U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Retirement
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
Old 08-06-2017, 06:26 AM
Location: Tennessee
34,673 posts, read 33,676,768 times
Reputation: 51867


Can't get good pizza, hard rolls or bagels in suburban Tennessee. Can't imagine what it would be like in El Salvador or Nicaragua.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

Old 08-06-2017, 06:55 AM
12,686 posts, read 14,068,003 times
Reputation: 34762
Originally Posted by Clark Park View Post
I spent a few weeks in Central America speaking to American "Ex-Pats" living there.
I wondered about you, glad to hear you were exploring.

.....It was interesting to talk to Americans who have moved full time to El Salvador and Nicaragua and I was surprised how gungo-ho and adamant they were in their decision to moved out of the US. I suspect it is something akin to people who find a new religion and are enthusiastic about their new faith. Frankly I am a bit skeptical.
Skeptical? I am too when I hear that they are living in what are essentially American enclaves, with what sounds like a very limited or no social life with local people. Sounds like how the Brits lived in the days of their Indian raj. It seems like the difference between a plant in a pot and a plant in the garden.

You were adventurous. When I was considering leaving the U.S. in the late Nineties I only seriously looked at Costa Rica, Uruguay and Brasil (had a relative in the latter country.) Scratched those and ended up in Portugal and Cyprus.

It's true ... at least for now ... if your income is only $2000 a month - you are rich! Even on that amount you can afford maids to come in and clean and cook for you 3 - 5 days a week. I had a dinner in a fancy restaurant with twin lobster tails and that set me back $12. An hour long professional massage cost $10.
I certainly live on $2,000 a month easily in Portugal, but adding a daily maid/cook would put a dent in that and I have zero interest. I prefer to eat out at a cafe for breakfast and dinner-for-lunch every day instead. Massage....30 to 40 euros as I recall. But a far better life that I could afford in a similar environment in the U.S....in fact, I probably couldn't afford this apartment with its location and views in U.S.

Remember this, however: if you're a single person like myself you will have to work double duty to make friends. You will be lonely. The Ex-Pats are mostly couples and they've been there for a while. If you love watching American sports your choices are limited - better develop a taste for soccer. Jewish? No synagogues or places to buy kosher food. LGBT? There are places in the capital city of Managua only (in fact it was Gay Pride Week when I was there and there were rainbow flags all over Managua). You will always be a visitor ... a guest. Some local people will see you as a walking ATM and will pester you for services you don't want or need.
I am single, gay, old and have found that as I am a foreigner, local people in either place didn't give a rat's fanny about the gay part. In any event, regardless of local conventions among some older people, civil rights are equal across the board. And I found local people and ex-pats from other European countries to be very friendly - most of my friends have been at least a decade or more younger than myself, so I haven't lacked for a social life. Jews, Muslims and Buddhists are mostly concentrated in the two major cities on the Atlantic coast, and none of these communities is large. So, a somewhat similar situation.

TV? There are channels that show U.S. programs, no U.S. sports as far as I know. (Both U.S. style football and baseball are considered very slow-moving and boring.) I wasn't a TV watcher in the U.S., so I catch local news channels, BBC, AlJazeera and I sometimes watch a French music channel that is multi-lingual.

I'm sure I will always be a foreigner, but then in the U.S. I grew up in so were all the Sicilian immigrants in my town, even if they became naturalized. Let's get real, their backgrounds, customs and attitudes were foreign to the native-born Americans in town. But these folks prospered and were part of our neighborhoods, schools, clubs, churches even with their foreigness. My forty years living in Manhattan I saw the same thing all around me those years, just different ethnic groups. My aunt lived as a Registered Alien her entire life in the U.S.

I guess those examples I lived among in the U.S. were good training. So, now I am a foreigner in someone else's country - so what? I have the equal protection of the law, an honest police force, an honest judiciary, honest tax system, etc. Being a "foreigner" hasn't in eighteen years made me feel lonely or isolated, but then wherever I have lived it has always been in a neighborhood of locals or locals and various Europeans, I have never lived in an English-speaking enclave...then you really are Foreign - with a capital F, and trying damned hard to stay one. This is exactly the stigma I have always wanted to avoid, though for others it is a heaven. Haven't been a walking ATM machine yet.

Language? Americans expect foreigners coming to live in the U.S. to be able to function in English, the flip side of that is you learn to cope with basic life situations in the local language when you move abroad...this does not mean that you can sit down and discuss Great Books in that language, but that you can shop, ask for directions, exchange basic neighborly courtesies and news. Just what Americans expect of their immigrants. You don't want to do that, then it is enclave living and being Foreigner with the capital F.

