Glynna Prentice

Author Image for Glynna Prentice

Glynna got the travel bug at an early age. After traveling around the U.S. with her family as a child, she took on Europe during college. She returned to Europe to work as a field archaeologist in the U.K., digging up Vikings, before attending graduate school in New York. She remained based on the U.S. East Coast for much of her professional career, in part because she could get cheap flights from there back to Madrid and London. Eventually deciding this was inefficient, she got a job with (then) Price Waterhouse in Madrid and saved the air fare. During her nearly seven years in Spain, she traveled the length and breadth of the country, both for business and for pleasure.

Returning to New York, she worked in health care information with a major Internet portal, before moving to Mexico in 2007 (where she still speaks Spanish with a Castilian lisp). In Mexico, she divides her time between the Yucatan Peninsula and the Colonial Highlands. She travels extensively in Latin America and Europe, and for International Living has written about Mexico, Belize, Ecuador, Peru, Ireland, and Spain.

Glynna graduated from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She holds an MS in Journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Archives

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Lisbon: Western Europe’s Most Affordable Capital

Lisbon’s faded grace is utterly enchanting. In the old city’s steep, narrow streets, once-grand buildings display worn facades, battered shutters, and laundry hanging from the balcony. Tailors and cobblers ply their services from tiny, bedraggled shops, while the baked-sugar smell of custard and caramel wafts out the doors of ancient pastelarias. And up every steeply sloping street in this hilly city, it seems, labors a groaning trolley car, while far below glitters the River Tejo. Portugal’s capital—home to half a million people—is a gracious city, yet also one with an odd, pensive gravity: a world-weariness born perhaps of great age and of empires gained and lost.

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Kiss Your Healthcare Worries Goodbye

Recently I spent a month in the U.S. visiting family and friends. It was my longest continuous stint “back home” since I moved to Mexico eight years ago. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with loved ones and enjoy the U.S., and I did. There’s a lot that I love about my home country, including its beauty, the sheer convenience of life there, and, of course, its familiarity. I don’t include the high—indeed, exorbitant—cost of U.S. healthcare on that list of things I love. Those who live in the U.S. don’t have any choice—that expensive healthcare is all they have. But in moving abroad I gained a choice in the matter, and it’s been one of the best things about my move.

valencia, spain

Valencia: A City on the Mediterranean That You Can Afford

I love Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city. Many folks overlook its charms in favor of Madrid, Barcelona, and the Moorish cities of the south. But if I were to choose one location for full- or part-time living in Spain, I think my heart would be set on Valencia. For around $2,000 a month, including rent of a chic, centrally located apartment, I could embrace the arts, stroll the beaches, eat out often (and well), and I would be perfectly placed to explore the rest of Europe, too. Let me explain…

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Easier Residence in Mexico

Looking to move to Mexico? If so, here’s some good news: Mexico has recently reduced the amount of income and assets you need to qualify for a residence visa. Combined with the already-streamlined visa application process, it means that getting legal residence in Mexico is cheaper and easier than it’s been in years. For temporary residence visas you now must show monthly income of only about $1,553 for the last six months or average financial assets of about $25,880 for the last year. For a permanent residence visa you must show monthly income of about $2,588 or average assets of about $103,523. Expats have a choice of two main categories of visa: a temporary residence visa or a permanent residence visa. Within these categories there are several ways to qualify. For instance, you can qualify if you’ve been hired by a Mexican company.

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Valencia: Comfortable City Living on Spain’s Mediterranean Coast

At a sidewalk café in the Plaça de Sant Jaume, patrons chat over their cafés con leche or sit reading the paper, their dogs lying patiently at their feet. Trees shade this corner of the city from the summer sun, turning the café and its little square into oases of cool, civilized tranquility. Yet mere steps away is the busy Plaça de la Verge, with its government buildings, spouting fountain, and camera-toting tourists from a dozen countries. I’ve walked to Sant Jaume along the narrow streets of the ciutat vella, the old city. At practically every corner, it seems, is a plaza, a medieval building, or a row of elegant, neo-classical facades. This is one of Europe’s largest and best-preserved historic centers; it can take days to explore it all. And after you’ve done that, there are still the many modern neighborhoods to see, with their shops, museums, concert halls, parks, and chic apartment buildings.

