Retire To El Salvador: Costs, Visas and More

Do you want to live and retire in a cheaper country where your money will go so much further?  Do you want a more relaxed lifestyle where everything runs slower?

Here is everything you will need to know about living in El Salvador:

  • Is it a good place to retire?
  • Is it safe for expats?
  • How expensive is it?
  • Can I buy a house?
  • How much does a house cost?
  • Does it have good healthcare?
  • What is transportation like?
  • What retirement visas are available?
  • What is the food like?
  • What are the people like?
  • What are the supermarkets like?

Now that you know what you MUST know about retiring to El Salvador.  Let’s discuss each of them in more detail.

Is El Salvador a good place to retire?

El Salvador is a country in Central America bordered by these three countries: Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.  It has many long sandy beaches and a lot of agriculture which means plenty of fresh food.  El Salvador is a safe country to live in and the people are very welcoming.  El Salvador is just behind Panama and Costa Rica in the development of the country and gaining fast.

NOTE: These are the 8 Best Places To Retire In El Salvador make sure to have a look after reading this article.

Is El Salvador safe for expats?

Safety in El Salvador is good although this does not mean that you should not be vigilant as you would in any other city in the world. Minor robberies can happen outside the metropolitan area of ​​the cities and tourist sites, so just obey standard travel safety as you would anywhere else.  Don’t go flashing heaps of cash in poor parts of town late at night.

IMPORTANT: Always remember to check your local country travel advisory for current information on how safe El Salvador is.

LINK: US State Department Travel Advisory for El Salvador

How expensive is El Salvador?

El Salvador on average is 50% cheaper than the United States on average with real estate being up 70% lower.  Food is very cheap compared to the United States.

Here is a chart of some normal bills you might have:

Utilities (Electricity & Gas)$55 USD
Internet (30Mbs)$35 USD
Petrol (1 Gallon / 3.8 L)$3.95 USD
Rent – 3 bed / 2 bath / 2 car$1000 USD
Mobile Phone$10 USD
Meal for 2 in a good restaurant$20 USD 

NOTE: The level of your expenses can be a lot lower but these are prices for a standard of living much like the USA.

Can I buy a house in El Salvador?

Yes, you can buy property in metropolitan areas but not rural land.  Foreigners can only buy up to 245 hectares for industrial purposes.

If you are wondering what are the places that retirees and travelers are looking for check The 8 Best Places To Retire In El Salvador to see the most popular places.

How much does a house cost in El Salvador?

A 3 bed, 2 bath, 2 car property will set you back about $120k USD.  Renting a similar property will cost you about $1000 USD per month.

Whether you are buying or renting there are options for all budgets in El Salvador. If you are looking for something really cheap then you can go to facebook marketplace. Change your filter to El Salvador and then click on Property Rentals or House Sales. Remember prices will be in local Salvadoran colón or USD.

While you will find places to buy there you will be dealing directly with the homeowner. As with buying any property in any country make sure you get the right legal advice prior to purchase to make sure the paperwork is in order.

It is always safer for buying or long term leases to go through a real estate agent instead and I have taken the liberty to list a few for you to look at below. They will tell you about local laws and fees and taxes that may be involved.

Here are some real estates that you can look at prices for in El Salvador:

NOTE: If you are searching on google maps for real estates in El Salvador then use the word Inmobiliario.

Does El Salvador have good healthcare?

The health care in El Salvador is rapidly catching up with the rest of the world with a huge focus and new government department to focus on this critical issue.  The public health care system is lower than the United States but better than Panama.  Private health care in El Salvador is comparable to what you would receive in the United States.  As always when going to a cheaper country it is always good to get a private health cover plan.

Private health care plans start for as little as $151 USD with a $1000 USD deductible for any major surgery.

Here are some places you can go to check pricing:

Here is the United States State Department recommended providers for emergency care:

LINK: State Department Emergency Care

How do you get around El Salvador?

There are plenty of ways to get around in El Salvador from trains, buses, taxis, and ubers. It will cost you about $25 usd for a monthly pass on the city bus system.

Types of transport in El Salvador:

What retirement visas are available for El Salvador?

The visas for El Salvador depend on where you are coming from.  Below is the link to show you the current status for each country and the need for a visa.

LINK: Ministry of Foriegn Affairs In El Salvador

For a tourist visa of up to 90 days you can get this on arrival from most countries and it will cost you about $10 USD which you can pay on the spot.  With COVID at the moment the long term visas are not being issued but you can check the link above when they get turned back on.

What is the food like in El Salvador?

The food that El Salvador offers is generally similar to the kind of Latin American cuisine that you can usually find back in the United States. Salvadorian foods are usually connected with corn (maize) as the main ingredient. One dish that you can’t miss is the classic pupusa which is a flat bread made with cornflour or rice flour that can be combined with different kinds of filling such as pork and cheese. 

Here are some notable restaurants in San Salvador the capital you may want to try:

What are the people like in El Salvador?

The people of El Salvador are very friendly and the main language that is spoken is Spanish.  With a relatively small population of around 6.5 million people nothing is overly crowded.  There are normally 450,000 Americans in El Salvador at any point in time outside of Covid times.  Like with most Latin countries in El Salvador they are more about family and sharing during the many Fiesta’s.

What is there to do in El Salvador?

There is heaps of history and natural beauty in El Salvador to keep you busy.  There are plenty of beaches and places to hike as well as art museums and fiestas.

Here are a few things you can do:

What are the supermarkets like?

While the ability to eat out is cheap in El Salvador you may want to make the occasional meal at home and that means going to a supermarket or grocery store. When searching on google maps look for the following phrases: mecardo, supermercado, hipermercado. The difference is the size of the store where the market (mercado) is the small local store or mini supermarket and goes up from there in size. 

Milk1 Liter / 1 quart$1.5 USD
Bread1 Loaf$1.5 USD
EggsDozen$2.3 USD
Beef Mince1 kg / 2.2 pounds$1 USD
Chicken Breast1 kg / 2.2 pounds$0.75 USD
Beer12$1.60 USD
Scotch1 L$1.6 USD

Here is a common local supermarket you can look at for current prices:


TIP: If you open the website in google chrome you can use the built in translation to change it to English.

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