Do Not Retire on 1000 USD Month Before Reading

Do Not Retire on 1000 USD Month Before Reading

Make sure to watch last week’s video where my guest star shares how she lived on $673 a month in Dumaguete in the Phillippines.

Where is it possible to live on $1000 Month?

One. There are people living on $1000 USD per month in the USA right now. That is all they have so they have to figure out how to make it work. They get creative. They move to small towns in cheap states, they get roommates, they ride public transportation, and they live in cheap housing. They have to figure it out. That is all they have, so they have to make it work.

Two. There are cheaper places in the world to live than the USA. In fact, the average (local) salary in almost every one of my retire cheap countries is below $1000 USD per month.

Three. That means that the average local person in each of these countries is living on less than $1000 USD per month.

Four. So when people say that it is impossible to live on $1000 USD a month in Phillippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru. Mexico, etc., what they really mean is that it is impossible for them to live on $1000 USD per month in that country. That means they have more to spend than $1000 per month.

Five. In that case, we invite them to politely share their itemized personal budget for that country in the notes below and include how long they have lived there. Their cost of living data is welcome here.

Six. The fact that a person spends more than the average salary in a country is not proof that their budget is the minimum cost of living in that country. How could it be the minimum if half the people in that country are living on less?

Seven. Comments that insult or belittle anyone will be removed. It is the policy of this channel to block rude people, but polite people are welcome here including their contrary facts presented politely.

Eight. What I or a guest star (or someone that makes a polite comment below) budgets to live in a country does not mean you can live in that country on that budget.

Nine. You must do an exploratory visit to verify what your living costs will be in any county. Nobody else’s budget matters in that country but yours. Everyone else’s budget is just a data point that may or may not make sense for you.

So if you think about it, the real question is where would you be willing to live on $1000 per month, even if you determine you are able to live on that budget in a foreign country?

Where would I be willing to live on $1000 USD Month?

We report on the best Retire Cheap Places in the World on We also tour all of these countries and report on our favorite places to live in each country. For this reason, we can talk intelligently about where I would be willing to live or retire cheap in the World on $1000 USD per month.

There is a difference between where it is possible to live on $1000 USD per month and where I would be willing to live on $1000 USD per month. For example, I would not be willing to live on $1000 USD per month in the USA even though other people are able to live on so little there.

Since I have seen the world, and I know I can get a better life for the same money in other countries, I would not be willing to live on $1000 per month in the USA.

Here are the countries where I would be willing to live on $1000 USD per month: Mexico, the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Peru, and Vietnam.

I have lived in our visited 65 countries in my life so far. There are many more places I would likely be willing to live on $1000 USD per month but I am only including ones that I have visited in the last 5 years since that knowledge is fresher. If you are like me, your favorites will change over time. In my next video, I will discuss my favorite cities in each of those countries and the pros and cons of each, so make sure to subscribe so you will know when I post that video.

Favorites Cities in those Countries.

Next, I will share my favorite cities in each of the places where I would be willing to live on $1000 USD per month.

Philippines: Siquijor Island, Dumaguete, Camiguiin Island

Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur, Penang

Cambodia: Siem Reap, Kampot

Ecuador: Cuenca, Quito, Otavalo

Nicaragua: Granada

Guatemala: Antigua

Colombia: Medellin, Santa Marta

Peru: Arequipa, Cajamarca

Vietnam: Nha Trang, DaNang, Dalat

Mexico: Oaxaca, Guanajuato, Puerto Escondido, Huatulco, Queretaro, San Cristobal

Retire cheap reports are available for almost all of these destinations on

My Top Three Favorites in World

These are not in order. I suggest you visit all three before making up your mind? You will never know if you can live somewhere on your budget without going personally for an exploratory visit. I suggest 2 to 3 months each before making a final decision. The costs you are able to research personally in a 1 or 2-week visit will likely not be enough.

Nha Trang, Vietnam

Pros: Low costs, Food, Beautiful Beach and City, Vegetarians/Vegans

Cons: Language, Dating, English Speaking Expats are in DaNang

Oaxaca, Mexico

Pros: Low Costs, Food, Highlands, University town, Culture

Cons: Remote, Beach far,

Dumaguete, Philippines

Pros: Low Costs, Dating, English, Friendly People

Cons: Infrastructure, Food, Beach far

Bad News

If you are going to try to live on $1000 USD per month you really need to have some emergency savings in case of illness or other surprises. Many western countries have better safety nets. For example, if you get in a car wreck in the USA and other western countries, the hospital is probably required by law to treat you even if you have no ability to pay. But in the USA, the hospital can take everything you own if you can’t settle your bill. Whereas in Europe, health care is provided by the government and funded through taxes.

