Finding a Stable Country for an Offshore Retreat

I’m often asked by SurvivalBlog readers and consulting clients about where to look for an offshore retreat. Today, I’ll discuss general selection criteria, and briefly discuss Central America.

With a few exceptions, most of my consulting clients seem to agree on the following criteria:

Political stability

Economic stability

Relatively self-sufficient agriculture

Livable climate

Allows expatriates to own land outright, or at least provided long term (60+ year) renewable leases

Free enterprise and private banking

Favorable tax situation

Minimal gun laws

Low crime rate

Free of Malaria and at minimal risk for other insect-borne diseases

Well established infrastructure (power, phone, water, sanitation, Internet,…)

High percentage of English speaking residents

Looking dispassionately at this list, we can eliminate most countries in Central America in short order: Mexico has both a high crime rate and horribly restrictive gun laws. Guatemala and El Salvador have too much poverty and insubstantial infrastructures. Nicaragua and Honduras have enough crime that I reduced them to “maybe” status, aside for a few hoi polloi gated communities. Panama, although recently quite stable, has its problems. Most notably it has recently caved in and forced its banks to open its books to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. In my estimation, this leaves just Costa Rica and Belize as the most likely prospects in Central America. Belize is particularly captivating, since it is a former British colony and therefore has a largely English-speaking populace. Both of these countries are quite stable and quite receptive to expats. I will write some details on both countries in future SurvivalBlog posts. If any readers have first-hand knowledge about offshore retreat locales, I’d appreciate you input, via e-mail. In the interim, here are a couple of resources for you to investigate:

For some first-hand information on Costa Rica, see the Retreat Owner Profile on “Mr. Coffee” at the bottom of our Profiles page.

General information about Belize:

For information on how to buy land in Belize and some Belize facts, see:

General information on Ambergris Caye (Off the northern coast of Belize), see: (The cayes are the healthiest places to live in Belize.)

This real estate agency has a good reputation:
Belize Real Estate (The oldest real estate company in Belize)
U.S. Phone (via VOIP): (813) 322-3899 — Ask for David Doering
Belize Office 011-501-226-2090 / Fax 011-501-226-2245
P.O. Box 15
San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize
e-mail: (Tell David that Jim Rawles of SurvivalBlog sent you.)

General information about Costa Rica: