Guides to Retiring to Central America

​Having spent time as an exchange student in Nicaragua, an expatriate in Costa Rica, and a serial traveler to Panama, Central America will always be a special place to me.  I was fortunate enough to make my way to this very special part of the world at the ripe age of 21, and since then haven’t missed a single year of getting my passport stamped in one of those amazing countries.  Money extends a bit further in Central America, and it provides luxuries that most people can’t even dream of having in the United States, which makes it an in demand retirement destination for many people.

Further, two of the seven countries in Central America made the 2020 list of top 10 places to retire in the world!

arenal volcano costa rica

Not a day goes by where I don’t do research online.  Over the years I’ve realized that it’s time to honor the people who have made my journey in navigating the landscape of Central America that much easier.  There are many things you need to decide for yourself if you choose to live or retire abroad, and following certain websites and people will make your transition go much smoother.  Therefore, today is all about recognizing those who have helped the masses adjust to a different life by being hyper resourceful.

The Best Websites to Help You Retire in Central America

I’m starting with where my home was and where my heart remains – Costa Rica.  This tiny, yet diverse country is by far the most sought after retirement destination in Central America, although don’t tell that to Panama, which is really making a push to draw retirees to their more cosmopolitan area of Panama City.

Costa Rica offers it all!  Rain forest, mountains, rivers, Afro-Caribbean culture, natural springs, amazing flora and fauna, and a strong middle class.  When “Costa Rica” is brought up for a trip, many things can come to mind.  Zip-lining, golf, beaches, rain forest, 4 x 4 tours, white water rafting, eco-tourism, sport fishing, luxury resorts, and so much more.

retire to costa rica

The one person who has helped me immensely over the years is Chris Howard.

I’ve purchased most of his books and followed him online for many years, and he is by far the most influential and educational voice out there.  His website,, is a resource you need to bookmark and read front to back.

Chris Howard’s Guide to Costa Rica Spanish

This book is one that will give you a basic introduction to Spanish, and even word pronunciation, but more importantly, it will help you to speak Spanish using the same words the native Costa Ricans use on a daily basis.  You’ll sound like you have been there for years, even if you just arrived.  This not only helps you gain trust with locals and “fit in,” but it will also help you earn better prices when shopping as you won’t be judged as a tourist.  Sadly, I’ve witness this happen.  Thanks to Chris, I managed to master the art of talking like a “Tico” early on and it helped me immensely.

costa rica spanish book

This book is perfect for travelers as well as foreigners who live in Costa Rica.

As a highly successful author, Christopher Howard has also written the following titles:

  • The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica
  • Guide to Real Estate in Costa Rica
  • Guide to Costa Rica’s Legal System for Tonto’s

You can purchase online editions (e-books) of all of these on this link.  If you are even remotely considering moving or retiring to Costa Rica, don’t even think twice about investing in some education from a man who has been living abroad for over 38 years.  Costa Rica, in specific, can be a slippery slope of losing money if you aren’t careful with every move you make, and Howard takes the guess work out of most of the difficult decisions you’ll have to make along the way.

Christopher Howard Costa Rica Retirement Tours

After all of his success writing books about living and retiring in Costa Rica, Howard’s popularity led him to field many requests to start doing relocation tours of Costa Rica.  Due to the interest and demand, he started officially doing this in 1997 and remains the most sought after relocation expert in the country today!  He has helped 1,000’s of people get to know Costa Rica through his world class tours, consulting services, and seminars.  His tours are unique and highly informative.

Find out why Costa Rica is the #1 place to live abroad!  Click here!

You can rest assured that his experience in doing this is second to none, as he is also a paid consultant for National Geographic Magazine, has written articles for Costa Rica Today, EscapeArtist, Inside Costa Rica, Costa Rica Outdoors, AM Costa Rica, and the lavish real estate magazine Casa Galeria.

Related Reading:  Interviews with Costa Rica Expats.

Best Guide to Retiring to Panama

As I alluded to earlier, Panama has recently started to compete with Costa Rica among retirees looking to retire in Central America.  The country is best known for the Panama Canal and Manuel Noriega, but let’s not sleep on it’s gorgeous mountains, beautiful beaches, and cosmopolitan capital city that is on par with popular cities in the USA and Europe in terms of vibe, ambience, and financial centers.  Panama is making lists on retirement blogs in recent years because of it’s easy location (it’s about a 2.5 hour flight from Miami) and the fact that the Dollar is widely accepted in the country and on par with the local “Balboa.”

Panama offers affordable health care, both publicly and private, and offers plans around $145 a month for a couple in their 60s.  These plans will often cover between 50 – 70% of your health care expenses.

retire to panama

(Currently updating – stay tuned!

EscapeArtist has a list of reasons why Panama is great for retirement, and if you want more….


Tim Schmidt is an Entrepreneur who has covered retirement investing since 2012. He started this website to share his expertise in using his Self-Directed IRA. Most recently he's been advising individuals to diversify into precious metals ahead of a certain recession. He invested with Goldco.