My Plan

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How do an average retired couple survive when they have few savings, few assets, and rent to pay … with their only source of income being their State Pension / Superannuation?

Around the western world, there are millions of retired couples in this situation; many through no fault of their own … just look at how many decent people lost everything in the 2007/8 crash.

Many retired couples are finding it very hard to make ends meet. I call this EXISTING and I don’t think that EXISTING from the age of 65 until you die is good enough.

I think that these retirees deserve more than that. They deserve to LIVE.


You can have a good time anywhere if all you want to do is get drunk every night. This seems to influence a lot of people’s opinions on whether or not somewhere is ‘good’ or not – especially the ‘backpacker blogs’. That is not what I am looking for. This is not what this blog is all about.

I am looking for somewhere where a decent, normal elderly couple can have fun without getting drunk all the time … somewhere where there are nice places to have a drink at sunset / in the evenings with friends … relaxing and socialising.

For my followers, I plan to find somewhere:

  • With character;
  • Interesting;
  • With a good climate;
  • Affordable; and
  • With Lifestyle.

With character in the way that Venice has its canals, or Santorini has its beautiful island setting, or Srinigar has its houseboats.

Interesting in that there are always things to do / going on either in the location itself or nearby.

A good climate is one that is warm to hot (I don’t mind hot) and sunny for most of the year. I do not mind seasons – but it is not what I am looking for … if I want “cold”, I will go on holiday to somewhere cold.

Affordable is being able to easily LIVE on a standard State Super without having to plunder assets.

And, with a Lifestyle that people would consider flattering in their home country; such as being able to:

  • Live in a modern home / hotel in the best area of town with beautiful views;
  • Employ a house maid / cleaner;
  • Eat in (inexpensive) restaurants three times each day;
  • Have a couple of drinks in the evenings at your favourite bar(s);
  • Have an interesting hobby (such as SCUBA diving);
  • Have freedom of movement;
  • Reasonably afford to participate in what is going on without ever having to worry about the cost;
  • Do all of this with like-minded people that you can call friends.

Inherently, I am looking for a “package” that is significantly better than the one that you may have now for the same and / or less money.

I will tell you of all of the places that I find … places where you can LIVE on your standard State Super.


I started by looking at the latest (2014) Backpacker Index which is published by Price Of Travel and the Retirement Index as published by International Living. This helped me put together a shortlist of “countries of interest”.

Further on-line and library investigation revealed a wide range of views on the costs within these countries. I needed more confidence in the figures … I got on the internet and surfed 10s (if not 100s) of relevant sites.

I only gathered data from sources less than 1 year old.


Some of the reference sites gave dollar figures. Some gave percentages. Some gave indices. Some were written by young Backpackers (with different ‘standards’ from those of a GRANDPAcker) … Needless to say, costs could vary significantly between sites – and I was getting confused about what was what.

So, I knocked up a spreadsheet. I averaged everything out and got costs per day that i believed in: Cost Of Living Analysis By Country.

I used Numbeo and Expatistan to include what they said about the costs of retirement: Cost Of Retirement Analysis By Country. These costs were compared against the Cost Of Living Analysis By Country to ensure that they were sensible, consistency, and realistic.


I set my GRANDPAcking budget as follows:

2015 – 2021MonthlyNZ$2,500US$1,625€1,500£1,050
2022 – MonthlyNZ$2,900US$1,950€1,750£1,450

The, above, are based on:

(1) The published New Zealand (after tax) State Pension rate for a qualifying married couple at the start of that year;

(2) The published USD/EURO/GBP exchange rate at the start of that year.

*Please Note: The NZD budget is fixed but the USD, EURO and GBP amounts will vary based on the actual NZD/USD, NZD/EUR, NZD/GBP exchange rate available at the time of posting a blog.

Obviously, whilst GRANDPAcking, this budget will feel a bit “tighter” than if I were actually settled in a location paying cheaper long term property rental rates (accommodation costs are likely to be my single biggest cost category … they can be anywhere between 30% and 50%).

So, if I can visit / holiday comfortably on this figure, I will definitely be able to stay longer more comfortably on this same figure … and, this should be true for retired couples too.

 PLEASE NOTE that couples on NZ Super can travel overseas for up to 26 weeks each year … so, it is quite feasible for such a couple to enjoy 3 months each year in their ‘favourite overseas spot’.

My mission, now, is to find out how realistic this budget is.


I decided to concentrate on 3 main areas of the world:

  • South East Asia;
  • Latin America;
  • South East Europe.

I want to “experience” each country … therefore, I want to take my time … That brings Tourist Visas into play: I hold a UK passport so here are My Visa Requirements.

Normally, I won’t be staying in any one country for more than 3 months. Generally speaking, this means that I shouldn’t have any Visa issues in South East Europe and Latin America (as a 90 day Tourist Exemption Visa is pretty much standard at these entry borders).

Visa-wise, South East Asia was a bit of a surprise. These countries are a lot more “stingy” on their standard Tourist Visas with 30 days being more of the norm. Therefore, I will need to extend the standard visas in some of the countries once I get there.


The, above, GRANDPAcking Budget is based on the published (after tax) New Zealand State Superannuation rate. This rate is almost exactly the same as the State Pension rates in the USA, Europe, and the UK. This should also be true of other ‘Western’ countries such as Canada.

So, what I am doing is realistic and attainable for any average ‘Western’ couple …


I will make every attempt to achieve my objectives on this budget.

My budget will exclude “one-off” costs and costs that are specific to the nature of my GRANDPAcking venture such as:

The challenge is not for me to exist on this budget … the challenge is for me to find a location where I can LIVE within this budget. If my daily budget proves to be totally unrealistic, I will make up any shortfall and report accordingly …


I have Planned My Route to get the best out of each country.

I started my around-the-world journey in Indonesia in 2014 / 2015. I completed the S.E.Asia region (Region 1) in The Philippines.

In Latin America (Region 2) I start in Mexico and make my way south. It will take me about 2.5 years to complete this leg of my journey.

I moved on to S.E.Europe (Region 3) in Spring 2019 in time for the European summer.

COVID-19 delayed my travels for a couple of years.

I complete my planned journey in India and Sri Lanka (Region 4) in 2022.



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