The five cheapest countries in the world to retire

We all know how difficult it is to travel overseas at the moment, but as long as you don’t want to return in a hurry it is still possible to retire to a different country.

If you are considering moving to a different country to retire to, International Living has released its Annual Global Retirement Index, which includes the most cost-effective places to retire.

Here’s how International Living rated the five cheapest countries to retire to, as part of its index.

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5. Cambodia
The cost of living in Cambodia is significantly cheaper than in Australia, and even many other parts of Southeast Asia.

Quite simply, your money goes so much further, providing you with the opportunity to have a quality of life that is typically only available to the wealthy in Australia.

International Living’s Southeast Asia correspondent, Wendy Justice, says that while Cambodia was once considered one of the world’s poorest countries, it is rapidly improving with plenty of bargains on offer for foreign retirees.

“One of the best values, if you’re living in Cambodia, is the low cost of your rent,” Ms Justice explains.

According to Ms Justice, prices for apartments with Western amenities in the heart of Phnom Penh start at less than $380 per month. For around $750 per month “you’ll be living in a comfortable, middle-class area with all the conveniences you need and maybe a few extras, too.”

The exact savings will vary on where you decide to retire, and the type of lifestyle you choose to live.

For example, it is generally cheaper to live in Sihanoukville than in Siem Reap. Similarly, your average grocery bill will be less if you buy local products rather than foreign imported foods. However, all things being equal, the ‘cost of living’ savings when compared to Australia are very significant.

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4. Ecuador
You might just be able to afford a luxury retirement in Ecuador because of its low cost of living, even if you only have a middle-income budget.

According to International Living, Ecuador is one of the most affordable places to retire and offers quality housing, world-class healthcare and first-class conveniences.

Donna Stiteler, an Ecuador correspondent for International Living, said that it was not difficult to live on less than $25,000 per year and you didn’t need to have a frugal lifestyle to do it either.

Cuenca is also home to one of the world’s biggest and most established foreign retiree communities with around 12,000 American, Canadian and European expats calling the city home and making it easy to find plenty of English-speakers nearby.

3. Bolivia
International Living’s South American editor, Jason Holland, says that a retired couple can live on about $1300 per month or less and that he has met retired singles who live on around half of that.

Mr Holland says that there are a few reasons why Bolivia is one of the most affordable countries to retire in around the world.

“It’s still very much a developing country; it’s one of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Tourism, which often drives up prices, is very limited. And there are few expats, which also helps keep prices low, especially for things such as housing.

“Those pioneers who’ve made a home there enjoy a great lifestyle for less because even if it is a bit rough around the edges, it still has plenty of modern conveniences and amenities in the cities.

“It’s surprisingly sophisticated. You can stroll through modern shopping malls, go to fancy restaurants, chill out in trendy cafes, and buy imported items in large supermarkets.”

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2. Sri Lanka
While South America isn’t on the radar for many Australians, because of the distance, Asia is a different story.

Sri Lanka has an extremely low cost of living and better still English is widely spoken and understood.

Due to it being a former British colony, it also shares many of the structural underpinnings that we are used to in Australia, including the legal system.

Sri Lanka also has a number of disparate locations such as Colombo, Kandy and Galle, which can make it attractive to retirees who will like to get around and explore their new home country.

The locals are extremely hospitable and it also has a structured retirement visa program.

Some of the negatives surrounding Sri Lanka relate to concerns about the region’s security after extremist bombings in April 2019, while the medical and hospital facilities outside of Colombo are relatively poor.

1. Vietnam
Ms Justice says prices in Vietnam are consistently half of what you might expect to pay in the West.

As well as a low cost of living, Vietnam features a strong, independent, hospitable culture and very good internal security.

It is also possible for foreigners with valid visas to own houses and apartments, but not land.

Some of the drawbacks of retiring to Vietnam are that English is still not widely spoken or understood and there is no formal retirement visa program. This means that retirees need to use tourist visas and renew them every three months.

Have you ever considered retiring overseas? Where would you choose to retire?

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Written by Ben Hocking

Ben Hocking is a skilled writer and editor with interests and expertise in politics, government, Centrelink, finance, health, retirement income, superannuation, Wordle and sports.

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