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Top 5 Best Places to Retire Outside the USA

Are you considering retirement soon? Or perhaps you’re thinking about living in another country for a while? Here are some great options for wonderful scenery, relaxation, and best of all, it won’t break your budget!

I know quite a few baby boomers that are getting ready to retire, but there’s just one problem; there’s not a lot of money in the bank to live a luxurious retirement. Rather than pinch your pennies in the same old town you grew up in, why not explore the world and discover the wonders that you’ve been meaning to explore all your life!? I have created a list of 5 countries that are considered cheap to those of us that live in North America, but offer a conglomerate of adventure and history as well. You have most likely heard of all of these countries, but you may not have figured them to be “the best places to retire outside the USA.”

1) Panama

This country is deemed as “the place professionals go when they’re looking for comfortable retirement on a modest budget.” Panama has a very low crime rate and is actually known to have the most friendly people in the world.

Beautiful climate, low cost of living, and inexpensive food are not the only benefits; Panama also uses the US Dollar as the main currency, which makes life much easier for us that do not want to perform a mathematical conversion every time we buy something.

The only drawback to Panama is the cost of housing. While it’s not considered expensive when compared to the United States, it certainly doesn’t come at a discount. To give you an idea, a large house can easily cost $200,000.

2) Costa Rica

This country literally means, “Rich Coast” in its native tongue. The terrain includes rain forests, active volcanoes, and fabulous beaches. An eclectic variety, but that’s what makes life interesting, right?

If you travel here, you’ll find many U.S. retirees due to the many attractive benefits: the country’s prosperity, solid health care, and a stable government. There are quite a few people that can speak English, but if you would like life to be easier, you may want to brush up on your Spanish.

If you can afford $1,200 a month, you can afford Costa Rica. In fact, if you have a budget of just $2,000 per month, you’ll be living a life of luxury! As a rule of thumb, you can live on about half of what you need in the U.S. to afford the same lifestyle.

3) Argentina

This country is within a whole different region than the first two picks, but it is beautiful nonetheless. With miles of ocean coastline and tropical climates, Argentina provides a wonderful retirement option as well.

The cost of living is quite low and the land produces great food and cheap wine. For those of you that enjoy a more active lifestyle, Buenos Aires is a wonderful city, filled with cultural events, entertainment, and numerous beaches nearby.

Retirement in Argentina can be done comfortably with only $1,000 a month. Isn’t living in another country starting to sound wonderful? I mean, who ever thought one could live on less than $12,000 per year without having 3 college roommates?

4) Mexico

Considering how large Mexico is, this is a pretty general destination, but given the large area of coastline, there are actually numerous locations to choose from. East coast or west coast, living is scenic and cheap.

If you’re worried about your overall health, Mexico has many U.S. certified doctors that only charge $50 (plus tests) for a complete physical check-up.

The largest benefit of Mexico is the cheap labor. You can hire a native to help around the house with the going rate of $2 per hour. If you don’t feel comfortable paying such a low wage, raise it to $5. You’ll be the considered the richest gringo in town! 🙂

5) Nicaragua

After a visit in the late 1800s, Mark Twain expressed, “What a home one might make among their shady forest, their sunny slopes, their breezy dells, after he had grown weary of the toil, anxiety and unrest of the bustling driving world.” Even after over 100 years, not much has changed. Nicaragua is still a beautiful area, and is a wonderful place to get away from the “hustle and bustle” of the world.

Of course Nicaragua has the natural beauty of the other locations listed above, but it is one of the cheapest as well. While many other countries would cost between $1,200 and $2,000 to live comfortably, Nicaragua would run you less than $1,000.

Have you researched any of these countries before? Which one would you choose for your retirement years?

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My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Have you ever seen the show “House Hunters International”? I think it is on TLC maybe? but they have plenty of people who are looking to buy houses in destinations just like these, and throughout the show they sometimes discuss what the general COL is, it is amazing how little you need to survive in some foreign countries!

    • I have seen it! It sure does look enticing doesn’t it? It makes me think about living in another country for a bit.

  2. I think I just doubled my collective previous knowledge of each one of those countries by reading this post, haha. I’m quite a few years away from retiring (try quite a few decades), but personally the thought of retiring outside of this country is one that doesn’t sound too appealing. Maybe by the time I’m 70 I’ll be tired of this place. Then again, it may be sooner if things don’t turn around economically and politically…

    • That was partially my thought too, Ross. If the US economy was struggling and the future was looking bleak, why not move to another country? The only problem would be income of course. Well, both my wife and I are preparing by creating online revenue which can be earned from anywhere!

  3. Some locales can offer great weather, a relaxed life, and very good housing for a total bargain compared to similar places in the US. I just wonder how many people miss home and all their family, friends, and things that have been a part of their daily life forever!

    • Very true Squirrelers. Leaving your family for a period of time would be quite difficult, especially if it’s for an entire season or year. Maybe some mini-vacations could suffice!

  4. The thing with the house hunters intl. show is that the people always choose the house that’s on the top range of their budget or above it. The realtors ALWAYS show them an option above their budget… which I find a little frustrating. It just perpetuates this societies’ live-above-your-means-habit.

