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El Salvador Articles, Research, & Resource Guides

If you’re here to learn about El Salvador, you’ve found the right place! We’ve written dozens of articles & guides about investing, living, or retiring in El Salvador.

Whether you want to learn about the different towns in El Salvador, retirement incentives or investment laws, we’ve got you covered. There isn’t much about El Salvador that you won’t find here.

Tucked between the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala and Honduras, El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America. And yet, while this little country may not be as popular with expats as some other Central American countries, El Salvador is a treasure just waiting to be discovered.

Nicknamed “the land of volcanoes”, El Salvador has much to offer both tourists and expats, including stunning scenic beauty, kind and welcoming locals, unbeatable surf, and in recent years, the conversion of the national currency to the U.S. dollar.

So what else sets El Salvador apart from its neighboring countries, and what should potential expats experience if they’re considering a move to El Salvador?

1) Begin with a swim in the healing waters of Lake Alegria

Photo: Nacho

Photo: Nacho Mendez

The pristine, flower-filled town of Alegria, El Salvador, provides visitors with breathtaking scenery in a laid-back small town setting. Once you arrive, the gorgeous Laguna Alegria is less than a 2 mile hike from town.

Laguna Alegria is a brilliant green sulphur lake that formed within the massive crater of Volcano Tecapa. Thought to have medicinal properties by many who swim in the soothing waters, there is a legend surrounding the lake about a mysterious siren who seeks out handsome young men from her home beneath the surface.

2) Next, follow El Salvador’s famous “Ruta de las Flores”

Photo: Smith Fischer

Photo: Smith Fischer

Running through lush coffee forests, this 40 km route (almost 25 miles) will guide you through some of the most scenic areas in El Salvador.

Named for the abundance of flowers growing along the road, which will bloom brightest from November to February, the “Ruta de las Flores” begins in Sonsonate and is easy to reach from the main beach town of La Libertad.

As you travel down the road, you will move through a handful of small, colonial towns. Juayua is first on the list and is a definite must-see.

The colonial homes in the town of Ataco are lavishly painted, and some are even adorned with intricate murals. The weekends are the best in Ataco when there is live music and food and craft stalls set up, but–be warned–the weekends are also the busiest.

3) Get a feel for colonial life in the town of Suchitoto

Photo: Adalberto Vega

Photo: Adalberto Vega

A popular spot with tourists and a common weekend getaway for San Salvador residents, Suchitoto makes its home on the banks of Lake Suchitlan.

Located in the center of El Salvador, Suchitoto is rich in culture and tradition that can be experienced, from the cobblestone of the streets to the columns of the historic architecture.

Equipped with hotels, restaurants, museums, and art galleries, Suchitoto is a town to be savored.

Gaze upon the ethereal Church of Santa Lucia (built in 1853) and stroll through the weekend craft fair as you fill your bags with handmade hammocks, jewelry, ornaments, and ceramics.

4) Walk in the footsteps of the Maya at Tazumal

Photo: David Stanley

Photo: David Stanley

Tazumal in Chalchuapa, is a major Mayan archaeological site, and the ruins are considered to be the most well-preserved in the country.

Only 82 km (about 50 miles) from San Salvador, the remains of this ancient city date back to around 5000 BC with the main building standing at 24 meters high.

If you visit Tazumal, which means “pyramid where the victims were burned” in the Quiche language, you will observe jade and mud structures and sculptures as you walk in the footsteps of an ancient civilization.

5) Take a “do nothing” moment on the beach at El Tunco

Photo: Micheal Peters

Photo: Micheal Peters

Just 37 km (23 miles) from the capital city of San Salvador, or a one hour bus ride, the beach at El Tunco is located on El Salvador’s Pacific coastline.

Boasting sunny days all year long, the temperature here hovers between 27°C (80°F) and 35°C (95°F).

While many people flock to El Tunco for the unbeatable surf, the black sand beach is also the perfect spot to eat some good food and simply do nothing, as you stretch out and watch the sun set out over the Pacific.

