How Much is Enough for Retirement?

“My wife and I are on an annual pension of $34,320 with savings of about $35,000. Our house would sell for around $425,000. Would a move overseas be beneficial? What about transport and medical facilities? Please advise.”

I get many questions from readers. The above came from a gentleman in New South Wales and I’m not sure my answer helped. I told him that that he and his wife could live tremendously well in any of the places IL recommends. If you have $2,500 a month ($30,000 a year) then you only have one problem as I see it: Deciding where to go and whether or not you want to hire a maid.

Many of the expats who share their stories with us here at International Living Australia report costs much lower than that. For instance, Eileen and Steve Brown say they live in the beach town of Nha Trang surrounded by First World comforts for $1,100 a month. Our Peru Correspondent, Steve LePoidevin knows first-hand that you can retire well in the Land of the Incas on monthly budget of $1,280.

In Thailand, our team in the southern beach town of Hua Hin, Brisbanites Michael and Vivien Cullen, don’t skimp. They travel, eat out and their costs come in around the $2,000-a-month mark. Up north in Chiang Rai Sydneysider Robert Fretwell says he’s enjoying life on between $1,000 and $1,500 a month.

Terry and Arisa Bishop say they live like royalty in Bali on a budget of $1,540 a month….

IL Cambodia Correspondent, Steven King will tell you that you can rent a modern two-bedroom apartment in the hippest neighbourhood of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh for $850 a month…

And…we could have serious fun with $425,000 on the international property scene. Couldn’t we?

How about a nice two-bedroom house in a hilltop village in Italy for less than $100,000. Then take $250,000 to any number of places… Thailand… Nicaragua… Mexico…and buy a beachfront villa or ocean-view unit…

Buy in the right place (I’m thinking of Mexico’s Caribbean coast in particular) and your new dream home could easily fetch a double-digit yield if you rent. Or just leverage your new property for home exchanges as you travel the world.

That leaves us $75,000. Maybe we should just use that to travel in high style. Or invest it… Or buy some pocket-money property near the ski slopes of Bulgaria…

Or if you just want one amazing property, well I did a quick search that threw up a 10-bedroom home with indoor pool in Burgundy on a hectare of land. It has space for horses, a barn and a workshop and it’s going for $403,727. That might be more house than you need but you get the idea…your money goes much further pretty much everywhere else.

Our friend from New South Wales also asked about medical facilities and transport. Well, to start among the retirement havens closest to home he’ll certainly find world-class and very low-cost care in Malaysia and Thailand. English-speaking doctors and no waiting around for appointments either. You can turn up at a consultant’s office and pay your $18 for a visit.

Transport? If you don’t want a car then off the top of my head I can recommend Chiang Mai or Kuala Lumpur…both very easy to get around on foot or on excellent public transport systems.

“Would a move overseas be beneficial?”

I certainly think so. But that’s a question I would love to address in person with our friend in New South Wales. And with you. I have suggested he consider coming to our Fast Track Your Retirement Overseas event in Brisbane. It’s 25% sold out and selling fast. Most of our expat speakers have now booked their flights and are working on their presentations.

I have planned out the coffee breaks, lunches and cocktail receptions to make the most of our time together. I want you to have plenty of face time with our experts…

I want you to be able to ask Vivien and Michael Cullen about buying their house in Thailand…talk to Alan and Ros Cuthbertson about housesitting in Europe…discuss the nitty gritty of planning your move with Sharyn Nilsen…learn about budgeting for long-term travel with Jane and Duncan Dempster-Smith…get down into the detail of living in Sanur Bali with Kirsten Raccuia and quiz Wendy Justice about living in Da Nang

That’s the tip of the iceberg here…come with every single question and concern you have and we’ll talk it over with you.

The money, the finances. Those are a common concern. It’s natural to find yourself asking, “Is it really as affordable as IL says?”

I know IL Correspondent, Don Murray had those worries. “After the economic crash began in 2008, my wife Diane and I took a hard hit and the punches kept coming,” says Don. “Every month that we delayed acting, our situation worsened and we continued to bleed money. The solution seemed clear. To salvage our retirement, we’d be much better off one of the many places around the globe where a lower cost of living and an improved lifestyle were the norm. These places also guaranteed new adventures and a fresh start.

“We read everything we could find on retiring abroad: magazines, newsletters and countless blogs, financial advisor pieces and tempting photos accompanying colourful charts and graphs.

“Yet I was hesitating. There were many reasons to be cautious about this move, but the one fear I couldn’t shake—and the main reason why I’d been reluctant—was the fear of going broke.

“Our plan was to sell all our possessions and pack three suitcases each. These six suitcases would be the extent of our worldly possessions. We’d be relying entirely on our research to ensure that we’d be able to survive financially, even thrive. I can’t count how many times I awoke in the middle of the night to slip into my home office and review the spreadsheet I used to track our projected expenses against our income,” remembers Don.

So, what does he say about it now?

“Well, after years living overseas my greatest fear proved groundless. We’ve always had more than enough money, even with our modest retirement income,” he says.

The point here is that whatever your income and budget, there is a retirement haven for you…come to Brisbane and we’ll help you find it…

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