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10 Surprisingly Cheap Countries to Quit Your Job and Retire Early

By Jake Beardslee · March 14, 2024

As living expenses in the United States continue to rise sharply, an increasing number of people are looking towards international locations that offer a more affordable cost of living. Some destinations are so economical that with sufficient savings, you may be able to retire early or work part-time while still enjoying a luxurious lifestyle.

International Living has released its yearly report highlighting the best places in the world to retire. The findings of this report might be unexpected, as several of the countries featured are not only visually stunning but also remarkably inexpensive, ranging from coastal retreats to popular European destinations.  Paulo Evangelista/Unsplash


Living expenses in the United States have skyrocketed, making it increasingly challenging for many individuals to sustain a comfortable lifestyle, even with a stable income. The average monthly cost of living stands at $2,213, with rent alone accounting for a staggering $1,399 per month for a single person.

Portugal emerges as an alluring destination for Americans dreaming of an overseas life without breaking the bank. At an estimated monthly cost of living of just $1,073 for a single person, this diminutive European nation beckons with its affordable lifestyle. Despite its modest size relative to its Spanish neighbor, Portugal punches above its weight in cultural richness and charm.

Remarkably, Portugal's public transportation system garners international acclaim for its efficiency, potentially rendering car ownership unnecessary.  Claudio Schwarz/Unsplash


The cost of living for a single person in this South American nation is a mere $785 per month. Ecuador boasts a diverse geographical landscape, with miles upon miles of pristine beaches, majestic mountains, and lush rainforests, catering to a wide range of interests and preferences.

Housing costs in Ecuador are remarkably economical, with the average rent for a single person hovering around $322 per month. This affordability makes it an ideal choice for retirees or young adults seeking to escape the corporate grind in favor of a more fulfilling lifestyle.  Dayan Quinteros/Unsplash


At first glance, the tiny archipelago of Malta may give the impression of being an exclusive destination accessible only to the world's elite. However, appearances can be deceiving, as the reality is quite the opposite. This charming island boasts a surprisingly affordable cost of living, averaging just $1,340 per month.

Surrounded by the crystal-clear blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta's natural beauty is truly breathtaking. While rental costs can be somewhat higher depending on the location, the 360-degree views make it a worthwhile investment. Moreover, the cost of food and other essentials is significantly lower than in the United States, further contributing to the island's appeal as an affordable place to live.  Nick Fewings/Unsplash


If the grind of the 9-to-5 routine has become overwhelming, Uruguay presents an alluring alternative destination in Latin America. This enchanting country boasts nearly 400 miles of breathtaking coastline, undulating hills, and four distinct seasons, offering a diverse and picturesque landscape.

Remarkably, the cost of living in Uruguay is approximately half of that in the United States, averaging $1,143 per month. According to International Living, depending on the neighborhood, one can secure a comfortable apartment for the reasonable price of $526 per month, making Uruguay an attractive option for those seeking a more affordable lifestyle without compromising on quality of life.  Pedro Slinger/Unsplash


This European nation is steeped in history, boasting a rich heritage, while also providing excellent healthcare facilities and an astonishing array of geographical wonders.

The cost of living in Spain is approximately $1,246 per month, although it may be slightly higher in larger cities or popular beach resort towns. Even in the most expensive neighborhoods, however, the overall cost is likely to be somewhat lower than the average living expenses in the United States. Moreover, Spain's first-rate healthcare system offers significant savings, making it an attractive option for those seeking quality care at an affordable price.  Jorge Fernández Salas/Unsplash


France presents an unparalleled opportunity for those seeking to indulge in world-renowned cuisine, shop at exquisite boutiques, or explore renowned museums, all while living on a budget. The cost of living in this captivating country is $1,451, a staggering 1.53 times less expensive than in the United States, making it an incredibly affordable destination.

Expats residing in France enjoy the benefits of low-cost healthcare and the possibility of owning villas for under $200,000. If you have accumulated a substantial savings or are willing to take on a part-time job, you may find yourself trading the morning commute for the tranquil pleasure of sipping wine at a chateau in the idyllic French countryside.  Nil Castellví/Unsplash


Colombia's allure as an expat destination is undeniable, thanks to its rich biodiversity and diverse natural wonders. This vast South American nation boasts borders along the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, while the majestic Andes Mountains carve through the western region, and the Amazon rainforest stretches across the eastern expanse.

What truly sets Colombia apart is its remarkably affordable cost of living, which averages around $546 per month – a staggering one-fourth of the typical expenses in the United States. Rent, food, and transportation costs are notably lower than what one would expect to pay in the States, making Colombia an enticing option for those seeking a comfortable lifestyle at a fraction of the cost.  Random Institute/Unsplash


Mexico is an expatriate's dream destination, boasting close proximity to the United States, reasonable healthcare options, and a considerably lower cost of living compared to its northern neighbor. For a single person, the average monthly cost of living in Mexico is a mere $786, with rent averaging an incredibly affordable $354.

Mexico is a nation of diverse natural wonders, from lush jungles to sweeping deserts. For Americans seeking a budget-friendly lifestyle, the country's healthcare system provides substantially more affordable options than those found in the United States, and the process of becoming a resident is relatively straightforward.  Carlos Aguilar/Unsplash


The cost of living in this Central American gem is a mere fraction of what one would expect to pay in the United States – a single person can comfortably sustain themselves on just $1,112 per month.

Housing costs are remarkably economical, with rent averaging a modest $588 monthly, while allocating $365 for food. Panama's strategic location at the crossroads of the Americas, coupled with its mild tropical climate and pristine world-class beaches, creates an idyllic setting that perfectly complements its unbeatable affordability.  Zdeněk Macháček/Unsplash

Costa Rica

With a cost of living hovering around $1,000 and rent for a single person averaging approximately $440 per month, this tropical paradise offers an affordable haven for those looking to stretch their savings.

Just a short flight away from the southern United States, Costa Rica's accessibility is complemented by its cost-effective healthcare system, ensuring that essential medical services remain within reach.  Alex Ip/Unsplash