Which country would best suit a single person retiring on $2000 a month?
I am a single woman aged 60 and I want to retire overseas in the next two years. I will require modest living requirements just somewhere where the crime rate is not high as general safety would be a concern.
I haven’t decided where yet but not have no real preference as of yet. I would appreciate any help that I can get before visiting some countries as I make my decision.
Jason Holland – IL Roving Latin America Editor
Jason Holland, International Living’s Costa Rica Editor, checking in.
Costa Rica is a safe and stable country with a low crime rate, especially in the rural areas. Although you do have to take precautions as you would anywhere in the world. And for a single person, $2,000 a month would go far. While not the cheapest country in Central America, Costa Rica still does have a much lower cost of living than the U.S.
You can find details about the country here: https://internationalliving.com/countries/costa-rica/
As far as moving abroad as a single person, I’ve met and interviewed many single women who came to Costa Rica (see links below). Overall, they feel safe and secure. And they’ve found great groups of friends. The expat community in most areas is very social and active.
Edd Staton – IL Cuenca Correspondent
With your budget of $2000/month you have a wide range of relocation options, so I would suggest you start your research not by staring at your computer but instead by envisioning your ideal retirement location. What climate? What size? What setting?
Assess your taste for adventure and tolerance for change. There are places where you easily assimilate and others that will require a considerable cultural adjustment.
As for my hometown of Cuenca, Ecuador, there are many single women enjoying a satisfying life. My wife, while obviously married, often rides our public buses and walks the streets and sidewalks alone. In our five years here we have never experienced or witnessed a single criminal act.
I believe Cuenca is a very viable option for you to consider.
Gigi Griffis – IL Europe Correspondent
Gigi Griffis – Central Europe Correspondent – here. I’d love to first echo Edd’s sentiments. On $2,000 per month, you have a good number of options and it’s an excellent idea to spend some time envisioning your ideal retirement. Do you imagine yourself on a beach? In the mountains? In a large and vibrant city? A small, quaint countryside town?
All these things will help you narrow things down.
Now, as for where you can retire in Europe for $2,000 a month, you actually have a variety of options, especially now that the dollar is so strong against the euro.
Italy, for example, can be surprisingly affordable. I personally lived in a town called Perugia, which is the capitol of Umbria (the lesser-known, but just as pretty rolling hill country bordering Tuscany) for just over a month one winter for about $1,800 – and that was living as a short-term renter (which is more expensive than long-term) when the euro was much stronger than the dollar. My friends and contacts in Italy report similar experiences, especially those who have chosen to live in the south or the countryside, where a coffee might cost 90 cents and your neighbors sometimes drop by with free veggies from their gardens.
France is another option, though you may want to rule out Paris or Nice, which run a bit higher in terms of things like rent and real estate. I lived in Biarritz–a pretty, glitzy beach resort town full of surfers and beautiful Basque architecture–and if you don’t count my transportation costs to get there, my month cost me less than $2,000.
Spain is another affordable European option. My recent month on the south coast cost about $1,300 not counting transportation and I’m currently in Toledo, Spain – a lovely city on a hill near Madrid and I expect my expenses to come in well below $2,000 again.
And if you are looking for something exceptionally affordable and a little off the beaten track, perhaps consider Eastern Europe, where you can live very well on very little. My own month in the very pretty seaside city of Split, Croatia, where I spared no expense, cost me just $1,300.
Finally, to your concerns about safety: I am a single woman living and traveling alone in Europe and I feel extremely safe here. Safer, actually, than I felt back in the States. When you’ve narrowed down your search to a county or series of towns you are interested in, I encourage you to look up crime data, but I also think you’ll find that the vast majority of Europe is safe and comfortable.
Best wishes on your planning!
Bonnie Hayman – IL Nicaragua Correspondent
Nicaragua fits your criteria: with $2000, you would live like a Queen here and Nicaragua is considered the safest country in Central America.
I moved here by myself almost 8 years ago and it’s the best decision I ever made. I live here on $1000 or less, so if you have double that, you’ll be better than fine. Nicaragua is not without its challenges so I suggest you visit first and rent awhile. Try out one of the main cities: San Juan del Sur, Granada, Leon, or Matagalpa. All of them have expats who will help you through your transition period.
One suggestion is to go on Facebook for these different cities and ask your questions on the Expat pages. As a single woman, I found it pretty easy to make a nice life for myself here. It all depends on what you are looking for. It’s helpful if you speak Spanish in Nicaragua.
Glynna Prentice – IL Mexico Editor
As the others have pointed out, $2,000 a month gives you a number of options. There are expat havens in all the countries IL covers where single women live happily and safely. I am single myself, and I have traveled all over Latin America and Europe, and have happily lived in both areas.
