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15 Best Places to Retire in South America

According to Transitions Abroad, over 200,000 American expatriates live in South America. With its pristine beaches, lush Amazon forests, and the majestic peaks of the Andes mountains, the region stands as a dream retirement destination for many. Its rich cultural heritage, combined with bustling cities and an affordable cost of living, further creates a fulfilling retirement experience for them. Retirees get to immerse themselves in a diverse array of natural wonders, explore timeless traditions, and enjoy a comfortable, yet affordable lifestyle.

Owing to the growing lithium industry in the region, several South American countries have the potential to enhance their economic prospects and, in turn, become appealing destinations for expatriates. The Lithium Triangle, in particular, is one such example. It’s a stripe of high-altitude land covered with lakes and white salt flats comprised of Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia, which collectively holds a significant two-thirds share of the world’s lithium reserves. Considered “white gold”, lithium is used in the manufacturing or lithium-ion batteries used in highly demanded electric vehicles (EVs), laptops, and smartphones. Together, the three Andean countries make an estimated 45,000 tons of this metal.

Some of the largest lithium mining companies in the world include Albemarle Corporation (NYSE:ALB), Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (NYSE:SQM), Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd and Tianqi Lithium. Albemarle Corporation (NYSE:ALB) and Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (NYSE:SQM) are the only two lithium companies that are operating in Chile. Argentina, the world’s third-largest producer of lithium as of 2022, has three companies operating here. Two of them, Livent Corporation (NYSE: LTHM) and Allkem are all set to merge.

While the lithium triangle does possess the precious lithium in abundance, getting it out of the ground and putting it into a shiny new EV is a complicated process in itself. This is because the extraction of lithium requires large amounts of water. Around 2.2 million liters of water are required to extract a ton of lithium. In Bolivia, 50,000 liters of water are being used every day. Meanwhile, other reports accuse mining companies in Chile of having depleted 65% of the water supplies in the Salar de Atacama region. Lithium manufacturers such as Livent Corporation (NYSE: LTHM) are now launching programs revolving around replanting and new irrigation systems.

Nevertheless, the global transition to renewable energy and the increasing demand for electric vehicles is also opening up new avenues for investment. Individuals can participate in the growing lithium industry by investing in companies such as Albemarle Corporation (NYSE:ALB), Livent Corporation (NYSE: LTHM), Lion Town Resources, Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (NYSE:SQM), or even through upcoming IPOs such as EnergyX.

“The easiest way is to invest in these companies which have a lot of upside but there will also be specialized funds and ETFs. One such vehicle is Sprott Lithium Miners’ ETF (LITP), which launched in February and counts Australian miners Pilbara, Albemarle, and IGO as its top three holdings. There are also other opportunities.”

– Industry consultant Andy Leyland

If South America proactively leverages its vast mineral wealth, it holds immense potential to enhance its appeal as a retirement destination for expatriates from around the world. The growing lithium industry will be able to generate revenues that can be reinvested into healthcare, infrastructure development, and other amenities, thereby improving the quality of life for retirees in the region.

15 Best Places to Retire in South America
15 Best Places to Retire in South America


To compile the list of best places to retire in South America for retirees, we have picked the top five best places from each South American country from our previous lists, such as ChileArgentinaBoliviaBrazilColombiaEcuador, and others. We also made use of other lists such as best places to retire for $1,000 a month and best places to retire on social security, to pick out best South American places from these lists.

Next, we ranked them each on factors such as climate, cost of living, expat friendliness, and safety index from websites such as Numbeo and International Living. Scores were summed up and places were ranked from the lowest to the highest scores.

Here are the best places to retire in South America:

15. Cotacachi, Ecuador

Insider Monkey Score: 6.9

Cotacachi, one of the most active expat communities in Ecuador, is revered amongst retirees for its affordable cost of living, natural beauty, and pleasant climate. On average, the monthly cost of living for an individual retiree is $900. The city of “peace” offers a tranquil environment to live in, as well as fun activities to keep one engaged throughout the day. The city is also quite diverse when it comes to cuisine, offering both local and international dishes. The Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve is nearby, and retirees love to go there for bird-watching and other outdoor fun. Clean air, great weather, wonderful scenery, and rich culture make Cotacachi one of the best places to retire in South America.

14. Asuncion, Paraguay

Insider Monkey Score: 6.9

Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, is a safe and friendly city to retire to. It is home to a growing expat community, diverse cultural influences, and stunning natural beauty. While the country is landlocked and has no beaches to boast, it still offers serene lakes, lush rain forests, and many wetlands for scenic views and outdoor pleasure. Since Paraguay is one of the easiest countries to get citizenship as an American, retiring to Asunción for American expats will be a breeze. On average, the monthly cost of living for an individual retiree is $803, which includes $390 spent on the monthly rent of a one-bedroom apartment in the city center. Hospitable people, cultural events and festivities, and affordable living describe a typical retirement in Asunción, Paraguay.

