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.

 

Get Your Free Retire-Overseas Report Now

 

Learn more about the tips and tricks about living the good life abroad when you sign up for International Living Postcards. Simply enter your email below to subscribe to International Living’s free daily e-letter and we’ll immediately send you a free report—Retire in Luxury On Your Social Security Check.    

Get Your Free Report Here

No spam pledge. We value your privacy.

Archives

Santa-Fe-Panama

A Warm Climate, Stunning Views, and Gaps in the Market

“I came to Panama 10 years ago on vacation and never left,” says Carl Conway. “I was drawn in by the sunshine and blue skies…the warm water and sandy beaches…the palm trees and bright flowers…it was a tropical paradise.” Now age 43, Carl enjoys a rich and laidback life in the rural town of Santa Fe in Veraguas Province of central Panama.

Boquete

The Pleasures of Part-Time Life in Panama

When my husband, Gary, and I retired part-time to Panama it was to escape bleak Canadian winters. We spend the summer months in Canada and when the first snows come, we fly south. Panama, with its magnificent beaches and warm climate offers daily sunshine…inexpensive living…and leisurely hours just sitting on our terrace watching the iguanas and the birds. If we want to venture forth we can hop in our car and tour the countryside, walk near the village of Cerro Punta in the high country, browse the marvellous and modern library in Boquete, or attend the delightful flea market near Dolega.

caso

From New York to Panama: Glamorous Living For Less

Film editor and producer Sarah Tyler was living in New York when she decided she was ready to say goodbye to grueling winters. “I also wanted the experience of traveling abroad and practicing Spanish,” she says. Sarah now lives in Panama City’s Casco Viejo sector, where she feels at home among the cobbled streets and colonial plazas that she loves. “It’s a neighborhood known for its beauty and historical value,” says Sarah. “There’s a great bohemian vibe thanks to the people that live and visit here—artists, wayfaring travelers, investors, and entrepreneurs from all over the world.”

5 Countries with the Best Healthcare in the World

Residents of the country pay into La Caja. The fee is 7% to 11% of the person’s monthly income, which provides coverage for a spouse as well as a dependent. “After you pay your monthly fee, you receive free care,” says InternationalLiving.com Costa Rica editor Jason Holland. “Anything you need is available through a nationwide network of clinics and hospitals: doctor’s visits, medical testing, prescriptions, major surgeries, and hospitalization,” Holland says.

Ecuador

Have Business, Will Travel

After years of trying to find a way to travel and getting nowhere but frustrated, I was struck by inspiration. Maybe, just maybe, I could create a business that paid me to travel. The more I played with that idea (which seemed outrageous at the beginning), the more determined I became. Gradually, it started to happen. I wrote motivational articles and, after a while, invitations to speak at seminars began to come in. That, of course, meant traveling.

spain

An Easy Earner That Fits Your Travels

White-sand beaches…ancient wonderlands…and cities full of flamenco music and orange trees. Thanks to my ability to teach English, I have seen them all. And it doesn’t matter what age you are when you start. I’ve had colleagues in their 70s. My path as an English teacher has taken me across four continents over the past 15 years. It has allowed me the opportunity to travel extensively—never being tied to one place for longer than the term of a teaching contract—unless I wanted to extend.

Panama-city

The Glitter and Pageantry of Retirement in Panama

If you love boisterous, colorful celebrations, folklore, and pageantry you will love retirement in Panama. Panamanians work hard and play hard; they have music in their souls. They’re happy, gregarious folks who love to set aside their cares and woes and “party hearty.” You’ll find arguably more formal opportunities to celebrate in Latin America than anywhere else on earth.

st-paddys-day

Antiques, Elephants, and Julius Caesar

March sees the Irish across the world assemble to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and there are few better places to take part in this grand revelry of all things Irish than the capital city, Dublin. But it won’t be just Irish culture on display this March 17; the parade in Dublin (Ireland’s largest) will feature floats and performers from around the world, not to mention copious amounts of beer. Not to be missed. Neighboring Scotland will have a more literary focus in March as StAnza, one of the UK’s premier poetry festivals, comes to the historic town of St. Andrew’s. From March 4 to March 8 a wide variety of poets will descend upon the town for readings, workshops, discussions and, of course, live performances, bringing with them a terrific atmosphere to the area. This is also a great time of year to explore St. Andrew’s. It’s one of Scotland’s most beautiful towns and is famed for its prestigious university, coastal resort, and some of the best golfing to be found anywhere in the world.

