Several Latin American nations located along or nearby the equator – including Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica – are among the world’s 25 best countries to retire in, according to an assessment by InternationalLiving.com. Topping the list, however, is Ecuador, the sun-soaked South American country whose very name derives from the equator.
“From snow-capped volcanoes to dense Amazon jungle, from sun-drenched Pacific beaches to the famous Galapagos Islands, this is a place of astounding natural beauty,” says the magazine with reference to Ecuador.
Ecuador, according to the magazine, is no longer an isolated backwater. Instead, it’s a land of opportunity with a middle class that continues to expand. It has also become a popular destination for immigrants since the opening of a new international airport in the capital Quito in 2013.
“Although prices have risen slightly in recent years, Ecuador’s real estate is still the best value you’ll find anywhere,” says the magazine’s senior editor Dan Prescher, who has lived in Ecuador for the past five years. “And the cost of living is low, with couples reporting monthly expenses of just $1,400 a month.”
Second in the index is the Panama, which offers a visa as well as a lifetime pension of more than US$1,000 for any foreigner willing to settle down. The visa, according to reports, offers discounts on medical services, entertainment, meals, airfares, as well as electricity and phone bills.
Discounts you can get with the visa include 20% off medical services, 50% off entertainment, 25% off restaurant meals, 25% off air fares, and 25% off electricity and phone bills.
Mexico and Costa Rica are also among the top five countries for retirement. At a time when the United States has continued to issue travel warnings against visiting Mexico, the magazine’s executive editor, Jennifer Stevens, says in a statement: “They’re safe, offer good value, and are places you can settle with relative ease.”
The expert committee considered eight factors, including health care systems, the quality of roads, public transport and general infrastructure, climate and the availability of flights to the United States.
Eighth on the list is Colombia, a neighbor of Ecuador. Here, according to the magazine, a couple can live comfortably on just over $1,200 a month. Colombia is not only a low-cost country but also known for its affordable health care service.
“Colombia actually has better health care than the United States or Canada,” says the magazine citing a report by the World Health Organization.
Other Latin American countries in the index are Uruguay, Belize, Nicaragua, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Guatemala.
Proximity to the equator, where there is little distinction between spring, summer, autumn or winter, appears to be a main reason for these countries finding a place in the ranking. The climate in the mountains of South America, for example, remains relatively pleasant throughout the year.