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Can you retire cheap in Mendoza, Argentina?

Mendoza is known for it’s great meat and wine but can you retire cheap here?

The short answer is no you cannot retire cheap here.

If you retire cheap it won’t be in Mendoza, Argentina.

You will however think you’ve died and gone to heaven if you like beef, wine and bicycles.

Getting here from Valparaíso, Chile is easy.

LINK TO WHY RETIRE IN VALPO

You just have to get a comfy bus from CATA. They sell the tickets online, and at Terminal Sol.

TIP: The CATA bus you can buy the CAMA levels, which is a 160 degree reclining seat. They don’t have a full recline bed seat, but it’s pretty comfy.

On the bus you’ll get a meal box, so you don’t have to bring food …. maybe a few snacks

Then the dreaded border crossing occurs.

Not too bad, more of a boredom crossing.

You’ll wait about 5 hours, behind all the other busses as you exit the Chile crossing. Then you’ll drive a bit, and get to the Argentina entry point.

They’ll unload the bus, and check random passenger bags.

TIP: The people who are unloading all the bags will expect some small change as a tip. Have some pesos readily available.

Then after a few more hours you’ll be in Mendoza!

Mendoza has one of the most beautiful bus terminals I’ve ever seen.

I cannot think of a better one. Unlike most of the bus terminals I’ve seen, this one is super safe and clean with lots of stores. (Unlike the one in Arequipa, Peru which looks like you’ll be murdered getting in.) It looks like a modern airport terminal, rather than a decrepit bus terminal from the 80’s.

TIP: Get a phone card here. There’s a kiosk that will sell you a prepaid phone card. About $12 should do it.

TIP: Change money here. Argentina even though it’s super developed is oddly not that credit card friendly. Chile is much more so. In Chile we could use credit cards 50% of the time. Here it’s 20% of the time. You can change money at the Turbus kiosk. You’ll have people asking to change your money inside the terminal, go with one you trust, with the best interest rate.

TIP: They offered the same rate as the real cambio downtown, it was 43:1 USD:Peso if you gave them big bills.

If you are giving them small bills 20’s and under they give you 40:1. Obviously don’t do that.

You’re going to want to change money because the ATMS are brutal. Huge fee’s and low withdrawal limits.

The banks are even worse.

We tried twice to get money exchanged. It’s awful. Long lines, and all in bad. They close at 1pm, and don’t do money exchange.

(We tried HSBC and Bank of Argentina.)

Eventually we found a Cambio house to exchange our cash.

FOOD IN MENDOZA:

The food here is wonderful, but it’s not cheap. The price of a cheese pizza is $8 (all prices in Canadian).

The cost of this meal was $30 for 2 ribeyes and a bottle of wine. (Don’t forget the tip here is expected at 10%.)

I know this is super cheap compared to Canada.

And the beef and wine are really really good.

I’m from Alberta and know my beef. The Argentinian beef is great. And if you love wine? The $7 bottle was the equivalent of $20 bottle back home.

Saying that though, my budget for daily living is $15 a day, so I can’t afford steak and wine every day.

(Here’s how to order your doneness level in Spanish)

I found a brand of cheap wine I loved, that I bought at VEA (like a Walmart), it was under $3 for a 1.2 liter bottle.

Cooking meat at home also was much cheaper.

You can see that it averages out at about $5 for one of these packages.

Vegetables are pricier, almost the same price as back home.

There are lots of vegetarian restaurants and gluten friendly choices in Mendoza.

There aren’t cheap menu del Dias meals though, unlike in Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru.

On average I’d say the food here is 50% more expensive than those countries.

TOTAL COST? (THE PRICES BELOW ARE IN ARGENTINIAN PESOS)

These were the itemized costs. One thing to note, taxis, I used Cabify, versus the normal taxis. Also all meals and things should be divided by 2 because I was traveling with my travel buddy.

SAFETY

Mendoza is super safe. I don’t see any problems here. Obviously, take common sense precautions, but it’s just like back home.

ENGLISH

Non existent, just like the rest of South America. They also speak a strange dialect of Spanish, so even though I can speak a basic travel Spanish, it was really difficult here.

GYMS

This is another area where Mendoza stands out. I signed up for the Mendoza tennis club. It allows access to a great gym and tennis for $40 a month.

As I’ve travelled the world looking for the best countries to retire cheap, I’ve noticed that I’ve been in 3rd world countries a lot.

(I know it’s not really politically correct to use that term anymore, vs developing nations.)

Mendoza is a 2nd world vs 1st world or 3rd world. And is priced accordingly.

I’d say it would be a great transition city versus Medellin, Colombia if you are coming to South America for the first time.

LINK TO CURRENT BEST COUNTRIES TO RETIRE CHEAP RANKINGS

WHO SHOULD RETIRE HERE?

  • You love BBQ
  • You love safety
  • You love bicycles (lots of bike lanes here), and lots of parks.
  • You love wine
  • Great bus system
  • Cabify exists here
  • Great gyms
  • Red clay tennis courts
  • You can order food delivery

WHY YOU SHOULD NOT RETIRE HERE

  • Cost of living is more that $1000 a month. $1500 is a better budget
  • You don’t want to learn Argentinian Spanish. It’s annoying.
  • Not that walkable, the city is big. If you’re in one area, near the center, it will still be about 10 000 steps a day to get around.

I loved Mendoza, and will 100% recommend staying here for a visit, but it’s too expensive for this budget traveler. (Also, if you come to Mendoza, stay far away from Casa del Park Hostel, worst place I’ve stayed in the world.)

