#7 — Belize
#6 — India
#5 — Poland
#4 — Chile
#3 — Uruguay
#2 — Spain
#1 — Puerto Rico
5 Life-or-Death Questions You Must Answer Before Moving Overseas
Smart couples balance the cost of living with the quality of life. Finding the right country for your lifestyle is not as simple as pressing a button. You have to balance cost of living with quality of life.
The average social security payment in the United States is $1,328 per individual. This equates to $2,658 per average couple. Have you ever dreamed of using your social security checks for chucking the “American Dream” to dive into an international lifestyle?
The editorial staff of Worry Free Wealth has lived or traveled in over 50 countries in both the developed and developing world. Let us be your Sherpa to a safe overseas living experience. We have concluded that there are just 5 key questions you must investigate to identify the best balance between cost and quality.
- “Should I rent or own?” If you are a pensioner from the developed world and your home is cashed-out, you are best off renting abroad. Under no conditions should you buy a second home. Rent is always the best option. Renting eases your option of moving back home if you lack the energy of dealing with the foreign system down the road.
- “What is the cost of living (COL)?” A good estimate for your cost of living is to expect to need a total living budget of no less than 3 times your expected rent. If your expected rent in a country is $500 then you should anticipate spending $1,500 monthly.
- “How bad is crime?” A stolen pet, maimed or murdered family member is not worth any discounted cost of living. Family safety is the most important quality of life factor you must consider.
- “How polluted is the country?” Some countries have horrible pollution problems. Open sewage canals of Mexico City are so foul that pedestrians dry wretch walking to work. The air is so rotten in Beijing people go out in hospital masks. Santiago has an inversion layer that creates smog as dense as in Los Angeles. That said there are some amazing unpolluted parts of remote Chilean Patagonia to live in. Cast a careful gaze to pollution problems on a city-by-city basis within each country.
- “What is the quality of healthcare?” The United States has slipped substantially in the quality of health-care according to the World Health Organization. There are many countries around the world now offering healthcare that is superior to America (in a pinch). But Americans can’t use Medicare abroad. And the probability that you will rely on the healthcare system in your country of citizenship increases as you age. The only exception is Puerto Rico for Americans. Puerto Rico allows Americans from the 50 states to use Medicare.
Belize on $2,500 Per Month
Belize is not for beginners since it has the highest crime rate of any country on this list. It comes in dead last at 7th for this reason. Some countries do eventually clean up their crime problems. So Belize may offer a speculative buying opportunity for the street smart expat. The climate and natural beauty creates a tropical paradise for your “Love Shack.” This country ranks high in security of ownership because it offers strong property protection under English common law. Belize also offers income tax sheltering. And English is the spoken language. This country allows you to own your own property safely inside an expat gated community with a long history of security. Again, not for beginners. Rent first if you decide Belize is for you.
Gated Community: $975
India on $1,500 per month
The “Cradle of Spirituality” scores best on our list in terms of cost of living. But the country comes in 6th overall because of weak healthcare and high pollution.
But don’t let that scare you.
For those of us who are not fortunate sons of an American political or Fortune 500 management dynasty, the best care centers of India offer healthcare every bit as good as that provided to the middle class in the United States. And it will come at a solid discount since the United States has the most expensive health care of any country in this report.
This cost difference is driving a thriving medical tourism industry in India.
If you loved the movie, “The Last Marigold Hotel” this country is for you. Indians really are as caring and friendly as those portrayed in the hit flick. India is jam-packed with World Heritage Sites such as the Taj Mahal and has some of the very best food of any country on this list.
English is widely spoken and British Common law is the legal origin of India. That means that you can safely own a home and invest across the Bombay stock exchange without fear of predatory political or legal expropriation. But there is so much unsold inventory from the collapse of the real estate market (as explained in the movie “The Big Short“) that economists urge that you rent. Chandigarh is one of the best planned cities in India to rent a 3-bedroom apartment offering the following rates.