Travel down to El Salvador

Although overshadowed by many other destinations in Central America, the small country of El Salvador should not be forgotten.

Follow the “Ruta de las Flores”, trek through the ruins of Tazumal, and finish your trip soaking your tired muscles in the emerald waters of Laguna Alegria.

One of the biggest considerations for expats seeking to buy their retirement or getaway home in Latin America is the taxes on real estate. Comparing property taxes of the most popular destinations for expats is an important step to deciding the best location for your tropical retreat.

Once the decision is made to become an expat, finding a home in paradise will involve some research. Looking at the unique qualities of each country and the properties available is a great way to begin your journey.

Property Taxes

Tropical House in Paradise

Comparing Property Taxes in Latin America Country by Country

Countries in Latin America have widely different approaches as to what real property should be taxed and when. Similarly, the calculations of property taxes can be confusing for expats trying to choose which location might be a good fit for their budget.

What follows is a brief overview, by country, of the tax structure for real property. This comparison will also include any taxes imposed at the time of sale or transfer of title as well as when payment of these assessments are due.

Property Taxes



Belize has a fairly straightforward approach to property taxes. For residential property, the tax rate will be between 1% and 1.5% of the value as set by the Department of Natural Resources. These are payable each year by April 1st at any Lands Department office. When looking for your Belizean retreat, making this calculation is easy.

Residents in Belize City can take advantage of a 10% discount if taxes are paid by March 31st There is a 25% discount on property taxes for Senior Citizens (over 65) that certainly is a great incentive for expat retirees.

Investors and developers of large plots of undeveloped land (parcels over 300 acres) are subject to a Speculation Tax. This tax is computed based on 5% of the undeveloped value of the property.

When a title is transferred, a transfer tax is collected as part of the buying process. There is no tax for values under $10,000; for values in excess of that amount, the tax is a flat 5%.

Property Taxes

Didier Baertschiger

Costa Rica

For all of the attention and growth that Costa Rica has experienced in the last decade, property taxes still remain as some of the lowest anywhere, including the U.S. The tax rate is 0.25% of the registered property valued as determined by the local governments or municipalities.

Some of the very large and high-end properties have been subject to a luxury tax based on such items as size, custom furnishings, and fixtures. These rates are still surprisingly low; in 2013 it was estimated that that this tax was in the range of 0.1% to .25% of property value.

Changes to the transfer tax of 1.5% may impact some buyers. While the percentage has stayed the same, the basis for the calculation (property value) cannot be less than the highest recorded fiscal value. Fortunately, this amount will usually be less than the market price of the parcel. With low tax rates, finding your home in the land of Pura Vida is still a great option.

Property Taxes



Ecuador has some of the lowest property taxes in Latin America. The tax rates are progressive from 0.025% to 0.5% of the value as assessed by municipal officials.

These values are considerably lower than the purchase price – often by as much as 25% to 75%. As a result, it is rare to pay over $400 in annual taxes.

There are also deductions and discounts that can appeal to expats. Homeowners over the age of 65 only have to pay half the amount of the tax assessed.

Additionally, deductions for mortgages to purchase or improve the property are possible. Ranging between 20% and 40%, these must be requested and cannot exceed 50% of the value of the property. Ecuadorian real estate may provide some of the most affordable options in the region.

Property Taxes


El Salvador

El Salvador is unique in that there is no property tax assessed for owning real estate. Although there is no annual assessment, when property is transferred, a transfer tax is triggered.

The tax, paid as part of the buying and selling process, equals 3% of the value over $28,571.43 of the purchase price. Non-residents also are subject to a 25% capital gains tax when selling property unless the sale occurs within three years of taking possession of the property.

The El Salvadoran government is considering a tax reform package that would include a tax on property that does not have any productive function except for private leisure or recreation. This “luxury tax” would be assessed at the rate of 1% of the value over $350,000 even if the property has not been developed.

Whether or not this tax will be enacted is uncertain. Regardless, the great majority of expats will not be impacted because of the high dollar threshold of the assessment. Low prices enhance the attractiveness of the selection of properties available.

