Cheapest Places to Retire Cheapest Places to Retire in the United States vs Overseas

Edited by Kathy McGraw

Retirement offers the freedom to do things you couldn't do during your working years. Do you want to live on a Caribbean island and fish all day, or do you want to spend your days hiking mountain trails? Perhaps you want to live in Europe and explore medieval ruins or sample authentic Southeast Asian fare from a street vendor. Whatever your dreams, freed from the necessity of daily toil, you can make them come true during your golden years. To help you realize them, we've compiled this list of the cheapest places to retire, from the good old U.S.A. to the South Pacific.

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Method 1: Cheapest Places to Retire in the United States

Certain regions of the United States are more expensive to live than others, and these costlier spots can take a huge chunk out of your retirement savings, or make it almost impossible to live on a fixed income. However, there are other places there that are much more affordable, and some that are downright cheap. Here are few of our picks.

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  1. 1
    Oskaloosa, Iowa
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    With just 11,463 residents, Oskaloosa has that small town feel that harkens back to a time long gone. Featuring a town square surrounded by stately Depression-era and postwar buildings, tall shade trees, and pretty white-globe-topped street lights, it's like a postcard from mid-20th century Middle America. Your retirement savings will go far because of its low cost of living and cheap housing costs (the average home price is only $84,000), and it's close to the larger city of Des Moines, just 60 miles away.
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  2. 2
    Smyrna, Tennessee
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    Smyrna, Tennessee would make this list for the fact that it has low property taxes (3rd lowest in Tennessee) alone. When you combine its access to superior healthcare at TriStar Stone Crest Medical Center, bountiful golf courses, and its low cost of living, plus its small town feel, it's easy to see why U.S. and World Report declared this city as one of the best places to retire in 2007. Home prices are a little more expensive in Smyrna at just under $200,000 as the median price, but still quite affordable.
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  3. 3
    Brady, Texas
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    Brady is a small town of around just 5,500 people in central Texas where about 18 percent of its residents are over 65 years old. It's the kind of place where you can still leave your doors unlocked and take a stroll through the streets without worrying about your safety. With the median home price in Brady being just $70,000, you can easily buy a home in Brady outright, have no mortgage payment, and see your retirement savings last for the remainder of your life.
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  4. 4
    Saint Ann, Missouri
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    If you want to retire someplace affordable where you can live comfortably yet still be close to an urban center, St. Ann, Missouri is a good choice. It is properly a suburb of the city of St. Louis with a population of roughly 13,000 residents, so it is small, yet it is still part of a large metropolitan area. With a median price of $96,000, home prices there are still very affordable, and the cost of living is also manageable.
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  5. 5
    Winchester, Virginia
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    Located in North Virgina, Winchester is just 75 miles from Washington DC, close enough for day trips to the nation's capital. It's a small town of just 27, 284 residents and it's still affordable to buy a house and live there, with the median home price at about $180,000. Winchester is also close to Shenandoah National Park with its many hiking trails and other activities, and within the town itself is its homey downtown area filled with little shops. It's the essence of small town America.
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  6. 6
    Nashua, New Hampshire
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    New Hampshire, on the whole, is a great state in which to live, according to Bankrate, and Nashua is one of the reasons why. With a median home price of around $228,000 and a population of 88,766, it's a middling-size city that remains affordable to buy a home and live in. It has a low crime rate, yet still has plenty to do, including the annual International Sculpture Symposium that attracts artists from all over the world.
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  7. 7
    Canon City, Colorado
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    For the active retiree who is looking to go into their sunset years with lots of ways to get physical, Canon City, Colorado is a great choice.It offers plenty of ways to stay active, including whitewater rafting, hitting the dirt paths with a buggy or bike, and even zip lining along the mountain vistas. And when the mind is willing, but the body is no longer so able, or you just want to take it easy for a while, you can head on over the city center for some dancing and Bingo. As far as affordability goes, Canon City is quite affordable with a median home price of $124,000 and a much lower cost of living than the national average.
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Method 2: Cheapest Places to Retire Overseas

If you're adventurous or you've always dreamed about life abroad, there are places in the world where even retirees with no more income coming in other than their social security checks can live a nice, comfortable life, even a luxurious one in some locations. Whether you want to own your own island or you dream of sipping espresso while you munch on a baguette and gruyere on a whitewashed balcony in the south of France, here are some spots that might interest you.

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  1. 1
    Lark Caye, Belize
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    How about retiring to your own private tropical island? If you think you need to be a millionaire to do it, think again. For the low price of $175,000, you could be the proud owner of this three-acre island off the coast of Belize. If you love the water and you're into diving and snorkeling, this private island paradise, with the colorful fish swimming in the surrounding waters, may be the right retirement spot for you.
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  2. 2
    Abruzzo Region, Italy
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    Spanning the area from the Apennine Mountains to the Adriatic coast is this charming Italian territory where even a couple of modest means can live comfortably on just their income from social security. And if you have a bit more from a pension, savings, or investments, you can live like royalty. Whether you choose to live on the coast or inland, you're looking at paying perhaps $50,000 to $150,000 for a home, or you can rent for just $450 to $700 per month.
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  3. 3
    Languedoc-Roussillon Region, France
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    Languedoc-Roussillon is a region on the coast of southern France bordered by Spain in the south, the Pyrenees Mountains in the West and Provence in the Northeast. With only $2,000 a month, you can live in the south of France, drinking wine, popping grapes into your mouth, and dining on fine cheese and bread. Whether you choose to rent an apartment of a house, you'll pay just $800 to $900 a month, and if you buy a home, you'll pay only #181,500.
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  4. 4
    Valencia, Spain
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    The coastal city of Valencia, Spain offers pleasant weather due to the moderating influence of the sea and affordable living for seniors on a fixed income. Purchase a two bedroom, two bathroom home for only $165,000 and live comfortably on just $1,500 a month. You won't be bored, either, since culture is vibrant in this seaside city with the arts well-represented in theater, music, and ballet.
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  5. 5
    Isla Mujeres, Mexico
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    Isla Mujeres is an island in the Caribbean Sea off Mexico's Yucatan coast. According to International Living, a couple can live there comfortably with just $ 2,500 in monthly income. Rents are on the order of $900 to $1,500, and a monthly food bill for two people might be somewhere around $600. Cancun is just a 20-minute ferry boat ride away, but Isla Mujeres is large enough that it has its own grocery stores and a state-of-the art medical clinic on the island.
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  6. 6
    Costa Rica
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    Whether you prefer the Pacific coast, or the Caribbean coast, or something in between, Costa Rica is a beautiful country with a lot to offer. According to EscapeHere, you can live quite luxuriously there with only $1,500 in monthly income. Costa Rica's healthcare system is one of the best in the world, and its sandy beaches, warm tropical weather, and greenery make it an attractive location as well as an economic one.
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  7. 7
    Malaysia
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    According to EscapeHere, if you're looking to retire in an Asian country, Malaysia is a good choice because the cost of living is cheap and it offers all of the modern amenities you'd expect to have for a decent life. Just $850 a month gets you a large (1,600 square foot) apartment with a pool, and food is cheap, as well. Malaysia also has a superb health care system, and flights around the region are inexpensive, too, so if you want to make your home base there and travel around the South Pacific, it's a good jumping off spot.
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