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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.



  • 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


  • 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


Can you retire cheap in Mendoza, Argentina?2019-11-06T00:18:32+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


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


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 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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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… 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


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.


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


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.


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

Working out in Cambodia

The dust from the red clay on the roads blows into my face as I’m riding my Tuk Tuk to the gym. Thankfully my cheap sunglasses are helping to prevent it from blowing it into my eyes.

Arriving at Angkor Muscle Gym in Siem Reap, I’m ready to get my workout on!

The gym itself is in an open air warehouse. Huge Cambodian guys, and fit girls are all over the place.

Tons of machines, free weights and heavy weights show that this is a lifters gym.

While there are the rows of mandatory cardio machines, the majority of the gym is dedicated to getting your weightlifting game on.

In fact if you want to use the treadmills it’s $1 USD for every 20 minutes! I’ve never seen this anywhere else in the world, but electricity is expensive in Siem Reap.

My membership for the month is $25 USD, but if you only want to go occasionally the $1 USD a day drop in makes much more sense.

One crazy thing that sticks out here at Angkor Muscle gym is that it’s a shirt optional gym.

I haven’t seen many of these gyms in North America but after a few workouts without a shirt, I highly approve.

Without a shirt on, I quickly notice a couple things.

  • I’m tanned really oddly, splotchy like a fried egg, I resolve to get my tan on later.
  • I hate how certain parts of my body look, my obliques for example are gross. Normally I don’t notice because I’m usually working out with a shirt on. Here every imperfection that is normally hidden is in full view with the giant mirrors.
  • 6 packs are everywhere. This gym really can really highlight how out of shape you are.

Working out while travelling to find the best countries to retire cheap is mandatory for me. If I don’t do it, I find that I quickly enter the wake up, hammock and drinking stage.

When you have no real schedule, no need to work and nobody you know around, it’s really easy to get into this “who cares” phase.

So, If you’re looking into this retirement lifestyle, far away in a different land, I’d recommend you find a good gym as a 3rd home in your new city.

Hope this helps you with your quest to find somewhere cheap to retire, keep following the blog for more useful info LINK TO TRAVEL ARTICLES

Working out in Cambodia2018-08-25T14:16:43+00:00

How is working out in Cuenca, Ecuador?

Keeping in shape while travelling can be hard. I love gyms, and even though it’s possible to stay in shape using body weight exercises it bores the heck out of me. For me finding the best countries to retire cheap also requires finding a good gym in the potential city. More of my checklists LINK Which is better Bangkok or Medellin?

When I landed in Cuenca, Ecuador, the first thing I looked for was a gym. It didn’t have to be fancy, just clean & some basic equipment. (The second thing I usually look for is a bar….LINK … Hot pussy & cold beer in Cebu

I found one place, and stayed there for a month. While it was clean and basic, it was a little small. Month two I signed up at Zona Gym (best way to contact them is on Facebook : Zona Gym Cuenca)

For $20 USD it includes a couple things that don’t exist in most gyms in South America.

  • It’s open. Most gyms in South America open at 6am and then shut down in the afternoon. (They reopen again at 4 or 5pm. ) Zona actually stays open till they close at 10pm.
  • Unfortunately like most gyms in South America, they still close at odd hours on the weekend.  2pm Saturday and 1pm Sunday (although to be fair most gyms don’t even open Sundays here). When I asked them about this, they answered “We have to be closed sometimes for resting.” Hmmmmn….seriously forget a fancy 24hr gym like Snap Fitness. Somebody could make a killing just opening a gym that is open 7 days a week.
  • Another thing about gyms in South America, they think slow salsa music is good for working out music. Tip: Bring headphones.

Here’s a few little quirks about working out in Ecuador. Protein powder is $100 USD for a 5lb tub. That’s right. Literally next time I fly in, I’ll be bringing a second suitcase for protein powder and supplements. And shoes? How does $200 for a nice pair of Nike’s sound? (You can get knockoffs for cheap.) Same thing for headphones, super expensive or not available if you want good ones. So, those are a few things to make sure you bring with you from Canada.

To balance it out though, the food options are great!  You can buy quail eggs pre-cooked on the street like the Ecuadorian version of hot dogs. $1 USD gets you 10 quail eggs. A perfect post work out snack.  Super tasty too!

Chicken breasts and beef, are all super fresh and relatively cheap at little tiny neighborhood markets. I got 4 lbs of steak, and a quarter chicken for $9.25.

Also juice bars are everywhere. You can get a fresh carrot/alfalfa juice for $1 USD.

One other thing that is neat is that Cuenca is high altitude. So if you’ve ever wanted to try high altitude training, this is a great spot for it.

So while protein powder, supplements and vitamins are super expensive. Cuenca, Ecuador is a great place if you want to have a fun Gymcation.  Want to know more about Ecuador? LINK Can you retire on $1000 CDN in Ecuador . 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!)

How is working out in Cuenca, Ecuador?2018-06-20T19:05:59+00:00

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