Where Do Most Expats in Latin America Live?

Back again, back again. This time, to talk about where expats in Latin America live.

The inspiration for this article came from a Facebook post of all things. An expat group for people residing in Latin America.

Here’s the said post:


Facebook is good for this sort of thing because of user-submitted data.

It’s fairly difficult to get an official handle on how many expats are living in any given spot because a lot of them are staying on tourist visas. “Off the grid,” so to speak. Many don’t really have identifiable ties to their adopted country aside from maybe an apartment rental contract.

I found the results of this poll to be fairly in line with what I assumed were the most popular expat destinations in Latin America, so I figured I’d share it with y’all!

Here are the results:


The sample size isn’t the biggest, but I reckon it’s big enough.

Only a few things that surprised me about this poll:

  • Chile being number 4. Didn’t think that many expats lived there

  • Brazil being number 6. Somewhat surprising, given it’s not the easiest place for an expat to settle

  • Peru having less expats than both Bolivia and Argentina

Everything else more or less matched up with what I’d expect.

Anyhow, just thought I’d share in case you were curious to know where other foreigners are living in Latin America.

I’d also thought I’d take the chance to share my predictions about where the next expat hotspots will be in Latin America.

Without further ado…

My Latin Life’s Picks For The Next Expat Hotspots

As you can see from the list, the top 5 most popular expat destinations in Latin America are:

  • Mexico

  • Colombia

  • Costa Rica

  • Chile

  • Panama

I don’t expect this to change much…except for Chile. I still don’t get that.

I mean, sure, it’s one of the most stable Latin American countries and it’s relatively easy to get residency…but still.

It’s expensive as f*ck, the food is bad and it lacks character. I mean, sure the landscapes are nice. But it’s more or less the same as my home country of Canada, so it doesn’t turn me on that much.

Anyway, I digress.

What I actually want to talk about is the cities within these countries that I believe more expats will be flocking to in the coming years.

On Facebook groups, all the common expat sweet spots are still talked about, but there is another conversation brewing.

More and more, people are searching for places that are more “authentic” so to speak; not overrun with gringos.

So what we’ll do is go over each country, talk about where the popular expats spots are, and then I’ll address where I think the next fashionable destinations are going to be, since many of these places are getting saturated and losing some of the charm they once held.


As it stands now, some of the most popular expat destinations in Mexico include:

  • San Miguel de Allende

  • Rosarita/Ensenada (basically, all of northern Baja California

  • Lake Chapala

Of course, there are more, but these are a few big ones. Naturally, real estate prices have been raising in these places and, with all the foreigners, these destinations are becoming less appealing to new expats.

Here are three destinations I think will increase in expats in the coming years

  • The Bajio Region

  • Merida (it already has a lot of expats, but I expect more will flood in)

  • Oaxaca


Most expats in Colombia settle in Medellin. There are also a good number on the Caribbean coast (Cartagena/Santa Marta) and a handful in the coffee region.

In the future, as Medellin gets impossibly saturated with gringos, I expect this to happen:

  • More expats moving to the coffee region (particularly Pereira)

  • More expats discovering midsized cities (Bucaramanga and Popayan)

  • Increased tourist in Mompox (but I don’t think too many will move there)

Costa Rica

There are plenty of expats scattered all around Costa Rica. No surprise, it’s a beautiful country. Tamarindo and Jaco are two popular expat spots.

I anticipate more expats to look inland in the coming years.

Places like Heredia, Atenas (already becoming more popular among foreigners) or Alajuela.


The majority of expats in Chile reside in Santiago or Vina del Mar. I don’t expect to see much change here.


Panama has been a popular expat destination for many years now. Some popular spots include Panama City, Boquete and Bocas de Toro.

As these spots fill up even more, I suspect expats will begin discovering the charm of cities like David, Pedasi and perhaps Las Tablas.


Thanks for indulging me. The topic of where expats live in Latin America has always been of interest to me.

And, I don’t see the trend of expatriating slowing down anytime soon!

With more and more folks working online each year in a location-independent capacity, coupled with what seems to be a growing disillusion with life in the United States, Canada, Britain, etc, I fully expat to see expat populations in Latin America grow each year.

It’ll be interesting to see which country becomes the new hotspot, sort of like Colombia did several years back.

I’m guessing somewhere in Central America — maybe Guatemala or El Salvador.

Time will tell!

Thanks for listening.

Your friend,