There are many affordable places to retire around the world dependent on our specific needs and desires. By doing a bit of research we will discover many alternatives that we have never imagined.
Let’s review a few locations in the United States as well as other countries in the world. This will give us some ideas to consider and compare a few locations. Always keep in mind that every place has its trade-offs. There is no perfect place, but we do have the power to make any place perfect.
Affordable Places To Retire — United States
Okay, let’s see where we can get the most for our money as well as the services and amenities that we desire.
* McAllen, Texas — it is located on the Rio Grande River across from the town of Reynosa in Mexico. Mortgages average just over $1100 per month, while rents have a median of just over $700 per month. It is one of the least expensive places to live in the entire country.
* Greensboro, North Carolina — here you will find many gardens, parks, and flowers including the Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden, Greensboro Arboretum, and in Benjamin Park, there is Bog Garden. The median cost of owning a home is about $1200 and rents are about $800 per month. Each year there is the Greater Greensboro Senior Games featuring art and athletic competition.
* Green Bay, Wisconsin — here we have the four (4) seasons with cold winters and humid summers, but spring and autumn are invigorating and stunning. Located on a bay of Lake Michigan, median housing costs are about $1350 per month with rents around $750 per month. Senior discounts are available for a wide variety of activities including those related to the NFL’s Green Bay Packers.
* Spartanburg, South Carolina — the median housing cost here is only about $1100 per month with rents in the area of $750 per month. Croft State Park, a prior army training base, is abundant with horseback, biking, and hiking trails in a beautiful natural setting. Others places to explore are Hatcher Garden, Woodland Preserve, and a botanical garden.
* Augusta, Georgia — another college town with Augusta University there are free classes available for those 62+. The Masters Golf Tournament is played there every spring, and Fort Gordon is the military base being the biggest employer in the area. The median for owning a home is about $1200 per month while rents go for about $850 per month.
* Rochester, New York — this is also a college town with the University of Rochester (Strong Memorial Hospital is part of the university) and several other colleges. There are many spring and summer festivals with music and lots of activity. But the winters are cold and snowy. The rents average just $900 per month while the median on home ownership is around $1400 per month.
* Cleveland, Ohio — the median on housing is a little over $1300 per month and the rents are around $800 per month. Located on the southern shore of Lake Erie there is quite a bit to do here. There are several universities and the Cleveland Public Library has one of the most extensive book collections for the public anywhere nationwide. The Cleveland Clinic is considered the second-best hospital in the country.
* Lincoln, Nebraska — this is a college town with many parks and bike trails. The University of Nebraska is there. The median home ownership is around $1400 per month while rent is a little over $800 per month. The university has a Senior (65+) Learning Passport Program that is very affordable with two (2) classes per semester available for auditing.
* Spokane, Washington — this city in Eastern Washington has much to offer. Each spring there is the Lilac Festival and Lilac Bloomsday Run at the Spokane Lilac Garden. Gonzaga University is there with its Jundt Art Museum. There are concerts and outdoor movies in the summer at no charge. Other areas of interest are Spokane Falls and the Riverfront Park Sculpture Walk. Rent on a median basis is around $900 per month and the cost of owning a home has a median of about $1400 per month.
* Lansing, Michigan — Michigan State University is located in East Lansing with many activities for folks of all ages including concerts and other performances. This state capital city has a diverse economy with several insurance companies based here. Median rent is around $850 per month, while home ownership comes in around $1300 per month. Be prepared for the four (4) seasons and their changing weather conditions.
* Greenville, South Carolina — rents here have a median of just over $800 per month, while to own a home it will be around $1200 per month. The city is located between Atlanta, Georgia, and Charlotte, North Carolina.
* Fort Wayne, Indiana — here you will find many farm markets with live entertainment as well as a low cost of living. Rents have a median of about $740 per month and owning a home is $1040 per month on average. Fort Wayne Museum of Art and the Allen County Library’s Geneology Center are popular attractions.
* El Paso, Texas — located across the Rio Grande River from the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, El Paso borders both Mexico and New Mexico. Fort Bliss, a large military base, is located there. The biggest municipal park in the United States, Franklin Mountains State Park, is located here. The median home price is about $1200 per month, and rents are around $800 per month.
