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Navigating Financial Challenges in the USA and Exploring Overseas Options

Retiring in the United States of America is no longer the dream it once used to be. As of today, the US ranks amongst one of the most expensive countries to live in 2024, implying how financially challenging it can be for the average retiree to live in the country. This is particularly true for those on fixed incomes. Figures from the Social Security Administration highlight that as of January 2024, the average Social Security payment stood at just $1,909 per month. This amount falls significantly short of the $4,345 that the average retiree typically spends, as revealed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although the 3.2% COLA adjustment may imply some measure of relief, regrettably, it has had minimal impact on alleviating the skyrocketing expenses associated with items like healthcare for retirees. Factor in the shattering retirement confidence that recent reports from BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK) have revealed, and the retirement landscape in the US doesn’t seem as promising as it once used to be.
According to BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK) reports, respondents believe that retirement is not the time to “live it up”. Rather, it is the time to feel “financially secure”. Having conducted this research jointly with the Employee Benefit Research Institute, BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK) reveals that across all wealth levels on average, most “current” retirees still had 80% of their pre-retirement savings even after almost two decades of being retired. One-third were found having grown their assets instead. Even though these statistics may seem like good news, the reality may paint a stark contrast. The truth is, many retirees may not be spending down their assets due to the uncertain retirement landscape that the country paints. Many may even believe on “hoarding” on these very assets in an attempt to enjoy the same lifestyle they did so before retirement.

Coming back to how the United States is increasingly becoming expensive to live in, a recent Consumer Expenditure Survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that average monthly expenses for American households have risen to $6,081, amounting to $72,967 annually. This figure represents a notable increase from the $5,557 monthly expenditure recorded in 2022. In particular, expenses for seniors aged 65 and above amount to $57,818 annually. Out of this average annual expenditure, food and housing are the biggest expenses of retirees. Housing takes up an estimated 35% of average annual expenditures, while food accounts for an estimated average annual spending of $7,306. When considering additional expenses like transportation, healthcare, and maintenance, the list of financial obligations can seem never-ending. This is particularly daunting when juxtaposed with the average Social Security amount, which we have discussed early on.

These figures also highlight the ongoing struggle presented by high costs of living, which greatly affects the financial situation of residents nationwide, particularly those with fixed incomes. Talking specifically about retirees, the median retirement savings for boomers stand at $202,000, as noted by TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies. Moreover, a recent survey by The Charles Schwab Corporation (NYSE:SCHW) reveals that Americans now believe they need an estimated $1.8 million to retire anyway. Comparing the median savings to this figure, it is safe to say that retirees with minimal savings are in for quite a difficult time in retirement. Their retirement savings may not be sufficient to cover expenses for retirees.

Further compounding the challenges of retirement planning is the healthcare landscape of the country. Factors like soaring healthcare costs and disparities in coverage are increasingly provoking retirees to question whether retirement in the USA is still a wise decision. The private healthcare insurance sector, as seen to be dominated by companies like UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH), Elevance Health, Inc. (NYSE:ELV), and The Cigna Group (NYSE:CI), are seen to report substantial profits, while customers bear the brunt of industry’s prioritization of profits over patient well-being.
In 2023, internal documents from STAT showed that UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH) used some secret rules that helped them restrict access to rehabilitation care that was requested from them by specific groups of patients that were seriously ill. This restriction included those who lived in nursing homes or suffered from cognitive impairment. In another instance, internal records from The Cigna Group (NYSE:CI) that were scrutinized by ProPublica and The Capitol Forum revealed that the company had been accruing substantial savings by denying claims based on medical reasons. Allegedly, The Cigna Group (NYSE:CI) doctors are neglecting to review patient files, as outlined in the report. Due to factors such as these, corporations like UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH) and The Cigna Group (NYSE:CI) thrive, even as seniors suffer the consequences.

Retiring abroad, in contrast, is increasingly painting a compelling picture for retirees. Furthermore, data from sources like the Social Security Administration indicate a significant rise in the number of Americans receiving their benefits from overseas, reflecting the growing trend of retirees exploring international retirement options for reasons that extend beyond finances. For those whose average check is a mere $1,909 a month, or even lower considering this is only the average amount, it pays to know affordable retirement communities outside the country. There are many cheapest countries for retirement that will offer retirees such communities to explore, with many boasting a cost of living that is even lower than $1,000 on average. Living in these places doesn’t only prove cost-effective, but also a breeze considering that many of them are some of the easiest countries to retire to.
17 Cheapest Places to Retire Abroad on $1000 per Month
Stefano Ember/Shutterstock.com


To compile the list of cheapest places to retire abroad on $1,000 per month, we sifted through our lists of places to retire on $1,000 a month, cheapest warm places to retire around the world, best places to retire around the world for US Citizens, cheapest places to retire in Europe, best places to retire in the world on Social Security, and awesome places to retire on $3,000 or less, to name a few. After compiling a list, we filtered out those who had a cost of living of less than $1,000 a month. Next, we scores them on factors such as climate, healthcare, and amenities to come up with a unique Insider Monkey score. Places were then ranked in an ascending order from the lowest to the highest scores.
By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that tracks the movements of corporate insiders and hedge funds. By using a similar consensus approach, we identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 Index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years (see the details here). Whether you are a beginner investor or a professional one looking for the best stocks to buy, you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders.