As Edd Staton has said, think of the type of environment you want. Laid-back beach environment? Exciting urban area? And what kind of climate? Many beach areas are relatively humid, so is that appealing or not so much?
I have been based in Mexico for the past eight-plus years. There are thousands of single expat women living fulfilling lives here. While Mexico is not the cheapest country in Latin America, it offers a much lower cost of living than the US and a near-First World lifestyle. There are many places here where your $2,000 a month would get you a very comfortable, safe lifestyle.
Amanda Walkins – IL Roatan Correspondent
I’ll chime in from the beautiful Caribbean island of Roatan. For $2000/month here, you can enjoy an incredible lifestyle with all the amenities and luxuries you would want. There are many single expats here living very comfortably and benefiting from a wonderfully inclusive expat community.
I agree with the other responses thus far: ask yourself what your ideal location would look like. If you’re seeking an affordable retirement on a tranquil beach, Roatan should definitely be on your short list.
Best of luck in your search!
Steven Lepoidevin – IL Thailand Correspondent
I’ll add my two cents worth from Thailand. Here you could obtain a retirement visa with that monthly income. You would certainly be able to live a good lifestyle with a nice house or condo and lots left over for food and fun. It’s always more expensive in the beach areas but even in those places you would be able to live comfortably with that budget.
For beach-side living, Hua Hin would be a great place to check out. In the northern part of the country, my hometown of Chiang Mai offers a great urban lifestyle with all the city amenities for small town prices. Both places have large expat communities, including many single female retirees with large circles of good friends. Most are leading a very active social life.
With its relatively low cost of living, great health care system and incredible weather, Thailand is definitely worth investigating.
Jessica Ramesch – IL Panama Editor
You can live on that in most of the countries featured in International Living Publications–and they’re all safe enough that they’ve been attracting singles (both men and women) of all ages for years.
Where to go? This is an intensely personal decision that only you can make. International Living Publications does its best to publish the kind of ultra-specific information you will find useful in judging which destination is best for you (based on your personal needs and wants) and making your decision.
Over the years I have learned that you can only spreadsheet a new life in paradise to a certain extent. It’s absolutely important to look at your budget, your needs and wants, and start gathering information on costs in countries that interest you (with the help of all the info sent out by IL and on the website). Likewise, it is important to understand nuts and bolts stuff like local tax rates and microclimate.
Once you have done all your research though, you may find (as have I) that you need to let intuition take over.
One thing most every expat will tell you is “I have no regrets…except for I wish I’d done it sooner.”
Panama’s Pensioner Program provides an easy means of securing residence in Panama, in addition to an extensive discounts program that saves pensioners money on everything from medication to travel.
Panama offers a warm, tropical climate at sea-level (and plenty of beaches) and in the mountains, cooler temperatures. For most of the expats who live here, it’s about the overall value–including modern infrastructure and quality, affordable healthcare.
You’ll find a great deal of info on Panama (including beach, rural, mountain, and island destinations) at https://internationalliving.com/countries/panama/.
IL Panama Editor Jessica Ramesch
John Clites – IL Brazil Correspondent
$2000/month will allow you to live comfortably in many countries, especially as you say that you have modest requirements. So, setting aside the money issue, consider what is important to you: weather, culture, nature, expat community, language, etc. Let these factors guide your decision.
I’m the IL Correspondent for Brazil and so will share a bit about Brazil. First, $2000/mo would allow you to live comfortably here in all but the largest cities, such as Rio and Sao Paulo. For example, I rent a modern, furnished, centrally-located one-bedroom apt in a small city in the south for US$300/mo. I can have a very nice dinner for $15, and lunch at an all-you-can-eat buffet for as little as $5.
Importantly, $2000/month is the very amount needed to qualify for a retiree visa for Brazil. A retiree visa entitles you, among other things, to access to the public health care system. The quality of the care varies depending on the area, but I currently rely on it. If you choose to purchase a private health care plan, expect to pay roughly half of what you would in the US, in dollar terms.
As a retiree, you also get half off at movies and many other events, receive various other discounts, don’t pay for local buses, and can take the express lines at banks and grocery stores, among other benefits.
Brazil has a reputation for crime and violence which isn’t whole deserved. By this I mean that there certainly is violence, but it is largely confined to certain areas. If you talk to locals, they all know where these areas are, and simply avoid them. Most areas are safe. My little town has little crime. A few cars were broken into recently and it was considered a crime wave.
Brazil is huge and diverse and has a bit of everything. The south is prosperous, more modern, and culturally is more similar to the US and Canada. The northeast has year-round warm weather and lovely beaches. There are some lovely towns north of Rio as well, and many large towns/small cities in the state of Sao Paulo with a good quality of life. You can read about some of my favorites by searching the IL site.
Best of luck to you, wherever you may settle.