Bordering Suriname to the West and Brazil to the South and East, this coastal French overseas territory on the Atlantic Ocean. Covered mostly in tropical rainforests, this tranquil piece of paradise makes for a great retirement spot with a slow pace of life.
French Guiana is a foreign department of France and is run in a similar way to France, with French culture permeating the small coastal country. With the familiarity of Europe in the environment in South America, this is a beautiful place to retire to a quiet tranquil life.
If you’re a nature lover and want to spend your retirement in a peaceful, warm place with a fusion of French and South American vide this is the place for you.
What is special about French Guiana?
Population: 294 K
Climate: 25-27 degrees Celsius
Capital city: Cayenne
Because this is an overseas region of France, the country is run by the French president, Emmanuel Macron. Most of the population has settled in and around the capital city, Cayenne, and the coastal regions. Much of the interior of the country is uninhabited with over 80% living in urban areas. The Gross national income per capita is amongst the highest in South America, and the social security system is the same as that in France.
One of the most appealing factors about retiring in French Guiana is that it’s like being in Europe, but with a lush, tropical backdrop! The familiarity of Europe and the way that things operate can be found here, while the beautiful beaches, good weather, and heaps of greenery add a relaxing, holiday-like feel. This is the perfect balance for those wanting to retire somewhere warm without navigating the unfamiliarity of learning a totally foreign culture.
What supermarkets are there in French Guiana?
There are several smaller, independent supermarkets in French Guiana. The main chains are
- Super U
- Hyper U
The below table provides a guide to food prices for everyday items to give a sense of the value of your money.
|Basic lunchtime menu (including a drink) in the business district||$25|
|Combo meal in fast food restaurant (Big Mac Meal or similar)||$9|
|500 gr (1 lb.) of boneless chicken breast||$15|
|1 liter (1 qt.) of whole fat milk||$3|
|12 eggs, large||$10|
|1 kg (2 lb.) of tomatoes||$7.5|
|500 gr (16 oz.) of local cheese||$5.5|
|1 kg (2 lb.) of apples||$4.5|
|1 kg (2 lb.) of potatoes||$2|
|0.5 l (16 oz) domestic beer in the supermarket||$1.75|
|1 bottle of red table wine, good quality||$11|
What type of food can you get?
Given that the population is a mix of French, Creole, Afro-Europeans, East Asians and immigrants from neighbouring countries the influence on the food has been diverse. Some popular Caribbean and Creole-style foods are eaten in daily life, along with a lot of seafood, shrimp and accompanied by rice.
Some of the typical popular dishes include a palm-pulp mixture called Awara broth and Blaff, a tomato-based soup with peppers and local fish. Staples in daily diets include rice and beans accompanied by local game meat, stews, and seafood dishes such as bouillon d’aurora (smoked fish, vegetables, and sometimes chicken). You will find restaurants serving foods of all different nationalities such as Italian and Chinese cuisine.
Types of transport
Public transport is limited in French Guiana to major cities. In Cayenne, six bus lines are serviced by the CACL (Communauté d’Agglomération du Centre Littoral). TIG (Long Distance Transport of Guyana) runs nine bus lines between the capital and outlying towns. There are also two international airports in the country, several ports, and no passenger railway. If you’re more independent and want to explore, having your own car is recommended. You need a valid driver’s license and international driving permit to drive.
The conditions of the roads are generally fair, though they do get worse further south as the area is covered by Amazon jungle and difficult to navigate.
What activities can you do?
Cayenne is a vibrant and bustling city known for its Creole architecture and busy street markets. The natural wonders of the country are what make it most appealing, though. From bird-rich marshes along the coast to peaceful Atlantic beaches, stretches of savanna leading into the dense jungle or forested mountains, or the rivers flowing through this little piece of paradise, this is an exceptional place for nature-lovers seeking tranquillity.
Some of the popular activities on the island include:
- Iles du Salut – a group of islands offshore, the most popular of which is the ex-penal colony Devil’s Island
- Hattes beach – the world’s largest breeding ground for leatherback turtles
- Guiana Space Centre – a rocket launch site for the European Space Agency
- Tresor Nature Reserve – covering thousands of kilometres of marshland
- Zoo de Guyane – more of a wildlife sanctuary, is a great opportunity to see local animals
- River trips, paddling, or going on tours along multiple rivers in the country
- Hiking trails on the mountains or through the jungles
- Beach walks or swims on one of the island’s many beaches
How to rent or buy?
With one of the highest standards of living in South America, thanks to subsidization by the French government, residents usually have a higher disposable income than in surrounding countries. This means that living costs here are higher than usual in South America. The average price per square meter if buying property in a city is $3380, whereas a three-bed city apartment would typically cost around $1640 per month.
Below is a table of average monthly costs when renting or buying there:
|Monthly rent for 85 m2 (900 sqft) furnished accommodation in a normal area||$1390|
|Utilities 1 month (heating, electricity, gas, etc.) for 2 people in 85m2 flat||$300|
|Monthly rent for a 45 m2 (480 sqft) furnished studio in a normal area||$970|
|Utilities 1 month (heating, electricity, gas, etc.) for 1 person in 45 m2 (480 sqft) studio||$230|
|Internet 8 Mbps (1 month)||$90|
|Hourly rate for cleaning help||$12.5|
Whether you rent or buy will depend on your time horizon and whether you’re planning to be their full time or not. European citizens have the same rights as in France, meaning that they can live in French Guiana indefinitely. Other nationalities will be allowed to stay 3-6 months, in which case renting may make the most sense.
Some Real Estates To Look At In French Guiana:
What language do they speak?
The official language of the country is French, also the primary spoken language. Also widely spoken is Guianese Creole French, and then several indigenous languages, including Wayampi, Carib, and Emerillon. Smaller groups of immigrants will speak their own languages, but business is conducted in French, and that is the day-to-day spoken language in general.
How safe is it?
French Guiana is relatively safe, with only some petty crime in major urban areas, as is common in any large city around the world. The crime levels are low and particularly outside of metropolitan areas, as these are largely unpopulated. As with anywhere, exercise caution when going out alone after dark, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash with you.
Is there a good healthcare system?
The health conditions are generally good. The Pasteur Institute of Paris has a branch in Cayenne and is a renowned centre of medical excellence throughout Latin America. The state-run department of health provides a good system in urban areas, but rural areas will have a harder time getting medical attention.
What visa do I need to retire to French Guiana?
As a French colony visas are controlled to French Guiana by the French Embassy. This also means that if you can go to France then you can also go to French Guiana. All EU countries can live there as well as people from USA, Canada, Australia and the UK can get a 90 day tourist visa on arrival as well.
To get a visa for French Guiana you can go here:
Whether you enjoy being active, spending time hiking, boating, and exploring, or prefer fishing, birdwatching, and lounging on beautiful beaches, French Guiana is a serene and relaxing country in which to retire. Offering a high standard of living and a safe environment, this is an ideal option for those who enjoy a warm climate and outdoor lifestyle.