All in all I hope you enjoyed this summary and if you want to read more

LINK TO ALL THE BEST ARTICLES

Can you retire cheap in Mendoza, Argentina?2019-08-06T21:47:53+00:00

Why you should retire cheap in Valparaíso, Chile!

Valparaíso is a small city, two hours away from Santiago, Chile and it’s a great place to retire cheap.

I’ve been traveling looking for the best country to retire cheap for the last 4 years, exploring everywhere from the countrysides of Thailand, to the party city of Medellin, Colombia, and I can tell you that Chile is by far one of the the best places to retire cheap.

When you are looking for the best city to retire cheap in the world, there are some cities that will immediately say “Yes! This is the place!” And some cities like Phnom Penh, Cambodia where you’ll say “Hell, No! Hard pass on dog bbq and pollution.”

Valpo (as all the cool locals call it) is a place that I fell in love with as soon as I got off the plane from Peru.

The Santiago customs was efficient and friendly, with buses, taxis and shuttles that take you directly to Valpo. For the article on how to get here, click here

HOW TO GET TO VALPO BY BUS

When you get here, the first things you’ll probably notice is how clean, and safe it is.

Unlike some other cities in South America, there isn’t a huge amount of crime or danger.

Every city in the world has bad areas, but some places definitely have more.

For example check out Medellin in this article

MEDELLIN IS GREAT, BUT NOT SO SAFE

Valpo, is super safe unless you stray into bad areas at night. You can definitely tell if you wander into those areas, because the level of sketchiness increases dramatically. (Hint: Large groups of guys drinking and peeing on the street is a sign you’re not in the best area.)

ENGLISH

English levels, like the rest of South America is pretty much non existent, with the need to be able to speak Spanish to survive.

The people here don’t really try, unlike Asia, where all the locals speak a smattering of English.

I ran into a cute family at a restaurant where the little girl, had been going to an English speaking school, who was so happy to practice her English with real people who spoke native English

Hospitals, and pharmacies are everywhere here. The hospitals are private/public. You’ll definitely want to go to the private hospitals.

COST OF LIVING

My budget is $1000 Canadian, and Valpo is a little bit out of this range. I’d say maybe $1100.

My room in a house that I’m sharing costs roughly $280 a month, my gym $40 a month and the price of a cheap meal is about $4.

This is more expensive than Arequipa, Peru by about 30%.

Here’s an article on Arequipa, if you want a more in depth review

AREQUIPA, PERU IS CHEAP AND AWESOME ARTICLE

That being said, while it’s not the cheapest city I’ve been to in South America, there’s a really good reason for it.

It’s got a light rail system, big sidewalks, and lots of police.

This city has the perfect mix of tiny street stands, and massive malls. I love being able to get fresh produce, and then go see a movie in a comfy cinema.

CLIMATE

I arrived in the winter, and it’s about 12-14 degrees Celsius. Not super cold, but brrrrrrr……bring a jacket.

You can see what people wear, in my photo above. As a Canadian, you’ll be running around in a T-shirt …. hehhehehehe.

TRANSPORTATION

The oddest thing I’ve noticed is that there isn’t really public taxis! That’s right. Crazy.

It’s got collectivo taxis, aka shared taxis. You wait in a line and the taxis go to a destination and people share it. So odd.

It does have Uber, Cabify and othe ridesharing apps though.

A private taxi is about $2 one way to pretty much any part of town. I’ve been doing about 10 000 steps a day. But, if I was lazier? I’d be cabbing everywhere.

GYMS

There are gyms everywhere here, but not quite as good as a North American gym. And relatively expensive . Roughly $35 a month.

One huge pro though is that it has protein milk, and protein yogurt available to be bought in the stores.

Other cities I’ve traveled to in the world, don’t really have this.

Protein powder is super expensive (double the cost of what we pay in North America), but the protein milk and yogurt is delicious and a good price. $1 a serving

FOOD

The food in Chile, kicks the crap out of Peru, and Ecuador.

It’s empanadas, burgers, hot dogs, and seafood

And the steak and meat are good here. Unlike Asia, you can get great beef here.

And unlike Peru/Ecuador, the local food is much much tastier for our North American palate. In Ecuador I like the Menu del Dia, of beans, rice, chicken and a banana. And it’s only $2. But after a few months of this…..it can be boring.

Chile, the Menu of the day is $6 roughly.

A big giant 300g burger with bacon and cheese is about $8. Yikes! Worth every penny!

(If you’ve been to Asia, you’ll know what I mean…..after a year there, I’d kill for a good hamburger).

McDonald’s exists here, as well as Pizza Hut where a giant family sized pepperoni pizza is $10!

If you like to cook, and eat at home, the prices are much cheaper.

The produce stands are cheap.

Here’s an article on prices of fresh fruit

PRODUCE PRICES IN VALPO

But the great thing is that, if you want North American food, like Southern biscuits, or sour cream? You can do it here.

The prices of North American food ingredients are a bit more than at home, but not insanely priced. Like a bottle of KRAFT mayo is 25% more, vs 100% more in Asia.

If you stick with local ingredients, you can do your grocery shopping for about 35% less than at home.

Beer is cheap. $1 a 1 liter bottle is standard.

Rum and vodka are also about half of what you’d pay at home.

The big big big drink here is wine. If you like wine, you’ll love it here.

A $20 bottle from home, is about $5 here.

CULTURE

What’s not to love?

