Countries Where Retirees Can Stretch their Money Farther 02 Jul 12

In an earlier post about retirement strategies, we discussed how many older people are underestimating their life expectancy and outliving their savings. One option is to store away more money before retiring, but that can involve dramatically lowering your standard of living or working longer (not fun). However, there is another choice — leave the country.

If you are comfortable having some distance from your family and setting aside some patriotism, there are quite a few countries with lower taxes and cheaper living costs while still offering quality living and acceptance of Americans. Here are 5 countries where retirees can stretch their savings longer.

Panama – With the availability of the pensionado program, retirees can get a lifetime visa for Panama that includes tons of benefits, including discounts at restaurants, hospitals, flights, professional services, public transportation, movies and more. The really great part is there is no age limit, so feel free to retire early and relax on the sandy beaches.

Mexico – Yes, it’s somewhat ironic to think of retirees fleeing to Mexico, when so many Mexicans are trying to escape to the U.S., but if you have some extra cash, say around $170,000, you can buy a home on the gorgeous Caribbean coast and live like a king.

New Zealand – This island nation has a relatively low cost of living, low pollution, and has people who value a healthy lifestyle (a great environment for those who are trying to extend their life). Also, it’s an English speaking country, so besides the accent, there’s no language barrier to worry about.

Thailand- If you have $500 per month you can virtually have your choice of home in Thailand, and this includes being beachside, having air-conditioning, hot water, and Wi-Fi. There are loads of English speakers around and tourists from all over the world. Even if you avoid the sometimes rowdy cities, like Bangkok, there are still plenty of cultural and entertainment options to keep you busy.

Ecuador – This is perhaps the most popular destination on our list; however, it is still light-years away from many of the retirement mills found in the states — even if you are living beside other retirees. Ecuador welcomes retirees with open arms and offer perks such as 50% discounts for transportation, utilities, flights, cultural events, and more. They also allow foreigners to apply for their Social Security medical program that provides even more benefits. All-in-all, you can live well here for around $800 to $1500 per month.

Even if you can’t commit to fully retire outside the states, you may want to consider these countries as a snow-birding option. If you buy a home in one of these areas, you can always rent it out during the off season to help cover costs.