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.


#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

Taking the bus from Quito to Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca, Ecuador is ranked #1 on many sites as the best place to retire cheap. After exploring Quito, Ecuador for the month LINK TO ONE MOTH IN QUITO I  decided to head to Cuenca, Ecuador.

The first step is getting to the bus station. Terminal South in Quito is the one you’re going to want to head to. If you’re staying in old town like I was it’s less than $5 to get there via Cabify LINK CABS IN QUITO.

Getting to the bus station, you’ll have a lot of companies to choose from. 

They all cost the same. $15 USD for one way. So since they all cost the same, the buses should all be the same level of quality and comfort right? Wrong.

Some of the buses have tons of leg room, like flying business class, with almost lay flaT recline. Other buses, you’ll be in the equivalent of economy in Air Canada (aka the worst).

Why wouldn’t everybody take the best buses? Well, depending on time and schedule you might have to take the donkey bus.

When I got to the bus station to buy my ticket at 10pm for the night bus the bus tickets for all of the good buses were sold out.

The good bus lines

  • Float imbabura
  • Sucre Express

With no choice, and a heavy heart I headed to the donkey bus line.

That’s when another

Not only was I going to be spending 9 hours on the donkey bus….

…tickets were all sold out!

According to my travel companion, Alejandro this is really really really rare. In all the times he has done the trip (over a dozen) he has never seen it so busy when it wasn’t a national holiday.

There isn’t information booths, but with a huge line of people still wanting tickets, one of the companies told us, if they could wake up some drivers they’d get us a bus. Maybe.

At this point I was stuck. Do I take a taxi back to the Blue Door Quito LINK TO BLUE DOOR REVIEW and come back in 4 hours for the first morning bus? Or maybe I could find a cab to take me? I thought maybe if I got a few people, Alejandro and I wouldn’t be paying too much more. Wrong again. The cab wanted $200 USD. That option being way too much, I settled in for maybe getting a bus.

The cool thing about travelling with somebody is that it does allow you to take a nap on the floor of a dirty bus station in Quito without worrying about your stuff. So, I grabbed some beers and some chips $10USD (2 big bags of chips and 2 beers) and we hung out till 330am in the morning.

At that point after a mini floor nap, one of the bus companies had rounded up a bus. It was a Patria bus (aka El Burro Autobus).

Cramped and squished with my bag (always take your valuables bag and put it on your lap) I pulled down my sleep mask and headphones. This is super important because, the bus plays a movie on a flat screen tv in Spanish, so if you want to sleep, be prepared.

About 7 hours in, we stopped at a little roadside diner near Alausi for breakfast. There you can get fried chicken, curried goat or curried beef. Usually about $3.

I chose to eat a protein bar.

A few hours later, I arrived in Cuenca. Total cost $25.15 USD ($15 bus ticket, $10 snacks, 15 cents to use the bathroom in the bus terminal).

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page 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!)

Taking the bus from Quito to Cuenca, Ecuador2018-11-16T21:04:26+00:00

Secret areas in Quito!

Quito, Ecuador is a town full of secret areas! Shops will open and close almost randomly. And a lot of times when they close they take all the signage indicating that there’s even a shop here. You literally will find different things open and closed, depending on the time of the day. BestCountriesToRetireCheap.com is all about discovering secrets while you search for the best countries to retire cheap. Here’s some neat ones.

A secret free washroom in the plaza grande

If you walk into the little set of shops, and look for #13 you’ll find a great (aka clean) free washroom.

You’ll also find some super safe bank machines

I’ve made up a list of super secret things on this map for you ! Enjoy~

Secret areas in Quito!2018-06-29T05:30:57+00:00

Can you Retire and Live in Quito, Ecuador for $1000 CDN a Month?

Can you retire in Quito, Ecuador for $1000 a month? Maybe you’ve read Huffington Post, or International living and heard that Ecuador is the best country to retire cheap? (Those type of articles are why I started my search). Perhaps you’re retired, retiring or a digital nomad? Is it really possible to live in Quito, Ecuador for $1000 Canadian a month? Here’s my detailed, no fluff, no garbage, not trying to sell you anything review with a cost breakdown.


