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Retire in Chile with $200,000 of Savings?

Author: Michael Smith

Chile spans 2,653 miles from north to south along South America's western coast. It is a geographically diverse country: Northern Chile is home to the Atacama Desert, the world's driest non-polar desert; in the southern region, you'll find lush forests and grazing land, volcanoes, lakes and a maze of fjords, inlets and islands. Some 3.5 million tourists visit Chile each year to enjoy the beaches, national parks, wine country and exquisite natural beauty.

Some of these tourists eventually decide to settle down in Chile: A growing community of expats calls Chile home for its high standard of living, stunning surroundings, welcoming locals and reasonable cost of living. No matter the size of your retirement budget, you may be able to live better – and make your dollars last longer – if you retire overseas. (See Retirement Funds Too Little? Retire Abroad and Plan Your Retirement Abroad for more on the topic.) Here's a quick look at how feasible it is to retire in Chile with $200,000 in savings.

Chile's Cost of Living

City and country database website Numbeo.com publishes indices that compare costs in various cities around the world. The site's Consumer Price Plus Rent Index compares the costs of consumer goods – things like groceries, restaurants, transportation and utilities – and rent, relative to the same costs in New York City. For Chile, this index value is 30.46, which means the cost of living in Chile is about one third that of NYC. If you look at just the costs of consumer goods, the index value is 46.47 – or about half that of NYC. Rent is where you can save the most money: The index value for just rent is 13.58, which is not all that surprising considering that rent in the Big Apple is notoriously high.

Though not the cheapest country in South America, Chile has what many would consider an affordable cost of living. It's possible to retire here for about $1,000 a month, including rent, according to InternationalLiving.com, a publishing group that covers living and retiring overseas. One expat living in Santiago, the capital and largest city, shared this summary of his monthly expenses with InternationalLiving.com:

Expense

U.S. Dollars

Rent & Building Fees

$518

Electricity

$53

Food

$95

Staple goods

$80

Beverages (alcohol)

$75

Restaurant meals

$95

Transportation

$10

Miscellaneous

$70

Monthly Total

$996

While $1,000 a month serves as a good starting point, it's important to note that it probably won't cover all your expenses. This sample budget, for example, doesn't include private health insurance and healthcare costs – two expenses you are almost certain to have. Nor does it include any trips back home, attractions or special excursions. For most, $1,500 - $2,000 a month would be a more realistic starting point for a budget.

Some quick math shows that if you live frugally on $1,000 a month, your $200,000 savings would stretch almost 17 years ($200,000 ÷ $1,000 = 200 months, or 16.67 years). If you live a bit more comfortably – say, on $1,500 a month – your savings would last about 11 years ($200,000 ÷ $1,500 = 134 months, or 11.11 years). Spend $2,000 a month, and your savings would last just over eight years ($200,000 ÷ $2,000 = 100 months, or 8.33 years). Keep in mind, these are overly simplified examples that assume your monthly expenses are always the same, which rarely happens.

In Addition to Savings…

Your $200,000 in savings may not be enough to last your entire retirement, even in a country like Chile that has an affordable cost of living. The good news, however, is that the vast majority of older adults can depend on more than just savings during retirement. Nine out of 10 people age 65+, for example, receive Social Security benefits that, on average, amount to $1,328 per month. This amount could cover a good portion of your recurring monthly expenses; combined with $200,000 in savings, you could have enough to retire comfortably in Chile. For ideas about where to settle in Chile, see Top 5 Cities to Retire to in Chile.

The Bottom Line

Those with open minds and adventurous spirits may enjoy retiring overseas. While not the most affordable South American country (see Retire in Ecuador With $200,000 in Savings?), Chile is a peaceful nation with friendly locals, incredible scenery and plenty of adventure, plus a modern infrastructure, cosmopolitan cities and, depending where you are, many of the conveniences of home.

With today's longer lifespans, it's impossible to predict if $200,000 in savings alone would sustain you throughout your entire retirement. If you add Social Security and/or other s of retirement income, such as 401(k)s and IRAs, you just might be able to retire comfortably in Chile and enjoy all that the country has to offer.

If you are interested in looking into other South American countries for retirement, see Retire in Brazil With $200,000 in Savings? and Retire in Colombia With $200,000 in Savings. See also Things to Consider Before Retiring Abroad.

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