Expat-Advice

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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Archives

Isla-Mujeres

Dreaming of Tropical Islands in the Sun…

My wife, Suzan Haskins, and I do a lot of traveling. So we often find ourselves on the way to places. We find ourselves in airports. In taxis and shuttles. In planes and buses. In snow-bound cities and towns for holidays and family functions.

Pereira-Colombia

Rent for $130 a Month in Colombia’s Low-Cost Coffee Region

“Pereira is a small city with just about everything you could want from a large city—an airport, theaters, more shopping than you could ever need,” says Mollee Thermos. “But it’s still not as developed as Colombia’s bigger and more well-known cities of Medellin or Bogota and I like it because of that.”

Manzanillo-Costa-Rica

Seven of the Best Beaches in Costa Rica

With 912 miles of coastline on both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica has plenty of beaches. And you get a wide variety of looks, too. Some of these beaches are all natural, Robison Crusoe-style tropical escapes that you’ll have all to yourself. You can sit in the shade as you watch clear water lap against the shore on a lazy afternoon. Others are places to enjoy a cold drink in hand, toes in the sand, listening to music and people-watching. There are even large resorts and bustling beach towns with plenty of nightlife.

Cuenca,-Ecuador-580x300

“Bravely” Living a Life of Luxury in Ecuador on $1,300 a Month

At least once a week, I receive an email with the words “you’re so brave.” I chuckle to myself because everyone back in the States thinks my husband, Mark, and I are so courageous. In reality, I think exactly the opposite… What’s brave about retiring at age 55 to one of the world’s top retirement destinations—Cuenca, Ecuador—with spring-like temperatures all year long (lows in the 50’s and high 70’s) and not having to work unless I absolutely want to (I’m a freelance writer).

Ambergris-Caye-Belize

We Went on Vacation…And Now Live Full-Time in Paradise

Many people say that you cannot possibly come to Belize and not have some kind of a big adventure. I have to agree.

My first visit to Belize was in 1995. I vacationed for a week of scuba diving off Glover’s Reef. I met my Belizean husband, Marcos, during that trip, and he moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico with me in 1996. I was a practicing psychotherapist and my husband launched a small business. We enjoyed living in Santa Fe, but were intensely busy virtually all of the time.

Mt.-Fuji-

10 of The Most Beautiful Places in Asia

Asia covers a lot of land area and encompasses hundreds of natural scenic wonders. Towering mountains, white-sand beaches, and virgin rainforest parks make up some of the most beautiful natural attractions in Asia. Below are 10 worth your consideration.

Beziers

Uncovering the Truth About This Charming, Medieval French Town

Was there some mistake? I had just arrived at the train station in Beziers, a large medieval town set upon a towering ridge in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of the South of France. And I was feeling a little confused.

I’d heard a lot of contrasting information about Beziers. Some people insisted that it was a dispirited, neglected town whose saving grace was its medieval core. Yet I knew that it was home to a number of expats who raved about its charms. So, which was it?

Cash

Take Advantage of These 5 FATCA Loopholes

Genevieve from Atlanta married a prince from Monaco. She moved all her belongings to her new home to live there with him. As a U.S. citizen abroad, she files her annual tax return with a status of Married Filing Separate. All assets are in her husband’s name and nothing is titled jointly.

Apartment in Paris

A Happy Life and an Apartment For $100,000 in Paris

For Lisa Anselmo, 50, keeping one foot in two very different worlds is one thing that makes her feel complete. Lisa has been splitting her time between Paris and New York City ever since she impulsively bought a small apartment in Paris three years ago following the death of her beloved mother.

France

A Healthier Lifestyle and Affordable Healthcare in Wine-Loving France

Would you become healthier if you lived in France? Maybe.

France is one of the healthiest nations on earth, if average life expectancy is any indication. According to the most recent data from the World Health Organization (2013), France comes in at #9, with an average age life expectancy of 81.6 years. This puts the country well ahead the United States, which ranked #34, with a life expectancy of 79.

