Expat-Matters

There’s never been a smarter time to explore, and take advantage of the good-value living and investing on offer beyond U.S. borders.

It’s easier than ever to get from one place to another. And keeping in touch from afar has never been easier or more affordable, either.

When you move overseas you can enjoy the freedom, the good-value living, and the adventure waiting for you. In the articles below, read advice from IL’s editors as well as expats all over the world and learn more about traveling, relocating, buying property and retirement in some of the best retirement destinations in the world today.

 

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Jacó, which Jason Holland chose as the base of his scouting trip, is many people's first introduction to Costa Rica. Located around a 90-minute drive from Juan Santamaria International Airport in Alajuela, it's one of the oldest and best-known vacation spots in the country.

There’s No Shame in Becoming an Expatriate

Certainly no expatriates I know have been forced to expatriate. They live somewhere besides their own country because they want to…because the weather is better, or the pace of life is slower, or the cost of living is cheaper, or they love the country and culture they’ve moved to, or they want to have an adventure. Or any combination of the above.

Dominical Costa Rica

Rent in These Picture-Perfect Costa Rica Beach Towns for $600 a Month

Costa Rica is a relatively small country, but it boasts one of the most diverse varieties of landscapes and climate in the world. It’s got the perfect harmony between the lush, green jungle teeming with wildlife and unadulterated beaches.

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Rediscovering Belize With Help From My Grandkids…and a Lobster

When the big day arrived, the temperature was warm, the breeze faint. As our boat, the El Gato, glided over the sea I could see everyone relax, hypnotized by the clear water and vibrant hues of the aquamarine sea that surrounded us. “I can’t believe I can see all the way to the bottom”, was a constant comment.

panama city

Slow Down and Take Time to Enjoy the View

I’m sitting on a bench, looking out at the deep blue waters of the Panama Bay. A row of tall palm trees lines the walkway in front of me. To my left is a small marina, and further off, the twinkling lights of the city’s impressive skyline. To my right, I can see the stately colonial facades of the historic district known as Casco Viejo.

expat life in cancun, mexico

Join My Tribe…And Come Dance in the Rain

We got as far as the town square in the small village of San Vicente on Ecuador’s northern coast when our car ran out of gas. I pulled to the side of the rutted, muddy road among a huge crush of writhing, smiling people as sultry Latin rhythms shook the windows of the car.

Aquitaine-France

Dos and Don’ts of Buying Real Estate With Your IRA

Using your self-directed IRA to buy real estate is a hot topic in the tax world. But there are misconceptions surrounding it. Misconceptions that, if implemented, might cost you thousands in taxes.
One of the big benefits of buying real estate with your IRA is tax deferral. But in order to benefit, it’s important to have all the facts. It can be easy to make a tax or legal mistake…so here are some dos and don’ts for owning real estate in self-directed IRAs.

cash

7 Top Tips From the Expert For Filing Your Taxes Correctly

As a U.S. citizen, no matter where in the world you live, the IRS requires you to report your income, file your tax return, and pay your taxes.
There are many common misconceptions about Americans living overseas, a common one being that once you move overseas, you are no longer required to file a tax return.

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Agrihoods: “Farm-to-Table” Living on Your Doorstep

Recently, I’ve been thinking a bit about “agrihoods.” As the portmanteau suggests, these “agricultural neighborhoods” fuse the concepts of community living with sustainable, locally grown produce. For some folk, the idea of “farm-to-table” living offers a chance to regain control of their own healthy living. If you “are what you eat,” they reason, best to know what you’re consuming. Aside from the fresh fruit ‘n’ veg angle, sustainable communities find appeal because they don’t rely (or rely far less) on fragile food supply chains…worn and overworked power grids…centralized bureaucracies controlled by municipal busybodies…

Ojochal, Costa Rica

8 Tips for Securing Your Residence in Costa Rica

There are several categories of residence for those seeking to live and/or retire in Costa Rica. Although it can seem quite bureaucratic, the process to obtain your cedula (the Costa Rican “green card”) is actually pretty straightforward. As long as you have the correct documentation and follow the rules, you’re all set.
Most expats who retire to Costa Rica and live here full time choose pensionado (retiree) status. All you need is $1,000 coming in per month from Social Security or a government guaranteed pension. That’s per couple, with one spouse as the applicant and the other as the dependent.

Bringing-your-pets-abroad

Bringing Your Pets to Europe—Now Easy

Bringing pets to the European Union (EU) from the U.S. or Canada is much easier than it once was. For dogs and cats, especially, the days of long quarantines are gone, paperwork is standardized, and—once within the EU—a “pet passport” valid throughout the EU can be issued.

