BALTIMORE, MD – InternationalLiving.com’s new 2015 Global Retirement Index rates two Asian havens and three South and Central American destinations as the five countries in the world most affordable for expats.
Of the top 25 retirement havens identified in InternationalLiving.com’s new Annual Global Retirement Index as the best places in the world to retire to in 2015, five stand out as offering the lowest cost of living.
They are Nicaragua, Vietnam, Ecuador, Thailand and Belize.
The index’s Cost of Living category evaluates things like day-to-day expenses, the cost of a flight back to the U.S., groceries, movie theater tickets, eating out, garbage collection, gas, gym membership, and also takes into account hidden and often unconsidered costs (like traveling around the country).
Nicaragua received a perfect score of 100 in the Cost of Living category. Here, a single person can easily live on $1,000 or less a month and a couple can maintain a comfortable lifestyle for between $1,200 and $1,400.
“You could live here in a $2-million mansion with everything you would ever want in a home if you are willing to pay for it,” says InternationalLiving.com Nicaragua correspondent Bonnie Hayman, who lives in the coastal town of San Juan del Sur. “But the great thing about Nicaragua is that you don’t have to. You can still feel like you’re living the good life—on a very low budget.”
Similarly, in the South American country of Ecuador, expats report they enjoy a comfortable lifestyle on a modest budget.
Some of the biggest savings in Ecuador comes with the very low utility costs. Most places in Ecuador, especially the highlands, have a moderate climate, which means no heating or cooling expenses. Few expats who live in mountain towns spend more than $35 per month on electric, water, and gas combined.
“The local market is where you’ll save a lot of money, too,” says InternationalLiving.com Ecuador Highlands correspondent Wendy Dechambeau. “If you like fresh fruits and vegetables, Ecuador is the place to go for a smorgasbord of produce at low costs.”
“You can get an hour-long massage for $20 or less and a full manicure can cost $3. A delicious lunch complete with soup, salad, fried chicken, and rice washed down with a super-sized beer will cost $4 per person,” reports DeChambeau.
In Vietnam, a couple can live well for $1,000 a month or less. A furnished one-bedroom apartment close to the beach costs $200 a month in the town of Hoi An. Spend $600 to $800 for a three- to four-bedroom house with a garden. A comfortable apartment in Ho Chi Minh City costs around $500 a month.
Internet with unlimited data costs $14 a month, electricity around $35 a month, a call on a cell phone is less than a cent a minute. For groceries, especially fresh fruit and vegetables, expats say they save by shopping in the markets and avoiding supermarkets.
Thailand still continues to be a draw for expats and tourists because of the low cost of living.
“Even in the heart of the city of Chiang Mai, it is possible to rent a modern one- or two-bedroom furnished condominium for less than $600 per month. For those willing to live a short distance from the major urban centers, there are a large variety of comfortable homes available for much less,” reports InternationalLiving.com Thailand correspondent, Steve LePoidevin.
“Picking up a delicious meal from a local street vendor can cost as little as a dollar. Add another dollar or two, and you can get a beer or fresh fruit juice. Although the sky is the limit, eating out at a mid-range restaurant can still be relatively inexpensive and rarely costs more than $10 to $15 for a couple.”