Cotacachi-Ecuador

Reclaiming the American Dream in Ecuador

I saw a news headline the other day claiming that most U.S. citizens believe that the American Dream is dead. It’s not a surprise really. The fading American Dream is one of the reasons that my family and I left our home in Idaho in 2011.

Our thoughts of having our own little business were quickly squashed when we considered the amount of money we would need to invest in insurance, accountants, legal advice, and the many permits required. We saw neighbors who had owned their land for generations being forced to sell due to astronomical property taxes. And friends who owned an organic farm were required to jump through numerous hoops to simply grow natural food. It wasn’t quite what life in the U.S. was supposed to be, we thought.

Chiang-Mai-Thailand

$266 a Month Rent in a City Where Splurging is Easy

The last couple of years have been the most adventuresome of my life. Inspired by my wife, Bonnie, we’ve been pursuing our dream of seeing the world for the last two years. But a number of months ago, we decided it would be nice to settle down for a while…and found the perfect place in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Seville

Rents From $650 in This Eternally Sunny European City

In 2004 Karen McCann, now 63, and her husband Rich, 71, embarked on a year-long adventure in southern Spain. The newly retired couple had always loved the idea of living overseas, so they decided to try it for a year, making a home for themselves in sunny Seville.

“We got here, and it was like, ‘Oh my God, we really like this,’” says Karen. “It’s so much like California—the weather, the Spanish speakers, the palm trees. We were comfortable with the whole atmosphere.

Paris

5 Places to Meet Expats in Paris

Planning an extended stay in Paris and worried about meeting other Anglophones? I have one word for you… Don’t. In Paris, we expats are practically tripping over each other, there are so many of us. By some estimates there are more than 200,000 American expats in Paris. Add to this tens of thousands of English, Irish and Australian expats—not to mention countless other expats who happen to speak English—and you’ve got yourself a very robust Anglophone community.

Sora, Ecuador

Top 5 Challenges of Retiring Overseas and How to Resolve Them

Exchanging your existing life for a brand new one in another country is a big deal. Moving overseas offers a grand adventure while reducing living expenses and offering an overall improvement in lifestyle, but there will be challenges along the way and it’s best to be prepared.

Cotacachi-Ecuador

American Pie Funds Life in Perfect Weather in Ecuador

Before coming to Ecuador, Robin Stock and her husband, Joe, lived in Wyoming, where she worked at a local diner as a waitress and pie-maker.

They imagined living somewhere exotic where their money would go further and winters would be either milder…or non-existent. So three years ago they moved to Cotacachi, Ecuador, on Thanksgiving Day to begin their expat adventure.

Cuenca

Making Money With Music in Cuenca, Ecuador

Brian Gary quit the U.S. after the downturn and is delighted with the new life he has created in Ecuador.

“I had developed a very successful real estate business,” Brian says. “All was going great until life went sideways with the economic meltdown in 2008, and we decided it was time for a change.”
“I’ve been fortunate to travel all over the world for a large part of my adult life, and I thought it was important for my family (wife Chelsea and three kids) to experience other cultures,” Brian says. “But since we’re not retired we needed to find a place where we could earn an income.”

Jerez de la Frontera

Discover Europe’s Best-Value Living

Now that January is bringing lots of cold, snowy weather, some friends in the U.S. are saying that one of their goals for 2016 is to get away to someplace warm…soon. My suggestion: Head to southern Spain, to sunny Jerez de la Frontera. It’s warm, colorful, exciting, and—thanks to the current low euro—very affordable.

Nosara-Costa-Rica

Loving Life in Healthy, Vibrant Beach-Town Costa Rica

A surf trip…that’s what brought me and my husband, Chuck, to Costa Rica. After landing in the capital of San Jose with my sister and her husband, we drove first to the beach town of Tamarindo, and then a couple of hours farther south to Nosara. There we found surf, beautiful beaches, and great restaurants…and the place that would become our retirement home.

