There’s what you need, and then there’s what you have.
When it comes to retirement savings, the gulf between what you need and what you have can lead to a lot of sleepless nights. Especially as you inch closer to retirement age.
How much do you need to retire?
The general rule of thumb is that you should be saving between 10-20% of your annual income for retirement. And that assumes that you start stashing money away as soon as you start working, so that compounding can work its magic. You should aim to have between $1.2 and $1.5 million saved if you want to be comfortable, according to the AARP.
That’s because you’ll still have a lot of expenses once you hit retirement age. You’ll have your living costs, naturally, and likely escalating health care charges, too. Aging ain’t cheap.
While there’s no magic number when it comes to retirement savings—everyone has different goals and lifestyles, after all—you should plan to be able to replace, at the very least 70% of your pre-retirement income with savings if you hope to live modestly in your golden years.
How much do people have saved for retirement?
As for what people actually have saved for retirement? Americans need to save more.
The typical U.S. household approaching retirement, with members between the ages 56 and 61, has saved less than $164,000, according to industry data. For context, some experts say you should have eight times your salary saved by age 60 to be ready to retire.
If those figures sound sky-high high to you, you’re not alone. They became the basis of an internet meme earlier in 2018, poking fun at the impracticability of saving the prescribed amount given the financial struggles many people experience.
In terms of an overall average, though, recent data shows that Americans have only saved around $85,000 for retirement—when they should have roughly $1 million. For many, it’s probably not going to be enough to get by, even with Social Security.
Where you can retire on the cheap
Let’s say that you’ve done your due diligence, and saved a hearty $250,000 for retirement. That’s still far below what most experts recommend, but evidently, much more than the average household has stashed away.
It’s probably still not going to be enough—unless you can lower your cost of living. How can you do that? Look abroad.
Numbeo.com, a site that compiles pricing data for homes and health care, as well as other statistics, publishes a Cost of Living Index Rate, comparing the cost of living in the U.S. to other countries around the world. New York City, in Numbeo’s rankings, earns a score of 100.0 in the Cost of Living Index, ranking as the thirteenth most expensive city worldwide.
Hamilton, Bermuda, the most expensive city in the world, scores a 136.43.
As for the countries with the world’s lowest cost of living? Here are the ten cheapest countries, with their corresponding cost of living index ranking. With $250,000, you could probably make it work—though it’d be a radical life change if you don’t speak the native language, aren’t used to certain foods, and will be living far away from friends and family.
|Location||Cost of living index|
|India||27.65 (More than 70% cheaper than NYC)|