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by Roger Chartier www.HowCanIRetire.net - HomePage


Cheapest Countries For Retirement

First be aware of any pitfalls such as stability of government and religious conflicts you may have. You have to make sense about the move.

It's best to read up about the country extensively and follow the news for that country online.

If you are not bi-lingual and if there aren't a reasonable amount of English speakers in the country, consider the difficulty when you can't communicate.

A lot of foreign countries had English speakers, but more often they are in larger metro or tourist areas.

Retire To The Tropics?

Consider the climate. If you can't stand the heat stay out of the tropics.
Although you might have air-conditioning, it doesn't work out doors so...

Study the country first

Know about the federal government and local taxes and fees, visas, residency time limits, healthcare, crime rate, banking, communications, transportation.

You will have to fit in to an extent, or you may have difficulty with local customs, folkways and mores.

The Almighty Dollar For Retirement

Real estate can be very cheap, and where the economy is tied to the dollar the dollar can really get you a lot of bang for the buck. Renting might be best at first. You might not want to commit to a neighborhood until you are more familiar with it and the local scene, transportation etc.

Figure out what your total income would be per month. If it isn't enough maybe you can sell some things that you don't need, and invest to generate an additional monthly income.

Let's take a Look at Some Good Countries For Retirement:


In Shanghai, China, I can hire a housekeeper for about $3.00 USD a day.

There are strict visa requirements, but many Americans live and work there with jobs in business and other affairs.

The big cities are going up quickly in real estate costs, but the countryside is still really cheap.
In Shanghai transportation is everywhere and very affordable. There are healthcare facilities that range from very good to low end clinics.

There is an American ex-pat community there and a great international nightlife area called Xin Tian Di  where people from US, EU etc roam the bars and restaurants in a beautiful upscale outdoor pedestrian mall.

You can wander from place to place and hear Motown bands in one place, and Top40 cover bands in another.

One spot I went to had a 22 piece Dixieland band. The parks are wonderful and very well maintained with live musicians who come to play, and there and dancers etc throughout.
You can stay to watch the old and young doing Tai Chi in groups.

Food is plentiful, and the markets have fresh produce daily. To retire there can be a bit of work to set up. You will have to get the appropriate visa first. I have a home there but live mainly in the USA. I would suggest taking a vacation to Shanghai first to check it out. The climate is great. There might be an inch of snow once in the winter, and it quickly melts with the sunrise.

There are an amazing amount of wonderful things to do there such as museums, cultural exhibitions, historical sites, etc. Remember that China is one of the oldest civilizations on earth, and there are places like in Wuxi where you can see cobbled streets and retaining walls that are 3,000 years old. 

I often find the people living there to be fascinated with Americans, and they are very friendly. Living there gives you the opportunity to forget about politics and just live.


There is an ex-pat community in Ecuador and the country was named "Best Place in The World for Retirement". The city of Cuenca pop 460,000 has a lot of American ex pats. Cuenca has a moderate climate, modern airport, shopping malls, cinemas, parks, etc. The country itself has 4 different climates.
Just outside of the city the real estate prices are quite low. The US dollar is the national currency. Credit cards are accepted, and there are ATM's

There is a lot of natural beauty there with jungles, high plains, and beautiful coastal areas.
Cuenca is not the only place to retire to in Ecuador there are many nice towns and larger cities.
Carry a lot of small bills for tips etc. as the taxis don't usually have larger bills. There is a government tax of 12% on purchases, at least 10% tips for restaurants.
Visa for Ecuador?
For Americans, Canadians, Australians and most EU countries there is no visa requirement.


There is a Qualified Retirement Program for retiring from out of the country into Belize, as well as the Belize Tourist Card, or Permanent Residency. You don't need a visa but apply first for the tourist card before you go.

To stay in the country, you have to show that you have funds equaling $60.00 per day, and you can't work there. (I don't know about working from your Belize home online for an American company let's say) Because of the financial requirements, it is not a top rated spot if you don't have the $60 per day.

There is the monthly visa renewal costs of $25 per month for the first 6 months that then jumps up to $50.00 a month.
The cost of living is low, and real estate is, as well. Local labor and household help is very affordable. It is a very welcoming country with English spoken in many places. It has a beautiful coast and jungles and cities. It isn't too far from USA so you can easily get a short flight back.


Panama City has low cost housing and a good system of transportation and healthcare etc. Panama uses the US dollar as it's currency. It isn't too far from USA if you need to hop on a plane to come stateside. There are quite a few English speaking people there, but of course the national language is Spanish.

You get more for your dollar in Panama, although the prices are rising lately.  Real estate is still lower than US, and good healthcare is, as well. Healthcare and prescription drugs are cheaper than in US.

The Pensionado program offers deep discounts on services such as 25% off on airfares, 15% off on dental and eye exams, 20% off for medical consults, 50% off on a lot of entertainment events like movies concerts, sports, etc. 30% off the bus and train fares.

Costa Rica

Much good has been said about retiring in Costa Rica.  There is a low crime rate and great weather.
The dollar goes far although it is a bit more expensive than some other Central and South American Countries. The beaches are beautiful, and there are jungles to discover.
You won't be alone the friendly Costa Ricans welcome the many ex-pats living there.

The health care is very good with many US and EU trained doctors. Your retirement income is tax free in Costa Rica and the government have a special Retirees Program with tax breaks. One Costa Rica brochure says that middle aged American men can meet beautiful young women easily. I guess the dollars might have something to do with that.

In general, as compared to most central and south American countries, Costa Rica is better for security and government stability.  You don't worry every day about the government taking over your property and throwing you out as has happened elsewhere.


Offers cheap living and very good healthcare. Housekeepers are very affordable, and you can bring a lot of goods into your Nicaragua home from USA without tax.
Despite the Contras and that strife it is a safe place to live. Your money is what makes it so good to live there.

Many of the locals have poverty but retiring on your social-security etc. is a lot more practical than being born there and trying to generate and income.


English is widely spoken in the Philippines. The climate is very nice. People are friendly.
Americans have been visiting and working for and in the US military there for many years so you won't stand out like a sore thumb. There is a special Resident Retirees Visa that is a good advantage. Transportation is cheap.
The US dollar goes a long way here, and you can afford local services on very little money.


Tah Dah! Everyone speaks English! The downside is that if you want to come back to the US to visit family for something that you forgot to take along it is at least a 6 hour trip.
There is an index that has rated Malta as #2 for quality of living and yet it is quite cheap to live there.

Malta is an island with beautiful scenery and modern infrastructure.


I don't think so unless you have a security detail around the clock to protect you from kidnappers and thieves. The country has a long way to go in getting their act together and stopping the extremely high violent crime and corruption. Unless you are originally from Mexico, and you know the ropes, it is generally not recommended.


Disclaimer: Before you make an investment get legal or professional advice.