One of the big retirement fears is having enough money to live comfortably. Canada is an expensive country and a cushy retirement is going to take a lot of planning and saving. But what if you don’t have a big fat pension or you weren’t able to top up your RRSPs? What then?
The good news is that there are several spots around the world where you can retire on $1000 or even less per month. It also means that if you don’t want to wait until you’re 65, you can enjoy the good life much earlier. There are lots of caveats, of course. But the Lake Atitlan area of Guatemala is a good example of how anyone can comfortably retire on just $1000 or less.
If you're looking for a nice spot to retire to, this is one of the best:
Lake Atitlan is located in the southwestern highlands of Guatemala. Surrounded by volcanoes, the lake draws visitors from around the world. Many people fall under the area's spell and decide to live in one of the many Mayan towns and villages around the lake.
Each has its own distinct personality, but all are equally beautiful.
Want to be able to retire at 50? You're welcome.
You can rent a fully equipped two-bedroom house (with a view) for as little as $200-300 per month. A day's worth of fresh food from the market costs just a few dollars. So you really don't have to retire with millions to live happily here. And if you have a hankering for foods from back home, not to worry. Most items are available in larger towns. Electricity, internet and cell phone service are also a bargain.
While much of Guatemala is has a serious crime problem, crime rates are low around Lake Atitlan. That doesn't mean you don't have to worry about crime (especially theft), but if you take simple precautions, it's not a huge problem. And remember: crime can happen anywhere. But if you're going to live abroad, I would strongly recommend renting housing over buying – that way if there is a natural disaster or a coup, you can just leave without losing your investment.
Now, just try one of these Canadian jobs that let you retire early to get here sooner.
One of the great things about living abroad is the support you find in an ex-pat community. If you ever have a problem, chances are someone has had the same one and can help you out. But, living abroad shouldn't mean living in a mini-version of Canada. And that's the great thing about Lake Atitlan – there is a good relationship between the indigenous Mayan population and the ex-pats. That, in and of itself, is worth a lot.
Lake Atitlan has an endless variety of things to fill your days. Hiking, biking, kayaking, reading, or doing little more than relaxing in a hammock.
A Day Away
One concern that many people have about living abroad is getting home quickly in case of an emergency. From most towns on the lake, you're just a few hours by road to the airport in Guatemala City. From there, major US airlines fly daily to their southern US hubs. You can be back in most major Canadian cities in one day.
Want more? Don't miss these additional cheap and stylish global retirement spots for Canadians.
Medical and dental services are important considerations when living abroad, especially as we age. Around Lake Atitlan you'll find good clinics and dentists for minor problems. Rates are very affordable. For example, most dental work costs about 10 per cent of what it does in Canada. For more serious problems, there are modern private hospitals in Guatemala City.
When living abroad, ensure that your provincial health care plan doesn't expire in your absence (usually 6 months). And definitely get extended health insurance that covers repatriation in case something goes wrong. Expect to pay about $50-75/month.
See 10 more great places where you can retire for under $2000 a month.
Larger towns have decent internet service and mobile internet service is offered by several wireless operators. With online banking and direct deposit, accessing your money abroad has never been easier. There are plenty of ATMs and banks around the lake where you can get cash.
Skype makes it easy to keep in touch with everyone back home for very little and even cell phone rates to Canada are relatively inexpensive.
Upon arrival, visitors are given a 90 day visa. If you want to stay longer, you'll have to leave the country for 48 hours every three months. It's the perfect excuse to head up to Mexico for a few days. If you want to live here full-time, applying for Guatemala residency is an easy, if time consuming, process.
Some of the side benefits of living on Lake Atitlan: the opportunity to learn Spanish and practice it on a daily basis, learning about the fascinating Mayan culture, and enjoying a very tranquil and relaxing place. Isn't that what retirement is all about?
See more of the warmest cheapest places to retire in the world.