13. Valparaíso, Chile

Insider Monkey Score: 7

One of the best places to retire in Chile, Valparaíso is revered amongst retirees for its scenic landscapes, mild climates, and vibrant cultural scene. Retirees live amidst colorful hillside homes, relishing the historic architecture and enjoying the panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. The city’s amphitheater layout has also granted it the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site, reinstating its significant cultural and historical value.

Moreover, the streets are a reflection of the bohemian lifestyle, brimming with street art, murals, and art galleries. There are many opportunities to explore the outdoors. Plus, the cuisine is diverse as well. On average, the monthly cost of living for an individual retiree is $849, which includes an average of $353 worth of rent and utilities.

12. Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

Insider Monkey Score: 7

Another major city that has made it to our list of best places to retire in South America is Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Famous for its vibrant nightlife, Santa Cruz offers retirees plenty to do. Popular tourist attractions include places such as Biocentro Güembé, a botanical garden, and wildlife refuge; Arenal Park, a lovely park with walking trails, picnic areas, and an artificial lake; and Santa Cruz Zoo.  Lush forests, rivers, and national parks embrace the city as well, boasting plenty of outdoor recreational activities. On average, the monthly cost of living for an individual retiree is $738, which includes $382 spent on a one-bedroom apartment rent.

11. Cuenca, Ecuador

Insider Monkey Score: 7

The charming city of Cuenca in Ecuador is nestled in the Andes mountains. Famous for its affordable cost of living, Cuenca allows an individual retiree to live here comfortably for $1,000 a month. The city is also revered for its well-developed healthcare system, efficient transportation network, and rich cultural history. There are many churches, museums, and national parks to explore as well. The cuisine is flavorful and diverse, and there is an established expat community as well.

10. Viña del Mar, Chile

Insider Monkey Score: 7.1

Viña del Mar, the Garden City of Chile, enjoys a scenic coastal location, rich culture, and quality healthcare. The picturesque Chilean coast is ideal for enjoying water-based activities, seaside strolls, or simply soaking in the coastal views. What makes this city one of the best places to retire in South America from the USA is its delightful fusion of coastal living and urban conveniences. On average, the monthly cost of living for an individual retiree in Viña del Mar is $1,197.

9. Salinas, Ecuador

Insider Monkey Score: 7.1

Situated on the Pacific coast, Salinas grants retirees a beautiful coastal lifestyle, a consistently mild climate, and an affordable cost of living. Home to major surf events, outdoor enthusiasts will never have a dull moment in their lives in Salinas. Sports fishing, whale watching, and bird watching are some favorite pastimes of retirees here. La Chocolatera, the westernmost point of Ecuador, offers a beach, scenic hiking trails, and magnificent views of the ocean. On average, the monthly cost of living for an individual retiree is $1,500.

8. Antofagasta, Chile

Insider Monkey Score: 7.1

Sandy beaches, coastal scenery, and the arid landscape of the Atacama Desert make up the city of Antofagasta. It is one of the best South American cities to live in for expats owing to this unique juxtaposition of coastal and desert environments. A wide range of amenities are available here, such as shopping malls, restaurants, and modern healthcare. Chile is one of the cheapest countries for retirement, and Antofagasta is no different. On average, the monthly cost of living for an individual retiree is $1,060. This cost includes the rent of a one-bedroom apartment averaging $600 per month.

7. Mendoza, Argentina

Insider Monkey Score: 7.2

Argentina is one of the best South American countries to live for expats, primarily due to its famous wine culture, vibrant food scene, and beautiful landscapes. Another factor that makes Mendoza a top retirement destination is that it is one of the cheapest places to retire in South America. On average, an individual expat retiree needs $506 per month to live here. The stunning Andes mountains are perfect for hiking and other outdoor sports, the Argentine culture is rich, and healthcare is both affordable and high-quality.

6. Montevideo, Uruguay

Insider Monkey Score: 7.2

Montevideo scores high when it comes to the best South American country to live and work, but is also one of the best places to retire. The capital of Uruguay promises retirees a safe environment and a high quality of life. Its location along the Rio de la Plata, a river in South America, provides retirees with beautiful waterfront views and access to various beaches and parks. The healthcare system here is well-developed, with modern hospitals and medical facilities. The local community is also friendly, so adjusting here will not be difficult for expats. On average, the monthly cost of living for an individual retiree is $1,692, which includes $450 spent on rent.

Source : Yahoo Finance