Property Taxes

Stefano Ravalli


Guatemala uses the cadastral value of real property to calculate the tax owed. The word “cadastral” refers to the extent, value of, or ownership of real property and is used widely throughout Central America.

Taxes are calculated in local currency (the Guatemalan quetzal) by local authorities.  When converted to U.S. dollars, it becomes apparent that these are quite reasonable for the great majority of expat residents. Below is a chart showing the tax rates:


Up to 2 million (US$255,428) 0%
2 million – 20 million (US$2,554,278) 0.20%
20 million – 70 million (US$8,939,975) 0.60%
Over 70 million (US$8,939,975) 0.90%
Source: Global Property Guide

As can be seen, there is no property tax owed on properties valued under $255,428. The taxes are due annually and are paid to local municipalities where the property is located. Searching for properties under this dollar amount may be easier than you might imagine.

Property Taxes

Chamo Estudio


Honduras has one of the few property tax laws that permit 12 monthly payments instead of just a single annual amount. The tax rate itself is based on value assessed by the municipality and can be calculated at $3.50 per every $1,000 of assessed value.

For example, a property value at $100,000 would have a yearly tax of $350.00. Spread out over twelve monthly payments, each installment would be for $29.16. Buying property in Honduras with the ability to spread out yearly taxes is an attractive prospect.

As a result of new tax reforms that went into effect on January 1, 2014,  property transfers carried out by nonresidents are now subject to an increased 4% (previously 2%) withholding tax over the transfer value to be withheld by the acquiring party.

One important feature of the Honduras tax scheme is the incentive program for projects or plans that would increase tourism to Roatan. Under this program, property taxes may be given a 20 year exemption. This is a powerful incentive for investors looking for a location to develop and build.

Property Taxes

Chris Goldberg


Mexico was the first Latin American country to attract expats. The older expat enclaves, such as Puerto Vallarta, have demonstrated the potential for living and investing in Central and South America. Mexico still has a great selection of properties and lots to interest expat buyers.

Property taxes in Mexico vary from state to state. Each state’s tax department sets the assessed value and the tax rate can range from 0.05% to 1.2%, depending on the property location.  Other variables such as whether the lot is improved, if there is poor access, and if it is only used seasonally also factor into the assessment.

The assessment itself is done at the time of sale or transfer and will remain the same until the property is sold again. The taxes are due at the beginning of the year although the tax amounts are not available until mid-January of the year they are due. Since tax bills are not sent out, it is up to the property owner to go to the tax office with a previous bill to obtain the current one.

Payments can be made in six installments during the first ten days of every second month; ( i.e. January, March, May, July, September, and November). Failure to pay the taxes when due can result in steep penalties; in some cases as high as 3% for every month the payment is past due.

Mexico also charges an acquisition tax on every transfer of real property regardless of whether it is through a sale, donation, trust, or other method. The rates can range from 2% to 3.3%, again varying by state and is owed as part of the transfer process.

Property Taxes

Daniel Fajardo Valenti


Nicaragua has, perhaps, the easiest property tax scheme in Latin America.  The tax is a flat 1% and are calculated at 80% of the cadastral value of the property (land, buildings, and permanent improvements) as assessed by the local office.

In the city of Managua, the calculation is slightly different. There the figure is based on 80% of the cadastral value LESS 40,000 Nicaraguan Cordobas (NIO); roughly equaling $1,624 in U.S. dollars.

Since there is no up-to-date national registry for property values, property taxes are less important than in other locations. With a lack of proper records, many small communities do not even collect the taxes which has led some to view paying them as a voluntary, rather than mandatory, act. Many of these smaller towns and villages have attractive and unique properties that are worth a look.

There is a 30% capital gains tax assessed on property sales. Again, this is based on the land value and not the sale price.

Property Taxes

Bocas Del Toro


Panama is unique among the countries in the region in that the property taxes are national and are collected by the Ministry of Economics and Finance. The tax rate is a maximum 2.1% and is based on the assessed value – usually the declared value in the original sale documents. Expats are increasingly interested in the homes and lots available here and the possibilities that Panama offers new arrivals.