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The Secret of the FEIE: Your Ticket to a Tax–Free Life Overseas

Living and working overseas provides opportunities for new vistas, new cultures, great food, more sunshine, and a much lower cost of living. But did you know that it can also provide you with a huge tax benefit? Maybe you are overseas as an employee for a corporation, a local B&B, or even a tour company. Perhaps you operate abroad as an independent consultant, freelancer, or business owner. If you are a U.S. citizen living and working outside the U.S. for most of a year, you may qualify for what’s known as the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE). With this, you could completely eliminate your U.S. tax liability.

Blue-dome-Cathedral,-Cuenca,-Ecuador

Find Your Own Fountain of Youth Overseas

You read it here first—I’ve discovered the Fountain of Youth. Funny thing is, turns out it’s not a fountain at all. Nor is it located in just one place. In fact, it can be found in many places if you know where to look. Confused? Let me explain. I celebrated a birthday recently and it was a weird feeling. No, not that I’m getting older: actually, just the opposite. Since we moved to Ecuador almost six years ago, I know I feel younger than when we arrived, and I believe I have aged less than the number of years marked by the calendar (the same is true for my wife, Cynthia).

Vilcabamba

How Do You Measure the “Wealth” in Your Life?

When my wife and I moved abroad in 2001, we left a trail of what we thought were our life’s most important possessions behind us.
In a storage locker, appliances and keepsakes we were sure we’d need when we “settled down” overseas. In the basements and spare rooms of several good and very patient friends, furniture, art, and books we thought were the stuff of our emotional and cultural lives, that we’d need to have around us someday, wherever we were on the planet.

Cash

Doubling the Buying Power of My Money Overseas

Because my wife, Suzan Haskins, and I have been living and working abroad for 15 years, we’re sometimes interviewed by other writers and reporters about being expats. I spoke with a reporter from Canada a few days ago, and I was reminded of one of the most powerful economic principles of expat life.

PERU

5 Low-Cost Countries Where You Can Live on $1,500 a Month or Less

By choosing to retire in one of the world’s best bang-for-your-buck destinations, Rob enjoys a lifestyle well beyond his reach if he had stayed in the U.S. Every day he can choose to relax on the beaches around his home in the town of Sihanoukville, on the Cambodian coast, dine on fresh French croissants…rent a sailboat or go fishing on an offshore charter…

Panama City

The Insider Tips You Need to Know to Spend Less in Panama

Life, as we all know, is full of contradictions. Even here in Panama City—my little slice paradise. I’ve been living here since 2005, ever since I quit my job sailing the world aboard luxury cruise liners. For my money, there’s no better location and no better value anywhere in the world.

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Enjoy Life from Outside the Political “Bar Fight”

When my wife Suzan and I first moved abroad in 2001, it was a time of extraordinary political turmoil in the U.S. Or so we thought at the time. Now, after 15 years of following our homeland’s political hubbub from various beautiful, affordable, and relaxed locations overseas, it seems to us that the U.S. political system is never not in turmoil.

Penang, Malaysia

Great Healthcare at a Low Cost in Malaysia

There’s so much to love about island life in Penang, Malaysia, that it’s hard to know where to start. The cost of living has gone down due to the strength of the U.S. dollar and the falling Malaysian dollar, which is great for expats living here. For example, a 2,000-square-foot apartment with sea views that cost $900 a month to rent two years ago is now just $700.

Ometepe-Island-Lake-Nicaragua-Nicaragua

“I’m Happier Living in Nicaragua…You Could Be Too”

Forget what the scientists tell us about the five happiness factors. I’ve lived in Nicaragua for eight years and I can easily explain why I am much happier here than I ever was in the U.S. Don’t get me wrong, my life was fine in San Diego, good even. But now that I see how life can really be for a retiree, there’s actually no comparison. Here’s why:

Don’t get me wrong, my life was fine in San Diego, good even. But now that I see how life can really be for a retiree, there’s actually no comparison. Here’s why:

romance

The World’s Most Romantic Retirement Havens

It’s that time of year again—the birds are singing, love is in the air, and hopeless husbands are trawling gas stations for that last bunch of flowers. It must be Valentine’s Day—that special day when you spoil the one you love, devote your attention to one another, and escape momentarily from the humdrum of everyday routine. It can be a wonderful time, no matter where you are, but it’s undeniable that some locations have a certain je ne sais quoi that adds that something special to the occasion.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

cotacachi

Are You Courting Disaster by Moving Overseas?

I have friends back in the U.S. who still think I’m courting disaster living outside the country…even though I’ve been safely and happily doing so for 15 years now. “Aren’t you afraid of being killed or kidnapped?” they ask, as if everyplace outside the States is a war zone or a lawless, Wild-West backwater. These friends who still think I’m crazy for living “outside civilization” usually fall into two groups.