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Enjoy a Low Cost of Living in Portugal

Love Europe but think you can’t afford it? Think again. I recently spent some time in Portugal and was wowed by the low prices. In Portugal, you can enjoy a low cost of living similar to that in Latin America’s more developed countries…with all the benefits of European life thrown in. For instance, you can get a sit-down lunch for about $15. You can grab a sandwich for less than $5 that’s big enough for two…but why bother? As in many Latin countries, lunch is generally a proper meal in Portugal, and you can get two courses, sometimes with beverage, starting from about $10. Or have dinner in a family-style restaurant for just a little more. Like wine with that meal? No problem. You can get a glass of wine in many restaurants for $4 or so…or half a bottle for about $7. Portugal is a wine-producing country, after all, and the local product is good, plentiful, and inexpensive.

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Play Europe’s Tourist Visa Loophole

Do you dream of spending time in the Old World? If you’re not ready for a full-time commitment to Europe but would like to give its medieval market towns and historic cities a try than I have a hop-in/hop-out solution. Maybe you don’t want to give up ties in North America and prefer to live abroad only part-time. Some folks don’t want to take on the tax burden that can come with residence in some European countries like France and Spain. Still others just don’t want to fill out the paperwork. But part-time living in Europe, on a simple tourist visa, is pretty much obligation-free for North Americans. The only trick: You can’t overstay your welcome. So like other North Americans who spend part of the year in Europe, I’ve learned to count how many days I can legally stay, and I plan out my trips like a battle marshal.

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Enjoy Big-City Life With Laidback Charm in Málaga, Spain

At 2,800 years old, Málaga is one of the oldest cities in the world. Founded by the Phoenicians in about 770 BCE, it’s been inhabited by half-a-dozen major civilizations since then. As a result, it offers plenty for the history buff. Just past the Roman amphitheater is the Alcazaba, the medieval Moorish quarter. And you can take a bus up to the Gibralfaro, the Moorish-era fortress sitting above the city that offers one of the best views around.

Malaga, Spain

The Best of Coastal Living in Málaga, Spain

Happily, the best of the “old” Málaga remains, as well. The sun still shines, there are miles of seaside, winter temperatures are balmy (days average 63 F in January), and sea breezes still blow off the Mediterranean, cooling the hot summer days. And Málaga is still cheerful and vibrant, oozing its trademark Andalusian charm. Best of all, it remains a very Spanish city, even in the prime tourist areas. So if you enjoy big-city life with laidback charm and a side of seashore, give Málaga a whirl. You can even get by in English.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Moving to Mexico? Where to Meet Other Expats

When you’re moving to Mexico, it helps to get the scoop on your new home city from expats who live there. They’ve already figured out which plumber is most reliable, which carpenter does the best work, and which market has the best produce and prices. They may also become your first friends in your new home. But where do you find the expats? There are lots of ways to seek them out. For instance, a useful first step is to search online before you ever leave for Mexico.

Málaga: The Sleek, Urban Heart of Spain’s Costa del Sol

Twenty years ago, when I first visited Málaga, it was the ugly stepsister of Spain’s Costa del Sol: a little scruffy and down-at-heels (though with gloriously sunny weather and a seaside location). So it was pure pleasure to return last summer and find it transformed into a Cinderella: one of Spain’s most livable—and affordable—cities for coastal living. Today’s Málaga is clean and bright, with a pedestrian-only city center and a revamped harbor area that is a joy to stroll. The city is brimming with museums, great dining, and plenty of shopping to suit all tastes and budgets.

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Listening to Fado, the Soul of Lisbon, Portugal

For a second there, I thought he had a crush on me. Then I realized that his entranced gaze was not for me—it was for his guitar and the music he was playing. I was in a fado club deep in the heart of Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood. When I was first seated at the small table flanked by two empty chairs, I thought I’d gotten my reservation wrong. Was I only going to get a high-priced dinner? I sat resigned during the first course…a mood that changed to jubilation when the fado musicians walked in, straight to those empty chairs beside me.

Puerto Vallarta

The Best Places to Live in Mexico as a U.S. Expat

With more than a million expats estimated to live there, Mexico is far and away the most popular destination for North Americans looking to move abroad. But—with so many places to choose from—where in Mexico should you move? It’s a very large country, after all. Much depends, of course, on what you’re looking for.

