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10 affordable countries to live your dream life as a retiree – Forbes

10 affordable countries to live your dream life as a retiree – Forbes

For anyone seeking a more affordable way of life or those wishing to escape the daily grind, societal pressures, this list is not exclusive to retirees. These are countries where the cost of living is so low that the need to work could become a choice rather than a necessity.

Forbes listed affordable places to live a dream life in 2024, making reference to Jennifer Stevens, executive editor of International Living and the Annual Global Retirement Index, ranking the best places to retire around the globe—affordably.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica tops Forbes Index for 2024 in part because its new 180-day tourist visa makes part-time living there easier than ever. Its continued commitment to environmental sustainability makes it a particularly attractive option in this era when climate change is at the top of people’s minds,” says Stevens. The country’s reputation for safety, political stability and a friendly society also makes it a top choice for expats.

Cost: International Living recommends the established expat retreats of Atenas, Grecia and San Ramón in the Central Valley, which offer spring-like temperatures and fertile lands, while Tamarindo caters to people in search of modern amenities and beautiful beaches. Forbes reported that even with the prices in Costa Rica being the highest in this part of Latin America, the developed infrastructure, healthcare and services received here outperform most neighbors and justify the expense. International Living says a retired couple can live well on $2,000 a month, while singles can enjoy the richness of Costa Rica on $1,600 a month.


According to Forbes, Portugal remains top European pick, though it fell slightly in the rankings this year because of changes to their Golden Visa program and impending changes likely to impact the tax benefits certain visa holders have enjoyed up until now. Despite this, Portugal continues to be a top choice for people seeking an affordable—and appealing—European lifestyle.

Cost: A couple can live comfortably starting at around $2,200 a month, while singles can expect to live well starting at about $1,700 a month. You can have dinner at nice restaurants for $11.50 or less, including drinks. But if you want to eat at home, the cost for groceries and routine services often comes in lower than in many parts of the U.S., making Portugal not just a dream, but a feasible reality for expats.


Mexico lands at number three this year, offering a particularly wide variety of lifestyle and climate options for folks looking to live better while spending less, Forbes reports. With its mix of Colonial cities, tropical beaches and diverse climates, Mexico appeals to a broad spectrum of expats.

Cost: A modest yet comfortable lifestyle in Mexico can be maintained on a budget of around $1,500 to $2,000 per month for a couple, covering all basic expenses including housing, utilities and food. Singles can expect to live comfortably on $800 to $1,200 per month, depending on lifestyle choices and location. In Mexico, the cost of living is substantially lower than in many U.S. cities, allowing for regular dining out, cultural activities, and travel within the country. Even in popular expat destinations, housing remains affordable, offering a higher standard of living for less, while healthcare services provide excellent quality at a fraction of U.S. prices.


Panama comes in fourth place due to unparalleled residency options and an enviable quality of life. Panama’s residency options remain hard to beat, with visas that provide retirees excellent options—whether you’re truly retired or interested in working online, Forbes said. Panama’s use of the U.S. dollar eliminates currency exchange headaches, and the nation’s healthcare ranks among the best globally. Plus, the country’s size allows for quick transitions from idyllic beaches to the buzz of Panama City.

Cost: A couple can enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle in Panama on a budget starting at $2,000 a month, covering all basic living expenses and some luxuries. Singles might find their costs starting at $1,200 a month, allowing for a comfortable and often upscale standard of living. Housing in Panama can be significantly less expensive than in the United States, whether renting in the city, near the beach or in the cooler regions of the highlands. Comprehensive healthcare at a low cost and discounts available to retirees stretch the affordability even further, making Panama an economically wise choice for many expats.


Spain’s appeal lies not only in its sun-drenched landscapes but also in its world-renowned healthcare system. And with one of the lowest costs of living in Europe, this means expats can indulge in Spain’s vibrant lifestyle and culinary excellence without breaking the bank. The nation’s healthcare, accessible to residents after certain periods (depending on their visa status) adds to its allure.

Cost: Life in Spain can be surprisingly affordable. A couple can live a comfortable lifestyle starting at $2,000 a month, while singles may spend between $1,500 and $2,000. These figures cover housing, healthcare and enjoying Spain’s rich dining scene and cultural offerings. The cost of living varies by region, with more affordable options in the countryside and higher costs in major cities like Madrid and Barcelona. The Spanish real estate market is welcoming to foreigners, with straightforward processes for both buying and renting. Prices for a two-bedroom home can start as low as €85,000 in rural Andalusia, reaching up to €300,000 in popular coastal areas. In metropolitan areas, prices start around €300,000 and can go higher based on location and amenities. Renting is a practical option for people looking to explore different regions, with monthly costs ranging at around €700 in less touristy areas.


