The Best Places to Retire in Latin America

Via:  Nerm_L  •  3 days ago  •  10 comments

By:    Maryalene LaPonsie (US News & World Report)

The Best Places to Retire in Latin America
Consider relocating to Central or South America for retirement.

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This election consider moving south.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

There is good reason why Latin America beckons so many U.S. retirees. Head south, and you’ll find a collection of countries with vibrant communities, beautiful beaches and an affordable cost of living.

Not all countries in Central and South America are equally appropriate for American retirees, though, and people should carefully consider the local language, climate, health care and culture before making a permanent commitment.

“Latin American culture is quite different from American culture,” says Jean-François Harvey, founder and managing partner at Harvey Law Group, an immigration law firm that specializes in citizenship by investment.

Visiting a country is key to determining if it’s a good fit for you. But don’t simply visit as a tourist. “We often tell clients to go (talk to) a local,” Harvey says. In many cases, sitting down with a resident over coffee can be the best way to learn what living there entails.

Listed in alphabetical order, here are some countries to consider when planning your Latin American retirement:

  • Belize
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Ecuador
  • Mexico
  • Panama
  • Roatan
  • Uruguay


Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the native language. That, along with its natural beauty and tax-friendly policies, makes it popular with U.S. retirees.

“It’s the Caribbean at a fraction of the cost of brand-name Caribbean islands, like Turks and Caicos or the Bahamas,” said Sophia Titley, senior editor for the website Live and Invest Overseas, in an email.

Chris Atkins, CEO and owner of Central America Fishing, cautions that while Belize has many positive attributes, it is not known for excellent health care. “Belize is great if everything is working fine,” he says. But if you need ongoing medical care, other countries may be better suited to your needs.

To be eligible for Belize’s Qualified Retirement Program, you’ll need to be at least 40 and have a retirement income of $2,000 per month or $24,000 per year coming from a source outside of Belize.


Colombia is a country that often gets a bad rap but has cities that are easy to live in, says Jennifer Stevens, executive editor of International Living, a source for guidance on the ways to live, work, retire, travel and invest overseas. “Medellin, in particular, provides a truly cosmopolitan escape,” she notes. “It's a clean, green city with lots of trees and lots of neighborhoods where expats can settle in comfortably.”

The city is close to the equator but located at an elevation of 5,000 feet. The result is weather that feels like spring in Colorado year-round, according to Stevens.

“There is a big range of lifestyle opportunities, from metropolises to euro-chic cultural hot spots to colorful Spanish-colonial cities to traditional villages,” Titley said. The country also has good health care and a low cost of living. Obtaining a retirement visa is a straightforward process with a minimal income requirement.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica topped the 2024 Global Retirement Index from International Living. The publication noted its biodiversity, excellent health care and affordable cost of living as attractive features for retirees.

Atkins has lived in Costa Rica for 20 years. He moved to the country permanently after visiting in college and now arranges travel packages for those who want to experience Costa Rica for themselves. “A lot of clients come down here and then buy properties,” he says, noting that many people fall in love with the country’s beauty and relaxed lifestyle.

“You can live on the beach, (but) the beach is going to be hot,” Atkins says. He and his family live in the capital of San Jose where temperatures range from the 60s in the winter to the 80s in the summer. While expats can get by with English in some Latin American countries, Atkins recommends those moving to Costa Rica learn Spanish.

The country offers temporary residency to retirees who can prove they have a “lifetime pension issued by a competent authority,” according to the Costa Rican Embassy website. That retirement income must equal at least $1,000 per month.


You can use your U.S. dollars in Ecuador, which makes this South American country an easy place to live. It offers great value, and Stevens says the communities of Cuenca and Cotacachi are home to many American retirees, which can help ease the transition to a new country.

Towns in the Andes have crisp, comfortable weather, and retirees can comfortably live on $1,900 a month, according to Stevens.

Ecuador offers a temporary visa to retirees who can prove they have the financial means to support themselves. That amount can change, but Immigration Advice Service, a global law firm, reports the required income is presently $1,275 per month.


It’s not surprising so many Americans retire to Mexico. The country is “remarkably cosmopolitan” and offers diverse climates and communities, Stevens says.

If hot and steamy weather suits you, head to Caribbean coastal communities in Yucatán. Or, for dryer beach escapes, try the Pacific coast. More temperate weather can be found in the colonial highlands where towns like San Miguel de Allende are so popular with expats that you can get by without knowing much Spanish, according to Stevens.

