Retiring cheap and living your life in a foreign country was my goal a year ago. I sold all my stuff, said goodbye to my friends and family and started my journey. Was it scary? Yes. Was it amazing. Yes. I began my quest to find the best countries to retire cheap over 365 days ago, and while I haven’t found the best place yet, I’ve definitely narrowed it down. Are you ready to retire cheap? What about not retiring but giving up your life in Canada, and become a digital nomad? Here’s the checklist I wish I had before I had left.

  1. Do you have the money? It costs me $1000 a month to live. That’s a pretty spartan lifestyle. My life consists of working out, playing on the internet, and going out for fun once in a while. I’m not living like a king, but it’s comfortable. My daily budget is $5 a day for foood $10 a day for fun and putting away $250 a month for emergencies/sundries (all my prices are in Canadian dollars because this is a Canadian blog). You can read my monthly summaries for exact costs per month per country. For example buying a chicken drumstick/thigh in Medellin, Colombia is $1. Massages are $6 an hour in Bangkok, and sun tanning on a beach in Bali is free.
  2. Do you have the mindset? It can get very lonely if you’re by yourself. If you like uproot yourself away from your community you’ll miss your friends and family. Facebook messenger and Whatsapp are super handy to have. But you’ll still be super far away. And going to the local Boston Pizza for a beer and Perogy pizza just doesn’t happe
  3. Are you ok with change? You’re not going on a vacation. You’re going to be dealing with horrible internet, bad customer service and strange cultural customs. For example 5 minutes in Colombia, is anywhere between 5 minutes and 30 minutes. Most of your friends and family will think you live on a beach sipping fruity drinks. That’s not the reality of it. You’re not buying thirst and souvenirs. You’re spending you’re life in this very foreign country.
  4. Can you shake it off? You’re going to make mistakes. Can you cope if you lose your passport? My friend lost his passport in Hong Kong, and it was a whole separate story. If your world explodes right now when Netflix doesn’t have as much content as in the United States, you are not ready.
  5. Can you work overseas? You might think it’s no problem, but payment, time zones and internet are the 3 headed hydra that you’ll have to slay. I’m lucky in that my clients understand that sometimes I’ll be in an internet dead zone for 2 days because all of the internet has gone down for the city. Seriously. It just goes Kablooey…..
  6. Love. Will you be retiring with your partner? Or is it just you? Yes those girls in Cebu will tell you they love you, but chances are they really just love your huge bank account.
  7. How are your language skills? English is the international travellers language, but depending where you go, you might need to learn a whole new language. South America speaks Spanish, and I’m struggling daily. Duolingo is my best friend, but I have to take Spanish classes. Will you want to do that? 
  8. Are you a strange size? If you’re large or obese in Canada, you’ll be gigantic in the rest of the world. Think “Biggest Loser” gigantic. Clothes won’t fit, and you will hate the tiny little jeep things which are the local transport in Thailand.
  9. Safety. Unless you live in the ghetto right now, like East Hastings in Vancouver, or Millwoods in Edmonton you may not be ready to watch out for your safety. In Colombia, every 5th traveller I have met has been mugged, or pickpocketed.
  10. Do you only eat Canadian food? A can of Campbell’s mushroom soup is $5 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Are you going to be ok eating what the locals eat? Food is delicious around the world. It just might not be your cup of tea (like literally my ex-gf went nuts because she couldn’t get her favorite cut of tea in China.)

Don’t despair though! Finding the best country to retire cheap is amazing. You’ll lose weight, spend less time stressed and open up parts of your mind that you never thought possible. I don’t regret my choices at all!  I miss my friends, but I fly back to Canada once a year. 

I miss my memory foam pillows and 5.1 Surround sound movie theater, but I can deal with it. I sometimes have a huge craving for fully loaded nachos and a Moosehead beer, but Arepa todos “garbage burgers”, are something you can only get in Colombia. I hope you follow your desires too. Travel the world as a digital nomad or retire early, don’t those 10 things stop you. 

Retiring in the best countries to live cheap can be pretty great, but just make sure you are ready (that’s why I wrote the guide). If you have any questions feel free to message me! I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. I spend a year religiously looking for information before I made the big plunge, and I hope helps your goals!

Go to the website for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)