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Old 07-31-2017, 05:05 PM
 
Location: University City, Philadelphia
22,592 posts, read 12,342,433 times
Reputation: 15498

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I spent a few weeks in Central America speaking to American "Ex-Pats" living there.

I have just transitioned from full time to part-time "semi-retired" status and if my plans materialize I will be fully retired in early 2018.

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.

1. El Salvador - the capital San Salvador is not one of the safest cities to live in, and if you want to live there you had better confine yourself to one of the safer neighborhoods after dark (I stayed in the University area which was consider Upper-Middle and rather safe). A few Americans have retired to one of the pretty villages along the Ruta de la Flores which are admittedly safe and very pretty - but these are hardly more than villages with very few amenities.

2. Nicaragua - the Ex-Pat community I met in the town of Granada (population 50,000) was close-nit and gave very high opinions of their new lives in that charming historic place. I became friendly with a couple from Pittsburgh, both 65, who are having a brand new house built there. The reasons Americans gave me for liking it down there had to do with cost of living (COL), availability of reasonable quality health care at bargain prices, warm tropical climate, friendly and polite people, laid back lifestyle, and not the least - the adventure of living in a foreign country and braking out of predictability and the rut of their former lives. At least they had two huge pristine air-conditioned supermarkets where you can buy Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Sara Lee Coffee Cake, Lean Cuisine, and Philadelphia Cream Cheese!

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.

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.

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest!
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Old 07-31-2017, 05:31 PM
 
Location: Central NY
4,676 posts, read 3,248,729 times
Reputation: 11982
Wow, that is quite the eye-opener! Thank you for posting.

I have no plans to leave the USA. I gripe like everyone else about the problems we have here, but I still think it's the best place to live (for me).

Thanks Clark Park!
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Old 07-31-2017, 05:36 PM
 
15,199 posts, read 31,165,544 times
Reputation: 18364
I love the US, and could not imagine going to another country to live. Very happy right here.
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Old 07-31-2017, 07:00 PM
 
Location: Central Massachusetts
4,800 posts, read 4,850,322 times
Reputation: 6379
it is good to let it all out. We are considering an expat bit of time. If it is going to be in the Americas we are looking at Ecuador. Our first expat will be in South Korea. In fact we might be starting that in two years or so.


Thanks for giving us your view of Central America.
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Old 07-31-2017, 07:14 PM
 
Location: Florida
4,366 posts, read 3,704,692 times
Reputation: 4111
If you decide to try it I would rent for a while so it is easy to move back to the US. Consider your life as you get older and need assistance. Is language a problem.
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Old 07-31-2017, 07:30 PM
 
12,825 posts, read 20,148,018 times
Reputation: 10910
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark Park View Post
I spent a few weeks in Central America speaking to American "Ex-Pats" living there.

I have just transitioned from full time to part-time "semi-retired" status and if my plans materialize I will be fully retired in early 2018.

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.

1. El Salvador - the capital San Salvador is not one of the safest cities to live in, and if you want to live there you had better confine yourself to one of the safer neighborhoods after dark (I stayed in the University area which was consider Upper-Middle and rather safe). A few Americans have retired to one of the pretty villages along the Ruta de la Flores which are admittedly safe and very pretty - but these are hardly more than villages with very few amenities.

2. Nicaragua - the Ex-Pat community I met in the town of Granada (population 50,000) was close-nit and gave very high opinions of their new lives in that charming historic place. I became friendly with a couple from Pittsburgh, both 65, who are having a brand new house built there. The reasons Americans gave me for liking it down there had to do with cost of living (COL), availability of reasonable quality health care at bargain prices, warm tropical climate, friendly and polite people, laid back lifestyle, and not the least - the adventure of living in a foreign country and braking out of predictability and the rut of their former lives. At least they had two huge pristine air-conditioned supermarkets where you can buy Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Sara Lee Coffee Cake, Lean Cuisine, and Philadelphia Cream Cheese!

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.

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.

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest!
On top of all this, the only place in Central America that has English Common Law (e.g. a normal legal system like we have here) is Belize. Anywhere else, you are dealing with Napoleonic Law:
- Guilty until proven innocent
- Near zero consumer rights
- Absolute opposite situation in terms of tort law. Sure, tort reform, but having near zero ability to undertake a tort action unless one has the right name? No thanks!
- Due process is not built into the system
- Massive bribery of law enforcement, judicial officials, etc.

Now back to Belize. Yes it has English Common Law, but it's the pirate version (literally). So it's like the flea market version.
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Old 08-01-2017, 06:07 AM
 
2,462 posts, read 2,103,785 times
Reputation: 3605
ClarkPark I had noticed that you hadn't posted in a while......glad it was for a good reason!

Thank you for sharing this. We never really seriously considered but I know (remotely) a few who have retired to Costa Rica which has all that you mention but I believe is a bit more comfortable . We went there strictly for vacation and were struck by how calm it felt.That said though, I think other than the cost of living and beauty, I would not be so eager to live there full time permanently. We have heard lots about Costa Rica and Panama as well.
It doesn't really call my name although as mentioned the COL and beauty (and pretty decent medical care) does make it attractive to many.
I agree with you though that it just isn't for me.
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Old 08-01-2017, 06:47 AM
 
2,798 posts, read 1,002,852 times
Reputation: 3259
Thanks for the report. I'm considering doing the expat for awhile due to health care costs in US
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Old 08-01-2017, 07:56 AM
 
Location: Western PA
3,587 posts, read 4,933,757 times
Reputation: 2839
I couldn't do it. I like the US, our way of life, its history, and the general culture. I would always feel like a foreigner living in another country and I would be afraid of political instability. The only place I might be able to do it would be my ancestral country in Europe, since I still have some family there and I know the language and customs. But even that would be a big change for me.
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Old 08-01-2017, 08:10 AM
 
Location: Central Mexico and Central Florida
7,108 posts, read 3,465,006 times
Reputation: 10183
We never dreamed we'd live outside the US.

We retired at ages 50/51.

Our first 5 years of retirement were non-stop travels to Europe and we started to tire of those flights from Arizona.

My husband said, we live so close to Mexico, why don't we explore it.

I booked a trip to San Miguel de Allende. Two days before we left Mexico, my husband turned to me and said, I could see us living here. I agreed! We went home as planned, but scheduled a longer return trip to property hunt. While we were there, we heard about Lake Chapala, near Guadalajara. We went over and checked it out. Ended up buying a home there in 2008. Used it as a base to explore the rest of Mexico and also Guatemala.

In 2012 we had to return to the US to care for my FIL. We sold our Ajijic house reluctantly.

My FIL died in 2015, took a year to settle his estate. Started going back to Mexico in 2016, both SMA and Ajijic. Again we chose Ajijic and I am typing from our new home in Mexico. Never happier than when we are here.
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