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Where to Retire in Latin America? 5 Countries to Consider

If you are planning to move abroad when your career comes to an end and are considering where to retire in Latin America, a recent study has identified six Latin American countries as being among the world’s top 10 retirement destinations.

According to the 2022 Annual Global Retirement Index, published by International Living, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay all appear among the top 10 countries to retire to, with European nations Portugal, Malta, Spain, and France making up the rest of the list.

The report is largely aimed at US and Canadian retirees and based on opinions and real-life experiences provided to International Living by a global network of contributors, with the report’s authors making clear that none of the contributors are influenced by local interest groups keen to promote the country they are reporting on. They also stress that the report is opinion-based and not an empirical study. 

“In no way is our Global Retirement Index meant to be a scientific output. It’s designed to be a useful tool for people, constructed out of real-world, on-the-ground information interpreted through a lens of well-informed experience and opinion,” the report’s authors state.

Below, the six Latin American countries that made it into the top ten of the 2022 Index are highlighted, along with some insight into what makes them such a good destination to retire to.

If you are thinking about retiring to Latin America and could use some assistance with setting up a business or buying property, contact us today to find out more about how we can help you. Furthermore, if you want to consider your financial future as an EXPAT you may want to consider your wealth management options.

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Where to retire in Latin America? 5 destinations you should consider

For anyone considering where to retire in Latin America, the following six countries made the top 10 of the Global Retirement Index:

  1. Retire in Panama (1st).
  2. Retire in Costa Rica (2nd).
  3. Retire in Mexico (3rd).
  4. Retire in Colombia (4th).
  5. Retire in Ecuador (5th).

Retire in Panama (1st).

According to the Index, Panama is the number one destination in the world to retire to, thanks in part to its high levels of development and security, as well as the facilities on offer in the capital city Panama City.

The country is also lauded for the ease with which it can be traveled, and the ease of access to the United States, with multiple US destinations among the daily flights to and from Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport.

Beyond that, the country’s rich biodiversity is highlighted, as well as its geographic location as a bridge between North and South America – providing easy access to the entire hemisphere and abundant travel opportunities.

The ease of getting a visa and becoming a resident is also mentioned, as is the high-quality medical care available in the country.

“No matter where you live in Panama, you’re likely to be no more than an hour away from excellent hospitals,”

the report states.

The fact that Panama is dollarized and has a famously secure banking regime is another benefit for retirees from the US, who do not have to fear major fluctuations in the value of assets transferred to the country.

Retire in Costa Rica (2nd)

A lot of people considering where to retire in Latin America look to Costa Rica, which is second on the Index. Famed for its natural beauty, high levels of development, and low violent crime, Costa Rica has enjoyed significant popularity among foreign investors, retirees, and visitors for a number of years.

As the report highlights, Costa Rica is well-known for its friendly and laid-back culture, as well as high levels of education. The good quality of services, such as healthcare is also mentioned as a major draw.

The country is reputed for its commitment to environmental protection, including a massive eco-tourism industry, while the country is home to one of only five “Blue Zones” worldwide – areas where an unusually high proportion of the local population lives beyond 100 years old.

“It is no surprise to hear reports about expats having shed unwanted weight, lowering their blood pressure, taking fewer prescription drugs, and having overall better health of mind, body, and soul.”

states the report.

Another pull factor is the abundance of good quality and healthy food on offer in the country, including organic produce and grass-fed beef. The report also points to Cost Rica’s progressive social policies, including legal same-sex marriage and women’s rights being enshrined into legislation

Retire in Mexico (3rd)

Coming third on the Index is Mexico, another longtime favorite among US and Canadian expats, retirees, and investors. As the report highlights, that is in no small part due to their proximity, with many US retirees able to drive back to the United States to visit. The wide variety of natural environments, which generally enjoy good climates, are also highlighted as another draw for the country. Beyond that, the availability of good quality healthcare is another factor.

Those factors help to make Mexico one of the most popular destinations for foreigners to retire to, with more than 1 million US citizens and around half that number of Canadians reportedly living in Mexico for all or part of the year.

What the report doesn’t mention, with regard to housing, is the strength of the market, with a recent report highlighting how Mexican cities have enjoyed the highest appreciation on real estate values among major cities in Latin America in recent years.

