4 Foreign Countries Where You Can Retire On Social Security Alone

Someone once said that retirement is not the end of the road but a highway opening to a new chapter in life.

Whoever said that clearly has never experienced a pandemic.

Increasingly, many Americans retire abroad to make their retirement savings last longer when they collect dollars but spend in cheaper foreign currencies.

Nevertheless, 100-plus countries have banned or restricted Americans from entry due to the coronavirus and the number of cases in the United States. The Passport Index, which ranks passport mobility as well ease of travel entry and visa access, notes that the American passport holds the #19 spot in 2020. It was #3 in 2019.

Before the pandemic, American citizens could travel to 70% of countries visa-free.

The pandemic will end — eventually. What awaits an American retiree desiring to live abroad in a post-pandemic world?

Pre-pandemic, there were about 413,000 American retirees living abroad. If you want to join those ranks now, there is much you must consider.

To get the most out of currency exchanges you will want to live in a stable, developing country, for instance.

The average American couple gets just under $31,000 from Social Security in retirement, which comes to $2,583 a month. Here are four countries where retirees can live comfortably on $2,000 a month, or $24,000 annually, in a post-COVID-19 world.


In February 2020, International Living Magazine named Portugal as the #1 country to retire abroad. This proclamation was made right before the pandemic began.

American tourists are currently banned from Portugal. You must contact a Portuguese embassy to apply for potential long-term visa status.

Nevertheless, the cost of living for retired Americans in Portugal ranges between $1,700 to $2,200. Portugal arguably offers the lowest cost of living standard in Europe.

Portugal has a modern universal health care system that is utilized by tourists visiting from the E.U. As a retiree and residential foreigner, the cost for a medical checkup is about $47.

Portugal has had 60,500 COVID-19 cases and 1,830 deaths.


Unlike most of the world, Barbados is one of few countries actively trying to attract Americans to move there during the pandemic.

In July 2020, Barbados initiated the Barbados Welcome Stamp special work visa program.

If you make $50,000 annually, work remotely and can pay $2,000 for a visa, you can stay in Barbados for a year. This could be a great way to test a retirement stay in Barbados before applying for a long-term visa.

Barbados is an island-state Caribbean paradise that is located 1,600 miles southeast from Florida and 577 miles north of Guyana.

The cost of living in Barbados is well below $2,000. The standards of medical care are relatively modern and affordable for the local populace.

You should have adequate personal health insurance coverage in case you need emergency medical evacuation to a nearby American state, however.

Barbados currently has 180 positive COVID-19 cases and less than 10 deaths.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is #3 on International Living Magazine’s top 10 list of the best countries to retire to abroad.

As of September 2020, Costa Rica had reopened its country to foreign tourism, including Americans, under strict standards.

You must have at least $50,000 worth of personal medical insurance coverage to visit.

Costa Rica has a modern, universal health care system for its citizens and permanent residents. It arguably has the best health care system in Latin America.

Consult your local Costa Rican embassy about long-term visa application processes for foreign retirees. Retired couples on a tight budget can live in Costa Rica for $2,000 monthly, or less.

Costa Rica currently has about 49,000 positive COVID-19 cases and 510 deaths.


The Philippines currently has 242,000 positive COVID-19 cases and about 4,000 deaths. The government has mandated that everyone in public wear a face mask and a plastic face shield.

While the country is currently grappling with a spike in coronavirus cases, there is no country on Earth not dealing with this issue.

The fact remains that the Philippines is a very affordable country for American retirees. It is also one of the few Southeast Asian countries still allowing entry to Americans.

Single retirees on strict budgets can live in the Philippines for $900 a month. Retired couples can live on $2,200 or less in Manila, and much less in other cities.

Most locals in city centers speak English. You will find modernized health care standards in the large cities mostly, so you should have a good health insurance policy.