The calculation is based on the value of the land plus the declared value of any improvements made. If a transaction is made for an amount in excess of this amount, that will automatically increase the value of the property for tax purposes. Payments can be made in three installments: April 30th, August 31st, and December 31st.

Property taxes are graduated depending on the assessed value. Below is a chart showing this breakdown: Value of the property                                     Property Tax Rate US$ 0.00 up to US$ 30K (exempted)                    0% US$ 30K up to US$ 50K                                        1.75% US$ 50K up to US$ 75K                                        1.95% US$ 75K and above                                               2.10%

Condominiums, however, use a slightly different formula:

Property Tax Rate for Condos:

Value of the property                                 Property Tax Rate US$ 0.00 up to US$ 30K (exempted)             0% US$ 30K up to US$ 100K                             0.75% US$ 100K and above                                    1.0%

The 20 year exemption on property taxes that was so attractive to investors ended in 2009. That program has been replaced by a revised set of exemptions:

  • 15 years Up to US$ 100,000.00
  • 10 years From US$ 100,000.00 to US$ 250,000.00
  • 5 years Above US$ 250,000.00
  • Commercial Use/Non-residential improvements have 10 year exoneration regardless of the property value

Lastly, Panama does have a transfer that is the greater of a) 2% of the total sale price or; b) the declared value of the parcel plus the value of improvements plus 5% for each year the property was owned.

A Brief Note on U.S. Property Taxes – Paradise Is Cheaper!!

While the various property tax schemes throughout these tropical locations may seem confusing, there is one important element to keep in mind:  U.S. property taxes are higher!!!

22 of the 50 states have median property taxes in excess of 1%. New Jersey is the highest at 1.89%. When combined with other property-related taxes and fees, the overall cost of property ownership far outstrips most of the Central and South American locations expats desire. In a very real sense, paradise is cheaper and living there is easier now than ever before.

Viva Tropical Radio

Viva Tropical Radio

Josh and Park have experienced many different colorful situations over the years while scouting out real estate investments. Join them today for a podcast recount as murder confessions, 300 lb. tunas, and 9mm Berettas all make appearances when they retell some of their stories from the road.

Maybe the greatest job in the world, Park and Josh reminisce about some of their most memorable days while exploring the far reaches of Central America in their search for the best real estate can offer.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How to get the right boat for scouting
  • Why bodyguards make fun scouts
  • Where you can reel in a 300 lb. tuna

And much more.

Listen to the show

You can listen to the show using the player above or grab it and listen on the go via one of the following options:

The Show Notes

Viva Tropical Radio

Viva Tropical Radio

This week I talked to Phil Flanagan, world traveler and overland expert. Phil sourced and converted a European van to travel the world for less than $18,000 USD. He then proceeded to drive across Europe, Asia, North America, then South America for the ensuing 5-6 years.

In this episode Phil teaches you how to do it too, where to find a car, and his minimalistic approach to maximum travel experience. Phil and partner Angie were able to to travel this way for $50 a day, including food for both of them, maintenance, gas, and everything else.


Phil and Angie in Kyrgysztan

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How to build your own overland vehicle for only $18,000 USD
  • Learn what vans make the best choices
  • What to consider before you buy your overland vehicle
  • How to avoid the “extortion highway” in Honduras
  • The incredible rewards just waiting for you on the road

And much more.

Listen to the show

You can listen to the show using the player above or grab it and listen on the go via one of the following options:

The Show Notes

Phil Flanagan has his own travel site that you can see here

Viva Tropical Radio

Viva Tropical Radio

Park joins the show to discuss his recent trip to Medellin, Colombia with his boys. He examines the good and bad from the trip and compares his experience there to the rest of Central America.

Meanwhile, Josh recounts his recent trip to El Salvador and breaks down how it fits into the scope of Central America real estate investment.

The two also catch up on the recent elections in Panama and what has been happening on Boca Chica Island.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Is El Salvador a hot potential investment spot?
  • How does Medellin stack up against other Central America cities?
  • What does the future hold for tourism in Colombia?
  • Are El Salvador and Colombia safe?

