So you’ve just finished reading The Four Hour Workweek (or any entrepreneurial self help book) and you’re all amped up to quit your job and automate your own business. Except you don’t have a business. And you don’t have the guts to quit your job. And the other suggestions in the book, like hiring an online assistant, are a frivolous use of your meager savings.
What If You Can Almost Retire?
Let’s entertain an exotic thought. Say you’re doing pretty well financially. You have a ton of money saved, and you want to retire. But you don’t have enough to cover all your expenses passively (i.e. earning 3-4% investment interest will not cover your yearly expenses).
As you may know I find reducing expenses more effective than attempting to earn more money(link, link, link). But what if you’re at your expense-cutting limit? Cutting any more expenses would force you onto the street, or stop you from eating.
The answer is creative and extreme savings ideas!
Using Inequality to Your Advantage
Taking a note from The Four Hour Workweek, you can stretch your money significantly if you earn in Dollars but spend in Pesos. Moving to a low cost of living country could enable you to retire years earlier. And lets face it. Your life in a foreign country is likely to be way more interesting than staying at home.
The cheapest countries tend to be equatorial countries for some reason. Maybe nice weather isn’t good for the economy because people are too hot to work. But that’s a good thing for retirement! Think about the benefits:
- Good weather year round (assuming you like it stupid hot)
- Delicious food (assuming you like it spicy and flavorful)
- Nature (assuming you like beaches, mountains, and jungles)
- History (assuming you like imperialism and genocide)
Central and South American countries will keep you close to the same time zone as Canada. They are friendly with delicious food and incredible nature. Southeast Asian countries are further away, but have similar benefits. Especially if you prefer fried rice to refried beans.
So how much cheaper are these places? And how can one decide where to go? Well let’s compare some typical expenses for a typical retiree lifestyle in some typical and non-typical destinations. For more detailed comparisons there are websites like Expatistan and Numbeo
|CANADA, Penticton||MEXICO, Cuernavaca||COLOMBIA, Medellin|
|2 bdrm apartment||$1,500||$900||$650|
|Food (Restaurant per person)||$15-$25||$8-$12||$5-$10|
|Domestic Beer (store bought)||$2.70||$1.70||$1.15|
|Transportation (gas price)||$1.21/L||$1.14/L||$1.06/L|
Now before you start yelling at me, I know there are other things to consider besides money. Language for one, if you don’t speak Spanish you’ll be restricted to English expat communities which typically are more expensive. But come on. Learning a second (or third) language is an excellent way to spend your free time.
And I know you have friends and family back in Canada. And I know you might have Canadian real estate, and gym memberships, and library cards. Well how about becoming a snow bird? Make a cheap country your wintertime destination. You can reap all the benefits of a cheaper lifestyle for half the year, and still maintain a lifestyle in Canada during the best months.
If you want to stay in your new country longer, many countries have retiree visas. Just prove that you have retirement income, no criminal record, and provide a health check. Speaking of health care, bring your medical records, and get health insurance, it’ll probably be $100/month.