Cheaper Retirement, Overseas Vs Florida

Can you really retire overseas for less than Florida and still get beaches, warm weather, etc.?

What are the main reasons people retire to Florida when the are no longer tethered to specific location because of job and family obligations? If you said most people retire to Florida for the warm weather and beaches, as a real estate broker selling homes in Florida for a long time, I can assure you that you are correct. But are there places overseas that have warm weather that may be better for retirement because they are also cheaper, have better healthcare and maybe even safer that most cities in Florida?

Low Crime, Sunshine, Warm Weather, Beaches PLUS a Lower Cost of Living Overseas?

People obviously don’t move to Florida to be closer to major ski areas or because they want to enjoy cooler summers in the mountains. No, people retire to Florida for the “warm” weather and beaches. They’re tired of shoveling snow. So for the purposes of this comparison, we are going to compare Florida to moving overseas for retirement to a couple of countries that are also well known for their warm weather and beautiful beaches. We have chosen two very different countries, Spain and Thailand for this overseas retirement versus Florida comparison.

Why did we chose Spain and Thailand to compare to Florida as a retirement alternative?

  • Because both Spain and Thailand have areas that feature the warm weather, palm trees, sun and beaches that many retirees are looking for.
  • A growing number of expats from the US and other countries are choosing to retire in these countries rather than their country of residence.
  • You’ll find growing English-speaking expat communities in both countries that can make retiring there easier.

Video, Why Many People From the US Retire to Thailand


Video, Why Many Americans are Choosing to Spend Their Retirement in Spain

Retiring Overseas Versus Retiring in Florida: Cost of Living

The Winner? Overseas in Thailand!

Spain- At this writing, there are cities and towns near the beach where two people could enjoy a comfortable middle class lifestyle for around $2000 a month. While researching, I found American expats who are living very comfortably for less than $2000 a month in the exact same city in the Spain video above.

Thailand- For about $2000 a month, a couple could afford to go well beyond just living comfortably and enjoy a luxurious retirement lifestyle near the beach.

Florida- At this writing, it would be a struggle for one person to live a comfortable middle class lifestyle in any low crime area in Florida for $2000 a month or less. It would be nearly impossible for a couple.

Retiring Overseas Versus Retiring in Florida: Health care

The Winner? Mixed, for American Retirees that Rely on Medicare.

Comparing health-care for retirees on Medicare living in Florida to American retirees living overseas is like trying to compare bananas to grapes. Why? Because the cost and quality are so different.

What you need to Know:

  • Medicare and most Medicare Gap insurance won’t cover retirees overseas health care costs.
  • According the World Health Organization (WHO), Spain’s quality of health care is among the best in the world at #7. The US is rated at #37 and Thailand similarly at #47.
  • The cost of a doctor’s visit to an English speaking doctor in Spain is about $75 if you don’t have any insurance. The same visit would cost about $20 in Thailand.

florida move guide book cover and discription

Retiring Overseas Versus Retiring in Florida: Difficulty and Cost Of Moving

The Winner? Florida!

Ease- Moving to Florida is the clear winner when it comes to the ease of setting up a new home in the state. The procedures, cost and timeliness of will be very similar to where you moved from. Getting a new driver license, car registration, renting an apartment etc. is quicker and easier that overseas. Obtaining a visa to stay overseas can be costly and require quite a bit of time and effort especially if you don’t speak your new country’s language.

Cost- The cost of “moving” overall will be roughly similar, assuming you sell almost everything before moving to Florida (as recommended by the Florida Move Guide) or overseas and furnish your new home after you move.

Retiring Overseas Versus Retiring in Florida: Crime and Safety

The Winner? Overseas in Spain!

Our research showed that Spain was a far safer place to live because it had a much lower homicide and overall crime rate than both the US or Thailand. The US and Thailand crime rates were fairly similar, but Spain’s crime rate are about 50% lower overall.*

Bottom Line: So, Will You be Happier Living Out Your Golden Years in Florida, or Overseas?

