InternationalLiving.com has just released its Annual Global Retirement Index comparing and contrasting the global retirement destinations with the lowest costs of living.
Cost of living can be a major concern for people on fixed pension, annuity, and other retirement income sources. In International Living’s 2016 Global Retirement Index, three countries stand out from the top 23 retirement locations in the world as having the best cost of living.
In the past 10 years the Kingdom of Cambodia has become one of Southeast Asia’s most up-and-coming destinations for tourists and expats looking to enjoy the exotic charm of a country that also offers the most attractive cost of living in Asia.
Cambodia has flexible visa requirements for citizens of Western countries who can obtain annual long-stay visas with a minimum of paperwork and a processing fee of just $285 per year. Once there, everything from eating out to renting is surprisingly affordable in Cambodia.
A two-bedroom apartment in the desirable BKK1 district of Phnom Penh can be found for as little as $300 per month. Meals at local restaurants can be had from $3 to $4 per person. At modern supermarkets in the main cities a couple can average around $150 per month for groceries. For those who venture to the local markets, fresh fruit, meats, fish and vegetables can be found at rock bottom prices with staples like a kilogram of rice selling for under $0.50.
There are several major mobile networks with nationwide coverage and advanced 3G and 4G LTE technology that provide free SIM cards with affordable pre-paid packages from as little as $1.50 for 71 minutes call-time and 1,400 MB internet data per month. There are also some amazing international call rates to various countries, including the U.S., available from $0.03 per minute.
In Nicaragua, $1,000 per month can cover rent for a one-bedroom furnished apartment, food, electricity, water, and internet with money left over for entertainment.
Food prices at a local mercado include organic produce at about one-eighth the price of the U.S. and Canada. Fresh-caught Red Snapper costs around $2.90 a pound.
Property taxes in Nicaragua are remarkably low — a $132,000 house on almost an acre of land with an ocean view has an annual tax of $141. And unlike the U.S., Nicaragua does not require foreign residents to pay taxes on income earned abroad, so it’s possible to work online without any tax burden in Nicaragua.
Right now, the Colombian peso is weaker against the U.S. dollar than at any time in the last decade, currently trading at about 3,300 pesos to 1 USD. For expats and retirees with dollars, that makes today’s Colombia very affordable.
For example, an upscale 1,300-square-foot two-bedroom/two-bath condo was selling in Medellin’s trendy El Poblado neighborhood in 2013 for 300 million pesos. That was about $170,500 USD. Today that same condo would cost you just $90,900 USD at current exchange rates.
In Medellin—arguably the country’s most progressive and culturally rich city, a local fixed-menu lunch typically costs less than 12,000 pesos (about $3.60), and dinner for two at an up-scale restaurant runs about $25 with wine and dessert.
Rents average $600 a month for a furnished, one- or two-bedroom apartment in the city’s most expensive neighborhood. Utilities (electricity and gas for cooking and hot water) average less than $60 a month. (Thanks to Medellin’s ideal climate, heating and air conditioning aren’t necessary.) Public transportation is safe, reliable, and very affordable. A monthly (unlimited use) bus ticket costs about $28. A taxi ride just about anywhere in town is just $5 to $10.
Live in a smaller city or a small village in the Colombian countryside, and cost of living can be half as much. In the lively university town of Popayán, for instance, a monthly budget of less than $1,000, rent included, is easily possible.