Safety seems to be a repeated concern in this thread that focuses on Central America, and I don't knock that concern. And I think that is one factor that encourages enclave living. I was firm that this was not an option I wanted, and living in the local environment meant being confident of my physical safety and the legal system. Thus, I ended up looking at southern Europe as an alternative to Central and South America.

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest!
Thanks for your report!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 08-06-2017, 07:02 AM
Location: Kennett Square, PA
1,696 posts, read 2,602,882 times
Reputation: 2594
VERY Cool report!! But I could never leave the US (don't think I'd ever even want to leave the East Coast). Fell in love in Dublin in 1983 and did seriously consider it as I loved being in Ireland with my whole heart: the city at that time was a wonder with a thriving Abbey Theatre and numerous cultural events; The West Coast was astonishingly beautiful; the Irish were incredibly kind and helpful, even to the "Ugly Americans" who sometimes treated the city as their own back yard party. In the end, just couldn't leave my country.

Last edited by soulsurv; 08-06-2017 at 07:04 AM.. Reason: additional info
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 08-07-2017, 04:07 PM
Location: University City, Philadelphia
22,592 posts, read 12,332,190 times
Reputation: 15493
Originally Posted by ctr88 View Post
Why even go to restaurants at all? To me restaurants are a big waste of money and totally overrated no matter where you live. I can eat at home for a fraction of the price (<$5 a day), get all I want, have leftovers, and far healthier. I like to control the ingredients of what I eat. And in my experience in the U.S. you have much more convenient access to very high quality low cost groceries then anywhere I have been in Europe, Asia or Latin America (trader joe's, costco, winco, aldi, farmers markets...and a million other grocery stores 5 min from your house). To me eating out is totally overrated overseas or anywhere, it gets old fast.

I strenuously and vehemently disagree with you. My cooking skills are not that great and while I do not eat out all the time I must say that the pleasure of dining out and discovering new dishes and new cuisine is one of life's pleasures. It's not just the preparation but the food presentation, the service, the ambiance of the restaurant that also count to the overall dining experience.

When I just graduated college I moved to an apartment in Miami. My roommate was a young man like myself who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park NY. We were both "yuppies" with plenty of money to spend and we explored South Florida's better restaurants at least 2 or 3 times a week ... sometimes more. I learned so much about cuisine from this guy! No! Superior restaurant cuisine is not over-rated!

Also the USA is getting so diverse ethnically you can find just as good ethnic food here. I thought the Thai food in SoCal or Seattle was just as good as Thailand (plus since its so diverse here in the U.S. its not just Thai food like it is in Thailand, you can get Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Indian, hipster USA farm-to-table organic style, Persian, Mexican, Afghan, Chinese, Sushi, Korean, Italian, Greek, Tapas, etc....) . Certain parts of the U.S. can have some damn good ethnic and other restaurants.

I have been to Thailand 4 times over the past 19 years, and even in some of the best Thai places in NY, LA, Philly, and Miami I have not found Thai cooking quite as good as in "Land Of Smiles."

Also I think the cost of living difference is overrated. You can move to a cheap part of the interior of the U.S. and the cost of living is really not that far off living in a 3rd world country.

True. Absolutely correct. However the places in the US where the cost of living is low tend to have many undesirable issues: decline and decay, drug activity, lack of amenities, gangs (yes even in small towns!), crime, rude and low class neighbors.

Why not just vacation for a few months in the winter to a low cost place in latin america or SE Asia? Why go live down there full time? From my experience, retiring overseas has a very high failure rate.

Actually an excellent idea.

From the Ex-Pats I met the reason for retiring abroad didn't have so much to do with the fact that living in the US, but living Better than they could in US. I am quite sure there are many hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of Americans eking out an existence on a income of $1500 or $1800 or even $2100 a month. However, are they living in an ocean view condo in the tropics with a balcony? Or a charming air conditioned small villa with a garden and servants cleaning the place three times a week while you and your friends are having cocktails poolside and going for professional massages twice a week and taking classes in yoga and making pottery?

C'mon ... you gotta admit ... sitting with your Gringo and European friends by the poolside sipping mango margaritas and snacking on shrimp cocktails while being served by a handsome shirtless waiter named Raoul and afterwards getting a 90 minute professional massage by Senorita Guadalupe.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 08-08-2017, 01:21 AM
Location: On the road
5,923 posts, read 2,887,264 times
Reputation: 11331
Originally Posted by ctr88 View Post
Also the USA is getting so diverse ethnically you can find just as good ethnic food here. I thought the Thai food in SoCal or Seattle was just as good as Thailand
My experience has been quite different. I've been to a ton of Thai restaurants in the US and none of them are the same as in Thailand. Take green chicken curry for example, in the US they know people don't like the look of Thai eggplant so they usually replace it with stuff Americans are more familiar with.

