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Books have turned out to be some of my best friends. First, they rescued me from a financial crisis 20 years ago. More recently they’ve earned me more than $7.7 million…and a lifestyle that allows me to travel the world. Let me give you the backstory: In the mid-1990s, after a series of bad decisions and severely self-limited thinking, I was evicted from my home—along with my family.
- You Can Have It All in Costa Rica’s Central Valley
Posted on April 8, 2014 by Jason Holland
I live in the heart of Costa Rica’s most populated region, the Central Valley. In fact, I live in the Gran Area Metropolitana (GAM), the name given to the capital, San Jose, and surrounding suburbs. The Valley has about 70% of the country’s population. It’s a center of culture and commerce. And the GAM, which contains towns popular with expats like Escazu, Santana, and Heredia, is honestly a sprawling urban area with traffic and noise.
- Pay Nothing for Your Accommodation While You Travel the World
Posted on April 7, 2014 by Yvonne Bauche
In exchange for looking after the house, garden, pets, and pool, my husband Michael and I have saved around $24,000 in accommodation costs. Whether you want a dream vacation or to sample a retirement destination, the trick to being successful is to stand out from the crowd. Competition is fierce, with many homeowners receiving 20 to 60 responses to their “housesitter needed” advertisements. Here’s how you can join this group of savvy travelers and score the best housesitting gigs around the world.
I happen to think that I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world. Not only do I live in Malaysia, a beautiful country on so many levels, but also I love what I do. I travel at will, pretty much at the drop of a hat. I’ve enjoyed complimentary meals and hotel upgrades along the way.
When moving to Costa Rica, many newly-arrived expats decide to forgo having their own car. In retirement on a limited budget they want to eliminate the added expense of maintenance and fuel for a vehicle. Cars can be expensive to purchase in country and import from North America too, so that’s another reason to go car-less.
Taking tea with Mongolian herders…cycling through Che Guevara’s mountain hideaway…and camel riding in Lawrence of Arabia’s footsteps. I thought such exotic trips were the preserve of the privileged—not for me. But these and many other experiences have been mine…since I’ve discovered the Red Carpet Passport.
Not everyone looks forward to getting up and going to work. But I’m not complaining. The most difficult task I need to tackle today is to finish packing a suitcase. So I’m having a very leisurely breakfast before heading to the airport for a flight to Barcelona, one of the world’s most electrifying cities. Even though I’ve done it countless times before, I’m really looking forward to…
At the western end of Costa Rica’s Central Valley region, on the slopes of the Poas volcano, is Bajos del Toro. At 300 feet, it’s one of Latin America’s tallest waterfalls. With water cascading down a sheer rock face, surrounded by dense rain forest—it’s a natural wonder on a grand scale.
Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, which sits on the northern Pacific coast of the country, is a somewhat isolated region. The journey to the Peninsula is however well worth the natural beauty, empty beaches, and unique beach communities strung along its length. The best way to get to some of the popular beach towns like Montezuma, Mal Pais/Santa Teresa, Nosara, and Samara from San Jose (site of the main international airport) is the ferry that leaves from the Central Pacific port of Puntarenas, which is about an hour from the capital.
- Festivals Around the World: War Birds, King’s Day, and Witches Night
Posted on March 20, 2014 by John Joe Worrall
Sitting alongside the banks of the River Garonne in southwest France, the red-tile-roofed city of Toulouse hosts its annual Flamenco Festival from April 1 to 15, with local venues filled with music and dance throughout. Another marathon-length event to consider begins its 18-day run in Jaipur, India, on April 2.
- Belize Chocolate Festival, Britain’s Best Pub, Turtles Nesting…and Much More
Posted on by International Living
The Santa Catalina arch is one of the most famous landmarks of Antigua, Guatemala. And for a compact town of 40,000 people, there are a lot of them. Antigua was once the capital of Spanish Central America, and its cobbled streets are lined with the grand mansions and ornate churches of the colonial golden age.
More hot water pours out of the earth in Beppu, Japan, than in any other city in the world. Located in southern Japan on the island of Kyushu, Beppu is home to over 2,000 hot springs, which means Japanese-style baths (onsen) are never more than a short walk away.
Do you want to travel and sample different retirement lifestyles, but have a limited budget? Housesitting may be your answer. Our first housesit was 20 months ago. Since then we have lived rent-free in Tuscan farmhouses, French vineyards, Spanish casitas, English heritage homes, luxury Costa Rican villas, and a jungle retreat in Belize.
