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7 budget-friendly places to retire abroad and live comfortably on as little as $1,000/month



The cost of retirement in the U.S. varies from state to state, but can cost as much as $73,140 a year in a place like New York. It’s one of the reasons many Americans consider retiring abroad where they can live on a lower income without sacrificing their quality of life.

In November 2023, the average monthly Social Security check was $1,710.78, according to the Social Security Administration. In 2022, about 48% of retirees reported spending less than $2,000 a month.

With that kind of budget, retiring aboard could allow your money to go further, according to U.S. News and World Report.

To determine the list of countries where you can budget as little as $1,000 per month, U.S. News and World Report spoke with travel and budget experts who have lived in and visited more than 50 countries and track living costs worldwide. The analysis also factored in travel costs like flights, taxes, and visas.

A 2023 report from Moving to Spain named Portugal the best European country for retirement. It’s one of the most affordable European countries because of its low cost of living.

Gabriel Mello | Moment | Getty Images

7 of the most-affordable places to retire abroad

  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Panama
  • Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

Portugal has long been a haven for retired expats. A 2023 report from Moving to Spain named it the best European country for retirement. It’s one of the most affordable European countries because of its low cost of living.

On average, the cost of living, excluding rent, is almost 29% lower than in the U.S., according to SmartAsset

To retire in Portugal, U.S. citizens must apply for a residence visa. According to Global Citizens Solutions, the process is relatively straightforward and requires applicants to provide a valid passport, proof of income, health insurance, and a criminal background check.

Panama is one of the most affordable places to retire abroad.

Helovi | E+ | Getty Images

U.S. News and World Report highlighted Panama as a country that offers retirees from the U.S. the chance to explore a new country while still being just a short flight away.

“Panama has much lower living expenditures than the U.S., especially for housing,” the report states.

On average, Panama’s cost of living is 35.4% lower than the U.S., according to Numbeo. And rent in Panama is, on average, 52.1% lower as well.

Panama is also considered favorable for expats because you only pay taxes on the income you earn from Panamanian sources, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

To retire in Panama, you must have a monthly pension of at least $1,000, a clean criminal record, be at least 18 years old, and apply in person in Panama, according to the country’s embassy.

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