  • The people are super friendly, they might not speak English but really don’t mind my broken ass ghetto Spanish.
  • It’s safe, I don’t have to worry about motorcycle thieves.
  • There are sidewalks. Yes. You might think it’s crazy to mention this, but some places in the world I’ve gone to don’t really have them. Well technically they have them, but the sidewalks have been overtaken by motorcycle parking and street stands. (I’m talking to you Vietnam!)
  • Warning though, Valpo has a a million dogs. And they all poop on the sidewalks. So much so, that in my head I call this place ValPoop.
  • Shopping is easy. No haggling needed. And no tourist/gringo double charging. Prices are clearly labeled.
  • Banks! Get a Scotiabank account before you leave Canada. Scotiabank is HUGE here, and everywhere.
  • Beaches, mountains and exploration are only a 30 minute taxi away.
  • Lots of hills though, sooooo sick of hills.
  • Super fast wifi! No need to worry and a phone data plan with 6 gigs of data $12 a month

CONCLUSION

If you’re looking for the best place to retire cheap? Valpo is definitely worth checking out.

I’m 100% coming back and you should come visit.

Want more articles?

Check out my main archive here.

ALL THE ARTICLES

Why you should retire cheap in Valparaíso, Chile!2019-07-19T15:46:17+00:00

Why you should retire cheap in Arequipa, Peru! One month review.

My search for the best countries to retire cheap has led me to Arequipa, Peru.

Known as the white city, or the city of eternal spring, Arequipa is also a paradise for volcano lovers.

With about 800,000 people it’s not huge. It’s also not tiny.

I came here because of the promise of beautiful climates. And was not disappointed. After the sweltering heat of Asia, I was like….must get cooled down.

Temperature in Arequipa

Arequipa is cheapah than Lima (Like my rhyme?).

It’s also much friendlier.

I lived in the Yanahuara district.

WHAT ARE THE COSTS LIKE?

  • My rent for a hotel for a month was 700 Soles ($300 CDN)
  • Cheap meal 6 Soles ($2.25 CDN)
  • Expensive meal with a beer 45 Sol ($20 CDN)
  • Gym 36 Soles ($15 CDN)
  • Cellphone w/3G data 30 Sol ($12 CDN)

After a month here, I can tell you Arequipa is now one of my favourite cities in the world to retire cheap.

WHY RETIRE CHEAP IN AREQUIPA, PERU

  • It’s small enough to walk around
  • Has lots of cabs
  • Takes credit cards at most places
  • Has Scotiabank
  • Peru has a 6 month Visa on Arrival for free for Canadians
  • Fantastic local food
  • Safe
  • Good availability of fast food and imports at cheap prices
  • Great spring like temperature all year
  • Fast wifi 7mbps is standard
  • Sidewalks (yes this is a thing, in Vietnam there are none. Just places called sidewalks, where people park their motorcycles)
  • Crosswalks (Again, if you go to Vietnam you’ll see what I’m talking about, when you realize just how great crosswalks are. And even though Vietnam has no sidewalks and killer crosswalks there are some great things about it. LINK TO RETIRING CHEAP IN VIETNAM
  • Close to volcanoes
  • Not too many tourists

LINK TO YOUTUBE VIDEO if you’d like to see more

I hope this helps you with your decision to retire cheap in Arequipa, Peru! And remember if you like this blog to share it.

Why you should retire cheap in Arequipa, Peru! One month review.2019-02-28T21:29:28+00:00

Weekend Adventures in Cuenca, Ecuador!

Hey friends, lets talk about the weekends here in Cuenca. It doesn’t matter where you live, Saturday is the day you get to see everybody out and about.

Just because you might be retiring cheap doesn’t mean you have to spend your days doing nothing by yourself. Even though I still love being a hermit.

It’s Saturday so I’m up at 9am, grabbing some breakfast because I’m going to meet my roommate Gary at the local farmers market.

He’s already been been gone for a few hours because he’s got a band that he practices with at 8am. I know, 8am!!!!! On Saturday! Yeah he’s crazy!

Our plan is to meet up at the local expat market for 1030am. f you’re an expat looking for Southern Biscuits, or Aussie pies, this is the place to go.

After having a huge lunch, I stumble into a poker game at the restaurant.

These guy have had this game going on for 4 years now!

After a few hours of poker….which I lost….soooo sad…stupid hustlers!

I met up with Gary again for dinner at a pop up roast beef event.

Unfortunately it wasn’t great. Beef in Cuenca is stringy AND tough!

The crowd is mostly expats here. In Cuenca this which means I’m one of the few people that isn’t over 60.

(If you’re over 60, it’s really easy to meet new friends in Cuenca!)

After dinner, I meet up with another friend to check out what the local bars look like here.

We head down to Calle Llarga, the local area for food and drinks.

The first bar we went to was closed for a private event.

The second bar we went to was a crazy black metal bar!

This is the only place I’ve seen a fight happen in Cuenca.

If you want to see the fight and the whole YouTube version of this blog, check out the link here …… YOUTUBE

We escaped from there quickly, and headed to find another place to drink.

We skipped a couple of salsa clubs. I hate Salsa, and also here in Cuenca they charge a cover to get in. Usually cover is from $2-$4 (US).

Finally we settle down at a cool bar called Bomba which overlooks the river and has some great features including a real fire pit.

This is a full on, bonfire on beach kind of pit!

So much fun!

I called a cab at 2am with the EasyTaxi app ($1.50 for the cab).

Cuenca, even though it’s a sleepy small town, is still a fun place to get your groove on! And personally I learned a new Ecuadorian word on Sunday called chuchaqui, which means hangover!

I hope this video has been helpful for you in making your decision to find the best country to retire cheap.

And remember to subscribe and share this blog!

