Published On: Fri, Jan 27th, 2017

5 Expat destinations where you can speak only English

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Chuck Bolotin of Best Places in the World to Retire states that lots of people are afraid to move abroad because they can’t speak Spanish, but then offers 5 fantastic expat destinations where you can speak only English, including in Mexico.

On the site Best Places In The World To Retire, one of the most common questions is whether someone can get by just speaking English.

Along with concerns about safety and healthcare, not being able to understand others or be understood is among the main reasons for not moving abroad. People fear that they may not be able to attain basic services if they can’t communicate what they need, or that they will be unable to build relationships.

Knowing the local language will give you a richer experience, but there are several places where it’s not necessary.

Lake Chapala/Ajijic, Mexico

Mexico has many areas in which a large proportion of the population is American. As such, there are many areas where you can easily get by without much Spanish.

“In Mexico City, educated people will speak at least some English, and many will be fluent,” said Carmella Peters Romero, originally from Toronto and now living in Mexico City.

According to Ivan Castillo, a native Mexican who lived in California as a child, service providers in areas with large numbers of tourists or expats are likely to speak English. “In these areas where there’s an important community of foreigners, it’s easier to get around just speaking English.”

Dr. Santiago Hernandez, who lived in Chicago for 30 years, said it was easy to get by with just English in the large American expat community around Lake Chapa and in Ajijic. “It is rather ironic because I probably spoke more Spanish when I was practicing in Chicago than I do now here in Mexico,” he said.


Ajijic in Lake Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico (Photo: Casa Flores B&B)

Algarve, Portugal 

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There are so many British expats in Algarve in the southern part of Portugal, that English is widely understood there. Algarve has a population of just 300,000 but receives over 5 million visits a year, many of them from Brits.

Luis Teixeira da Silva, who has lived in six countries and now splits his time between the UK and Algarve, said, “I have English friends who have been in the Algarve for 22 years who speak hardly a word in Portuguese.”

But foreigners can get by with English in other parts of the country, as well.

Algarve, Portugal | Photo: Live and Invest Overseas

Algarve, Portugal | Photo: Live and Invest Overseas

Duncan MacGregor, who lives in Cascais about 18 miles from the capital city of Lisbon, said, “The reason is because the Portuguese like to please foreigners and make the effort to speak the same language. In addition, English is taught in the schools in Portugal.”

Click here for full article by Chuck Bolotin on






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