Which region is best for USA retirees is pretty easy to decide. Flying to South America is more than double the price of Central America! So if you want to visit friends and family often in the USA, then think hard about flight costs. I hear many expatriates complain they can no longer visit family in the USA, because they can’t afford a plane ticket anymore from South America. Air travel is a huge factor in a retirement budget. Plus think about emergency flights back to the USA.
Central America is a good choice for keeping transportation costs low. Driving your personal vehicle from the USA into Central America is an option. Plus you can usually get a round trip plane ticket in the 400-500 dollar range for Central America.
Climate wise Central America has the wet and dry tropical seasons. South America offers a more diverse mixture from extreme hot to extreme cold.
Really the best way to retire in Central or South America is rent an apartment. Don’t jump into home ownership immediately. Take it slow and see if you like it after one or two years.
The most affordable countries in Central America are:
Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Costa Rica is rather expensive these days. I don’t know much about Belize.
Single retirees will find Guatemala difficult for dating the local population, since Guatemalans are more traditional.
The most affordable countries in South America are:
Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
Prices for land and homes in Lima, Peru are expensive. Cheap land is still available in the mountainous regions of Peru. Expect primitive conditions.
Ecuador is a great place to retire if you plan on owning a home. Since they grant you a resident visa on home investments over 25,000 dollars. Ecuador still offers bargains on cheap land. Plus Ecuador’s currency is the USA dollar.
Gasoline is still cheap in Ecuador.
So unless you have lots of money for flights from South America to visit the USA, then Central America is the most affordable choice for retirement.