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

Mexico-city

If You’re Not Earning This Way, You’re Missing Out

Every day, I take a break from work around 1 p.m. I grab the leash, shoo the dogs out the door, pop in my headphones, and spend 45 minutes listening to NPR as I walk through the park. Some days I stop for a taco on the way home. I often pause to chat with my neighbors. I live in Mexico City, famed for its chaotic sidewalks, ruthless traffic, and millions of inhabitants. But as a freelancer in a cozy neighborhood just outside of the Centro Historico, I barely notice the hustle and bustle as I take my time.

Modern train in Swiss Alps

Europe’s Most Romantic Train Journeys

And so I nearly always find myself choosing to explore Europe by train, even if it sometimes takes a couple more hours and a few more dollars. I’ve traveled this way for years, both when I lived in the States and visited Europe between jobs, and now that I live here in the Swiss Alps. And I’ve discovered that, even though I love nearly every train ride I’ve taken, a few routes stand a little taller than the rest… they unfold more beautifully and leave attentive passengers more breathless than the average ride through the countryside.
This train ride weaves its way along the coastline of Italy and then France, offering striking views of the ocean, the seaside cliffs and candy-colored towns of the Cinque Terre, tiny harbors, and hillside vineyards and olive groves. Towns seem to tumble down cliffsides into the Ligurian Sea where boats bob at anchor. En route watch out for the chiming towers of Riomaggiore and picture the sleek Genoan war galleys that plied this coast 500 years ago.

San-Miguel

Discover the Secret to Easy Conversation—in Spanish

Playing with language should be enjoyable. After all, it’s a hobby not a chore. And that’s exactly how I approach teaching Spanish. You can dabble in it or get serious about it but you should always be enjoying yourself. For instance, I paint pictures in my spare time, but I don’t want to go to art school and become a renowned artist. I just want to dabble with my paints for the pleasure of it.

Money

Keep Your Money Safe in an Offshore Bank Account

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have bags of cash to open an offshore bank account. Even if you invest a few thousand dollars in a non-U.S. bank, you can still avail of several key benefits of offshore banking. Benefits like…

Vilcabamba

Adapting to Life as an Expat

How easy is it to adapt to life in a new country?” Well, the answer is going to be different depending on who you are and how adaptable you’re willing to be. I’m a planner by nature. You know, one of those people who likes to make lists, check things off, and know that all is going according to plan. Winging it is fine in certain situations, but when it comes to major life changes I feel better knowing that all of my I’s are dotted and my T’s are crossed.

Spain

Savoring Spain and the World on a Freelance Income

I live on a Spanish island where the pace is relaxed and life is blissfully simple. In summer, I wake up early before the heat of the day sets in and head to the coast for my daily swim followed by a coffee at a beach bar. In winter I switch things around, taking long walks in the afternoons, and working once the light fades.

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Fountains of Wine and Folklore in Spain’s Sierra Nevada

Climbing ever higher up the Poqueira Gorge, three of the loveliest Alpujarran villages are Pampaneira, Bubión and Capileira. They’re designated as a Site of Historical and Artistic Heritage, so for those day-tripping from Granada city, the trio make a good Alpujarran taster. Although they’re tourist-oriented, there’s nothing tacky about delights such as freshly-baked almond pastries, weaving studios, and jams made from mountain raspberries.

e-book

Turning $200 Into $50,000 on the e-Book Market

I once bought the rights to an e-book for $200 because I liked the content and thought others would find it helpful. I’ve since made more than $50,000 selling that e-book over the years! For the past couple of days I’ve been showing you how you can fund your life overseas using one of my cardinal business principles that “It’s more profitable to publish than it is to write.”

Desert

Earn from e-Books the Easy Way

One of the things I’ve learned in my years making money from e-books is that it’s more profitable to publish than it is to write. One of the most profitable ways to publish is to hire a writer. Hiring writers has afforded me the time and the income to travel to many of my “bucket list” destinations…like last year’s two-week safari to Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa.

volcan

Rent in Panama’s Highlands From $500 a Month

The drive from my hometown of David west to the town of Volcan in Chiriquí Province is one of my favorite scenic routes in all of Panama. I pass cattle pastures, dairy farms, horse stables, and chicken farms framed by rolling green hills. At certain vantage points I look out over the landscape and can see all the way to the Pacific coast. Colorful flowers and a surprising variety of trees and foliage decorate the roadway as I wind my way up the slope of the mountain.

