Hey! Welcome to the second part of this two-part series.
Here’s Part 1 if you missed it!
Cecilia lived in Bogotá, Colombia for a year and loved it.
“The weather is great, I had a good social life, and I was very comfortable there,” she says.
Cecilia was even daring enough to explore the country when guerrilla warfare was rife. However, she did travel as part of a government program with all the security she needed.
But everything has changed since then.
According to Investopedia:
“Cartagena, Bogotá and Medellín, all cities whose names were once notoriously linked with the international drug trade, have re-emerged as vibrant modern cities. The countryside is remarkably diverse, from Caribbean beaches to desert landscapes and the high country of the Andes.”3
In 2001, Cecilia paid around $800 per month for a 3-bed apartment with maid’s quarters.
And things haven’t changed a lot since then, prices have risen.
An “expensive”, furnished, 900-sq ft house or apartment will cost you $930 per month now in Bogotá. Wine? $13. That lunch? $4.69.
And the food is something you really need to check out, according to Cecilia.
“The food is amazing in Bogotá The traditional plates like bandeja paisa, arepa (filled with egg), and the other breads, like pan aliñado, the beans, the pan de bono… They’re all delicious.”
Christopher says retiring in Colombia is certainly something to consider.
“The cities are safer now, though you still need to be aware of your own safety as you would in any large city. Medellín, in particular—which used to be the most dangerous city in the world, has a great turnaround story. Colombian people are also very friendly.”
Colombia was No. 6 on International Living’s top 10 list for 2016. They claim that a couple can live there comfortably for around $1,200 per month.
Panama was the No. 1 retirement destination on International Living’s list.
Have you been there recently?
It’s cheap, the people are charming and the health care is excellent.
In April, 2017, Investopedia’s Carol M. Kopp said:
“Panama City has morphed into a modern metropolis with a diverse population, a high-rise downtown and a wide choice of gentrified neighborhoods. Boquete, in the highlands, appeals to expats who prefer small-town life and a cooler climate.”
But a nice added touch is that Panama wants American retirees very much. If you have a guaranteed income of at least $1,000 per month (no matter what age you are), you can get a residency visa that comes with a long list of discounts on airfares, meals at restaurants, and lots of other stuff: 50% off home loans, 25% off utility bills…
A healthy 12,000 Americans live in Panama for good reason.
There is great access, thanks to several international airports. English is widely spoken. There are beautiful mountain cities flanked by rainforests, chilled beach towns, and a capital city that has a national park within its city limits.
It’s also more affordable than Costa Rica.
Retire early here and exchange your $$ for a few Balboa. You’ll pay the equivalent of $10 for a business lunch, $9 for your wine and $1,239-$1,660 for a “normal” or “expensive” furnished, 900-sq ft house or apartment.
Just 3,000 Americans live in Belize, and it didn’t make the International Living’s list, but this former British colony deserves a spot on this list.
Belize is the only nation south of the border where English is the official language, and US dollars are accepted.
It’s not as affordable as some other Latin American countries.
You need an income of at least $2,000 per month to get a visa, but its mainly unspoiled natural beauty, amazing climate and affordable lifestyle mean you shouldn’t strike it off your list of options just yet!
Let’s face it, learning Spanish (or Portuguese!) isn’t for everyone.
And Belize has a stable economy, low inflation rates and tax benefits for residents and investors. The law is based on British principles…
Another boon for me is that is has warm waters that are home to the second largest barrier reef in the world. It’s a great place for diving, fishing, windsurfing, snorkeling and sailing.
So maybe Belize’s sandy white beaches, tropical rainforests, waterfalls, mountains and ancient Mayan ruins are for you.
Corozal, Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Placencia and The Cayo District are all interesting places for a budding early retiree to consider.
Get a lunch for $6, wine for $16 and accommodation for between $436 and $546 in Belize City (actually, no one raves about Belize City, so go for one of the above instead!).
Both Cecilia and Christopher think Uruguay would be a wonderful place to retire.
In fact, Cecilia really wants to retire in Montevideo, Uruguay, herself:
“The city is not too big, and the sea side is right there,” she says.
Christopher recommends Uruguay for its educated population, great services, low crime rates, excellent weather and relaxed nature. Oh, and a lot of people speak English.
Punta del Este is a great place if you really want to live close to the beach, says Christopher.
SouthAmerica.travel’s Jon Hillstead writes:
“…Uruguay makes the list because of its broad appeal, offering relaxing, beautiful, scenery without sacrificing modern amenities. Punta del Este…is the ideal place to retire…During the high season, the city is full of energy and during the low season, the pace slows down, creating a great balance year round…Uruguayans are very friendly and welcoming to foreigners and with the well-established expatriate community foreigners have a greater sense of comfort.”
It’s also been classed as one of the happiest cities in South America.
Settled in down in Montevideo, and you’ll pay around $11 for a business lunch, $8 on that wine and $685-$1,004 on 900-Sq Ft accommodation monthly.
A lucky 13,000 Americans live in Costa Rica, now the happiest country in the world (according to the 2009 and 2012 Happy Planet Indexes).
Why is Costa Rica so cool?
It can offer you a fantastic quality of life, with organic food options and yoga classes, its green initiatives and one of the best public health systems in the world.
Pay between $50 and $150 per month in line with your income, and you’ll receive completely FREE healthcare, which includes routine visits, prescriptions and even major surgeries.
Don’t back your bags too fast!
But that warm weather, tropic coastline and pura vida really is calling you.
So is an $8 lunch, $13 bottle of quality wine, and accommodation at $550-$1,386 per month.
Let’s face it, Costa Rica is paradise.
If you’re thinking of retiring early or even late, which Latin American country appeals to you the most? Add your comments below.
- Personal interviews with Christopher Behr and Cecilia Neher
Images courtesy of kansasphoto, Marcelo Campi and Ron Reiring on Flickr, and Wikimedia.