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Kindly be informed that MM2H Centre has discontinued the reduction of Fixed Deposit placement based on property purchase worth RM1 million and above in Malaysia. Also discontinued is the MM2H...
Where to Live Abroad Cheaply in Retirement Review Part 2 Print E-mail
Saturday, 06 February 2010 19:05

As we discussed in the first part of this review of where you can live abroad cheaply in retirement, cost of living should not be the only criteria a would-be retiree places on a potential nation in their short list of retirement paradises abroad.  Somewhere can be cheap – but life can also be cheap there or the standard of living may reflect the low cost of living for example…

Therefore, to bring perhaps more insight into a given country that’s been selected specifically as an affordable place to retire by GlobalPost, particularly for our British readers who may never have considered some of the American publication’s chosen cheap nations, we’re today going to break down the pros and cons of calling South Africa, Panama, Malaysia, Argentina or Bulgaria home in retirement.

South Africa – Stunning Sunshine but a Crime Capital?

South Africa seems to offer it all.  It has a wonderful climate, with some regional variations that you can consider to suit your own tastes.  It has an affordable cost of living – from the property you might choose to live in, to the food and wine you can put on your table.  The views are amazing, the wildlife is indeed wild (!), and it’s even a country where cheap plastic surgery and affordable healthcare mean there is healthcare tourism.  However, South Africa is a real hotbed for violent crime, with areas of the nation absolute no go places whether you’re African or foreign, white or black, male or female.  This gives the country a raw edge that can be off-putting for those seeking peace and a pleasant life guaranteed for their retirement.

Panama – Paradise or Pastiche?

Panama is many things on the surface – a wealthy, thriving, affluent nation with a glitzy capital city rammed with sophistication – but underneath, what you see is not always what you get.  Take Panama’s real estate economy for example – every condo unit in the land was being sold as a must-buy investment opportunity of a lifetime just 3 years ago.  Many now lie empty and even unfinished as builders have failed to fulfil their promises and investors have failed to fulfil their dreams.  If you can cope with the fact that you can eat your cake and still have it (!) in Panama but that you have to accept that it’s not as sophisticated and ‘westernised’ as it may first appear, you’ll do well.  The climate can be amazing, the real estate available can be very good value (think long and hard before you buy off plan though!), healthcare standards in Panama City are good and affordable, and the cost of living is, yes, cheap.  However, don’t think things will be the same as they are ‘back home’ and you’ll be alright!  There’s even a pensionado program that gives retirees all sorts of money and tax breaks – which can be another reason to actively consider Panama…

Malaysia – Monetary Benefits, Much Sophistication?

In Malaysia you can potentially legitimately avoid having to pay any income tax on your pension income if you retire there under the ‘Malaysia, my second home’ programme.  This is available to early retirees as well, and it’s a multiple entry visa valid, yet renewable, for 10 years.  You’ll benefit from a warm, tropical climate, a relatively affordable cost of living, high healthcare standards, decent real estate and you’ll be living in quite an affluent nation.  Step off the beaten track of the main cities and tourism areas and yes, you’ll notice a significant shift in wealth – but Malaysia scores well on the Human Development Index Scale and is certainly a country more Brits might like to consider.  It is however, not easily or cheaply accessible from the UK.

Argentina – Low Cost, Culturally Rich, a Flight Too Far!

Argentina is perhaps the perfect place to live – apart from 2 things, you have to have a very high standard of Spanish if you want to truly integrate and get the best out of life there, and it is a heck of a haul from the UK.  The cost of living is almost ridiculously cheap for big items such as land and real estate – although we’re reliably informed that other items such as brandy (hardly an essential we know!!) are impossible to acquire for love nor money!  The weather can be excellent depending which part of this vast nation you choose to call home, healthcare standards are decent – though you may want evacuation cover as part of any insurance you have in case you live a long way from a better standard of medical facility.  The cost of living compared to the standard of living works out very well…and it’s very, very beautiful!

Bulgaria – Europe Without the Euro!

Bulgaria is now a fully-fledged member of the European Union – but it doesn’t use the euro as its currency so for Britons it’s still affordable…just!  Real estate is cheap, healthcare is accessible and affordable, the standard of living achievable is decent though not sophisticated, and you can live in a country with amazing mountains and beautiful beaches.  There again, you’ll need to learn the local lingo, and it is not as sophisticated a country as many of the popular European hotspots with British retirees.  It’s a country that you may fall in love with – but you’d have to visit and get a feel as it really has no defining features that we can think of as a retirement destination overseas.

To Conclude

There will be a country out there for you that achieves the right balance between cost of living and standard of living.  Perhaps the 10 countries we’ve reviewed in this series will give you some food for further exploration and research…or perhaps from our breakdown you can rule them all out!  It will be very important for you to spend time in any country you seriously contemplate moving permanently to, otherwise how can you expect to be confident in your decision to relocate there


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