Well, That Depends…

Are You Happier with a Daily Routine Where Everything Happens on Time?

  • If you are someone who likes to wake up and go to sleep at the same everyday and gets upset if anything disturbs your daily routine in between, retiring in Florida may work better for you than retiring overseas.
  • In Spain, Thailand and many other overseas locations with lots of sunshine and beautiful beaches, people tend to be more relaxed about life and their jobs. The guy who who was supposed to hook up your internet in the morning may not show up at all or call to tell you he can’t make it. Once hooked up, you internet connection may go out more often and for longer periods than what you are accustomed to, and complaining about it will do nothing to change that.
  • Restaurants may open up later and close earlier than their posted times. Or never open that day.
  • If you don’t know the language well in your overseas country, you may end up ordering something from the menu other than you thought. You may buy a train ticket for somewhere completely different than where you wanted to go. There are people who would turn such mistakes into opportunities for a good laugh at them selves and make the best of it and enjoy themselves. If that’s not you, Florida or another state in the good ole USA may be your best place to retire.

If You Have Been Bored to Tears in Your Job and are Looking for Real Adventure and Excitement in Your Life

  • If you would love to learn a new language, see new places and experience new cultures, retiring overseas may be for you.
  • How to Retire Happier recommends renting overseas at first and travel/living in many countries for the shear adventure of it, and to learn if there is one country that might be right for you, long-term. The book also tells how to live like a local, not as a tourist and how affordable it can be.

Retiring Overseas for a More Affordable Retirement

  • At this writing, retiring in Florida on just $2000 a month for a couple of new retirees could be a struggle financially. I may require renting a place in an area with a higher crime rate than you would like. It may mean rarely enjoying a restaurant meal or sweating in your own home to save on the air conditioning bill.
  • However, that same $2000 income can buy you a far better retirement lifestyle in many overseas locations.
  • Our research shows that if you are the kind of person who loves an uneventful daily routine and does not like surprises, moving overseas to live for less may not work for you.
  • However, if you are someone that’s thirsty for adventure and can make the best of every situation you find your self, living a better more exciting retirement lifestyle overseas awaits you!

*If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know that Florida’s overall crime rate is one of the highest in the nation, which means it’s quite possible if Florida was directly compared to Thailand, it could be the worst of the three. Regular readers also know that all of the towns on our best places to live in Florida lists have crime rates lower than the national average and many are among the safest places to live in the country. Whether moving to Florida or overseas for retirement, the more research you do before making a move, the more likely you are to make the right decisions.

When retiring overseas, you will be better at finding housing deals and negotiating with the locals, the more familiar you become with a country, it’s language and people. Experienced travel/living adventurers can live the same lifestyle for less than new explorers. Set a budget and stick to it.


Ron Stack, “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

  • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.


4 thoughts on “Cheaper Retirement, Overseas Vs Florida”

