The Top 10 Countries Where You Can Survive On a Social Security Check After Your Retirement

As of 2022, AARP estimates that Social Security benefits will average $1,657 a month, or under $20,000 a year. It will be extremely difficult to live on just your Social Security check as a retiree in the U.S. with only that amount of money to use. The average U.S. retiree household spends about $50,000 a year, according to International Living.

if you’re willing to move overseas and live comfortably for $24,000 per year, you can stretch your government check further and live quite comfortably if you’re willing to settle down with your government check.

We compiled data from International Living’s Global Retirement Index to find countries that offer the lowest retirement costs. These 10 countries offer low-cost healthcare, low-cost grocery bills, and other benefits compared to what you’ll pay in the U.S. If you want to save money, here are the 10 best countries where you can live on just your Social Security check.

1. Panama

There are many things to do in Panama City, whether it is to relax or in celebrate a special event. Panama City is a tropical country located in Central America, with Colombia to the southeast and Costa Rica to the northwest. The weather is warm and humid at sea level, while higher up it gets a bit colder.

Additionally, you won’t have to worry about violent storms since it’s southwest of the hurricane belt.

For retired expatriates, Panama is an excellent place to retire. The local produce is abundant and inexpensive, and household items are about 50% cheaper than in the United States.

According to International Living, a couple can live in Panama for between $1,224 to $2,935 per month. That includes rent or mortgage on a two-bedroom apartment of $500 to $1,500 and electricity costs of $30 to $150 per month.


2. Costa Rica

Located in Central America, Costa Rica is bordered on the north by Nicaragua and the southeast by Panama, with the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. It varies from hot and humid to hot and dry in Costa Rica, and some areas become cooler at night when the weather gets warmer.

It is estimated that some retired couples can survive on $2,000 per month, while others need $2,500 to $3,000. The universal healthcare system is a major reason for the low cost of living here. Residents can get all their healthcare, including doctor visits, prescriptions, and surgeries, for a low monthly fee based on income.

3. Mexico

Mexican climate varies from arid to tropical, depending on where you live. One of the main reasons retirees move to Mexico is the low cost of living, and International Living recommends shopping locally to save money.

In some places of the U.S., you can find brand-name goods you’re familiar with, but if you go with goods that don’t have those familiar brand names, you’ll save a lot of money. In-season produce costs about $1.25 for 2.2 pounds, and an avocado kilo or 2.2 pounds costs about $1.25 — the cost of a single avocado.

In Mexico, a couple can expect to live for about $1,890 per month. A furnished two-bedroom house there costs around $750 per month.

4. Portugal

On the Iberian peninsula, Portugal lies in southwestern Europe. In most suburban areas of the country, such as Estoril, close to Lisbon, a couple would spend $2,207 on living expenses. Its climate is warm and wet during the winter and dry during the summer.

An average couple can live comfortably in some of the country’s smaller interior cities for around $1,700 per month, including $690 rent for a two-bedroom furnished apartment, a $69 internet package that includes cell phones and TV, and a $46 electric bill.


5. Colombia

In the northwestern part of South America, Colombia is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Oceans and is well known for its high-quality coffee production. In addition to warm and tropical climates, there are mild climates, dry and arid climates, or hot and humid climates.

Despite having a low cost of living, Colombia offers amenities and infrastructure that you would expect from a country with a much higher cost of living, according to International Living. There are varying costs of living within the country, but it is possible to find a lifestyle that fits your budget as well as one that you enjoy.

The average rent for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment ranges from $325 to $1,300 per month, while groceries, including alcohol, will cost $250 to $400 per month.

6. Ecuador

This country in South America is located at the northernmost edge of the continent, with the Pacific Ocean bordering it on the west and east. As with all countries on this list, the climate varies according to the region you live in, including the mountains, Pacific coastal plains, and eastern rainforests.

According to International Living, Ecuador is an extremely affordable country to live; a couple can retire there on $18,000 a year and live very comfortably. You can also get a two-bedroom luxury apartment, maid services, healthcare and ample entertainment and dining out in Quito for about $1,800 per month if you live in the country’s Spanish colonial capital, Quito. Quito is home to some of the country’s most exclusive addresses.


7. Malta

Malta is a small archipelago in Southern Europe on the Mediterranean Sea if you’d rather live in Europe than South or Central America. There are dry summers and summer temperatures in Malta with highs in the 90s, and sometimes temperatures in the mid-50s during the winter. There is an average daytime temperature of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the rest of the year.

The monthly cost-of-living expense for a couple in this area of Europe is about $2,331 for a one-bedroom apartment, and $750 to $800 for groceries, according to International Living.


8. France

A comfortable climate is found in most parts of France; on the other hand, living in the Mediterranean region is known for its hot summers and mild winters. The cost of living in France will be determined by where you live.

Compared with other areas of France, Paris is much more expensive to live in. In the quieter areas of France, like the Charentes or the Auvergne, a monthly budget of $2,083 to $2,483 includes $800 to $1,200 for rent, $48 for electricity, and $600 for groceries, including wine, according to International Living.


9. Spain

In Spain, which is one of the driest and most sunny countries in Europe, the weather can differ by region. If you live in the north, you’ll experience mild summers and a dry winter, while in the south, it’s the opposite.

Spain has one of the lowest costs of living in Western Europe, according to International Living. A typical monthly budget for a couple living in a mid-sized city such as Alicante is around $2,400, including a maid service of three hours per week, a grocery bill of $335, and rent for a furnished one- or two-bedroom apartment.

Moreover, it includes a comprehensive healthcare plan and dental coverage for a couple, which can be purchased separately for $276 per month.


10. Uruguay

A South American continent, Uruguay is located on the southeastern coast. There are four seasons in this country, but due to its location in the Southern hemisphere, the summer season lasts in January and February, and the winter season lasts from July to August. However, ice and snow aren’t an issue here.

According to International Living, the cost of living in Uruguay varies by where you live and what you do. In Cordon, a revitalized section of Montevideo, two people can rent a two-bedroom apartment for $2,500 a month. Rent costs $650, food and household supplies cost $800, electricity bills cost $160, and entertainment costs $400.


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