I Retired Overseas: Here Are All the Expenses I Save Money On

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Retiring is hard work.

You have to work and save as much as possible, invest well, and build up enough wealth to afford to quit work. But with high inflation and the increased cost of living in North America, it can seem like an impossibility. 


Many retirees are foregoing traditional retirement and moving to another country to drastically reduce their costs, and increase their cost of living. 

We interviewed two expats that retired overseas to save money and improve their quality of life in retirement. Here’s what they save the most money on.

Food and Entertainment Costs Less

Kristian Denver, a retired expat that moved from Canada to the Canary Islands in 2020, saves money on everyday living expenses. Living in Tenerife has offered significant savings over living in Canada.

Denver has saved a huge amount of money on food costs alone. “Groceries, eating out and leisure have gone from around $1,500 a month to $500 with an increase in quality of life.” In addition, shopping locally can save them money too. “We shop at local fruterias [and] compared to the farmer’s markets back in Canada, that saves us an approximate $50 or so a month.”

Christopher William, a CPA finance expert and founder of Balanced News Summary, has lived overseas for 13 years. He has also noticed a huge discount on overall food costs and other everyday expenses. “Food and other essentials such as transportation, can be much cheaper in other countries. This is due to the fact that many countries have lower production costs, lower labor costs, and lower overhead costs. For example, in Thailand, the cost of food is significantly cheaper than in the U.S.”

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This massive discount allows for more lifestyle freedom and less worry about penny-pinching while at the grocery store. And eating out at restaurants is enjoyable, and much less expensive.

More Affordable Housing Options

Moving overseas can provide much more affordable housing options versus living in North America. Denver noticed this when moving from Canada to the Canary Islands.

“We went from paying approximately $2,000 for a two-bedroom apartment in Canada to $700 for a bigger apartment ten minutes away from the beach.”

The savings allows for a much more enjoyable lifestyle and a location that’s ideal for the life they want to live. And saving over $1,000 per month has significantly reduced one of the biggest expenses in any budget–housing. 

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Mild Climates Save Money

Moving from a location with weather extremes to a more mild climate can have an impact on your budget, too. Living in a place with very low winter temperatures or high summer heat can cause utility bills to skyrocket, and other costs to increase to prepare your home and life for those conditions.

Denver realized that moving to a more mild climate could save them money. In fact, moving from Canada to the Canary Islands has proven to save them hundreds per month. Denver says they save money with their “non-existent heating or AC bill that would cost us upwards of $200 a month [back in Canada].”

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Cheap or Free Activities Everywhere

Another benefit of the milder climate comes in the form of being able to do more outdoor cheap and free activities year-round. And moving from a downtown city location to a more accessible location can open up more opportunities for outdoor recreation as well.

Denver mentions that moving to Tenerife offers a “plethora of parks, beaches and mountains that can be enjoyed year-round. Compared to spending a minimum of $10 for any activity in our old city of Calgary (entrance fees, parking, tolls, tips, etc.).” He mentioned this saves “approximately $80 a month.”

Favorable Tax Rates

Christopher William has noticed much more favorable tax rates compared to the U.S when living in Thailand.

“Many countries have lower taxes than their counterparts in other countries. For example, in the US, the tax rate for retirees is higher than in other countries such as Thailand, where the tax rate is just 5%. This can be a great way to save money as a retiree.”

With a very low-income tax rate and lower overall costs, your dollars can stretch a lot further than in the U.S.

Much Lower Healthcare Costs

Living in a different country can also come with the benefit of government-subsidized healthcare. This means that costs are significantly lower than countries like the U.S.

William noticed this as well, stating “Living overseas can mean access to lower-cost healthcare. Many countries have government-funded healthcare systems that are much cheaper than in other countries. For example, in Thailand, the cost of medical care is much lower than in the U.S. This can be a great way to save money on medical bills.”

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Medical expenses can make up a significant cost in retirement, and moving to a country with lower lifetime healthcare costs can make it much easier to retire with less.

Retiree Incentives To Move Overseas

William states that many countries offer incentives to have expats move there to retire.

“Many countries offer discounts and tax breaks to retirees. This can be a great way to save money on things such as housing, transportation, and other necessities. For example, in Thailand, retirees can receive a 50% discount on property taxes,” said William.

With property tax breaks and other favorable incentives to move to places like Thailand, you can save a significant amount of money by retiring overseas.

Bottom Line

You work hard to build wealth and retire with dignity, and moving overseas can instantly elevate your retirement experience. From lower food costs to affordable housing to tax breaks, moving to another country can cut your monthly expenses nearly in half if you do it right. If you don’t have a preference on where you retire and want to buy a few years of your life back, consider moving overseas. Just make sure to do your research to understand all the financial and legal details of moving.

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