The average Social Security check now stands at $1,335. The average couple pulls in a bit over $2,100 per month from Social Security (assuming both earn benefits).
With so many retirees who have no savings – maybe half of us – and no other pensions, the Social Security check may be the check. Sound grim? It may not be. The reality is that there are great places to call home and live on those kinds of deflated numbers.
The one kicker: get your passport ready, because you’re moving out of the country.
Note: some places may be cheap – much of Mongolia for instance, or Sudan – but this list only has places that meet three key criteria: there already is an established expat community, meaning some English is spoken and some services/amenities aimed at expats are available; safety is high; getting back to the U.S. is straightforward, fast, and easy. That last is crucial for retirees, because most will turn to Medicare for big medical issues and, in most cases, Medicare does not work out of the country.
Where to move?
A perennial all-star among affordable retirement locations, Cuenca is a city of 400,000 with a city center designated a UNESCO World Heritage Trust Site. It is pretty, the weather is temperate year-round and the city is filled with tens of thousands of English speaking expats, mainly from the U.S. and Canada.
Aaron Hazelton, 37 years old, who works with Ecuador Relocation Tours and himself lives in Cuenca, offered a monthly budget: “Rental costs run on average $250 to $550, depending on what you are looking for. Add to that a trip to a local market and you walk away with beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables, about all you can carry, for perhaps $10. A three-course lunch at a sit-down type restaurant downtown will cost you about $3.”
Susan Schenck, 60, said she has lived in Cuenca for six years (she authored Expats in Cuenca, Ecuador: The Magic & The Madness). She added: “I live on $1,400 — my pension — with the same lifestyle I lived in San Diego on, with $75,000.”