Page-5---Roatan---Credit-ds

Chicken Poop Bingo, 2,500 Beers on Tap, and Much More…

In this month’s feature story we reveal how you can have a life of white sand beaches and swaying palms for as little as $1,500 a month for a couple renting. If you have ever dreamed of retirement on a tropical island, turn to page 20 where our experts from around the world present the top five tropical islands for retirees on a budget. As well as great weather and the kind of relaxed island life that lowers the blood pressure, these destinations have the infrastructure and amenities you need for a comfortable life. Among our choices you’ll find state-of-the-art hospitals, expat community groups, any number of great restaurants, deserted beaches where you can plant your flag and high-end homes complete with swimming pools and ocean views…

Silver-Chart

The Great Silver Surprise

Over the last two years, the gold price has dropped 30%, while the silver price has been cut in half. Well, let me tell you, I think both metals are set up to surprise to the upside in 2015, especially silver. Industrial demand for silver keeps ramping up. The Silver Institute, which represents the global silver industry, expects silver demand to grow about 5% per year over the next few years. The biggest growth opportunities are in photovoltaics (solar), automotive and ethylene oxide (EO, an essential ingredient in plastics). Longer term, just in photovoltaic solar panels, demand is expected to rise to 109 million ounces by 2018 from 88 million ounces consumed in 2013.

Page-8---Turkey---Credit-Ke

“We Sold our House, Ditched our Jobs and Took to the Road for a Life of Adventure”

In 2010, after several years of dreaming, planning, and preparing, Betsy and Warren Talbot sold their home, packed a couple of bags, and left the U.S. on a one-way ticket with the intention of traveling the world full-time for five years. Little did they know that their five-year travel dream would become an indefinite adventure, with a sustainable location-independent income, and a lifestyle full of more freedom and better health than they could have ever imagined. Since hitting the road on that crisp October day, they have picnicked in Provence, fallen in love all over again in romantic Florence, snuck away from the crowds to write and recharge at a 300-yearold farmhouse in Portugal, hiked the 335-mile Lycian Way in Turkey, camped overnight on the ice of Antarctica, learned Spanish in Mexico, and recently bought a house in a small countryside town in the Andalucía region of Spain.

Page-13---Prague---Credit--

A Fairy-Tale Retirement in Old-World Europe

For as long as they could remember, Doug and Diane Jones’ retirement dream had been a small organic farm in the Oregon wilderness… So it came as a surprise when, nearing retirement, they realized that they were tired of working sun-up to sundown on the farm and a new and unexpected retirement dream—of living in sunny, rural, authentic southern Italy—had taken its place. “We worked most of our lives because we didn’t come from money and we had to work for it. We always spent our vacations visiting family—you know, the guilt-trip thing. We never took trips abroad. We were too poor in both vacation time and money.”

Page-15---Cuenca-Ecuador---

Low-Cost and Personal: The Pleasant Truth about Health Care in Ecuador

Each morning Tennessee natives Bobby and Becca Vines are greeted by views of two stunning volcanoes. Small-town life in Cotacachi, Ecuador, is never dull, and the couple spends their days viewing international films, enjoying live music, and visiting with the locals. Bobby and Becca spent much of their lives devoted to educating Tennessee schoolchildren. But as retirement neared, the couple knew their teachers’ pensions wouldn’t be enough to allow them to continue living comfortably just outside Nashville.

Page-16-17---Pereira-Colomb

The Stylish Pearl of Colombia’s Coffee Region

Sophistication may not be the first word that springs to mind when you think of Colombia. But Pereira, at the heart of the country’s coffee triangle, is one of Latin America’s most stylish cities. Pereira is prosperous and you’ll find gleaming glass apartment towers, high-rise office buildings, chic, modern architecture, and venerable colonial buildings. The abundance of students attending the many universities gives the city a youthful vibe. Because of this, Pereira has some of the best nightlife in the region, and thanks to the multitude of clubs and theaters featuring operas and concerts of all kinds, there’s always plenty to do. With the Andes at your doorstep, there are also plentiful opportunities to immerse yourself in the great outdoors.

“Funding My Life in Istanbul with an Airbnb”

Lying at the meeting point of Europe and Asia, the Turkish city of Istanbul has been attracting people in search of their fortune for centuries. Its markets and steep cobbled lanes have played host to traders since the Greeks first founded Byzantium on the site. A few name changes and a lot of history later, and now it’s one of the world’s most visited cities. Folks come from all over to explore millennia-old places of worship, and walk the spice-scented bazaars in search of an exotic handcrafted bargain.

