Retiring abroad certainly has its benefits, such as cheaper healthcare, a refreshing change of scenery and a lower cost of living. That last detail is especially important for retirees who haven't saved as much as they had hoped. Fortunately, there are a number of countries where you can retire comfortably with a smaller nest egg.
Living on the cheap is even easier when you're receiving Social Security benefits. As of 2016, the average benefit amount came to $1,341 for the typical retired worker. If you have $200,000 tucked away in a retirement plan, that, along with your Social Security payments, should be enough to last three decades in these eight international locales.
Monthly expenses for a couple including rent: $1,484
Expatriates flock to Ecuador because of its gorgeous landscape, superior healthcare system and the generous government benefits extended to retirees, including discounts on utilities and public transportation.
Housing is a steal in the capital city of Quito, with the monthly rent for a furnished, 900-square-foot apartment start at just $491. Utilities run $47 a month on average. Overall, Ecuador has a cost of living that's 58% cheaper than New York City.
Monthly expenses for a couple including rent: $1,181
Nicaragua is located in the heart of Central America, and it's a premier retirement destination if you're looking for an excellent quality of life without a high price tag. The Nicaraguan government offers a number of financial incentives to attract foreign retirees, such as a sales tax exemption on construction materials if you're building a home.
You need to be at least 45 years old and have a minimum monthly income of $600 to qualify, which may be appealing if you're considering an early retirement. It's considered one of the seven best countries for retiring in Latin America.
Monthly expenses for a couple including rent: $1,740
If you're looking for somewhere a little more exotic, it doesn't get much better than Thailand. Retirement visas are available to seniors age 50 and above who meet the minimum income standards.
Specifically, you'll need a monthly income of 65,000 baht (about $1,863 USD) or 800,000 baht (about $23,000 USD) in a savings account. Bangkok is one of Thailand’s pricier cities, but even so, it's still 50% to 60% cheaper than Chicago, New York or Boston.
Retirement Savings: How Much Is Enough?
Monthly expenses for a couple including rent: $1,500
Palm trees, blue skies, and sandy beaches are some of the best reasons to retire in Belize, as is the fact that it's extremely budget-friendly. Housing in Belize City is dirt cheap, with a 900-square-foot furnished rental going for as little as $486 a month. The Qualified Retired Persons Incentive Program makes it even more attractive for retirees age 45 and up since any income earned from sources outside Belize is 100% tax-free.
Monthly expenses for a couple including rent: $2,554
Panama proves to be exceptionally welcoming for retirees from all parts of the globe who come in search of a tropical atmosphere. Prices in Panama City tend to be on par with what you'd pay in the U.S., but you'll find that the surrounding smaller towns and villages are much more affordable. The Pensionado Program saves foreign retirees some extra cash by offering discounts on flights, hospital services, utilities and more.
6. Costa Rica
Monthly expenses for a couple including rent: $1,925
Costa Rica is popular with tourists, but certain areas, such as the Central Valley region and the southern coast, are ideally suited for establishing permanent residence on a shoestring. Even if you decide to set up shop in the capital city of San Jose, rental prices can go as low as $443 per month or up to $1,002, depending on the neighborhood. Utilities typically run between $48 and $93 per month, so it's definitely possible to make your retirement savings stretch.
Monthly expenses for a couple including rent: $1,557
Malaysia's people are just as warm as the weather, and this is the kind of place where outsiders are easily welcomed into the fold. As far as the cost of living goes, Malaysia is roughly 46% cheaper than the U.S. Housing is an especially good deal, with rent prices that are 72% lower than what you'd find here at home.
Retirees can apply for a long-term visa through the Malaysia My Second Home Program. If you're 50 or older, you'll need at least 350,000 Malaysian ringgits ($89,343 USD) in assets and 10,000 Malaysian ringgits ($2,552 USD) in monthly income.
Monthly expenses for a couple including rent: $2,283
Spain features a rich culture and heritage, not to mention a cost of living that's easily affordable on a modest budget. Compared to the U.S., the cost of living is approximately 25% lower and rent prices are slashed roughly in half. Qualifying for a visa isn't an overly complicated process; you must be able to show proof of residency, proof of income and be free of any illness that constitutes a threat to public health.
The Bottom Line
Enjoying a satisfying retirement for less isn't impossible and $200,000 can be more than enough to live on in certain locations. These eight countries offer very different lifestyle options, but they all share a common denominator in terms of cost. That's encouraging for retirees and near-retirees who may be concerned about falling short in their later years.