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The Top 20 Retirement Cities in South America

Typically, retirement is usually not a matter of urgency to many people until when it is around the corner, and that is when they realize that it is actually a big deal. They begin to wonder what they will do with all the free time that is on their hands and with their kids not being kids anymore, it is not easy at all. Nonetheless, it should not be that bad if they had planned for it instead it should be all fun and games because now they can enjoy the good life they have been working for all their life at their own pace as there are no more deadlines to beat or meetings to attend.

Retirees should take retirement as an opportunity to relocate and start a new life elsewhere. Doing so comes with a wide array of benefits such as getting to make new friends, visit new places or even start a business. That is why we went city hunting and came up with a list of top twenty retirement cities in South America. Our list puts into consideration all the essential aspects such as cost of living, health and safety index, investment opportunities and also the attractions to keep you engaged in the best way possible during your golden years.

Medellin, Colombia

Art galleries, concert venues, museums, long strings of restaurants, excellent health care and state of the art infrastructure are a few characteristics of Medellin in Colombia. It also prides itself on having the spring-like climate which makes it an ideal for many retirees. You can enjoy all that the city offers at an affordable price. For instance, a retired couple can comfortably survive on a $2200 budget which is inclusive of everything from a lovely three bedroom apartment to food expenses. Medellin is located between the ranges of the Andes Mountains which means that during your free time, you can interact with nature's best through hiking, rock climbing or even better through camping. It is highly populated hence you can easily start a business and watch it succeed if you have the right business plan.

Quito, Ecuador

Even though it is located on an active volcano area, Ecuador’s capital city boasts a diverse collection of cultural sites and a stunning landscape which makes it difficult for tourists and retirees to shy away from it. Quito features many ancient architectural structures which date back to the 17th century hence making it a favorite of many people. It is has a high safety index, and you can be sure that you are safe. Access to high-quality health care is a guarantee, and the cost of living is highly affordable. It is always bursting with activities and hence suitable for those who are not yet done with the urban life. It is close to the equator, and you can easily predict that it has a warm climate.

Florianopolis, Brazil

With an average health index of 48.66 and also a moderate crime index, this Brazillian city suits retirees due to its low population which allows them to lead a comfy laid back life with little congestion and pollution. It is an island city which means that you and your retired spouse have plenty of natural beauty surrounding you hence taking your golden age a notch higher. It also attracts hordes of baby boomers like you which make you even more comfortable as you are around people who have a common attribute to yours. The cost of living is also affordable an aspect which saw it named as one of the best places to live in Brazil. It experiences a tropical climate which is perfect for many people.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Most probably, most of us know about Argentina through the famous song "Don't worry Argentina" and, indeed you do not have to worry about where to relocate as Buenos Aires is the perfect retirement location for someone who is looking to start a business and also the urban life. It attracts millions of people like you every year and hence it is the most visited city in South America. Although the overcrowding may not be appealing to people seeking a quiet life, it is perfect for someone who still wants to become a successful business person. You get to meet and interact with people from all walks of life which help you gain new ideas every day. The climate is average ranging from hot and humid all year round, and the average monthly living cost is 2192 euros which is 2308 euros lower than that of a London dweller. Buenos Aires also boasts a well-developed health care system and the crime rates here are moderate hence no reason to worry that much. Retirement visas are offered to people with an average monthly income of about AR$2000, and for those who are yet to meet that criterion, they can always apply for a renewable rentista vista.

Arequipa, Peru

The fact that it is not as famous as other Peruvian towns is what makes it even more appealing for retirees who want a laid-back life. There is less congestion, overcrowding and on top of it all, Arequipa is set on one of the most stunning landscapes. It has an ideal climate which is warm almost the whole year and experiences rainfall during January and February. For fun, you can enjoy hiking, camping, biking or mountain climbing on the three volcanoes which tower on the city. It is incredibly cheap to live here, and a retired couple can enjoy living a comfy life with as low as $1000 which is inclusive of all their essentials. A perfect meal at a standard restaurant goes for about $5 which is quite cheap. However, you may not find the healthcare facilities very appealing, but when you consider the low living costs, serene environment, high safety index and ease of getting a visa, it is worth settling here. Moreover, it has profoundly developed infrastructure which means getting to health facilities of your choice will not be difficult.

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua is a combination of all the good things in life. From natural beauty, educated and friendly people, perfect spring-like climate and a rich culture and history, there is no excuse good enough for saying no to this Guatemalan city. You are spoiled for choice when it comes to things you could do as the Volcano of water on the south side of Antigua, and its stunning forested landscape gives you an opportunity to interact with nature and quest the thirst of your adventurous spirit through hiking, mountain climbing among many other activities. It is also abundant in volcanic soils which make it perfect for agricultural activities thus offering you the opportunity to lead an off-grid life and thrive from your produce. The cost of living is also another inviting factor as it is lower by approximately 20 to 30 percent in comparison to that of most cities on the other side of America. It has a developed health sector and low crime rates. Besides, it is easily accessible and moving back to North America is a walk in the park through its high-end airport facilities.