Day 1: You’ll land in town. Getting from airport or bus station you’re going to need a cab. (How to take a cab in Quito) I arrived by bus from Colombia so my cab was $7 USD. (They use American dollars here, which is fantastic. Way easier then figuring out , versus figuring out the 38 000 Thailand Baht to a Canadian Dollar.) I took the cab to my boarding house.

For the next 30 days you’re going to need a place to call home. Personally I love, love, love AirBnB. (If you use AirBnB my code gives you a Air BNB $50 credit which goes a really long way in Ecuador. I found a place called the The blue door for $180USD a month. This place is fantastic. One of the best places I’ve lived in the world for cheap. It’s a large old house, with lots and lots of private rooms. I like living with other people, so it was perfect for me. (Shared kitchen & bathroom, but they have maids/cleaners/volunteers on site. “Why yes, I’ll have you do all my laundry for $1 USD a lb.) They also speak perfect English (a rarity in South America). The blue door is in Old town (aka quiet and residential). But it’s perfect for retirees that want a quieter life. For digital nomads, the Blue door has Fiber Optic WIFI! (Drool!)

The first thing I always look for when I show up in a new country is the closest gym. I find that the routine of having a gym really prevents me from Just drinking and partying all day. . There are several gyms in the area. The one I wound up at was the dirtiest oldest gym in the world, (you can see a video of it on @bestcountriestoretirecheap on Facebook or Instagram) but it did it’s job and it was $20 USD a month. Upscale gyms like Snap Fitness in Canada cost about $70 USD a month. 

After I’ve located the gym, I’ll usually go to the bar and grab a beer. Beers are sold at the grocery store for $1 USD each and in most bars for about $2 USD. Whoop Whoop!

Eating out was roughly $4 USD a meal. You can grab a coffee and a humita for $2 USD for breakfast.
Humita’s taste like cornbread and are delicous with Ecuadorian coffee.

For groceries, I bought a months worth of food for $90 USD. That was 20 lbs of meat (chicken breast, striploin, tuna steaks) pasta, vegetables and bread.

How much was it all in total to live in Quito, Ecuador for the month?

  • Apartment $180
  • Food $90
  • Gym $20

That’s a total fixed cost of $290 a month. Yes. $290USD a month.

The rest of your $1000 CDN is now up to you to spend. Do you drink a lot? Smoke (it’s about $5 CDN a pack versus the super cheap Smokes in Asia)? Party Dance party in Medellin? Spend a lot on health insurance? Need to go out a lot? If you’re doing your research on The best countries to retire cheap then you know it’s all going to depend on your personal lifestyle.

You can definitely live in Quito, Ecuador for $1000 Canadian a month. It’s great! Hope you come check it out. I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page 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!)

Can you Retire and Live in Quito, Ecuador for $1000 CDN a Month?2017-07-14T18:50:04+00:00

How to take a cab in…Quito, Ecuador

Zipping around the world looking for the best countries to retire cheap, teaches you that cabs are different all around. How are cabs in Quito, Ecuador?

First there are a lot of them. Not as many as in Bangkok, but more than most cities in Canada. Quito is split into three very distinct areas. The downtown (partying/bars), Northside (malls,high rises, modern) & Old town (churches, architecture)these are all very different. If you’re scouting out Quito to see if it’s the best place to retire in, you need to see all three areas.

Here’s the best way to do it. 

Start by downloading Cabify

Once you have the app downloaded, go to promotions and enter my code SAMSONC1. Now you get $6 in cab rides (and so do I….which would super useful if I was in Quito, lol).

Now you can use Cabify to go anywhere in the city without having to speak Spanish. (Also Uber is coming soon.)

Returning from your trips can be always tricky, because you might not always have WIFI. To get back, you’re going to want to flag down a normal cab. (Don’t worry it’s safe.) And like I said before, there are a lot of them

Now here’s where it gets interesting. 

After flagging down a cab, negotiate a price. DO NOT USE THE METER. I know this might go against every instinct you have. And I still don’t believe this is the better deal in Quito, but it is.