“How I Broke into the Paris Food Scene”

Paris has always attracted artists. It’s also justly famous for its food and markets. While it was her artist’s heart that brought Los Angeles-native Terresa Murphy to the City of Light, it was food that unlocked the funds to living there full-time. Back in the 1980’s, Terresa says, “I came with my guitar; I played for money in the metro to begin with, then in cafés. Then in the ‘90’s, after much back-and-forth between Paris and the States, I got a job at the city’s International Cinematography Festival through a friend.” But it was food that really drew Terresa’s attention. “I fell in love with French food culture, particularly the artisan approach to both ingredients and cooking. It wasn’t considered artisan at the time,” she says. “It was just the norm.”

Page-34-35---Santa-Catalina

Pirates and the World’s Best Snorkeling on the Caribbean’s Forgotten Island

I’m standing on a floating footbridge over a piratedug canal once used as a secret ship hideaway. To my right lies the tiny island of Santa Catalina, birthed when the creation of Canal Aury separated it from the main island, where centuries-old cannons still stand watch atop a high bluff. To my left is the sleepy town of Santa Isabel, administrative center of Isla Providencia. Other Caribbean islands may be soaked in pirate lore, but Providencia is drenched in it. More than one buccaneer made this his base, perhaps the most notorious of whom was Captain Henry Morgan. Today he is most famous for the rum that bears his name, but in his time Captain Morgan made a name for himself by attacking Spanish strongholds.

Thailand

Teach Your Way Around The World, And Into The Hearts of Many

It was a day in mid-2012. I woke up to the annoying alarm clock, hastily got ready for my stressful sales job and sat from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the same back-breaking chair, in a dull office. High pay, San Diego sun, the American Dream, right? Wrong! Three years of this monotonous rat race was enough to push me over the edge. I craved a meaningful existence packed with travel and adventure.

Havana-Cuba

Three Great Restaurants to Eat At When You Visit Havana, Cuba

If you visit Havana, Cuba it’s crucial to know exactly where to eat. That’s because there are no concierges for directions, no Yelp service to read reviews and no signs advertising the restaurant’s best features. In fact, until recently there were no options for a high-end meal at all. But that’s all changing. Cuba is opening up to Cuban entrepreneurs…and the best way to see it is through dining. If you’re making the trip then you should visit these restaurants…

Free Accommodation, Free Time, and a Secure Income

Are you tired of the 9-to-5 grind? Would you rather be living it up in a tranquil beach-town paradise…or a vibrant foreign city, complete with museums, street performers, and corner cafés?Even if you’re not working 9-to-5 anymore, you may be looking for adventure and an easy income to go along with it. Well, here’s something you should know. You have a skill that will easily help you start living the life you want. You can live in warmer climates and enjoy low-cost living. You can set up a new home in Costa Rica…Spain…Ecuador…Italy or wherever you choose. I’m living proof.

Panama City

Sun, Sea, and Opportunity in One Country

Rosalind Baitel, 54, is bi-coastal. And by that I don’t mean she subjects herself to long flights to shuttle back and forth between expensive, crowded cities like New York and L.A. “We go to the beach most every weekend…it’s so close that even if we can’t stay the entire weekend, we can go for the day.” An hour and 40 minutes gets her from Panama City on the Pacific shore to the brilliant blue waters of the Caribbean. What she loves most about Panama City is that it’s a world capital…with amenities and entertainment to rival many of the world’s great cities.

Cayo

Little Belize Offers a Lot (Including Tax Advantages)

Among other benefits, those in the program can import household goods and vehicles (cars less than three years old, a boat, or a light plane) tax-free within a year of approval. They are also exempt from paying any tax on income or investments generated outside Belize. The couple brought in a shipping container’s worth of household goods to start their new life near Bullet Tree Falls Village, just outside San Ignacio, the regional capital of the Cayo District. This region in the interior is known for its jungle, mountains, and agriculture. The couple’s North American-style house, which includes a large courtyard and swimming pool, sits on a double lot near a narrow river. A solar power system, which cost $65,000, enables them to be completely off-grid.

Panama

Simplify Your Life in a Natural Paradise

Michael, 55, and Julie Rhoda, 52, traded in full-time jobs, a home in Colorado, a car, and the usual creature comforts for a new life in Santa Fe, Panama. “We moved here on New Year’s Day 2014, so we’ve celebrated one year down here,” Michael says. “We love the slow pace and the locals.” But what really attracted the couple and other expats to the area is its natural scenic beauty and cool highland climate.