Cusco, Peru

Let's talk about cobblestoned streets lined with whitewashed houses and crisscrossed walkways, ancient ornate churches and colonial structures turned to modern restaurants and shops, friendly people and a pleasant climate. These are just the sights and sounds of Cusco. It gives that nostalgic feeling and retirees feel as if they live back in time which is why many of them chose it. Surprisingly, it is quite developed, and still, people who chose to retire here will enjoy quality health care and modern amenities while at the same time enjoying a quiet and relaxed lifestyle. It also neighbors the sacred valley of Incas which is still pristine and offers an excellent attraction site to visit during free time. Cusco also boasts fertile soils which make it possible for baby boomers to engage in farming and the living cost here is low which makes this Peruvian city irresistible to many retirees. It is also safe the magnificent views of the surrounding mountains are just but a bonus.

Nicoya Peninsula Costa Rica

Friendly people, warm climate, magnificent white sandy beaches and modern amenities to keep you comfortable are some of the things retirees enjoy in this city situated at the heart of the Guanacaste province. As a developing part of the country, the investment possibilities are still raw, and if you are a business minded person, then you will thrive here. If you have medical issues, then you will also be in the right place as its location is close to Hospital Clinico San Rafael which is one of Costa Rica’s leading medical facilities. Most of the days, it is all sunny which gives you enough chances to just relax by the beach. Additionally, living here is highly affordable as a budget of $3000 will comfortably cover a couple’s expenses for a month.

Santa Marta, Colombia

Although once upon a time Colombia was a feared destination thanks to its high crime and drug dealing rates; it seems the game has changed and things are taking a better turn as it continues to attract thousands of American retirees. One of its cities, Santa Marta, seems to be hosting most of them. There are many reasons for that such as low living costs and its rich cultural diversity. Also, it has plenty of attractions not forgetting how easy it is to get a Colombian retirement visa.

Montevideo, Uruguay

In between Brazil and Argentina is a country which prides itself on having both excellent sandy beaches on one side of its territory and swamps, rivers, lakes and even lagoons on the other. She is a beautiful country in general, and Montevideo is the place to be for a retiree who has made up their mind about settling in Uruguay. Nonetheless, it is a bit crowded as it holds most of Uruguay's population, but when you look at it from a positive perspective, then you have an endless list of investment opportunities. The cost of living is quite low in comparison to London. For instance, on approximation, a London dweller will spend 4500 euros to lead a comfortable life while one in Montevideo will only use 2517 euros to have the same quality as a person in London. The climate is average hence you can cope while the healthcare index is also high.

Las Tablas, Panama

Also known as the city by the seaside, Las Tablas is one of the best places for a retiree who wants a simple laid back life and is the best one for someone who wants to live in Panama but on a budget. Unlike the other cities In Panama, Las Tablas is much cheaper, and a couple can comfortably live off a $1200 budget which in the US would go to housing costs. As it is by the sea, Las Tablas offers you beautiful distractions such as the breathtaking view of the ocean and majestic sunsets and sunrises. Although it takes a four-hour drive to get to Panama City, the roads are well maintained, and you can easily access health care from the big city if Las Tablas medical facilities are not appealing to you. Furthermore, it is safe, and as one of the many tourists’ hubs in Panama, you can easily invest in this sector, and your business will be up and about if you have a good idea in mind. Nonetheless, most people here are locals, and you may have to take Spanish classes to overcome the language barrier.

Granada, Nicaragua

Whenever there is a mention of Nicaragua, the great city of Granada is what comes to the minds of many people. It lies on the shores of Lake Nicaragua which makes it a favorite for many tourists both local and international. Thus starting a business in this sector might prove very profitable. It has a long string of entertainment options for the young till I die group and you can never get tired of its warm weather. You will find myriads of other retirees from North America here hence making the place feel more like home rather than a relocation. Most people here speak Spanish, but they also have a good English command though with a touch of the Spanish accent. The city combines culture, modern aspects and natural beauty giving you one of the best environments to settle on. Traditional cuisines and friendly people is what you get as a bonus since low living costs will be your lifestyle from the day you relocate. There is a less population; therefore, congestion and traffic jams are no longer in your dictionary while two people can comfortably survive on a $1500 budget which is inclusive of all necessities. Being a hub for retirees and tourists, the Nicaraguan government has ensured high-quality health care, and the safety index to is high.

Arenal, Costa Rica

Also referred to as the land of Pura Vida which when translated means pure life, Costa Rica as a whole offers retirees the chance to spend a laid back and happy life at low costs especially the Arenal area. It is home to Costa Rica's largest freshwater lake and also largest volcano. Thus here you get to abide in an area surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty from the lake and the vegetation around the mountain. Similar to mountainous regions, the climate is superb, and there is enough rainfall plus fertile volcanic soil to let you lead the farm life which many retirees yearn for. The people here are amicable and never at one moment will you feel out of place. It offers you the village life vibe and your children will be more than willing always to spend time with you as it provides them the perfect getaway for the urban life. You can engage in hiking activities or any other outdoor activities which can be carried out on the mountain such as rock climbing or even at the lake such as paddle boarding. The possibilities of you being bored at Arenal are at a scale of zero over zero. In addition, the cost of living here is quite low, and you can survive on a $2000 budget perfectly unlike in New York where that is just a fraction of what you use. The place is also safe, and the healthcare here is moderate.

