How to Survive a Retirement Crisis

Ellen and John sold  their house in Florida and are now thriving in Coronado, Panama.

Are you sick of the rat race? You know the routine… get up, shower, have breakfast, leave the house, get stuck in traffic, put in long hours at the office. Get home, go to bed and do it all again tomorrow.

Are you ready for retirement… but looking at your savings you know retirement is out of the question? Here’s how to survive a retirement crisis.

You can live a richer lifestyle for less overseas. Many expat couples can live a very comfortable life on a budget of between $1,500 and $2,000 a month including rent, utilities and health care. If you look beyond your own shores you’ll find that many countries around the world offer a better lifestyle for less than at home.

The following three couples faced a crisis before retirement and that crisis changed their lives for the better. They didn’t listen to the doom and gloom media reports and looked instead for a solution. Today they are not only happy and healthy overseas, they are thriving.

Edd Staton and his wife Cynthia were both downsized for the second time four years ago, and things weren’t looking good. Edd says, “We saw the value of our savings plunge just as we were nearing retirement age.”

They decided that it was time to stop putting life on hold and time to start living. They left Las Vegas in search of better weather and a lower cost of living. They resolved to do the things they’d always wanted to do: writing, painting, sculpting, and learning to play the cello.

In order to do this, they needed to move to a place with a lower cost of living…and after lots of research, they decided on the city of Cuenca in Ecuador. Cuenca  is the third largest city in Ecuador and is the number one destination for foreign residents in the country. Cuenca’s mix of history and modernity is enchanting, especially for those who enjoy a rich cultural life.

“Rather than remain in the States and continue to work for too many more years, we made the decision to relocate so we could retire and enjoy the rest of our lives,” Edd says.

In Ecuador, Edd and Cynthia no longer have to worry about having enough money to do things they want to do. They spend about $1,800 a month including all the regular expenses like rent and utilities plus some luxuries such as fresh flowers, gym memberships and manicures.

“We can live forever on our savings and small income here,” Edd says. “And the truth is that even if we win the lottery, we can’t imagine living anywhere else. Life here is that good.”

Ellen Cook and John July were struggling to get by in St. Augustine, Florida. Both self-employed and facing retirement, they knew they’d never be able to afford their $1,000 a month health insurance bill on their Social Security and small pension benefits. Ellen says, “Our property taxes and property insurance kept going up and up. We would have lost our home and ‘gone under’ had we stayed in Florida.”

So they sold their home and moved to Panama, just a three-hour flight from Miami. Panama’s retirement incentive program was “the biggest factor in our decision-making process,” Ellen says, especially when it comes to discounts on medical care. Of course, the fact that Panama has a year-round warm, tropical climate and gorgeous beaches along with a low cost of living didn’t hurt.

Ellen and John are now living happily and more comfortably than ever in Coronado. This is the most popular beach and expat community on Panama’s Pacific coast. Coronado has the area’s best infrastructure and it’s less than an hour-and-a-half by car from Panama City. The beach is miles of a mixture of bright white and glittering black volcanic sand. The area is known as the “dry arch” as it gets less rain than other area of the country.

But the best thing about living here, says Ellen, is the low price tag of it all. Their total monthly living expenses amount to no more than $1,500, including utilities, insurances, Internet and food, “which is a big part of our spending. We mostly eat at home but we go out to dinner once a week.”

Paul and Gloria Yeatman wanted to retire early so that they could spend more time together. Gloria says, “To be honest, America is no place to get old. There just seems to be a lack of civility…especially in the way senior citizens are treated.”

Looking for fun and adventure within a budget, the Yeatman’s moved from Baltimore to Costa Rica’s Central Valley. The ideal climate means that there is no need for heat or air conditioning and the area they live in is close to the beach and to big city amenities. The Yeatman’s monthly budget is about $1,700 a month.

The Central Valley is a plateau and the altitude of 3,000 to 5,000 feet makes it cool all year round. It’s hard to beat the Central Valley when you’re looking for a beautiful, friendly, and relatively inexpensive place to live. Nestled among forests, mountains, and farms are villages where expats have been living side-by-side with Costa Ricans for many decades. As a result, supportive communities have formed, providing schools, clubs, sports, and a huge range of cultural activities.

“Our goal was to live better than ever… but on $2,000 a month or less. We’re doing exactly that, and we love our life here,” Gloria says.

Editor’s Note: Sign up here and receive IL‘s free daily postcards and immediately receive a free report on the World’s Top 10 Retirement Havens.

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