  1. Hello! I have read most of the comments on this blog. I would like to give my opinion here, based on my personal experiences over the years. Lets talk North versus Florida … Our family roots are from the Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota area, where we grew up into adulthood. Upside is; there are tidy lawns, SOME city services and aide to low income people, and in general the people and streets are clean and respectable looking. Generally speaking, walking down most streets feels safe. IF you can walk….that is, which we almost never do here.The weather is unpleasant MOST of the year, not just winter. Winters are mid October to early April in this area, it is dark at 5:00, overcast frequently, and VERY cold. While raising children, you must go to bed many nights of the year early and on alert wondering if you must get up in the dark at 5:00 AM to break your back shoveling 12 to 30 inches of snow blown up in your driveway preventing you from leaving your property. The schools, (which are GREATLY overrated) did not have the consideration to broadcast cancellations around midnight. (Would be nice not to have to get up many mornings unnecessarily at 5 AM only to find they DIDN’T cancel school, in spite of unbelievably treacherous conditions). Young children are made to go out to recess in unbelievably cold weather, no exceptions. We ended up paying for private school (although there are few choices for that), because school consisted of parties and counting M and M’s for Math. Parents, (and older siblings) secretly home schooled their kids to fill the void. Just as you get out of winter, then comes the rainy season with snow melt, FLOODS, tornadoes, and HAIL damage on your car and roofs, (a regular occurrance). Allergies are HORRIFIC during this time. Finally, you get into July and dry out, just in time for over 2 months of HOT days, humidity, and, yes, aggressive Mosquitos! Lake and river areas are particularly bad. The only reliably nice time of year is about 6 weeks in Fall, and then you’re back to sleet and snow in October, with Kids shut in spreading illnesses to each other, and your skin literally cracking from dryness with the furnace blaring non-stop. The worst weather for anyone trying to stay fit and healthy. Last but not least- Northern taxes – HIGH! And keep in mind they don’t give out benefits easily up here anymore. So here are my conclusions after vacationing many times in various parts of Florida, which we felt was neccessary for our survival in the heartland. Like anything in life, you need to find the right fit and know HOW to maximize Florida enjoyment. I agree that the heat, hurricanes, crowds, etc.. are a strong negative. To solve this problem, we do not go to Florida June through October. We have no children in school any longer, and we are typically home during the blizzards in January/February with taxes, inside home improvements and getting reorganized for the new year. Our favorite time to go is late March, April, May, November and December. Typically GORGEOUS weather, school in session, no hurricane threat, not crowded. We also make sure and stay in fairly nice accommodations – not luxury, but higher end. We rent a nice condo or stay in a nicer hotel. ALWAYS stay on the Ocean. We don’t see bugs in our nice oceanfront hotels and condos, and allergies don’t exist for us with the ocean breezes. We tend to avoid southern Florida, and find the beaches nicer, less crowded, very accessible, and very clean in spots further north, and we’ve had no occasion to have to learn Spanish. We have found many good local restaurants that are cheaper (and better) than back home, and we never wait in line during these months. Sales tax is low here with no tax on grocery food and many drug store/vitamin type items. Traffic in these areas further north in Florida is very minimal. Yes, there are homeless and poor people around that’s true, it takes a bit of getting used to, and the wilder, freer culture, but we’ve never had a problem with anyone, and we have stayed for nearly 4 weeks at a time. We are there for the Ocean, and nothing in the heartland can rival it. Relaxing on your balcony over the ocean and the long walks on the gorgeous beaches are worth seeing some poor people around, so what? They have as much right as you do to be there. We are there for the beach, the sun, and nicer weather during those months. Would we live in Florida full-time? Probably not. But we may purchase a smaller 2nd home there and live part time in retirement while keeping our northern home. I would agree its best to have some financial backing before going there, since it appears to be a low wage southern state, you need to be able to afford it. One last thing – unlike foreign countries like Latin America, the Carribean, etc., you have the protections of being in the United States. Its also nice that you can load up the SUV and drive with several family members to Florida, instead of having to fly where you can’t take your own vehicle and things with you, or bring back newly purchased items. I hope this helps!

    • Hello, would you share which part/city of the Atlantic coast you like best? I am just starting to explore where to spend my winters and am looking for the same things you mentioned. Thanks in advance!

  2. I am relocating to The Philippines towards end of 2019, I have lived in my Clearwater Florida Condo over 30 years after moving from England….I think this property would be ideal for a snow bird to purchase for my asking price of $(*deleted*), this would come fully furnished……(.I plan to take just a couple of lamps and tables) with me for thrills in the Phills …..The condo is second floor of a two story complex, with a wonderful view of the golf course at the back, … recent years I’ve had a new AC unit installed, water heater, and storm windows. ….the condo is in a non evacuation zone for hurricanes,

    • Sorry Jill,
      Our comment section is not the place to post “for sale” ads. In addition, Clearwater Florida is not on any of our best places lists because crime rates there are substantially higher than the national average and student test scores are considerably below the national and Florida average, among other reasons. But good luck selling your Florida condo and moving overseas to the Philippines.
      Ron Stack

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.

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