Comparing Various Latin American Cities and Towns for Retirement Living

Q&A with a Reader

Hi Gustavo,

I have written some answers and suggestions to your questions below.

I’ve enjoyed reading your many articles.  Right now my wife and I (both Mexican citizens) are living in Los Cabos, but we’re increasingly tired of dealing with the long hot and humid summers. The older one gets the less one is able to tolerate sticky heat, it seems. We also really miss trees!

We’re thinking of moving to Comitan de Dominguez, because of your favorable comments. Do you think it’s a good town to live in as distinct from simply visiting?  By any chance, do you happen to know whether non-sprayed vegetables and free ranging chickens and the like easily available there, and whether the crime rate is low? Here in Cabo, at least, my wife can shop alone without worry, and kids walk to school and home unaccompanied. This is priceless. Unfortunately, there is very little info about living in Comitan in the way of expat blogs and the like.

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Comitan offers good weather (chilly in the winter, but not like San Cristobal), affordable cost of living, fresh meats, fruits and vegetables, some culture, and both the Colonial architecture (in El Centro Historico) and more suburbs and neighborhoods outside the Centro. There aren’t many Gringos there at all, which is probably why you have not been able to find expat blogs on this city.

Comitan also has shopping malls and a Wal*Mart, movie theaters and that sort of thing as well. There is good, affordable public transport which can take you most everywhere by bus and certainly anywhere by taxi. With a city this size I imagine that there are health food stores where you could get the non-sprayed vegetables and free range chicken you desire. We generally stay in El Centro because we like the Plaza, the activities, the music, the restaurants and cafes, and food shopping is right there. But we have taken the bus outside of Centro for other kinds of shopping, like for electronics and such.

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This city is also close to Guatemala if you wanted to take a break from living there in Comitan. The nearest international airport is in Tuxtla, but you can take a shuttle to Guatemala, no problem.

We have found Comitan to be very safe and it seems family oriented and friendly.      

We also considered San Cristobal, but it’s a little too high and cold for our tastes, and probably not too good for my asthma. Also considered Tepic, but it too has too warm and humid a summer, since the altitude is only around 900 meters. I think one has to get above at least 1200 meters, and preferably around 1400-1600 for ideal weather in the tropics (think Cuernavaca at 1500). However we love the fact that wonderful beaches are so close for the winter months. We considered Chapala, but it’s too overrun by North Americans (no offense) which affects both the culture and the prices.

You might also consider Oaxaca, Mexico. Weather there is decent, and while it is a city, there are cozy neighborhoods available to live.  Medical care is abundant and affordable, markets have all the fresh items you might want. There are museums, close access to the Maya ruins of Monte Alban, and lots of restaurants to choose from.

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We just spent a month there not long ago, and to break up our trip, we took a short, 30 minute flight from Oaxaca City to the beach. This was also affordable and it is an option for a change of scenery or for a vacation. 

Many Expats enjoy San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. There are lots of things to do, many restaurants, art stores, and a thriving Expat population.

We’ve also considered the Volcan area in Panama and the highlands of Guatemala. I liked your interview with Jackie Lange, and one thing that seems to characterize her area is that it is quiet! That is very difficult to find in Mexico! [I’ve lived in Mexico City, Colima-Comala, and Pto. Vallarta] The countryside looks really lovely (we are small-town types, not big city).

Also, the highlands in Panama are close to beaches. The downside might be that rentals are high. Nicaragua would be much cheaper, but the highlands are too far from the coast compared to Volcan or Boquete, and are probably a bit deficient in internet speed and reliability.

You might also consider towns like Antigua, Guatemala and the Lake Atitlan area. Xela is way too cold and windy, but Antigua is more of a pocket sized city with beautiful architecture, good restaurants and food markets. There are medical services available, but for very specialized care, one must travel to the capitol city of Guatemala City.

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The Lake Atitlan area is tiny, naturally beautiful, filled with Mayans, peaceful, and there are about 13 villages around the lake from which to choose to live. Basic medical care is available here, but for anything more complex, one must go to Antigua, Xela or Guatemala City.

If you absolutely couldn’t return to the States, where would you pick to settle?

Thank you and best wishes.

Gustavo

We are still looking around for that “perfect place” but we would probably settle in the Lake Atitlan area, Antigua, Oaxaca or Lake Chapala. Not necessarily in that order.

We like mild climates also, and natural beauty. We look for good cost of living and easy access to medical care. We absolutely must have access to fresh food – fruits, vegetables, meats and fish. We enjoy going out to eat at restaurants and having a good cup of coffee. Having an international airport close by is definitely a plus.

I hope this information is useful to you.

Let us know if you have more questions.

Best Regards, and thank you for your interest in our website.

Akaisha  

About Retire Early Lifestyle

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired two decades ago at the age of 38 and began traveling the world. As recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel, they have been interviewed about retirement issues by The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, The Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter, nationally syndicated radio talk shows and countless newspapers and TV shows nationally and worldwide. They wrote the popular books The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.
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