The Cheapest Places to Retire Abroad on $1,000 Per Month

Kathleen Peddicord
·4 min read

Retire overseas for under $12,000 a year.

A small monthly budget shouldn't be a deterrent to retiring overseas. In fact, stretching a modest retirement nest egg can be the biggest upside of choosing to retire abroad. Here are six places where you could embrace a high standard of living while enjoying a life of adventure and discovery on a budget of as little as $1,000 per month.

Cuenca, Ecuador

Prices in Ecuador are rock bottom for Latin America. The country uses the U.S. dollar, so there is no currency exchange risk. There is a long-established population of American retirees in Ecuador who have created a large, active and welcoming community. Cuenca has high quality health care at a fraction of the price for comparable care in the United States. The year-round springtime temperatures mean no need for air conditioning or home heating, which also helps to keep the cost of living low. You can live comfortably in Cuenca without a car, as the public transportation network is far-reaching and well developed. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this former Inca capital boasts one of the best-preserved historic centers in the Americas.

Granada, Nicaragua

This is a colorful city, from its red clay tiled roofs to its powder blue church steeples. Nicaragua has two long coastlines and two big lakes, plus volcanoes, highlands, rain forest and rivers. Granada's primary appeal is the low cost of living. U.S. dollars are accepted almost everywhere and go a long way. You could own one of the city's grand old Spanish colonial haciendas for as little as $75,000. Nicaragua offers easy retiree residency options with low financial thresholds. You can qualify by showing income of just $750 per month. The country enjoys good connections to the United States, and flying time to Miami is about 2 1/2 hours. Within walking distance of the town center is freshwater Lake Nicaragua, and its beaches and little islands provide recreation opportunities and an escape from the midday heat.

Chiang Rai, Thailand

Thailand is one of the cheapest places in the world to live well on a modest budget. Thousands of expats have sought out this country for its breathtaking natural beauty, excellent health care, delicious local cuisines and absolutely low cost of living. Chiang Rai enjoys distinct seasons and pleasant weather year-round. Surrounded by thick forests and spliced by streams and waterfalls, the area is ripe with opportunities for exploration and recreation. Chiang Rai is a small city, without the population pressures of larger urban areas like Chiang Mai and Bangkok. This helps keep costs down, and housing, health care and entertainment are a bargain. Yet international standard hospitals and shopping complexes are only minutes from the city center.

Nha Trang, Vietnam

Located along Vietnam's south central coast, Nha Trang is situated on one of the world's most beautiful bays. Mountains serve as the backdrop for wide, sandy beaches, with jungles, lakes and streams on the outskirts. Nha Trang is a top choice for outdoorsy retirees who would enjoy spending their days hiking to waterfalls and snorkeling in the remarkably biodiverse waters. The foreign community includes expats and retirees from France, Australia, the U.S. and Canada. You won't have to look hard to find English-speaking friends. For as little as $400 per month, you could rent a comfortable furnished house. Add a couple of hundred dollars more monthly for food, transportation and entertainment.

Corozal, Belize

Northern Belize offers a rare chance to blend an oceanfront lifestyle with conveniences and a low cost of living. Belize is English-speaking, as little as three hours flying time from the southern United States and sunny and warm year-round. Corozal gets less than half the rainfall seen in the rest of the country and is just 10 miles from Chetumal in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Living here, you could easily hop across the border for shopping and access to amenities not available in Belize, including entertainment options and medical care. If you live like a local and settle in a village, your rent and overall cost of living could be very low. You could rent a two-bedroom apartment or home for as little as $400, and then add another $400 per month for food and transportation.

Santa Fe, Panama

Santa Fe offers a highland lifestyle for as little as $1,000 per month or less. This off-the-radar choice is home to a small but growing expat community. The temperatures in Santa Fe are much more comfortable than down at sea level. This unassuming mountain village is a postcard-worthy mountain escape. The great outdoors provides the ultimate entertainment. Living here, you could fill your days hiking, kayaking the river and horseback riding. However, for more than basic daily shopping needs, Santa Fe residents need to make the hourlong drive to nearby regional capital Santiago.

Places to retire overseas on $1,000 per month:

-- Cuenca, Ecuador.

-- Granada, Nicaragua.

-- Chiang Rai, Thailand.

-- Nha Trang, Vietnam.

-- Corozal, Belize.

-- Santa Fe, Panama.