* Pensacola, Florida — this Florida beach town is located on Pensacola Bay near the Gulf of Mexico and on the border of Alabama. The median home price is about $1300 per month with rents around $1000 per month. There is no state income tax for those who are still working. The white sand beaches are beautiful with sea turtles and dolphins swimming around. Some of the more popular beaches are Perdido Key, Gulf Island National Seashore, and Pensacola Beach.
* Kalamazoo, Michigan — Western Michigan University is located in this city that is between Detroit and Chicago. Homes have a median cost of about $1250 per month and rents $800 per month. The city is filled with many breweries with some great craft beers that are locally produced.
* Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — here you have a good quality of life combined with a low cost of living. There is plenty of free public transportation by rail and bus (65+). The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian Shadyside provides very good medical facilities. The rent median is about $810 per month while $1300 per month is median home ownership.
* Knoxville, Tennessee — there is no state income tax in Tennessee but they do tax interest and dividends. The University of Tennessee is located here, and it has reduced fees for seniors to take classes and audit them for free. Its medical center provides health services for the area. The median rent is around $800 per month and home ownership costs are about $1200 per month.
* Grand Rapids, Michigan — this is an art community with several museums (Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids Art Museum) as well as much public art scattered about the city. Median rents are around $850 per month while the median home price is about $1250 per month.
* Winston-Salem, North Carolina — in Yadkin Valley you have many locally produced wines at a very fair price. Homes have a median cost of around $1150 per month and $750 for rents.
* Myrtle Beach, South Carolina — on the Atlantic coast this is a favorite vacation spot for many because of its boardwalk, beaches, and amusement parks. You can live near the breach for rents about $900 per month and home ownership around $1250 per month. For golfers, there are several great courses designed by Robert Trent Jones as well as Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
* Ocala, Florida — this inland Florida community is quite affordable with rents of about $850 per month and mortgage costs of around $1050. The Ocala National Forest is a great place to explore, and the city is known for its award-winning equestrian competitions and events.
* Lakeland, Florida — this area has thirty-eight (38) lakes and is located between Tampa and Orlando. A home with a mortgage is about $1200 per month and rents are about $950. Summers are humid and winters mild.
* Ashville, North Carolina — there is an abundance of natural beauty in this area. Take a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway and explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where there are many trails for mountain biking and hiking as well as numerous waterfalls. It is the home of many musicians, writers, and artists and it is a city with wonderful cuisine. A median monthly mortgage is about $1300 and rents are in the area of $900 per month.
* Daytona Beach, Florida — the NASCAR corporate offices are located here with many motorsports events taking place throughout the year including the Daytona 500. Rents have a medium cost of about $1050 per month with home ownership costs around $1250 per month. It is located on the Atlantic Ocean eastern side of Florida.
* Chattanooga, Tennessee — this city is in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains along the Tennessee River; its high-speed fiber-optic network has transformed it into “Gig City”. Take the railway to Lookout Mountain for a fabulous view of the area. The median home ownership is around $1200 per month, and rents are about $800 per month. An interesting tidbit is that the city has its own typeface called Chatype that is used on signage in the city.
Affordable Places To Retire — Best Countries to Retire
Now let’s check out a few other countries that may just be your ideal spot to lay back and relax.
* Panama — located outside the hurricane belt this is a place with mild weather, all the amenities, and beautiful ocean views.
Panama City has the only metro or light-rail system in Central America. As a retiree resident, you have access to the pensioner discounts offered to locals for utilities, entertainment, meals, medication, and plane fares. You can live well in Panama City for around $2600 per month. There are beaches, mountain towns, and Campana National Park. The food is fresh and offers many choices. Healthcare is of good quality and affordable.
