04/10/2014 08:04 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The True Cost Of Retiring Overseas

Your cost of living will depend on your lifestyle, of course. In the new book we've just written, we explain just what this means, and we share details about how you should be able to reduce your living expenses by as much as 30-50 percent over what you may be spending in the U.S. or Canada. . . maybe more, depending on where you choose to live.


Photo by Erica Mills,

Our friends, Ron and Terresa, for example, have been retired in Ecuador since 2009 -- long enough for Ron's ponytail to grow all the way down his back. In 2008, though, when Ron was 54 and Terresa was 50, they were struggling. They'd lost a third of their nest egg and were so close to losing their home that all they could do was walk away.

Today they own two homes in Ecuador outright. One is in an always-perfect-weather mountain climate and another is front and center on a gorgeous stretch of beach where, from their balcony, they watch pelicans bob and dolphins frolic in the surf -- not to mention amazing sunsets. Both homes are just a few degrees from the equator, by the way.

Believe it or not, to maintain both homes and pay all their utility bills, medical insurance, health care expenses, prescriptions, food, and entertainment, Ron and Terresa's monthly expenses average just $1,000 a month!

Now, to be perfectly honest, Ron and Terresa live simple lives. They're homebodies. They don't travel or go to expensive restaurants frequently. Ron likes to take long walks on the beach. Once in awhile he helps the local fishermen pull in their nets and their boats. In return, they give him a bag full of their catch of the day.

Terresa likes to cook and watch her favorite TV show and movies on DirecTV and Netflix. Once a month she goes to a potluck gathering of expat women who live in their little town.

"We watch the sun set every night," says Terresa. "It's soothing. And it's free. We love our lives here."

And we know many people who are doing the same -- enjoying life to the fullest, in places like Latin America, Asia, and Europe. They're living the retirement lifestyle of their dreams, yet spending less than they ever thought possible.

In fact, millions of American, Canadian, and European retirees have learned what Ron and Terresa have. Moving just a few hours by plane from where you live now can save you tens of thousands of dollars every year, and may mean you can finally afford and/or greatly reduce your health care costs. And living in a more welcoming climate may not only improve your overall quality of life, but also can actually improve your health.

In many cases, retiring overseas may mean the difference between working for another 10 years or so or retiring now.

We're good examples of that ourselves. We left Omaha, Nebraska, in 2001, certain that we would find not only better weather overseas, but a way to support ourselves. Sure, we're not actually "retired"... but we feel like we've retired from the corporate drudgery and workaday lifestyle that most people our age must continue to endure these days just to pay the bills.

It doesn't hurt that we have a beautiful view right outside our window... and that since 2001 we've never had to shovel snow or scrape ice from our car windows. In fact, we don't even have a car these days. We don't need one. We spend maybe $5 a month on public transportation in the little town where we live. We can walk everywhere and that has not only made us healthier physically, but it has had a healthy effect on our bank account. Our monthly expenses, are a bit more than Ron and Terresa's, at just under $1,400, not including our health insurance and travel expenses.

We're going back to the States more often these days as we've recently welcomed our first grandchild. But the point is that our low cost of living allows us to spend more money on things we want to do rather than on what we have to do.

Of course, inexpensive living isn't the number one reason anyone should move overseas. We've said that time and again. Instead, you should do it because you yearn for the adventure of it and you want to embrace and immerse yourself in a new culture and life experience.

These are some of the points that we dig into in that book we mentioned earlier. Written in partnership with Wiley Publishing, it's called "The International Living Guide to Retiring Overseas on a Budget." In it, we offer all the details you'll need if you're considering an overseas retirement, including the world's best retirement destinations -- not just countries, but specific communities where you'll be welcomed and immediately see your cost of living, spiral downward.

We're happy to say that it's currently among the top sellers among retirement books, so we think our message is resonating. Retiring overseas is an idea that's worth pursuing if you are the slightest bit adventurous and you're ready to go for the gold in your retirement year, or like us, in your "pre-retirement" years.

You can order the book here. Reviews so far are good, and we're happy about that. But we'll be even happier if it helps put you on the fast track to a more fulfilling and lower-cost retirement (in a place with better weather) than you ever thought possible.

Related Articles:
10 Reasons to Live in Ecuador
6 Reasons Why I Wasn't Crazy for Moving Overseas
Enjoy the California Lifestyle - for Less - in Coronado, Panama

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

5 Affordable Countries for Retirement Overseas