EL Salvador


This Small Country Qualifies As An Emerging Retirement Haven

It’s not on our list of top overseas havens yet, but this is a country on the rise with good fundamentals. The economy is sound, and tax rates are reasonable.

Highways are new, thanks in part to an international consortium called the Millenium Fund. Roads are clear and clean, and the people are hard-working. The literacy rate is better than 80%, and the standard of living improves yearly.

This country is one of the few bright stars in the Central American orbit. Its young president is energetic and a polished communicator who appears to be delivering on his promises of jobs, education, and a better future. True, he is the first freely elected official of a left-wing party, but, in the wake of previous excesses of juntas and right-wing death squads, perhaps this is an understandable swing of the pendulum.

Crime was once a big problem, thanks to the gang known as Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13. Today, following years of police action, the few gang members who aren’t in prison have become a danger only to themselves. Recognizable by their extensive tattoos, they’re prone to fight with other gang members, typically over guns, drugs, and territory. The good news is that the police are well-trained and honest…a rarity in Central America. They’re usually ex-military and paid on time (another rarity). They won’t ask you for a bribe, nor should you offer them one.

In the country’s capital city is large and sprawling, with a population estimated at 1.7 million people. Set in a large bowl, San Salvador is surrounded by green hills and volcanoes, the greatest of which is the San Salvador volcano (Quetzaltepeque). It has two peaks, one a sharply pointed landmark known as Picacho (6,000 feet), the second, slightly smaller, known as El Boqueron (Big Mouth) and 5,500 feet in altitude. At the bottom of El Boqueron is a second crater, formed after a small eruption in 1917, that’s perfectly round.

We recommend settling in and around the capital, specifically to either the Colonia San Benito or the Colonia Escalon. These are safe, cosmopolitan, and relatively quiet neighborhoods. The rents and prices are urban (figure US$500 to US$800 per month furnished), but the outer portions of the city, while cheaper, are grittier.

The country is small (you can cross it in four hours), so the beach is 30 minutes away from San Salvador.

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Population 6,071,774 (July 2011 est.)
Gross Domestic  Product (GDP)$43.57 billion (2010 est.)
GDP Per Capita$7,200 (2010 est.)
Inflation Rate1.2% (2010 est.)
CurrencyUS Dollar
Exchange Rate Versus U.S. Dollar 0
LanguageSpanish (official), Nahua (among some Amerindians)
CapitalSan Salvador 
Population of Capital City1.534 million (2009)
Time ZoneUTC/GMT -6 hours
Seasons rainy season (May to October); dry season (November to April); tropical on coast; temperate in uplands
International Dialing Code503
Electricity115V, 60Hz
System of GovernmentRepublic
Name and Party Affiliation of Current LeaderPresident Mauricio FUNES Cartagena (since 1 June 2009)
Income Tax Rate for ResidentsResidents are only taxed on their Salvadorian-sourced income at progressive rates, from 10% to 30%.
Property Tax0.63% of property price
Capital Gains TaxCapital gains earned by non-residents from selling property in El Salvador are taxed at 25%
Inheritance Tax Inheritance is subject to income tax rates
Rental Income TaxNonresidents are charged 25% tax on net income derived from leasing properties.
Transfer Tax 3% over the excess of $ 28,571.43 of the total price (Transfer of Real Estate Tax)
Sales Tax13%
Restrictions on Foreign Ownership of Property No
Local Chamber of Commercehttp://www.camarasal.com/
American Chamber of Commercehttp://www.amchamsal.com/
Primary Exportsoffshore assembly exports, coffee,sugar, shrimp, textiles, chemicals, electricity
Residency and Visa RequirementsTo enter the country by air or sea, U.S. citizens must present a current U.S. passport and either a Salvadoran visa or a one-entry tourist card. The tourist card may be obtained from immigration officials for a ten-dollar fee upon arrival in country at an airport or seaport.
Residents or Retireesno
National Airlinewww.taca.com



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