How to Retire for Half the Cost Overseas

Your nest egg can buy more space and better views in overseas property markets from Belize to Argentina.

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A one-bedroom apartment in Santa Monica, Calif., is for sale right now for $350,000. It has 588 square feet of space and sits 14 blocks from the ocean. That’s a price typical of the California beachfront apartment market. And the apartment in question is still quite a hike from the beach.

[See The World’s Best Beaches for Retirement.]

However, your property budget invested overseas could buy you a bigger and better retirement nest—on the ocean, in the mountains, or even on a Caribbean beach—than you could ever afford back home. In Coronado, a popular and developed Pacific coast town in Panama, an apartment in a beachfront condo tower known as Coronado Bay is available for $165,000. It has 1,093 square feet of space, two bedrooms, and sits front line to the ocean. That’s nearly twice the size for less than half the cost of a California apartment. And this apartment is, in fact, on the beach.

It’s frequently possible to get more space and better views for similar or even lower prices if you are willing to move abroad. A one-bedroom, one-bath, 913-square-foot house in Denver is on the market for $175,000. In the pleasant, leafy mountain town of Medellin, a 915-square-foot apartment with the same number of rooms is currently listed for about $110,000. Both of these apartments are located in what are generally recognized as the best neighborhoods in each city.

[Visit the U.S. News Retirement site for more planning ideas and advice.]

Sometimes you can live right on the water in another country for the same price it would cost you to live several blocks from the ocean in the U.S. In Key West, a 704-square-foot house six blocks from the beach with two bedrooms and one bath is listed for $273,000. Another 720-square-foot Key West house that is nine blocks from the beach is for sale for $242,000. But if you venture a little farther south to Ambergris Caye, a pleasant and developed Caribbean island off the coast of Belize, a 720-square-foot condo right on the beach is available for $225,000.

Living in a cosmopolitan hub may also be more affordable overseas. My daughter is currently attending university in Manhattan. We’re renting an apartment for her in NoHo, an out-of-the-way neighborhood that everyone assures us is safe and lively. Were we to decide to buy rather than rent a place for our daughter to live, there is a 730-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bath apartment listed for $427,000. For far less than that price for a small New York city apartment, you could buy twice the space in a far nicer part of Argentina. A spacious 1,300-square-foot, three-bedroom, and two-bath apartment in Retiro, one of the best neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, costs just $315,000, fully furnished.

[See How to Overcome 5 Retirement Abroad Challenges.]

Ambergris Caye isn’t exactly Key West and Buenos Aires is a far different retirement experience from Manhattan. But your retirement budget will generally buy you more space and a better lifestyle abroad than in the U.S.

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.