The Best Places to Retire in South America
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Colombia News

The Best Places to Retire in South America

10 min read

Nov 16, 2015


By Jon Hillstead

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Last updated on March 26th, 2021 at 12:14 pm

Retire in South America

With the cost of living on the rise in places like North America, people are starting to consider retiring abroad. Recently, many countries in South America have become popular destinations to become retired. Whether you are ready for retirement or just day-dreaming about it and looking for now for some nice South America tour, check out our list of the best places to retire in South America. They all attract tourists with their weather, welcoming local people and an excellent standard of living.

1. Uruguay

First, we have Uruguay! Uruguay is one of the best places to retire in South America because of its relaxing, beautiful scenery. Maybe one of the reasons why it’s so on-demand for retirees from the US or Europe is that its culture is very similar to theirs so the assimilation process goes smoothly.

Also, Uruguay is pretty small which is convenient if you are looking for a place to live and some holiday spots close home. Like any country, there are different areas where real estate is more cost-effective; but overall, Uruguay is an affordable place to live. Uruguayans are very friendly and welcoming to foreigners and with the well-established expatriate community, foreigners have a greater sense of comfort. The best places to visit and live in Uruguay are:

Punta del Este

Waterfront hotel and gallery Punta del Este

It’s a popular holiday destination for many Uruguayans and if you enjoy beautiful warm waters, this seaside city is the ideal place to retire. Here you can find a variety of restaurants, shops, beaches and even a casino to keep you entertained. During the high season, the city is full of energy and during the low season, the pace slows down, creating a great balance year-round.

Punta del Este has quite a vibrant lifestyle with night clubs, golf courses, surfing clubs etc. Many foreigners invest in modern residential towers with their own security, gyms, swimming pools. Apart from luxury residential buildings, you can still find cheaper properties in the older part of the city or single-family homes in the suburbs. Punta del Este is not only the best place to retire in South America but also, one of the happiest cities in South America.

To avoid crowds of people during the summer season in Uruguay you can find your home in nearby Maldonado which is just 10 min away by car. Besides, property taxes there tend to be lower and you can save some money doing shopping on local farmer’s markets. Before you travel to Uruguay you should check out the best time to visit, as Uruguay does have a winter season.

Colonia del Sacramento

Old street and buildings in Colonia

Colonia del Sacramento was founded by the Portuguese in the 17th century so for sure the most attractive part of the city is a colonial historic center listed as one of the UNESCO heritage sites. This city has around 26 000 people which is a perfect size if you look for the best place to retire in South America that is not too big but at the same time not empty. It tends to be more visited by Argentines since it’s just 1 hour away from Buenos Aires taking a ferry.

Even during wintertime, you can spot many tourists walking around the cobblestone streets of the downtown. If you are looking for colonial architecture and dream about filling your new Spanish style house with some antiques that might be the best place for you! You just have to keep in mind that the lifestyle is very calm here. Good thing is that the cost of living is much lower than in Punta del Este and there are many fresh local products you can get like cheese and great wines!


the legislative building in Montevideo

As every capital, Montevideo has many more options for you to look for the best place to retire in South America. It’s quite a big city with a population of close to 2 million people so it’s very commercial and offers typical things a big city has. Montevideo’s life is calm and active at the same time. You can relax on the beach by the river, there are lots of parks and green squares and many cultural events. There is the famous Solis Theatre in the city, Tango and Candombe culture, fish markets.

The best areas to buy properties would be the old center in one of the renovated buildings or the more modern neighborhood called Pocitos. The cost of living in Montevideo is quite high compared to other areas of South America but the standards of urban living are quite high as well. Public transportation is great and more importantly, no serious safety issues to be concerned about.

2. Colombia

Just a flight away from many cities in the United States is Colombia. Colombia ranks high number on the best places to retire in South America list. This diverse country is steadily growing in popularity and is the new hotspot for those seeking a unique place to live. Colombia is one of the most affordable countries in South America. A couple living there can get by comfortably on around $1,200 USD per month, according to International Living.

Not only is the cost of living low, but Colombia offers some of the best and most affordable health care in South America. Similar to Uruguay, Colombia has seen a large increase in ex-pat communities in cities like Medellin and Bogota, and Colombians are known for being incredibly friendly and welcoming to foreigners. As one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world, Colombia offers a range of geography from beautiful beaches to lush jungles and mountains. The places you might want to check out in Colombia are:


Cartagena square and church

For those seeking a Caribbean lifestyle, make your way to Cartagena along the coast in Northern Colombia. Although it has become more modern, Cartagena does not lack in old colonial charm which was appreciated by UNESCO that put it on the list of cultural heritage sites. Stroll along cobblestone streets, past colorful historical buildings, and feel a step back in time.