And much more.

Listen to the show

You can listen to the show using the player above or grab it and listen on the go via one of the following options:

React to the Show

We appreciate your reaction to episodes of Viva Tropical Radio and feedback about how we’re doing. Send us your thoughts any time in an email or comment below.

The Show Notes

Viva Tropical founder and Latin Tropic Investor, Josh Linnes, just arrived back from a surfing trip to El Salvador where he met a couple of his lifelong friends for an authentic El Salvador surf trip.

What a great opportunity for Viva Tropical to get his personal opinion on a country which is rarely mentioned in the investment arena. Let’s see what the real El Salvador investment story is about from inside its borders!

Investing in el salvador

Josh Linnes

This was your first trip to El Salvador?

Yes, well, besides spending time at the airport. I have been right up to the El Salvador border on 3 different sides of the country, but I always fell just short of actually crossing the border.

investing in el Salvador

Josh Linnes

What were your first impressions?

I loved it and I really felt like the country is way underrated. What I noticed right away was they use the U.S. dollar which is easy. The second thing I noticed is that the people of El Salvador were really friendly.

What I mean by that is they are not jaded by tourists, once you get out of the airport into the countryside the people are genuinely happy to see you and take an interest in you for being there.

There are other countries in the region where you can feel like you are a Dollar Sign and locals only take an interest in you because they have a financial interest in you. This is an inevitable consequence of tourism success; the more successful a country is getting tourists to their country the more you get treated like an opportunity.

The way I am treated is something I pay attention to as an investor because it is an indicator of how many tourists go to a country or how developed tourism is in a place.

In the case of El Salvador, tourism is lower than other countries in the region and because of it you can really have a very authentic experience with the people who live there. I found that refreshing and it made me want to spend more time there as well as look for a possible investment opportunity.

The last thing that stuck out to me was that the country is really beautiful; there is a lot opportunity for living, investing and retiring in El Salvador.

investing in el Salvador

Josh Linnes

Where did you go?

As you may have guessed I didn’t spend any time in the city. I really don’t enjoy spending too much time in any capital city of the Latin Tropics.

I am much more interested in undiscovered areas and wide open spaces. So I headed straight for a region called “Oriente Salvaje” which translated means the Wild East. It is the least populated region on the East Coast of El Salvador towards the Nicaraguan border.

To be completely candid, I was not intending on going on a scouting mission, I was originally going to meet a childhood group of friends for a surf trip.

It was only after I arrived that I realized I stumbled onto something rare and very interesting.

investing in el salvador

Josh Linnes

What about the violence and gangs, is it safe?

Those are two things that definitely exist in El Salvador and really any other country in the region. But from talking to expats and locals I got the feeling it really was safe.

I felt safe and wasn’t worried at all about walking around the villages at night or walking down the beach. I am sure there are different experiences depending on where you go, like San Salvador (the capital city), but that can be said in any capital city in the region and you have to be aware wherever you go.

Always take precautions and not do anything to provoke problems, but any seasoned traveler knows this.

El Salvador reminded me a bit of Nicaragua or Ecuador; they are slightly rougher around the edges, not as quite as comfortable as Costa Rica or Panama. But the rougher edges give a raw, more vibrant feeling and I like that, and as the real estate market indicates, so do other people.

So, I don’t think El Salvador is going to pass up Costa Rica anytime soon, but as far as value and beauty, you can get equal stuff for a lot less.

investing in el salvador

Josh Linnes

Who would El Salvador appeal to?

Anyone who wants an authentic connection to the locals, surfers, and people who want to feel a little bit like trailblazers. Basically Stage 2 and 3 buyers and sellers.

investing in el salvador

Josh Linnes

Any final thoughts?

I am not going to give too much away, but I am trying to buy property there now. I am really excited about the area and the surf.

It just has that feeling where things are happening and we are about to go through that much desired change from Stage 2 to Stage 3 market and as many of our readers know that is Park’s and my favorite opportunity for buying land.