Going from Old Town to downtown costs rougly $4 by Cabify, and that’s the same price you can negotiate a cab for. It really isn’t a problem. If you totally disregard my advice, you’ll pay $6 minimum. That’s 50% more.  (How do you know how much to negotiate for? Well, I’m assuming you’re going to use Cabify ahead of time to get a good estimate.)

Also by negotiating a price the cab drive actually takes you to the address. (Whatttt?!) That’s right. TWICE I’ve had cab drivers get “Close enough” and want to drop me off when using the meter. When you have a negotiated price, you don’t even have to worry. You just tell them, this isn’t where we negotiated for.  And they keep driving till they get you to the right spot.

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Cabs are great, but sometimes a pain! Scroll to the bottom of the page 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!)

How to take a cab in…Quito, Ecuador2017-07-12T23:48:26+00:00

Ecuador Customs Form

I’ve traveled the world  looking for the best place to retire cheap, so I’ve wound up seeing a lot of customs forms. The one from Ecuador is the craziest I’ve ever seen. Luckily I didn’t have to fill it in because I took the bus in from Colombia. If you take the plane you’re filling one in.

The main reason for the customs forms is to prevent tax fraud. 

Be warned. Ecuador is very expensive for electronics. And behind the times. As of this writing , July 10, 2017 the IPhone 8 is about to be released. In Quito, Ecuador they are selling the IPhone 6 still at $1200 USD.

The current price for an iPhone 6 in America is $750 USD for a fully loaded one. 

So you can make money just bringing in high tech items and re-selling them. They obviously don’t want you doing that. So, if you’re coming to Ecuador. Careful of how many gadgets you bring. And make sure they are used, not new, or new looking.

Ecuador Customs Form2017-07-11T01:01:13+00:00

Get from Salento to Quito

If you’re heading from Salento, Colombia to Quito, Ecuador there are a couple of ways to get there. Here’s my step by step guide.

Step 1. Get to Pereira. The bus leaves from Salento 4 times a day. The bus from Pereira leaves at 5pm. It was under 10000 COP ($5) to get to Pereira. The chicken bus is not too cold. 

Then go to the Bolivariano bus ticket station and buy a ticket. Remember this bus is cold. Bring a blanket. Or wear all your clothes. I’m from Edmonton, Alberta so I can tell you I know cold. I wore 2 tank tops, 2 shirts, 2 pair of socks, a jacket, a vest and two pairs of pants AND used my towel as a blanket. The ticket is $920000 ($46 CDN). I had two huge 30kg bags with no extra charge. The ride is 14 hours. You will stop for food at a little roadside dinner. There you can get food for 2000-4000 COP ($2-$4 CDN). The bus ride is comfortable, but remember while they say they have wifi, it didn’t work. Preload all your entertainment. Safety tip. Never leave the bag that has all your valuables alone. Don’t store it in the overhead bin and fall asleep.

After arriving in Ipiales you’ll follow the crowd to a Collectivo (white mini bus) and pay the drive 4000 COP. The words you are looking for are Rumicha, la frontera. I don’t speak any Spanish (well according to Duolingo I’m 4% fluent) but had no problems.

As they drop you off, head to Migracian Colombia to get your exit stamp. This is to your left. If you see a sign that says Ecuador you’re going the wrong way.

After getting your stamp, exit and walk across the bridge to the Ecuador side. There you may or may not be searched by the police (this happened to me) and then go get your entry stamp to Ecuador. Canadians get a T3 stamp for 90 days no charge.

After that take a taxi to Tulcan. Don’t worry. As soon as you get out of the Ecuador stamp office, cab drivers will be yelling “Tulcan” at you. $3.50 USD (Did you notice I just changed to USD? Ecuador uses USD! Get your money BEFORE getting here).

The taxi drops you off right at the bus terminal, so no worries there. 

Buses will be yelling Quito. The ride was $6 USD. Then it’s another 5 hour ride.

All in all it was 27 hours for me to get from Salento to Quito. As a journey it was long. But kind of fun. 

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page 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!)

Get from Salento to Quito2017-06-23T18:45:23+00:00

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