Kuala-Lumpur-Malaysia

Where to Find the Best Healthcare in the World

Living in a sunny, low-cost, laidback destination overseas doesn’t mean that you have to forego good healthcare. In fact, in many countries abroad, the healthcare you’ll enjoy is second to none…and more affordable than you’ve ever dreamed possible. Below are the five countries which received the top scores in the healthcare category of International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2015.

Panama

The Easy Way to Sack Your Boss

If you can write a simple email to a friend—and you like to share ideas with other people—you have all the qualifications you need to make a good income, live wherever you want in the world, and be your own boss. Age…experience…location…none of that matters. I’m talking about freelance copywriting. People often think they need a lot of qualifications to become a copywriter. But, the truth is, you don’t need a special education to succeed in this industry. There are successful copywriters who didn’t finish high school.

beach

How to Sit on the Beach and Watch the Money Roll in

Back in 2009, I was taking a six-week holiday at a beach resort on the island of Koh Phangan in Thailand. Almost everyone there was on vacation, of course. And they were having a great time, enjoying the fun and sun, and spending money. Lots of it. Not earning it. But not me… That’s because I’m a freelance copywriter. That just means I write sales letters, promotional emails, and other communications…just easy, conversational English.

Cuenca

Better Health, More Happiness, and Lower Costs in Cuenca

Though we moved to picturesque colonial city of Cuenca, Ecuador in 2010, we left again two years ago. That’s right…we left our retirement paradise to try out life on the Central Coast of California in San Luis Obispo where we spent our honeymoon 40 years ago. We were 20 minutes from the Pacific Ocean with its spectacular fireball sunsets and enjoyed some of California’s best beaches, including Pismo, Morro Bay, and Avila. It was our good fortune, to find a 1,200-square-foot apartment on Craigslist—fully furnished—for $895 a month (with utilities and internet it came to $960). It was a bargain.

copywriting

$800 on the First Project—No Experience Required

I haven’t always done what I do these days. In fact, during the first year of my new career, I didn’t even know that’s what it was called. It was only after a client told me that “good copywriters are hard to come by” that I realized. I smiled, politely nodded my head, and then frantically googled the term “copywriter” after she left. I honestly had no clue up until that point that the simple promotional writing I was doing was called copywriting. I started out as a songwriter and an artist. But I had an exhaustive and demanding touring schedule that required me to be on the road 51 weeks of the year. After performing and writing for more than 25 years, the passion was gone.

italy

The Unexpected Benefits of Spanish…in Italy

I still remember the day that my plane first touched down in Italy nine years ago. I was a bundle of nerves and excitement, and everything—even the simple train ride into the city—was beautiful to me. And I had the fleeting thought that perhaps I should have studied Italian instead of Spanish for the last few years. But I quickly learned that Spanish was even more widely understood than English here—both because many of the Italians I met spoke Spanish very well and because many of the words in Spanish are similar to, or even the same, as the Italian word for the same thing.

copywriting

Get Paid $200 for Writing an Email

I hear you’re looking for a portable income to help you move overseas. I don’t blame you. Why live where you don’t want to…when you can live anywhere? The beaches of Central American are on your doorstep…Southeast Asia has some beautiful—and low-cost—places where you can set up home…and the cultures of Europe are waiting to be explored.

Granada

Granada: How to Enjoy Spain’s City of Indulgence

It’s a day for dreaming of Andalucia. So I’m letting Spanish composer Manuel de Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain take me on a musical journey back to Granada—back to the lament of flamenco guitars, orange trees, and jasmine-scented patios with pattering fountains. On my last visit to Spain, I added a Granada side trip. Sheer indulgence as I’d been before, but it’s a city made for indulgence. De Falla’s old garden, just above the Realejo neighborhood, is laden with roses. Gardens have a long history in Spain. For the Moors, a garden symbolized an inner paradise and a reflection of heaven.

David

Cat Talk, Cursing, and Other Benefits of Speaking Spanish

My Panamanian neighbor, Gabriela Pitti, and I share a love of cats. We discovered this when an adorable and affectionate stray appeared one day, a petite calico female. She explored our yards and, finding a welcoming environment, decided to stay. Gabriela and I speculated about where she might have come from, gushed about our love of animals in general and cats especially. Gabriela adopted the kitty, named her Mini, and together we took her to the animal clinic to have her spayed. Since then Gabriela and I have shared many cat-related and other experiences and it’s a great comfort to have her for my neighbor. But Gabriela doesn’t speak a word of English. It’s my ability to talk to her in Spanish that has enabled us to form a bond as neighbors, friends, and cat lovers.

