Regardless of where one lives, the vast majority of retired folks have a fixed income of retirement dollars that must sustain them. Certainly, there are those younger folks still in their “working years” who need to earn a living and want to experience all that an expat life offers. Those adventurers find various ways to live abroad and, in fact, many live quite nicely. Numbers of publications devote considerable time explaining the various ways that one can earn money while living overseas.
As a retired couple with a fixed monthly income providing our base, Diane and I live on a monthly budget like couples everywhere. When we first left the states, I was much more concerned about our financial survival than I am now. What I have come to believe is that one can probably live anyplace on the face of the planet for whatever reasonable retirement amount is coming into your bank account each month.
According to the Social Security Administration, the average amounts being paid as of January, 2014 are $1294 per person and $2111 per couple.
In addition to Social Security payments, many have additional income from any number of sources while others rely only on Social Security. Yes, you can most likely live nearly anywhere (Not All Places) on the planet with one’s fixed retirement income. The real question is…”What will be your quality of life?”
As a retired person or one nearing retirement age, what quality of life do you want? Yes…that is a rhetorical question. Of course, we all want the best quality of life possible under our particular circumstances but that is often a very complex equation to solve. In addition to the obvious financial considerations, one must consider proximity to friends and family, healthcare and desired climate and geography. Then there are transportation and language issues to consider.
Diane and I now live on a Caribbean beach in Mexico after spending 2 years in a small town on Ecuador’s coast. We live within our budget at a much higher standard of living than we could in the states. That said, we could most certainly live practically anywhere on the planet on our modest budget.
Yes, you can most likely live anywhere on the planet on your retirement budget too. The question is, what kind of life will you be living? The entire planet is available to you. There are spectacular beaches, exotic islands, peaceful rivers, magnificent mountains, stunning glaciers, breathtaking fjords and other-worldly volcanic backdrops all available to you. There are large metropolitan areas filled with culture and amazing history, bustling with excitement. And there are tiny, tucked-away villages overflowing with charm and personality. Do you need to be close to top-notch medical care? Can you endure sporadic Internet service and power? What type of housing will you consider? Will you need a car? What is your climate preference?
In answer to the question, “How much does it cost to live here?” I have come to understand that the best answer is, “You can live here on your budget.” You will be able to find living quarters that you can afford and you will adjust your purchasing habits to the local availabilities. You will make decisions on how often you eat in restaurants or take excursions based on your budget. You will decide what method of transportation fits your needs and budget and you will do all these things in a new and exciting place filling your life with adventure. Maybe you’ll use the local Internet Cafe rather than paying for Internet service at your house.
Maybe you won’t have cable or satellite TV but will spend your time visiting with local neighbors, cooking fresh food or reading those books you’ve been stashing away. You might even write a book or two! Perhaps you will take language classes or teach English to local kids. Perhaps you and your partner will discover a renewed sense of adventure and grow closer as you wander through all the challenges and experiences of adjusting. OR….maybe you’ll discover that you and your partner have reached a fork in the road and take separate paths. Hey…it happens!
Some of us have budgets that permit more flexibility while others live in the very same town with a more limited budget while enjoying the same climate, the same culture and the same food. Some will throw on a backpack, hop on a bus, sleep in hostels and eat street food while exploring their new home country while others may take cars and airplanes, sleep in nice hotels and eat in nice restaurants, depending on budgets and desires. Each of those scenarios will provide vastly different experiences in the same country. I’ve done both!
Don’t ask me how much it costs. Ask me to tell you about my life!
Stop nibbling at your life and take a big bite! You can afford it.