Dear Overseas Property Alert Reader,
Increasing numbers of retirees are leaving their home states in search of more affordable housing. Florida, North Carolina, and Michigan are the top places they’re moving to.
But how affordable is property in these states? And what about their costs of living in general? Once housing is covered, how much do retirees have left for other expenses (not to mention themselves)?
As a reader of Overseas Property Alert, you already know that we’re advocates of straying from home in search of profit, adventure, and lifestyle upgrades. But for us, Florida, North Carolina, and Michigan aren’t far enough.
The best property prices and lowest costs of living are found beyond the borders of the United States.
Maybe you like Florida, North Carolina, and Michigan for their lifestyle appeal…
But you don’t have to compromise on this when you move to a new country. There are places overseas that have similar offerings for a fraction of the price.
More savings means more money in your pocket at the end of the month for discretionary spending—in other words, more funds to treat yourself with and have some well-earned fun during retirement.
Let’s compare the top three states that older Americans are moving to in search of affordable housing with comparable overseas counterparts. I’ll look at the average home value as well as the living wage (the amount needed to cover basic expenses) in each case.
- Florida Vs. Belize
Unsurprisingly, Florida is the top spot retirees are moving to. They’re drawn by the dream of a beach retirement plus warm weather and a low cost of living, including lower taxes.
If you’re willing to venture a bit farther south, you can access all of Florida’s appeal at a much lower cost. Just two hours from Miami by plane is Belize, an English-speaking Central American country with a long Caribbean coastline.
It has white-sand beaches, palm trees, and warm weather year-round… a tropical retirement dream come true. Plus, it’s a tax haven. Even as a resident, it does not impose tax on income earned outside of the country.
Home prices vary across Belize and by type of property (whether it’s an American-style home in a private residential development or a Belize-style home in a humble village).
Some of the best value is in Corozal District, the northern part of the Belize mainland, close to the border with Mexico. Here, homes cost between US$100,000 and US$200,000 on average.
Compare that to the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville area, a top choice in Florida, where the typical home value is US$314,000.
The cost of living is lower in Corozal, too… In Florida, the living wage is US$5,480 per month. In Corozal, we estimate that a couple needs about US$2,000 per month for a comfortable lifestyle.
If you bring Florida’s budget to Corozal, you’ll have an extra US$3,480 in your pocket every month, which you can allocate to nice dinners out, boat or fishing trips, or travel.
- North Carolina Vs. Spain
Retirees love North Carolina for its culture. It has university towns with thriving food scenes and professional sports teams. It also has a wide, sandy seashore, mountain views, and national parks.
Its retiree numbers are increasing just like Florida’s… but despite being sought out for affordability, there’s a gap between the living wage (US$5,030 per month) and what the average person earns (US$3,700 per month) in North Carolina.
In Asheville, average home values are US$451,400. Compare that to Murcia, a little university city of just under half a million in Spain, about halfway between Valencia and Málaga and about 30 minutes inland from the coast. Here, the average home costs about US$100,000 to US$150,000.
Murcia has a strong expat community, attracting people from all over the world who are drawn by the affordability, warm weather, and Spanish cultural ambiance. About US$1,500 is a reasonable monthly budget here.
That leaves you with an extra US$3,530 per month if you bring Asheville’s living wage here, which you can put towards enjoying your retirement. You can play golf at one of Murcia’s 17 courses, for instance, and never worry about the green fees.
- Michigan Vs. Montenegro
Michigan’s inbound retirees are drawn by the low cost of living, first and foremost.
It’s ranked one of the most affordable states in the country, and it’s one of few states where the average housing cost (US$820 per month) is actually in line with the living wage (US$4,700 per month).
Retirees also like Michigan for its lake lifestyle, natural beauty, and low-key appeal. Resort towns like Petoskey and Grand Rapids are likely choices because they’re quiet and provide access to Lake Michigan.
On the other side of the world in Montenegro, a tiny country in the eastern Mediterranean, you can find much of the same for a much lower cost. It even has a massive lake, Lake Skadar—the biggest in Southern Europe.
Montenegro is just being discovered by expats, and property values remain incredible bargains—especially inland. You can find homes for US$50,000 to US$100,000.
Compare that to Petoskey, where the average home value is US$400,820.
A budget of about US$2,000 per month is enough for a comfortable lifestyle in Montenegro. Compared to Michigan’s living wage, you’ll have an extra US$2,700 in your pocket per month to spend as you please.
Another benefit of buying property in Montenegro is that it qualifies you for residency. The country is on the cusp of entering the EU, which means that Montenegro residency could become even more valuable in just a few years.
How Much Can You Save Overseas?
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Editor, Overseas Property Alert
P.S. On Sept. 20–22, Lief Simon is hosting the most important event on our calendar, the 2023 Offshore Wealth Summit. This event is all about helping you create a plan for financial safety and prosperity with the guidance of experts.