Mexico does offer retirement visas to those who have a certain level of income or assets. Those levels differ depending on whether you are seeking temporary or permanent residency, but in both cases, the amounts are significantly higher than what is required by some other countries on this list.

As an alternative to residency, Mexico offers a six-month tourist visa. This can be a good option for someone who wants to split their time between the U.S. and Latin America, Stevens says.


With what is arguably the best retirement visa program in the world, Panama is a haven for numerous U.S. and Canadian retirees. Only $1,000 a month income is necessary to secure residency in the county, and you’ll also get additional perks such as discounted tickets. Panama uses the U.S. dollar so there is no need to worry about currency exchanges.

“It’s a tax haven,” Titley said. “You could have no local tax burden in Panama, depending on where your income is sourced.”

Beyond that, the country offers beautiful Pacific and Caribbean coasts, solid infrastructure, and easy access to and from the United States. The mountain town of Boquete is especially popular with American expats.


“Roatán is an under-the-radar Caribbean escape people may not know,” Stevens says. As an island off the coast of Honduras, she says it feels like “a world apart.” She describes it as having a laid-back Caribbean vibe that is less touristy than someplace such as the Bahamas.

As a result of its time as a British colony, English is widely spoken in Roatán, and the island offers excellent diving, fishing and snorkeling opportunities. “The beaches look like postcards,” with palm trees, powder-white sand and turquoise water, according to Stevens. “And while it's not the least-expensive spot … it's still great value when compared to someplace like the Turks and Caicos,” she says.

You’ll need to obtain a residency from Honduras in order to retire in Roatán. That requires proof of monthly income of at least $1,500 from a verifiable source such as Social Security.


The South American country of Uruguay is another of Titley’s top choices for those looking to retire in Latin America. “It’s safe, affordable and offers plenty to see and do,” she said. “It has an interesting culture that revolves around soccer, barbecue, the beach and mate (tea).”

Regionally, it offers a high standard of living and is politically stable. Its long Atlantic coastline allows for beach access from cities such as Montevideo and Punta del Este.

The country offers a visa and permanent residency to those who can demonstrate they have independent means to support themselves financially. That requires having a monthly retirement income of at least $1,500, according to Investment Migration Insider, which serves the migration industry.


jrGroupDiscuss - desc
Professor Expert
1  seeder  Nerm_L    3 days ago

Give Canada a break and think about seeking political asylum to the south.  There's a whole other continent down there.

Sparty On
Professor Principal
1.1  Sparty On  replied to  Nerm_L @1    3 days ago

lol …. Last place I’d go is Canada.

Professor Expert
1.1.1  Krishna  replied to  Sparty On @1.1    2 days ago
. Last place I’d go is Canada.

Good point!

There are so many other countries that have so much more to offer than Canada-- and without all the drawbacks in Canada: North Korea, Putin's Russia, Iran, Syria, South Sudan, Sierra Leone . . . these could rightfully be considered "Paradise on Earth"!

But Canada...yuk!

Professor Principal
1.1.2  Tessylo  replied to  Krishna @1.1.1    2 days ago

Isn't the weather very hot and humid all year in the tropics?  I think I'd prefer Canada

Professor Principal
1.1.3  Tessylo  replied to  Tessylo @1.1.2    2 days ago

I mean Central and/or South America.  I hate that I cannot edit my comments.

PhD Principal
1.1.4  Hallux  replied to  Tessylo @1.1.2    2 days ago
I think I'd prefer Canada

Think about that long and hard, Canada has two seasons ... winter and July.

Professor Principal
1.1.5  Tessylo  replied to  Hallux @1.1.4    2 days ago


I'll take Maryland - we have spring for a day or two at least!

Professor Expert
1.2  Krishna  replied to  Nerm_L @1    2 days ago
Give Canada a break and think about seeking political asylum to the south.  There's a whole other continent down there.

I think you may be underestimating the very real dangers of the Neo-Liberals who live there-- the threat they pose is very real! jrSmiley_5_smiley_image.png

Professor Expert
1.2.1  seeder  Nerm_L  replied to  Krishna @1.2    2 days ago
I think you may be underestimating the very real dangers of the Neo-Liberals who live there-- the threat they pose is very real!

Bill Clinton would be so proud.  All hail NAFTA!

Professor Principal
1.2.2  Tessylo  replied to  Nerm_L @1.2.1    2 days ago

My god, it's pathological, this Clinton derangement syndrome


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