Live Well for $1,200 a Month in Up-And-Coming Bolivia

If you had only $1,200 of monthly retirement income to live on, could you do it? Could you pay your mortgage or rent and all of your utilities? Would you have funds left over for groceries and basic living essentials? Could you still pay for fuel and car insurance?

There are few people living in North America who could manage to scrape by on such a small amount. Yet, for many, this is their reality. A large number of folks past age 65 are forced to continue working or rely on family members to help support them.

However, there are people who have found an enjoyable independent lifestyle on $1,200 or less per month. They rent fully furnished apartments, travel to neighboring cities, eat out regularly, and attend cultural events. Internet, cable TV, and even maid service are all included in their budget.

If you’re wondering where you can find such a place, look no farther than the center of South America. Here you’ll find the country of Bolivia where savvy expats are getting in early on low-cost living with a comfortable lifestyle.

Eileen Velicky and her husband Bill live in the town of Tiquipaya just outside the city of Cochabamba. “We have a three-bedroom house that we pay just $200 per month for and it’s surrounded by fields of flowers,” Eileen says. She also tells me that their monthly utilities, including electric, gas, landline phone, and internet, total just $45 per month.

When she wants to come in to the city for shopping, dining, or meeting up with other expats Eileen takes a shared taxi from Tiquipaya for 35 cents.

Part of the reason those utilities stay low is because Bolivia’s highland regions are comfortably warm, yet not hot through most of the year, which of course eliminates the need for heating or cooling.

In the colonial city of Sucre, Steve Nagy is happily renting a furnished, one-bedroom apartment across the street from a centuries-old church. He’s surrounded by history, culture, and fascinating architecture. For a furnished apartment in a great location that includes utilities, internet, cable television, and weekly maid service he pays less than $300 per month.

Steve says that “a couple could easily live well here for $1,000 a month. A single person could spend $600 or $700 and still live pretty good.”

In Bolivia’s wine country, you’ll find the small city of Tarija with just 150,000 residents. Tarija is a very walkable city, so you’ll only need transportation on occasion. Don’t worry about expense though as a taxi across town will only cost a dollar. The cost of living here is on par with the other cities in Bolivia, but you’ll also have easy access to delicious wines produced locally.

You can have wine with dinner every evening and still stay within your $1,200-per-month budget. A bottle of local table wine costs less than $3, but if you want something special grab a nice Syrah from El Potro winery for $7.

Bolivia has caught the eye of those looking for the next great expat destination and I’ve become enamored with it as well.

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