Panama

The Top 4 Countries in the World for Retiree Benefits in 2016

Imagine a place where sunshine is ubiquitous, a high-quality lifestyle won’t cost the earth, and as a retiree, you’re treated like a VIP…you’ll get a red-carpet welcome and be rewarded for your age and experience. Places like this exist…and they have claimed the top spots in the “Benefits and Discounts” category in International Living’s 2016 Global Retirement Index. In many countries all over the world you can live better for less.

best places to retire

The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2016

Retiring abroad is easier and more affordable than ever before. These days it really is possible to spend your days relaxing beneath palm fronds on a Caribbean beach, enjoying farm-fresh produce in a mountain haven with year-round spring weather, or wandering the storied streets of a historic and cultured European city…or all of the above. But with so many choices available, finding the right one can seem daunting.

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The World’s Top Retirement Havens for 2016

Retiring abroad is easier and more affordable than ever before. These days it really is possible to spend your days relaxing beneath palm fronds on a Caribbean beach, enjoying farm-fresh produce in a mountain haven with year-round spring weather, or wandering the storied streets of a historic and cultured European city…or all of the above. But with so many choices available, finding the right one can seem daunting.

Ecuador

Is Moving Overseas Brilliantly Crazy?

“I think you’re brilliant,” a friend said to me on a visit to the States last summer. Believe me, it’s the first time I’ve been described that way. “You know what you want and you figure out how to make it happen. You’re not afraid of failure. You really are brilliant in that way.” Hmmm…wasn’t this the same person who thought I was slightly off kilter…far on the other side of crazy…15 years ago when I mentioned I was going to quit my job and move overseas?

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How to “Leverage” Your House Back Home When You Go Overseas

If you retire overseas, owning a home back in North America can be a huge asset. If you want to live abroad only part-time (as a snowbird, for instance), it gives you somewhere to stay when the weather back home improves. Or you may simply want a place to return to on occasional trips. Better yet, that place back home can generate a respectable income if you rent it out while you’re gone, whether you’re away for good or just for a few months each year. This can be a great way to earn some cash on the side—funds that can go even further if you’re living in a low-cost country like Panama or Ecuador.

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The Five Best Up-and-Coming Beach Towns for Retirees (Part Three)

With its light-brown beaches, prominent white lighthouse, and whitewashed seaside homes, it could be a U.S. Atlantic-coast beach town 60 years ago. If it weren’t for the Spanish-speaking locals, modern cars, and surfers paddling out on modern boards, you might be convinced you’ve been transported back in time. But this place exists today—just in a different country in a different hemisphere. You’re in La Paloma, Uruguay’s up-and-coming beach resort, home to fine food, good fishing, great waves, and vast tracts of pristine sand for you to enjoy.

10-reason-uruguay

10 Reasons to Live in Uruguay

Are you searching for beautiful beaches, four distinct seasons, affordable real estate, and quality healthcare at a reasonable cost? It may seem like a lot to ask for, but here at International Living we have just the place for you. This Latin American country also has the fastest and cheapest internet around. And it’s one of the freest countries on our beat, a place where residence is easy to get, your financial privacy is respected, and taxes are low…

costa-rica

Banking and Social Security When You Move Overseas

“It’s easy to get your Social Security benefits abroad if you wish,” says IL Mexico Editor Glynna Prentice. “Arguably the easiest way to get them abroad is by electronic transfer to your local foreign bank account in the foreign country. However, “not all foreign banks will accept direct deposits of U.S. Social Security checks, so if you want your Social Security delivered to a local bank, make sure to choose one that does,” says Dan Prescher.

Costa-Rica

The 5 Best Expat Hangouts in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a lot going for it: lower cost of living, top notch medical care for a fraction of the cost of the U.S., bargain real estate, warm weather year-round, natural beauty, tremendous biodiversity, modern conveniences…the list goes on. It’s enough to make you fall in love with this small Central American country.

Penang

All the Luxuries Without the Hefty Price Tag in Laidback Penang

Island time, Penang time. It’s very different from time anywhere else. I have a smartphone but it works differently for me here in Malaysia. Before I moved here, it was a hip thing to have, and if I didn’t answer emails a nanosecond after receiving them I would get a call asking me why. Here, my phone is a device that connects me to people.

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Gun Laws in Three Expat Destinations

Whatever your personal opinion on gun ownership in the United States, there’s no denying that millions of U.S. residents feel a great fondness for their firearms. So it should come as no surprise that many aspiring expats want to bring their guns with them to their new home. While it’s possible in some places, be prepared for a lot more red tape and tighter controls than you typically face in the States. Bear in mind that gun laws are liable to change, so you need to do your due diligence if you plan to import or buy a gun overseas.

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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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