If I was back home (AU) then I couldn't have come anywhere near as far as I have - my cost of living here is like $500/month. I'm able to devote a tremendous amount of time to my startup.
The internet's not fantastic (a crappy 1 megabit, and outages happen at least once a week), half of the TV is in Spanish, and you have to be careful sometimes since white guys are usually cashed up tourists and ripe for a mugging.
But when push comes to shove it beats trying to make $1000 rent + living expenses and trying to balance a startup around that.
If you want to go to central america let me know. I can introduce you to the tech/startup community there. They can hook you up with the best/safest placest to live, work areas, and the whole thing.
My personal experience is with Guatemala and Honduras, though I know top notch developers and entrepreneurs (all bilingual) throughout the whole region.
If I were you, I'd pick costa rica to live in if you want to live in Central America. Bigger expat community, great nearshoring tech talent. Though Chile will give you $40k to startup in Chile.
When I go live/work at a LATAM country my process is usually:
1. Stay in a hostal for two days, those two days I check out places to rent
2. In south america, you can find great stuff on craigslist, furnished rooms or studios from $200-$500/mo
3. Meet local entrepreneurs, and find coworking spaces/become an office guest.
If you need more tips/intros for living in LATAM, my email is in my profile, or @andresbarreto
Probably your best bet would be going to a backpackers hostel and finding one while you stay there - they'll set you back as little as $10ish a night, have internet and interesting people to talk to, and the people working there might know of a place and/or you can walk around looking for somewhere.
Staying safe is pretty simple - be smart. An iPhone is a month's salary down here so don't wander around talking into it or wearing those pretty white earphones. Don't carry a satchel around that says Dell, and generally don't take more than you need when you hit the street ... if you're getting a carton of milk you don't need your wallet or the credit cards and $500 in it.
Made the arguable mistake of spending 9 months in Australia on my way to S.E. Asia and it ripped my pocketbook to shreds. That was when the AUD was almost 1:1 with the USD.