City center: $410
Poland on $1,750 Per Month
This “Center of Solidarity” is safer than the United States with comparable health care. Gdansk is a picturesque European cultural center on the Baltic Sea where you can rent a 3-bedroom apartment. The vodka is truly amazing. The Poles are very warm, caring and friendly people. The only reason this country ranks #5 is due to the horribly cold Baltic winters that are literally the stuff of novels. Rent only. Do not buy a property due to the difficulties of the non-common law legal origin and dissimilar Polish language. It is easier to let your Polish landlord deal with all of the foreign real estate regulations.
City center: $624
Chile on $2,000 Per Month
Santiago is the epicenter of a “Patagonian Alpine paradise” with about the same climate as Reno, Nevada. Chile has exactly the same climate and geography as California except inverted. Get ready for extreme sports on steroids. Chile has less crime than the United States, better health care and a cool, hip vibe. The country has been strongly influenced by Germany. Hence Chileans are not what you expect as Latinos. The culture is very open and good-natured. Supermarkets smell clean and the seafood is as good and fresh as any in Alaska. The only reason this country is not higher on the list is due to the air pollution in Santiago and cold winters. Rent only due to Spanish Civil Code legal origin that is best left to your skilled Chilean landlord.
City center: $812
Uruguay on $2,000 Per Month
Relax in luxury in Punta del Este. This upscale seaside village is best described as the “Carmel-by-the-Sea” of Latin America. Uruguay has about as much crime and pollution as the United States. It has much warmer temperatures than Chile. But Uruguay has weaker health care. Fortunately, Chile is close by with better health care than even the United States provides. Montevideo is a hip city with direct access to Buenos Aires a skip and a hop across the bay in Argentina. The Uruguayans are very easy to make friends with and very quick to help. Let your landlord work through the details of the Spanish Civil Code legal origin that is very difficult for foreigners to grasp. Expect to to put up 3 or 4 months of rent as deposit.
City center: $834
Spain on $3,000 Per Month
Spain is a “Mediterranean Marvel” with a mild winter inside the European Union. This means that you would be living in Europe in a far stronger healthcare system than in the United States.
The country enjoys less crime than in the United States with moderate levels of pollution. For these reasons Spain solidly controls 2nd place in our lineup of best hidden places to retire with a grand or two or three coming in a month. Barcelona is a cultural, rail and cruise hub to all of Europe and beyond. Spanish Civil Code evolved from the Romans. This legal origin has been shown by Harvard studies to suffer from weak property protection. Four thousand British families are in danger of losing their homes they wrongly purchased in Spain. You won’t run into these problems if you use a good realtor and simply rent. A 3-room apartment runs as follows…
City center: $1,354
Puerto Rico on $3,000 Per Month
Puerto Rico is the “Crowning Jewel of the Spanish Main.” San Juan is a deep water cruise port that is the hub of the Caribbean. Ditto for the airport.
The American invasion of Puerto Rico in the late nineteenth century and ongoing occupation makes this the safest place on our secret list in terms of property ownership.
This is the best place by far for Americans to relocate (sell-and-buy) a home in retirement.
A second home is a money-pit. You are better off to (1) sell your stateside house then (2) rent a place in Puerto Rico for six months to a year and (3) purchase only when you find something that makes sense.
The sights and activities of Puerto Rico rival that of any other Caribbean island. And you have all of the convenience of the United States that you lack on every other island in the Caribbean. The geographical size of Puerto Rico is such that you will never feel island bound. Here are local rent rates.
City center: $1,001
Renting is Likely Your Best Option
As your family ages in your home country you may be called back as a primary caregiver. Or you may decide to hop to another country on this list.
Either way owning overseas is a bad idea because it limits your options [except for Puerto Rico]. The more time and mental energy you invest into deciding which of these countries is best for you the better the odds of finding your dream home in one of these far away exotic lands.
Finally, remember that some countries offer clear lifestyle advantages.
Chile is best for mountaineers. Belize is best for salt water fishermen.
India is best for spiritualists. Montevideo is best for night life.
Poland is best for classical European culture
Spain is best for summering. Puerto Rico is best for surfing and sailing.
Above all have fun on the search for your Best Exotic Marigold Hotel!
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