The 5 most affordable retirement destinations for 2017

Planning to move overseas when you retire? Cost will be one major factor in picking your destination.

Planning to move overseas when you retire? Cost will be one major factor in picking your destination. However, it can also be one that is easily overlooked.

Recent studies on retirement suggest that most Americans are not adequately prepared for it: they haven’t saved enough, they’ll likely outlive their nest egg, and so they are instructed to work longer, spend less, and lower their expectations for their retirement lifestyle.

“Go to the right places overseas, and retirees can actually improve their quality of life while they spend less,” says Jennifer Stevens, International Living Executive Editor. The magazine has ranked the best value countries for those relocating overseas in 2017.

“Take a budget that would require skimping at home—say you have just $1,500 a month to spend,” adds Stevens. “In the US, that won’t get you very far when you consider that the average rent on a two-bedroom place in De Moines, Iowa, for instance, is $970. Layer in food, utilities, healthcare, and so on… and there’s not going to be much — if anything — left for travel or eating out. But if you, instead, take that $1,500 a month with you to one of the best-value places in the world… you’ll find your retirement, instead of limiting your quality of life, can expand it.”

The magazine compared day-to-day expenses, the cost of a flight back home to visit family and friends, the price for groceries, cinema tickets, eating out, garbage collection, gas, gym membership, and other costs.

Here are the top five most affordable:


55. Vietnam

Vietnam has become a popular destination in Southeast Asia for both expats and tourists. In 1990, it was one of the poorest countries in the world; today, it is decidedly middle-class and on an upward trajectory. Upscale malls and trendy residential areas are sprouting up everywhere and there are now several internationally accredited hospitals.

“Modern, furnished, two-bedroom apartments can be found in lovely beach towns starting at around $350 to $400 per month, and for around $500 per month in major cities,” says International Living’s Vietnam correspondent Wendy Justice. “Apartments often include cable TV, high-speed internet, water, trash, and housekeeping in the rent. Good housekeepers are happy to earn just $2 or $3 per hour.”

“Even in the most expensive cities—Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi—two people can live well for less than $1,500 per month.”

44. Colombia

During 2016, the Colombian peso averaged an exchange rate of 3,100 pesos to $1 USD, making it an extremely affordable place to live. The actual costs will vary depending on exact location, but a monthly budget of $1,500 to $2,000 will allow not just the necessities of life, but also some great amenities like regular maid and handyman services. Rental prices are low too.

Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Peru

33. Peru

Peru has long been a destination for tourists seeking outdoor adventures, spectacular scenery, and archaeological treasures. Its cost, though, is also highly attractive. In Arequipa, hundreds of traditional picanterias offer three-course lunches for as little as $2, including a jug of purple chicha morada, the local drink of choice. A large three-bedroom apartment in the popular Yanahuara district of Arequipa can be found for $350 per month or less. For double that price, it is possible to find a totally furnished and outfitted modern condo.

“You really can live well on the cheap in Peru,” says International Living editor Jason Holland. Indeed, utilities are affordable, too. In Arequipa and Cusco, where air conditioning isn’t needed, electricity will run $50 to $60 a month, while water is $10 and high-speed internet/cable TV about $70.

22. Nicaragua

Monthly expenses in Nicaragua average $1,200 to $1,500 a month. That includes a one-bedroom furnished apartment, food, electricity, water, internet, and going-out money. Having a vehicle will add some extra expenses, but in Nicaragua’s main cities, public transportation is cheap and constantly available.

Examples of real estate taxes include $141 a year for a $132,000 house, on almost an acre of land with an ocean view. Unlike the US, Nicaragua does not tax income earned abroad.

£There is no comparison in the cost of living between the U.S. and Nicaragua,” reports Bonnie Hayman, who moved from San Diego to the beach town of San Juan del Sur nine years ago. “Here, you can have a higher quality of life, no financial worries, a better house, more fun, and less stress for a fraction of the cost of back home. Nicaragua literally saved my financial life.”

11. Cambodia

Cambodia offers an affordable cost of living that is hard to compete with, says IM. Western-style apartments are available to rent from $300 a month in the capital of Phnom Penh, and go for as little as $200 a month in the beach town of Sihanoukville. Meals at quality local and international restaurants cost as little as $10 to $20 for two people.

Cambodia also offers massive savings for those who require regular medications, with cities such as Phnom Penh having several professional pharmacy chains and specialists that provide brand name medications at less than 10 per cent of the cost it would be in the US.