When my husband first proposed the idea of retiring early outside of the U.S., I thought he was being unrealistic. Could we really afford to retire in our 50s if we found a place where we could live on less? I was skeptical…but I’m happy to report that we’ve been living that dream in Panama for over two years now and have never looked back. Here we could actually afford to retire, live comfortably and even travel.
Low cost of living…stunning natural beauty…warm, friendly people…and the best retiree discount in the world. There are so many good reasons to live in Panama that it’s easy to see why Americans are choosing this country as their retirement haven. It’s a country that has something for everyone. Want to live by a white-sand beach, gazing out at miles of clear-blue Pacific Ocean or Caribbean Sea? You can here. More of a quiet mountain town kind of guy or gal? You’re in luck. Panama has a range of little mountain towns to choose from.
“Don’t worry, you won’t have a problem finding a place to stay,” said my friend as we drove into General Villamil Playas (commonly just called “Playas”), the closest beach town to Guayaquil. “The hotels here never fill up.” He should know. He owns a condo in Playas and drives there easily in just over an hour from his home in Guayaquil to spend weekends and holidays at this beach town on Ecuador’s southern coast, named by some as the “sunniest beach” in the country.
After doing some research online, which included International Living, I moved to Cuenca at age 54. I planned to travel throughout South America, but I just loved it here, feeling no need to go farther south. Then, six months later, at age 55, my teacher’s retirement kicked in, so I could qualify for a pensionado visa, living off my retirement income.
A freelance opportunity to photograph Paris presented itself over drinks at a cocktail party. The president of a small publishing company complained to me about a freelance photographer who did not obtain shots needed to complete a French language textbook. The project deadline was fast approaching. I asked what was required.
Home to 420,000 people, Florianopolis is often referred to by its residents as “the other Brazil.” For one thing, there is the evident prosperity, from brand-name jeans to the latest-model cars. The streets and sidewalks are clean. Unemployment is low, as is the crime rate. There are parks and pedestrian plazas. And the city is large enough to offer most services that you might need, without the problems of a bigger metropolis.
There are few places on earth as romantic as Buenos Aires. At night, in the backstreets, couples dance the tango. Old men sit outside the bars, playing the accordion. Sad music that tells of loss, longing, and the complications of love. I’d come to Buenos Aires with two prized possessions: my dog-eared copy of the poems of the blind poet, Jorge Luis Borges, and my folded and torn certificate for teaching English.
Cut down coconut bunch with machete. Put one or two coconuts in the fridge to get cold. Cut a hole in the top of the coconut. Insert straw…This routine is part of my daily life on the north central coast of Ecuador. My husband Ron and I live in the small fishing village of El Matal near the town of Jama and drink fresh coconut water daily—from our very own coconut trees. El Matal happens to be the setting for the award-winning film Pescador by Sebastian Cordero, but to us it’s just home.
Have you found the saying, “life doesn’t always turn out the way you expect” to be true? My husband and I have definitely found that to be the case. We’ve also realized that when life takes you down different paths it isn’t necessarily a bad thing! As we contemplated the future we found that we had an undiscovered sense of adventure. Rather than looking to a “normal” retirement in Canada, we investigated the possibility…
Costa Rica has a lot to recommend it: low cost of living, bargain real estate, the “Pura Vida” lifestyle, great weather, fabulous beaches…the list goes on and on. But one of the biggest benefits for retirees, business owners, and other expats is the health care. In a time of rising costs in the U.S., not to mention a contentious political debate over insurance and medical care, Costa Rica’s take on the issue is refreshing.
I was asked again the other day what I love most about Ecuador, and as I answered it occurred to me how retired I sounded. I’m not retired, of course, but as I was going over my three big pluses for this country…the weather, the cost of living, and the variety…I realized that all three of these qualities appealed directly to my Inner Retiree.
Are you sick of the rat race? You know the routine…get up, shower, have breakfast, leave the house, get stuck in traffic, put in long hours at the office. Get home, go to bed and do it all again tomorrow. Are you ready for retirement…but looking at your savings you know retirement is out of the question? Here’s how to survive a retirement crisis. You can live a richer lifestyle for less overseas. Many expat couples can live a very comfortable life on a budget of between $1,500 and $2,000 a month…
There are a lot of practical advantages to living in Costa Rica that I’ve discovered during my two years here. A big one for my family is the savings on medical care. When my son was born in June of 2012, we paid just $3,000 for the birth at a private hospital, including all the doctors’ fees and an overnight hospital stay. That’s cash, no insurance. We would have paid $15,000 to $20,000 in the U.S. When, at six months, the baby developed some health issues, testing and treatment was cheap too.
