For many Canadians, the thought of saving enough for a comfortable retirement can seem like an unattainable dream.

But, according to personal finance expert Rebecca Lake, that dream may not be as far away as some might think… as long as you’re willing to move, that is.

In an article published on the U.S. financial education website Investopedia, Lake lists eight countries around the world where it’s possible to live on a minimum of $260,000 for 30 years of retirement. Those countries are: Thailand, Nicaragua, Malaysia, Spain, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Belize and Panama.

For anyone with a smaller nest egg and big dreams of retiring abroad, Toronto-based budget travel expert Barry Choi sat down with CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday, to break down the numbers on five of those eight destinations.

Choi also factors in annual social security benefits of approximately $15,000, on top of the initial $260,000 to arrive at what he says would amount to $24,000 a year to spend.

“But that’s the bare minimum that you want to work with,” he stressed. “If your goal is to retire long term abroad, I would start saving right now.”



Lake said the average monthly expense for someone in Thailand (not including rent) is around $554. Choi explained that rent can be “ridiculously” cheap in the country, especially outside of the main cities such as Bangkok. He said a retiree could rent an apartment for between $200 and $400 in Chiang Mai.

“I swear my internet bill sometimes costs more than that every single month,” he said with a laugh.

Seniors who are 50 years or older are also eligible for retirement visas so long as they meet the minimum monthly income requirement of about $1,863, according to Lake.

Choi said inexpensive meals also make the country an appealing choice for those on a limited budget. He did remind future retirees to factor in other potential costs such as health care and if they’d prefer to receive care back in Canada or not. If it’s the former, they will have to include those potential costs in their savings.



This Central American country is included on Lake’s list because of its “excellent quality” without a high price tag. A 900 square-foot furnished apartment can be rented for as low as $367 in the capital city of Managua and a gallon of gas is priced under a dollar, according to the article.

Choi also mentioned the country’s relatively close proximity to Canada as another attractive incentive for retiring there. He also said, despite Nicaragua’s reputation as being unstable and “poor,” the country actually offers an excellent health care system.

“You can visit a doctor in Nicaragua for $15. If you were to do that in the U.S., you’re probably talking about hundreds,” Choi said.

The budget travel expert said Nicaragua is a great choice because of its affordability, warm climate and good access to health care.



Choi described Malaysia as a beautiful country that falls on the more expensive side of Lake’s list. According to Lake’s article, a single retiree could spend $604 in monthly expenses not including rent. Choi said that monthly expenses would be less outside of a busy city such as Kuala Lumpur. He said the monthly rent in Penang is only around $500.

The ability to easily and inexpensively fly to other nearby countries is also another draw for retirees, according to Choi. He also said Canadians are attracted to the culture there.

“What people like about Malaysia is the fact that it’s very western,” he said. “You can go anywhere in Malaysia and everyone speaks English.”



A European country may seem like a surprising entry on this list, but Choi said areas in the southern part of the country can actually be quite affordable. Unlike the major centres Barcelona or Madrid, cities such as Granada and Seville are home to apartments that can be rented for $500 to $600 a month.

Choi said Spain’s year-round decent weather and its modern facilities makes it an appealing place to retire for many Canadians on a tight budget.

Costa Rica:


Although Costa Rica is often thought of as a tourist destination, Choi said it’s possible for someone to retire to the Central American country if they’re willing to live a little further from the beach or capital city of San Jose. He said retirees should consider moving to the Central Valley region where it’s less expensive and still only an hour away from the beaches or San Jose.

“It’s a very good compromise for many people and at the same time has very modern facilities,” Choi said.

For Canadians dead set on the city life, apartment rentals in San Jose are still relatively inexpensive. According to Lake, monthly rent can be as low as $830 depending on the neighbourhood.

Choi said his best advice for anyone thinking about retiring abroad one day is to start saving now and research different areas within a desired country to see which places are the most affordable.