Where Are the Cheapest Places to Retire to?


If you are working towards a fun, healthy retirement then you will already have worked out that you are going to need to save a fair bit of money in order to achieve some great retirement years.

It can be a real struggle to do this but what if we turned the subject on its head and wondered whether you could get a better retirement on your current savings by living somewhere cheaper? Where could we go to enjoy life without spending a fortune?


This is a classic retirement destination for Brits but it isn’t as cheap as it used to be. I worked in a bank in Spain as an ex-pat adviser a few years ago and the Brits who had lived there for a while all complained about how the exchange rate was making it more expensive all the time. Having said that, Spain is still generally cheaper than the UK for things like food and housing. When I was there the property market was booming and houses were getting very expensive but things have changed a little in the last few years. I still follow the Spanish news on the telly and the economic problems there have led to many properties bring repossessed and sold off cheaply by the banks. Spain is no longer the cheapest option around but if you want to be close to home it is still a fantastic destination for a lovely retirement in a warm climate and with lots of other ex-pats near you.

Latin America

Latin America has always been a popular choice for North Americans to retire to. Mexico, Ecuador and Panama are among the countries which have traditionally attracted retirees from the US and Canada. The cost of living is sure to be cheaper than in the UK just about anywhere in this region. The big issues you need to consider are around things like safety, the quality of health care and the cost of travelling back home for a visit. If you can find a country with good medical and dental care (Ecuador is especially recommended by some people in this respect) then you will find that paying for private treatment isn‘t overly expensive and is very convenient. In terms of living a good lifestyle and having some home comforts Argentina and Chile are fine choices. These are among the most European style countries in the region. While Argentina is fantastic value these days political and economic instability make it a rather riskier choice than Chile.


While you might associate countries like Thailand and Vietnam with 20-something backpackers they are also great places to retire to. As with Latin America, the cost of living is a lot lower than in Europe, although ex-pats there have reported that food and housing are getting more expensive. The natural beauty of much of the region and the famous friendliness of the locals means that it is easy to settle in. Moving to a less well developed country presents certain challenges but you might find that there are more than enough positives to make up for them. For instance, if you tend not to dine out very much at home you could find that the low cost of doing this in your new country gives you the chance to do so on a regular basis.


There are many places across the planet where retirement can be a lot cheaper than in the UK. The key lies in finding the one which best suits you. To do this, a few short fact-finding trips are essential. With a bit of luck and some perseverance you could find the ideal country to enjoy a wonderful retirement on a relatively low budget.

Where would you like to retire to and why?

image courtesy of Alamy

11 Responses to Where Are the Cheapest Places to Retire to?

  1. I would love to retire to the Canaries. A bit more tropical than mainland Spain plus you get that more exculsive island feel where you’re a bit more isolated and tucked out of the way of the world’s problems! Plus if I keep on working on my Spanish I might be able to pass as a native and not get ripped off every time I’m out shopping! 😉

    • Robert Bell says:

      That’s a great call WT. I know that a lot of ex pats retire to the Canaries. The weather is fantastic all year round although I think the fact it is a group of islands probably makes property more expensive than on the mainland.

      • Yes you’re probably right there Robert, there’ll be a premium for that kind of exclusivity. I’d better put a few extra pounds a month into my monthly retirement plan if I want to end up there!

  2. My ideal retirement locale is sourthern California, though it is incredibly expensive. I guess Spain wouldn’t be a bad back up 😉

    • Robert Bell says:

      Spain sounds more affordable Stefanie but having the idea of somewhere fantastic but expensive to retire to might be a way of making that extra effort to invest well

  3. Mark Ross says:

    I want to retire here in my home country, the Philippines. Although, if things don’t go as planned and our country is still stuck on where it is today, I would be open to the idea to retire overseas, maybe somewhere in Australia.

    • Robert Bell says:

      The Phillipines sounds like a great place to retire to Mark, especially if it is your home country. I like the sound of Australia too. It has some of the world’s best cities but I guess it would be more expensive than the countries I mentioned

  4. This is something I’ve been thinking about lately. My main concern as you mentioned is access to good healthcare.

    • Robert Bell says:

      That’s a very important point Raquel. The good news is that high quality private health care is cheap in many countries. It is just a question of doing some research on the places you are thinking of.

  5. The Carribean sounds damn good to me. I have a friend from Barbados and he talks about the lack of crime and how cheap one can live there. Plus its a paradise so that makes it a plus in my book!

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