3 Cheap and Beautiful Places to Retire

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated November 25, 2019

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Money Saving Tips
February 5, 2015

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Once you retire, you may want to celebrate your new freedom by looking around the world for the perfect location in which to live. Many retirees find that living abroad allows their income to go much further than it could in even the cheapest U.S. neighborhood, and they simply budget for enough travel to stay connected with their family members.

Several countries consistently turn up on lists of the best retirement locations for Americans, measured by factors such as the cost of living, health care access, residency requirements and overall quality of life. Here are three of the very best options.

While Latin America offers many beautiful and affordable locations, this expat-friendly nation stands out among them for several reasons. Panama rolls out the red carpet for retirees with a “pensionado” visa, in which anyone with a lifetime pension of more than $1,000 per month is welcomed as a resident. It also boasts some excellent health care centers and a bustling capital city where you can access all the urban resources you might wish, including a top-notch medical center affiliated with Johns Hopkins University. English is widely spoken throughout Panama, and the U.S. dollar is universally accepted, so financial transactions are effortless. Finally, you can choose between living near tropical beaches with warm, turquoise water or at higher elevations where the weather is cool and temperate.

Luxury living is available at bargain-basement prices in this thriving Asian country. American ex-pats can find spacious apartments in the best part of Penang or Kuala Lumpur for a fraction of U.S. costs, and an exotic restaurant dinner may run up a tab of about $5 per person. Because of its history as a British colony, Malaysia uses English as an informal national language, and its community of American retirees is rapidly growing. Urban centers offer comprehensive public transportation systems, low taxes and sophisticated health care; a doctor visit is likely to cost you about $15. With inexpensive flights available, Malaysia offers a great base from which to explore the historical and geographical wonders of nearby Asian countries.

If your dream of overseas retirement focuses on the classic terrain of Europe rather than developing nations in Asia or Latin America, Portugal may be the perfect choice for you. One of Europe’s most affordable countries, Portugal has a relatively low income requirement for residency, and Forbes points out that you can receive pension income tax-free for 10 years. Unspoiled Atlantic beaches, outstanding seafood and a comfortably warm climate add to this nation’s allure. Also, Portugal’s proximity to the rest of Europe makes it easy for you to visit some of the world’s most coveted cultural destinations.

Retirement is a great time to step out into a brand new era of adventure. With some thoughtful pre-planning, you can join the growing ranks of American retirees who are living the good life in exotic, affordable locations.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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