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10 Best Places to Retire in Central America

If you want to retire in Central America, but you didn’t set your mind on a particular country, then you’ll find our list of best places to retire in Central America very useful.

Central America is a portion of the North America bordered by Mexico on the north and Colombia on the southeast. On the west and east, the borders are the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. There are seven countries in Central America: Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Central America has been a rising expat and retirement destination for decades now, mostly due to the rich culture, natural beauties and low cost of living. The fact that you are from 3 to 6 hours of flight away from American soil just makes it all even better. Annual Global Retirement Index for 2017 issued by International Living magazine has seen 6 countries from Central America ranking in the 24 top retirement destinations in the world. The index was calculated based on the country’s climate, healthcare, cost of living and many other factors.

10 Best Places to Retire in Central America

Ruslan Guzov/

When it comes to healthcare in the Central America, you should note that you won’t receive the same quality medical care in all of the countries. For example, while Costa Rica and Panama offer high-quality health care, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala fail to do so. One thing is common for all the countries of Central America when it comes to healthcare. The rural areas are seriously understaffed, and the quality of medical care is very low. All countries offer private insurance options that don’t cost too much, so that may be the best option for you. World Economic Forum’s report from 2017 tells us that in terms of Health and Hygiene, Panama ranks the highest in Central America (78th overall). The lowest rank is reserved for Honduras (100th overall).

The safety situation mostly depends on the location you are. The bigger cities, especially the capitals, all have dangerous neighborhoods where the most of the criminal activity takes place. Also, the touristic attractions are considered dangerous, especially if you stand out as a foreigner. Petty thefts are the most common issue that foreign visitors to Central America experience. According to the World Economic Forum, Nicaragua is the safest country in Central America (ranked 65th in the world) while El Salvador is the least safe one (ranked 134th in the world). Costa Rica is the second safest country in Central America, so you should check out our list of 10 best places to retire in Costa Rica to get a better insight into the retirement options in this country.

For those of you wondering how did we manage to come up with our list of best places to retire in Central America, let us reveal the methodology. First, we took recommendations for the best retirement destinations and places to live in Central America from Expat Exchange, The Street and International Living among others. Then we ranked the places and assigned points based on the average rent cost (taken from Numbeo, Expatistan), hospital to population ratio (Google Maps) and cost of a flight to Miami, FL (Google Flights). We added extra points for the rank of the countries (where the place is located) on Annual Global Retirement Index list. After summing it all up in our IM Score, we got our final list. You should note that hospital to population ratio is there to tell you (in theory) how many people from the population are assigned to one hospital. Also, the bus, taxi, flight cost (whichever was available) to the nearest International Airport was included in the final flight to U.S. cost.