Beyond that, the ease with which foreigners can gain residency is also mentioned as another reason why Mexico is often high on the list when people consider where to retire in Latin America.

“The report also mentions the country’s affordability, including low food prices, cheap options for entertainment, and “good value real estate.”

states the report.

Retire in Colombia (4th)

With Portugal wedged between them, Colombia follows Mexico among Latin American countries on the list, appearing in fifth. The pull factors mentioned for Colombia include the low cost of living, rich culture and biodiversity, and the wide range of different climates to choose from when settling in the country.

The availability of high-quality private healthcare is also mentioned, with the report highlighting how Colombia’s private healthcare is ranked better than Canada’s by the World Health Organization (WHO).

As the report mentions, Colombia is increasingly popular with foreign investors and expats, with second-largest city Medellin an increasingly popular destination, along with well-trodden Atlantic coastal destinations of Cartagena, Barranquilla, and Santa Marta.

The ability of US citizens and Canadians to easily visit for half of the year on just a tourist stamp, as well as the opportunity to gain residency through investment and property purchase, are also highlighted as key factors making the country attractive to foreigners.

“Colombia is no longer Latin America’s best-kept secret because more and more expats are moving here to start a new life in this beautiful country…either retiring or continuing to generate an income.”

states the report.

Retire in Ecuador (5th)

Immediately following Colombia on the list is its much smaller neighbor Ecuador, where the report highlights the ability to live comfortably on less than USD 1,900 per month as a major draw. That is despite the fact that Ecuador, like Panama, is dollarized, meaning that once again retirees and expats from the US enjoy the convenience and security of not having to deal with currency conversions when visiting and investing.

Unlike Colombia, the report highlights how awareness of Ecuador as a destination remains relatively low.

“Ecuador is a largely undiscovered country not yet homogenized but still offering the conveniences of modern living  including high-speed fiber-optic internet, American dollar currency, temperate weather, good public transportation, and affordable healthcare and housing.”

states the report.
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As the report on real estate prices included in the Mexico section also demonstrates, the capital city of Quito has some of the lowest property prices among major cities in Latin America.

Beyond that, the diversity of climates on offer, including a sunny coastline and cooler mountainous interior also offer foreigners a broad choice of where to live based on whether preference.

We can assist you with business formation and property purchases

If you are keen to move overseas and considering where to retire In Latin America, Biz Latin Hub can assist you in the event you plan on starting a business or want to buy property in a major city where we operate. We have offices in 15 countries around Latin America, including all six that were included in the top 10 global retirement destinations.

We are a professional services provider offering integrated packages of back-office solutionss to corporations and investors entering the region for the first time, or already doing business there, and we help people entering the region for the first time to overcome the linguisitc and cultural barriers they encounter when making investments.

Our portfolio includes accounting & taxation, company formation, due diligence, legal services, and hiring & PEO, and we can assist with property purchases in Bogota, Cartagena, Mexico City, Montevideo, Panama City, San Jose (Costa Rica), and Quito.

Contact us today to find out more about how we can assist you doing business and getting set up in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Or read about our team and expert authors.

Key services offered by BLH including legal services, accounting & taxation, hiring & PEO, due diligence, tax advisory, and visa processing
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The information provided here within should not be construed as formal guidance or advice. Please consult a professional for your specific situation. Information provided is for informative purposes only and may not capture all pertinent laws, standards, and best practices. The regulatory landscape is continually evolving; information mentioned may be outdated and/or could undergo changes. The interpretations presented are not official. Some sections are based on the interpretations or views of relevant authorities, but we cannot ensure that these perspectives will be supported in all professional settings.
Craig Dempsey
Craig Dempsey

Craig is a seasoned business professional in Latin America. He is the Managing Director and Co-Founder of the Biz Latin Hub Group that specializes in the provision market entry and back office services. Craig holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering, with honors and a Master's Degree in Project Management from the University of New South Wales. Craig is also an active board member on the Australian Colombian Business Council, and likewise also active with the Australian Latin American Business Council.

Craig is also a military veteran, having served in the Australian military on numerous overseas missions and also a former mining executive with experience in various overseas jurisdictions, including, Canada, Australia, Peru and Colombia.

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