Ireland

How to Spot a Second Passport Scam

First, let’s set the scene: Common legal grounds enabling someone to acquire a second passport include marriage to a foreign citizen or birth in a foreign nation. In some countries like Ireland and Greece blood ancestry is a basis. Then there’s formal naturalization, meaning you apply and qualify for citizenship status.

Sorrento

The 78-Year-Old Book That Sent Me to Sorrento

For the last 15 years I’ve used my laptop to earn a small fortune from books and e-books. They’ve provided the income to send me to some of the most incredible destinations in the world…like the gorgeous Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento, Italy. Built on the spot that Roman Emperor August had his villa, it’s perched atop a breathtaking Mediterranean cliff with beautiful gardens and a tree that grows both lemons and oranges.

coronado

A California Lifestyle for Less in Panama

The sound of rolling waves soothes me as I lie on the warm, glittering white and black volcanic sand. Bursts of green palm trees ring the beach, which is dotted with bits of driftwood, coral, and shells. White marine birds complete the scene, standing on spindly legs, looking out towards the sky-blue sea.

zambia

How to Make Money From the Back of an Elephant

I don’t own any animals and, for the most part, I tend not to get close to them. So what am I doing sitting 10 feet off the ground on the back of an African bush elephant in remote Zambia? The short answer is: “experiencing one of my lifelong dreams to go on safari.” And what a safari it was, exceeding my wildest imagination and giving me close-up encounters with lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, and a long list of other wildlife.

david-2

Retired and Loving Panama on $1,500 a Month

Cost of living is one of the major concerns for many retirees considering a move overseas. It’s one of the reasons my husband and I chose to settle in David, the capital of Chiriqui Province in western Panama. Life here is not only pleasant, relaxed, and fun, but super affordable. We average about $1,500 a month for our living expenses. Here is a typical monthly budget for myself and my husband:

fiji

Get $60,000 a Year From Your Overseas Home

I could never have afforded my tropical-island property if I didn’t use it to earn. And earn it does…I bring in between $50,000 and $60,000 a year. If you rent your second home part of the year, it can pay for itself. In fact, it may even make you a healthy profit. But you need to know how to successfully market your overseas dream pad to vacationers.

cancun

The Perfect Retirement Solution

Swimming with endangered green sea turtles in Akumal, strolling the cobblestone shopping district in Playa del Carmen, exploring cenotes or ancient Maya ruins or just lazing in a hammock…this is my life today. But it’s a far cry from where my husband Don and I were back in 2008. In the wake of the financial collapse and the deep recession that followed, our comfortable existence was completely upended. At an age when we expected we could begin to slow down, we found ourselves starting over in a very inhospitable economy. Add to that Don’s second heart attack and the loss of his health insurance when his job disappeared, and you have a recipe for real desperation.

Cuenca

What Things Cost in the World’s Best Retirement Haven

One of the many great things about living in Ecuador is that flights to the U.S. are frequent and easy. You can fly nonstop from Quito to Miami in four hours and from Guayaquil to New York in less than seven hours. I’ve just returned to Cuenca after spending some time visiting family back in the U.S. Being in the States got me thinking about how much I spend on everyday items like food here in Ecuador.

money-tree

Tap Into the Income Potential of Your Own Experience

While it could be argued that every business is influenced and informed by our own experiences…a great deal of opportunity goes unused when we fail to see the potential of putting that experience to work to help others. In fact, personal experience lends itself to all sorts of enterprises. It’s really a matter of recognizing things that might be hiding in plain sight.

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Maya Warriors and Croatia by Candlelight

A popular expat hub, the Belizean island of Ambergris Caye is no stranger to visitors. From August 6 to August 8, the island welcomes an influx of a different kind, as performers and artists from across the Maya world descend on Ambergris for the International Costa Maya Festival. This colorful event is a spectacle of music, dance, and food, as the region’s Maya ancestry is celebrated in vivid style.

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Stay with Descendants of Alexander the Great…

He marched his army from Macedonia to beyond the borders of the known world. On the banks of the Ganges, in modern-day India, he finally stopped. The Indians called him “Sikandar,” but we know him better as Alexander the Great. And legend has it that remnants of his army settled in the Himalayas, where they have remained to this day.

