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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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.

Page 17    Santa Fe, Panama    Credit Hugo Ghiara

In Santa Fe, Panama, $1,500 a Month is “More Than Plenty”

From our porch we can see down to the river, where we have our own little private beach and swimming hole,” says Albuquerque native Bob Caragol of his and his wife Irma’s new home. “We just fell in love with the area. There’s no crime and no pollution, and my asthma symptoms improved immediately.” Their story is typical of expats living in the scenic mountain town of Santa Fe, located in Veraguas province in west-central Panama.

France Beach

Retire in France for Under $3,000

“You live in France? Oh, you’re so lucky. I wish I could live in France.” Ever since I moved to Paris over 14 years ago, I’ve heard variations of these three phrases hundreds of times. Often the phrases are said lightly and I know the speaker has no strong desire or intention to move to France; it’s simply another way of saying that they really like France.

Playa-del-Carmen

A Sunny Snowbird Lifestyle For $1,500 a Month

“I like the way things are now, and with family and a new grandson in Canada, the snowbird lifestyle works great.” When not embracing family life to the full, Kim gets to savor the many joys Playa has to offer. “I absolutely love Playa del Carmen,” Kim says of her winter home. “The beaches are world-class and the water sports are unlimited, with snorkeling, scuba, fishing, paddle boarding, surfing, boating, swimming, and just floating in the gorgeous tropical waters.” And it’s not only sun, sand, and sea that keep her coming back. It’s also the friends she’s built up over many winters here.

Cuenca

Embracing New Adventures and Income in Ecuador

Donna McNichol says that moving to Cuenca, Ecuador, has been a grand adventure. But the truth is, the move to Ecuador is just the latest in a series of adventures… “After being widowed at age 58,” Donna says, “I spent part of a year traveling the U.S. on my motorcycle, covering 42 states and riding 27,000 miles alone. In another two years I sold everything I owned, bought a used Class C motorhome and started traveling full-time.”

Colombia

My Time is My Own in This “City of Eternal Spring”

Before moving overseas, I spent 23 years working as an attorney specializing in litigation. My life was full of angry people and I was required to keep track of every minute of my day so my firm could bill the clients. I was basically living at the courthouse, and had very little time to relax or live my life. Then there was years of bitter cold and extreme snowfalls each winter in Northern Illinois.

Cuenca

I Happily Left Stress and a Frantic Pace of Life in the U.S.

During a recent visit with family in the States I was playing with one of my granddaughters who is just learning to talk. We had several activities going at once in the playroom and I told her we were multitasking. She replied, “Yes, we are monkey-tasking.” This malapropism stuck with me because it so innocently describes how our “monkey brain” works away when we have a lot going on.

France

Buy in France’s Valley of the Kings For $95,000

I’m at Fontevraud Abbey in France’s Loire Valley, gazing at the face of a man who left this world over 800 years ago. Fontevraud was the final resting place of Richard the Lionheart—or at least most of him. Arguably the most famous of England’s Plantagenet rulers, the crusader king died in 1199. If his reclining effigy is a true likeness, he was a handsome brute.

cotacachi

Why I Enjoy Doing Nothing as an Expat

You can do nothing anywhere. But it takes a special place to make doing nothing a real treat. My wife, Suzan, and I live in the mountains of northern Ecuador. It’s so easy to do nothing here that it’s almost a form of meditation.

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Sailing into Retirement on Caribbean Island

Ann and Lew Tucker, from outside Albany, New York, now invite everyone into their brand-new home on the Caribbean island of Roatán. From here they can relax on the upstairs patio and watch the boats float by, admiring the sunset over the Caribbean. Meanwhile, the gorgeous scent of orchids wafts up from the garden below. The place they now call home is a Cape Cod-style cottage on the hillside of a popular neighborhood in West Bay. But this is a relatively recent development. For nearly two decades, they’ve been sailing around the world together.

