Retire abroad ~ has become a popular option

Retire Abroad


Retiring to Central America

means a comfortable lifestyle &

learning how to speak Spanish

Retiring abroad is a popular option when faced with an uncertain future. As retirement gets closer many people become concerned their income may not be enough to live in a standard of living they are accustomed to. Many can’t. So what’s the alternative? Making a decision to relocate to another country isn’t easy but if it means having a better life many are considering it.
It all sounds so glamorous and the thoughts of warmer weather, cheaper housing and a lower cost of living are definitely appealing. Of course there are pitfalls but they`re not insurmountable, nor should they prevent anyone from taking the step of moving elsewhere.

So where are retirees moving to if they want to retire abroad?

Vibrant Central America is high on the list of destinations for those who wish to retire abroad because it meets most expat needs and the standard of living in most of these countries continues to rise. Easily accessible by air, lower housing costs, good health care, and manageable visa requirements is attractive.

Priorities when considering a move to a foreign county is safety, good health care, accessibility to international airports, visa requirements, housing costs and an affordable lifestyle. They want an easy transition when making the move and know there are other expats in the area to connect with.
Many foreign governments offer incentives to foreigners including duty and tax exemptions when importing personal belongings. One such country is Belize.


Located on the east coast of Central America and south of Mexico, this tropical paradise is known for its friendly people and a much slower pace of life. You won’t find big shopping malls or modern stores, but there are charming little villages, an extensive list of outdoor activities and an almost stress-free lifestyle. English is the main language spoken making it easier to adjust.
The Belize Retired Persons Incentive Program makes moving here a simple process for anyone over the age of 45 with a secured income from outside the country of $2,000 US per month.
Retirement communities with amenities similar to those at home are being developed regularly but don’t restrict yourself to them. You’re moving to a new country so immerse yourself in the local culture and seek out other alternatives.
The cost of many things like appliances or computers is definitely higher but housing costs and food is much cheaper. When moving bring those expensive items with you because the free duty and tax benefits of importing personal belongings makes it worthwhile.

Travelling within the country is safe with both bus and air transportation readily available and health care is affordable with modern hospitals available in case of illness.
Ambergris Caye is one of the most popular destinations for retirees and also one of the most expensive. This tropical island is perfect for snorkeling, diving, fishing and of course swimming and only a boat ride away from Belize City. Slower paced and less expensive is Caye Caulker, a neighbouring island that`s more budget friendly but still easily accessible.

The mainland communities of Corozal in Northern Belize and Placenica to the south are increasing in popularity with retirees and each offers its own uniqueness and appeal.


Guatemala, “The Land of Eternal Spring” is one of the most inexpensive countries in Central America and rapidly growing in popularity with many North American retirees who want to retire abroad. Although Guatemala doesn`t have an incentive program they do welcome new residents and their requirements aren’t quite as stringent as other countries.
Hiring a lawyer is mandatory and documentation proving income of $1000 for the first person and $200 for each dependent is required when applying for permanent residency as well as providing a criminal background check.
If looking for all-inclusive resorts, lush golf courses and major shopping centres then look elsewhere. If seeking something extraordinary, an adventure and a comfortable lifestyle then Guatemala should be seriously considered. Retirees from all over the world are finding it a beautiful place to retire and the people friendly.
Learning Spanish in one of the many language schools is possible at a very reasonable cost and helps if you retire abroad and want to immerse into the local culture. However, English is widely spoken at the most popular expat communities of Antigua and Lake Atitlan.


Antigua is not a typical Guatemalan city. Its cobblestone streets, fabulous restaurants, 75+ language schools, very rich history, noise-filled colourful markets, a dynamic cultural scene and crumbling ruins makes this a popular destination for both international travellers and expats.
Housing can be basic or luxurious depending on available budget with rents starting at $350 per month. Purchasing property in Guatemala is not difficult but does require a bit of patience and the services of a lawyer.

Lake Atitlan

Not quite as busy as the bustling Antigua, the villages and communities around beautiful Lake Atitlan offer everything from the very basic to deluxe and are an excellent and popular retirement option.


This is one country that most people don’t think about it terms of retirement but it`s gaining in popularity by leaps and bounds by those who want to retire abroad. Considered to be one of the safest countries in Central America, Nicaragua offers a Pensionado program for retirees over the age of 45 with a proven steady monthly income of at least $600 plus $150 for each dependent. There are no taxes on foreign income and $20,000 of personal belongings can be brought into the country duty free.

The colonial city of Granada is home to many expats and retirees and the beach community of San Juan del Sur is perfect if you want to live on the ocean. However, don`t stop there. Keep looking at other communities because Leon is beautiful and Ometepe Islands have many retirees who enjoy a much quieter lifestyle closer to nature.
Whether the choice to retire abroad is for seeking a less expensive lifestyle or just wanting a change of pace, take your time and explore all of your options. Join thousands of retirees who have already taken the plunge and with planning and careful thought you can too ~ retire abroad.

Expat: A person who moves from their home country to live elsewhere.




Happy travels,

Carol Ann Quibell




PS:  If you are thinking of retiring in Central America it’s a really good idea to learn Spanish before you get there and there’s no better way than to learn Spanish online with Rocket Spanish.

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About Carol Ann 113 Articles
Writer, traveler, RVer sharing her travel logs and information.