But if you move to many of these retire cheap places and go to the hospital, you may be refused treatment if you have no insurance or emergency money.

Also, you need to think about inflation. What will $1000 buy you around the world in 5 or 10 years?  So, begin to think about ways to supplement your income now so it will be there later when you need it. I supplement my income with my hobby.

Don’t assume you can live as cheaply as we do. Here are six resources that explain why most people will be unable to live as cheaply as we do:

You Should Not Retire Internationally Unless

Why Expats Should Not Buy Foreign Real Estate Unless

Why Many Expats Can Not Live Cheaply

Do not get a retirement visa before your exploratory visit

The Risk is on You

How the cost of Living table works

I do not want to ruin your dreams with negativity. I just want you to try to think of all the back-up plans you will need in place before you act.

To see our retire cheap reports for all of these cities visit To have a copy of my free eBook emailed to you, visit this link, How I Fired My Boss and Traveled the World for 13 Years. To learn how I paid for our world travel expenses for 2020 read “The Hobby Income Course–How I pay for things without having a soul-sucking job”.

Thanks for reading this post–Do Not Retire on 1000 USD Month Before Reading.

This is Dan of Vagabond Awake, the YouTube Channel for Vagabond Buddha. The world is your home, what time will you be home for dinner?

6 thoughts on “Do Not Retire on 1000 USD Month Before Reading”

  1. As one of those people who live on less than $1K in the United States, I just want to say that my lifestyle is not at all unpleasant. I have all the modern conveniences, including a car, decent living quarters, broadband Internet, good food, and good medical care. My biggest single budget item is food, because I prefer fresh organic fruits and vegetables, which, unfortunately are not cheap.

    If I were willing to give up the car and the top quality food I could live, and have lived, on less than $500 a month. Nor was that for some brief period. I actually spent five years living on that kind of money. However, that requires skipping things like dental and vision care, transportation is limited to a bicycle, and getting online sometimes meant a trip to the library. I’m also living just 45 minutes north of Boston, so I am hardly living in some poverty-stricken part of Appalachia, or some such. The city here is actually moderately expensive.

    The key to this budget is two things.

    First, I have found an exceptionally cheap housing arrangement that costs me only $120 a month in rent, and another $40 for electricity. This is not a whole apartment, but just two rooms in a very old building. I did put about $1500 in materials into some improvements, which I did myself.

    Second, I am a veteran, so I am entitled to free lifetime health care from the VA. Obviously this second item is a very good deal, which is hard to duplicate in any other way. Even Medicare, which I also have, costs me $159 a month in premiums and entails a 20% deductible. So, for those old enough to qualify for Medicare my budget is more or less within reach, including acceptable medical care.

    I also have no bank debt whatsoever, and I only buy things that I really have a use for. This does not mean that I never buy anything expensive – recently I spent about $1K on overdue computer upgrades and peripherals – but it has to be stuff that has a serious cost-justification.

    So, my reason for subscribing to this website is not a need to find a cheaper way to live, but is rather a wish to travel without increasing my living costs much above a point that is already very low.

    Basically, the key to living cheaply anywhere is to shop carefully, and occasionally to get a bit creative about just how you meet your needs.

    Just saying.

    1. Great share David. Creativity is not just the key to cheap living but it is also the key to having a interesting life. There is always an expensive way to do everything and it is the road most traveled, so rarely a road you need any creativity to find. So it is the road where the people around you in bumper-to-bumper traffic will not be that interesting to talk to. Unlike you, who seems to be on the road less traveled.
      Best, Dan

  2. Hola and Aloha. Noticed your vegetarian and previous tag was vagabond buddha ? Do you practice meditation? I liked walking into friendly temples in Chang Mai and being allowed to sit. I noticed a Zen center in Phil, a rare find

  3. Dan
    There must be a mistake on your free ebook website. I tried several times to download it but it never arrives in my email. Am I black listed? I like your you tube videos. How do I get one of your ebooks? Do I need a monthly subscription?

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