In Thailand I can often choose from many different types of som tum. Can get the kind with the little soft brined crabs, boiled eggs, cockles, noodles, shredded mango instead of papaya, etc. Below is a picture from a menu at a restaurant we went to often in Thailand, that is all types of som tum where 70 baht = $2. In the US a restaurant might just list "papaya salad" and that's it.

In Thailand I also have far more choices for sour Isan style sausages that have become so popular across the rest of Thailand, or soups like khao soi whereas US Thai restaurants for soup usually just have tom yum or tom ka. When you do get a soup or dish with meat the places in Thailand or better because they aren't afraid of bones and fat like in USA, there is a big difference between a whole tender chicken leg in your soup versus the slices of breast meat that are usually given in USA restaurants.

I can think of countless other examples for Thai food and others especially Chinese.

Originally Posted by ctr88 View Post
Also I think the cost of living difference is overrated. You can move to a cheap part of the interior of the U.S. and the cost of living is really not that far off living in a 3rd world country.
Apples and oranges. When people say this they are usually comparing the cost in some undesirable place in Kentucky with an apartment in the city center or on the beach in a 3rd world country.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 08-08-2017, 01:43 AM
12,686 posts, read 14,068,003 times
Reputation: 34762
Do either of the countries you visited have retirement visas?

When I decided to emigrate to Europe in 1999, Portugal had a special retirement visa. My recollection is that I had to show a relatively small (for an American) annual income, deposit a very small amount in a Portuguese bank ($5,000 I think, but less than 10,000 for sure at that time), have private health insurance that would cover you in the country (English companies offered the best policies and least amount of rigamarole for claims) and no criminal record. (I must have had to have an address in the country too. In any case I started with a six-month lease in a resort I had no intention of ever living in full time, and then just changed my address when I found a place I wanted elsewhere.)

No doubt the money amounts have changed by now.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 08-08-2017, 04:23 PM
Location: Central Mexico and Central Florida
7,096 posts, read 3,457,793 times
Reputation: 10153
Originally Posted by kevxu View Post
Do either of the countries you visited have retirement visas?
We own a home in MX and have Residente Permanente status (think, Green Card).

We had to qualify with income and/or assets.

However, many of our expat friends simply live in MX on a tourist visa which are good for 180 days and renewable anytime you cross the border. One of many advantages of retiring to MX is its proximity to the US...not just for tourist visas, but also if you want to access the US for Medicare, etc.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-16-2017, 08:38 PM
893 posts, read 627,257 times
Reputation: 513
Originally Posted by countrykaren View Post
Thanks. It was very interesting. I find it a shame that retired ppl without a lot of money feel the need to move to a different country to be able to live on the money they have. Too bad the US doesn't take care of it's own.
It is for the cost of living, which has nothing to do with "not taking care of its own." Some countries with the highest living standards also have a high cost of living.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-17-2017, 12:55 AM
Status: "Support the Mining Law of 1872" (set 6 days ago)
Location: Cody, WY
9,570 posts, read 10,914,867 times
Reputation: 19195
Originally Posted by moionfire View Post
It is for the cost of living, which has nothing to do with "not taking care of its own." Some countries with the highest living standards also have a high cost of living.
Yes, indeed. Chile is a modern industrial country with the rule of law firmly in place. Argentina is behind it because of a series of financial disorders. Brazil has many problems, but it is a modern country. However, none of these countries is a bargain.

Veterinary services are positively primitive in most of the rest of Latin America. People who love animals wouldn't be happy. Remember that it's the land of animal combat: bulls, dogs, and roosters.

There are many areas in this country that offer good value as well as low crime along with an English-speaking populace. We do have problems with MS-13 in parts of this country, but not the problems of El Salvador, it's home. I wonder why no one mentioned that fact or the fact that El Salvador has currently the highest murder rate in the world.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-17-2017, 06:53 AM
566 posts, read 248,379 times
Reputation: 1045
I guess having grown up and spent most of my life in the Latin American and Caribbean region, but living in the US for the past 20 years, I am able to see things from both the perspective of a "native" and "expat". Have no desire to go back there at all as in that region, the level of infrastructure and convenience to which I have become accustomed in the US, just does not exist! Not that I could not have done so as I owned property there until recently, and traveled back and forth often. I'm sure it's a fit for some but certainly not for me.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.

Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Retirement
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top