Everything you need to know that happened in the last 2 months in El Salvador.

Each day we sift through hundreds of articles in English & Spanish to bring you the very best ones from Central America. From investment indicators to new infrastructure projects. Adventure stories to politics. It’s all here.

El Salvador April 2014.

el salvador news brief


El Salvador Tourism

el Salvador new brief

Flodigrip’s world

El Salvador Economy

el salvador news brief

Jesse Michael Nix

El Salvador Politics

  • El Salvador’s President-Elect Faces Daunting Economic Challenges (Nearshore America) The growing burden of debt and pension has long been a drag on El Salvador’s economy. If they are to turn it around, their newly elected president, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, should focus on restoring business confidence and attracting private investment to reverse his nation’s economic fortunes, says Fitch Ratings.
  • El Salvador Among Countries Seeking to Control the Internet (El Via Google Translate) Thumbs down El Salvador. Your agreement to join other countries who have expressly sought and exercised greater control of the supply and demand for content on the Internet is a warning sign. Salvadoran government officials signed the binding international agreement in Dubai. Experts say the agreement holds the potential to serve as a regulatory framework to control Internet content or even, regulate its citizens’ access to spaces in the virtual network.
  • El Salvador’s New President Faces Gangs, Poverty and Instability (NPR) A civil war tore El Salvador apart in the 1980s – and today violent drug-gang crime rages. About 40 percent of the population live in poverty while a tiny elite lives in luxury. That’s a difficult place for any government leader, especially a newly elected president, Salvador Sanchez Ceren. He narrowly won the country’s presidential election in April. Now he faces difficult challenges in a poor country that’s been plagued by gang violence.
el salvador news brief


El Salvador Environment

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discover-el salvdor

Andrew Griffith

Have you discovered the hidden gem of El Salvador? This seldom-visited nation is working hard to rebuild its image lasting from its civil war in the 1980s.

Guess what? It’s working.

El Salvador is now emerging as a hot spot for backpackers and other El Salvador travelers who flock to its surf-breaks, beaches and oceans.

They’ve got good reason to.

The locals are warm and welcoming. Generations of international surfers testify that the breaks of El Salvador’s Pacific coast rival the best of the world. And the nation’s natural beauty — volcanoes, verdant coffee plantations, isolated beaches — is stunning.

Have you discovered El Salvador? Let us know what you love about this hidden gem in Central America.

Young man sleeping in a hammock

That First Taste of Free Air

You feel it the moment you step out of the airport, and are busy cruising down the highway to your destination.  It’s not just in the traffic that crosses double yellow lines or ignores stop lights if the road is clear.  It’s in the vehicles themselves; sometimes crowded to the maximum, with luggage tied to the top, sometimes appearing to be tied up just to keep the vehicle together.

Maybe you’ll notice a truck filled with workers or one that has a hammock swinging lazily in back, with the occupant blissfully taking in the sunlight.  The buses lumber by, so packed, passengers cling to the door frames.  If you brave one of these second-class, local buses, you might feel you’re in a barnyard.  Chickens squawk from crates packed under the seat, and there might even be a goat or a lamb that somebody’s transporting to the market.

It’s a reminder of how America was before seat belt laws and strict traffic regulations, before traffic citations became profitable.  If you have someplace to go, nobody cares about the means you use of getting there.

Slowing Down

Outside the city hubs, vehicles are relatively sparse. The most common mode of transportation is by bus. Pedestrians, farmers pushing along a few cows, wash women with piles of clothing on their heads are not an uncommon sight along rural roads.

This daily life, so unencumbered by appointments and punching a clock, begins to seep into you. You find yourself hurrying less and relaxing more, spending time doing those things you’ve always dreamed of doing, but never found the time or the opportunity. You begin to think about your new found freedom, that began with a freedom from worry.

The Economic Race

It seems odd that so many of the citizens who are immigrating from the United States into Central America are doing so out of a longing for freedom, but sadly enough, as a country founded on the liberties of all people, it has become a system of rules and regulations designed to give advantages and privileges to some, while penalizing and suppressing the many.

