By Scott Alan Turner
So you have $200k in the bank and you’re probably thinking you’re set for retirement, right? While it’s not easy to calculate exactly how much you personally will need for retirement (everyone has different lifestyles, health issues, etc.), in the United States, experts say you should try to save at least $1 million to retire comfortably. Want to find out specifically how much you will need to retire comfortably?
Unfortunately, Americans aren’t great at saving. While we’re doing better now than we were in previous years, the personal savings rate in the US is 5.7%. According to The Motley Fool, “this means that out of every $100 in after-tax income Americans bring in, we’re only saving $5.70 for things like retirement, emergency expenses, and rainy-day savings.”
So how can you make your money in retirement go farther? No, you don’t have to eat cat food or start selling all of your possessions. Instead, consider retiring abroad. You may not have thought of it before, but retiring abroad (or at least part-time) is very common in Europe. People do it for many reasons, including saving money on living and healthcare. Here are the best places to live where $200k in retirement savings will last 30 years.
Listed as International Living’s number one world’s best place to retire for five years in a row, Mexico is a serious contender for many Americans. Whether you’re retiring or looking to escape the rat race early, take your $200,000 and enjoy great health care, beautiful beaches, and delicious food.
Not convinced? Take healthcare. Not only is health care in Mexico significantly cheaper than in the US, many Mexican doctors were educated at US institutions and speak English. According to International Living, “there are first-rate hospitals throughout the country – every major city has one. ‘Even paying cash at private facilities costs a fraction of what it would in the US. Most doctors have received at least part of their training in the US or Europe… and many speak English.’”
Also, Mexico is very close to the US, you’re only a few short hours from most major US cities. If you need to come back for health reasons, to visit family, or any other reason, it is easily done.
Runner-up: Nicaragua! With an even lower cost of living than Mexico, Nicaragua is a great place where your $200k will go far, especially if you plan on running a business while in retirement. According to “The World’s Best Retirement Havens in 2017” by the Huffington Post, “it doesn’t take long to get your resident’s card, and it’s easy for expats to open businesses. Many find that when they open a business they make a U.S. profit, but in a country where their costs are a fraction of what they are back home, allowing for a superior lifestyle.”
Want to put down some roots in the country where you’re retiring? Look no further than Malaysia, which will even let people buy property without living there. Upon arriving in Malaysia, you’re given a three-month visa, and if you decide to purchase property while there, you can.
There’s also a lot to see and do in Malaysia, especially if you’re a fan of UNESCO world heritage sites. Malaysia has four world heritage sites: the Lenggong Valley, the Gunung Mulu National Park, Kinabalu Park and the cities of George Town and Malacca. In addition, healthcare is top notch in Malaysia, as it is in many parts of Asia. According to International Living, “Malaysia has some of the best-trained doctors in Asia, and most have learned their profession in the US or the UK. They all speak English, too.”
Runner-up: If you’re looking for slick, modern, and orderly, look no further than Singapore. Singapore has some of the most beautifully kept streets and transit facilities, but that’s because their littering laws are strict. Keep your trash to yourself. Singapore is only a few hours from Malaysia, with outstanding healthcare facilities as well. Singapore is more expensive than Malaysia, making it a runner-up, but is still cheaper than many US cities.
Panama is a beautiful country with a lot of ex-pats, who retire and play in Panama due to its proximity to the US (only a 2.5-hour flight from Miami) and its use of the US dollar. According to Investopedia, you’ll need anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 a month to live in Panama comfortably, but where you’ll really save is in utilities, rent, and healthcare. In addition, Panama’s Pensionado program is very generous and offers discounts on a variety of amenities including:
- 25% discount on your restaurant bill
- 15% hospital services discount
- 25% discount on your water bill
- 25% discount on your electricity bill
- 10% prescription medication discount
In order to receive these discounts, you will need to qualify and apply for the pensionado program, but anyone over the age of 18 is allowed to apply.
Runner-up: Argentina! While Argentina is slightly more expensive in some aspects and is farther away, Argentina’s health system is even better than Panama’s, and the culture in Argentina is definitely something to enjoy (beef and wine are some of Argentina’s two famous exports, among many others).
Always wanted to live in Europe but never thought you could afford it? Take a look at Spain – specifically, the southern, Andalucia-region of Spain. With all the wonderful culture and amenities of Spain, southern Spain is more relaxed about life. This relaxation is reflected in southern Spain’s cheaper prices than what you’d find in Madrid or Barcelona.
Granada, one of the biggest cities in southern Spain, is full of lively entertainment and Moorish/Spanish culture. It’s a great place to retire if you’re looking for city amenities within a short drive to the beach (two hours to Marbella, a lively resort town on the pricey Costa del Sol). According to the cost-of-living site Numbeo, one person’s monthly expenses in Granada are estimated at less than $600 a month. Siesta time (a time to relax, nap, and recharge) is strictly enforced in many parts of southern Spain, too, so if you’ve been looking for an excuse to relax, you’ve found one!
Runner-up: Portugal! Very similar to Spain (but don’t confuse their languages!) Portugal has many similar amenities to Spain, including a vibrant ex-pat community, affordable health care, and great beaches. It’s slightly harder to get out of Portugal, especially if you’re driving, thanks to the mountains, but it’s easy to travel around Europe from Portugal by air.
I couldn’t end “The Top 5 Countries Where $200k in Retirement Savings Will Last 30 Years” without mentioning Guam! Guam is a US island territory in Micronesia, in the Western Pacific. According to the Huffington Post, it’s also the most “exotic destination in America”. That’s right – you don’t even need a passport to retire to Guam.
Guam is perfect for those who want to get away and make their retirement last longer, but don’t want to get that far away or worry about their health care benefits. If retiring in the Pacific is your dream, put Guam on your list and ditch Hawaii. Perfect for beach and history buffs, Guam offers beautiful tropical beaches, and the War in the Pacific National Historical Park, which includes Asan Beach, a former battlefield.
As it is a US territory, the dollar is the currency, and retirees can use Medicare for their health costs. While Guam is pretty far from the US (7 hours from Hawaii, 12 hours from LA) almost everything in Guam is cheaper than the US except for food, which is often more expensive as most products have to be shipped in.
Runner-up: You can’t get any closer to the US than a US territory – other than being in the US!
As you can see, there are a lot of options where your $200,000 in retirement savings can last you 30 years and not have you relying on cat food to get by. However, you do have to travel a bit, which is an unnerving thought for many. Particularly for those worried about health care.
However, given the ease and affordability of international travel, many doctors in other countries (particularly the countries listed above) have studied in the US or Europe and have some of the best, and exact same, training as doctors in the US. At a fraction of the price, it’s hard to argue against saving your money and getting the same care abroad. Not to mention the incredible opportunity to travel, relax, and see places many others never will.