American retires on $485 month

From time to time people ask me what it would cost to live in various countries if they paid cash for land with a house and grew their own food. Many call themselves survivalists.

In this video, Tim explains how he is able to live cheaply by paying cash for his home and then growing vegetables and eggs on his own land. I invited Tim to share his story.

Very few of us will be able to live this cheaply in a foreign country. But many of you have asked about this lifestyle, so this video is for you.

The following facts were provided to me in emails received from Tim. I have not been to Tim’s house.

Do not assume you can live for as little money as Tim or anyone else. You have to do your own exploratory visit with your feet on the ground to determine your cost of living based on your lifestyle and needs.

Information provided by Tim

Northern Mexico. My neighborhood is all locals. 200 miles South, 1 mile east of the Pacific Ocean.

Started volunteering in 2004. Bought property property with home and office space in 2005

You found it riding around on your bicycle (wolf in sheep’s clothing), offered $15k and they accepted.

General description of the land buildings. ⅓ Acres. With a home and two-story office building.

Emergency fund in US banks at 4.5%. I use ATM for cash. Can use cash in 100% of my spending.

Doesn’t spend entire income but saves some every month.

Makes income from accounting and tax online.

Goes to local stores- mostly for fruit and veggies. About $8-10 per time, 2 or 3 times a week.

Garden produces something every day and I get eggs from my chicken (more than I eat)

The Garden provides enough to share with my neighbors of peppers, onions, and tomatoes in season.


Car Insurance 160

Property Tax 15

Dental Care (USA 3 visits per year) 1000 estimate


Electric 7

Water 3

Drinking Water 10

Propane 2

Internet (facebook, TV) 21

Cell Work pays (online USA)

Car Work pays (3 trips/year)

House Purchased in 2005 for about $15,000. Doubled in value.

Mexico City Title (the best possible, issued in 1994)

Food: $25-30 week About $120 month: includes dog food and chicken feed

Supplement: Garden fresh produce and free range chicken eggs.

Restaurants as desired: ~$10 plate, local steak, chicken, fish, sushi, etc. Mostly eat at home

Entertainment: Daily walks with Dog, Ride Bike, Play outside w/kids, exercise. Meet People & talk.

Hobby: Garden- year round: Tomatoes to Potatoes.

Solar experiments. Hot water collectors.

Maintain chicken for dynasty of egg production.

Hustles: Accounting and Taxes.

Medical:Covered by Veterans Administration and Medicare worldwide emergency.

Use local private doctors: Eye doctors $50 Glasses. Ear doctors ($25 visit) General MD ($5 visit)

Local emergency service is mostly free.

Mom went to hospital by ambulance-free except for $100 for X-ray

Numbers received from Tim


Annual (USD)

Monthly (USD)

Car Insurance



Prop Tax






Rent (in town)









(R/O) Water















I am close enough to USA (about 200 miles south)

Every now and again, I go to the bank to get local currency and pay for everything in cash. Over time, my savings increase, bc I do not spend my whole income.

How I got here:

In September 2004, I volunteered at an orphanage, full-time week. On weekends, I went into the community and looked for a home to buy. Within about one year, I found a property, larger than most of my friends, with a home, a two-story office building (viable rent-paying tenants inside) for 1/2 my budget.

Most of my neighbors are the leading citizens of our town. Everyone works.

There are expats in the area but I hang out almost exclusively with locals.

My little town is about 5000. Everyone has work.

As far as I can see, I am the only Gringo, for example, on Saturdays at the local swap meet, I stand out!!

There are Gringo compounds both north and south of here. The last time I visited there was in 2016.