Six of the Top 10 places to retire around the world in 2017 are in Latin America, according to International Living.
And the Annual Global Retirement Index found the most popular country among U.S. expats to be…wait for it… Mexico!
It’s not really surprising.
Latin America boasts fantastic weather, a relaxed pace of life, friendly people, a loooong coastline. And for the most part, amazing value when you have USD (or pounds/euros!) to spend.
To find out why Latin America is so huge among retirees, I interviewed Cecilia Neher and Christopher Behr and asked them about their experiences living in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile and other Latin American countries…
And I made sure I asked where they think you might like to retire.
Cecilia Neher is a Venezuelan expat communications expert who’s lived and worked in over 8 different countries, including 5 Latin American countries, the USA, the UK and Spain, and visited many more.
Thanks to her husband’s job as a high-profile journalist covering economic and political crises and her own unshakable wanderlust, she has experienced some of the most dangerous and enthralling periods and regions of Latin America, as well as some of most beautiful.
Christopher Behr is originally from Philadelphia but has also lived in Bolivia, Spain, Chile, Belgium and Argentina.
Christopher has an MBA and enjoys working with nonprofits and social enterprises. He also runs his family business in Bolivia, where he lives a wonderfully peaceful life alongside a Bolivian wife and their two sons.
Here’s what they’d like to share with you (from their combined 36+ years’ expat experience!), as well as all the info you need to know about retiring in Lat Am.
While not the most affordable country in Latin America, Chile is a peaceful nation with friendly locals, a modern infrastructure and established communities of expats.
Santiago, Chile’s capital, is popular with expats looking for an upscale, cosmopolitan lifestyle and a blend of the old and the new.
Christopher lived in Santiago for three years and visited Santiago recently.
“Chile—in particular Santiago, where much of the economic output is centered—has positioned itself to be somewhat like the Singapore of South America.
“But this has reinforced a culture of consumerism, and all the negative aspects that come along with that: long working hours, more traffic and increased crime.”
“However, there are some beautiful destinations to choose from, depending on what you’re looking for.
“There’s the coastal city of Maitencillo; San Pedro de Atacama, a very desert, bohemian town to the North and Valparaíso, an eccentric city with a pedestrian circuit that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and great access to health services.
“Then there’s also Patagonia, if you’re looking for wild open spaces and adventure! Chile is perfect if you enjoy hiking and the great outdoors.”
In 2015, Investopedia reported that it costs around $600 a month to retire in Chile if you’re on a shoestring budget.
And according to Expatistan, which has updated figures for July, 2017, 900-sq ft furnished, rented accommodation in an expensive area of Santiago costs just $1,069 per month. A bottle of red table wine? $6. And a basic lunch in the business district? $9.
Not bad, huh?
Cecilia lived in Argentina when the dollar was very strong in comparison with Argentina’s currency and took advantage of Buenos Aires’ wonderful shops, restaurants, culture, art and museums.
Though the porteños (the inhabitants of Buenos Aires) have a reputation for being annoying, Cecilia had a very enjoyable social life in Argentina’s capital.
She also recommends getting out of the city to enjoy the stunning countryside that surrounds Buenos Aires.
“Get out of the city, and people are extremely friendly. And the countryside is so beautiful. Watch out for recommendations from locals, though. They think a location 5 hours away is perfect for a day trip!”
Check out the pampas—Argentina’s huge, flat grasslands, as well as Iguazú Falls and the Paraná River.
Regardless of the fact there are cheaper cities to retire in in Argentina (check out Mendoza and Bariloche), Buenos Aires remains the main draw.
Investopedia claims you can retire in Argentina with $200,000 in savings.
A business lunch will cost you the same as in Chile, $9. Table wine costs around $6, too.
And you’ll pay an average of $948 for that 900 square-foot, “expensive” rental, and $720 for a “normal” one 😉
Mexico has gotten a bad reputation in recent years due to the drug-fueled violence in its border towns.
But it has also attracted about 849,000 American citizens, who live in a very peaceful and pleasant life in Mexico.
They enjoy the Spanish modern amenities, colonial architecture, the quiet fishing villages and fresh food markets, as well as some of the tourist attractions, like the Mayan pyramids.
Mexico is still also remarkably affordable. Mexico won third place in International Living’s 2016 list, and hit number one in 2017.1
Cecilia lived in Mexico City for 18 months during the late 90’s and early 2000’s during a time of political unrest. She doesn’t recommend the city as a retirement destination, but she trekked around this beautiful country and certainly recommends exploring Guanajuato and Puebla.
On average, a lunch in Mexico costs $7; “normal”, furnished rented accommodation costs around $467. It’s $957 per month for “expensive” rented accommodation, and a bottle of wine costs $11 (so it makes sense to bring some home when you visit Chile or Argentina).
Christopher recommends Cuenca, Ecuador as a retirement destination where people welcome you from the start. It now has a healthy expat community, and it’s easy to move there.
Ecuador has only popped up on the American expat radar in recent years. But 39,000 Americans now live there.
It’s essentially a retirement paradise: it has great beaches, lush jungles, fabulous wildlife and it’s incredibly affordable.
It also has the world’s most perfect climate. It’s 77 degrees in the daytime, and 50 degrees at night, EVERY day of the year!!
Expats are settling in nicely in both Quito and Cuenca, two UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites with beautiful colonial architecture.
According to Viva Tropical:
“A couple can live quite comfortably in most Ecuadorian cities on $1500 to $1800 per month, which includes housing and even luxuries like a part-time maid. That same feat can be achieved elsewhere in Latin America, but it won’t come with the same quality of life.
“…There’s good private health care, particularly in the large cities…The country’s economy is stable and growing, The friendly and welcoming Ecuadorians are thriving, enjoying better lifestyles than previous generations.”2
The public transportation system is also very efficient, so you won’t need your own car.
Snap up a business lunch for $4.64, a bottle of wine for $22 and expensive accommodation for $737 (or a normal one, for $456.
Yeah, baby! When do we leave?
For more on the best countries in Lat Am to retire in, check out Part 2!
Images courtesy of Wikimedia and Sean Russell, Rodolfo Araiza G, and Juan on Flickr.