There are many choices available if you're thinking to retire in Central America. The countries offer retirees a wide range of options of environments and lifestyles. From tropical Caribbean and Pacific beaches to rain forests and mountain retreats - there's something for everyone.
The Countries and Attractions
Central America includes seven countries stretching south from the Mexican border to the north of Colombia. Starting with Belize and Guatemala, on south through El Salvador and Honduras, through Nicaragua and Costa Rica to Panama.
These areas bounded by the Pacific Ocean in the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east.
With the mystical cloud forests of Costa Rica, birds and animals of Belize. Mayan ruins hidden in the jungles of Guatemala. Active volcanoes in Nicaragua spewing hot magma from the depths of the Earth. Primeval rain forests, cool mountain retreats, pristine beaches and islands, and thriving indigenous Indian cultures.
There's no wonder that Central America is seen as an ecotourism paradise.
In the west there is the dramatic Pacific coastline; and in the east long, gentle Caribbean beaches with freshwater lakes dotting the hilly inland. There are stunning craft markets, offering just about any hand-crafted product you can imagine.
Boredom will never be on your agenda if you decide to retire in Central America as there is an endless variety of things to do and places to see.
From exhilarating deep sea fishing, birding, river rafting and rain forest experiences. Together with glorious beaches and spectacular surfing, kayaking and diving to hiking and mountain biking.
In addition to the varied coastlines Central America has many mountain ranges. With most of the population of Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala living in the mountain valleys. With their altitude these areas have temperate weather and are ideal for the production of coffee, beans and other crops.
To retire in Central America is attractive for several reasons.
Attractive retiree programs
A number of these countries have recognized that retirees are an attractive and lucrative immigration market. They are self-sufficient and relatively wealthy and in addition have expertise and skills which can benefit the local communities.
Most of the governments are relatively stable. In order to attract people to retire in Central America several countries offer enticing financial and relocation benefits. They also offer excellent incentives for starting or relocating businesses. In recent years many of these countries have become home to communities of digital nomads.
Close to the US
Central America has the advantage in that it is close to the USA with regular flights available. It also operates in similar time zones. With these factors adding to the lure.
Low cost of living
Over time many of these countries have gained tarnished reputations. In some cases, these are justified and in others not. They are unknown to most people and often misunderstood. However, they offer some of the cheapest places to retire.
Attractive real estate
These countries have some of the most attractive real-estate opportunities on earth... especially for waterfront properties. In addition, their cost of living is a fraction of what you'd pay in a First World country.
As far as safety is concerned Central American countries are relatively safe. But like many developing countries (and a growing number of First World countries!) They do suffer from the normal petty theft and tourist scams found in third world, urban, tourist havens. Many of the major cities are rapidly taking on first-world characteristics.
But like any country, some poverty stricken urban areas of the cities should be avoided.
Whether you're simply in the market for a place to relax and spend a few months a year or to permanently relocate, Central America is well worth considering.
Climate and Weather
Climate and weather in all of these countries is broadly similar. Situated north of the equator within the tropics, they have a typical tropical climate with year-round hot temperatures at low altitudes.
However, temperatures vary significantly with altitude. From sea level up to about 3 000 feet (1 000 metres), temperatures are hot throughout the year. Near the coast humidity is high but some relief is provided by the temperate sea breezes.
In the 3 000 to 6 000 feet (2 000 metres) altitude range the temperatures are cooler. With many local differences in the amount of rainfall, depending on altitude and the aspect of the mountains in relation to the prevailing winds.
The mountain areas with altitudes of 6,000 to 10,000 feet (3 000 metres) are limited in extent. Conditions here are quite cool and typical of temperate latitudes. Frost and snow may occasionally occur but the mountains are not high enough to carry permanent snow.
Over most of this region the season of maximum rainfall is between May and September. Places on the Caribbean shore tend to be rather wetter and have a longer rainy season than those on the western Pacific coast.
Another feature of the weather in Central America is the possibility of hurricanes between June and November. The coastal regions of Central America are affected less frequently and less severely than the islands farther east.
Sunshine hours are quite high throughout the year in most of Central America. Average daily sunshine hours range from six to eight in the wetter months to as many as ten hours during the dry months. However, Costa Rica and Panama have a cloudier climate with more frequent rain.
There are many options and reasons to retire in Central America - it's up to you to make your choice.
Some of our firsthand experiences:
Speak Spanish Fast Join the SEPA Spanish School in Costa Rica
Quepos Costa Rica a lifestyle town
Monteverde Costa Rica - A special place
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Central America: Panama may be the best; Equator: High risk of becoming an hostage; Costa Rica: I was told that a national could take you house if you are abscent for too long! Brazil may be ok but I rather prefer Chile. Argentina: unsecurity growing; all Africa: I would not take a single chance.
Finally South East Asia is the best place if you can handle the climate. For me the best place is the USA, Georgia or Central Florida, but for a French National the entry fees is about 1Mio$, so I am in France much cheaper but lousy weather.