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- Prosperity, Beauty and Beaches in Florianopolis, Brazil
Posted on December 6, 2013 by John Clites
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! After years of working and living in Canada, raising a family and caring for elderly loved ones we realized that our “retirement years” were fast approaching.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
The very thought of moving abroad seems like such an adventure, doesn’t it? The world is full of so many intriguing locations. Which country would you choose? Which city? If you actually pull the trigger and relocate, then the adventure truly begins. Everything is new, exciting, interesting, frustrating, and exhausting all at once. You’re meeting new friends—maybe learning a different language—adapting to a foreign culture, and exploring surrounding areas.
There’s no other retirement destination quite like Panama. Whatever you’re looking for in a retirement, you’ll find it here. Do you prefer living by the ocean? In the mountains? In ranching country? Big city? Small town? Would you prefer the mainland or a nearby island paradise? Well, Panama has it all so the choice is yours.
Ecuador has an abundance of restaurants offering cuisine from around the world. Here, our guys on the ground give you their friendly recommendations of five of the best places to eat in Ecuador.
Talk to anyone who has relocated to Ecuador and you will find that each person’s story, motivation, and experience is unique. Some are here for economic reasons, others for the climate, others still for the adventure and excitement of living in another country…and many for all of the above. I came to Ecuador at the age of 24. My assignment with the Peace Corps brought me here, so Ecuador was not my own choice…but I’ve come to realize what a stroke of luck it was to land in this amazing country.
“We chose Guanacaste [the name of the province] because of the proximity to the beach, the warm water, and the weather,” says Becky, who, thanks to a Costa Rican mother, was familiar with a lot of the country. “You don’t get as much rainfall as other areas of Costa Rica. And the weather is very predictable. From December to April there is no rain, and the rest of the year it mostly rains in the afternoon. You can do things outdoors year-round.”
By now, you know that I advocate acquiring dual citizenship. Dual, even multiple citizenship, for Americans has been upheld as a legal right by the U.S. Supreme Court in several cases. A second passport is solid insurance against tyrannical government. And although Switzerland has been smeared as a haven for tax dodging and money laundering, of all passports, the Swiss is one of the best. It offers visa-free travel to many countries. However, acquiring Swiss citizenship is difficult, usually requiring years of residence to qualify, and even then may be subject to local canton approval.
When you move overseas, most things cost less. Health care is cheaper, beachfront property is cheaper and flights are cheaper when you qualify for a retiree program. You can even enjoy a symphony performance for far less than in the U.S., and have a better quality of life for less. Here is a list of five items that are cheaper overseas.
Sometimes all it takes to make your dream come true is to take that first step toward it. My husband and I wanted to change our reality from your average suburban life in the States—mortgages, car payments, and credit card debt included—to a fresh life in a place where coconuts grow and the sun always shines.
Tucked away 150 miles east of Puerto Rico, you’ll find one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful jurisdictions—St. Kitts and Nevis. St. Kitts is the larger and more populous island, but I prefer the less hectic pace of life in Nevis. With densely forested mountains, brilliant tropical flowers and crystal-clear waters, there’s plenty of reasons you’d want to own a home on Nevis.
A train ticket and a TEFL certificate were all I had when I traveled the 1,000 miles from Buenos Aires to San Carlos de Bariloche. As we rode through the endless flatness of Patagonia—past broken railway sheds and the silhouettes of wind-bent trees on the horizon—I wondered what I was getting into. I had no job. I’d never been this far south. I knew no-one.
Do You Know Where a “Car Payment” Could Fund Your Whole Life?In the right places overseas, what you’d pay for a typical car payment… could fund your whole life. Sign up for our free daily Postcard e-letter, and we'll immediately send you a FREE research report to help you find your perfect, affordable retirement destination. .