Retire in the U.S.A. as Cheaply as Abroad

Living close to home can cost as little as moving overseas.

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Many companies in the United States outsource their call centers to India or other countries overseas. Some of these companies have brought their call centers back to the United States after discovering that they could improve customer satisfaction without much additional cost by using call centers located in the rural Midwest and other areas with relatively low wages. This phenomenon is called “insourcing.”

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You can use a similar concept for your retirement. Many people retire abroad because of the low cost of living. But retirees that relocate to a low cost area of the U.S. can have similar expense levels to those living abroad.

Here is one monthly budget for a person living in Nicaragua: (This budget, by Jane, was posted in a guest post at Almost Frugal.) She is not a retiree but her budget is similar to other retiree budgets I have seen.

Rent: $500

Food: $350

Entertainment: $250

Full-time maid: $170

Electricity: $75

Transportation: $55

Internet and Cable: $40

Gas: $20 Telephone: $30

Water: $10

Total: $1500 per month.

Now, here is one of my recent monthly budgets while living in Kansas City, MO:

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Rent: $360 (includes water)

Food: $125

Entertainment: $100

Electricity: $20

Transportation: $125

Internet and Netflix: $25

Cell phone: $35

Health Insurance: $60

Total: $850 for the month.

The comparison shows that you can live in the U.S. just as cheaply as in many low-cost retirement destinations. Even this U.S. News article on the the world’s most affordable retirement haven has a sample budget of $850 -- the same as my U.S. budget.

Of course, there are other considerations when deciding where to retire other than just cost of living. Even if a foreign destination cost more, you may want to live there for the weather, culture, or many other reasons. If your sole reason for retiring abroad is the low cost of living, though, you should know that you can achieve a similar cost of living here in the United States. And you will have the added advantage of having easy access to U.S. healthcare and most likely be closer to your family and friends.

Andy Hough writes about frugality and living well on a small income at