Social and Cultural Impact of Immigrant Retirees in Cuenca, Ecuador and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

  • Lea Efird
  • Philip D. SloaneEmail author
  • Johanna Silbersack
  • Sheryl Zimmerman
Part of the International Perspectives on Aging book series (Int. Perspect. Aging, volume 27)


Retiree migration from northern, wealthier countries to more southerly destinations with lower living costs and a more pleasant climate has been mushrooming over the past five decades. In the latter decades of the twentieth century, the largest flow of international retirees was from northern Europe to warmer, less costly, countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece, and Malta (Williams et al. 1997). More recently, aging of the baby boomers in the United States and Canada – a cohort that in earlier years has tended to push social boundaries – has led to rapid growth of international retirement migration in the Western hemisphere, particularly to destinations in Latin America (Dixon et al. 2006). This generational characteristic of lifestyle innovation, combined with income limitations and financial insecurity, has resulted in increasing interest in “amenity retirement” abroad (Hayes 2015).


  1. Álvarez, M. G., Guerrero, P. O., & Herrera, L. P. (2017). Estudio sobre los impactos socio-económicos en Cuenca de la migración residencial de norteamericanos y europeos: Aportes para una convivencia armónica local (Informe Final). Cuenca: Avance Consultora.Google Scholar
  2. Barrantes-Reynolds, M. P. (2011). The expansion of ‘real estate tourism’ in coastal areas: Its behavior and implications. RASAALA: Recreation and Society in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, 2(1), 51–70.Google Scholar
  3. Benson, M. C. (2013). Postcoloniality and privilege in new lifestyle flows: The case of North Americans in Panama. Mobilities, 8(3), 313–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bernier, E. T. (2003). El turismo residenciado y sus efectos en los destinos turísticos. Estudios Turísticos, 155/156, 45–70.Google Scholar
  5. Casado-Diaz, M. A. (2016). Social capital in the sun: Bonding and bridging social capital among British retirees. In M. Benson & K. O’Reilly (Eds.), Lifestyle migration: Expectations, aspirations and experiences (pp. 87–102). New York City/Oxon: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
  6. Casado-Diaz, M., Kaiser, C., & Warnes, A. M. (2004). Northern European retired residents in nine southern European areas: Characteristics motivations and adjustment. Ageing and Society, 24(3), 353–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Covert, L. P. (2010). Defining a place, defining a nation: San Miguel de Allende through Mexican and foreign eyes. Dissertation for a Degree of Doctor of Philosophy within Yale University. Ann Arbor: Proquest.Google Scholar
  8. Covert, L. P. (2017). San Miguel de Allende: Mexicans, foreigners, and the making of a world heritage site. Lincoln/London: University of Nebraska Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Croucher, S. L. (2011). The other side of the fence: American migrants in Mexico. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  10. David, I., Eimermann, M., & Akerlund, U. (2015). An exploration of lifestyle mobility industry. In K. Torkington, I. David, & J. Sardinha (Eds.), Practicing the good life: Lifestyle migration in practices (pp. 138–116). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.Google Scholar
  11. de Azuay, Gubernación. (2018, May 16). Noticias. Gobernador del Azuay reconoció la labor voluntaria de los extranjeros en Cuenca. Accessed 19 June 2018.
  12. Dixon, D., Murray, J., & Gelatt, J. (2006). America’s emigrants: U.S. retirement migration to Mexico and Panama. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute.Google Scholar
  13. Foulds, A. (2014). Buying a colonial dream: The role of lifestyle migrants in the gentrification of the historic center of Granada, Nicaragua. Theses and Dissertation – Geography, 18. Lexington: University of Kentucky.
  14. Grunenfelder-Elliker, B. (2011). Ir para volver – volver para retornar: Agrosubsistencia, y movilidad social bajo el impacto de la globalización en el Austro ecuatoriano. Flasco Andes.Google Scholar
  15. Gustafson, P. (2016). Our home in Spain: Residential strategies in international retirement migration. In M. Benson & K. O’Reilly (Eds.), Lifestyle migration: Expectations, aspirations and experiences (pp. 69–86). New York City/Oxon: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
