Not Cut Out For Life In The Tropics? Consider These Cool-Weather Escapes
The first retire-overseas choices to come to mind are typically in warm-weather beach locations. However, retiring to a new country does not have to be about sun, sand, and sea.
Not everyone enjoys hot weather or humidity, and not everyone wants to live near a beach. This is not a problem because the world offers many good cool-weather options for retirement.
Typically these are described as places with eternally spring-like weather. The trouble is that “spring-like” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. Springtime in Alabama is different from springtime in Ontario, for example. I’ve known people who’ve found Cuenca, Ecuador, too cold and others who say Medellín, Colombia, is too hot, yet both places are reputed to have “spring-like” climates.
Before we consider the best options today for retiring overseas to a cool and comfortable climate, let’s define the term. Let’s agree that a “spring-like” climate is one with temperatures in the low to mid-70s year-round.
Assuming that definition, here are three top locations for cool-weather living:
El Retiro: Colonial Living In The Cool Colombian Mountains
El Retiro is a small Spanish-colonial city in the highlands just a short distance southeast of Medellín. It’s also a pleasant, 30-minute drive southwest from the José María Córdova International Airport, the airport that serves Medellín. Founded in 1790, the current population is fewer than 20,000 people.
El Retiro is a network of narrow streets lined by colonial-style homes. Despite its small size and population, this is a bustling, energetic town with a busy, cheerful town square anchored by the stately white Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Rosario.
El Retiro is surrounded by mountains that provide a beautiful backdrop to the colonial-era setting. In response to the town’s popularity among Colombian tourists, the government is investing in parks, recreation facilities, and infrastructure, including a new bus stop plaza, street lighting, sidewalks, and a new entertainment plaza.
El Retiro is perched at an altitude of just over 7,000 feet. The average high temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit with a seasonal variation of about one degree. Overnight lows average 55 degrees. This should qualify easily as very comfortable weather for most retirees.
Both the cost of living and the cost of real estate are a bargain in El Retiro. You could buy a 1,200-square-foot house in the center of town for less than US$100,000 at today’s exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Colombian peso.
Puebla: A Cool Highland City In Colonial Mexico
Puebla is one of the most impressive Spanish-colonial environments in the Americas. Puebla is remarkable because it’s a real city, not one that caters to tourism or expats. It’s a town of around 2.5 million people that still manages to feel like a small community in many ways.
Among international travelers, Puebla is famous for its Talavera pottery and its mole poblano, a thick, dark sauce made from toasted ground chili peppers, spices, chocolate, and about 25 other ingredients.
The zócalo (town square) is one of the best in Mexico, an entire city block lined with sidewalk cafés and shops hidden behind the classic portales (arches) common to the squares of many colonial cities.
The size of Puebla’s historic center and its state of preservation led to the city’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The downtown area includes more than 1,000 colonial buildings. The cathedral is magnificent, and it’s but one of more than 70 other beautiful churches in the historic center.
Few Americans have heard of Puebla. This lack of an existing American expat community is a positive for some and a negative for others. In Puebla, you feel that you’re in traditional, old Mexico.
Puebla sits at an altitude of about 7,000 feet. The average high temperature is 77 degrees, with a seasonal variation of about ±5 degrees. Overnight lows average 49 degrees. These are temperatures that pass as temperate for most of us.
As in El Retiro, one of the most appealing things about Puebla is the cost, both of living and of buying real estate here. Property prices are surprisingly low, even near the zócalo and cathedral. This is partly because, unlike in better-known tourist and expat destinations in Mexico, real estate in Puebla is priced in Mexican pesos, giving dollar holders a tremendous advantage at today’s exchange rate between the greenback and the peso.
You could buy a new home in the center of the city for less than US$100,000.
Arequipa: A Sparkling Colonial City In The Peruvian Highlands
Arequipa is Peru’s second largest city and third largest tourist destination whose beautifully restored and maintained historic center earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 2000.
Arequipa is known as the Ciudad Blanca, or White City, thanks to the sillar, white volcanic stone, used for construction. The effect of all this white in the strong Andean sun is dazzling. The architectural style is strongly Moorish.
Arequipa has a nearby airport, but, for most trips to and from the States, you’ll need to connect through Lima.
Arequipa sits at an altitude of 7,600 feet. The average daily high temperature is about 71 degrees, while the average low is around 44 degrees, with almost no seasonal variation.
The most interesting part of the city is the historic center. Avoid the blocks immediately around the main square, where tourist traffic is heavy. Outside the historic zone, consider the Cayma district. Property prices are affordable though higher than in El Retiro and Arequipa. You could purchase a well-located home for about US$150,000 at today’s exchange rate.
Editor, Overseas Property Alert