With that said, let’s check out some of the cheapest places to retire abroad on $1,000 a month.

17. Amed, Indonesia

Insider Monkey Score: 13

Amed, Indonesia is appreciated for its stunning coastal scenery, marine biodiversity, and Balinese culture. It is also home to many yoga and wellness retreats, an ideal place for those who prefer leading active and healthy lifestyles.

16. Tanjung Bungah, Malaysia

Insider Monkey Score: 15

Many expats choose Tanjung Bungah as their retirement destination because of its culture, history, and amazing street food. Situated along the coastline of Penang Island, retirees in the town enjoy beautiful beaches, water sports, and lush greenery. There is an active expat community, and well-developed healthcare as well.

15. Medellin, Colombia

Insider Monkey Score: 17

Definitely one of the stars on our list, Medellin is one of the best places to retire in Colombia offering good healthcare. Despite offering a good quality of life and top-quality healthcare, it is quite possible for an individual retiree to retire on $1,000 a month. This city is hailed as a “City of Eternal Spring” because of its pleasant climate and proximity to nature. There is much to do to keep busy here. Retirees can take scenic walks along the Medellin river, explore historic sites such as the Plaza Botero, and even participate in day trips to places such as Guatapé, known for its colorful zocalos (decorative tiles) and the iconic El Peñol Rock.

14. Granada, Nicaragua

Insider Monkey Score: 19

Hailed by Insider Monkey as one of the best places to retire in the world for US Citizens, Granada in Nicaragua is often chosen by retirees who wish to stretch their dollar incomes further and enjoy a better quality of life. There are several private clinics and hospitals in the area, with expats usually opting for the private ones since they offer a better standard of care, better facilities, and specialized care.

13. Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

Insider Monkey Score: 21

This beauty made it to our list of 40 awesome places to retire on $3,000 a month or less. Retirees get to live here for a whole $2,000 less, thanks to its low cost of living. Retirees love Las Terrenas for its stunning beaches, laid-back atmosphere, and slow pace of life. There is a thriving expat community, a diverse culinary scene, and good healthcare facilities available.

12. Ipoh, Malaysia

Insider Monkey Score: 25

Next up on our list of cheapest places to retire abroad on $1,000 per month is Ipoh, Malaysia. The charming city of Ipoh is a retiree-favorite because of its affordable cost of living, beautiful scenery, and thriving culture. Retirees will love to explore the many temples, night market, flea market, malls, and even the expat grocery stores. Many retirees already know that healthcare in Malaysia is one of the best in the world. According to Pacific Prime, the cheapest healthcare insurance that an expat can get costs around $40 monthly, while other plans can cost $50 and above.

11. Corozal, Belize

Insider Monkey Score: 27

Corozal in Belize is one of the cheapest warm places to retire in the world. This tropical paradise is nestled along the shores of the Caribbean Sea, offering retirees the best climate, scenic surroundings, and laid-back environment. An individual retiree can rent a one-bedroom in between $200-$500, and the rest is sufficient to cover other basic expenses. The local community is quite friendly, a plus for those who wish to retire here. Relax on pristine beaches, explore the town’s historical sites, or simply indulge in the many outdoor activities here.

10. Timișoara, Romania

Insider Monkey Score: 29

Timisoara is the right place to retire to for those who wish to enjoy the best balance between affordability and good quality of life. Notably, it is one of the cheapest places to retire in the world. A one bedroom apartment can be rented out on average $400 per month, leaving $600 for other expenses. Housing options are quite extensive, ranging from historic city center apartments to modern condominiums. The City of Roses also offers good healthcare facilities, with expats using private healthcare options.

9. Kyrenia, Northern Cyprus

Insider Monkey Score: 31

Known for its Mediterranean charm, natural beauty, and deep history; Kyrenia in Northern Cyprus is another once of the cheapest places to retire on $1,000 per month. Kyrenia specifically boasts a large expatriate population as well as good quality healthcare, a plus for retirees looking to move here. While many sources claim that living here comfortably requires $1,500; a frugal lifestyle under $1,000 a month is also quite possible.

8. Murska Sobota, Slovenia

Insider Monkey Score: 33

One of the cheapest places to retire in Europe, Murska Sobota is the perfect rural retreat for the retiree who wishes to escape from the hustle and bustle of the world. This idyllic retirement destination has good healthcare facilities, modern amenities, and a lower cost of living than other European destinations.

7. Antofagasta, Chile

Insider Monkey Score: 35

Notably one of the best places to retire in Chile, Antofagasta is the ideal place to retire on $1,000 a month. Retirees love this place for its pleasant climate, traditional Chilean cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene.

6. Cuenca, Ecuador

Insider Monkey Score: 36

Another retiree favorite, Cuenca appeals to seniors because of its colonial architecture, rich history, and good quality of life. The city also offers a vibrant cultural scene, boasts abundant natural beauty, as well as good-quality healthcare facilities that contribute towards a well-rounded retirement experience.


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