Weekend Adventures in Cuenca, Ecuador!2018-12-03T20:52:50+00:00

Best places to retire cheap in 2018

Where’s the best place to retire cheap in 2018? Here’s my definite list for the year!

Here you go, in order:

#8 Cebu, Philipines: Beautiful forts, old architecture, mountains and beaches…..what’s not to love about Cebu? Also Cebu speaks English. They have great food, a mix of traditional and western can be found here no problems. The biggest problem with Cebu and why it only ranked #8 on this years list? Heat. It’s hottttttt, hot, hot here. Also spotty wifi, and roosters. Why are roosters a big con? They still have cock fighting here. So you are going to hear roosters all the time. One of the best things about Cebu though? The beaches, this will rank high for you if you love beaches!

Cebu Summary

#7 Bali, Indonesia: Tranquil beaches, and a very diverse culture is why it’s #7 on this years list. You’ll find everything from Australian backpackers, to yoga pant wearing hippies residing here. I’ve been all around the world and this is one of the most diverse places I have found in the way of culture. The people of Bali, are all great though. Regardless if you like yoga or all you can drink night clubs, there’s a place in the city for you. You’ll be able to get fresh fruit shakes for $1 CDN and big beers are $3. The biggest problem with Bali, is that it’s full of bugs. I don’t think I saw one traveller that was not covered in bug bites. I’d vacation here, but I don’t think I’d like to retire here. But I love the banana pancakes on the beach…..so good and definitely worth going for!

LINK: One Month Bali Review

#6 Quito, Ecuador: Quito is one of the cities you’ll definitely visit in Ecuador. The reason you’ll visit is that it’s an airport hub and it’s close to the Amazon. Would I retire there? Yes, but it’s not as good as it’s sister city Cuenca. While Quito has several things going for it like Uber and more buses going to different parts of the country, it’s not quite perfect. Giant hills make walking around difficult, and while I’d recommend coming here, (It’s still in the top 10 in the world.) It’s neighbor Cuenca is just better for retirees. Another problem with Quito is like most of South America, people don’t really speak English. Great healthcare in Ecuador though keeps Quito in the mix! Also as a bonus if you’re staying in Quito, go check out the Blue Door Housing…fantastic place to stay.

LINK: One month in Quito

#5 Chiang Mai, Thailand: Founded in 1296, this northern town in Thailand is a quiet place compared to Bangkok. The old town here is amazing, picturesque with temples and a feeling of peace. It doesn’t feel like a big tourist trap like Bangkok does. Saying that there are some reasons it’s ranked #5. No transit. The city has no good bus/transit/taxi. You’ll be taking Jeepneys everywhere. Recently it got GRAB, but cars are still relatively rare.

LINK: Great things about retiring in Chiang Mai

#4 Saigon, Vietnam: Saigon is a great place to retire cheap, because of the combination of great food and culture. LINK In detail review of Saigon

FOOD! Banh Mi is my go to food in Vietnam. Even if I never retire in Saigon, I’ll need to fly back at least once a year to eat some Banh Mi.

The costs here are great:

  • Coffee 17,600 Dong ($1 CDN
  • I’ve tried to give up smoking, but it’s been hard so I’ll usually have a smoke with my morning coffee. Cigarettes are 25,500 Dong ($1.50 CDN) a pack.
  • Gym 260,000 Dong ($15 CDN) a month.
  • Vietnamese Sub, AKA Banh Mi, AKA delicious 15,000 Dong ($1 CDN). The funny thing about Banh Mi’s is that there are several stands all around my apartment. All of the Banh Mi’s are slightly different but they are all uniformly 15,000 Dong!
  • My apartment was 4.4 million Dong ($250 CDN ) a month. This included high speed internet (43 Mbps), a maid once a week, power, water etc. (Shared with 2 other people).
  • A bowl of Pho 40,000 Dong ($2 CDN)

Why did it not rate higher on my best countries to retire cheap list? Heat mainly, and the fact that GRAB is really bad there. Also the visa situation kind of sucks. You have to do paperwork ahead of time to get your Visa, and Visa runs are necessary every 3 months.

#3 Medellin, Colombia: Ranked #3 this is my #1 to place to visit. Especially if I were just to judge it by it’s vibrancy and culture. I loved Medellin as soon as I stepped off the plane. The sounds, the sights (the women are beautiful) and the fact that everyone seems pretty darn nice. Medellin is somewhere you definitely want to visit at least once in your life. Saying that it only ranked #3 for a reason. It’s lively culture also includes, drugs, thieves and assaults. Every person I knew had either been mugged, robbed or pickpocketed (or personally knew somebody who had been). I personally had somebody try to pickpocket me, and my roommate was robbed at knife point. The safety factor drops this amazing city in Colombia to #3.

LINK: Medellin is dangerous!

#2 Siem Reap, Cambodia: The city of temples! It’s got all the charm of Vietnam, and it has 50 cent beers! Food will cost more than Vietnam, but it balances itself out with cheaper beer/cigarettes. In Siem Reap you’ll find a great combination of international food, and $3 lunches. This is the only place where I found imported liquor cheaper than it is back home in Canada! That’s right if you’ve travelled around you know the price of international booze is always more expensive. In Siem Reap, Jack Daniels is actually 40% cheaper than it is at home in Canada. The only caveat to this is wine. Wine is double the price for no known reason.

Siem Reap is small enough to walk around, but if you get sick of walking there’s an abundance of Tuk Tuks. Safe, and with great English, this is a great place to retire cheap. Visa on arrival is no problem, and it’s super easy to get 6 month extensions. The only reason it didn’t make the top spot on my list? Hot! It’s hot, hot hot! If you like hot weather this place should actually move itself up to number one.