It’s the “slap, slap” sound of contentment: Women making tortillas by hand as I sip a Gallo beer and look out over the water. I can hear a marimba and see children splashing happily on the sun-kissed lakeshore. Several old women in native dress are passing by, carrying large parcels on their heads…hands free.
Panama’s artisans are perhaps the best-kept secret in the world of handicrafts. In every region you’ll find master craftspeople quietly selling their wares in small stores and on roadsides. Little-known festivals celebrate their skills. And Panama’s oldest families pass their creations on to their children…from the fine linen and Valencian lace of the dress known as the pollera, to the instruments needed for the distinctive sounding tipico music.
Six months from now, you could be living in paradise… for much less than it costs you to stay home. In the best destinations overseas, your dollar just goes further…first-class health care is affordable…you can keep a housekeeper or gardener…and live better than you can back home for a fraction of what you pay now…
- Tango in the Park, Markets on the Street…the Fun is Out There
Posted on March 18, 2014 by Suchi Rudra
Over eight years ago, I decided to leave behind the urban jungle of American cities to travel. At the moment, I’m surrounded by the lush green suburbs of Buenos Aires. I’m constantly reminded of Jumanji out here. Thick green, leafy vines have completely taken over property walls and fences, wrapped themselves around tree trunks and flower pots. Palm trees and banana trees rise up like proud flags beside homes and office buildings.
I visited San Miguel de Allende recently while working on a video project, and I had a chance to catch up with an old friend from when my wife, Suzan Haskins, and I lived there back in 2007 and 2008. It pleased me to find him doing well and to hear that his two children were growing into handsome, intelligent young adults. Part of the reason for that, he told me, were the chances they’d had to travel.
- Retirees Wanted to Test-drive Life Overseas For a Month—All Expenses Paid
Posted on March 15, 2014 by Jennifer Stevens
We at International Living are sending one lucky winner (along with a friend or spouse) to Coronado, Panama for a full month in 2014—free. The prize includes round-trip flights from the U.S. or Canada to Panama City, furnished accommodation in the beach-resort town of Coronado, plus a living-expense stipend of $1,500.
What are your reasons for visiting Panama? Ask any tourist that question and you’ll get a different answer. Some come for the beaches and the sun, others to explore the jungles or cloudforests. There’s a lot to see, and if you’ve read anything about Panama, it’s likely you’ve felt tempted to hop on a plane. To help tantalize you just a bit more, here are my top four reasons to visit Panama.
Every morning, I wake up and head straight for the rooftop. At 32 stories high, my building is the perfect vantage point from which to check the closest surf break. If there’s no swell coming up, I go downstairs, fire up my computer, and get to work. If there is, well…it looks like I’m not working that day.
As I tapped away at my battered laptop that morning, sitting outside my beach hut, it came to me that I was living the dream. This was it—and I was doing it! I was living the freelance lifestyle. It was so perfect it was almost a cliché: I had just been for a long walk on the beach, followed by a breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt, and muesli delivered to my hut, and there I was, dressed in a bikini and a sarong, sitting in a hammock strung between two palm trees, typing away.
A symphony of monks chanted as we sat kneeling on the grass. I held the wire rim of my enormous cylindrical paper lantern and waited for the cue. Finally, in one synchronized movement, a sea of hands—belonging to individuals from countless countries and cultures—let go.
I travel with a camera all the time. These days I make a living from photography—selling to publishers, stock agencies, and fine art clients—but even when I was in a job, I never missed the opportunity to indulge in what used to be my hobby. During early morning commutes, I captured scenic landscapes and nature close-ups throughout the four seasons. Images of ice crystals on frozen ponds and kids sledding caught my eye in winter.
- Bali…Paris…and Arctic Glaciers — The Joys of Travel Photography
Posted on March 6, 2014 by Linda Popovich
When my husband and I wanted to escape the rainy Seattle winter weather in 2012, we planned a trip to South East Asia and spent a month on assignment exploring luxury resorts and spas in Bali, Indonesia. Last summer we relaxed on a luxury barge floating down the Burgundy canal, sipping French wines, visiting local villages and eating fine food along the way. And we did some other business while we were in the neighborhood—in Paris, London, and Wales (nice neighborhood!).
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