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 expat group for people residing in Latin America.

Here’s the post:


User submitted data is suitable for something like this since it’s 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, i.e ‘off the grid,” so to speak. Many don’t really have identifiable ties to their adopted country aside from maybe an apartment rental contract, so any kind of census wouldn’t account for these folks!

I found the results of this poll to be more or less 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:

Where Most Expats Live in Latin America



Only a few things surprised me about this poll:

  • Chile being number 4 and ranking above Panama
  • 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, particularly with Mexico, Colombia and Costa Rica being the most popular countries in Latin America for expats.

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.

Rather, I think that the popular cities within these countries are likely to change.

On Facebook groups, all the common expat sweet spot cities 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.

P.S we also have an article on easy places to get residency in Latin America that may be relevant to you!



Current Expat Hotspots

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.

Future Expat Hotspots

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



Current Expat Hotspots

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.

Future Expat Hotspots

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

  • More expats moving to the coffee region (particularly Pereira and Manizales)
  • More expats discovering midsized cities (Bucaramanga and Popayan)
  • Coastal cities like Barranquilla and Santa Marta will see more action as Cartagena falls out of favor


Costa Rica

Current Expat Hotspots

There are plenty of expats scattered all around Costa Rica. No surprise, it’s a beautiful country.

Tamarindo and Jaco are among two of the most popular expat spots.

New Expat Hotspots

As the beaches get more saturated, 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/Valparaiso. I don’t expect to see much change here.



Current Expat Hotspots

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

Future Expat Hotspots

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 an interest of mine!

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 expect to see expat populations in Latin America grow each year. I’m thinking in 2022 we’re going to see a big boom in expats.

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

My best guess would be somewhere in Central America — maybe Nicaragua or El Salvador.

Time will tell!

If you’re looking for some more underrated expat destinations, check out our Best Least-Obivous Places To Live in Latin America.

If you plan to travel or live in Latin America, you’ll need to know what you’re doing! Skip the guesswork and develop your ideal Latin Life Plan with our consultation services:

Thanks for listening.

Your friend,