People can retire in Ecuador "very comfortably for about $25,000 a year," Haskins says. Cities always cost more than small villages," she says. "Your experience will be so much richer if you can speak the language."
The medical care in major cities in many Latin American countries "is excellent, top quality," and it's very affordable as compared with the U.S., she says.
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Medicare does not work outside the United States, and that is one thing to consider, Prescher says.
You can become a resident of another country and not lose your U.S. citizenship, he says. You still file taxes in the U.S., can vote and collect Social Security, he says. "You can have your Social Security check deposited in many qualifying banks around the world."
Prescher suggests living in a new country for six months before committing to moving there or buying property. "Until you put your boots on the ground, there's no way to know how you personally feel about living there."
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Tarin says she and her husband plan to rent a place for six months and keep their home in Arizona, in case things don't work out. And if the first country they try doesn't suit, they might move to another, such as Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina or Colombia, and try living there for six months, she says.
Riden says the tour of Costa Rica gave him the confidence to take the plunge and move there. He now rents an 800-square-foot stucco house in Grecia, a medium-size town in the Central Valley, for $525 a month.
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He loves living there, but there are a few downsides, including a "tremendous bureaucracy. I've spent three days trying to open a checking account." Plus, he says the public medical services have been a disappointment to him, so he often pays a private doctor out of pocket, which is about $40 for a visit.
He spends half the year living near Seattle and the other half in Costa Rica. Moving to this Central American country was the right decision for him, Riden says. "When you come here, everything slows down, and you begin to appreciate the simple things in life. All day long, you get to hear constant bird song."
—By Nanci Hellmich, USA Today