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Managing Your Money When You Retire Overseas

If the lure of a better life overseas is strong, but you’re worried about the logistics of managing your money in a foreign locale, take heart. It’s not as complicated as you may fear. Bank accounts…Social Security…credit cards…exchange rates…our team of expat experts weighs in here with lessons learned and real-world guidance to help you manage your money abroad with confidence and ease.

casco-viejo

Mountains, Beaches and Vibrant Cities—Panama Has it All (Part One)

The sun peeks out from behind a fluffy white cloud as I hop out of the motorboat and wade to shore. The bright rays alter the scenery. The water goes from a soft baby blue to an almost fluorescent turquoise, and the sand is a dazzling white. I didn’t have to fly halfway across the world or empty my pocketbook to get to paradise. My round-trip ticket from Panama City to Contadora Island was only $90. Meals are between $6 and $20 a person. Sipping tropical drinks and watching yachts drift by, I find it hard to believe I’m just a 20-minute flight from a bustling metropolis.

boquete

Mountains, Beaches and Vibrant Cities—Panama Has it All (Part Two)

The highlands in the breadbasket province of Chiriquí attract expats from around the globe. Boquete and Volcán are favored destinations here, with temperatures ranging from about 65 F to 86 F. Folks are drawn to the perfect climate, with plenty of sunshine despite frequent afternoon showers.

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Mountains, Beaches and Vibrant Cities—Panama Has it All (Part Three)

Though Panama is tropical, there are some drier areas along the Pacific coast. The Coronado region, an hour west of Panama City, is known as the Dry Arc or Arco Seco. This dry swath stretches all the way to Pedasí on the Azuero Peninsula. The region gets 40 to 60 inches of rain a year, whereas Panama’s Caribbean coast usually gets over 120.

Funding-Your-Life-Overseas_HR

Easy Ways to Fund Your Life Overseas

In many great-value places overseas, a couple can live comfortably on less than $2,000 a month. It means that instead of pinching pennies, you can relax, travel, eat out, and lower your stress level. Your quality of life increases, even though you’re spending less.

Fund Your Life Overseas

Home Comforts That Fit in Your Pocket

Advances in the internet have changed so much about living or working abroad. My wife, Suzan, and I have seen it happen before our eyes. When we first moved abroad in 2001, “instant” messaging was just taking off. If you could get a decent internet connection (which was a much bigger “if” back then than now) you could type a message to someone and get a reply in just a minute or two…which was pretty much “instant” at the time. It was truly amazing for us and for our family and friends back home.

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Living Well on $1,000 a Month—The Good Life in Peru

You walk out of a gleaming new shopping mall, where you’ve just caught the latest Hollywood release in English and enjoyed a Starbuck’s coffee. You catch a taxi and head toward the edge of town. In less than 10 minutes your taxi stops, as a woman in traditional Andean dress—a skirt, short jacket, and multi-colored wool shawl—guides her small flock of hesitant sheep safely across the road.

“Why I Started International Living”

We began International Living as a dream. Now it is a reality, not just for us but for thousands of people. I’ve met hundreds of them myself. And never have I met one who regretted it. But let’s back up. When I launched International Living in 1980, I really didn’t know much about living overseas…and barely anything about living at all. I was only 32 years old. What I thought I knew back then came mostly from reading…and from my junior year abroad, which was spent in Paris in 1969.

Lake Arenal

A Growing Expat Community and Affordable Living in Lake-Side Costa Rica

As I came over the last hill on the road from Tilaran, a small town about 10 minutes from the shore of Lake Arenal, I could see what makes Arenal so special. The stunning lake vistas opened up before me… Most of the land here is forest, pasture, or farm—split by rivers, streams, and rocky waterfalls…natural and unspoiled. And it has that small-town feel, where strangers say “Buenas tardes” as you walk through town or wave if you drive by.

ecuador

Get the Most From Your Dollar When You Move Overseas

There is no question that retiring to the right place can dramatically and automatically cut your overall cost of living. Just think about your own monthly budget without the costs of heating, air conditioning, and vehicle maintenance and insurance. Those costs come right off the top of your budget if you relocate to a place with a year-round temperate climate and a good mass-transit system. I know, because I live in just such a place. And it’s wonderful.

Spain

Romantic Europe for Under $150,000

A cobbled square, an outdoor café, a sky full of stars. Vincent van Gogh’s Café Terrace At Night is laden with the romance of place—I always want to step into the picture and sit at one of the tables…drink a glass or two of wine…join the patrons in idle conversation. Van Gogh painted the picture during his time in Arles—a small city in Provence in the sunny south of France.

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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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