LINK TO SIEM REAP MONTHLY REVIEW

#1 Cuenca, Ecuador: Oh Cuenca, I love you. Cuenca contains all the beautiful architecture you would find in Quito, but not filled with giant hills. I’ve found this is a sleepy town, but it is big enough to have malls, movie theaters and gyms.

I love the fact that you can pretty much walk everywhere here. A lot of expats lose weight just because of the constant walking.

You’ll wake up go for a walk to the market, get some fresh eggs and vegetables all for a $1 CDN. Big beers are $1.75 CDN, and meals out are roughy $2.50.

There is a wide assortment of culture to be found here, but it’s not really a party place. Cuenca isn’t a place you want to go for a vacation. There’s really not much to do here. It’s a place you’ll want to go to retire. A strong expat community also makes it an easy place to make friends.

Why is it rated so highly then? Just the fact that while it’s a sleepy town it is also peaceful and easy to get to know.

The only thing about Cuenca that I’d love to see change? It needs a better cab system. In Quito there was Cabify and Uber. Nothing like that exists in Cuenca. But when you can get a cab they are friendly and cheap.

Cuenca wins 2018 with its perfect spring like weather though out the year, great people and good sized population. Cuenca was #1 in 2017, and I am keeping it here for 2018.

LINK: One month in Cuenca

I hope this list has been useful to you. It was a lot of fun to make! It’s been a big year for me in 2018 and I love travel blogging. Thank you so much for your support! If you have any questions about which countries to retire cheap in, just message me!

Best places to retire cheap in 20182019-01-24T22:53:55+00:00

Cambodia vs Vietnam? Head to Head Show down!

If you’re looking for the best country to retire cheap , you’re going to definitely consider Vietnam. To be honest, until this recent trip, I never thought of coming to Cambodia. Known as the “more expensive, less safe version of Vietnam”, I had to come see it for myself. Today I’m going to compare two cities, Ho Chi Minh (AKA Saigon vs Siem Reap).

Rating 1: Partying & Nightlife

Siem Reap has Pub street, while Vietnam has Bui Vien. Both of these are the areas where people go to party when the sun goes down. The town of Siem Reap is also perfect for going out during the day, it’s small and everything is within walking distance. If you want a ride around town it’ll cost about a $1 for a Tuk Tuk. Ho Chi Minh (HCM) is much more spread out. It’s also a huge pain in the ass to get a motorbike taxi or cab. Getting a cab, is over priced as hell in Vietnam unless you use GRAB, and the problem with that is that it’ll take about 30 minutes to get one. (Half of the time you’ll book a GRAB and the car driver will cancel on you, or ask you to cancel.)

Winner: Siem Reap. Pub street kicks ass. It’s a much bigger area than Bui Vien, even though Siem Reap itself is much smaller than Vietnam. On Pub street you can get a massage, a beer, a pack of smokes and a taco for a combined price of under $10. Prices are great! (Tip: Go one block out of the Pub Street area, and pay 30% less for everything). The only problem with Pub street is Tuk Tuk drivers. They don’t allow them cars on the main part of the street, so the drivers themselves will stand there and constantly hassle you asking if you want a ride. These drivers will ruthlessly overcharge you, so make sure you never agree to one. If you are coming to Siem Reap, use GRAB or PASSApp. LINK TO TUK TUKS IN CAMBODIA STORY


Rating 2: Danger.
Both of these cities are relatively safe. Be careful of ladyboy hookers and pickpockets.

Winner: Siem Reap wins for safety. If you don’t go to shady places with ladyboy hookers, you are fine. In HCM one of the bigger problems is motorcycle mugging. They’ll drive by and the passenger on the back will snatch your phone, purse, etc. It’s not too bad, but it’s still not ideal. Because Siem Reap is a tourist town, police do seem more friendly, and keep an eye on crime.

Rating 3: English. The English qualities in both cities are fine. You won’t have any problems.

Winner: Siem Reap. The menus are universally English, and you’ll love it. Not only is English better, but it seems Cambodians are the most universally linguistically able people I’ve ever met. Here it’s not uncommon for people to speak 3 languages fluently! Vietnam isn’t bad, but definitely not as good as here.

Rating 4: Weather.

Winner: Tie. Both cities are universally hot and or rainy. If you like 30 degree plus weather, this is going to be the place to be. Also ants and mosquitos!

Rating 5: Food

Ok. I love food. Love it. If you love food, both cities have a great selection from local cuisine to imports.

Winner: Ho Chi Minh. Ho Chi Minh has one thing that Siem Reap doesn’t have. Banh Mi! LINK TO BANH MI STORY. Banh Mi for lunch for 80 cents is the #1 thing I love about Vietnam. Banh Mi, in case you don’t know are Vietnamese subs. Fresh baguettes from their in house bakery are stuffed with a mix of cured meats, and picketed vegetable. Literally if you have not had a Banh Mi in Vietnam you are missing out on one of the greatest pleasures in life. Also while Siem Reap has a great selection of food it’s missing out on McDonalds. I know you’re thinking I’m insane. I’m not. I don’t particularly need a McDonalds. I just use it as an example. If you like chains you’re out of luck. Ho Chi Minh has it all for food! This is a place to come for food. Whether you love Pho, Banh Mi or just want a burger and fries, Ho Chi Minh is a foodies paradise.

Rating 6: Cost

Both cities fall easily within my $1000 CDN a month budget. Saying that though, Ho Chi Minh is only affordable if you live in the local areas (District 7, 11, 12). If you live in the fancy areas of town with the expats and English teachers (District 1,2) then your budget will be much higher.

