Latin America: A Retiree’s Dream

The opportunity has never been better for some Latin countries to cash in on a new import: America's elderly. Some 73 million U.S. baby boomers are now on the brink of retirement—amid the worst financial crisis in decades. Faced with steep taxes and an average of $350-a-day nursing home bills, a growing number would rather move to a warmer, cheaper place and live comfortably. Increasingly, that means heading south, thanks to nations like Costa Rica touting their recent stability (no more civil wars and hyperinflation) and offering easy visas and affordable health care.

So far, it’s paying off. In Panama, where the government is offering foreign pensionados everything from tax breaks to discounts on movie tickets and restaurant meals, the American elderly population more than doubled between 2003 and 2005. And the buzz is growing: International Living, a retirees magazine, named Mexico, Panama, Uruguay and Ecuador the top four retirement havens in the world last year. Even in countries with socialist regimes like Nicaragua and Venezuela, plans for retiree-friendly country clubs and condos are under way, which will eventually translate into more jobs.

Still, the boom could have a dark side: wherever foreign retirees arrive in large numbers, housing costs zoom up. In Panama, apartments cost 60 percent more than they did three years ago. Then there is the issue of local resentment; most Latin countries offer few, if any, benefits to their own elderly. But these qualms are unlikely to stop the tide of foreign viejitos any time soon—the pull of living large for half the price is just too strong.

—Franziska Castillo

Check out our slideshow of the 5 best places to retire in Latin America and start saving up your money now! 

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About this author

Mariela Rosario,

I'm a raging opinionista and I love to share my ramblings on everything from pop culture to food to stuff that makes me laugh & cry! I've worked in all types of media (TV, film, print) and was previously the online editor at Latina magazine before joining Mamás Latinas. On most nights you can find me working my way through my library of cookbooks or playing with my puppy Lola (my only child so far). I have a wonderful hubby who shares my passion for any and all kinds of travel. Together, we've formed a semi-professional wine drinking team.

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