Expats in Central America: Best Countries to Live in

Woman in front of arenal volcano while traveling central america
Central America is one of the best countries to go for as an expat, it’s affordable and is packed with fun activities, green areas, and a lot more.

Living as an expat in Central America, whether in Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, or Belize, each country, I bet, gives you a new, beautiful, and breathtaking experience with its culture, traditions, lifestyle, tranquil beaches, 5-star hotels, accommodations, biodiversity, rainforests, and opportunities for expats to explore and frankly thrive.

Yet, many expats find the initial hurdles a small price to pay for the rich experiences that await. As you settle into your new home, every day brings the promise of discovery, new friends, extraordinary adventures, and lessons in the art of living well.

In today’s travel guide, I’ll not only share with you my own experience traveling as an expat in Central America but also tell you about cities to travel to as an expat in Central America and what things to do once you are there.

Planning a Trip to Central America?
Check Out These Helpful Services:

Find the best flight deals

This is the site I recommend, you can check all the different prices.

Best accommodation prices

I highly recommend this one, it’s the best option right now for Central America

The best way to get around is by car

Check out this site to rent a car and go at your own pace.

What Is an Expat?

aerial view of semuc champey in guatemala central from viewpoint
Another reason to be an expat in Central America is due to the many stunning natural landmarks you can find in the region.

I’ve been talking about expats for so long that probably most of you are thinking about what an expat is. Well, simply speaking, an expat is someone who lives in another country, whether for work, retirement, or any other reason. They are not tourists but rather temporary residents of a foreign country.

A-List Of 5 Classic Countries For An Expat In Central America

Central America, a slender bridge of land cradling the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, is a melting pot of cultures, climates, and colors. It’s become a magnet for expats who are drawn by its promise of a life less ordinary.

Here’s a look at five classic Central American countries that have become beloved expat locales.

1. Costa Rica – The Pura Vida Lifestyle

The magnificent natural beauty, diverse wildlife, decent facilities, fine healthcare system, local farms, peaceful environment, slow-paced way of living, and plenty of recreational opportunities in Costa Rica have earned it the reputation of a “tropical paradise.”

Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a nature buff, or travel as an expat, it doesn’t matter whether solo or with kids, Costa Rica offers a wide range of activities to keep you pretty much busy.

The country is a playground for nature lovers, offering everything from the sun-kissed beaches of the Guanacaste province to the cloud forests of Monteverde.

The mild climate, often described as eternal spring, and a strong emphasis on conservation make it an ideal spot for those seeking a healthy and eco-friendly lifestyle.

2. Guatemala – A Cultural Tapestry

Guatemala stands out with its rich indigenous heritage, visible in the vibrant markets and traditions of cities like Antigua and Lake Atitlan. You can live in this city as an expat, and amazingly, you can find some cool restaurants and a bunch of hiking and climbing spots in Guatemala.

Honestly, the climate of Guatemala varies from the steamy tropics to the cool altitudes of the highlands, where you, as an expat, enjoy a temperate climate year-round.

The land is dotted with volcanoes, lakes, and ancient ruins, offering a sense of adventure amidst the tranquility.

The roads are totally clean, and you can rent a car, live in a hotel room according to your type, and travel anywhere in the city without any security issues, which I love about Guatemala.

3. Honduras – Undiscovered Beauty

Often overlooked, Honduras is the under-the-radar choice for expats. It boasts the stunning Bay Islands, where life is as clear and calm as the Caribbean waters.

Roatán, in particular, has a thriving expat community with a healthcare system bolstered by the presence of international residents.

The mainland, with its lush rainforests abundant wildlife, and greenery, appeals to those seeking a slower pace of life and a connection to nature.

Honduras is perfect for the off-the-beaten-path expat, as you are going to find here pretty much opportunities for a peaceful, laid-back existence.

Essential Travel Resources

❗Don’t forget travel insurance

This company is the one I trust, it’s one of the most essential things for any trip. It has your back in case you get sick abroad, or have an accident.

🎒Pack smarter, not bulky

Check out this vacation packing list, including all the essentials you need to pack when traveling, from travel clothing to backpacks and more.

🏡Where to Stay – Here are Suggestions

This is my favorite place to look for accommodations, it offers different types, a ton of locations, and good price options.

🗺️Get Around Hassle-Free

This one is the perfect option to look for different transportation options between cities, from flights, buses, and taxis to minivans and more.

🛫Find Cheap Flights

Whenever I need to fly, I head to this website for low-cost flights.

4. Belize – A Melting Pot of Natural Wonders

Belize, with English as its official language, offers an easy transition for Anglophone expats. The country’s mix of Maya ruins, jungles, and barrier reefs ensures that life is as exciting as it is relaxed.

Expats can enjoy a range of outdoor activities, such as scuba diving at the world’s largest coral reef, surfing, hiking, snorkeling, and exploring ancient ruins.

The diverse culture here is evident in the food, music, and traditions. With a laid-back Caribbean vibe and warm climate year-round, Belize offers the perfect balance of adventure and relaxation for expats looking to embrace the Pura Vida lifestyle.

5. Nicaragua – Lakes, Volcanoes, and Colonial Cities

Nicaragua is the hidden gem of Central America, with its colonial elegance in Granada and Leon, the fresh climate around the great Lake Nicaragua, and its lush volcanic landscapes.

The cost of living is low, while the quality of life can be high, especially for those who integrate into the local culture and take advantage of the growing network of healthcare facilities.

The beaches are some of Central America’s most beautiful and least visited, offering an idyllic setting for those who enjoy having natural beauty all to themselves.

Looking for More Inspiration?

I have been traveling and living in Central America for over 25 years
Check out these Hand-Tested GUIDES


33 Tips for Traveling Central America without the hassle and confusion – recommended by me!


For more travel ideas to add to your bucket list, check out the best places to visit in Central America.


Central America has a huge variety of food, check out the guide to the top 10 dishes in Central America.

Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission for any purchases made through the links. Your trust is important to us, and we ensure that all products or services we recommend meet or exceed our editorial standards.

Last Updated on June 15, 2024

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