Winner: Siem Reap.

Rating 7: Shopping

Both places have little shops where you can buy things, but Ho Chi Minh has giant malls. Siem Reap by comparison has 3 separate night markets. These sell the $2 tank tops, and stuffed elephants.

Winner: Tie. Depending if you like luxury brands, and giant supermarkets or small night markets and local shops.

Rating 8:  Health

Both places have cheap pharmacies everywhere.

Winner: Tie

Rating 9: Gyms

One of the best gyms I’ve found in the world is in Siem Reap. $1.25 a visit, it’s not fancy, sweaty guys working out without their shirts on, and fit ladies. Ho Chi Minh though also has $30 a month places, but it’s usually not as common as expensive places around $60.

Winner: Siem Reap. Cheap, and I love the fact you can work out without a shirt. There aren’t that many places you can do that!

Rating 10: Internet

This is super important. Both have strong internet. Neither is horrible. Either way you’ll be in a place where you have internet. Till you don’t. Natural disasters, weather and such make it hard to rely on it sometimes.

Winner: Ho Chi Minh: The internet was definitely less spotty, and more reliable in Ho Chi Minh. Siem Reap is a tourist town, and it’s still developing. So, things like fast, reliable internet aren’t a given. This will change in the future, but for now Ho Chi Minh is definitely better. I work online as you all know writing this blog. I make videos and love playing games. In Siem Reap, it is tough. Not impossible but tough. Watching tv online is hard!

OVERALL WINNER? SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA. This little tourist town is great!Everyday feels like you’re on vacation here. It’s a small place, and I love the fact that you can walk everywhere. I also love the fact that visas are easy to get. A 30 day on arrival visa plus an easy to get 6 month extension, means that you’ll only be doing tourist border runs once a year. If you are surprised that Cambodia has won, you have to come check it out. You’ll see why I love it! Bonus Tip: Siem Reap has sidewalks. (Ho Chi Minh, has areas for motorcycles to drive that supposedly sidewalks.) Also beers in Siem Reap are 50 cents! Siem Reap’s slogan should be “Come for Angkor Wat, stay for 50 cent draft!”

Cambodia vs Vietnam? Head to Head Show down!2018-09-24T08:49:58+00:00

Can you retire in Cambodia for $1000 a month

Cambodia is amazing. It reminds me a lot of Bali really. Let me rephrase that. Siem Reap is amazing. Phomn Penh sucks. LINK TO ARTICLE ABOUT WHY SIEM REAP IS BETTER

Siem Reap is a tourist town, that reminds me a lot of Sanur in Bali. It’s divided into two sections, a Cambodian section and the English/Tourist section.

If you’re going to coming here, chances are you’ll live in the tourist section.

I can honestly tell you, I never once went to the Cambodian side.

Not because I didn’t want to, but more because I didn’t feel like I needed to.

My gym is $25 USD a month and it’s a 14 minute walk away from the hostel I’m staying at $180 USD a month

Here’s the cost of living in Siem Reap (All prices in USD because it’s the unofficial currency of Cambodia)

  • Rent $180 private room/shared apartment
  • Gym $25
  • Breakfast $1 (like an omelette with a baguette)
  • Breakfast $3 (American style, with eggs, bacon, ham, toast, coffee, juice and fresh fruit)
  • Lunch $3 (medium pizza. Think Little Caesar Medium)
  • Lunch $1 (fried rice)
  • Lunch $2 (Khmer Curry beef)
  • Dinner $1.50 (BBQ Chicken drumstick)
  • Dinner $6 (Indian meal)
  • Beer 50 cent for a pint of a draft
  • Rum $3 a bottle (Cambodian)
  • Imported booze $12 (26oz of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum)
  • Cigarettes 50 cents a pack (Cambodian)
  • Cigarettes $1.50 (Marlboro/Mevius)
  • Massage $6 (1 hour)
  • Tuk Tuks $1.25(30 minute trip)
  • Movies $2.50 (cheap day Mon-Thurs)
  • Movies $3.50 (weekends)
  • Hard liquor at bars $2

Total Monthly Expenses

  • Rent $180
  • Cambodian Visa $56
  • Beer/food/cigarettes $10 a day ($300)
  • Entertainment $5 ($150)
  • Gym $25
  • Cell phone card $5

Total $716 USD = $1000 CDN

Besides the prices, how is living in Siem Reap? Well, like I said it is a tourist town.

What does that mean?

You’ll feel like you’re on a vacation all the time. It can get really easy to lose track of time. A month here just blew by. (I have found my favorite hammock and I live in it!)

The English is perfect. Even at the local mom and pop shops. I’d say 10/10. Better than anywhere else I’ve been to so far in South East Asia. It’s really nice, and definitely something I didn’t expect!

Healthcare? Pharmacies everywhere, and hospital care is cheap much like the rest of South East Asia

Transportation: Tuk Tuks and private cars. Use the Grab App or Passapp to book them. Incredibly fast. I waited 5 minutes maximum. Using Google Maps is still strange to some of the drivers, so be ready to show them how to read a map. They aren’t trying to cheat you, they just don’t understand how maps work.

Sidewalks and Traffic: After coming here from Vietnam, I was in love. Sure they don’t really use traffic lights but the traffic isn’t insane. They also have sidewalks. I know it seems crazy to say they have sidewalks, but after being in a lot of South East Asia, you quickly learn that in most countries, sidewalks are a luxury.

Gyms: One of the best in the world for value/price. The one I go to is a very serious one with tons of equipment

LINK TO GYM REVIEW

Wifi: Fast. But sometimes, the whole grid goes down because of shoddy electricity.

