Five Best Snowbird Escapes from Politics and Winter Weather—

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For anybody ready to flee this year’s political season in the U.S. and the approaching cold of winter, good news: warmer, calmer destinations exist.’s new report on top “snowbird escapes” pinpoints five of the best-value beaches in Latin America for those seeking refuge from the storms.

Salinas, Ecuador

These are excellent destinations to consider for a one-month hiatus, a three-month escape, a six-month sabbatical, or even a permanent relocation.

For those who have had enough of the current political season in the U.S. — and who aren’t looking forward to another cold winter either — the news is good: great-value coastal options exist in nearby Latin America.

International Living’s new report pinpoints five welcoming, low-cost “snowbird escapes” on Pacific and Caribbean beaches. They’re easy to get to and offer warm weather, laid-back communities of friendly locals and expats, and living costs that won’t break the bank. Rents run from $500, beer from $2, and monthly living costs for a couple from $1,200.

These are excellent destinations to consider for a one-month hiatus, a three-month escape, a six-month sabbatical, or even a permanent relocation. All are within easy access of the U.S., and all offer tremendous value for dollar.

Dominical, Costa Rica

With low costs, good-value real estate, and a great climate—highs in the mid-80s F to mid-90s F during the day year-round and cooling off at night—Costa Rica is a popular escape option. The coastal town of Dominical is where the Central Coast ends and the South Coast, also known as the Southern Zone, begins. It’s a village that has often been described as a gem because of the bluish-green water surrounded by tall palms and lush countryside. Surfers and snowbirds have been coming for years.

Easy going Dominical has remained a haven for those looking to lounge on crowd-free beaches. It’s a simple, relaxed place, worlds away from the trendy tourist traps with overpriced restaurants, sprawling resorts, and obnoxious crowds. Friendships form fast among the select few who have stumbled upon this little oasis.

In the mountains outside the beach village of Dominical, a two-bedroom villa rents for $600 per month, fully furnished. For a furnished two-bedroom ocean-view home set on a jungle-covered hill, with private pool and large deck, rent runs $1,200 a month.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Mexico is the most popular expat destination for North Americans in the world. It’s convenient and offers many of the First-World conveniences, including good highways, plenty of airports, reliable telephone service, and fast internet connections.

The city of Playa del Carmen is especially attractive for many reasons. The city is safe and clean. An active police force keeps an eye on things and the local government is committed to community improvements. The medical care, at the several doctor’s offices, as well as clinics and hospitals, is world-class and affordable. And there are housing options—both to buy and rent—to fit any budget. And there are plenty of gyms, yoga studios, and fitness clubs.

Kim Now owns a multi-level condo in Playa del Carmen that’s only a two-minute walk from the beach. For Kim, Playa del Carmen was an easy choice. “Playa is not only beautiful, sitting right on the Caribbean coast, but it’s also a very safe place. I can walk anywhere. They have great medical clinics and a hospital, modern infrastructure, more restaurants than I’ll ever be able to enjoy, with plenty of shopping options.”

Salinas, Ecuador

About 90 miles from Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, and situated on the South Pacific coast, Salinas has long been a vacation home destination for Ecuadorians, and is becoming increasingly popular as a retirement location for expats too. Here, glittering high-rise condos line the beach road. Fashionable seafood restaurants and trendy clubs come alive at night.

Some call it a “little Miami,” but except for the sun, sand, and surf, it’s really nothing like Miami. Salinas is a relatively small town with a population of under 50,000. The weather is warm with cloudless blue skies and low humidity year-round here. Situated on a peninsula, it benefits from long hot sunny periods for most of the year, and the ocean is always invitingly warm.

There are supermarkets, a large produce and seafood market, restaurants and cafés, a movie theater, banks, clinics, and hardware stores. Plus, there’s regular bus service to Guayaquil, only two hours away, which has an international airport.

For the past four years, International Living’s Ecuador Coastal correspondent, Jim Santos, has lived in Salinas with his wife Rita. They report monthly expenses of around $1,500 a month—and that’s for a comfortable lifestyle. At the time of writing, a fully furnished three-bedroom, two-bathroom 1,100-square-foot condo a block from the beach, with utilities included, rents for $550 per month.

Roatán, Honduras

Roatán has quietly graduated from secret divers’ getaway to liveable island haven. Just 50 square miles, this dollop of sand off Honduras’ northern coast is long and skinny, fringed by a reef rich with sea life and garnished by white-sand beaches.

Life is laidback, lived in rhythm with the sun and the surf. No big-name resorts. No “spring break” strips. No high-rise developments. This is old-school Caribbean…though fitted out with modern conveniences. English is widely spoken. That, along with an established expat community, makes it a relatively easy place to settle in.

“We love the culture and the people in Roatán,” say snowbirds Bill and Ann Addison.
“We spend probably about $3,000 per month, between HOA fees, utilities, groceries, and all of our fun activities.”

Roatán has enjoyed a surge in popularity over the last decade. The addition of two cruise ship ports, plus the increase in direct flights to the island, has allowed more people to visit easily. Many of those visitors turn into expats themselves after seeing the island’s natural beauty and easy lifestyle.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Located on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast, the town of San Juan del Sur has successfully secured its title as Nicaragua’s tourism capital.

Laid out over three square blocks, the town center these days is bursting with wooden homes; local and international restaurants; little shops stocking tropics-wear, beach gear, and artisan jewelry; banks with ATMs; internet cafés; spas, fitness and yoga studios; real estate shops; tour operators; locally run convenience stores; a central market; Spanish schools; coffee shops; hotels; bars; and much more.

Today, San Juan del Sur is a booming town whose activity is fueled by a mass of eclectic, fun-loving tourists, snowbirds and expats. The many surrounding beach communities offer a true sense of retreat and reconnection with nature. And with 22 beaches surrounding the town (most of them not mentioned in the guidebooks), San Juan del Sur also offers deep-sea fishing, diving, boating, and has world-class surf beaches that host international competitions.

Even though it’s a popular tourist town, the cost of living remains low here. Many couples live comfortably on $1,200 a month. Rent of a one-bedroom apartment will cost about $500 a month.

The International Living report contains more information on cost of living and other details about the five value beach destinations for escaping the coming winter and political storms. Find the latest International Living report at: How to Avoid U.S. Politics and Ditch the Winter Cold: 5 Top Snowbird Destinations on the Beach in Latin America.

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For 36 years, has been the leading authority for anyone looking for global retirement or relocation opportunities. Through its monthly magazine and related e-letters, extensive website, podcasts, online bookstore, and events held around the world, provides information and services to help its readers live better, travel farther, have more fun, save more money, and find better business opportunities when they expand their world beyond their own shores. has more than 200 correspondents traveling the globe, investigating the best opportunities for travel, retirement, real estate, and investment.

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