Latin America continues to welcome in waves of expats seeking a rich cultural experience, beautiful natural landscapes, and temperate climates. Here are three of the best places in Latin America where you can plan a leisurely retirement with a budget of just $2,000 a month.
Based on data from International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index and Numbeo, this figure is intended to cover the cost an individual would spend monthly on rent for a one-bedroom apartment, amenities, food, entertainment, average medical expenses, and a moderate amount of travel. The $2,000 does not cover big international trips, lavish purchases or expenses for those with rare or severe medical conditions.
However, on a $2,000 budget, you could still opt to use some of your money to indulge. For example, retirees can hire a full-time maid in Colombia for around $200 a month, or choose to use some of their disposable income to go out to a top-notch restaurant once a week.
Colombia now ranks at the top of most lists for retirement destinations worldwide. A country that used to be infamous for its drug cartels and crime rates is now a hotspot for expats using the strong U.S. dollar on cultural activities, outdoor excursions, and a safe retirement life. Expat Lauren Brown, who now lives in the cosmopolitan hub of Medellin, tells International Living “not only is the care inexpensive. But the equipment and hospitals are state-of-the-art. A full dental cleaning with x-rays and check up only cost me $30.”
For nature lovers, Colombia offers an attractive lifestyle – the country boasts more than 50 national parks – where retirees can enjoy yearlong temperate weather near the equator. (For related insight, read more about retiring in Colombia with $200,000 in savings and reasons Americans retire in Colombia.)
International Living ranked Panama the number one best retirement destination in 2016. The secret is out now that more than 50,000 U.S. expats flock to this paradise — just a stone's throw away from the U.S. — Panama offers the Pensionado Visa to anyone over the age of 18 who earns at least $1,000 per month. Those who become permanent residents under this visa can receive benefits such as 50% off certain entertainment offerings, and discounts on other things such as medical consultations, prescription medicines, and airline tickets.
Alongside the welcoming visa program is a Friendly Nations Visa, which allows U.S. citizens to work or start businesses in Panama. In light of the Panama Papers scandal, it is crucial that you do your research and consult a tax professional when conducting business overseas; nonetheless, Panama can still be a great place for expats who are considering pursuing a side hobby or growing a business in their spare time. For everyone else, Panama is still one of the number one destinations for its beaches and remote islands, easily accessible to Americans and comfortable for the U.S. expat. (For related insight, read about the cost of retirement in Panama and reasons Americans retire in Panama.)
According to International Living’s Best Places to Retire 2016 report, in Nicaragua retirees can “live a great retirement for $1,200 a month. This includes renting within a short walk of stunning Pacific beaches for only $400 a month, and great food (fish, pizza, lasagna, Mediterranean salads – you name it) for less than $10 per dish.”
After Nicaragua’s civil conflict came to an end in about 1990, the country has drastically transformed, each year pulling in more tourists and growing out its infrastructure. Nicaragua ranks high in categories for affordability, buying and renting of properties, and healthy living for retirees abroad. Whether you’re hiking a volcano on Ometepe, in the middle of Central America’s largest lake, relaxing with a good book beachfront on the Pacific coast, or strolling through Granada, the oldest Spanish-American city in the Americas, you’ll be hard-pressed to find boredom in Nicaragua.
The Bottom Line
You could cut your cost of living down by moving to one of these three safe Latin American destinations. By relocating to a Latin American country, retirees may be surprised at just how comfortable they feel, often surrounded by a community of like-minded expats living the dream. In every country, including the United States, theft and crime exist, yet you can always take common-sense precautions to prevent unnecessary mishaps.
With around US $2,000 budgeted per month in retirement, Americans can live abroad, enjoying a much more luxurious lifestyle than they could in the U.S. (For related insight, read about strategies for retiring abroad and countries to consider.)