* Vietnam — there are numerous places to settle down here with a very affordable lifestyle. Many ex-pats have settled here. Some popular spots are the capital city of Hanoi, Da Nang, and the coastal resort cities of Nha Trang and Hoi An. This is a very diverse country with the mountains in the north, pine forests and waterfalls of the Central Highlands, the beaches of the central coast, and the busy metropolitan areas. In 2020 Vietnam’s economy experienced the world’s fastest growth. This is evidenced by the skyscrapers, freeways, new schools and hospitals, shopping malls, private yacht clubs, and condos. Even with all this growth, ancient traditions have been preserved. The influence of the French occupation is preserved with many mansions and tree-lined streets. You will find food stalls with traditional chicken soup and spring rolls as well as fancy restaurants with the best cuisine. Food markets are available with traditional medicines, fruits, vegetables, and low-cost clothing. You can live in the mountain town of Dalat for around $800 per month, Nha Trang for about $1000 per month, and for less than $1500 per month in the larger cities of Da Nang, Ho Chi Ming City (Saigon), and Hanoi. English is fluent especially in the urban areas but many locals speak English throughout the country. The people are extremely friendly.
* Costa Rica — the meaning of Costa Rica is “Rich Coast” and this is evidenced by its natural beauty and tropical climate. An isthmus situated between South and North America, it is known as the “Switzerland of Central America”. Here you will find affordable living, low-cost healthcare, real estate opportunities, and locals who are extremely friendly. Their budget goes to healthcare and education having abolished their army in 1947. It is known for its neutrality, safety, and commitment to its natural environment. A couple can live very well for $2000 per month. This is an outdoor culture with plenty of fishing, golf, yoga, surfing, and hiking. There are locally grown produce, plenty of seafood, and grass-fed beef. It has a high population of people over 100 years old and qualifies as one of the seven (7) Blue Zones in the world (Nicoya Peninsula). This is attributable to an overall healthy lifestyle.
* France — there are many retirement options in this diverse country. There’s the Brittany coast, Paris, or the lavender fields of Provence. The country has many time-honored traditions such as long lunches and a relaxed, unhurried lifestyle. Cafes, farmers’ markets with fresh vegetables and cheeses, freshly baked goods, and excellent wines all reflect extreme attention to detail and living each day to the fullest. Although living in Lyon or Paris can be expensive, there are many affordable options where in certain areas you can find a small home for under $150,000 USD. There is a high standard of living with good housing costs in Dordogne, Brittany, Occitanie, and Normandy. Healthcare is excellent at low rates and ex-pats qualify for universal coverage after 3 months. High-speed rail service makes it easy to explore the country. There is plenty to do here whether you reside in the vineyards of Provence, a hilltop village, on the beach along the Mediterranean, or in one of the larger cities.
* Belize — this small English-speaking country has many ex-pats including some dear friends of mine. The cost of living is very affordable. My friends bought some land and constructed a large home and have created an organic farm. They live in Corozal in northern Belize which is near the Mexican border. It’s on the Bay of Chetumal. Other areas that are desirable are Ambergris Caye (an island off the coast), Caye Caulker (a slow-paced island), Placencia (a seaside town off the coast on a tip of a peninsula). and the Cayo District (rain forest, hills, farms, and rivers). The international airport is in Belize City (not the best place to locate), and Belmopan is the capital but also not as desirable as many other areas. Depending on where you are living you can live comfortably from $1500 to $2500 per month.
* Portugal — located in the southwest part of Europe, it is a safe place to live with high-quality healthcare, beautiful beaches, Old World cities, and at a very affordable price. The people are friendly and many speak English. Lisbon, the capital has all the charm and amenities, and Porto, the second-largest city, has much to offer as well as producing port wine. Bus and train service is excellent. For a slower lifestyle check out the Alentejo region and the cities of Avora and Beja. The Algarve region with its Atlantic beaches is quite popular. A couple can live quite well in this country for around $2500 to $3000 per month depending on location and lifestyle. Rents range anywhere from $400 to $1000 per month for a fully furnished home or condo.
