Personal Finance

Live your best urban retirement overseas for as little as $38,400 a year

Key Points
  • More retirees are moving abroad to cities where the cost of living is a fraction of what it would cost in the U.S., according to the website International Living. 
  • These five cities offer foreign glamour on a shoestring and all the comforts of city life: health care, shops, restaurants and museums.
Mature couple on the move. On city break holiday
Klaus Vedfelt | DigitalVision | Getty Images

For some people, the ideal retirement takes place in a remote overseas paradise.

But what if you love fine dining, top-quality health care, walkable neighborhoods and lots of shopping? Then you need a city.

In these five overseas cities, retirees can get by on a fraction of what they'd need in the U.S., according to a report from International Living.

The cost of living index comparisons are from, which gives prices in about 8,500 cities for restaurant meals, gas, transportation, clothing items and housing, among other items. The site gives prices for rental apartments of different sizes in more and less expensive areas, as well as the purchase price per square foot.

1. Medellin, Colombia

A view on the Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe, located in the city centre of Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia. 
Sebastiaan Kroes | Moment | Getty Images

Known as the City of Flowers, Medellin offers an outdoor-based, active lifestyle with spring-like weather all year. Medellin is less expensive than many U.S. cities. A couple could live well on a budget from $1,400 to $2,000 per month.

According to, the cost of living is 67 percent lower than in New York.

2. George Town, Malaysia

Straits Quay and Quayside during sunrise, Tanjong Tokong, Penang, Malaysia
Jordan Lye | Moment | Getty Images

George Town is the multicultural capital of the Malaysian island of Penang. A couple can live there for $1,500 per month if they really watch spending. A high-living couple can splurge out, springing for a monthly budget of $2,500 for an indulgent life here. It's a luxury life on an easy budget with all the comforts and conveniences of home.

The cost of living in Penang, where prices are a bit higher than George Town, is 57 percent lower than in New York. A centrally located three-bedroom apartment in Penang is 2,388 ringgits ($577) and 2,100 ringgits ($507) in George Town.

3. Porto, Portugal

Behind the rejuvenated and busy Cais da Ribeira lies the authentic heart of Porto, a network of narrow, gloomy and worn alleys that accompany the passer-by in a continuous ascent to the summit of Monte de la Se in which stands the majestic silhouette of the fortress cathedral and the episcopal palace.
Alf | Moment | Getty Images

The second-largest metropolitan area in Portugal after Lisbon, Porto offers Old World charm and First World convenience. With the friendly feel of a small city, it's also a thriving business city with an international airport.

For all of Porto's natural and architectural beauty, fine food and wine, and pleasurable pastimes, it's surprisingly affordable — a monthly budget for a couple runs to $1,550. The cost of living index is 48 percent lower than in New York.

4. Panama City, Panama

Panoramic view of a park in Panama City and older apartment buildings of the Old Quarter called Casco Viejo.
Instants | E+ | Getty Images

You can enjoy inexpensive cosmopolitan living with many of the conveniences — high-speed internet and cell coverage are commonplace — you'd expect in New York, Miami or any major city. Panama City has excellent air and water, as well as solid infrastructure, top-class amenities and proximity to the U.S.

A couple can live comfortably in a rented two-bedroom apartment in a central area for $1,765 a month. In more exclusive residences, a monthly budget of $2,890 would fund a more lavish lifestyle. The cost of living index is 43 percent lower than in New York.

5. Montevideo, Uruguay

Aerial view, of Montevideo's coastline, Puertito del Buceo, Pocitos neighborhood, Uruguay. 
El OjoTorpe | Moment | Getty Images

Montevideo has many large parks, plazas, tree-lined streets, sandy beaches and wide avenues. While the city's seven-mile coastline is not technically oceanfront, it looks like the ocean. More expat groups are springing up here, making it easier for newcomers to get settled.

Two people can live on $3,200 a month renting a one-bedroom, furnished apartment in Pocitos, the most popular expat neighborhood in the city. The cost of living index is 44 percent lower than in New York.