  16. Gustafson, P., & Laksfoss Cardozo, A. E. (2017). Language use and social inclusion in international retirement migration. Social Inclusion, 5(4), 69–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Haas, H. (2013). Volunteering in retirement migration: Meanings and functions of charitable activities for older British residents in Spain. Ageing and Society, 33, 1374–1400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hartshorne, J. K., Tenenbaum, J. B., & Pinker, S. (2018). A critical period for second language acquisition: Evidence from 2/3 million English speakers. Cognition, 177, 263–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hayes, M. (2015). Introduction: The emerging lifestyle migration industry and geographies of transnationalism, mobility and displacement in Latin America. Journal of Latin American Geography, 14(1), 7–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hayes, M. (2018). Gringolandia: Lifestyle migration under late capitalism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hayes, M., & Carlson, J. (2018). Good guests and obnoxious gringos: Cosmopolitan ideals among North American migrants to Cuenca, Ecuador. American Journal of Cultural Sociology, 6(1), 189–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Herrera, G., & Martinez, L. P. (2015). ¿Tiempos de crisis, tiempos de retorno? Trayectorias migratorias, laborales y sociales de migrantes retornados en Ecuador. Estudios Políticos, (47), 221–241.Google Scholar
  23. Huber, A., & O’Reilly, K. (2004). The construction of Heimat under conditions of individualised modernity: Swiss and British elderly migrants in Spain. Ageing and Society, 24(3), 327–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Huete, R., Mantecón, A., & Mazón, T. (2007). La percepción de los impactos del turismo residencial por parte de la sociedad receptora. Comunicación presentada en las II Jornadas sobre turismo y sociedad. Córdoba: IESA-CSIC. February 2008. Accessed 20 Dec 2017.Google Scholar
  25. Jokisch BD. (2014, November 24). Ecuador: From mass emigration to return migration?. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute. Accessed 15 April 2019.
  26. Koutonin, M. R. (2015, March 13). Why are white people expats when the rest of us are immigrants? The Guardian. Accessed 17 June 2018.
  27. López, E. (2017). Estudio y Análisis para la creación de un “Programa de Capacitación en Idioma Inglés para Conductores de Taxi en la cuidad de Cuenca”. Dissertation for a Degree from the Universidad del Azuay, Escuela de Estudios Internacionales. Cuenca: Universidad del Azuay.Google Scholar
  28. Nudrali, O., & O’Reilly, K. (2016). Taking the risk: The British in Didim, Turkey. In M. Benson & K. O’Reilly (Eds.), Lifestyle migration: Expectations, aspirations and experiences (pp. 137–152). New York City/Oxon: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
  29. Rojas, V., LeBlanc, H. P., & Sunil, T. S. (2014). US retirement migration to Mexico: Understanding issues of adaptation, networking, and social integration. International Migration and Integration, 15(2), 257–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Serow, W. J. (2003). Economic consequences of retiree concentrations: A review of North American studies. The Gerontologist, 43(6), 897–903.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Terzian P. (2018, July 10). The world’s top 15 cities. Travel and Leisure. Accessed 15 Apr 2019.
  32. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage List. Accessed 14 June 2019.
  33. Valdivia, C. E. (2014). En rol de las ONG en América Latina: Los desafíos de un presente cambiante. Lima: Mesa de Articulación de Plataformas Nacionales y Redes Regionales de América Latina y el Caribe.Google Scholar
  34. Williams, A. M., King, R., & Warnes, T. (1997). A place in the sun: International retirement migration from northern to southern Europe. European Urban and Regional Studies, 4(2), 115–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wilson, P. (2013, September 24). Retiring in Latin America is easier than you may think. Forbes. Accessed 20 Apr 2019.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lea Efird
    • 1
  • Philip D. Sloane
    • 1
    Email author
  • Johanna Silbersack
    • 1
  • Sheryl Zimmerman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

Personalised recommendations