Retire To Coffee Country
Back in 2000, on one of my final retire-overseas exploratory trips, I looked at a small, rustic home beside a rushing river in Mexico. Giant trees grew all along the riverside, shading both the house and most of the large property.
Among the trees I found a plant that I didn’t recognize. It turned out to be a coffee plant, covered with ripe berries. I plucked a few berries from the tree and thought about how great it would be to grow my own coffee right on my property. I still have the berries today, as a souvenir.
We didn’t buy that house just south of Xalapa, but I never lost sight of the dream of one day having my own coffee crop.
If you, too, like the idea of growing, sun-drying, roasting, and brewing your own coffee—from berry to cup—you’ll be interested to know that prime coffee land can be found in some of the world’s most beautiful locations.
What’s more, coffee grows best at an elevation—say, 4,000 to 7,000 feet. This elevation also means great weather year-round.
If you’ve got a spirit of adventure and aren’t afraid of a little ground work, you could be harvesting your own coffee as part of your overseas retirement plan.
Here are three top retirement destinations that are also ideal places for cultivating coffee plants.
Coatepec: Enjoy A Great Climate In The Coffee Capital Of Mexico
Coatepec is a small city of about 50,000 people located a few miles south of Xalapa, the capital of Mexico’s eastern state of Veracruz. Coatepec sits at 4,000 feet above sea level, which not only makes for an ideal climate from a lifestyle perspective but is also perfect for coffee growing.
Coatepec was named a “Pueblo Mágico” in 2006. This title is bestowed by Mexico’s tourism department on towns that offer a “magical” experience due to their natural beauty, cultural riches, and historical significance.
Coatepec certainly qualifies.
Coatepec is also recognized as the coffee capital of Mexico, thanks in large part to its weather, which is good year-round. The coldest month is January, with an average high of 72 degrees, while the warmest month is May, at 86 degrees. The nights are always cool; even in May overnight temperatures are in the 50s.
Just outside Coatepec you can find coffee farms for sale, often including old haciendas. These properties can range from a couple of acres to dozens. A two-acre piece of land planted with coffee trees and including a small farmhouse can be bought for as little as US$100,000 to US$150,000 at the current rate of exchange between the U.S. dollar and the Mexican peso.
Manizales, Colombia: Sophisticated City Life In The Coffee Triangle
Nestled within Colombia’s famous Coffee Triangle, Manizales is a sophisticated city and capital of the department (province) of Caldas.
Thanks to the city’s hilly terrain, Manizales is also known as the San Francisco of Colombia. The city even has a few cable car circuits that operate as part of the public transit system. You can take the cable car from the main bus station to the city center, saving you an arduous 1.25-mile walk.
Manizales is a prominent university town. The large student population means a sophistication and energy common in university environments.
Thanks to the elevation at around 7,000 feet, the average high temperature in Manizales is just over 70 degrees. Lows average slightly above 54 degrees, with only one degree of temperature variation throughout the year.
In this part of Colombia, everything grows well, including coffee.
As in Coatepec, Mexico, it’s possible to find small one- or two-acre coffee farms as well as much bigger operations. A property with a small farmhouse suitable for a retiree coffee-grower can be purchased today for less than US$50,000, thanks in part to the dollar’s current strength versus the Colombian peso.
Vilcabamba, Ecuador: Pure Mountain Living With Year-Round Coffee Production
Situated at 5,000 feet, Vilcabamba, Ecuador, also offers what many recognize as an ideal climate, with warm, pleasant days and cool nights all year.
Vilcabamba is very sunny but water flows through the valley year-round. Rain falls during mini-rainy seasons between October and April.
Vilcabamba is perhaps best known for having the world’s highest concentration of people over 100 years of age. The Vilcabamba valley is often referred to as the Valley of Longevity.
I’ve heard the longevity of Vilcabamba residents attributed to everything from a magnetic vortex to space aliens, but I’d credit the pure air and water, the organic, natural food, and the aerobic exercise of climbing the local hills.
In this beautiful and peaceful spot, you can find one- to two-acre properties planted with coffee and including a farmhouse starting from US$200,000.
Editor, Overseas Property Alert