The 10 Best Places to Retire in Latin America

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Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar, so American retirees don't have to exchange currency.(GETTY IMAGES)

MANY CITIES IN LATIN America provide a high quality of life at an affordable price. Your current income will stretch further if you are willing to relocate for retirement to South or Central America.

The best places to retire in Latin America include:

  • Cuenca, Ecuador
  • Fortaleza, Brazil
  • Mazatlan, Mexico
  • Medellin, Colombia
  • Mendoza, Argentina
  • Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic
  • San Ignacio, Belize
  • El Valle de Anton, Panama
  • La Barra, Uruguay
  • Viña del Mar, Chile

Creating a new life overseas can add excitement and new challenges to your retirement, as you learn to navigate the local customs and languages. Consider these retirement spots in Latin America.

Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca is an affordable city that provides the services, amenities and conveniences that make life comfortable. This historic city has one of the most authentic Spanish-colonial settings in the region. It’s also a healthy place to live, with fresh air and abundant sunshine. There’s a big and growing expat community, but there are still plenty of opportunities to interact with locals. Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar, so retirees in this country have no currency exchange concerns.

Fortaleza, Brazil

Among the many beautiful coastal towns in Brazil’s northeast region, Fortaleza stands out for its sophisticated beachfront living, chic city neighborhoods and colorful historic center. This is one of the most visited cities in Brazil thanks to its excellent weather, quality white sand beaches and standard of services and amenities. The seaside boardwalk is cheerful and bustling day and night with joggers, strollers and swimmers. Each morning, local fishermen pull their boats ashore to tempt you with the day’s fresh catch. The current strength of the U.S. dollar versus the Brazilian real makes the cost of living and the price of an oceanside home of your own a bargain.

Mazatlan, Mexico

Mexico is home to more American expats and retirees than any other country. Mazatlán, on Mexico’s Pacific coast, is one of the few places in the world where you can walk for miles on an uncrowded beach within the city limits. This city has beautiful beaches and a walkable colonial center that’s both a popular expat choice and an authentic Mexican resort town. The weather in December through June is ideal, making Mazatlán a top choice for snowbirds.

Medellin, Colombia

Medellin is a city of parks and flowers that is pretty, tidy and pleasant. It is also one of the world’s most progressive and innovative cities, with state of the art infrastructure and environmentally conscious developers and planners. Most of the buildings are constructed of red brick and topped with red clay roof tiles. The overall effect is delightful. Thanks to its mountain setting, Medellin is one of a handful of cities around the world that qualifies as a land of eternal springtime, meaning no heating or air conditioning is required, keeping utility costs low. The European undertones in Medellin are strong, from the style of dress to the way people greet each other in passing on the street. Thanks to the current exchange rate between the Colombian peso and the U.S. dollar, all of this is available to American retirees at a dramatically discounted cost.

Mendoza, Argentina

Mendoza is wine country, and where vines grow, the living is generally good. Here in the interior of Argentina, food, wine and interesting conversation are the priorities of life. This region’s laid-back atmosphere, safe cities, developed infrastructure, unspoiled culture, affordable cost of living and friendly people combine to create an idyllic lifestyle. This is a good choice for active retirees who aren’t ready to sit back rocking on the front porch. You could spend your days skiing, hiking, climbing, bird-watching, white-water rafting, kayaking and even kite-surfing and your evenings practicing the tango. Plus, Argentina has more golf courses than the rest of Latin America combined.

Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is more than an all-inclusive resort destination. This country’s miles of white sand beaches attract growing numbers of tourists, but this is also a top Caribbean choice for retirement living. Dominicans are generally friendly and hospitable, and the area is warm and welcoming to newcomers. Las Terrenas is not just another sandy beach town. This island outpost is more cosmopolitan than you’d imagine and provides developed world niceties not normally associated with life on the Caribbean Sea.

San Ignacio, Belize

San Ignacio is the heart of this country’s rainforest interior. This is a region of mountains, Mayan ruins, rivers and waterfalls. Belize’s frontier is a place to stake a claim and make your own way. The wide open spaces around San Ignacio appeal to adventuresome and independent people. Living here, you’d enjoy elbow room, far-reaching vistas and a clean slate. You could start over and rebuild your life with the help of a fast-growing community of expat retirees.

El Valle de Anton, Panama

The mountain town of El Valle is the only settlement in the world contained within the walls of a volcano. About 90 minutes away from Panama City, El Valle is an escape from Panama’s chaotic capital. Known for its mineralized springs, healing mud baths and generally healthy environment, El Valle is just a half-hour from Panama’s City Beaches, the country’s most developed coastal stretch.

La Barra, Uruguay

Uruguay is a safe, stable democracy with first world infrastructure and a generally high standard of living. La Barra, on Uruguay’s Atlantic coast, is midway between Montevideo and the border with Brazil. It’s a small town of neat white houses, beautiful beaches, great restaurants, quiet wooded neighborhoods and more nightlife than you expect in a place this size. This is a walkable town that offers all the services, comforts, conveniences and even luxuries of 21st century living.

Viña del Mar, Chile

Viña del Mar is Chile’s top seaside escape with all the amenities of a resort town, plus a casino. The water is drinkable, phone and internet services are fast and reliable and public transportation is modern and efficient. Viña del Mar is a fully developed city with shopping centers, theater, orchestra and administrative services. Temperatures are mild year-round, the ocean breeze is fresh and the dining options are top-notch. One downside: Thanks to the Humboldt current, ocean temperatures are seldom warm enough for swimming.

The Best Places to Retire in 2019

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Kathleen Peddicord, Contributor