3 sunny places to retire on just a Social Security check


Ecuador may not be the first place North Americans think of visiting, but it has a variety of climates, from mild spring-time in the mountains to toasty beach weather on the coast, a comfortingly consistent 12-hours of daylight all year and a very convenient currency: the U.S. dollar.

To apply for Ecuadorean residency as a retiree, you only have to prove that you have $800 in consistent reliable income per month. Of course, there’s still a lot of paperwork to move through, but the income test is one of the lowest around (with Nicaragua leading the pack with a measly $600 minimum).

What’s more, those over 65 who receive their temporary or permanent residence are also entitled to many of the same rights as an Ecuadorean retiree, except the right to vote. Among the benefits provided to resident retirees are free health care, a 50 percent discount on roundtrip airfare, 50 percent discount on movie tickets and other leisure activities, and exemption from some local and municipal taxes.

With a fantastic mix of beautiful mountain vistas, bubbling rivers and a mild-but-sunny climate, the city of Cuenca is easy to love. Combined with the convenience of living in a modern city that hasn’t lost its Old World-style charm, the typical monthly expenses of living in Cuenca make it an affordable paradise.

A city-center one-bedroom is just $334 per month, with utilities, Internet and cell service adding another $83. Including a few three-course meals, a yoga membership and a few hundred dollars of spending money, an average monthly budget is just $887.

While it may take some out-of-the-box thinking, and a little extra paperwork, retiring in south of the border can mean your Social Security income goes much, much further than it would at home. Even if you receive less than the average in Social Security payment each month, a happy, healthy retirement could be just a flight away.

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