That hectic pace felt so distinctly in urbanized America is the desperate measure of a people determined to keep their heads above water. The American dream for many married couples, of a fine little home and a two-car garage, can’t possibly be realized unless both are working and they take out a twenty year loan. Those over sixty who had been planning to enjoy the benefits of their golden years, find their retirement or social security checks just aren’t enough, and take on part-time jobs for which they are over-qualified, but too financially distressed to refuse.

Then there are the young singles, working hard and studying for a degree that may not be very helpful for finding work. Jobs that had once taken an associate’s degree, now take a master’s, and debt-strapped students wallow in student loans.

When Life Becomes Stifling

The opportunities once offered in America don’t seem so plentiful anymore. Innovation, imaginative ideas, are either swallowed in a maelstrom of bureaucratic paperwork, or take a long time to mature, making the process uncomfortable for non-entrepreneurial types. For every proposal, no matter how universally beneficial, there is opposition. The red tape ticks away at finances, valuable time, and eventually, motivation.

America can barely breathe. You cannot even build a porch for your house, on your own property, without permits and inspectors. In some communities, there are agreed-upon house colors, and regulations concerning what you may have in your yard. You may discover you don’t even have a right to grow a garden instead of a water wasting lawn. The attempts to create a uniform standard of living within specified zones has swept away the concept that one’s home is one’s castle. The spirit of these rules makes sense, they are for the benefit of environment, home prices, and people’s safety, but in today’s world the rules are wielded like weapons against creativity and individuality.

You’re as Free as Your Neighbor

The migration into Central America is made up of people who have grown weary with asking for permission. The safety net hovering over American social affairs feels more like an entrapment net, encumbering freedom of travel with security checks and invasive techniques, such as airport scans and cell phone tracking.

Homes and small businesses are regulated with so many expensive codes and mandatory health care. The U.S. constituents are strapped with so many liability laws, they become nervous about allowing the neighbor kids to come over and play on a trampoline.

Coping with Drawbacks

The expats have had to make some adjustments. In an area where there is little to no regulation, cities can turn ugly fast, while everybody builds whatever they want and a smorgasbord of buildings go up. If your neighbor wants to begin his day at six in the morning, banging away at his new addition, and you want to sleep until seven, it’s best to just roll over with your pillow.

While the cities offer the modern conveniences, the farther away you are from them, the fewer commodities, such as super consistent electricity, paved roads, libraries, and U.S. foods you’ll find. You may find a lower quality in many of the common household tools, such as for gardening or carpentry.

There is a role reversal once you are an expat. You are suddenly a minority in a foreign country. You’ll feel subjected to the same type of scrutiny as given any minority. You may get pulled over just because you look like a gringo. If you are aspiring to become a global citizen, this actually aids in perspective. Outside the dynamics of the western world, you are a minority.

You Still Feel Freer than You Did in the United States

There is an enormous amount of satisfaction in living and breathing freely, without the rigid controls over an over-regulated government. It’s a learning experience in getting along with others of different cultural backgrounds and lifestyles. It allows you ample opportunities for evaluating your own beliefs. It teaches you resourcefulness with the tools and materials on hand.

For the health-oriented, it becomes advantageous to acquire a taste for the native foods. This isn’t too hard, considering the volume of fresh tropical fruits and delicious sea fare that abound in Central America’s market. Not only do you benefit from the organics, but buying local is cheaper than the shipped-in U.S. market.

The Growing Family of Expats

Families make up a vital force in the expat community. Sometimes, they come down for a year to absorb the cultural setting or as a reprieve from restrictive American life. Sometimes, they arrive with more permanent intentions in mind.

The challenge for these families, if they remain within a residential area removed from the major cities, is finding good schools. But like pioneers, they draw upon their own resourcefulness, enjoying the opportunity to educate their children in the manner they feel is best, maybe even starting their own school.

As We Look Forward

It is, in every sense, a type of pioneering. The expats that settle in Central America don’t hate their country. They hate the limits placed on their abilities to make conscious choices. They no longer wish to be treated like a kid, they trust their own ability to decide what is best.

