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?

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.

I am looking for somewhere where you 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.

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, for me, 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, for me, this is being able to easily live on an average income without having to plunder assets.

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

  • Live in a modern home in the best area of town with beautiful views;
  • Employ a house maid / cleaner;
  • Eat in (inexpensive) restaurants three times each day (I can’t actually eat that much but I want to be able to if I want to);
  • Have a couple of drinks in the evenings at my 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 I can call friends.

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

Whilst I am seeking my ‘perfect retirement location’ , I will tell retirees of all of the places that I find that they might like themselves – places where they can LIVE on their state pension.


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 monthly budget at NZ$2,500 / US$1,625 / €1,500 / £1,050 (exchange rates as at August 2015).

This is a daily budget of about NZ$80 / US$52 / €48 / £34.

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).

So, if I can GRANDPAck comfortably on this figure, I will definitely be able to retire more comfortably on this same figure. And, this should be true for retired couples too.

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.

As my ultimate objective is to find a place to retire, 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.

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).

There will be one planned exception to this 90 day rule: I plan to spend several more months in The Philippines… The Philippines is a large country with over 7,000 islands and 4 distinct climatic regions and I will need more time than normal.

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.


Given the current world climate, I have decided not to travel to any Islamic countries where there are known problems. Therefore, I have specifically excluded (at least for now):

  • Mindanao, Philippines (but the rest of The Philippines is OK)
  • Turkey

Please do not misunderstand me; I have nothing against Islam. My concern is the growing fundamentalism that is breeding radical behaviour.

Although Islam is one of the major religions in Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Indonesia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Malaysia and (southern) Thailand I will keep these countries on my “active” list for now.


As at August 2015, a daily budget of NZ$80 per day is NZ$29,000 (US$18,850 / €17,400 / £12,180) per year.

It is worth noting that $29,000 is also the NZ Superannuation rate (after Tax) for a married couple in 2014. So, what I am doing is realistic and attainable for the average person … not just a lucky and elite few …


I will make every attempt to achieve my objectives on this budget. If a couple can live on this figure comfortably, then I can expect to meet the “above average” lifestyle that I am looking for.

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

  • My Vaccinations;
  • My Visas;
  • My Travel Insurance;
  • This Website;
  • International / Long Distance Travel;
  • Long distance travel between locations within a target country;
  • Personal one-off luxuries (such as SCUBAa Diving).

The challenge is not for me to exist on this budget … the challenge is for me to find a retirement location that allows me to LIVE within this budget. If my NZ$80 / day 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. 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 move on to S.E.Europe (Region 3) in Spring 2019 in time for the European summer.

I complete my planned journey in India and Sri Lanka (Region 4) in 2020.



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