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Retiring to Central America
Old 03-22-2010, 05:21 PM   #1
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Retiring to Central America

Here's a good, first-hand account of the nuts and bolts of retirement/expat life in Central America. He presents both good and bad points, but overall is very positive on the region.

Expat Living in Central America: A Primer | EFAM | Escape From America Magazine
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Old 03-22-2010, 09:48 PM   #2
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Thanks for posting this! It's been a dream of mine to retire in Central America, at least for a few years. I speak a little Spanish now and am confident that I can learn enough to get by pretty quickly. I've spent time in Mexico, Costa Rica and Guatemala and loved all three. Pretty sure I will like Nicaragua and Panama, too, just from what I've heard.
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Old 03-22-2010, 11:15 PM   #3
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I'm learning Spanish too. Headed to South America in May, but I plan to see several countries in Central America later this year or next. The only country I've seen so far is Costa Rica (briefly) in 1997 or so. In addition to sightseeing I'm always looking for places that could be enjoyable long-term. I've found a few of those in SE Asia, but I'm looking forward to finding a few in South and Central America too.
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Old 03-23-2010, 06:39 AM   #4
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My parents (dad really) keeps pimping Costa Rica. Myself, I would like Taiwan or perhaps Malaysia. I know several people headed to Thailand, but it's not for me. I'm considering China for part of the year at least.

But I'll probably end up staying in the USA, because my folks are getting on in years.
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Old 03-24-2010, 01:09 AM   #5
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Here are the Kalderlis' notes on an ongoing trip through Mexico and Guatemala. Interesting to me for the detailed breakdown of each day's expenditures. They also give a running average of daily expenditures.

http://retireearlylifestyle.com/travel_expenses.htm
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International Living's current suggestions
Old 03-24-2010, 09:26 AM   #6
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International Living's current suggestions

Here are International Living's current suggestions for retirement FYI:
International Living's Retirement Index 2009 - The World’s Top Retirement Havens in 2009
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Old 03-25-2010, 12:41 AM   #7
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Here are International Living's current suggestions
Great article that really gives me itchy feet. That photo of the domes in Cuenca is beautiful. I also liked the matrix at the end of the article. Some of it is a bit misleading though, IMO. The "Safety/Stability" score seems to be scored strictly on political stablility, ignoring personal safety. That's the only way Brazil could score higher than Malaysia (92 vs 86). I've spent significant time in both countries, and Brazil is definitely more hazardous, in general, than Malaysia.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:35 AM   #8
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Well, I never thought of Ecuador to retire in before. Anyone have any first-hand knowledge about there?

I, also, questioned their safety/stability scores. Looked up Ecuador's safety and, altho not bad, not ideal either. Probably about so safe as many major metros here.

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Old 03-27-2010, 08:05 PM   #9
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never went there, but spent a year researching and hanging out on the Americans In Panama forum. Panama has a very low cost of living and great infrastructure built by the Americans. Low taxes cuz the canal pays for government expenses, and no taxes on foreigners pensions or investment income. If you pick the right elevation up in the mountains, you dont have utility expenses. Many Americans and Canadians up in the North at Boquete.

from what I could gather, the key factor is unprofessionalism and corruption, bad service. Key way to cope with this is to enjoy the low cost of living with the smallest financial footprint possible. Rent your abode and dont bring anything into the country you are not willing to see stolen. If something goes wrong legalwise with a small dispute, dont try to seek legal remedy. Ended up figuring out that it was just too rough for my spouse to feel comfortable.

particularly ideal for a single older male on a public pension in the monthly 1k range
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:31 AM   #10
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That's just about what I concluded, also, Kroeran, about most of these countries. Great for someone with no possessions, tho. Just too darn rough for a woman alone, too. Pity.
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Old 03-28-2010, 12:31 PM   #11
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That's just about what I concluded, also, Kroeran, about most of these countries. Great for someone with no possessions, tho. Just too darn rough for a woman alone, too. Pity.
If I was female and on my own retired, I might think about a setting up a hostel or bed and breakfast situation somewhere with lots of activity.

The thing unsaid about Panama is that there are lots of opportunities for older single men to establish relatively honourable relationships with younger Panamanian women, or relatively less honourable associations with the Columbian women, so I gather.

If you are female, and uninhibited, the action is on Rockley beach Barbados, where the Rastifarians service the British women and the women of all ages. I doubt that money changes hands or anything...not sure.

If you exercise some common sense, Barbados is safe for single woman. In the area just south of Berts Bar I recall an independent woman running a hostel for travelling youths.

Less exotic and easier to set up would be to set up a hostel or bed and breakfast, maybe with a marketing focus on retired women travelling independently, somewhere in Florida. Possibly develop a link to the Red Hat gals.

Places to think about this....Key West, St. Petersburg downtown, Sanibel, Naples, St. Augustine.
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Old 03-28-2010, 01:26 PM   #12
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I spent a little time last year in Guayquil and Quito. Ecuador was wonderful, and had plenty of things to do and lots of options for living. Anything from going native for very cheap to living an upscale American lifestyle at maybe 1/2 the expense.
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Old 03-29-2010, 04:25 PM   #13
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My retirement plan was Venezuela, but “stuff” happened. To the country, not me. This is an ever-present possibility in most of Latin America. Having spent most of my adult life in Latin America and with good friends all around, I would advise those seriously thinking about relocating there to have a “plan B”. Things change quickly, exchange rates are not stable, and the judicial and law enforcement systems are less protective of individuals.

