There are Better Options Than Moving to Canada

moving abroad from USA

View from my house in the highlands of Mexico

Canada’s immigration site crashed around 10:30 last night as it became clearer the angry orange one had a clear path to victory in the presidential election. I’m sure the site will be struggling with inquires from U.S. citizens and others for a long time to come.

But if you’re looking to move abroad, there are a lot better options where you won’t freeze your butt off. You don’t have to say goodbye to the sun the majority of the year. There are a couple dozen countries where your cost of living can go down by half or more.

It’s also a lot easier to get residency in a country where they’re actively recruiting foreigners who can support themselves than it is to get it in Canada, where they’re not.

In some places you don’t even need to bother if you don’t want to commit. You can stay in Mexico or Peru for 180 days at a time, then turn around and do it again. In Argentina you can keep renewing your three-month visa for years with a same-day border hop. In Cambodia you can buy a one-year business visa upon arrival, with a cost that averages out to less than a dollar a day. Then renew it a year later at any travel agency.

Better Weather, Better Prices

Have you ever met anyone who moved to a colder place when they retired?

I’m sure it has happened now and then when an aging parent wanted to be closer to kids who have moved, but why would anyone do it otherwise? Most of the time people want to move somewhere warm and sunny, to a place where they don’t have to shovel snow and bundle up their creaky body when they leave the house.

Nicaragua beach

Fortunately for we Americans who are facing an election result that everyone thought was unthinkable, we’ve got lots of warm and inexpensive options out there around the world. If you’re of retirement age, it’s easy to get residency in places where younger people have a tough time—like Thailand. It’s gotten a whole lot easier to live in India and Malaysia has long been open to those willing to invest in property.

Even if you’re younger though, you’ve got lots of choices. I’ve gotten legal residency in Mexico for me and my family two years and it wasn’t all that daunting. Panama, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Ecuador are countries ready to welcome you and your bank account with residency incentives. It’s a little more involved in others, especially in Europe, but with patience and some money you can get it done.

In these countries you can easily live on half what you’re spending now. Prices are half or less for key budget items like housing, utilities, health care, transportation, food, and labor. You can often live a life that would require a lot more wealth in the USA on two social security checks. For that amount you can eat out regularly, have a maid, go to cultural performances, and travel locally every month.

You can see real examples of prices residents are really paying in the e-book, paperback, or audiobook of A Better Life for Half the Price. Check out the Cheap Living Abroad site for more info.

better life half price audio

Go Try a Place Out on a Trial Run

As I repeatedly advise on here and in the book, however, you really need to try a destination out and live like a resident for a while before making a major life commitment. In the cheapest places to live in the world you can usually stay a couple months on a tourist visa if you’re American, sometimes four months or more.

Go rent an apartment in a real neighborhood. Take some language classes. Shop at the local markets. Take local transportation. If you still love it after a couple months, you’ve probably found a good spot. One where you can forget about all the troubles you left behind.

  1. Bridget

    I think people are attracted to Canada because it’s reliably liberal and there aren’t so many gun nuts. They’d be willing to put up with terrible weather to be surrounded by fewer redneck racists. You have to be relatively wealthy though to afford it that’s for sure, especially Vancouver or Toronto.

    • CC

      It’s interesting that you make generalizations about large groups of persons, and paint *them* as a form of bigot.

      • Chuck

        It’s the bigots who put him in office and the white supremicists are the ones cheering the loudest. Make America Racist Again.

  2. Gary

    Good comment, Bridget.

    For all of us in the USA, remember, we do have a constitution that limits the power of the executive office, albeit with a majority on the dark side.

    Damn, it’s time for another drink. Wake me up when the nightmare is over.


  3. John Morris

    My problem is that I’m one of the few people who actually want the climate of Canada, but need a place with cost of living expenses of Mexico. Does that exist this side of Eastern Europe?

    • Wayne Bernhardson

      Try parts of Patagonia – Argentina or Chile

    • Tim Leffel

      Eastern and Central Europe are the obvious choices, but as Wayne said, Patagonia would do the trick. Parts of the Andes Mountains north of there are pretty damn cold sometimes too as you gain altitude.

      • James Hannah

        HeyTim,I appreciate everything you have researched. Is Mexi really safe for us from the States? Thank you in advance. Jim H

        • Tim Leffel

          This argument has been hashed out 1,000 times on various forums, newspaper sites, and here, but the real answer is, “It depends.” If you go from some bucolic little hamlet in Vermont to the cartel land of Ciudad Juarez then no, it’s definitely not safer. But if you move from New Orleans, St. Louis, Detroit, or Baltimore, almost anywhere in Mexico is safer. There are far more homicides per capita in Washington D.C. than Mexico City. In general, the places where foreigners live are mostly fine and those residents are your best source of info for a place you’re considering. (P.S. – never turn on Fox state media…)

  4. Anthony Thomas

    Why would somebody want to move where it’s cold most of the time? I know why Canada because it’s close and most Americans don’t want to leave, the majority don’t travel overseas anyway and no nothing about other locations.

