Retirement can be expensive, but there are ways you can lower the cost. Your current income will stretch further if you are willing to relocate for retirement to South or Central America. Many cities in this region provide a high quality of life at an affordable price. Creating a new life overseas can add excitement and new challenges to your retirement years, as you learn to navigate the local customs and languages.
Consider these top retirement spots in Latin America.
— Cuenca, Ecuador.
— Fortaleza, Brazil.
— Mazatlán, Mexico.
— Medellín, Colombia.
— Ambergris Caye, Belize.
— Mendoza, Argentina.
— Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic.
— San Ignacio, Belize.
— El Valle de Anton, Panama.
— La Barra, Uruguay.
— Viña del Mar, Chile.
— Chitré, Panama.
Cuenca is an affordable city that provides the services, amenities and conveniences that make life comfortable. This historic city has one of the most authentic Spanish-colonial settings in the region. It’s also a healthy place to live, with fresh air and abundant sunshine. It sits in the highlands of the Andes Mountains at an elevation of 8,400 feet. Because of the altitude, Cuenca’s climate is stable and comfortable year-round. There’s a big and growing expat community and still plenty of opportunities to interact with locals. Ecuadoruses the U.S. dollar, so retirees in this country have no currency exchange concerns.
Among the many beautiful coastal towns in Brazil’s northeast region, Fortaleza stands out for its sophisticated beachfront living, chic city neighborhoods and colorful historic center. This is one of the most visited cities in Brazil, thanks to its excellent weather, quality white sand beaches and standard of services and amenities. The seaside boardwalk is cheerful and bustling day and night with joggers, strollers and swimmers. Each morning, local fishermen pull their boats ashore to tempt you with the day’s fresh catch. The current strength of the U.S. dollar versus the Brazilian real makes the cost of living and the price of an oceanside home a bargain.
Mexico is home to more American expats and retirees than any other country. Mazatlán, on Mexico’s Pacific coast, is one of the few places in the world where you can walk for miles on an uncrowded beach within the city limits. This city’s beautiful beaches are lined by a long boardwalk. Mazatlán boasts a walkable colonial center that’s both a popular expat choice and an authentic Mexican town. The weather in December through June is ideal, making Mazatlán a top choice for snowbirds. Retired in Mexico, you are only a drive or quick flight away from accessing your Medicare benefits in the United States.
[READ: The Best Places to Retire in Mexico.]
Medellín is a city of parks and flowers that is pretty, tidy and pleasant. It is also one of the world’s most progressive and innovative cities, with state of the art infrastructure and environmentally conscious developers and planners. Most of the buildings are constructed of red brick interspersed with greenery for an overall delightful effect. Thanks to its mountain setting, Medellín is one of a handful of cities throughout the world that qualifies as a land of eternal springtime, meaning no heating or air conditioning is required, keeping utility costs low. Thanks to the current exchange rate between the Colombian peso and the U.S. dollar, the cost of living can feel dramatically discounted to American retirees.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Belize is home to one of the world’s biggest communities of foreign retirees. The former fishing village of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye is a quintessential laid-back beach town that has evolved to provide the services, conveniences and amenities retirees look for, including wine and cheese shops and spas and fitness centers. The welcoming expat population actively supports the local community with fundraisers for local schools and churches, and there are many opportunities to become involved as a volunteer. Life on Ambergris is lived outdoors and in the water. These shores offer some of the world’s best snorkeling, diving and fishing and access to the longest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere.
Mendoza is wine country, and where vines grow, the living is generally good. Here in the interior of Argentina, food, wine and interesting conversation are the priorities of life. This region’s laid-back atmosphere, safe cities, developed infrastructure, unspoiled culture, affordable cost of living and friendly people combine to create an idyllic lifestyle. This is a good choice for active retirees. You could spend your days skiing, hiking, climbing, bird watching, white water rafting, kayaking and even kite surfing and your evenings practicing the tango. Plus, Argentina has more golf courses than most other parts of Latin America.
Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is more than an all-inclusive resort destination. This country’s miles of white sand beaches attract growing numbers of tourists, but this is also a top Caribbean choice for retirement living. Dominicans are generally friendly and hospitable, and the area is warm and welcoming to newcomers. Las Terrenas is not just another sandy beach town. This island outpost is more cosmopolitan than you would imagine. The city provides developed world niceties not normally associated with life on the Caribbean Sea, including services like a French boulangerie and an Italian clothing boutique.
[SEE: The Most LGBTQ-Friendly Places to Retire Overseas.]
San Ignacio, Belize
San Ignacio, an inland destination on the Belize mainland, is the heart of this country’s rainforest interior. This is a region of mountains, Mayan ruins, rivers and waterfalls. Belize’s frontier is a place to stake a claim and make your own way. The wide open spaces around San Ignacio appeal to adventuresome and independent people. Living here, you can enjoy elbow room, far-reaching vistas and a clean slate. You could start over and rebuild your life with the help of a fast-growing community of expat retirees. With fertile soil and ideal growing conditions, San Ignacio and the surrounding area are perfect for those who want to try their hand at self-sufficient living.
El Valle de Anton, Panama
The mountain town of El Valle is contained within the walls of a volcano. About 90 minutes away from Panama City, El Valle is an escape from Panama‘s chaotic capital. Thanks to its slight elevation, the climate is noticeably more comfortable than in Panama’s lowland areas. El Valle is known for its mineralized springs, healing mud baths and generally healthy environment. It’s surrounded by densely forested green peaks and valleys, which provide ample hiking opportunities. It has a lively public market where locally grown organic produce is for sale for pennies on the dollar. El Valle is just a half-hour from Panama’s City Beaches, the country’s most developed coastal stretch.
La Barra, Uruguay
Uruguay is a safe, stable democracy with first world infrastructure, low rates of corruption and a generally high standard of living. It boasts miles of undeveloped beaches of fine white sand. La Barra, on Uruguay’s Atlantic coast, is midway between Montevideo and the border with Brazil. It’s a small town of neat white houses, beautiful beaches, great restaurants, quiet, wooded neighborhoods and more nightlife than you expect in a place this size. This is a walkable town that offers all the services, comforts, conveniences and even luxuries of 21st century living. A downside to settling here is the distance between Uruguay and the United States if you plan on traveling between the two places often.
[READ: The Healthiest Places to Retire Overseas.]
Viña del Mar, Chile
Viña del Mar is Chile’s top seaside escape with all the amenities of a resort town, plus a casino. The water is drinkable, phone and internet services are fast and reliable and public transportation is modern and efficient. Viña del Mar is a fully developed city with shopping centers, theater, orchestra and administrative services. It can make sense as a winter escape for snowbirds, as the seasons in Chile are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere. Temperatures are mild year-round, the ocean breeze is fresh and the dining options are top-notch. One downside: Ocean temperatures are seldom warm enough for swimming.
Chitré, a 3.5-hour drive west of Panama City, is a small town with big-city amenities. As a regional hub of transport and commerce, it’s home to a disproportionate number of services and amenities considering its population of only 10,000. A small expat community has established itself, attracted by the beautiful beaches and opportunity to own inexpensive beachfront property. The local community is friendly and welcoming. Located on the Azuero Peninsula, Chitré has an all-around low cost of living. Living here, your neighbors would be primarily Panamanian, meaning you would need to pick up a bit of Spanish.
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The Best Places to Retire in Latin America originally appeared on usnews.com
Update 05/05/23: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.