That said, Latin America is a wonderful place – and we really miss Venezuela.
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Old 03-29-2010, 10:47 PM   #14
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MichaelB,

What do you have in mind today? Say, your top three other destinations in LA? It sounds like you ought to have some very interesting opinions on the subject.
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Old 03-30-2010, 05:41 AM   #15
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If I was female and on my own retired, I might think about a setting up a hostel or bed and breakfast situation somewhere with lots of activity.

The thing unsaid about Panama is that there are lots of opportunities for older single men to establish relatively honourable relationships with younger Panamanian women, or relatively less honourable associations with the Columbian women, so I gather.

If you are female, and uninhibited, the action is on Rockley beach Barbados, where the Rastifarians service the British women and the women of all ages. I doubt that money changes hands or anything...not sure.

If you exercise some common sense, Barbados is safe for single woman. In the area just south of Berts Bar I recall an independent woman running a hostel for travelling youths.

Less exotic and easier to set up would be to set up a hostel or bed and breakfast, maybe with a marketing focus on retired women travelling independently, somewhere in Florida. Possibly develop a link to the Red Hat gals.

Places to think about this....Key West, St. Petersburg downtown, Sanibel, Naples, St. Augustine.

Clever idea for a business.
It seems to me that so many single retired men that go to foreign countries, say the Phillipines or Thailand or some island somewhere, go to find themselves a really young filly to mate with. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be many places like that for single, retired women...darn.
However, it do seem that alot of those Island fellas really like their gals on the chubby side or so one told my ex- when we were in the Bahamas for vacation. Same thing I found in Mexico when I've been there. Aaaaah, finally...some areas of the world where the men aren't going for lanky and skinny...ha!

I pulled up the government site regarding safety and crime for Ecuador. Doesn't sound all that safe for Americans there. What is International Living thinking of? Maybe southern Ecuador but northern and near Columbia isn't a smart move at all it seems for us.
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Old 03-30-2010, 06:59 AM   #16
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Cuenca seems to be one of the better and safer places, but it ain't totally safe. Even so, it looks interesting to me.
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Old 03-30-2010, 08:19 AM   #17
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My retirement plan was Venezuela, but “stuff” happened. To the country, not me. This is an ever-present possibility in most of Latin America. Having spent most of my adult life in Latin America and with good friends all around, I would advise those seriously thinking about relocating there to have a “plan B”. Things change quickly, exchange rates are not stable, and the judicial and law enforcement systems are less protective of individuals.

That said, Latin America is a wonderful place – and we really miss Venezuela.
part of the Panama plan I had figured out, in addition to maintaining a very small financial footprint, was as well the requirement to keep your bags packed and be ready to bail on a moments notice.
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Old 03-30-2010, 08:21 AM   #18
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Clever idea for a business.
It seems to me that so many single retired men that go to foreign countries, say the Phillipines or Thailand or some island somewhere, go to find themselves a really young filly to mate with. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be many places like that for single, retired women...darn.
However, it do seem that alot of those Island fellas really like their gals on the chubby side or so one told my ex- when we were in the Bahamas for vacation. Same thing I found in Mexico when I've been there. Aaaaah, finally...some areas of the world where the men aren't going for lanky and skinny...ha!

I pulled up the government site regarding safety and crime for Ecuador. Doesn't sound all that safe for Americans there. What is International Living thinking of? Maybe southern Ecuador but northern and near Columbia isn't a smart move at all it seems for us.
someone needs to come up with an architecture/community design that addresses the needs of the legion of single, never married, divorced and widowed women who are living independently, that finds the correct balance between the need for privacy and the need for social interaction, in order to provide an alternative to living isolated or choosing a pairing that is not beneficial.
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Old 03-30-2010, 08:48 AM   #19
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MichaelB,

What do you have in mind today? Say, your top three other destinations in LA? It sounds like you ought to have some very interesting opinions on the subject.

My choices in LA are heavily influenced by personal preferences (especially food), prejudices and relationships developed over 3 decades. We are urban city folk. San Jose is very nice but too provincial for us. Santiago has lots of qualities but is too far. I really like Brazil. That is, Rio.
São Paulo is a place to work, not a place to live. Rio is unlike any other city in the west, but you really need to know your way around. Most other northern SA countries – Ecuador, Colombia, Peru – are nice to visit but still problematic for longer term commitments, and (IMHO) likely to get much more expensive over the coming decade.

Panama is the one place we’ve considered. The canal has created a hybrid small but urban and worldly quality we like, and the tax-free status means availability of most things found elsewhere.

Still, over the past 30 years – well within everyone’s retirement span of attention – just about every country in Latin America has had serious political, financial and / or currency crisis. Over the past 20 years most of them have been extremely inexpensive – and also very expensive. They are all soft currency countries and likely to stay that way in spite what everyone says about their emergence.

It takes a certain amount of flexibility, patience and open-mindedness to live in Latin America.
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Old 03-30-2010, 08:51 AM   #20
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part of the Panama plan I had figured out, in addition to maintaining a very small financial footprint, was as well the requirement to keep your bags packed and be ready to bail on a moments notice.
Right. Not keeping all one's retirement eggs in one basket so to speak. Panama is unusually stable for a small country and has a sound financial system. It's location helps. Other central american countries suffer as the US deports criminals and gang-members.
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