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El Salvador: The Overlooked Gem of Central America

Monday, February 17th, 2014   6:00 pm |  Category:   Retirement locations, Travel   |   15 Comments  
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You do not hear much about the country of El Salvador in the United States, and if you do it is usually bad news – the violence, drugs or the gangs. Yes, El Salvador has these things but so does every other country in the world including the United States, just pick up today’s paper or check the Internet.


Retire in El SalvadorMy wife Elizabeth is from El Salvador, I made my first trip here with her in March of 2004 and I must say that I fell in love with the country right away. The warm climate, the beautiful beaches and the tropical atmosphere – I found the good life.


Elizabeth and I returned every year from 2004-2011 for 2-3 weeks a year. With every visit I discovered more and more of what this beautiful country had to offer: the Salvadorian people who are friendly and hard working, the many beautiful beaches, the mountains where the climate is cooler and they grow coffee and the many historical sites. The city of San Salvador, which is a very modern city with malls, stores and restaurants including Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut and others. You can have the best of both worlds in El Salvador.


When my 401K took a big hit in 2011 and the company that I worked for the last 19 years started to lay off key people I started looking at my options. Since I was turning 62 in December I decided to retire and move here to El Salvador.


Elizabeth and I arrived here in November of 2011 to build our home and start our new life. We designed and had our home built from the ground up. It took 7 months to complete. I must say this was a very stressful time. We were at the site almost everyday updating; making changes and making sure our dream home was the way we wanted it. In the end, it was a wonderful and very rewarding experience.


The adjustment has been trying at times; I still speak very little Spanish, so Elizabeth has to take care of most of the business that we have to deal with such as paying the bills and getting things done. This is not always a bad thing because at times I have a short temper when things do not make sense to me or they do not move fast enough. The pace here is slow. There are only two speeds in El Salvador; slow and slower. Even after three years here I let myself get angry over things that I have no control over and they are not going to change. To be fair I must admit that I was also upset with the powers to be in the United States, so I guess it is just my nature.


Retire in El SalvadorI am very happy and content here in El Salvador. I cannot think of anywhere that I would rather be at this time. I enjoy traveling the country, visiting sites, meeting people, and writing about the many wonderful experiences that I have here.


I would encourage people to visit, retire and invest in El Salvador. This country has a lot to offer at this time, you can build a beautiful home here for less than $100,000.00; we built our home for $26.00 a sq. ft. less than $80,000.00 Our home in the United States would have cost us around $400,000.00; you can live very well on your Social Security check. If you are looking to invest, there are many business and investment opportunities in the country.



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  1. Fernando Aug 25th 2014  11:35 pm

    I wonder where in El Salvador one can build a house for less than $ 100,000.
    No in a good city area, perhaps in a town outside the capital limits? …?

  2. Dina Sep 21st 2014  8:14 pm

    I wish I would be as brave as you are, we moved to the USA 33 yrs ago and it is almost time to retired , but we are afraid to go back to our country. I know we probably can live comfortably with our social security pension, but homes in the city are expensive like here, unless you buy in a dangerous town. We are glad that you can lived in our country. Enjoy it. Hope one day we can comeback to live there too.

    Enjoy the sunny weather.

  3. Debbie Jan 2nd 2016  9:26 pm

    My husband is also from El Salvador and we are planning to retire there in about a year. How do you receive your social security retirement check ?

  4. patricio Jan 16th 2016  1:19 am

    With a small social security check, I decided to move here, El Salvador. Luckily I have a Salvadoran wife who is waiting for her 62nd birthday so that we can travel more. We built a lovely home for $80,000 in a peaceful little city. While not for everyone, this is a place of spectacular beauty, incredibly friendly people, 100 miles of gorgeous beaches , mayan ruins, cheap public transportation. Most people here earn between $100-300 a month so the country is full of poor people living hand to mouth. I have my social security deposited to my bank in USA, and with the bank’s debit card I draw cash from ATM machines, My bills are $3 for water and garbage, $20 for electricity and cooking gas is three dollars a month. In comparison to my working life, and the poverty I would have in USA I am living happily ever after. Highly recommended.

  5. Real May 30th 2016  10:13 pm

    I visited San Salvador a couple weeks ago but people scared me so much that I did not enjoy the country at all

    Now I’m learning that its possible to live quietly in El Salvador. I’m looking to rent an apartment for 6 months. I need internet.

    Any apartement do recommend ?

  6. Rick Jun 2nd 2016  9:38 am

    I bought a home in El Salvador six months ago, but still live in the US. I come down every two months to pay bills. They tell me I cannot open a bank account because I don’t live there full time and cannot pay bills online. I would love to move there full time as I am about to retire but opening a small part time business in the US. I would move to El Salvador before the end of this year IF I could get a part time job or open a small restaurant. I have never been scared when traveling in El Salvador. The thought of starting a business there does bother me because of extortion. Slowly learning Spanish and would love to have some friends there.

  7. Maria Jun 26th 2016  10:53 pm

    Hi Rick,

    I am looking for a place to retire early. I am considering possibly retiring overseas where my money can go farther and for a better quality of life. I have a friend who is from El Salvador. His wife and children are back home and he sends them money, but he is planning on going back in two years. He has invited me to visit and even offered me a place to stay. If you like to stay in touch my e-mail address is I too would like to have some friends there. I wish all the best.


  8. Hank Jul 13th 2016  5:13 pm

    El salvador is one of the most expensive places to live south of the USA. Your money would go farther in Peru, Nicaragua and Ecuador. El salvador is primarily a consumer nation with no solid domestic industry. The nation lives mostly off of foreign remittances which creates an artificial level of wealth amongst people who are mostly unemployed or severely under employed. Hence, you will basically pay the same or more for groceries, gas and technology goods. Rent is cheap of you live in the outlying pueblos. However your safety is at risk since maras/gangsters are found even in remote villages. If u are not a salvi citizen, forget about running your own business. You will be taxed by local thugs, sabotaged by the culture of “invidio” or drowned in endless bureaucracy. If you are making less than $2000 a month on retirement or pension, you would be better off looking elsewhere. I am a gringo married to a salvadoran citizen. I have luved in el salvador on and off for more than 5 years.

  9. Thomas Mar 3rd 2017  8:35 pm

    does the US state department require you to return to the States for any reason ? We would but I wonder if you MUST ?

  10. Luis Jan 30th 2018  9:10 pm

    Hi; anyone recently moved to retire in El Salvador???

  11. Kim Mar 21st 2018  8:30 pm

    We are looking to sell our house in El Salvador. It is in a local beach area. We were the first gringos in our quiet community. Now there are several. We planned on retiring there but now we have three grandbabies and want to be closer to them. Asking $75k usd. Steps to beach, 15 min to big town/grocery, 45 min to airport.

  12. Harlon Mar 28th 2018  1:39 pm

    Kim – your place sounds interesting. Please jot me a note,

    Gringo looking to retire in El Salvador.


  13. Wilfredo Reyes Jun 9th 2018  12:14 pm

    I am Salvadorean.
    I think there are Cities where it is not expensive
    To live.

  14. Sandra Sep 21st 2018  6:56 pm

    Kim…We are planning on moving to El Salvador. We are trying to look at lots to build, but in the meantime we will like to rent for at least a year. Can you give more details of the house you are selling? Please contact me at

  15. Karla Mendoza Nov 12th 2018  8:22 pm

    We are planning to move to El Salvador next year and I would like to get some suggestions on companies that helps you move from the USA to El Salvador. Please let me know.

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