Food: Cambodian food, really seems to be a mix of foods from all over. I ate a lot of pizza, bbq chicken and fried rice. They have Amok, a type of protein dish that isn’t bad, but nothing I am dying for (unlike Hong Kong, which I have to go to for sweet and sour pork).

Sin: Beer is cheap cheap cheap. At 50 cents a pint, and smokes at 75 cents, you can literally pay for your whole vacation here if you compare the price to drinking/smoking/partying at home for a weekend.

Visa: As a Canadian, I got a visa on arrival for 30 days for free. I extended it for $50 for a month. (It’s possible to extend it for 3 months for $75.) That means you can stay here for 4 months before you have to do a border run

Crime: It felt relatively crime free, unlike Colombia, or Vietnam. Safe.

BIGGEST PROBLEMS

  • Bugs: Those little ants you see in tropical climates
  • Mosquitos that sting you
  • Streets with potholes
  • Hot! If you can’t stand the heat, do not come here. South America has a much better climate. It’s 30 degrees here everyday.

Siem Reap, Cambodia is definitely worth checking out and will make my top ten places to retire in 2018 LINK TO 2017 BEST COUNTRIES TO RETIRE

HOPE YOU ALL FOUND THIS ARTICLE USEFUL! DON’T FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE IF YOU WANT MORE INFO AND STORIES.

Can you retire in Cambodia for $1000 a month2018-08-31T06:26:50+00:00

District 7 and Why I Will Retire in Saigon, Vietnam

As you know, I’ve been travelling the world looking for the best place to retire cheap. Thailand, Colombia and Ecuador, have all been explored LINK TO BEST PLACES TO RETIRE IN 2017. The biggest question I get all the time is, “Can I retire for $1000 USD a month in X city?” The answer is almost always a big resounding YES. You just need is the ability to live within your budget, no splurging .

And the second part to that answer is that, it’s also possible to not just live, but to live well for that budget. BestCountriesToRetireCheap.com has a mission of finding a place where a $1000 CDN works. And it’s all about finding the best bang for the buck.

So, how does Saigon in Vietnam hold up? After being here two weeks, I can tell you it’s amazing.

With a $1000 CDN budget, I’ve actually been saving money.

Food is cheap, booze is cheap and entertainment is also cheap.

Here’s my daily routine

  • Get up, grab a coffee 17,600 Dong ($1 CDN)
  • Read some news, play on my Ipad
  • I’ve tried to give up smoking, but it’s been hard so I’ll usually have a smoke with my morning coffee. cigarettes are 25,500 Dong ($1.50 CDN) a pack.
  • I then head off to the gym 260,000 Dong ($15 CDN) a month.
  • On my way home I’ll usually grab a Vietnamese Sub, AKA Banh Mi, AKA delicious 15,000 Dong ($1 CDN). The funny thing about Banh Mi’s is that there are several stands all around my apartment. All of the Banh Mi’s are slightly different but they are all uniformly 15,000 Dong!
  • Then back to the apartment which I share with two other Expats. The apartment is 4.4 million Dong ($250 CDN ) a month for high speed internet (43 Mbps), a maid once a week, power, water etc.
  • Dinner will usually be a bowl of Pho 40,000 Dong ($2 CDN)

ARE THERE OTHER COSTS?

  • I subscribe to Kindle unlimited that costs me .32 CDN a day
  • Internet tv service .17 CDN a day
  • Movies are 75,000 Dong on Wednesdays ($4.25 CDN)
  • Grab taxi to District 1 (the fun area) 140,000 Dong ($8 CDN)
  • Grab Bike to District 1 (if you’re ok with riding on a motorbike) 40,000 Dong ($2.50)
  • Save up for my flight to my next destination $4 CDN a day (I’m saving $1000 CDN for flights every 6 months).
  • Beers are 17,000 Dong ($1 CDN)
  • Cheap Vodka 50,000 Dong ($4 CDN for 26 ounces)

My daily cost is $8 a day! So with a $1000 CDN budget, instead of the $33 a day that I’ve allocated, I’m saving around $20 CDN a day. That $20 is usually spent on days out where I go for fancy meals (400,000 Dong, $22 CDN), taxi around and drink at bars.

The article though is called why I love District 7. The way I’m getting this crazy price is that I’m living in the same area as the locals.

If you want to be an expat, living in the heart of the city with other expats, you’ll want to live in District 1. There rent will be about 10 million dong ($600 CDN) a month.

I live in District 7, not only because it’s super cheap, but I like living with the local feel.

There’s a farmers market around the corner that’s always open.

My gym isn’t fancy, but it works (a fancy boxing gym is 1 million dong a month, $60 CDN a month). Everywhere I go, it’s locals. (I pretty much see one or two foreigners a month.)

Everywhere I’ve stayed in the world, there are little enclaves of expats where the rent is insanely expensive compared to the local rates. (For example in Medellin, Colombia it’s Poblado)

But, if you don’t want to spend a crazy ton of money? Stay where the locals are, and just go to the expat areas, when you want a fun night out.

So far, I love Saigon, Vietnam and it’s one of the cheapest places I’ve ever lived. (Yes….seriously it is).

Hope you liked the article, and I’ll keep on writing if you all keep on reading!

Want more articles? LINK TO TRAVEL BLOG

District 7 and Why I Will Retire in Saigon, Vietnam2018-05-23T16:50:29+00:00

How much does it cost to retire cheap in Bangkok 2018?

Bangkok! The land of smiles, torrential rain and blazing heat…what does it cost to retire cheap in 2018 here?