Ecuador is known for its stunning blend of beaches, mountains and rainforests. The cost of living is low enough that a fixed income can provide a comfortable, even luxurious lifestyle. Ecuador is not just budget-friendly, it’s also rich with cultural variety and geographic diversity. Plus, it has a comfortable climate.

Cost: In Ecuador, the dollar stretches far. According to International Living, a couple can live well on about $2,000 a month, while singles can manage on roughly $1,000 a month. Housing costs are significantly lower than in the U.S., with rentals in charming expat towns starting as low as $300. Public transport is reliable and inexpensive, healthcare is accessible and affordable, and the cost of groceries is astonishingly low. Plus, retirees enjoy substantial discounts on a range of services and utilities, adding to the financial appeal of this equatorial paradise.


Greece offers “the quintessential example of a lifestyle so many retirees seek: a low cost of living in a beautiful, warm destination with high-quality, affordable healthcare.” Living costs in Greece can be significantly lower than in the United States (think, housing up to 75% less). Adding to the appeal—a laidback and healthy Mediterranean lifestyle, plus a Golden Visa program that offers residency with a real estate investment that’s surprisingly reasonable.

Cost: Living in Greece can significantly lower your cost of living compared to the United States: International Living estimates that you’ll save up to 50%. Eating out, a staple of Greek life, is notably affordable, with delicious local meals in casual tavernas averaging around $11 to $16 (€10 to €15) a person. Monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a city center can range from $331 to $662 (€300 to €600), while outside city centers, it drops to $276 to $552 (€250 to €500). For those contemplating property, the Golden Visa beckons with a threshold of granting residency and a gateway to the European lifestyle with an investment of €250,000 (around $276,265).


When it comes to places where you can live affordably in Asia, Forbes reports that Malaysia is a “hidden gem” With its “unique blend of stunning landscapes, friendly locals and budget-friendly living,” the country has been luring expats from around the world for over 400 years. When it comes to the Muslim world, there’s “probably no more liberal country.”

Cost: A couple can live comfortably in Malaysia on about $2,000 per month, while singles can enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle on around $1,000 a month, according to Forbes report. Housing costs are a fraction of what you’d pay in the US or Europe, with luxury rentals available at astonishingly low prices. Eating out is a cultural pastime and is both delicious and affordable, with local meals at casual eateries averaging just a few dollars per person. Utilities and transportation are also notably inexpensive, adding to the overall affordability of the Malaysian lifestyle.


France is more than just a picturesque dream destination, it’s a place where the cost of living can be significantly lower than in the United States, particularly if you avoid the upscale neighborhoods of Paris. This country offers a blend of high culture, excellent healthcare and a lifestyle that’s both vibrant and affordable.Forbes recommends budget-friendly locales like the sun-drenched southern city of Toulon (known for its affordable living and proximity to the Côte d’Azur) and the historical charm of Sarlat-la-Canéda in the Dordogne region (ideal for those who love medieval architecture and bucolic charm).

Cost: A two-bedroom apartment in Toulon can be rented for about €800 ($847) a month, offering sea views and proximity to beaches. In Sarlat-la-Canéda, a town with year-round vibrancy, living costs are even more reasonable, with rentals and everyday expenses being surprisingly affordable. In Huelgoat, property prices are among the lowest in France. The healthcare system in France is also a major draw, offering high-quality care at significantly reduced costs compared to the United States, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a high-quality, affordable European lifestyle.


The country is recognized for its range of landscapes: green coffee plantations, snow-capped mountains, soft beaches. Another thing going for it—Colombia is the world’s second-most biodiverse country, offering rich experiences in both urban settings and natural environments. The warm and accepting culture of Colombians ensures that expats feel welcome.

Cost: One can stay in Colombia with a comfortable lifestyle available from $1,000 per month in smaller cities and around $2,000 in more popular cities like Medellin, according to Forbes.

Housing in cities like Bogotá can be found for around $1,000 a month for a two-bedroom home, with costs varying depending on the city and neighborhood. Utilities are affordable due to the tiered estrato system, and other daily expenses like food and transportation are also reasonably priced. Health insurance is accessible and affordable, with high-quality care available throughout the country. Entertainment and leisure activities offer a range of options for all budgets, enhancing the overall quality of life in Colombia.