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$2,000 a month is plenty to retire on in these countries

A Cambodian man drives his motorbike past palm trees at Krang Tnung village on the outskirt of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, early Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013.

Heng Sinith/AP

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By Rob Carrick

This article on cheap places to live around the world caught my eye because here in Ottawa, where I live, we just had a 15-cm snowfall to cap a few weeks of utterly foul winter weather. Five countries with low living costs are highlighted, and they're all in warm climates. What links them is the fact that you can live on $1,500 (U.S.) per month or less. In Canadian dollars, that's about $2,000.

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Retirees are naturally drawn to cheap, warm places to live, but mind the financial implications noted here by the federal Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. Here's another guide from the feds on living abroad.

The article on cheap places to live includes countries like Nicaragua and Cambodia. If you're looking for ideal retirement locations inside Canada, check out this list. Ottawa, nasty winters and all, is ranked second.

Rob's top web links

There's a good case for variable-rate mortgages…

> …but this mortgage planner isn't recommending them as a first choice right now.

Get to know Mr. Money Mustache

> The popular Canadian frugality blogger, now living in Colorado, is profiled here by a New Yorker writer. Quite a nuanced portrait of this frugality evangelist.

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Enough with the doom and gloom already

> This blog post talks about a bubble in catastrophizing, or the tendency to assume the worst. I agree this is an issue, but it's understandable to some extent in the context of the financial problems we've been dealing with since 2008.

Luxury brands are tanking

> Expect everything financial to be lower and slower in the years ahead – the economy, stock market returns and even luxury goods. In fact, there's an interesting trend documented here of big declines in the share price of luxury brands.

A Mickey Mouse pricing plan

> Disney joins the trend of charging higher prices at the busiest or most popular times. One take on this new pricing scheme is that it encourages kids to skip school.

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Never paint your ceiling flat white

> Painting is one of the cheapest ways to improve the look of your home. To get your money's worth, avoid these nine paint colour mistakes.

Today's featured investment tool

The Financial Pipeline is an online directory for investors interested in learning more about topical matters like the impact of a falling dollar on grocery prices and whether you should bother with a registered retirement savings plan.

Ask Rob

The question: "Condominium maintenance fees are not cheap – some could reach $1,200 per month, plus the cost of TV, phone, Internet, property tax and other things. If the condo has a mortgage on it, the monthly expenses are still higher. My question is, would it not be better to rent than to own?"

My reply: From a financial point of view, you bet. So why don't more retirees rent condos? One reason is the risk that their landlord will decide to sell. That puts retirees in the position of having to find another place to live, and paying the cost of a move. Another reason is that many people just prefer to own their own homes. Ownership allows you to make a place your own, while renters pretty much have to take a home as they get it. All of that said, I still think renting can be a good option. Renting gives you a lot of flexibility to travel, for example.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Questions and answers are edited for length.

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About the Author
Personal Finance Columnist

Rob Carrick has been writing about personal finance, business and economics for close to 20 years. He joined The Globe and Mail in late 1996 as an investment reporter and has been personal finance columnist since November 1998. Rob's personal finance columns appear in The Globe on Tuesday and Thursday, and his Portfolio Strategy column for investors appears on Saturday. More


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