Cartagena is a big city with many tourists visiting year-round. You need to like crowds if you want to stay here long. There are plenty of hotels, resorts, AirBnBs that are full almost every season. The old colonial part of the city is a perfect place for all kinds of entertainment.

However, the best place to buy a property would be outside of the old town in Bocagrande and Manga neighborhoods. Probably the best thing about Cartagena is its great Caribbean weather. Who does not want tropical warm weather every day of the year? And good thing is that it’s not a hurricanes risk area.


Medellin downtown cathedral and city light rail.

Many people associate Medellin with crime and drugs however those tend to be showed more now in reality TV rather than in present life. Medellin has changed a lot during the last years and it was voted “Innovative City of the Year” in 2013 and “One of the Best Cities to Live in Latin America” in 2014. The city has perfect weather as well which is a great plus for the best places to retire in South America. It’s called the City of Eternal Spring and City of Flowers.

If your idea of retirement is active and enjoying nature that might be a place for you! There are many things to do in Medellin. Enjoy the Andes mountains, lakes, nearby coffee and plantains plantations, hiking trails, and rafting opportunities. Two neighborhoods popular with ex-pats are Laureles and El Poblado. They both have modern residential buildings with security, gyms, pools, mountain-view terraces, etc.

The city is full of life with many restaurants, top boutique shops, shopping centers, theatres, museums, parks. It’s the only city in Colombia that constructed a metro system so communication in a city is quite easy. Top qualities that make it one of the best places to retire in South America are great and cheap health care system and low cost of living.

Coffee Region

the green valleys of colombia's coffee region with palm trees

The Coffee Region in Colombia consists of mountainous areas. The three main areas are the big cities of Armenia, Manizales, and Pereira. This is a pure paradise if you dream about retiring cultivating coffee or enjoying lush green landscapes of mountains and volcanoes.

One of the most attractive destinations for foreigners is the small town of Salento. This town is close to the famous Cocora Valley. Salento has just over 8000 inhabitants which do not mean it’s a quiet place at all. On the contrary, always full of visitors attracted by colonial architecture taken from the 19th-century soap opera.

It will be one of the best places to retire in South America if you are looking for a slow pace living, nature, gardening, maybe cultivating some local products. The town does not offer high-rise residential complexes however why not spend your living enjoying a small house with a garden?

3. Ecuador

In recent years Ecuador has become of the best places to retire in South America. One of the main reasons is that the cost of living is very low and affordable. Many couples can live comfortably on a budget of around $1500 USD per month. Ecuadorians are friendly and good-natured people and many speak English making it easier for foreigners. Consider taking some Spanish courses in Quito or Cuenca and fully immerse yourself in the culture.

Ecuador’s public transit system is very efficient, eliminating the need to own your own car. Cities are fairly close and easily accessible by bus.  Just the beautiful landscapes and scenery alone are enough to convince anyone to retire in Ecuador. The places you might want to check out in Ecuador are:


historic town and plaza in quito ecuador

Quito is the second-highest situated capital in South America with an elevation of over 9350 feet over the sea level. Take into account the high altitude when looking for the best place to retire in South America. Make sure your health conditions will allow you to stay there for longer. Apart from that if you are into colonial architecture, living in a calm but not too small city (over 2 million people) and low cost of living Quito is a place for you!

Quito has many possibilities for comfortable living and this nice combination of modern and old. It offers a great and cheap healthcare system, some not expensive upscale neighborhoods with condo apartments like La Paz, La Carolina, La Floresta. The capital might be known for many indigenous people living there however it’s quite a cosmopolitan place as well with many ex-pats coming from Europe, North America, and even Asia.


panoramic view of cuenca ecuador

Cuenca is one of the most developing cities in Ecuador. It’s much smaller than Quito however still big enough to offer everything you need. It’s known for its culture and artistic vibe but also for the beautiful nature that surrounds the city. There are so many things to do in Cuenca, like Cajas National Park with over 200 lakes!

Many people from the US chose it for their second home that’s why there are already many restaurants, hotels, shops run by North Americans. Foreigners do not find it difficult to buy properties in Cuenca since they have almost the same rights as locals when it comes to owning real estate. In general, condo prices in Cuenca might vary on average from 80 000 to 140 000 USD.


Salinas is located on the Pacific coast of Ecuador and it’s one of the most upscale resort areas on the coast. It’s located only 2 hours from Guayaquil, the biggest city in the country and the major international airport. Salinas is not big however still, during high season the beaches might be crowded.

It offers a warm climate year-round, lots of adventure water sport, great seafood restaurants, modern coffee shops, and malls. You can buy yourself a nice condo overlooking the sea for just over 150 000 USD. That is quite a good price if you look for the best place to retire in South America!

Start planning your pre-retirement trip to South America today! Contact our Ecuador Travel Expert and share your retirement dreams with us! 

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Last updated on March 26th, 2021 at 12:14 pm

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