For many people, retirement is an opportunity to make a fresh start and live the life they have always dreamed of. It's time to start a new chapter and start a new adventure. For some, it may mean engaging in a new hobby or spending more time doing the things they love. For others, it means packing their bags and moving to a new country.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), nearly 700,000 Americans receive their social security checks abroad. If you are thinking of retiring from abroad, you are in good company.

Hammock on the beach next to the ocean

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In addition to being able to start anew and try something different, retiring abroad offers many other benefits, including being exposed to a new culture, paying a lot less for health care and even benefiting from more a lower cost of living. In fact, according to Expatistan, an expatriate resource, the United States ranks 17th among the most expensive countries out of the 106 countries on the list. Many countries offer a more affordable lifestyle without sacrificing the quality of life.

Is retiring abroad the right choice for you?

For some, starting one's golden years in a new place can be the thrill of a lifetime and what they've been waiting for all their years of work. For others, this idea is downright horrible. Retiring abroad is not for everyone, and choosing to retire in a foreign country has both advantages and disadvantages.

Consider the costs of a return flight to the United States whenever you want to visit friends and family. Can you handle not seeing your loved ones during holidays and birthdays outside of Skype or FaceTime? The effects of social isolation can be devastating, especially if you are part of a tight community that you will leave behind. It can also be difficult as you get older and have trouble moving around. You can have children or grandchildren who can help you take care of you in the United States, but if you move abroad, it will no longer be possible to rely on your loved ones as you get older.

Having said that, retiring to a new country can prove a wise financial decision that will offer you a much better quality of life, especially if your savings are not as strong as you would expect. .

According to the SSA, nearly half of married couples depend on social security for at least 50% of their retirement income. And when the average social security check is only $ 1,300 a month, it's not always easy to get by in most American cities. But in many other countries, this social security audit can go a lot further and give you more for your money. So, if you are thinking about retiring overseas, these cities offer excellent quality of life for less than $ 1,500 a month.

1. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires is often called the "Paris of South America", and for good reason. With a distinct culture, world-renowned museums and an enticing restaurant scene, this city really has something for everyone.

In addition to that, it's also affordable. According to Expatistan, a furnished apartment of an average area of ​​900 square feet in a more expensive district of the city costs about $ 600 a month. Utilities bring in about $ 100 more per month, and the cost of shopping is similar to what you will find in the United States.

Health care is more affordable in Argentina than in the United States – even after taking into account Medicare coverage. In the Argentine public health system, emergency care and doctor visits are free for everyone – including expatriates – although wait times are long, as many hospitals and doctor's offices are understaffed. If you choose the private health care route, waiting times will likely be shorter, but costs will vary depending on the provider and the city.

2. Georgetown, Malaysia

One of the main benefits for Americans who are retiring to Malaysia is that English is widely spoken, which makes the transition a lot easier. Learning a new language at an older age is easier said than done and if you do not develop fluency, this can result in a feeling of isolation and frustration in retirement. This Asian country also enjoys a warm climate and beautiful beaches, so it is perfect for retirees looking for a tropical getaway.

The country enjoys an exceptionally affordable cost of living. According to Expatistan, a furnished apartment of 300 square meters in an expensive urban area usually costs between 500 and 600 dollars per month. If you are ready to move to a more rural town, you could even pay less than $ 300 a month. for housing.

Malaysia also offers the highest quality of health care in the world. While health facilities in rural areas can be hit or miss, hospitals and doctor's offices in the most populous cities offer high quality care with highly qualified staff and most doctors speak English. Being able to communicate effectively with your health care provider in a foreign country is a huge benefit for retirees. Malaysia offers both public and private health care and, if expatriates have access to the public system, there is also the possibility of private health insurance.

3. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

If you want to retire abroad while staying relatively close to home, Mexico is a fantastic option. You will need to do some research to make sure you choose the right city because some cities have a higher crime rate than others, but one of the most promising choices is the tropical Puerto Vallarta destination.

The city is a popular tourist destination, so it is also very friendly for retirees with many restaurants, shops, theaters and, of course, miles of sandy beaches. Although housing may cost more than other Mexican cities, it is still more affordable compared to many US cities: an average furnished apartment of 900 square feet in an expensive area of ​​the city costs just under 1,000 dollars per month, according to Expatistan. However, there are less expensive options, and if you choose to move to a cheaper part of the city, you could pay only $ 500 a month for a furnished apartment.

You'll also find quality health care in Puerto Vallarta at an affordable price. Once you are a resident of Mexico, you have the right to participate in the country's public health system. You can also buy private insurance. Although costs vary widely by city and hospital, they are generally more affordable than US plans.

Choosing the right retirement destination

Of course, these are not the only options if you want to retire abroad: there are dozens of fantastic cities in the world that would make fabulous destinations for retirement. But the most important thing is to do your research before making the jump.

Before you prepare your business and buy the condo of your dreams in a new country, visit your future retirement city for several weeks to ensure your well being over the next few decades. Look for other expats in the city and ask them about their experiences. Join groups and online forums to get a glimpse of the lives of other retirees, then decide if you would like this lifestyle.

It's a huge world, and if you're the jet-setter type ready to live a new adventure in retirement, going abroad may well be one of the best decisions you'll ever make. to take. Just make sure you have prepared and reflected on your decision so that you can truly live the retirement life you have always dreamed of.