Retiring in Latin America – Compare Countries

The “Live in Costa Rica” Blog and Tour website does a comparison article every year or two in different ways with today’s article summarizing each country in a couple of paragraphs or so . . . Latin America Countries Where You Can Retire on Less than $2,000 a Month.

Of course he pushes Costa Rica because his relocation tours here are his business, but it is a fair look at the popular retirement destinations in Latin America and the costs of living in each with many or most having a cheaper cost of living than Costa Rica. I hope it will be helpful for those considering retirement “South of the Border!” 🙂

My personal advice is to visit each of the countries that interest you first for a general comparison, then visit the country you zero in on at least 3 or 4 times before actually moving there, plus doing all the relocation detail studies concerning housing, healthcare, insurance, language, etc. And for Costa Rica the ARCR is probably your best help on details.

The Featured Photo is one of mine of a sunrise on the Caribbean or Atlantic Coast at Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Hotel Banana Azul. That side of Costa Rica is probably the most affordable or lowest cost of living and rent because it is the least developed. For example, living on or near a Pacific Coast beach could cost you twice as much as on the Atlantic, while the Central Valley where I live costs somewhere in-between. And remember that both beaches are hotter and more humid than the hills in-between. 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

I’m Back at Nashville Zoo!

196_9603-WEBMy first 12 years of retirement in Nashville (2003-2014) found me at The Nashville Zoo almost weekly as the volunteer photographer for awhile and as an Educational Docent for the last 9 years! Well . . . I’m not really back as a person, just in name only, found on one of the bricks on the sidewalk leading up to the new Veterinary Clinic. Check it out! You can actually watch some surgeries through the big plate glass window! Cool!

And on my static web pages under About–Doing Good is a Nashville Zoo Docent page for just a glimpse at what I did for years at my favorite zoo. Or for more of my published photos there see one of my photography pages. Later I will be adding a Nashville Zoo Photo Gallery with some of the hundreds of photos I made there. Another special place in my retirement life!   🙂


Retirement can be fun and colorful wherever you live! But I still think the best is being:

Retired in Costa Rica

¡Pura Vida!



Costa Rica vs Colombia for Retirement?

Medellin, Colombia

Last year one of my neighbors, an 84 year old lady, decided to change her retirement from living in the Central Valley of Costa Rica to the huge city of Medellin, Colombia (above photo). It was her son’s idea and he was promising to move there also and work from there (though he hasn’t done that yet). Thus I was interested in Christopher Howard’s comparison article on his “Live in Costa Rica” website blog today (just click title to read):

Costa Rica (Central Valley) vs Medellín: a difficult comparison
Disclaimer: His article is more a city comparison than a country comparison in my opinion.

San Jose, Costa Rica

Like so many other things, it boils down to a matter of personal taste and interests and maybe even more so what you have experienced in each place before deciding to move there. You absolutely must make several visits to a place before you decide to live the rest of your life there! Tours like Chris’s are very helpful but you also need to visit on your own. I visited Costa Rica 4 times before moving and even more visits would have been better, though it was kind of “love at first sight” for me.

My old neighbor lives in a high-rise apartment in the middle of a huge city, Medellin. (So a real comparison would be to an apartment in downtown San Jose.) I live in a semi-rural setting on the edge of a small farming town. A huge difference! Yet I’m an hour from everything the big city offers and I have quicker access to every corner of my smaller country, Costa Rica, than she has to her larger country of Colombia. That is important to me as I seek to photograph birds and other nature in national parks, reserves, etc. She has close-by more dining, shopping variety, arts, theaters, concerts and other urban entertainment close at hand than I do. So what is important to you? We are all different with different priorities. And we have a very stable government in Costa Rica while Columbia is, well, hoping to be! Better now than in several generations!