Learning to Swear Like a Spaniard2

Learning to Swear Like a Spaniard

I speak Spanish. I honed it in Spain. Living in Mexico as I do, though, I found things really took off when I learned a little Mexican. But wait, you say: Both Spain and Mexico speak Spanish.

Spain

5 Great Reasons to Live in Spain

Spain is one of my favorite countries. It’s both a fascinating destination to visit and a great place to live (and I’ve done both). So when people ask me what’s so great about Spain, I can list a lot of advantages off the top of my head. But to get you started, here are my top five reasons why Spain is a great place to live:

Valencia market, Spain

Eat Like a Local at Spain’s Best Food Markets

I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for traditional food markets. I seek out farmers’ markets in the U.S. and traditional food markets when I’m abroad. Belize, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador… I’ve explored markets in all these countries, thrilled at the colors, the smells, and the variety of wares, many of them exotic local fruits, vegetables, and more. And, of course, I’ve explored many markets in Spain.

The Six Best Hospitals in Mexico

For most folks looking to move abroad, health care is a huge consideration. You want care at least as good as what you get at home…but preferably without that U.S.-sized price tag. But how can you judge which doctors and hospitals are good in another country? And, when you’re looking at a country as big as Mexico, how do you winnow down the choices?

Spain’s Mediterranean Coast

Comfortable, Cultured Living on Spain’s Mediterranean Coast

Most North-American tourists to Spain visit Madrid, Barcelona, and perhaps Andalusia’s Moorish Triangle—Seville, Córdoba, and Granada. Relatively few get over to Valencia, the Mediterranean-port city that is Spain’s third-largest metropolis. And that’s a shame. Because Valencia has a lot to offer, as I recently had a chance to discover.

Life Abroad Is Not “for Couples Only”

I’m single. And you wouldn’t believe all the questions I get about living abroad on my own. “How do you do it?” people ask, as though there was some secret formula. And, yes, “What’s the secret?” is another question I get. In part I get so many questions because so many singles are thinking of moving abroad. And to them I have one short, sweet piece of advice: Just do it.

A Touch of Latin Spice in Puerto Rico

The U.S. is not really International Living’s beat…and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. (It’s considered a territory; it uses U.S. law, and Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.) But with its attractive property prices (still down since their hammering by the 2008 economic crisis) and newly-legislated tax breaks for residents, Puerto Rico clamored for our attention. We wondered: Were we ignoring an English-speaking, tropical beach destination right on our doorstep—one where we didn’t even need a passport?

Malaga, Spain

Sunny Days and Low-Cost Living in Málaga, Spain

Just walking down Málaga’s Calle Larios can lift the spirits. This pedestrian-only street at the heart of Málaga’s historic center is lined with shops and cafés that draw the eye. Overhead, several stories up, canopies strung across the street shade you from the bright Mediterranean sun.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico: Caribbean Seas, Tax Breaks, and No Passport Required

Splashing my feet in the salty waves, I gaze out at the blue horizon. The late-afternoon air is pleasantly warm—in the low 80s F—and before me stretches the blue Caribbean. Behind me is the seaside bar where I’ve had a late lunch, the chatter of voices reaching me where I stand in the sand. But—unusual for my beach trips—the chatter is mostly in English.

Is My U.S. Health Insurance Valid Abroad?

Is My U.S. Health Insurance Valid Abroad?

Readers often write in to International Living to ask whether U.S. health insurance companies cover treatment abroad. For any U.S. resident considering a move abroad, this is an important consideration. The short answer is: probably not. Most U.S. health insurers don’t cover treatment outside the U.S. Neither, of course, does Medicare.

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Three Stylish Towns You Should Know in Catalan Spain

There’s no question…Barcelona is fabulous. A mild Mediterranean climate; attractive urban beaches; a vibrant cultural scene; lively street ambience; great shopping; and some of the best food in Spain…Barcelona has it all. But—while Barcelona is a great place to visit—not everyone wants to live in a major metropolis. If you like what Barcelona offers but prefer day-to-day life on a smaller, more intimate scale, you have options here.

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Your Top Health Care Overseas Questions Answered

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” or “perfect” country for health care—it depends on what you want/need. There will always be trade-offs, just like in the U.S. For example, if you want to live in the country or remote beach towns, you probably won’t find the health facilities you’d expect to find in a big city. But while health care is a major consideration in deciding if/where to move abroad, it’s not the only factor.

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Bargain Living in Spain’s Romantic South

Seductive and sensuous, an amalgam of cultures, Andalusia gets under your skin. Maybe that’s why so many of Spain’s signature sounds and images come from this vast, southern region of the country: castanets, gypsies, flamenco dancers, bull fighters, strumming guitars…This is romantic Spain…the one the tourists flock to.

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Spain: A Top Retirement Haven in Europe

For anyone who’s been there recently, it’s no surprise that Spain is one of the top five destinations in International Living’s Global Retirement Index—our pick of the top retirement destinations in the world. Spain is arguably the best bargain in Europe, offering First-World living at a cost that can compete with some Latin-American countries. Thanks to the ongoing recession, real estate prices in many parts of Spain have plummeted. Buying here is more affordable now than it’s been in decades.

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Ask the Expert: Public or Private Health Care Overseas?

Many budding expats are excited at the thought of moving to a country with good, cheap health care—especially when it’s one of their biggest expenses back home. Often one of the least expensive options is a country’s nationalized health plan. But is it right for you? And when might you want to use it? Here are the answers. Q. How do I even qualify for a country’s public (nationalized) health plan?

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A Laid Back, Low Cost Lifestyle in Punta Gorda, Belize

Every now and again, when life feels hectic or I fear I’m getting into a rut, I think of little Punta Gorda, Belize. It’s become one of my favorite places to dream of visiting again. Right down near the southern tip of Belize, Punta Gorda looks out on the blue Caribbean. The barrier reef and its wealth of marine life—one of Belize’s main claims to fame—is 30 miles offshore here.

San Sebastian's Playa de la Concha is just steps from the old city, with its winding streets, shops and restaurants.

Living in Spain: Enjoy an Affordable Lifestyle on the Coast

I love Spain. Every time I’m there I fall right back into the lifestyle. Someone recently described the Spanish as having “perfected the art of hanging out,” and I have to admit I agree. They’ve raised it to an art form. And the siesta? Greatest invention since sliced bread, in my book. I’m not alone in my assessment. I meet folks all the time who say, “Spain? Oh, yeah….” And then they sigh.

Many Canadians escape their harsh winters in Mexico

Increase in Canadians Retiring in Mexico

Here in Campeche, where I live in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, we have only a small expat community. It’s growing steadily, though, with British, Dutch, Italians… and Canadians. In fact, a lot of the North American tourists I see here in the Yucatán these days come with distinctly Canadian accents.

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A Water Lover’s Paradise: Belize’s Affordable Caribbean Island

If you want to “get away from it all,” tropical-island style, there may be no place better in Belize to do it than Caye Caulker. This five-mile-long island—only half of which is really inhabited—sits in dream-worthy, turquoise Caribbean waters. Its three main streets are packed sand.

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Enjoy a Great Quality of Life in Malta

I’m in Valletta, capital of the small island nation of Malta. The smallest country in the European Union (just 122 square miles), Malta has long been a vacation spot for sun-starved northern Europeans and a tax haven for the wealthy. Multi-million-dollar yachts fill Malta’s marinas. Yet you’ll find great bang for your buck here.

How Gail Saved $21,000 on Dental Work in Costa Rica

How Gail Saved $21,000 on Dental Work in Costa Rica

In two trips over the course of a year, Gail went to San Jose, Costa Rica, for her dental work, spending two weeks each time. Her total cost for everything, including flights, accommodation and her dental work: $14,000—well under half what she’d been quoted in the U.S. for her dental treatment alone. And the quality was first-rate.

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Cultured, English-Speaking, Mediterranean: Valletta

In the last few years, Valletta, Malta’s capital city, has thrown off its reputation as a musty, dusty destination where there is little to do but go to museums. Today Valletta offers concerts, films, open-air exhibitions, yummy dining, and more. Those living here—both Maltese and locals—are eager to welcome new faces.

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My Mexican Health Care Experience

Soon after I moved to Mexico, I cut my thumb slicing vegetables and had to go to the local emergency room for stitches. The doctor visit, plus three stitches, cost me $5.

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How Gail Saved $21,000 on Dental Work in Costa Rica

In two trips over the course of a year, Gail went to San Jose, Costa Rica, for her dental work, spending two weeks each time. Her total cost for everything, including flights, accommodation and her dental work: $14,000—well under half what she’d been quoted in the U.S. for her dental treatment alone. And the quality was first-rate.

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