Cotacachi

Great Lifestyle on a Three-Day Week in Ecuador

Todd Johnston is an adventurous guy. In his 53 years he’s traveled to Africa… climbed mountains in Peru and Ecuador…and gone scuba diving in exotic locales.

This sense of adventure, along with a desire to live life to the fullest, motivated him to buy a condo in Cotacachi, Ecuador in January of 2012 and eventually move there full-time in February 2014.

Best Retiree Healthcare

Best Retiree Healthcare on the Planet in 2016

As healthcare costs and complexity in the U.S. continue to spiral upward, more and more retirees are asking, “Can I get high-quality healthcare for less if I move overseas?” The simple answer is yes. The Healthcare category of the 2016 International Living Global Retirement Index ranks the healthcare systems of the 23 most popular retirement locations abroad.

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Enjoy a Shot of Coco Loco

Lying on the equator, Manabí province, on Ecuador’s northern Pacific coast, enjoys a year-round growing season, and the locals are adept at using all of nature’s offerings. One clan that has deep roots in the San Vicente community is preserving an age-old family recipe that you have to be drinking age to enjoy. The clan specializes in turning locally sourced ingredients into an unusual—and unusually packaged—Manabían liqueur.

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Mexico’s Creepy Cave, Japan’s Doll Village and Much More…

Whipping and flickering across the night sky, the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are on many travelers’ bucket lists. And northern Finland is one of the best places in the world to observe this stunning natural phenomenon.

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Pick up a Piece of History in Istanbul’s Vintage Market

Lying at the crossroads of East and West, Istanbul lives in the past as much as it races toward the future. And nothing represents Istanbul’s timelessness as vividly as its flea markets and vintage stores, which are scattered around the city. You’ll find it all: antique postcards, authentic Ottoman swords, carpets, and creepy porcelain dolls. Every vintage store here is a small universe in itself. And you never know what you may find.

Japan-Stocks-chart

Big Returns on Video Games, China’s Stock Market and Much More…

The chart shows the price returns on Japan’s TOPIX Stock Price Index for each month of the year (in Japan’s currency, the yen)… Two other trends quickly pop out at you when you look at the chart: How poorly Japanese stocks do in the summer and fall, and how well they do early in the year. The returns from May to November look pretty darn bad. And the returns from January through April look pretty darn good.

Page-8---Tamarindo-Costa-Ri

An Active, Comfortable Life on Costa Rica’s Gold Coast

Away from the beach, Tamarindo has great food and a fantastic social scene. We gather at sunset every evening. Because we’re near the equator, it’s always between 5:15 and 6:15 p.m. Groups of friends chat and watch their kids play. Dog walkers nod as they walk past. Surfers pop into the water for one last wave. Bottles are raised as the sun disappears over the horizon.

Page-12---Santa-Fe-de-Verag

Enjoying a Low Cost of Living and Warm Climate in Santa Fe

Bill and Mitzi Martain are living the retirement of their dreams. “We have a lovely new home, a beautiful farm, wonderful friends and neighbors, and each other,” Mitzi says. “There’s no way we could have this lifestyle and quality of life in the U.S.” Bill and Mitzi have what they consider an ideal life. They own 10 acres of fertile land in a rural valley, surrounded by hills and mountains. They enjoy sunny, warm weather year-round, with no snow, no ice, no hurricanes or tornadoes.

Page-14-15---Woman-Landscap

How to Travel the World on $40 a Day

Sitting at a beer hall at Munich’s Oktoberfest, a German couple told us they had just taken a trip around the world…for less than $100 a day, all in. My husband Mike and I nearly choked on our Hoffbrau. It sounded impossible…yet we couldn’t stop thinking about it. So when it came to planning our honeymoon, with the list of destinations we’d love to visit running off the page, that German couple’s trip kept crossing our mind.

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Good Living on $1,000 a Month in Bolivia’s “Garden City”

You’re on the way home from the largest outdoor market in South America, where you loaded your shopping bags with farm-fresh produce for less than $5. The warm weather tempts you to enjoy an easy stroll through one of the plazas and parks that dot the city. Decked out with blooming flowers in vivid patterns, they offer the perfect retreat from the market’s hustle and bustle.

