Jan 19 / Kyle

Places You Can Live Comfortably For Under $1,500 Per Month

When retiring on limited capital, you have two options:  increase your investment returns (or at least your cash flow) or move to a cheaper locale.  There are probably no places in the United States where you can live comfortably for less than $1,500 per month (without farming your own food, at least…let me know if I’m wrong), but there are a few such places abroad.  While the typical American vision of living like a king for pennies on the dollar in an exotic third world location is a gross exaggeration, once can certainly build a satisfying life abroad in some locations for a relatively small amount of money.

Places To Retire For Under $1,500 Per Month


It’s true some of the larger cities can be quite expensive, especially if you insist on having all the luxuries you took for granted back in the states, but there are a number of places in Thailand where $1,500 still goes a long way.  It won’t get you a beachfront condo, of course, but I’ve been told it’s possible to get a decent (if small) apartment in the $100-150 per month range, especially in the northern part of the country.  A beer at a bar will cost you less than $1 and a decent meal might only run you a few dollars more.  Great food, sun, the beach, a friendly people on an affordable budget.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of the safest and most prosperous nations in Central America.  Over half the surface area of the country is protected as a natural sanctuary, and tourism is Costa Rica’s most important industry.  As such, there are plenty of English-speaking ex-pats in the area, and many people in the more tourist-oriented areas will speak decent English.  Costa Rica is known for its lush rain forests, diverse wildlife, and beautiful beaches.  Not the cheapest country on the list, but it’s quite possible to live a decent lifestyle on $1,500 per month outside of the major cities.


Belize is home of the 2nd-largest coral reef in the world behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.  As such, it’s a mecca for scuba divers, snorklers, and a popular cruise ship destination.  Even better, English is the official language of Belize (most everybody speaks Spanish as well), making it an easy transition for ex-pats who don’t speak another language.  The cost of living here is similar to Costa Rica (for similar reasons).  It will probably cost you around $300 per month for a decent-sized apartment outside of Belize City.

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  1. Victor / Jan 28 2010

    I think you would need to revise your $100 – $150 a month rental for Thailand, although there are many places that are available in the sub 5000 baht niche they are “Thai style” and not of a western standard.

    For those that dont know what that means its one room studio, probably no air, tiny and badly constructed ( read paper thin walls noisy ) which is ok if your a 19 year old back packer.

    A practical starting point for western ex pats rentals is around 10,000 baht which is about 300 a month.

    A reasonable but modest life can be had for about 2000 a month but that is not what I would call retire comfortably, that means modestly.

    The truth about Thailand is that you can live very very well ( much better than in the US ) for 4,000 a month thats the sweet spot here.

    If you want to live cheaply try Laos.

  2. G / Feb 9 2010

    I live in Indonesia and comfortably support my family of four on US1,200 a month (leaving the rest of my income for savings and investments). I even persuaded my folks to move out here for a while and they had a very nice year on their meager government pensions!

    Outside Jakarta you can get nice, air-conditioned accommodation from US1,800 per year. Food and other necessities are cheap. It’s just the government visa requirements that can be a pain but if you get a good agent, (or speak fluent Bahasa Indonesia yourself) everything can run very smoothly indeed.

  3. Richard / Jan 12 2011

    Nice site. You are right, Bangkok and Isaan in particular will be cheaper than somewhere like Phuket. 5000 baht will get you a small 24-28m sq. apartment. You can rent a villa in Phuket for 30,000 baht per month.

    You can see banking information in Thailand here: http://bangkoktimesonline.com/en/articles/banking-in-thailand.

    Also for UK expats who wish to avoid paying UK tax on their existing pensions, there is a guide here: http://bangkoktimesonline.com/en/articles/qrops-guide

  4. Paul / Jan 26 2011

    Is it possible to retire in places like Panama or a similar place with US$1 mil in financial assets for someone who is 50 years old, healthy with no debt?

  5. Jeff / Jul 15 2011

    During discussions about affordable places to retire Thailand, Costa Rica etc. usually come up first.

    Yet, there are many other retirement hot spots in the world with far better medical care, cleaner air and better infrastructure.

    If you like smaller cities with a vibrant night life, affordable housing and perfect infrastructure then consider to relocate to Innsbruck/Austria. The city is perfect for early retirees who like hiking, mountainbiking, skiing and most other kinds of outdoor sports. Innsbruck has it all – in winter AND in summer.

    Your Propertyking.at

  6. Robert gilliam / Dec 13 2012

    Dec. 2012 Just want to comment about rent in Thailand. I was living in Udonthni NE Thailand 50 K from the Lao boarder and Vientien. I was paying 4500 bhat a month and electric and water 1500 bhat. Total $200 a month.
    My place was a newer construction. concrete walls very quiet. In room W/C flat screen TV, wi-fi, cable, and Air conditioner. And I ran the Air most of the time, still total per month$200.
    Not as much to do as BKK or Chiang Mai but enough. Malls ,Tesco,plenty of night life only more rural.

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