In case you want to retire in Central America, but be close to home, check out our list of best places to retire in Guatemala. The United States soil will be just under 3 hours flight away.
Although Guatemala has a violent past with military coups, civil war and long periods of instability, in the recent times, it has seen a significant economic growth and development. Still, the country struggles with poverty, high crime rates, and overall political instability. This may scare you off, but there are plenty of positive sides to being retired in Guatemala. First, the country is very affordable, and the cost of living is more than 50% lower than in the United States. Secondly, you’ll be able to enjoy lots of natural attractions and witness Guatemala’s rich cultural heritage.
People living in the country are obviously not affected the bad things, since World Happiness Report ranks Guatemala as a 29th happiest country in the world, being placed in front of France, Spain, and Japan.
The healthcare system isn’t great in Guatemala. Although the Constitution of the country guarantees everyone the right to health care, in practice that is very hard to achieve, given the country’s limited resources. Close to 90% of the population is covered by public health care system operated by the government, while the rest opted for private health insurance. According to WHO, the country spent 6.2% of GDP on health in 2014, which is well below the expenditure of most other countries in the Central America. The biggest challenge the country faces is a lack of physicians, nurses, and hospital beds. Trading Economics tells us that there are 0.9 physicians, 0.8 nurses and 0.6 hospital beds per 1,000 population. Although the country is making some efforts in resolving these issues, it looks like there is a long way ahead until Guatemala has a well-functioning health system.
Unfortunately, safety situation isn’t any brighter, since the country is viewed as one of the 25 most dangerous countries in the world by many reports. Out of the 136 countries covered in the World Economic Forum report, in terms of safety and security, Guatemala ranks on the 121st place. From Crime and Safety report from 2017 for Guatemala made by OSAC (The United States Overseas Security Advisory Council), it is obvious why. The firearms are easily accessible, and the public institutions are unable to cope with widespread crime organizations or petty crimes. The American citizens are not specifically targeted, but they are often viewed as easy targets. The longtime residents tend to become victims if they don’t reside in safe areas since they get integrated into the society. The most common crimes that target American citizens include armed robberies and thefts, some of them happening in broad daylight. If this is too much for you, you can also check out our list of 10 best places to retire in Ecuador.
We encountered slight problems while making our list of best places to retire in Guatemala since there is a lack of information and recommendations. Still, we managed to get some places to begin with using multiple sources like Expat Exchange, Huffington Post, and Lonely Planet. Then we decided to rank the cities and award points according to rent cost (taken from Numbeo and Home Rentals Guatemala), hospital to population ration (Google Maps) and flight cost to U.S. (Google Flights). We added extra points if the cities had low homicide rates according to report compiled by country’s National Security Council. Keep in mind that hospital to population ratio should tell you how many people are assigned to one hospital, and that flight cost includes bus ticket cost to the nearest airport if required. Also, the rent prices are obtained by calculating the average from multiple offerings or by the experience of some forum users, so they should be viewed only as a guideline. Let’s get started then.