* Ecuador — here is a place full of options whether you want a place to relax for a few weeks on vacation, or you want to live or retire here. The climate and culture are wonderful and it is quite affordable. Located on the west coast of South America, it is the second smallest country on this continent. It is ecologically diverse with the Galápagos islands, active volcanoes, and many miles of beaches. Here you will find affordable healthcare, very good public transportation, a temperate climate, as well as all the modern conveniences. The currency is the US dollar. Most of the country is undeveloped and you can live in the city, mountains, or at the beach. In the Andes, many ex-pats settle in Cuenca or Quito, while popular coastal areas are Salinas, Cotacachi, Montanita, or the small fishing village of Puerto Lopez. You can also see indigenous tribes in the Amazon rain forest. There are many lifestyle choices for ex-pats. There is a mix of Incan, Spanish, and Indigenous cultures. Dependent on your lifestyle of choice, a couple can live very well in this country for $1600 to $1900; For example, you can get a downtown two-bedroom condo rental for $500 or a home or condo with views of the Andes or the Pacific Ocean for under $150,000. In most areas, you don’t need a car as buses and taxis are available. The locals are extremely friendly and the ex-pats have a close-knit community.
* Mexico — this is one of the most popular retirement destinations for ex-pats. It has all the modern conveniences and infrastructure coupled with a very distinct culture and zest for life. Dependent on the region the cuisine varies, but it is all very good. Dependent on lifestyle, a couple can live very well here on under $2000 per month. Healthcare is high quality and low cost. The country has a diversity of landscapes, lifestyles, and climates.
* Malaysia — whether you enjoy ancient rain forests, islands, beaches, or larger cities you have many choices here with an average temperature of 82F (27.7 C). It has great restaurants, bars, theaters, and shopping malls at very affordable prices. Penang and Kuala Lumpur are two popular areas. English is the unofficial language. A couple can live very well here for $2000 to $2500 per month. Depending on the area rents range from $550 to $1000 per month. Healthcare is good and affordable. The locals are friendly and the food is excellent. Off the west coast of Malaysia is the tropical island of Penang where many ex-pats live while many others live in Kuala Lumpur. A modern apartment in the city is around $700 to $1000 per month (3 or 4 bedrooms). Without a view or near the beach you can find 2 to 3 bedroom apartments for about $500 to $650 per month. Many people travel here for medical services in Penang and Kuala Lumpur. The locals are very friendly here. Food is an important part of the culture and you have a variety of high-quality choices.
* Malta — here you will find a high quality of life in the midst of this southern European Mediterranean island. Malta consists of three (3) islands (Malta, Gozo, and Comino), and has much history and architecture as well as modern services and infrastructure. There are many ancient cities and villages. The average temperature is 72 F (22.2 C) and there is plenty to see and do here with excellent locally grown food. You have markets, traditional street food, as well as very fine European dining. Public transportation is excellent so you don’t need a car. It’s a medical tourism destination with high-quality healthcare. The majority of the locals speak English. It is a central location to the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Apartments are around $500 per month and fully furnished villas around $2000. It’s less expensive to live in the countryside rather than in the cities.
* Colombia — on the northern part of South America this is where the Amazon rain forest, Andes mountains, and the Pacific and Caribbean oceans all collide. It is a quite diverse country with beaches, old city charm, and mountains. It is well-developed with its infrastructure and services. Its healthcare system is ranked higher than Canada and the United States and it is low-cost with premiums 70% less than in the United States. Some of the popular cities are Medellin, Bogota, Bucaramanga. On the Caribbean coast, Cartagena and Santa Marta are popular, while Salento is a small town in the middle of the coffee triangle. A couple can live comfortably in many areas of the country for under $2000 per month.
Based on your specific desires and needs, you may be interested in finding a suitable location for retirement in the United States, or in other parts of the world. Regardless of which, it is essential to do your due diligence and gather the appropriate information on each area and also validate that information prior to making a move.
The intention is to locate a place where you can live a happy and healthy life with lower costs, but not sacrificing lifestyle and amenities. After reviewing your options, it is then a matter of letting go and trusting your intuition. At that point, you will just ‘know’ the best place for you and your family.
Doing research is lots of fun and once you have identified a few places, I suggest spending a week or two in each location checking things out and getting a good feel for the places. After all this, you may decide that home sweet home is the place to be, which is perfectly fine. For additional information check out my article on the Best Places to Retire.
Have fun and enjoy the process,
P.S. Wherever you live in the world a great way to stay engaged is by sharing your experience and skills with others. Here’s a way to do exactly that online with My #1 Recommendation for an Online Training Platform.