Great-Blue-Hole

Dive in the Great Blue Hole or Grab a Piece of Prehistory

Jacques Cousteau once declared the Blue Hole in Belize to be one of the best diving spots in the world—and few would disagree. The Blue Hole, part of the Lighthouse Reef system, is an almost-perfect circular limestone sinkhole that is nearly 1,000 feet wide and more than 400 feet deep. This striking ocean feature sits like a giant blue pupil in a sea of turquoise.

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The Eccentric Charms of Sweden’s Cultured Capital

Sweden may have a reputation as one of the most modern and progressive nations on Earth, but its capital, Stockholm—spread across 14 islands—still manages to preserve its past in resplendent style. At the heart of the city stands the Royal Palace, the magnificent residence of Sweden’s much-loved monarch, king Carl XVI Gustaf. This glorious, baroque-style building, open to the public, houses king Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities, with over 200 stone sculptures from across Europe.

A New “Nation” Emerges, Sweet Profits and much more…

Scandinavia is one of the most expensive regions in the world… and Norway is usually the most expensive country within Scandinavia. But thanks to a falling oil price coinciding with a rising U.S. dollar, Norway is on the bargain counter. The Norwegian krone recently touched a 13-year low against the dollar, while the shares of Statoil, Norway’s largest oil company, recently bounced off a six-year low (in dollar terms). These multi-year lows offer enticing buying opportunities for the forward-looking investor.

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Convenient, Small-Town Living in Ecuador’s Andes

Morning is my favorite time of day here in Cotacachi. The local stores are just beginning to open, street vendors are pushing their carts into position, and the bells of Iglesia Matriz are softly chiming. Nothing but blue sky means perfect views of the two dormant volcanoes that stand guard on either side of this small town and her valley. I’m walking the mile from my home into the center with my son. Our route brings us into town from the east and our first stop is Parque San Francisco, the smaller of two plazas. Park benches sit under sturdy palms surrounded by shrubbery and flowers.

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“We Quickly Fell in Love with Penang, Malaysia”

“We have never regretted our decision,” says Ellen Ma of her and her husband Jim’s move to the island of Penang in northeast Malaysia. “Financially it made sense, and when you throw in high-speed internet, cable TV, great food, and a large, diverse expat community, we wish we had done it sooner. We were also surprised how many North Americans are here. There are a lot and that’s also comforting… we immediately had people who understood us.”

tagaytay

Living Well on $1,000 a Month in the Philippines

When Jim Archibald found himself retiring on disability in his mid-50s, he had a stark choice. “I could have moved to some remote backwater place and lived in a shack, but that’s not very appealing,” he says. For 25 years the Californian had run his own business making auto parts. Now retired, he knew his budget would be very tight, so the obvious answer to him was “to move to a place with a low cost of living.”

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Bali: An Easy and Beautiful Place to Live

It’s the simple things I love most about life in Bali, one of more than 17,000 islands making up the country of Indonesia. For instance, taking my dogs Abby and Yuki for a walk along the beach at sunset, and dropping in to my favorite beach bar, Warung Rasta, for a cold beer or two. The rickety wooden tables sit right on the black, volcanic sand, and it is the perfect place to watch the sun go down, as Java’s volcanoes loom to the west. As dogs, chickens, and pigs run around the beach, I give the staff a quick wave and they bring me a beer.

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Explore the World Rent Free

I ’m now enjoying the glorious summer on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Every morning, I start the day with a cup of coffee on the terrace overlooking Málaga Bay. I have a car to explore the area. Everything I need is close by: the grocery stores, vegetable market, shopping, and, of course, the world-class beaches of the Costa del Sol. And the best part about this? I don’t pay a cent for any of it.

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Savor a Laidback Lifestyle on Belize’s Paradise Peninsula

You gaze out from your veranda each morning onto a sea often as smooth as glass, shimmering as sunrays dance upon its surface. As far as the eye can see, north and south, are miles of gorgeous beaches, peppered with inviting, thatched-roof palapas at the end of docks. Red, yellow, and other brightly colored kayaks sit above the surf line, ready for the next joy ride.

