Top 5 Affordable Countries to Retire

Updated on March 5, 2020
Rachelle Williams profile image

I'm a digital content creator whose goal is to create content that helps people enhance their lives.

According to the Dave Ramseys and the Suzy Ormans of the world, we are supposed to have a bank accounts and other financial instruments in excess of $1M in order to retire and live well.

Well, some of us haven't quite hit that number and we might be worried we don't have enough money to retire and be able to afford to live decently and maybe travel and see the world.

In fact, there are quite a lot of us who aren't sure we'll be able to retire at all, because we won't have the money to be able to officially retire from working and still be able to eat and pay rent, let alone travel...

So, I decided to do a little homework to find some inexpensive countries to retire, and my results are contained in the following paragraphs.

Córdoba, Spain is thought to be an affordable place to retire.
Córdoba, Spain is thought to be an affordable place to retire.

Spain

Spain has some of the lowest cost of living in all of Europe..if you're okay with excluding certain Spanish destinations like Barcelona, Madrid, and the Balearic Islands and other places where the wealthy go to play, you'll be good to go.

People retire to Span, because of the affordable cost of living, the mild to warm climate, the top 10 healthcare system which offers private and public healthcare options, the affordable food prices and drinkable tap water.

Another big draw for United States citizens to retire to Spain, is the fact that European cities most closely resemble US living conditions. Therefore, the culture-shock will not be as traumatic.

There are other places that are far more affordable to retire, but the vast majority of them are not located in Europe. According to Investopedia, some of the most affordable Spanish cities to retire are Seville, Granada, and Córdoba.

According to my research, two people should be able to retire well in Spain with approximately $2,000 per month.

Thailand is one of the least expensive places to retire
Thailand is one of the least expensive places to retire

Thailand

If you have done any amount of serious research about affordable places to retire, there's no doubt you have run into numerous articles that suggest Thailand as one of the least expensive places in the world to retire - and, that is because...it is.

If stunning natural beauty, exotic locations, ridiculously delicious, super affordable food, and friendly people are on your list of must haves in affordable places to retire, Thailand should be your number one retirement destination.

Thailand also has some of the best healthcare in any country, there are varied options for styles of living - you can live in a large city, like Bangkok or you can live a more laid back lifestyle in Chiang Mai.

Another positive point about affordable retirement in Thailand is the fact that there is a large, established American Expat community, so the transition to living in such a different type of culture is less intrusive.

Research suggest that a couple can live well in Thailand on around $1K per month. Seriously, the only reason I haven't moved to Thailand yet, is because of my grandchildren...otherwise, I'd already be long gone.

Mexico

Surprise! Surprise! Yet another United States citizen who isn't scared off by negative propaganda about Mexico... Indeed, Mexico is on this list of top 5 affordable countries to retire, because the country has a lot going for it.

First of all, more American Expats chose to make their home in Mexico, for retirement as well as other reasons - this may or may not be a positive for some people... Its close proximity to the United States is probably the second reason why more than 1 million Canadian and U.S. Americans chose Mexico to retire.

The first reason why Americans chose to retire to the region has to be a tie between the fact that Mexico is extremely affordable and the country is exquisitely beautiful.

I'm not sure if the old saying, "don't drink the water" is still in effect in Mexico, but who needs water when there's so much Tequila to be had? JK, I don't even drink or prepare food with tap water in the United States, and I'm pretty sure many people are the same.

The delicious food, warm people, sunny climate, affordable health and dental care and laid back atmosphere are more than enough reasons to scare away the occasional hurricane threats. And, the affordable cost to retire to Mexico is a magnetic pull, especially in a country that one could literally drive to...

Warm and friendly Lake Chapala and Ajijic have exceptionally organized expat communities, San Miguel de Allende is amongst the most stunning cities in the world and Mexico city is on par with other big cities like New York and Toronto, and all are affordable places to retire, along with many more Mexican locations.

Sources say that two people can live well in Mexico on approximately $1600 per month. As long as you don't plan to insert yourself in the drug business and don't ever be that typical "drunk" tourist type...you'll be as safe in Mexico as you are anywhere else.

Contadora Island, one of the Pearl Islands is a short flight from Panama City
Contadora Island, one of the Pearl Islands is a short flight from Panama City

Panama

Panama has become a hot retirement destination in recent years. Not only is Panama an affordable country to retire, it is beautiful, the people are warm and receptive and there are living options to suit just about any taste.

Panama is blessed with a modern infrastructure, lush tropical beaches, scenic mountain villages and towns, and a warm and temperate climate. The capital city of Panama City is just as vibrant and modern as New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles - plus, like all three of the places mentioned, there are plenty of opportunities to catch some beachfront activity intermingled with the big city living.

Just a 15 flight from the Panama City Airport can whisk you away from the bustling city life to any one of the peaceful island paradise settings of the Pearl Islands, you can also sail or take a lovely and scenic ferry ride.

If you want a little bit of a slower atmosphere than Panama City and a large expat community, Bouqete is a wonderful option. There are also quaint and beautiful farming communities like Cerro Punta and Volcan that offer modern amenities and an even more affordable cost of living than the more popular Panamanian retirement destinations.

Panama is a vibrant and captivating place and it offers a unique opportunity to explore the country's diverse regions, because the Pan-American Highway is well taken care of and it runs the length of the country.

Affordable healthcare and low cost of living, at approximately $1800 a month for a couple, makes Panama one of the best places to retire for those on a budget.

Coimbra is a scenic college town and an affordable place to retire in Portugal.
Coimbra is a scenic college town and an affordable place to retire in Portugal.

Portugal

Portugal is a country rich with history and culture. The country is packed with miles and miles of sandy beaches, and the country's Algarve region is one of the most affordable places to retire.

Some people say that the beaches of this tiny, cultured nation are literally the most beautiful beaches in all of Europe. The weather is warm to moderate, there a plenty of English speakers and more than 100,000 retired expats who have come to Portugal for the affordable (by European standards) and beautiful lifestyle.

When you think of retiring to Portugal, you should picture retiring to a place that boasts plenty of old world charm. While you'll have the option to partake in the modern lifestyle, by way of the large city of Lisbon, there are more opportunities to live amongst cobblestone streets and ancient buildings.

Expect to experience a Mediterranean "look and feel" when in Portugal, and enjoy the exorbitant amount of seafood options on menus throughout the country (this seafood aspect alone already beckons me...).

One really awesome perk is the fact that if you are Jewish, and you can prove your Sephardic ancestry (Jews originally from Sepharad, Spain, or Portugal), you will be granted all the rights of Portuguese natives, while retaining the rights of your home country.

If good food, wine, rich culture and white sandy beaches are for you, then Portugal is for you. Before you get ready to plan your retirement to Portugal, you need to keep in mind that when I say "affordable," I'm speaking in terms of European standards...

If you want affordable retirement in Portugal and you want a bigger city life, think about retiring to Lisbon where a couple can live decently for around $2800 a month. Smaller cities like Lagos, Cascais and the quaint college town of Coimbra offer a less expensive cost of living.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Rachelle Williams

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    • Rachelle Williams profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachelle Williams 

      3 months ago from Tempe, AZ

      That's okay, Texas needs you. But, someone with your skills would be greatly appreciated in any one of these places, to document the atmosphere for the retirees to follow..

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      These are all interesting places for people who choose to retire in other countries. I think that I will plan to stay here, but knowing about other options is always good to know.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Rachelle, I appreciate this information. Would be interesting to live in a new country, but not as a single old woman. so I'd stay put for now. I'll keep this in mind, though.

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