Someone could similarly compare (and Chris probably has in the past) retirement in Costa Rica to Panama which is more Americanized and has more English spoken and maybe more cosmopolitan if in Panama City or its suburbs. Two visits there told me that overall I wouldn’t like living there as well as in Costa Rica for my love of nature. While for nature and birding, Nicaragua (our other neighbor) would be competitive with Costa Rica or close maybe, but the questionable government and less-developed infrastructure keeps it from being quite as appealing, though cost of living would be a lot lower than Costa Rica and a big plus! I visited there twice also and I could live there after my Spanish is better, but Spanish is absolutely needed there! Ecuador has been pushed by the International Living magazine, because I think they have real estate investments there. I tried that magazine for a year and basically don’t trust them, though you can glean a lot of information from it. Just beware of them speaking authoritatively. For now, I am quite pleased with my choice of Costa Rica and still working on getting to know this country better. Eventually I will have visited all of the National Parks and many reserves. But to absorb all of the nature and photograph it will take the rest of my life and that sounds like a good plan!  🙂

International Living magazine again ranks Costa Rica the #1 Place to Retire!   FLASH addition

¡Pura Vida!

Red-eyed Tree Frog
Tortuguero, Costa Rica
by Charlie Doggett

For more of my take on retirement in Cost Rica, browse through my photo galleries at: 

Costa Rica vs Panama for Retirement

I’m not a huge fan of “Happier Than a Billionaire” blog and books, but they can be fun reading since Nadine has a good sense of humor. Her latest post Costa Rica vs Panama really doesn’t give her reasons for Costa Rica because I don’t think they even tried Panama, like I did. But her post is still interesting, especially some of the reader comments! One way she and I differ is her goal is “happiness” and mine is more “meaning” or even “purpose” in life which is what I think gives real deep happiness.

Several of my early blog posts discussed my consideration of Panama based on two trips there which I agree is limited. Those posts:

26 June 2014 – Websites, Blogs, Books and Tours

28 June 2014 – Why I’m Considering a Move to Costa Rica  (Your reasons are first in choice)

29 June 2014 – Seeking God’s Leadership is First Priority  (Not where everyone is in life I know)

30 June 2014 – Why Doing This? And Why Not Panama?

23 May 2017 – Better Healthcare in Costa Rica

Now if I told you off the top of my head why I chose Costa Rica over Panama after nearly 3 years after making the decision, I think I would say:


  1. Nature is my first love and Costa Rica easily wins out as more natural overall.
  2. Culture of Costa Rica is just more to my liking in so many different ways from being happier, friendlier, less Americanized, pacifist with no army, and more tranquil where I visited.
  3. Cost of Living is actually higher here than in Panama just a little, but overall less than the states and easier to live here without a car than it would be in Panama.
  4. Super bus system makes it easy for me to live without a car.
  5. Healthier place by my study and better healthcare system.
  6. It feels right to me which has to do with many things like nature, previous trips here, my sense of God’s leadership, a comfortableness with it. I love it here and that is important! And I was beginning to hate the United States! (And Panama is too much like the states.)
One couple friends of mine tried Costa Rica here in Atenas and then went to try Panama. They decided to stay there and though they did not say this, their blog descriptions made it sound like they preferred it because it was more like America within a pure expat community where most of their friends are expats. And that is what some people need. I am wanting more relationships with those in a different culture and try not to hang out only with expats. That is a difference in people, purpose, or why you moved in the first place. No two expats are alike! And Costa Rica and Panama are not alike either. So if you are considering a move south, I suggest you make several lengthy trips and get the feel of places before making the big decision! And if and when made, I hope you are as happy with yours as I am with mine!
All of this is why the original name of this blog was “Costa Rica Decision Process” and why that is still in the address. And I hope it helps others make their decision.
¡Pura Vida!
Tortuguero Sunrise by Charlie
A Photo Gallery

Why did I move to Costa Rica?

Nearly three years ago I started this blog to publicly discuss and seek guidance in what I then called my “Costa Rica Decision Process.” I just went back and read one of those early posts that really sums up my 16 reasons for leaving the U.S. and choosing Costa Rica for retirement written on June 28, 2014:

Click the above title and read the reasons I listed three years ago and you have my answer for today! Oh sure, I could add some things I’ve learned since that make it even better and some things that are more negative than in that list, but overall it sums up pretty well why I came and why I stay. And the list is totally mine, not from some website on retiring in Costa Rica. And yes, I’m really glad I did it! No regrets and I expect to stay here the rest of my life.

