Canada is no country for old women. And the same goes for our neighbors to the South. America is no country for old women either.

In the Greater Vancouver Area, 22% of the region’s homeless are seniors over age 55. And what’s going on in Canada will be similar to what’s happening in the United States. The big cities in California have too many homeless seniors. This is so sad. We age out and we get priced out.

It’s hard living in Canada, and not just because of harsh winters and heat wave summers. Everything is so expensive and inflation is driving everything higher. Our most expensive monthly bill is housing. Once rent is covered, we now have to pay for electricity and gas or however we heat our houses. It gets cold in Canada in the winter. The last house I lived in, solo, the gas bill ran $400 to $500 a month in the colder months! Fortunately I wasn’t paying the utility bills. And I wasn’t doing anything unusual. I was at work, out of the house ten hours a day. I turned the heat on in the evening if I was cold, and turned it down before going to bed.

Where can I live?

I get a monthly income from the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP). This is the money that is deducted off our paychecks and when we retire, the monthly amount we receive is based on how much money we earned during our working years.

As of October, 2023 the average CPP payment is $758.32.

My CPP is $502 a month. That’s about $375 US dollars. This is the reality of lower income workers. We’re not even average. A lifetime of working hard and barely eking out a living. This is why there are so many homeless seniors in Canada.

Where can I live in Canada (or the United States) on $500 a month? That money has to pay for rent, utilities, groceries, medical expenses, car insurance, gas for the car, etc, etc.

I realized many years ago that I can’t afford to retire in Canada.

I’m not alone. Many Canadian and American senior women struggle on low monthly retirement income. That’s why we look at moving to countries with a lower cost of living where we can live a better lifestyle than staying in our birth country.

$502 a month?

That $502/month retirement money? This is why it’s so important for us single women to figure out multiple streams of income. Part-time jobs. One time gigs. Investment dividends.

DIY our investments, ladies. Because no one cares more about our money than we do.

Fortunately, I have dividend income from investments so I’m not struggling on $502/month. But really, it doesn’t matter if it’s $500 a month, $1,000, $1,500, or even $2,000. It’s the same story. I can’t live on $1,500 a month (give or take $500) when rent takes close to that amount just about anywhere in Canada or the USA.

No country for old women. 😢

Leaving the country

The Canadian government estimates about 3 million Canadians live abroad.

The State Department estimates about 9 million Americans live abroad.

It’s hard for both countries to get accurate numbers. There are a lot of citizens who are traveling and moving around in other countries.

Is DIY Investing a Better Choice for Women?

The life of a nomad!

And many of us are hard to track down. Our retirement funds are set to auto deposit in a bank account in our home country. We go online to do our banking. There are ATMs for withdrawing cash. We have an address in our old country where our mail comes, so it looks like we’re still living there.

We file taxes in our birth country.

It’s like we’re still here. The authorities aren’t looking for us.

Aw, if it were only that easy to disappear. There’d be a lot less criminals behind bars!

Where can we live?

Now that we’ve figured out the bleak choices are to stay in Canada (or America), struggle to pay bills, possibly becoming a homeless senior, or live a better life in a more affordable country, where do we go?

A lot of Americans and Canadians head to Mexico or other places in South America.

Ironic, isn’t it? When you consider how many South Americans are trying to get into America. They want to go north. And American seniors want to head south.

The big difference is senior women from Canada and America aren’t illegally entering Mexico in order to work in the agriculture industry or as laborers.

They might be illegally staying in Mexico if they’ve found an affordable place to live. Yes, that’s right. Just arrive on vacation and don’t leave Mexico. And if you do decide to leave Mexico once you’ve overstayed the tourist time limit, you’ll be slapped with a US $25 fine. Most foreigners can handle that.

Every country has different rules on the penalty for overstaying a tourist visa. It could be a fine of thousands of dollars. Sometimes the penalty is deportation back to your home country. If you were planning to head to the home land anyway, no big deal.

Unless you want to return to the country where you stayed too long. Sometimes the penalty is no re-admission. Ever.

Research

Many countries allow foreigners to retire within their borders, but almost all of them have income requirements.

Mexico has recently jacked up their monthly income requirements making it nearly impossible for senior single women to retire there. As of 2024, we now need to prove we have an income of USD $2,400 to $2,700 a month for temporary residence.

For permanent residence it’s $4,300 to $4,500 monthly income, or at least $180,000 in a savings account.

