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Philip Sloane, MD, MPH, is directing a study tracking the growing tendency of U.S. retirees to relocate to Latin American colonial cities.

“Retiring south within the United States has long been a trend, but more and more Americans are retiring even further south, for reasons such as climate, cost of living, lifestyle, and affordable health care,” says Dr. Philip Sloane, the Elizabeth and Oscar Goodwin Distinguished Professor of Family Medicine and Geriatrics.

Philip Sloane, MD, MPH
Philip Sloane, MD, MPH

Charming colonial cities are favorite retirement destinations, and many already have sizeable colonies of retired Americans. “Little is known about how these new immigrants affect the host communities,” Dr. Sloane says, “so a main goal of our research is to understand the impact of this immigration on such things as gentrification, government services, food supply patterns, health care, and social networks.” Using funding from the National Geographic Society, the project’s research team will travel to three cities – Cuenca, Ecuador; Granada, Nicaragua; and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Each city is at a different stage in retirement migration. San Miguel de Allende has been a destination for decades, Cuenca has been a popular target for about ten years, and Granada is just beginning to see significant numbers of retired immigrants. Through qualitative interviews with local government officials and residents, map creation, surveys, and other data, the researchers hope to compile recommendations regarding policies to encourage retiree migration in a manner that will maximize favorable impact and minimize adverse impacts on the local community.