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El Salvador

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El Salvador Fast Facts

A typical view in El Zonte in El Salvador

Population: 6,825,935
Capital City: San Salvador

Cathedral in San Salvador, El Salvador

International Dialing Code: +503
President: Nayib Bukele

El Salvador Is An Emerging Retirement Haven

El Salvador is a tiny country, the smallest in Central America, with a population of around 6 million people. Nicknamed “the Land of Volcanoes,” El Salvador has a dramatic landscape comprising volcanoes, two mountain ranges, Pacific coastline, and rolling plains. El Salvador’s volcanoes provide fertile soil optimum for growing the country’s world-class coffee.

El Salvador has Honduras to its northeast, Guatemala to its northwest, and the Pacific Ocean along its south. El Salvador is the only country in Central America without a Caribbean coastline, but that’s no reason to despair. Salvadoran beaches are among the most beautiful in the world. El Salvador is famous for its surf, with beaches like El Tunco attracting surfers from far and wide.

El Salvador has a troubled history. Since colonization by the Spanish, disparities of wealth and land ownership have widened throughout the country. Protests by poorer laborers have resulted in backlashes of extreme violence by those in power. Several military dictatorships have exploited the population, resulting in thousands seeking refuge in other countries. Today, El Salvador still struggles with governmental corruption, high crime rates, and gang violence.

Despite these ongoing issues, expats are generally isolated from these problems. That said, life in El Salvador requires an awareness of its past and having your wits about you at all times. This is a small trade-off for a cheap cost of living, friendly locals, and a great climate in this stunning Central American destination.

Beautiful volcano in Cerro Verde National Park in El Salvador at sunset
Alamy/Galyna Andrushko

Living In El Salvador

El Salvador enjoys a tropical climate, with a dry season from November to April and a rainy season from May to October. During the rainy season, tropical downpours are regular, but from November to April, you are guaranteed sunshine every day. Temperatures hover between 64℉ and 90℉, with lower temperatures in mountainous regions.The climate is perfect for getting out into the great outdoors and enjoying all that El Salvador offers.

Spanish is the official language of El Salvador, however, caliche, or Salvadoran slang, heavily inflects the language. Even if you are a proficient Spanish speaker, getting used to the idioms may take a while. Basic English is spoken widely, as an elementary level is taught in schools. It’s a good idea to pick up some Spanish phrases, as locals will appreciate any effort to speak their language.

Salvadorans are known for their friendliness, and foreigners are warmly welcomed into local communities. Life in El Salvador is relaxed, and the pace of life is slow. Check out our facts about El Salvador to top up your knowledge on this lesser-known Central American country.

Cost Of Living In El Salvador

One advantage of choosing El Salvador as your retirement overseas destination is that the U.S. dollar (in addition to Bitcoin) is the official currency. This avoids currency exchange issues and makes real estate purchases in El Salvador more straightforward than in other Central American destinations. Your cost of living in El Salvador depends entirely on your lifestyle. You can live a comfortable life on your social security check. If you have a bigger budget, luxury living is possible in El Salvador, too.

A typical view in El Zonte in El Salvador

Health Care In El Salvador

Expats in El Salvador will need to pay for health care regardless of whether they opt for the public or private system. As the public health care system in El Salvador is behind Western standards, most expats go down the private route. It is recommended to invest in private health insurance so that you are covered in the case of an emergency. Private health care clinics in El Salvador are concentrated in urban areas. These private clinics provide outstanding care and are equipped with modern technology. Doctors are highly trained in all disciplines and speak English.

Getting To El Salvador

Direct flights from several U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Washington D.C., New York City, Houston, and Dallas land daily in San Salvador International Airport. Flight times rarely exceed five hours, making El Salvador a great retirement destination if you plan on returning to the States frequently.

When it comes to transporting your belongings to your new home, hundreds of moving companies are available online and ready to assist. These companies offer professional help and make moving to another country a smooth and worry-free process.

Best Places To Live In El Salvador

San Salvador

Cathedral in San Salvador, El Salvador
Alamy/Christian Kober 1

San Salvador is the capital of El Salvador and its most populated city. Its metropolitan area is home to nearly 2.5 million people. San Salvador offers big-city living: endless socializing at restaurants, museums, cafés, nightclubs or shopping malls, job opportunities, and excellent health care facilities. Like all big cities, these pros come hand in hand with some cons: higher crime rates, higher real estate prices, and traffic congestion.

San Salvador is a 45-minute drive from the international airport, 40 kms from some of the best beaches in the country, and right beside El Boquerón National Park. This prime location makes San Salvador an excellent base for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy trips to the beach or hikes around El Boquerón yet also crave the perks of city life. San Benito and Colonia Escalon are the most coveted neighborhoods in the city, where the standard of living is high and crime rates are low.

La Libertad

Surfer in the water during a sunset at Playa el Tunco, El Salvador

La Libertad is the perfect beach escape for expats dreaming of seaside living. This small city is located right on the coast and attracts surfers from all over the world for its famous Punta Roca break. Other renowned surf spots at El Tunco and El Sunzal are a short drive away, making this stretch of coastline surfer heaven. Not just for surfers, though, anyone would appreciate these beaches for their natural beauty and enjoy the laid-back vibe in the towns along this coastline.

La Libertad offers expats relaxed beach life, plus all the facilities you may need, including medical clinics, libraries, banks, restaurants, and cinemas. Enjoy an evening stroll along the picturesque boardwalk lining the beach and take in the aroma of the day’s catch being served up in beachside restaurants. The cost of living in La Libertad is low, and the living is good.

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