13 Exotic Places for Retiring Comfortably on $1,500 a Month

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Alicante, Spain
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Has America become too expensive for your budget? Don’t despair: There is an entire world for you to explore, with many places that are as affordable as they are beautiful.

Recently, the editors of International Living magazine ranked their top retirement havens where people can live on $1,500 a month or less.

Here are the cities around the world that you might want to explore as a potential landing spot for an affordable retirement.

Penang, Malaysia

View of George Town, Penang, Malaysia
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What it costs: You can rent a three-bedroom condo within 5 miles of the city center on this island for $380 a month. Outside of housing, you might spend $500 per person, per month, on other expenses.

What it’s like: Malaysia is a cultural melting pot of customs, dress, architecture and cuisine. Penang has a history as a bustling shipping port.

Today, the city is a prime tourism magnet that features luxury hotels and resorts on the north coast.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand, at night
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What it costs: A three-bedroom condo with views of the hills costs about $300 a month, and a couple can get by for under $1,000 a month in addition to their housing costs.

What it’s like: Chiang Mai is Thailand’s third-largest city and the largest in the northern part of the country. It was once the capital of its own kingdom and looks more like a large village than a metropolis.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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What it costs: You can get a 900-square-foot apartment here for around $1,100 a month. When living like a local, other monthly expenses may be $300 per month.

What it’s like: Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s capital city and has a history that dates back to 1434. Tragically remembered for the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s, Phnom Penh has since rebounded, and the local economy has been on a steady upswing.

Kuching, Malaysia

Kuching, Malaysia
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What it costs: A three-bedroom house along the Sarawak River costs about $700 a month. Other living expenses for a couple may run $500 per month.

What it’s like: Kuching is the capital and main port of the Malaysian state of Sarawak. The vibrant mix of cultures here means you can find everything from Roman Catholic cathedrals to mosques and Buddhist temples. If you love nature, visit nearby Bako National Park.

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam
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What it costs: A two-bedroom apartment in the center of town can cost as little as $500 a month, and a couple can live a nice lifestyle for “well under $1,500,” International Living says.

What it’s like: Vietnam features beaches, modern cities and thousand-year-old historic sites. Hoi An is a one-time trading port that is now known more for its lantern-lit evenings.

Querétaro, Mexico

An ancient aqueduct Queretaro, Mexico
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What it costs: Rent is about $500 for a one-bedroom apartment, and dinner for two at a nice mid-range restaurant costs about $25.

What it’s like: Not surprisingly, Mexico is home to more North American expatriates than any other country.

Located about 130 miles northwest of Mexico City, Querétaro is a Spanish colonial city that has a historic center designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is full of twisting and narrow alleys that date back to the colonial period and several historic buildings.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
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What it costs: Apartments cost about $600, with all utilities included.

What it’s like: If you are looking for something more relaxed than Cancun, consider Isla Mujeres. Here, you will find quiet white-sand beaches and a population of anglers, artists and expatriates.

Cozumel, Mexico

Dolphinarium in Cozumel Mexico with cruise ship in background
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What it costs: In a nice suburb, you might spend $500 for a one-bedroom apartment. International Living says many people live “comfortably” on $1,500 a month.

What it’s like: Cozumel is another option if you are looking to spend retirement on a tropical Mexican island. At one time, as many as 10,000 Mayan residents lived here.

Today, you will find all the modern conveniences in San Miguel, as well as quieter spots if you seek tranquility.

Armenia, Colombia

Armenia, Colombia
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What it costs: Expect to pay about $400 for a one-bedroom apartment and to spend about $200 for food each month.

What it’s like: Armenia has been dubbed a “coffee lover’s dream.” It is home to the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Residents can explore both coffee and banana plantations.

Arenal, Costa Rica

Arenal volcano. Costa Rica
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What it costs: Rent here might cost around $400 monthly, with total expenses of less than $1,500.

What it’s like: Arenal is home to its namesake volcano, one of the most famous landmarks in Costa Rica. The area also abounds in hot springs as well as mountain and rainforest hikes.

Alicante, Spain

Traveler in Alicante, Spain
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What it costs: You can rent a nice apartment in the heart of the city or a home with a view of the Mediterranean for less than $700 a month. Other expenses, beyond housing, might cost couples another $700 a month.

What it’s like: With beaches, mountains, fabulous cities, colorful festivals and sunshine almost everywhere, Spain remains one of the most popular European countries for those looking to retire overseas.

Alicante is one of the major tourist destinations on Spain’s east coast. Golfers will find plenty of courses to play, and history buffs can explore the Castle of Santa Barbara.

Granada, Spain

Ancient Arabic fortress Alhambra in Granada, Spain
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What it costs: You can get a nice apartment in the city center for less than $600 a month, with a monthly cost of living of around $1,000 for two people.

What it’s like: Granada retains much of its Moorish charm, but the city is really a blend of architecture dating from the Renaissance to today. It is known for its historic districts, great food and commitment to the arts.

Bergerac, France

Bergerac, France
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What it costs: You certainly won’t find dirt-cheap digs here, but the cost of living is affordable compared with many other parts of France.

What it’s like: Francophiles love the country’s legendary food and wine, climate, haute couture, unspoiled countryside, rich cultural life and excellent health care. History buffs are fascinated by the long and colorful history.

Bergerac is known for its beautiful medieval streets, fountains and public squares. The region is famous for its wines and its restored old town area which is near the Dordogne River.

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