    I would consider living elsewhere, I’ve considered other countries and i’m not really sure yet where I’ll end up in life. I’ll keep you posted 😉

    • I know exactly what you’re talking about Andrea! Very rarely do they choose the reasonably priced house that would suffice. They always have to have the most luxurious home that’s slightly above their price range.

      That’s exciting that you’re open to live anywhere. That’s actually a great way to get ahead! If I hadn’t moved away from home to find work, I wouldn’t have the job that I have today. If you decide to move, I would love to hear your story.

  5. Argentina sounds nice. I actually have a friend that left college junior year to go live in Argentina. Also I never considered Panama. That sounds like a nice place to retire as well.

    • I think I would be alright with any of the 5. They all offer luxury at a great price. Plus, I do know a little bit of Spanish, so that would be a bonus in the market place! 🙂

  6. My boyfriend’s dad is retiring in Colombia … low cost of living, great coffee, a now-peaceful political situation, and rolling lush mountains that create a pleasant, mild climate make it an ideal place for him to retire.

  7. Some of these places sound very appealing, and I’ve also heard good things about Brazil. My main issue will be convincing my wife to come with me in another 20 years :).

    • Well, you’ve got 20 years to convince her! I say you start planting beautiful pictures all over the house! 🙂

  8. Great site with information that helps the worlds people decide on a BETTER option for a place to live that will meet their needs in a positive way.

    • Thanks for the positive response Paul! I always love to help others. I’m glad when my articles accomplish my aspirations.

  9. The 5 Best Places to Retire Outside the USA for me would be Costa Rica, Mexico, Belize, Philippines, and thailand. It’s an advantage wherein you can really stretch your pension or dollar. There are many advantages to be found living outside of the US, where expenses are lower, including real estate, medical care, food costs, and travel but some with lowere standards ofcourse.

    • Thanks for the comment Teri! Those sound like some great places to retire as well. It’s amazing how cheaply one can live if they are willing to relocate isn’t it?

  10. Hi Derek,

    Yes indeed, with just a bit of patience and research both online and from friends experiences surely you would be able to have an idea on where you can retire comfortable and worry free, and living or retiring and relocating cheap doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have the best right? 🙂 Anyway, thanks for your reply Derek, appreciate it really.

  11. Nice set of list but anyone considered somewhere in Asia? Anyway, low cost getaways are not always worth it, but sometimes they are. How much a person is willing to pay for his or her getaway will depend on his or her financial situation and what type of vacation is desired. No one should expect to get a luxurious vacation for a dirt cheap price; a person generally gets what he or she pays for. However, a person who is willing to forgo some frills and comforts may find that an inexpensive getaways or vacation can be very enjoyable and well worth the cost.

  12. what about Ecuador i have been considering checking that out. I left Hawaii after 30 yrs and moved to the Philippines for 7. Although a fantastic experience turned out not to be for me. So back to Hawaii and once again looking….

    • Hi Debra. I haven’t heard much about Ecuador. Perhaps you could educate me! 🙂

  13. I am looking for a place to retire! I went to Coasta Rica it was NOT cheap! There are so many people moving there that the prices are going up! And if you want to live with bars on your windows and cameras on your porch then this is the place for you!! Now I just got back from Thailand went to Bangkok first then flew to Pucket Island yes it was cheap!! But very hot & humid so many people traffic everywhere…..not very relaxing at all! And the only way to get around is a scooter so if you picture your senior years riding around on a scooter in crazy traffic this is the place for you!

    • Well thank you for the update Marcy. Sounds like you are really doing your homework! Perhaps you could find a place to retire for fairly cheap in the U.S.? Without any debt, I find that I can live in a 1,500 square foot house for less than $1,500 fairly comfortably.

  14. Don’t be fooled by everything you read on these sites. We went to Lake Chapala Mexico to check out the retirement community. There is no community! It is a tiny third world area that is unsafe, poverty stricken and lacking basic infrastructure of government. The healthcare is very poor and heaven forbid you have a serious health event, because you will die before you can get to the nearest medical center 45 minutes away.
    Do your homework, do not be swayed by pretty words describing the ideal retirement country.

    • Hi Debra. Thanks for the comment and the words of warning, but just because you saw one place in all of Mexico does not mean that no one should consider Mexico as a retirement destination. That’s like saying downtown Detroit is awful so don’t plan to retire in the United States. One should definitely do their homework before moving anywhere though – I’ll agree with you there.

  15. We are in early 70’s and with the things going the way that are lately in the US it might be time to move on. Looking for a safe place tropical and good to seniors. Government that is under control and fair. We have a great retirement so money is not a question. Healthcare is important. What is the position on animal like small dogs or cats and on self protection.

    • Yeah, it may not be a bad idea to ditch the US right now. I don’t blame you! This list is still a good one and the locations are worth digging into, but certainly do your due diligence to make sure your future new home is safe!

      I think it’s almost time for me to update this post and include some new options!

      Thanks for reading, Gary!

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