Cuenca, Ecuador

When it comes to South American countries, Ecuador has always been the eye candy for many retirees and to say that its cities are good would be an understatement as they are almost if not perfect. Among its many towns is Cuenca, a city which has preserved its rich culture and historical legacy to date. Here, colonial architecture and art galleries are a common sight while an efficient transport system takes it a notch higher. It is rapidly developing, and you can easily be part of this growth by investing in the many sectors such as agriculture, tourism, and finance among many others. You will not be bored as there are plenty of shopping malls among many others which you find in a developing city and the cost of living is also another factor which makes it irresistible as it is pretty low.

Ambergris Caulker, Belize

Being a former British colony, then you expect a lot from Belize and Ambergris Caulker serves you more than what you asked for with its breathtaking beauty and a whole load of activities to engage in. It is an island city with a meager population of about 20000 people most of whom are in San Pedro which is a town on this island. Therefore, a relaxed life is what you get to enjoy the most and if you love to snorkel, then this is the ideal place for you with its turquoise colored water and beautiful white sand beaches. You can also turn your passion for snorkeling into business by being a guide to tourists who visit the island or even by commercial fishing. Although it's slightly expensive in comparison to other parts of Belize, it is relatively cheaper than most cities in North America hence if you made it in such places then you will manage on Ambergris and when you consider all the benefits you get it is worth every dime, you spend. Healthcare index is moderate while the safety index is high. Health living options are plenty such as yoga. It is the perfect place to come home to especially if you have lived the urban life all your life. Stable economy and also being an English speaking state you need not worry about a communication barrier.

Manizales, Colombia

With approximately 450,000 people, Manizales is an excellent example of beauty in the rawest form. It has steep hills which have and fertile soils which make it perfect for someone who wants to lead the off-grid life. It especially does well with coffee, and you can tell from the extensive green carpets of coffee which surround it. The cost of living here too is low, and with as little as $975, two people will lead a comfortable lifestyle hence if you have more than that, be sure you will get the best of Manizales. It offers you an urban lifestyle in a natural setting which is what most baby boomers are usually looking for. There are many cultural activities which take place while the health and safety index is moderate. Getting a retirement visa in Colombia as a whole is not that complicated either which makes it even better.

Joao Pessoa, Brazil

Of the many cities present in Brazil, one would probably wonder why to settle for Joao Pessoa. But the reasons are quite easy; it is much cheaper here in comparison to other cities such as Sao Paulo or Rio. In addition, it is way less hectic as it is not highly populated and as a result, there is less traffic and congestion contrary to the other mentioned cities. Also, you get to enjoy a stunning landscape and most modern amenities such as quality, health care as there are myriads of high-end hospitals and medical facilities. It is also much safer here not to mention how low the living costs are. For instance, the general consumer prices here are roughly 44% lower in comparison to those of New York. The climate is also appealing and getting a Brazilian retirement visa is not complicated.

Salinas Ecuador

Yes, Ecuador again. It seems the country has a charm that not many can resist and this time Salinas is the city to be in. It is a beach resort rather than a town, and maybe this is what keeps drawing retirees there. Blue calm pacific waters, white sandy beaches, a diverse collection of modern restaurants, hotels, bars and lounges, coffee shops among many others are what retirees enjoy at a very low cost. For instance, a trendy and classy restaurant will charge you as low as $5 for a delicious meal, and this gets even better when you go at a local one as you get a standard meal for as little as $2. That means that even the prices of the other essential products are cheap for example two people will live comfortably on a $1500 budget. Being a famous tourist hub, you can always venture into the industry as a business person.

Nassau, Bahamas

In general, the Bahamas is a devastatingly beautiful country and when you see a suggestion of one of its cities you can expect it is going to be bomb. Although that may scare you into believing the stereotype that the Bahamas is expensive which it is not. Most of its cities are islands and Nassau is no exception. Most of the Bahamians live here and its Bahamas business hub thus if you have plans of starting a business during your retirement then this is the place to be. It is the capital city of the Bahamas, and you should, therefore, expect traffic congestion and overcrowding. Nevertheless, it offers you a beautiful coast and beach which is something that you will not find in many other capital cities and brings together people from all corners of the world hence you can easily find people from your background or even better make new friends from different places. The climate is warm and dry on most times of the year, while the living cost is on average. The health facilities here are top notch while the safety index is moderate.

Santiago, Chile

Home to the tallest building in South America, Santiago too has its list of goodies to offer baby boomers. It is among the most developed cities in Chile, and if you just want to stick to the urban life, then you are on the right track with Santiago. It has a good infrastructure and an endless list of entertainment option. Santiago also features impressive colonial structures which when combined with the modern world amenities bring out the best architectural expression for those with an eye for such compositions. On top of that, the cost of living is affordable as it way much lower in comparison to big cities like London. For instance, the general cost of living here is 2472 Euros lower than in London. Similar to any other urban city, crime rates here are moderate, and the health index is high as it has state of the art health facilities and highly trained medical personnel.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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