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How to Choose the Offshore Vault That’s Right for You

Where should you stash your rare coins, precious metals, or other long-term investments you want to keep safe and secure? You could hold them in the U.S., in a bank safe deposit box (if it’s big enough) or a private vault. But if you really want to keep them safe, you’ll want to consider storing them internationally, to diversify where you keep your wealth. There are some other great reasons for doing this.

Page-32---Belize---Credit--Denise-Vandebroek-Dreamstime--com

Coffee-Shop Dreams on a Tropical Island

I am happy. I don’t worry about car insurance, driving for hours, or traffic. I don’t have to put on a pair of heels and a business suit. Flip-flops and a great pair of shorts or sundress are my normal attire now,” says Marlene Houghton, who owns Marbucks, her dream coffee shop on the island of Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Page-33-CHECK-Roatan

Bringing the Packers to Sandy Bay, Roatán

You can take Rob Baker and Lisa Blythe out of Wisconsin, but you can’t take away their obsession with the Green Bay Packers. The dynamic duo left their snow-covered home for a beachfront business in paradise, and they’ve brought their favorite pieces of home with them. “Our restaurant was the first official Packer Bar in the whole country!” Lisa proudly exclaims. “Football season is so much more fun on the beach.”

Page-34---Tel-Aviv,-Israel--Credit--Alexei--Cruglicov-Istock

Bauhaus and Other Surprises: The Best of Tel Aviv

One part Europe, two parts Middle East, with a dash of Africa, the Israeli capital of Tel Aviv is jam-packed with art, design, ancient ruins, and delicious fare. Yet this popular city still holds some secrets. In a region where most cities were founded before Christ was born, Tel Aviv is very new. A tiny village until the 1930s, it was the exodus of Jews from Europe that saw the modern city grow. It’s a modern, vibrant and cosmopolitan city set on a sunbronzed strip of coastline, right on the Mediterranean Sea.

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An Expert’s Guide to Eating Out in Bogotá

If you’re after a new food adventure, my adopted home of Bogotá is the place to discover ancient traditions, exotic ingredients, passionate chefs, and exciting taste experiences—all at knock-down prices. Fresh ingredients from one of the most biodiverse countries in the world are the foundation for a terrific food culture. Here’s my pick of the places and foods you should try on a weekend in the Colombian capital.

cotacachi

The Key to a Safe Retirement Overseas

As exciting and adventurous as the idea of moving abroad can be, it sometimes packs a little zing of anxiety with it. It’s the anxiety you feel when you wonder how safe you’ll be in a foreign country. It’s a perfectly natural feeling. Safety— for ourselves and our loved ones—is one of our most basic needs. None of the other benefits of living abroad mean much to us if we don’t think we’ll be safe in our new home.

Cancun

Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back From Your Dream Retirement

A few years ago, my wife Diane and I packed our lives into six suitcases, Diane tucked our beloved Chihuahua, Carmine, under her arm and we set off to build a new life in a small coastal village on Ecuador’s northern coast, a country we had never visited.

Cuenca

Dine Outdoors in January in Beautiful Cuenca, Ecuador

“Can you meet me at Puro Cafe at noon?” asks my husband, Mark. The times and locations of our rendezvous may change, but my response is always the same—yes! Who can say no to meeting for coffee at one of the quaint sidewalk cafes in picturesque Cuenca, Ecuador with its cobblestone streets, majestic churches, and irresistible Old World charm?

Salinas

Low Costs and the Perfect Climate in Ecuador

My wife Rita and I had a very good life in the United States. We lived in a beautiful riverfront condo a few hours from Washington, D.C. We had a boat, good friends, and access to great seafood and fresh produce in season.

best healthcare overseas

4 Countries With the Best Healthcare in the World

As healthcare costs in the U.S. continue to spiral upward, one of the main questions any aspiring expat asks is, “Can I get great healthcare when I move overseas?” The simple answer is yes…and without breaking the bank, either.

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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.

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