A few readers of this blog have written with specific questions and contact me when they come here to check it out. I am happy to help! Nothing in it for me. I’m retired and not selling services. 🙂

Now, I have wondered at what point we get too many Americans, Canadians and Europeans here!? There are a few “Ugly Americans” (Remember the 1960’s book?) already here and they are the ones constantly complaining about something that is not right here in their eyes. When an earlier neighbor was complaining about the relaxed atmosphere and infrastructure and said, “You know how these people are!” I thought to myself, “You need to go back to the states.” In three months he did. This culture and atmosphere is not for everyone! So check it out thoroughly for a good while before you decide to move here! But be sure that many of us love it here!

And for more reasons, just go back and read all the entries in this blog or see my Costa Rica Photo Gallery that I call:  Charlie Doggett’s COSTA RICA  and you will visually see why I love it here!

Reading the Classics

Montage of “Overlooked Classics” from Christianity Today
One of the things I am doing as a retiree in Costa Rica is reading more than maybe ever before and adding the old classics to my list. To me this goes along with walking for my healthy lifestyle and sure beats anything I can find on TV! 
I am currently reading Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe which is a great adventure as well as an experience in history and geography. Of course it is a novel, but they sailed down the African coast right by The Gambia where I spent 3 years of my life, and after his time in Brazil where I’ve been on a mission trip, he was on a ship that crashed on a little island somewhere near Trinidad and Tobago in the south Caribbean, where my first tropical adventure outside Mexico took place as a Brotherhood Commission Consultant starting Royal Ambassador work on that tropical island with a missionary. 
Reading excites your imagination and helps you relive real life experiences while giving knowledge, adventure, entertainment and a vision for creativity. I love it! Already downloaded for more Kindle reading are Steinbeck, Plato, and another Agatha Christie! (Maybe I will eventually read all of her mysteries!) 
Living in a rainforest small town doesn’t have to be boring! (Unfortunately a few American expats find it so.) And reading is as much of an adventure as the trips I make! Which, by the way, my next trip is to the base of Volcano Turrialba for birding at Rancho Naturalista, the first week of July as my birthday trip!  ¡Pura Vida!      ~The happiest retiree in the world!  🙂

Easiest Place for Retirement in the Whole World!

It is an especially easy place to retire for nature-lovers and birders!  🙂

Costa Rica is rated as “The Easiest Place for Retirement” by a recent report based on “fitting in,” “adapting” to the new culture, and a “happy lifestyle” which of course might relate to an earlier report that Costa Rica has the Happiest People on earth!  🙂

Now that I’ve been here more than a year, I agree that it is an easy place to retire. Like everywhere, there are some things that seem difficult at first or slow, like getting my residency (government bureacracy), but not as difficult or slow as it is for people moving to the states! It is the people of Costa Rica who make it easier with their friendliness and desire to help any way they can. And unlike most countries I have traveled in, the people of Costa Rica like Americans! Amazing!   🙂
Well, click the link above and read the article. It is good and explains the cultural acceptance.


Jubilado is the most common word used here to name or describe a retired person (Jubilada for feminine). Even though there is a Spanish word that sounds more like our English “Retired” (retirarse), no one uses it here – always jubilado(a)! It comes from the root noun jubilo, “jubilation or joy,” and the corresponding adjective jubiloso(a), “jubilant, joyful.” And in the land of Pura Vida, what a great way to describe retirement! And it is becoming pure joy for me!

One view of our apartments while walking back from town.
Far from a retirement home!

Though the government talked in 2010 about creating “Jubilado Communities” like Retirement Communities in the states, it never materialized with most Ticos preferring to retire in place, stay a part of the total community and their extended family, says an article in La Nacion, the primary Spanish language newspaper here.

Of course there are North Americans who bought up property to create many gated communities of retired North Americans here, even in Atenas. I’m trying to avoid that. My apartments are gated for security, but we are not all gringo, not all retired, and not all old. I love the mix of peoples, ages, incomes, nationalities and the 300 meter walk to a real town! It is better than a retirement community! At least for me. We have two young couples who go to work daily, a couple of older working people,  an unwed young mother with a 2-year old, a community of teenagers next door (New Summit Academy), and all ages of snowbirds. Who knows who will move in when the snowbirds go home in April and May for their summer? We are surrounded by Tico houses plus a church and shopping within walking distance! It is a good balance.

Some believe in destiny, and some believe in fate
I believe that happiness is something we create
Line from Sugarland’s song 
“Something More”

Happy to be a Jubilado!