13 budget-friendly places where couples can retire abroad and live on as little as $1,500/month


Retiring in the U.S. can be expensive. In Florida, often the favorite state of the nation’s retirees, settling down to enjoy your golden years can cost as much as $58,396 a year.

That’s one reason why many Americans choose to leave the States and retire abroad. Nearly 450,000 people received their Social Security checks outside the U.S. at the end of 2021, up from 307,000 in 2008, according to a 2023 report from the Wall Street Journal.

But not all international retirement destinations are created equal, especially if you’re on a budget. Last month, International Living released its list of the 13 destinations where a couple can retire for as little as $1,500 a month.

International Living used the following seven categories to determine the best locations out of over 200 countries in the world:

  1. Housing
  2. Visas and benefits
  3. Cost of living
  4. Affinity rating
  5. Health care
  6. Development and governance
  7. Climate

In addition to taking those factors into consideration, International Living also looked at the availability of high-speed internet, networking opportunities and English-speaking locals or service providers in each country.

While the cities and towns are spread across the globe, some countries are especially affordable for retirees. Mexico had the most cities on the list, and five destinations were in Southeast Asia.

Top affordable retirement destinations in the Americas

Querétaro, Mexico is one of the three cities in the country that was listed in International Living’s report.

Sergio Mendoza Hochmann | Moment | Getty Images

Top affordable retirement destinations in Asia

Chiang Mai, Thailand is one of the cities in Asia that was listed in International Living’s report.

Phutthiseth Thongtae | Moment | Getty Images

  • Penang, Malaysia
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • Kuching, Malaysia
  • Hoi An, Vietnam

Chiang Mai, Thailand, is one of the five Southeast Asian cities listed in the International Living survey.

It is the largest city in northern Thailand, home to hundreds of Buddhist temples. It is an hour’s flight from Bangkok, the country’s capital.

Not including rent, a single person’s estimated monthly costs are $515.50, according to Numbeo. Additionally, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is 14,100.00฿ or about $395 per month.

Chiang Mai is home to Doi Inthanon, the highest peak in Thailand. It is known as one of the best places for birdwatching, and the park on the peak is home to over 300 species, according to Hotels.com.

Top affordable retirement destinations in Europe

Granada, Spain is one of two cities in the country that made the International Living list.

Amit Basu Photography | Moment | Getty Images

  • Alicante, Spain
  • Granada, Spain
  • Bergerac, France

Granada, Spain, is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalusia and is a city full of Spanish and Moorish history.

The city is also home to the University of Granada, which has an estimated 47,000 undergraduate students spread over several campuses around the city.

It offers retirees the opportunity to embrace the more relaxed Spanish lifestyle while still being connected to the more youthful culture of living in a “college town.”

A single person’s estimated monthly costs are $771.30 before rent in Granada, Numbeo states.

Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs an average of 583.33€ a month, or around $637. That’s still about $677 less than the average rent price for an apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, one of the best places to retire in the U.S., according to U.S. News and World Report.

Conversions to USD were done on March 15, 2024, using OANDA conversion rates of 1 euro to 1.09 USD, 1 Thai Baht to 0.02 USD, and 1 Mexican Peso to 0.05 USD. All amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar.

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