Nicaragua

12 Strangers Walk into a Bar…

People from all around the world come to my adopted home town, San Juan del Sur. It’s Nicaragua’s most popular beach town and home to a cheerful mix of folks. Let me give you an example. I once found myself in a bar where visitors and locals often meet up. With a rockin’ band that invites anyone with an instrument to sit in and play, a true mix of Nicaraguans and foreigners, and fabulous local fare, it was so crowded that I found myself sharing a table with strangers. I was the lone U.S. citizen among 12 people from 12 different countries.

Restoring a Vintage Boat — Fun Now, Retirement Income Later

Paul Blanford has created a lifestyle income for his retirement. It’s already making money…and occasionally he gets to enjoy it himself. But when he’s ready to retire—which may be sooner rather than later—his new life is ready for him. Paul, a native of New Zealand, works as a pilot in Hong Kong but has always loved boats and sailing. So he decided to buy a junk—a type of traditional Chinese sailboat— and turn it into a business. Second-hand junks are cheap and plentiful in Hong Kong, and Paul had his eye on the tourist charter business along the west coast of peninsular Malaysia in the Straits of Malacca.

Bolivia

Discover Bolivia’s Best Places For Income Opportunity

If you’re the pioneering type, a small business in Bolivia might offer just the kind of lifestyle you’re looking for. You can live well in Bolivia for less money than just about anywhere, and you don’t need bags of cash to start an enterprise here. Historically, Bolivia ranks alongside the poorest countries in the region, but things are changing. Today it is among the most hopeful economies in the hemisphere…its economy is growing steadily at around 5% a year… inflation (5.19% in 2014) and debt (32% of GDP in 2013) are under control. Bolivia’s oil and gas industry helps keep energy costs low.

Incomes-Abroad-1

Turning Conversation Into Cash Online

In 2012, Dani Leis, quit her job in the non-profit health sector and left Portland, Oregon for Thailand with nothing but a single duffel bag and a dream to start a new life. Her intention was to hit the beach and support herself by teaching. But she obtained her TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) certification miles from the coast in the northern city of Chiang Mai and fell in love with the area. “The people here are friendly, kind, and open-hearted,” says Dani, 55. “They enjoy a culture centered on sanuk, meaning to take pleasure in what you are doing.

Salinas

A B&B on the Beach Funds This Idyllic Life

When John and Heather Schmit sold their 10-year-old trucking business in Phoenix, Arizona in 2011 they found their dream home amid white sandy beaches, rocky headlands, gentle surf, and inland breezes… Their home in Punta Carnero on the coast of Ecuador “is our piece of paradise,” says Heather. “I can walk along the beach and be the only one out there. It’s so quiet and peaceful.” As they were considering their overseas move, Heather began conversing with a former classmate who lived in Vilcabamba for three years…so Ecuador made it on to their radar.

boquete

Panama’s Most Popular Expat Haven

Panama’s most popular expat town rests on the eastern-facing slope of the Baru Volcano—Panama’s highest peak, at 11,400 feet—in Chiriquí Province, western Panama. The elevation is a big part of the appeal. For one thing, located at around 3,900 feet, this town enjoys a spring-like climate year-round with average daily temperatures of about 70 F. For another, you’ll find plenty of picturesque views. Boquete (pronounced Bow-keh-tay) is home to thousands of retired North Americans. Apart from the climate they come for the low costs and the natural beauty.

Cuenca

Enjoy a Low Cost of Living in Cuenca, Ecuador

My wife and I have lived in Cuenca, Ecuador for years and continue to be amazed at how far we can stretch our dollars while enjoying a high quality of life. Let’s break down some of those costs so you can compare your current budget with what you might expect to pay in Cuenca, beginning with activities that are free. How much does it cost to attend the symphony and museums where you live? Guess what—there is no charge for either in Cuenca. How about your gym membership? The city offers free Zumba classes in parks all over town several times each week.

France

French Health Care: Why It’s Still A Bargain

It’s no surprise that many people considering a move to France are eager to know more about France’s universal health care program. The World Health Organization has recognized France as having the best overall health care system in the world. Health care costs are low, the quality of care is high, and nobody can be rejected for a pre-existing medical condition. What’s not to like? Expats usually gain eligibility for insurance benefits from the national health care system (known as Couverture Maladie Universelle or “CMU”) in either of two ways. First, you can become eligible by paying into the French social security system.

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.

Enter your E-mail Address Below



We Value Your Privacy.