5 Ultra-Cheap Overseas Retirement Destinations

PHOTO: Dining on beach
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American couples can retire in comfort on a budget of less than $1,000 a month if they are willing to look overseas, according to a new report from the live-abroad experts at InternationalLiving.com.

Researchers at InternationalLiving.com surveyed their worldwide network of editors and contributors to calculate which country offered the best quality of life at the lowest price.

Editors each sent in details of their personal monthly budgets, which included expenses like rent, health care, groceries, utilities and the cost of having a maid. The budget information was then used to compile a list of the five cheapest overseas retirement destinations.

If 2013 is the year you're going to retire, take a look at the five cheapest spots in the world to live well, according to InternationalLiving.com.

PHOTO: Granada, Nicaragua
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Nicaragua -- $995 per month

Nicaragua is one of the most beautiful countries in the Americas, says InternationalLiving.com. It boasts a dramatic Pacific coastline; long, gentle Caribbean beaches; and volcanoes and freshwater lakes that dot the hilly inland. Colonial cities like Granada and Leén offer visitors a taste of days gone by. And Managua is rapidly becoming a city with top-notch theaters and a range of international restaurants.

Nicaragua's lower cost of living does not mean you have to sacrifice the quality of life you have been accustomed to in the U.S. or Canada. In fact, the editors say you will probably be able to live in Nicaragua with even more luxuries than you were accustomed to, simply because the prices are so low.

Sample monthly budget for two people:

Electricity (without air-conditioning): $45

Water: $20

Propane gas (tank for cooking): $20

Groceries: $200

Entertainment: $100 (or the sky's the limit)

Rent: $450

Health insurance: $100

Maid (three times a week): $60

Total: $995

PHOTO: Fruit stall
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Malaysia -- $1,000 per month

According to the editors at InternationalLiving.com, a couple in Malaysia can easily live on just over $1,000 a month. A budget of $2,000 will have you living in luxury.

An entire bagful of fresh fruit, including mangoes, bananas, apples, oranges, and pineapples costs just $4. High-speed Internet is reliable and costs $30 a month, and a premier cable TV package for $40 includes favorites like HBO, CNN, and the BBC. And a couple can eat out well for less than $10. Go to night bazaars, and you can dine for much less than that: Chicken-and-rice meals are often only $1.

Sample monthly budget for a couple living in Malaysia:

Rent: $500

Electricity: $100

Water: $10

Cellphone: $10

Gas: $4

Internet: $30

TV: $40 Maid (four hours a week): $15

Transportation: $34 for gas

Health insurance: $33

Dining out/Entertainment (alcohol not included): $300

Monthly total: $1,076

PHOTO: Cuenca, Ecuador
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Ecuador -- $1,415 per month

In Ecuador, the editors at InternationalLiving.com say, it's easy to retire on less than $17,000 per year, a figure that allows for a very comfortable lifestyle. Many foreign residents have their main homes in the city, and also have a country home, a beach property, or even property in another country -- something that would be impossible on a comparable budget in the U.S.

Additionally, the low cost of living allows retirees to increase their travel, take up new hobbies and generally enjoy a better quality of life. Ecuador offers something for everyone, and at prices unheard of in North America and Europe.

Here is a sample monthly budget for a couple living very well in Cuenca. The expenses are, of course, approximate. We've erred on the side of extra spending to come up with a budget that allows for a pretty luxurious lifestyle.

Rent (for a luxury two-bedroom apartment): $500

Utilities (including, phone, Internet, and CATV): $150

Maid (twice a week): $60

Groceries: $300

Maintenance and fuel for one car: $140

Clothing: $70

Entertainment: $175

Health care (four $30 visits to a doctor per year for two people, divided by 12 months): $20

Monthly total: $1,415 per month

PHOTO: Panama City
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Panama -- $1,865 per month

Panama offers a very comfortable retirement solution, in part because the nation is much more developed than most visitors expect. InternationalLiving.com says many are shocked by the modernity of Panama and the clusters of skyscrapers that define Panama City's skyline. All of the amenities one could wish for are readily available.

By moving to Panama, you will enjoy the benefits of a developing economy where you can still take a taxi across town for the equivalent of a buck or two, get your hair cut for a couple of dollars, or enjoy dinner for two with a bottle of wine at one of the finest restaurants in Panama City for a mere $30. No matter what your taste or budget, you'll find that Panama offers plenty of quality options.

Sample monthly budget for two people:

Rent: $800

Electricity: $100

Water: $15

Gas for cooking, water heaters, dryer, etc.: $15

Groceries: $400

Entertainment: $200

Phone/Internet/Cable: $60

Transportation (taxi or fuel/maintenance on one small car, low to moderate use): $100

Full-time maid : $175

Monthly total: $1,865

PHOTO: Dining on beach
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Mexico -- $2,129 per month

Everyone seems to agree: the quality of your life improves in Mexico, says InternationalLiving.com. Things take longer, so you'll need to learn to slow down. Goods and services cost less, so you can afford the kinds of luxuries only the very wealthy enjoy up north — like a maid, a cook, and a gardener.

And in Mexico you have the good fortune of giving up very little when you make your move. You're heading to a near neighbor where you can get Internet, cable TV, and all the other comforts you're used to.

Sample monthly budget for two people in Mexico:

Rent (two-bedroom home): $800

Utilities (electricity, gas, water, phone, cable TV, Internet): $220

Groceries: $300

Entertainment: $250

Health care (two people on IMSS insurance, plus $70 per month for incidentals): $112

Maid: Three times a week: $210

Gardener: Once a week: $87

Incidentals: $150

Monthly total: $2,129

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