Inexpensively retiring to Southeast Asia could easily be a book. I’ll try and keep this reasonable. I think there is maybe a few people out there that are in the same position I was in two years ago now. 59 years old, I had just been laid off from a marketing position in the Bay Area and didn’t see many good prospects. I recently ended a long term relationship. My children were grown and were no longer around. After some soul searching I woke up one morning and decided to pull the trigger. Sell the house and everything I own and move to Thailand. It was a tough decision. I’d been there a few times over the last 10 years so knew what to expect. I lived in a great town and was able to sell the house and contents in a couple of months and walk away with $200k. Along with a $100k IRA I was going to give it a try. Two days after the house closed I got on a flight to Phuket with a large suitcase and a guitar. After a few months of partying I moved to a quiet beach luxury condo that I pay $700 a month for. I bought an health insurance policy for $1500 a year that covers hospital stays. Doctor visits are $30. Prescription drugs are all over the counter at the pharmacy. I bought a motorbike for cheap transportation. I buy food at the local outdoor market and mostly cook at home. Food to go from carts runs under $2 a meal. Cell phone and Internet is $25. My total monthly expenses are about $1800. I also did some traveling last year so let’s call it $2000. You can live cheaper than that. I live in the most expensive part of Thailand. I live with a girlfriend and pay all her expenses. I also like to have a beer ($2 each) at the pub and go out often. A bottle of rum is $6. If you wanted to economize, I would estimate you could live in a studio in Northern Thailand (say Chang Mai) for $1200/month comfortably. I finance all this by living off of dividends for the most part. Take $300k at 8% you get $24k. We’ll leave tax issues and specifics out of this but I like high yield corporate mutual funds. I don’t like volatility that you get with stocks. I have found funds like JAHYX, MWHYX and STHTX work the best for me. I own lots of others and a couple of stocks and ETFs and monitor everything daily. Last year I earned 14% and on track to do that again. Dividends good, volatility/risk bad. I don’t care about growth. When I start taking Social Security in 10 more months I think I’ll feel wealthy here. I don’t think much will change. I should be able to save more. This isn’t for everyone. It’s a long way from home and you’ll probably never learn to speak the language. Good wine, beef and cheese are expensive because they’re imported. I just do without. Anything made here is cheap. The average Thai makes under $300 a month. The cops are crooked. Laws are enforced intermittently. The infrastructure is passable, on the high end of third world. There are frustrations but overall the Thais are laid back. I’ve got all the friends and entertainment here I can handle. Life is very good and the women are beautiful. (There is a book in itself.) Let me just touch on some of the other countries in the area. Vietnam is less expensive than Thailand. I was in Saigon for a few weeks and it was too crazy for me but so was Bangkok. I’ve heard the beaches are nice but the infrastructure is a step down. A big step down is Cambodia but it is cheap and there are some beautiful places. One could easily retire here on $1000/mo. Both Cambodia and Vietnam are relatively safe, Thailand being the safest. I would feel safe walking down a dark street in Bangkok at 3 AM. What American city can you say that about? The Philippines are more questionable for me. Guards and guns are everywhere which for me adds a level of paranoia to life. It is significantly less expensive than Thailand. The beaches are beautiful and you can find a comfortable retirement there. Manila I’ve heard is awful for crime. I was comfortable in Cebu in the south. Malaysia is a beautiful country. It’s little more expensive than Thailand with a better infrastructure. It’s a liberal Muslim country. It is probably the friendliest to expats. There are some nice perks to retirement as opposed to Thailand which makes you jump through hoops. Obviously, I prefer Thailand. It has the right combination of laid back atmosphere (Buddhism is the key), costs and beauty that is tough to beat. It took some courage to make the move but I’ve never looked back. Just bought a ticket to return for Thanksgiving, the first time back in 2½ years. I’m looking forward to it, but I live here now. It can be done.