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Tags: truth | retirement | central | america

The Truth About Retirement in Central America

retirement vacation concept, happy mature retired couple enjoying beautiful sunset at the beach

Juliette Fairley By Thursday, 07 March 2019 03:55 PM EST Current | Bio | Archive

Retiring in certain countries can render daily life more affordable, which is why so many Americans are choosing to relocate to Central America. According to the Social Security Administration, some 400,000 retired Americans reside overseas.

 "When you don't have any chores, think of all the free time you have to pursue hobbies like hiking, reading books or going to the beach or mountains, or whatever it is you like to do," said Michael Cobb, chairman of ECI Development and expert on Central American real estate trends.

Some of the perks that Americans can enjoy by retiring in Costa Rica, Panama City, Panama or Nicaragua include lower priced organic fruits and vegetables, affordable delivery services and a deeply discounted full time housekeeper or gardener.

But all that glitters is not gold. Be prepared to cope with downsides, such as lack of electrical systems that operate at American standards and consistent hot water piping.

Costa Rica has the largest population of Americans followed by Panama City and Nicaragua, according to Cobb.

Below is a breakdown of the pros and cons of each Central American hotspot.

Costa Rica

Although Costa Rica was the first to create a retirement residency program, it has become harder in recent years to obtain a pensionado visa because the government raised the minimum lifetime source of convertible income to $1,000. “This upset many expats and others looking to move there,” Cobb told Newsmax Finance.

With oceanfront condos that cost $130,000, Costa Rica is easily the most expensive Central American country in which to retire, which is still cheaper than most major U.S. metropolitan cities. But the climate can be hot and dry particularly the Pacific Coast.  On the upside, because learning the English language is required in Costa Rican schools, interacting socially is easy. “More English is spoken there, which means you can transition to a country like Costa Rica much easier than to one where you must learn a new language that’s foreign,” said Cobb.

Panama City

Panama City is the easiest to obtain a residency visa, which gives visitors the right to live in the country for five years at a time. “Residencies are inexpensive, generally easy to get and easy to maintain with border runs,” Cobb said. “Get your passport stamped as a tourist just right across the border.” Panama City also allows foreigners to work in the local economy. “We're starting to see Americans in their forties and 50s who although retired work as consultants to earn extra money,” said Cobb.

A local Johns Hopkins hospital makes medical care readily available. “Panama City is where a lot of Americans end up because it’s an urban environment,” said Cobb. The downside is heat and humidity, according to Cobb, which is similar to the climate in Miami.


The most affordable Central American country in which to retire is Nicaragua with real estate properties reportedly costing about $100,000. Although there’s 80 degree ocean water and weather similar to Southern California’s climate, the downside is political unrest, which Cobb claims can be avoided. “Consider yourself a guest and act accordingly,” Cobb said. “Don’t walk around wearing a t-shirt that supports one political candidate over another.”

Juliette Fairley is an author, lecturer and TV host based in New York.

© 2022 Newsmax Finance. All rights reserved.

Retiring in certain countries can render daily life more affordable, which is why so many Americans are choosing to relocate to Central America.
truth, retirement, central, america
Thursday, 07 March 2019 03:55 PM
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