3 places to retire in coffee country

Years ago, I was taken to see a small, rustic home beside a rushing river in the mountainous interior of Panama. Giant trees grew all along the riverside, shading both the house and most of the property. Among the abundant foliage I found a plant that I didn’t recognize. It turned out to be a coffee plant, covered with ripe berries. I plucked a few berries from the tree and thought about how great it would be to grow my own coffee right on my property. I still have the berries today, as a souvenir.

If you like the idea of growing, sun-drying, roasting and brewing your own coffee — from berry to cup — you’ll be interested to know that prime coffee land can be found in some of the world’s most beautiful locations. What’s more, coffee grows best at an elevation of around 4,000 to 7,000 feet. This elevation also means great weather year-round.

If you’ve got a spirit of adventure and aren’t afraid of a little ground work, you could be harvesting your own coffee as part of your overseas retirement plan. Here are three top retirement destinations that are also ideal places for cultivating coffee plants.

[See: 10 Retirement Hot Spots in the U.S.]

Coatepec, Mexico. You can enjoy a great climate in Mexico’s coffee capital. Coatepec is a small city of about 50,000 people located a few miles south of Xalapa, the capital of Mexico’s eastern state of Veracruz. Coatepec sits at 4,000 feet above sea level, which not only makes for an ideal climate from a lifestyle perspective, but is also perfect for coffee growing.

Coatepec was named a “Pueblo Mágico” in 2006. This title is bestowed by Mexico’s tourism department on towns that offer a “magical” experience due to their natural beauty, cultural riches and historical significance. Coatepec certainly qualifies.

Coatepec is also recognized as the coffee capital of Mexico, thanks in large part to its weather, which is good year-round. The coldest month is January, with an average high of 72 degrees, while the warmest month is May, at 86 degrees. The nights are always cool, and even in May overnight temperatures are in the 50s.

Just outside Coatepec you can find coffee farms for sale, often including old haciendas. These properties can range from a couple of acres to dozens of acres. A two-acre piece of land planted with coffee trees and including a small farmhouse can be bought for as little as $100,000 to $150,000 at the current rate of exchange between the U.S. dollar and the Mexico peso.

[See: 10 Affordable Places to Retire Overseas in 2016.]

Manizales, Colombia. Nestled within Colombia’s famous coffee triangle, Manizales is a sophisticated city and capital of the province of Caldas. Thanks to the city’s hilly terrain, Manizales is also known as the San Francisco of Colombia. The city even has a few cable car circuits that operate as part of the public transit system. You can take the cable car from the main bus station to the city center, saving you an arduous 1.25-mile walk.

Manizales is a prominent university town. The large student population means a sophistication and energy common in university environments.

Thanks to the elevation at around 7,000 feet, the average high temperature in Manizales is just over 70 degrees. Lows average slightly above 54 degrees, with only one degree of temperature variation throughout the year.

In this part of Colombia, everything grows well, including coffee. As in Coatepec, Mexico, it’s possible to find small one or two acre coffee farms as well as much bigger operations. A property with a small farmhouse suitable for a retiree coffee-grower can be purchased for less than $50,000, thanks in part to the dollar’s current strength versus the Colombian peso.

[See: 50 Affordable Places to Buy a Retirement Home in 2016.]

Vilcabamba, Ecuador. Situated at 5,000 feet, Vilcabamba, Ecuador, also offers what many recognize as an ideal climate, with warm, pleasant days and cool nights all year. This mountain town enjoys year-round coffee production.

Vilcabamba is very sunny but water flows through the valley all year. Rain falls during mini rainy seasons between October and April.

Vilcabamba is perhaps best known for having the world’s highest concentration of people over 100 years of age. The Vilcabamba valley is often referred to as the Valley of Longevity. The longevity of Vilcabamba residents has been attributed to a variety of factors, but the pure air and water, organic food and aerobic exercise of climbing the local hills probably doesn’t hurt.

In this beautiful and peaceful spot, you can find one and two acre properties planted with coffee and including a farmhouse starting from $200,000.

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group.

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3 Places to Retire in Coffee Country originally appeared on usnews.com

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