It’s a weekday morning in the early fall and I’m standing on a mountaintop in the Swiss Alps. I’ve been hiking all morning, passing through tiny villages with dark-roofed homes and small chapels whose bells sing out every hour to remind us of the precise time. I’ve walked through fields of wildflowers that overlook snow-capped peaks and past a dozen waterfalls both small and large. And for the past hour I’ve been navigating thin pathways that wind across a barren high-altitude landscape dotted with leftover snow.
In Nicaragua, you’ll find some of the most dramatically beautiful Pacific coastline…anywhere. And in one development I’ve visited, there are five beaches, 2,700 acres and more than two miles of coast.All of those beaches have their own unique character and appeal. Each has different colored sands: white, tan and even pink. Some have flat waters for swimming or waves for surfing.
You’ll find one of the most stunning areas on my beat on the southern edge of Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Its white-sand beaches, ancient ruins, white-bottomed lagoons, nature preserves, caves and cenotes (underwater caves) make it stand out—so much so that vacationers and expats are increasingly flocking here. But despite its growing popularity, there is still a window of opportunity on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.
The small, pretty town of Chantilly is less than 30 minutes from Paris by train, but when you arrive at the station and take a lungful of fresh air, the big city couldn’t feel farther away. Chantilly (pronounced shahn-tee-yee) lies in the Oise department of France, 24 miles north-northeast of Paris. It is both the name of a town of 11,000 people, and of a larger commune that comprises several other towns and villages, bringing the total population to 36,000.
Photography was always my passion. But I hesitated making it my “job” because I did not want to ruin the joy it brought me. I was one of those people that thought art was a hobby, not something that could sustain me. So I went off to college, got a Bachelor of Science (in psychology, sociology, and anthropology), and emerged into the “real world” with a career in social services.
If there were ever two towns that complement one another perfectly, they would be Montañita and Olòn on the coast of Ecuador. About an hour north along the coast from Salinas—one of Ecuador’s best-known and most popular beach destinations—these two beach towns each offer a very different vibe. Montañita is named for the “little hill” that sits at its north end and separates its picture-perfect golden-sand beach from Olòn’s picture-perfect golden-sand beach. It’s less than a five-minute drive from one to the other, and a taxi ride will cost you just $2.
In the following five countries you will pay less for health care than you do at home. And the quality is at least as good…in fact, many expats say it’s better. Affordable health care isn’t the only reason to move overseas—but it makes the move more attractive. You can get great quality health care for less abroad, lowering your monthly expenses. Panama offers excellent quality health care and modern hospitals in Panama City and other large towns or cities…
“Sometimes we just shake our heads in disbelief that we actually own a home right on the beach in one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen,” Paula Irvin says. “It’s absolutely amazing!” Hummingbirds zip around the bright-red feeder hanging from the balcony. “They always come at this time—just as the sun begins to dip into the ocean and the other birds start calling to each other a goodnight song,” says Paula.
A metropolis like Panama City or Paris or Montevideo has its advantages. In large, cosmopolitan communities, you have a wealth of choice in restaurants, museums, and parks. The hospitals tend to be better, the cultural offerings more varied. But a big city has its downsides, too. It can be loud, frenetic, disorganized. You may gain a measure of anonymity you enjoy, but it can be difficult to meet your neighbors and make friends.
Today, I want to tell you about a part of Costa Rica that is still a secret to most of the outside world. This place is called the forgotten coast because it is the least discovered and most unexplored region in Costa Rica. For years, tourists have flocked to the country’s Pacific coast and business has gravitated to the capital city, San Jose. Most people overlooked Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. For the handful who traveled there, they found first-class beaches, verdant jungle canopies and undervalued real estate. It’s easy to reach too… You can get here in less than two hours from San Jose on a new, modern highway.
Wally and Hazel Mountz thought they had their retirement all figured out. They were building a lakefront home in Georgia when the real estate crash of 2008 shattered their plans. Unwilling to continue working and unable to afford their new mortgage, they started looking abroad. Italy was their first choice, but what they could purchase there would leave them in a rural village without expat companions.
If looking for Spanish Colonial charm there may be no better place to find it than in Nicaragua, one of Central America’s most beautiful countries. Nicaragua oozes with colonial charm. Colonial architecture, red tile roof buildings, homes with central courtyards, and churches on every block all add to the appeal of colonial Nicaragua.
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