They know this freedom comes with a price. They are moving into a different culture with different customs. They must depend on their own abilities to cope with change, to problem solve, to develop good relationships with others, but it’s all part of the excitement, the adventure. These are the stimuli for growth and development, the fundamentals of increased awareness, and the reward is an evolving society, ready to explore the new boundaries of individual rights and harmonious communities.



Sal Falko

In recent years Central America has received an influx of North Americans investing in local business. Countries like Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama have become increasingly popular places for baby boomers to retire. Why has this generation chosen to settle offshore?

Quality of Life

With warm weather year round and stunning beaches, lakes, volcanoes, and hillside, Central America has an appealing climate. Many small jungle beach towns are popular among tourists, making foreign investment a lucrative possibility. For those looking for city comforts, most cities lie in close proximity to incredible wilderness. Granada, Nicaragua sits near a stunning lake and volcano and also has great restaurants, nightlife, and culture. Plentiful fruit and vegetables and many outdoor activities also make healthy living not only possible, but easy.

Lower Cost of Living

Even more expensive Central American countries like Costa Rica offer a lower cost of living than the United States. It is very possible for individuals to live comfortably on less than $1,000 per month. Nearby Panama is even more affordable and food, entertainment, and lodging in Nicaragua is half the cost of Costa Rica. This low cost of living is incredibly appealing to baby boomers looking to retire and live abroad without sacrificing luxuries like dining out, maid service, and travel.

Proximity to the U.S.

Central America is an inexpensive, quick flight from the United States, making investment or a permanent move less daunting. Individuals are still able to visit their families or live part time in each place.

Return on Investment

While some investors plan to live and settle in Central America, others buy property simply to earn income from their investment. Property costs are low and vacation rentals can yield a good salary, making these foreign investments a popular choice for those looking to save for retirement.

Only half an hour from San Salvador, the port town of La Libertad is known for its impressive surf breaks and beaches and is often cited as the main tourist attraction of El Salvador.

But there is more to see and do in this city than surf. Watch and discover what all goes on in a typical day in the port city of La Libertad, El Salvador.

El Puerto de La Libertad from herbertserpas on Vimeo.

Because of El Salvador’s lack of a solid tourism infrastructure, although they are working on improving their image, you’ll discover fewer tourists in La Libertad compared to other Central American beaches.

While that also means fewer luxury resorts than you’ll find in, say, Nosara in Costa Rica, visitors enjoy a far more authentically Central American experience.

Know a great place to visit in El Salvador? Let us know in the comments below.

Things are looking good for El Salvador. While it doesn’t make the list as potential places to live for most expats, this small country is on the rise. With a sound economy, reasonable tax rates, and some of the best surf breaks in Central America, it’s worth checking out.

Here are our top 6 locations to get you started.

1. Colonia San Benito District Three, San Salvador

San Benito is your choice for colonial inspired living inside the capital, San Salvador.

Photo Credit: Marlan Flores

Photo Credit: Marlan Flores

2. Playa El Tunco, Pacific Coast

A beach front home and your surfboard await in El Tunco.


Photo Credit: R. Rea

3. Santa Ana, Central Region

Santa Ana is city life without the congestion.

Photo Credit: Mike Butler

Photo Credit: Mike Butler

4. Suchitoto, Central Region

Suchitoto is a sleepy colonial town, perfect for lazy afternoons in your hammock.

Photo Credit: Adalberto.H.Vega

Photo Credit: Adalberto.H.Vega

5. Juayua, Mountain Region

With its cool mountain climate and small town town life, Juayua is a good choice.

Photo Credit: Garrett Ziegler

Photo Credit: Garrett Ziegler

6. Playa el Cocal, Pacific Coast

Want a surfer’s life? Then there is no other place to live but at Playa el Cocal, where you have daily access to el Salvador’s famous surf break, Punta Roca.

Photo Credit: Pedruca

Photo Credit: Pedruca

Have a favorite spot in El Salvador? Let us know in the comments section below.