Region: retire happy
The region – or at least the southern part – could attract more foreign pensioners, if it offered attractive conditions
Every single one of the six Central American countries finished in the Top Ten in a ranking of the happiest places in the world, according to a recent survey.
The result of the poll underlines the region's potential as a retirement haven for North American baby boomers, whose initial investments and annual spending can be important sources of income.
Just as northern Europeans have traditionally looked to Spain and Portugal, as places to live comfortably on a fixed income, Americans and Canadians are attracted by low prices and warm weather in the region.
Or at least, they would be, if Central American countries had effective policies to attract retirees.
Crime problems in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador make it hard to attract foreign pensioners.
For their part, Costa Rica, Panama and even Nicaragua need to do more, if they want to encourage growth in this area.
Panama has a "pensionado" status that provides substantial discounts in services such as travel for foreign retirees.
But in most cases, pensioners have a hard time acquiring residence, which they need, in order to get a bank account or local driver’s license, or simply to avoid paying fines for overstaying a tourist visas.
The region’s three southern countries may benefit from problems of violence in the northern part of Central America, as well as in Mexico.
But there is increasing competition from other potential destinations, including the Caribbean, and even Peru and Ecuador.
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