El Salvador: The Overlooked Gem of Central America

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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 carabamd@gmail.com. I too would like to have some friends there. I wish all the best.


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

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

  11. 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. Kim – your place sounds interesting. Please jot me a note, hwmemberships@hotmail.com.

    Gringo looking to retire in El Salvador.


  13. Wilfredo Reyes

    June 9, 2018 at 12:14 pm

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

  14. 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 smaribelz65@gmail.com

  15. 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.

  16. Hello all, I am originally from El Salvador, I moved to the US 40 years ago when I was a teenager and have visited El Salvador every year for the past 10 years. I WILL TAKE AN EARLY RETIREMENT FROM the Federal Government and move back to El Salvador. I have talked to many people regarding living in El Salvador, many with different ideas and opinions. However, I decided to buy a house on the beach and maybe build a smaller house in the mountains later on. My family owns a house in the heart of San Salvador and I cannot complain about the life style I experience every time I visit. Yes, there is crime but isn’t there crime in every country? I have never had an issue and have always visited any city I want at any time I want and have done it happily. I suggest you all talk to the right people about where to live and how to live in El Salvador since lot’s of people have this erroneous idea that you will get killed if you visit the country. I have met so many Americans and Canadians living mostly on the breach and they are happy and relaxed. There is a new government program now where the organization will lend you up to $150K to invest in real state property if you want are thinking about moving there. $150K will get you a descent home in San Salvador and in most beaches. It will get you an awesome house in the mountains with lots of land! Anyway. have in mind that if you move to El Salvador as a retiree, the government will NOT charge you taxes on anything you bring into the country with you, take advantage of this since taxes on automobiles will cost you 30% of the value and about 20% on anything else.
    I am moving in 18 months and I am extremely exited about the good living I will experience. El Salvador IS NOT as it is portrayed by the media, most homes are now “gated communities” and are well kept and protected. The city is just booming with exceptional and luxurious shopping malls with international stores, both EXPENSIVE and economical. remember, the official money is the American dollar and it is the reason why the economy is good.
    One more thing: The newly elected president will make things much better, he is already backed and supported by numerous international government organizations and have earned the trust of several European countries for what he has done in the country already.
    If you plan to move to El Salvador do it as soon as you can since home prices will boost due to the international investments coming in now!!
    if any of you have any questions I will be happy to talk you.

  17. I was brought to the U.S. when I was 13 in 1983 because of the civil war. I just went back to visit twice in 2019 because a friend went there. It was cool. Like anywhere else you have to use common sense and pay attention, stay out of trouble, etc.
    So it’s 2020 I got 12 more years to go but I’m already thinking about it. My mom bought a house there and she says it’s mine. Actually it’s our house.
    Only thing I hate it’s that my mom didn’t retire right. She was missing two Social Security credits and she is getting nothing. The man that lived with her got paid cash all his life.
    They could be living well right now and I could join them later.
    Sad situation some of us are stupid about our finances. At least she bought that house.
    By the way she coming back and see if she can get some kind of S.S. disability or something. She is old and doesn’t want to go back to work.

  18. Lissette Mascaro

    June 21, 2021 at 10:50 pm

    What are you doing about health insurance?

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