Living Happily by the Beach on a Social Security Check of Under $2,000

Aileen and Bob Young have been in their beachside retirement haven since 2013. Bob says, “we found a place that both of us like and that fits with our budget.” They live happily in a condo near the beach on Bob’s Social Security income of $1,992 a month.

In mid-2012, Bob was laid off from his job in Minnesota. He was nearly 66 years old and could not find another job at his age. Aileen, 58 years old, worked part-time as a library associate. That year, Aileen asked Bob to take a trip to Southeast Asia. They flew to Thailand and Cambodia in December to get away from miserable winter, freezing rain, and snow. Both came back from their trip at the end of January 2013 and decided to move to Hua-Hin, Thailand that October.

Hua-Hin is about two-and-a-half hours’ car journey from Bangkok. Aileen says, “The weather is just perfect: warm and never gets cold.” The temperature is between 76 F and 86 F all year round. There are occasional showers in June through November.

The couple pay about $470 a month for their two-bedroom condo. “Most average and above quality condominiums and apartments are in this range,” says Bob. You can get a condo for $300 a month if you want to stay away from towns and beaches. “We are close to everything including the beach, shops, and bars,” says Aileen.

Hua Hin, Thailand

Of their day-to-day meal costs, the couple spend less than $10 for their meals. “Food is fabulous and costs about 75% less than what we were paying in the States. If you want a meal in a luxury restaurant, you can get it for $20 or less. Though, I’d rather have my $3 dinner at the night market,” says Bob. The night market in Hua-Hin is a favorite of both expats and locals. There are many seafood restaurants and local street food such as mango with sticky rice and Phad-Thai.

Another thing Aileen likes about Hua-Hin is that she does not feel like a stranger. “Many expats live here. There are a variety of expat communities you can join and make friends. Thai people are also friendly towards newcomers,” she says.

Another source of savings and comfort is healthcare. “The quality of healthcare service here is better and less expensive than the States. With doctors’ visits costing $15 on average, you can discuss with doctors and nurses as long as you want, and get a prescription without additional fees,” says Bob.

There are many independent pharmacies around town where you can simply purchase drugs over the counter. “The cost of medicines is less in pharmacies than at the hospitals. If you feel unwell, you can get basic medical advice from a pharmacist and he or she will tell you what kind of drugs to take,” says Bob. Many antibiotics and allergy drugs are available over the counter. A pharmacist will tell you to see a doctor if he or she feels that you are seriously ill.

Bob’s Social Security check is more than enough for the couple to live well and enjoy life. They are happily settled in Hua-Hin. “Life is too short so if you are not taking steps today to enjoy where you want to be someday—you won’t get there,” says Bob.

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