All of the countries we cover at International Living Australia are affordable places to live. But, as in every category we look at for our Global Retirement Rankings, there are those that shine that little bit brighter. Places where the cost of living is so low that you can live a rich man’s lifestyle on a whole lot less than you spend now, just to get by.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the three countries that stand out as the most affordable overseas retirement destinations for 2018.
In Third Place… The Philippines
Dazzling beaches, bountiful seafood and friendly, English-speaking locals aren’t the only things the island nation of the Philippines has got going for it. Expats looking for a sunny place to retire will find a little money goes a long way here. Because this destination hasn’t—yet—developed to the extent many of its Southeast Asian neighbours have, it’s possible to live quite comfortably on modest means.
The overall cost of living here is very low. “It is possible to find any type of accommodation you want,” says expat Andy Wazer who makes his home in the nation’s oldest city, Cebu. “You can live in a very basic home or build a huge, fancy place—whatever suits your needs. It really depends on what you are looking for, but prices start as low as $235 a month.”
Andy and his wife, Rosie, live in a detached, five-bedroom home, spread out over three floors. The 510 square metre property has plenty of space for their three boys, the dog, cat, Koi fish and turtles. And it only costs them about $1,000 a month.
You won’t have to go without little luxuries here either, a couple can dine out for $20, you can enjoy a massage for $10.50 and a housekeeper won’t set you back much more than $4 an hour.
In Second Place… Cambodia
Just pipped at the post for title of the most affordable overseas retirement destination in our 2018 Retirement Rankings is Cambodia, a destination that boasts a welcoming, expat-friendly population, many of whom speak English as a second language and offers both lush tropical rainforests and sandy beaches. There is something for every type of budget; you can opt to live like a backpacker in a bamboo hut or luxuriate in a five-star hotel with its own private beach.
A single person can live comfortably for under $1,500 per month even in the capital city, while a couple could spend as little as $2,500.
“The lifestyle I can afford is amazing and I feel a real sense of financial freedom compared to my life back home,” says Paul Howard, who lives in the country’s bustling capital. “The rent for my apartment is $365 a month, add on utilities like air-conditioning and Pay TV and I still only pay around $475 a month, all in.
“You can’t even imagine the difference in my lifestyle nowadays because everything has totally changed for me. Living here means I never have to worry about what things cost as it’s all so affordable. You name it and I guarantee you can get it here for a fraction of the price you’d pay at home.”
In First Place… Vietnam
The winner of the cost of living category in our 2018 Retirement Rankings is Vietnam, a young and energetic country with a whole lot to offer. Expats enjoy a high quality of life at almost unbelievably low prices.
Sunshine Coast native Samantha Cherry and her partner have been living the high life here in a beachside city of Nha Trang since 2015.
“We budget about $1,200 per month,” says Samantha. “I’ll get facials and massages—we don’t think about what we buy. Once a fortnight we’ll go to a five-star resort for their brunch buffet. We are living very well.”
Their couple’s home, which they rent for just $355 per month, has a full ocean view. “We met the owner and got a great price with a one-year lease,” says Samantha. “It’s spacious, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a small kitchen. We have lots of screened windows, tile floors and a large fenced yard.”
The couple’s living expenses are also great value. “Our electricity is about $27 per month, our tap water is included in our rent, Pay TV with a satellite dish costs $7 per month and for internet, we have an unlimited 3G mobile data plan which costs $12 per month,” says Samantha.
Samantha loves the low-priced local food and enjoys eating at the small, family-run restaurants in her neighbourhood. “The local food is fantastic. There is a little place near our house that serves delicious oysters, scallops, pipis and mussels. We go there once or twice a week and a seafood dinner costs about $7.50 for the two of us.”