Do you dream of retiring into a life of leisure, but know that your savings aren’t enough to make that dream a reality? How does living a good life on only $1,000 per month sound? Impossible? Not if you retire in the Philippines, where rent is as low as $185 per month, and you can get your hair cut for $5. 

If you’re adventurous enough to join the estimated 1.4 million American retirees living quite happily in other parts of the world where a low cost of living meets a high quality of life, consider retiring in one of the following six countries.

1. The Philippines

The majority of the people speak English, the climate is generally warm and tropical, and you can live quite comfortably on as little as $1,000 per month. Perhaps that’s why over 33,000 American retirees have chosen to immigrate to the Philippines. There is ample, quality healthcare here, with a high percentage of the doctors trained in the US.

Cultural and leisure activities also abound, including snorkeling, whale watching, and theater. If you are over 50 and have a pension of at least $1,000 per month, you can apply for a permanent retiree visa, making it easy to settle down.

2. Malaysia

Another Asian country where English is widely spoken, Malaysia welcomes foreign retirees with a program called “Malaysia My Second Home”—it’s a 10-year social visa that is easily renewed. The excellent, inexpensive healthcare makes Malaysia a hotspot for medical tourism as well.

The climate is tropical, with warm nights, warmer days, and plenty of rain. However, the beautiful beaches and friendly people rate make up for the drizzle. Also, you can live comfortably in Malaysia for about $1,700 a month or less. 

3. Thailand

Often called “The Land of Smiles,” Thailand is home to approximately 7,000 US retirees. With stunning beaches, tropical climate and exotic culture, there’s a lot to smile about. Although the Thai language is challenging, many Thais speak English, especially in the larger cities.

Medical care is also excellent, and the crime rate is low. Best of all, for just $2,000 a month, you can live very comfortably, even luxuriously in many parts of the country. To qualify for a long-stay visa, you’ll need to be over 50, have no criminal record, be in good health, and be able to show that you receive income of at least $2,000 per month.


Where Should I Retire?

4. Ecuador

It has everything from beautiful beaches to snow-capped mountains to rainforests, but Ecuador offers even more—a comfortable lifestyle on a fraction of what a similar retirement would cost in the US. Ecuador even uses the US dollar as its official currency, making it even easier to spot the bargains. Perhaps that’s why almost 4,000 American retirees have immigrated to Ecuador.

Once in Ecuador, you’ll enjoy senior discounts everywhere from the airport to cultural events, friendly people, historical sites, world-class restaurants, and quality healthcare. All of these benefits can be had while living on $2,000 or less each month. It’s easy to gain a retirement visa here—just show that you have at least $800 per month income.

5. Panama

There’s more to Panama than its canal—according to International Living’s annual Global Retirement Index for 2020, it’s the number two choice for retiring abroad, with a high standard of living at a low cost. The currency is the US dollar, English is widely understood, and you don’t even need converters to use your US electrical appliances.

With almost 3,000 American retirees calling it home, you’ll find plenty of company. Panama also offers everything from modern, metropolitan Panama City to gorgeous landscapes, plenty of leisure time activities, and a very easy visa program for US retirees. Depending on where you settle in Panama, you can live quite comfortably for a little more than $1,500 per month.

6. Costa Rica

If extraordinary natural beauty, a stable government (that doesn’t even have armed forces), mild weather, friendly people, good healthcare, and plenty to do sounds like a great life, then Costa Rica might be your preferred retirement destination. Although it’s not as inexpensive as most other South American countries, it’s still far less expensive than the US, and you can have a comfortable lifestyle on just $2,000 per month. Approximately 2,500 American retirees live in this small country, drawn by a good life that’s well within their budgets.

The Bottom Line

Retiring abroad is not a decision to be made lightly, but if you have a spirit of adventure, are eager to sample other ways of life and soak up other cultures, and want to live well even on a small budget, consider a move to one of the South American or Asian countries known for welcoming American retirees.