5 Overseas Cities Where You Can Retire on Less Than $37,000 a Year

These exotic metropolises enable retirees to live both comfortably and affordably. Here's how much money you'll need.

5 Overseas Cities Where You Can Retire on Less Than $37,000 a Year Photo by pikselstock / Shutterstock.com

If you want to live a full retirement despite modest savings, look overseas.

The publication International Living recently compiled a list of five overseas capitals where a couple can retire comfortably for between $10,000 and $37,000 per year.

Such a modest cost of living can make a real difference for many retirees. In the U.S., households led by someone age 65 or older spent an average of $49,542 in 2017, according to federal data. But cross over the right international border and you can slash that figure by thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars — even in a major city.

Affordable overseas capitals

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, offers by far the cheapest comfortable retirement of the five cities, at less than $11,000 per year for a couple. Yes, that’s the total annual cost for two people.

Wendy Justice, a Vietnam correspondent for International Living, reports that her water bill runs around $2 and her fiber-optic internet service costs $11 per month.

Even European capitals are within reach for retirees on a budget. Lisbon, Portugal, is the most expensive capital of the five on the International Living list. Still, a retired couple can live well there for just under $37,000 per year.

The five capitals — and the budget required for a couple to retire comfortably there — are:

  • Hanoi, Vietnam: $905 per month, or $10,860 per year — or less
  • Quito, Ecuador: $1,650 to $1,825 per month, or $19,800 to $21,900 per year
  • Panama City, Panama: $1,765 per month, or $21,180 per year — and even a “more luxurious retirement” would require only $2,890 per month, or $34,680 per year
  • Phnom Penh, Cambodia: $1,837 per month, or $22,044 per year
  • Lisbon, Portugal: $3,065 per month, or $36,780 per year

It’s generally ill-advised to up and move over a single ranking, but it’s worth noting that International Living’s list keeps with certain patterns.

For example, Latin American countries, which include Ecuador and Panama, are oft-recommended overseas retirement destinations due to factors like low costs of living and mild climates. Relocating to this region is also relatively easy for Americans, as the publication Live and Invest Overseas detailed earlier this year.

Even Portugal is part of a recent overseas retirement trend.

International Living’s 2018 Global Retirement Index ranked Portugal the No. 7 nation in the world as a place to retire. Live and Invest Overseas’ 2017 Overseas Retirement Index named Lisbon among only 12 destinations that earned a rating of “A” or better for retirees.

Is retiring abroad right for you?

Moving during retirement — whether to another country or another U.S. state — is among the few ways to drastically lower your expenses without sacrificing quality of life in your golden years. But it’s not for everyone.

So, before you fall for an exotic destination from the latest list, do a little homework. This is initially as easy as checking out articles such as:

What’s your take on spending your golden years abroad to afford a more comfortable retirement? Sound off by commenting below or over on our Facebook page.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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