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The Five Best University Towns in the World for Retirees

The narrow lane spills onto a magnificent square. A group of young musicians fills the twilight with melodies. All around you are stunning buildings dating back centuries. And yet the people relaxing here and walking through these ancient streets are very much 21st century: students with books and laptops in hand. Folks from all over are enjoying evening drinks or dining on café terraces. Talk is of the art expo the town is putting on…an upcoming concert…or the latest news or trends…

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Profit From the Arctic’s “Black Gold” War

If you were to make your way far below the icy North Pole to the seabed at a certain spot, you would find an unusual titanium flag. It’s Russian, and it was stuck there in 2007 by the crew of two mini-submarines as a symbolic land-grab that rivals anything in history. Though it’s not a “New World” that Russia and other Arctic countries are seeking. It’s new oil. And now, with the scramble for Arctic oil heating up, the abundant black gold buried beneath the ice could constitute a fantastic investment opportunity.

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A Second Passport: Your Ticket to an Easier Life

When it comes to taking your life and assets offshore, few tools are more valuable than a second passport. I have one, and it makes my life easier in many ways. For example, I am able to enter Brazil and several other countries on my second passport (South African) visa-free, since Brazil requires visas for U.S. passport holders. And when I go to certain countries—ones that aren’t big fans of the U.S.—using my second passport helps me avoid attention.

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Great Healthcare Inspires a Business in Mérida

It wasn’t until Tina Frewer suffered a serious health issue that she discovered how good the medical care was in Mérida, a city of nearly one million people on the western side of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. After receiving excellent care at Star Médica, one of two top-rated hospitals in Mérida, and attention from the area’s top specialists, Tina was inspired. Why not help medical tourists who come to Mexico for low-cost, high-quality surgeries and dental care navigate the city and the system? As a patient advocate/medical tourism concierge, Tina now connects expat patients with doctors and healthcare facilities through her business, HealthItinerary.

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A “Fishy Business” on the Riviera Maya

We enjoy the beach when we have time,” says Joseph Ader of his new life on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. “I love what I do. And I love the climate here. It’s very similar to Florida, which is one of the biggest producers of fish for food and the hobby trade. That’s one of the reasons it’s such a good business here.” As a kid growing up in Pennsylvania, Joseph helped his grandmother with her tropical fish aquariums, not realizing he was setting himself up for his future career.

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See the Galápagos on a Budget

When my husband Mark said, “Let’s go to the Galápagos for your birthday,” I couldn’t help but laugh. The Galápagos Islands, after all, are one of the ecological treasures of the world—and have a price tag to match. Or so I thought. But when we used my 58th birthday as an excuse for a five-day, four-night trip there I found out otherwise. The bill? $1,037 for the two of us, including airfare.

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Find Your Perfect Retirement Overseas

“I always wanted to live right on the beach, but not in a condo,” says Duane, originally from Tampa, Florida. “I wanted a home, and space around me to roam. For years I scoured Florida’s coasts, looking for an affordable property. But everything was out of reach.” Then, three years ago, he and his wife Judy found what they were looking for—on a good-value Caribbean island. Today they’re living their dream on the sand, and it costs them, on average, a mere $1,300 a month to live comfortably, right on the water.

cancun

You’ll Never Know All the Answers…Just Go

One afternoon, as I awoke from a short nap and looked upon the brilliant, blue-green waters of the Caribbean Sea only steps away from my front door, I had a powerful thought. Nothing of what is now my amazing, wonderful life would be possible if I had surrendered to the fears I had only a few years ago. When my wife Diane and I first embarked on our expat adventure, we had second thoughts, unanswered questions, and even an appropriate amount of fear.

david

A Warmer Climate and 75% Slashed Off My Living Costs

After enduring too many cold winters I decided it was time to move overseas. Shoveling snow just to get to work and more shoveling to get back into the garage at night was exhausting. It was adding more time to my work day, meaning less time for relaxing at home. Plus I hated how the cold dictated how and when I did everything. It would take twice as long to get anywhere. And my cost of living was going up and up and my heat bills just kept rising. Then there was the worry about the wear and tear on the car due to the freezing temperatures, frozen pipes, downed power lines, and power outages.

Puerto-Rico

Kiss the Corporate World Good-Bye and Earn Online

On my 45th birthday I told my husband I did not want to still be living in Arizona when I turned 50. We had lived in Arizona for 35 years, while I worked in the corporate sector…in management, customer services, business analysis, and training. These days we live in Puerto Rico where my husband has a new career as a scuba instructor and I work freelance. The low cost of living allows us to have a great life…with fewer hours and less stress than corporate life.

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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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