Today, I woke up to the sound of torrential rain beating down on the roof of my building. If you’ve never been in a thunder storm in Bangkok, you might never have seen rain.

I love this city, and you can read my 2016 review of it on this site here. BANGKOK vs MEDELLIN REVIEW

Since it’s all rainy out I’ve decided to write this blog for all of you BestCountriesToRetireCheap.com fans!

The cost of my private room in Bangkok was 10000 THB/$400 CDN a month. This is a little more than I like to pay (usually my budget is 6250 thb/$250 CDN)AND more expensive than getting a private apartment.

Why pay more for semi privacy in a hostel? I’ve gotten way too old to stay in hostel bunks, but still like meeting new people WHY STAY IN HOSTELS LINK .

I spent 30 days in Bangkok 2018 and still love this city.

How much is life here? What’s it like?

Waking up in the rain I go for breakfast at Siam Paragon. (For Canadians it’s a big air conditioned mall). There I pick up a cash card for the food court. These cards are what most malls use. You buy one, load it with cash and use it at a kiosk. Don’t worry, whatever you don’t use, can be refunded after your meal.

I buy a omelette with curry and rice. It’s 60 thb /$3 CDN. After breakfast I see my friend, Manuel from Portugal on the BTS. He’s just gotten back from buying smokes at 7-11. A pack of smokes is 60 thb/$3 CDN. (The BTS is Bangkok’s Skytrain system. It costs about 80 thb/$3.50 CDN for a round trip ticket.)

I’ve got to say, he looks as hungover as I feel. The cheap Thai Hong Thong whiskey we drank last night (240 thb/$6 CDN for a liter) is still working through our bodies.

I’m deciding what to do today, besides writing this blog. Should I go for a massage? It’s 200 thb/$8 CDN for a Thai massage or 300 thb/$12 CDN for a normal oil massage. Those are the prices at a normal massage. No happy ending. This is the low end price though.

My friend Sidney loves the luxury life, so when she was here, she went for super fancy pants massages, with oil, aromatherapy etc. This was 4000 thb/$160 CDN for 4 hours.

I can’t go for a movie today because yesterday we had already gone to see Avengers in 4DX. 4DX if you don’t know is 3D plus other effects. A ticket plus popcorn drink was 600 thb/$24 CDN. I also saw Rampage last Wednesday for 100 thb/$4 CDN because it’s cheap Wednesday in Bangkok for movies.

Honestly, I might just do nothing today. The fast internet at my hostel and the air conditioning, plus my broken brokeness, might make today a good day to recuperate, mentally, physically and monetarily. BUDGET TIPS LINK Having only $1000 CDN a month for my retirement budget, is easy to maintain, but it means having recuperation days after party days.

I’ve got only a few days left in Bangkok so I might hit another massage, or maybe a big buffet? The buffets are awesome at about 1000 thb/$40 CDN for unlimited steak/lobster/oysters/shrimp.

Either way, I love Thailand and would definitely consider retiring cheap here.

But I’ll see how it compares to Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam (where I’m heading in a few days).

Want to see how that compares? Keep reading! And don’t forget to follow/like/share this article on social media! Keep on planning those cheap retirement plans BestCountriesToRetireCheap.com fans! And if you want more great articles here’s the best place to start your cheap retirement plans START HERE TONS OF ARTICLES

How much does it cost to retire cheap in Bangkok 2018?2018-05-03T06:36:06+00:00

Are you ready? Preparation guide for a 6 month trip to Asia.

Preparing for a 6 month trip to Asia, especially if it’s your first one can be fun but are you ready? I’m returning to Asia in March to continue my search for the best countries to retire cheap in 2018. Bangkok, Cambodia, Vietnam and Kuala Lumpur are all on my radar. I’ve been to some of those countries several times LINK BANGKOK IS IT THE BEST PLACE TO RETIRE CHEAP and others I’ve never been to.

Preparing for a long trip to Asia, requires a lot of pre-planning. Here’s a checklist for you.

  1. Do you have a passport copy? Take a photo of your passport page. If you lose it you’re going to want to be able to quickly have an online copy available to prove who you are LINK LOST YOUR PASSPORT?
  2. Do you have all your supplements, vitamins and such? I workout a lot, so I like having creatine, bcaa’s and protein powder. You might want to make sure all of your medicine is fully stocked as well. Protein is available in Asia, but it’s super expensive. Think 3X the price.
  3. Bank cards and credit cards: Have you let your bank and credit cards know you’re going to be travelling? They like to say that you don’t have to notify them. I’ve found out the hard way, that’s not true. Loss prevention will flag your card for “unusual activity” and lock you down.
  4. Cash. Cash is king. Bring emergency cash. I had a bank machine in Thailand eat my card once. Remember you’re in a different country and most of your purchases (except fancy restaurants, hotels) are cash only. Don’t buy the currency in your home country. I take money out at ATMS when I get to the country. Having emergency cash though, has saved my digital nomad butt a whole bunch of times
  5. Luggage? Have you tested your luggage? Is it good to go ? LINK BONUS TIPS FOR TRAVEL
  6. Electronics: You can buy a travel charger from Amazon, or wait till you get to the countries you’re going to. I also recommend a power bar with a surge protector. The shady electricity in developing countries can cause brownouts that destroy your plugged in phone.

This is my personal checklist, and I use it every time I go for a trip to find the best places to retire cheap. If you want more articles here’s a great link to start! LINK BEST PLACE TO START YOUR JOURNEY

See you all in Asia, and if you have any questions. Feel free to message me!

Are you ready? Preparation guide for a 6 month trip to Asia.2018-02-21T19:36:22+00:00

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