    I would not move to Canada it’s cold, F that.

    South America is great, affordable and the people are nice. Okay so you need to learn Spanish or Portuguese but that’s very minor than to put up with whatever happens.

    • Josie M

      Canada is no colder than the northern US. Where r u from? The south? Most Americans know nothing about Canada.

  5. Johnny Witt

    Tim, you have followers that actually voted for the “angry orange one” and who refused to cast their vote for the ultimate Career Politician & owned Wall St., Military Industrial Candidate. It was noted that If you overlaid the speeches of Bernie & Trump & removed the names, about 75% of the content lined up perfectly.

    • Tim Leffel

      It’s the other 25% that scares everyone. And that the guy with his finger on so many buttons is a bully who is so easily provoked. This isn’t a playground or a frat house.

      • QQQBall


        Beyond whatever business reasons there are, your site is a godsend of information.

  6. Rav

    Language can be a major factor. I wish I had a tallent for picking up languages. So even as a tourist I’d like to know which of these destinations have a population where I can get by on English once outside the tourist hubs.

    • Tim Leffel

      That narrows the list down substantially as English-speaking countries tend to be the wealthier ones. But Nepal, India, and Malaysia are the obvious choices, whereas in much of Europe it’s fairly easy to get by, or in a tourist place like Thailand or Bali. Or a gringo haven like Puerto Vallarta or San Miguel de Allende. In most of Latin America though, classes and practice get most people there.

    • Wade K.

      Maybe try using a translation app on your smartphone until your language training catches up? I was looking at southeastern Europe because it’s safe, English is widely spoken, and they have very good internet. Negatives for me are a serious winter and cost to travel to the States expensive. And only Bulgaria has a retiree visa. The others have workarounds, sort of, but I’m not interested in piles of red tape. However just found out Mexico’s fastest ISP, Axtel, now offers 200 megs speed in select cities, 150 megs in others. Getting decent internet in Mexico was a big drawback for me until finding this out. Being close to home and having a great climate plus now good internet pretty much clinches it for me.

      • henry

        What about Belieze

  7. Jeff

    I have been reading expat forums all day, I quit my job Wednesday Nov.9th because I refuse to do this anymore. I faced voter intimidation at the polls and now people are driving by my house shouting ‘traitor’. Once I sell my house and everything I own I should have just over $100K. That won’t last forever, I’m 45 and still a long ways from retirement. Thank you for this site, I still don’t know where I’m going but your information has been extremely helpful. -Jeff

    • Wade K.

      I quit my job at 51 and moved to Mexico. Was my wife’s idea to leave that soon but she decided she didn’t like it. Point is that life throws you curves and if you aren’t prepared you can soon find yourself in hot water. One thing I’ve learned from expat websites is that inexpensive, developing nations don’t have enough jobs for their citizens, let alone foreigners. It’s best to bring your own income, whether that’s something you can do online or wait until you have enough savings and/or a pension or Social Security. If you choose to “just do it” you’ll soon run through your $100k and will have to return home and go back to work anyways. The world won’t end because of Trump, but it can be a very cruel world if you can’t pay your way.

  8. Alexis

    Yes. Canada. It was a frozen hostile wasteland. And there was much work to be done, if we were to survive the elements. After boring a hole through the ice, to find food, my good friend Nantook and I would build an igloo, to protect ourselves, from polar bears, and flying hockey pucks. Then we would drink a lot of beer. And when Nantook was ready, he would tell me the story of the great moose, who said to the little squirrel: “Hey Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!” –Jim Carrey, Unnatural Act 1991

    • Tim Leffel

      Ha! Well I just saw a stat that 10.5% of ALL Canadians visited Florida in 2016. Probably more than that escape to Mexico each year.
      I never said Michigan or upstate New York had great weather either…

  9. Sheila Bennett

    Hi Tim, can you tell me a bit about Belize? I’m British and find the cost of living in the U.K. high. Would Belize be a better option for me? House prices seem to Ben so reasonable in Belize compared to U.K. house prices. Thanks.

  10. candi

    Help, where can I live that’s warmer than Canada, safe and inexpensive and can work as an RN?

    • Tim Leffel

      Most places are warmer and more inexpensive than Canada. The last part is the tough one. Unless you work for the Canadian or U.S. government abroad, your earnings will drop by the same amount your expenses will—or more—if you are competing with locals who do the same job at local rates. Physical jobs don’t keep the same salary when you move to a different country.

  11. George Radd

    theres a reason liberal, democratic ,multi cultural, politically correct,immigrant welcoming,Canada still has a population smaller than Poland.Overall,je ne sais quoi…it just sucks.

    • Tim Leffel

      Nothing to do with climate eh? And people move to the tropics because the countries are NOT multicultural?

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *