International Living’s expat network is your key to a new life in a new country. Get real, honest advice from people just like you. Discover the tips, tricks, shortcuts, and strategies you can use to cut through red tape and improve your life overseas right away.

Read about and learn from real-life experiences our expats have had in their new home countries, from health care to taxes, earning an income overseas to buying real estate…and much more.


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5 Great Towns in Rural Italy

I love Italy. It’s the country that brought us Michelangelo, pizza, and the concept of la dolce vita (literally translated as “the sweet life”). It’s where you’ll find history-steeped Rome with its special winter artichoke dishes and its well-kept ancient monuments…Venice with its air of mystery and its famous masquerade balls…and Florence with its art and culture and vineyard-covered surroundings.


3 Affordable Regions and Cities in France

Living in Paris is wonderful, but it’s not the cheapest place on earth. This came home to me recently when, after having a simple cup of coffee in a café, I got socked with a €6 bill. Almost 7 dollars, for a not-so-big cup of coffee. Argh. Not all of Paris is so exorbitant, of course.


My Favorite Beach Town in Thailand

The famous white powdery sands that stretch around the islands of Phuket and Kho Phi Phi in southern Thailand have attracted international tourists for decades. But on the Gulf coast, just four hours from Bangkok is where you’ll find my favorite Thai beach town…Hua Hin.


3 Great Rural Towns in France

If you wanted to visit all of France’s most fascinating cities, one right after another, it would take you a couple of months to do so. But if you wanted to explore France’s most intriguing rural villages and towns, you’d need a couple of years—at least. France has thousands of rural towns and villages. While I can’t say that every single one will blow you away with charm, it seems that the country hosts an exceptionally high number of rural beauties.


I Swapped Teeming L.A. For a Quiet Life in Small-Town Spain

Coming from Los Angeles, a bustling city that moves at breakneck speed, to a cave house in a village with less than 1,500 people in Spain’s southeastern region of Andalusia was quite a shock. I traded in being kept awake at night by police helicopters shining spotlights arbitrarily into my windows and the smoggy skyline of downtown L.A., for a much slower pace of life and clear views of the peaceful Sagra mountain range that surrounds my new hometown of Galera.


Is This The Easiest Way to Earn Overseas?

You speak English. What if you could turn that into a moneymaking asset? Teaching English as a second language has, of course, long been a popular occupation for those moving abroad. While requirements vary from country to country, being certified to teach English as a foreign language makes it easier to find a position. There are numerous programs offering certification.


The Prettiest Beach Towns on Brazil’s Northeast Coast

A recent trip to Brazil’s Northeast coast was where I fell in love with this country. Culture…food…music…art…dance…beautiful weather, and beautiful people—it has it all. And I discovered two of my favorite Brazilian towns—Pôrto De Galinhas and Olinda. The towns are a 90-minute drive from one another, with the city of Recife (the capital of the state of Pernambuco) nestled between the two.


A Carefree Beach Life in This Laidback Surf Town

I’m up a bit after sunrise for my daily ritual. It starts with a long leisurely walk on the beach. Something about the sound of crashing waves, watching anchored boats bob on the horizon, and the cool weather before the heat of the day hits…it just puts me in the right mood. I live in Tamarindo, on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast. It’s a small town, popular with tourists, where life revolves around the beach. Surfing, which put Tamarindo on the map in the 1990s, is still huge here.


The Three Best Restaurants in Cuenca

“Hey, where do you want to go eat tonight?” was not a question we asked each other much when we moved to Cuenca, Ecuador five-and-a-half years ago. It wasn’t that we weren’t hungry. You see, while our hometown had other outstanding attributes you’ve possibly read about—great weather, low cost of living, excellent medical care—interesting dining options were few and far between.


Burn Away the Old Year in Ecuador

Ecuadorians are famously fun-loving people, who party every bit as hard as they work. This is magnified during the winter holidays, when throngs of visitors from Quito descend on the Bahía-San VicenteCanoa corridor on the northern coast for their family vacation. Over the last few weeks of the calendar year, the broad sidewalks of Bahía’s malecón (boardwalk) fill with vendors.


Swim with Golden Jellyfish, Hidden Guatemala, and much more…

During the second Chinese Opium War, in the 1850s, a penniless teen named Cheong Fatt Tze fled from China to Southeast Asia. There he would make his fortune as a merchant. He became so wealthy that he earned the moniker of “Rockefeller of the East.” Tze owned many fine houses throughout Southeast Asia, but none was as extravagant as the Blue Mansion, on the tropical island of Penang off the coast of Malaysia. It’s a colossal beacon of 19th-century Chinese extravagance


Walk With History and Nature on Scotland’s Isle of Saints

Off the west coast of Scotland, in the Inner hebrides, lies a small island that looms large in Gaelic history and religion. If you love walking in the footsteps of legends, you’re an avid nature buff, or you’re seeking some peace and tranquility, a visit to the island of Iona is a very special experience. Only one mile wide and about four miles long, Iona sits alone in the cold north Atlantic. Even today you can only reach Iona by ferry from the Isle of Mull…


China’s Youtube, the Arctic Oil War and much more…

Every once in a while, an investor with fresh money to invest should pause and ask an important question: “What asset class can I buy that is unquestionably cheap?” The asset class on the bargain-basement table today is emerging markets. Hard to believe, but you can buy most emerging-market stocks today at valuations that are nearly as low as what they reached during the 2008 financial crisis.

Always an Adventure in Quito, Ecuador

“Every morning I wake up in Quito, it’s with a sense of amazement at how great my life is,” says Rami Amit of his new life in the Ecuadorian capital. “I absolutely love my hometown,” says his wife Daphna of their retirement haven. “Quito offers so many options that it’s impossible to be bored.” This diversity of cultural, entertainment, and dining options enticed the Amits to Quito in the first place.


How to “Leverage” Your House Back Home When You Go Overseas

If you retire overseas, owning a home back in North America can be a huge asset. If you want to live abroad only part-time (as a snowbird, for instance), it gives you somewhere to stay when the weather back home improves. Or you may simply want a place to return to on occasional trips. Better yet, that place back home can generate a respectable income if you rent it out while you’re gone, whether you’re away for good or just for a few months each year. This can be a great way to earn some cash on the side—funds that can go even further if you’re living in a low-cost country like Panama or Ecuador.


Tagaytay: Highland Haven in the Philippines

The road winds its way up tree-lined slopes. Here, the hustle and bustle of the Philippine capital, Manila, seems a world away. As you breathe in the cool mountain air, you can already feel the heat and humidity easing off. But it’s the scenery that leaves a lasting impression. Below you, the forested hills descend to a massive blue lake with small islands jutting from its basin. Rising from the lake’s center is a volcano, whose crater holds yet another small lake. There are views you can tire of… but this certainly isn’t one of them.


Mediterranean Living in a French University Town

For city lovers like me, Montpellier’s draw is its historic center, Écusson. Dating from the 10th century, Écusson is full of wonderful flagstone streets lined with timeworn, sand-colored stone buildings. Boutiques and shops, from upscale to funky, abound. Tree-lined squares, with their inevitable spate of cafés, reveal themselves at every turn. A pedestrian-only zone, it’s the sort of place you can never tire of exploring.


The Five Best Up-and-Coming Beach Towns for Retirees (Part Three)

With its light-brown beaches, prominent white lighthouse, and whitewashed seaside homes, it could be a U.S. Atlantic-coast beach town 60 years ago. If it weren’t for the Spanish-speaking locals, modern cars, and surfers paddling out on modern boards, you might be convinced you’ve been transported back in time. But this place exists today—just in a different country in a different hemisphere. You’re in La Paloma, Uruguay’s up-and-coming beach resort, home to fine food, good fishing, great waves, and vast tracts of pristine sand for you to enjoy.


Europe’s Royal Beach Escapes

The Golden Age of Europe’s royal houses may be long over, but the Old world beach resorts where the continent’s aristocracy summered still cling to a fin de siècle grandeur… In these spots, you can enjoy urban luxuries as fine as the enticing, sandy beaches. Biarritz, on the southwest French coast, has attracted European royalty and jet-setters ever since Napoleon III and his Spanish-born empress, Eugénie, built a palace there in 1854.


Five Legal Ways to Avoid FATCA

I call it the worst law most Americans have never heard of…but you may have heard it called FATCA—the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. FATCA demands that every foreign financial institution (FFI) in the world turn over account information from its U.S. clients to the Internal Revenue Service. As you can imagine, this can make it difficult for U.S. citizens to offshore their money and keep it safe from the prying hands of the U.S. government.

Page 32   Santa Cruz, Bolivia   Credit  David Hammond

Easy Income in a “Wild and Wonderful” Country

For 63-year old Trent Wauson, “Bolivia is a hidden gem.” The former medical laboratory director hadn’t planned on leaving his job to set up a B&B and restaurant in the foothills of the Bolivian Andes, but in 2004 that’s exactly what happened. Eleven years later, he and his wife Rosario couldn’t be happier. “Coming to Bolivia was a fresh start. I always wanted to have a bed and breakfast, and here it seemed like nothing could stop me,” says Trent.


Creating a Coffee Culture in Placencia, Belize

Keith Morrison loves the great sailing and Caribbean lifestyle in Placencia. Keith Morrison, 58, scoured two continents for the perfect place to start his coffee shop: an English-speaking country with a laidback, affordable lifestyle, warm weather, good sailing, and low taxes. He found all these in Placencia, on Belize’s southern coast. Now he enjoys a terrific Caribbean lifestyle when he’s not overseeing operations at his Above Grounds Coffee House.


Lakes, Castles, and Legends in Europe’s Secret Corner

Imagine a country with the Alpine landscapes of Switzerland, the mountaintop castles of France and Germany, an excellent foodie culture…and all with about half the tourists (and a fraction of the price) of Western Europe, even in so-called high season. Slovenia isn’t a place you hear about often. It’s one of those well-kept secrets—beloved by those who know it, but hidden away from the tourist masses. Even if you visit in high tourist season—July and August—the crowds are manageable. You can have whole castles, pretty hiking trails, and breathtaking gorges almost entirely to yourself. And with the dollar strong against the euro now this southern European nation of two million people is even better value.


A Slice of Bygone England on the Scilly Isles

The setting sun casts a glorious orange hue across the sky and sea as it sinks into the west. As you tuck into some fresh lobster caught just offshore, you recall the friendly seal that nibbled on your flipper during today’s dive. Dessert is a generous helping of thick, local ice cream followed by a walk on the golden-sand beach. Hard to believe you’re in England, of all places. We don’t associate Britain with secluded islands where peace and serenity abide, where warm weather pervades (at least in summer), and white-sand beaches lie unspoiled by throngs of tourists. But you’ll find all this on the Isles of Scilly, 28 miles off the coast of Penzance, Cornwall. (It’s the town on England’s southwest tip.)


Your Perfect Retirement in Southeast Asia

Here you can have the adventure of a lifetime…and the comforts of a truly pampered lifestyle for pennies on the dollar. You can get in on one of the world’s most attractive retirement programs (it’s easy to qualify) and enjoy money-saving tax breaks…obtain a long-term visa…and live on an island with world-class beaches and a great culinary and arts scene…where you can rent an ultra-modern, two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo for as little as $220 a month.


The Huge Rewards of Taking the Leap

One moment that has stuck with me over the years is a dinner I had with a friend in New York. It was around the time that I put my apartment up for sale and was getting ready to move my life to Mexico. We met in the Meatpacking District, at a small Italian restaurant. It was a warm, late-summer night, perfect for lingering over our wine in a corner of Manhattan that felt like Europe, where we both had lived in the past.


The Best Strategy For Keeping Your Offshore Assets Tax Free

FATCA, officially known as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, is probably the worst law that most Americans don’t know about…especially if you’re a U.S. citizen thinking of investing outside the U.S. It basically requires you to tell the U.S. government a yearly breakdown of all financial accounts you hold outside the country—from bank accounts to companies to rent-producing real estate.


Is This The Best Place for Americans to Bank?

Not that long ago, you could buy a CD in a U.S. bank and get a decent rate of return…4% or 5% annually was typical. Sure, you wouldn’t get rich this way. But it was a safe and affordable way to build a nest egg. Today of course, times are very different. For nearly a decade, the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates at zero. And instead of paying 4% to 5% annually on CDs, now you’re lucky to get 1%.


Rent in This Royal Italian City for $650 a Month

The Italian city of Monza isn’t usually on any tourist or expat must-see list…but it should be. It has all the charm of Italy, beautiful architecture, and great food. When I moved to Italy from the Midwest of the United States, I wanted a place that was charming, but that also had the amenities I’d need and wouldn’t put a strain on my finances. Luckily for me, Monza ticked all the boxes.


Total Relaxation on the Coast…With a Profitable Vacation Rental

“The weather is wonderful—very warm, can be hot, with a sprinkling of showers every once in a while. Coming from our cold temperatures in Canada we appreciate not having to bundle up for five months,” says Colleen Tannahill who along with her husband Blake owns a condo on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. “We are very happy with our rental occupancy and we’ve had a strong return so far. We have a rental manager who has our property posted online and we also spread the word ourselves.”

Turn Your Overseas Fantasy to Reality With a Profitable Vacation Rental

Mornings are lazy in Fiji. The slim thread of light in between the insulated curtains finally wakes me, just in time for breakfast at about 10 a.m. I slip into a bathing suit, tie a sarong on, and I’m ready for the day. The smiling maids, Rozy and Reshmi, greet me as I come down from the master suite—dubbed the Penthouse by past guests. Before me is a feast. Omelets, fresh fruit, an Indian delicacy or two, and a pile of toast, served up with coffee and fresh juice.


Earning from My Apartment on the French Riviera

When I set out to find a property in Nice, the idea was to have a vacation home…consider a possible future retirement there…and use it to expand my property rentals business from Paris to the French Riviera. Nice was my city of choice for a few reasons. This is the hub of the Riviera. It’s a real city with a lot of life, a real heart and great inner-city transportation so you don’t need a car.


Easy Income With Overseas Benefits

When I wake up in my vacation rental home in Fiji, and pull back the curtains to see blue waters…picturesque islands…my private pool…the hanging bed…I know I made a great decision buying this place. I get to spend two weeks a year chilling out here…snorkeling every day, just a short walk down my private stairs. It’s like swimming in an aquarium. The coral is so pristine and healthy.


The Top-Dollar Income That Anyone Can Earn

Living overseas…traveling at will to any destination you choose…with an income that follows you wherever you go…it isn’t a dream when you become a freelance copywriter. How lucrative is this? You can easily earn $2,500 to $8,000 a month…perhaps even more if you want to work full-time at it.


“I Wouldn’t Trade My Life in Sunny Spain For Anything”

An argument with a girlfriend was how I ended up in Spain. Having set sail on a cruise ship from Genoa, Italy, and following a tour of the Canary Islands, we were on our way home, and docked in Spain’s southern port city of Malaga. In a moment of stubbornness, and after being told there was no other berth for me to move in to, I packed up all my worldly belongings and walked off the boat. My Spanish life had begun…and it was probably the best decision of my life.


High School Dropout Scores $10,000 Paycheck: You Can Too

When I chose to drop out of school at 14, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life other than to fulfill my lifelong dream to travel the world. Back then, I didn’t know how I would do so, I just knew I would make it happen. I grew up next door to an Italian family, the Picos, who had migrated to Australia with their sons, Giovanni and Pietro.


The Day-to-Day Joys of Early Retirement in Panama

Since my husband Clyde and I retired to Panama four years ago, a typical day is anything but that. We awaken each day to the sound of birds singing, roosters crowing, and geckos’ chirping as our peaceful little neighborhood comes to life…wondering what the new day will bring


Earn Six Figures…With a Third of the Year Off

“Are you still working?” is a question I get asked a lot these days. Instead of working a steady 40-hour work-week with just a few weeks’ vacation, I’m routinely taking up a third of the year off…while still making a full-time income. I live in Cuenca, Ecuador, where my costs are a fraction of what they would be back home in Nebraska. I can dine out regularly in top-rated restaurants and afford to have a cleaning lady once a week.


Stockholm: Sweden’s Eccentric and Cultured Capital

Stockholm has a well-developed café culture, and there’s no shortage of great eateries to choose from. After checking out the museums, I stopped off at Ersta Terrass on Fjällgatan, a cliff-top street from which you get great views of the city. Seated at my balcony table as the sun set on the shimmering waterfront, I marveled at one of the finest views of Stockholm. I had my fill of homemade bread, herrings, and capers, washed down with a generous glass or two (well, let’s call it three) of excellent wine.


Earn the Big Bucks for a Life of Ease Overseas

Waking up every morning to the beautiful views of Medellin’s Aburra Valley is like a dream compared to the corporate life I left behind in America. Back then I dreaded the buzzing alarm clock jolting me out of a restful sleep followed by a 60-minute, rush-hour commute to my office only 15 miles away. Then wasting eight hours in a cubicle doing work I hated only to repeat the one-hour commute to get home.

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Your Chance to Retire Overseas Now

Sign up for our free daily Postcard e-letter and we'll immediately send you a FREE RESEARCH REPORT on the most desirable —and cheapest— retirement havens available to you today.

Each day you'll learn about the best places to retire, travel, buy real estate and enjoy life overseas.

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