Tarin Cardamone, 67, and her husband, James, 71, retired to Sierra Vista, Ariz., seven years ago, but now they want to move to a country in Central or South America for “a different lifestyle — something that’s more exciting and adventurous than going to the local grocery store or taking a trip to Tucson,” Tarin says.
They went on a retirement tour of Nicaragua last year, and they plan to take a tour of Ecuador in 2015, with the goal of moving by 2016.
Joseph Riden, 69, of Seattle, decided to spend his golden years in a “paradise” where he could have a good quality of life on his income from Social Security. Two years ago, he took a tour of Costa Rica designed for people who wanted to move there. “By the end of the trip, I had a clear idea of my choices,” Riden says. “Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.”
The number of people who are considering Latin America is growing as more Baby Boomers begin retiring, says Suzan Haskins, co-author of a new book, The International Living Guide to Retiring Overseas on a Budget: How to Live Well on $25,000 a Year, written with her husband, Dan Prescher. They live in Ecuador and are senior editors at InternationalLiving.com, which offers 2½- to-3½-day informational conferences ($600 to $1,000) in countries that are popular retirement locations.
Retirees are attracted to Latin America because “they are looking for places where their money will go further and where there’s better weather,” Prescher says. Plus, these countries are close to the USA, so it’s relatively easy to get back.
It’s difficult to say exactly how many Americans are retiring to Latin America, but Mexico is the most popular retirement destination, Haskins says. Some people take specially designed retirement tours to explore living in these countries.
In Costa Rica, most people are attracted to the Central Valley for the great weather (an average temperature of 72 degrees), proximity to private hospitals, entertainment and better shopping, says Christopher Howard, owner of Live in Costa Rica Tours (liveincostarica.com), which offers a 10-day group tour for $2,100 a person and $2,900 for a couple, which includes hotels, most meals and transportation around the country, but not airfare.
Both medical care and domestic help are much less expensive in Costa Rica, he says. About 20% of the people on his tours decide to move there, says Howard, author of The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica. “It’s not for everybody. It’s a big change.”
Howard, who has written guidebooks about several other Latin American countries including Nicaragua and Panama, says, “The bottom line is if you have $1,000 to $1,500 a month to live on, then you need to go to a place like Nicaragua and Panama to save money.”