Yikes!

It appears that Mexico has become no country for old women, too!

This is why that option of over staying our tourist visa and paying the $25 penalty when we leave Mexico is attractive.

Portugal is a popular country for expatriates. Residency requirements as of 2024 are €760 (Euros) a month. That’s approximately USD $825.

Hmmm… Portugal could be a possibility.

Let’s look next door at Spain. You need to prove that you have more than €27,792.96 (US $30,200) in a bank account, plus €6,948.24 (USD $7,500) monthly income. Ouch.

Not good. Spain is no country for old women either.

Greece requires €2,000 monthly income. That’s about $2,200 in US dollars. Still out of reach for most of us.

What about Turkey? Residency requirements are a monthly income of about $500. Now we’re talking! That’s manageable!

Unfortunately Turkey butts up against some less than desirable countries that often have travel advisories against visiting due to political unrest and wars – Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Russia. Other parts of Turkey bordering the Mediterranean Sea are more popular with foreigners.

Volunteering

There are organizations all over the world looking for volunteers who can stay a few month, and they provide accommodation. Sometimes meals! But really, housing is our highest monthly expense, so if we can eliminate it, or lower it, then we’re doing good.

There are so many types of volunteer opportunities, I couldn’t even begin to list them all. They’re all over the world.

The world is your oyster! Find a country for old women by spending time there volunteering!

There are websites that match organizations with volunteers. Usually the volunteer pays to register so they can apply to places. Look at Workaway. It costs £42 per year, but it’s free to look around. Here’s a tip. Some of the organizations identify themselves or their website. Then you can Google it, go to their website, and contact them directly.

Then there’s Volunteers Base that is free for volunteers to sign up. Maybe not entirely free. They have an identity verification system to prove who you are and they request donations for that.

Everyone has different values. When I’m looking to volunteer, I’m looking at non-profit organizations. I see a lot of businesses looking for “volunteers” such as hotel workers. And I’m shaking my head, thinking – just hire staff and pay them wages.

Big news! In February, 2024 I will be off on a new adventure volunteering for an animal welfare organization. Stay tuned! And yes, I found them on Workaway and then figured out how to contact them directly! We gotta save money wherever we can.

Housesitting

I retired in the summer of 2023 and I’ve been housesitting in England before and after the three months I spent in Spain.

Housesitting requires staying in a house while the homeowner is away and taking care of it. Generally making it look like someone is there and the place isn’t vacant. Most housesitting assignments include pet care. This is a free work exchange. The housesitter gets a free place to live in exchange for taking care of the house and pets.

There are websites that are matchmaker services for housesitters and house owners. These are paid subscription services for the housesitter, though generally the house owner’s identity is verified.

Currently I use two housesitting sites. (Disclosure: affiliate links below. I will earn a commission if you click, sign up, and pay.)

Housecarers is an international housesitting service that costs US $50 a year. This allows you to put up a profile, upload photos, and respond to ads placed by homeowners. You can start off with a limited free membership, but must upgrade in order to read messages from home owners.

Housesitters UK is where I’ve gotten all my housesitting positions in England. It costs £29 membership for a year. But when you factor in how expensive hotels are in England, it pays for itself really fast. The majority of the housesits are in England, but I’ve seen homeowners in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland place ads. It you’d like to sign up to Housesitters UK, use my referral code A3K93Y. You will receive £5 off your membership and I’ll get £5 off my membership renewal.

Finding long term housesits is key. The less you move around, the cheaper it is in transportation costs.

No country for old women

Canada or America might be no country for old women, but there are other places in the world that just might be that country for old women.

It might take a combination of housesitting, volunteering, and vacationing to find that country. The first step is researching a place in the world you’re interested in visiting for awhile on a fact finding mission. Let’s just say most countries have a three month tourist visa. Special note when it comes to Europe and the 27 European Union countries that make up the Schengen Area. The 90 days tourist visa is a total for however many of those 27 countries you visit. Then you have to wait 180 days before re-entering any of those EU countries.

And that sucks because it would be cost efficient to spend three months in Portugal, and then three months in Spain, and then go to Italy for three months. And so on across the EU.

I’m seeing the world and I’m having a blast. One of these days I’ll find a place to stick around a little longer. A country where seniors are safe and where I can live a better life on the same amount of money I’d be struggling to live on back home.

Mission: find that country for old women!

Published by Cheryl @ The Lifestyle Digs on January 20, 2024.

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