please don’t come back running the moment that you get sick, or something doesn’t go your way…

    Don’t feel like sponsoring your cheapness… not really!

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