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International Living Magazine
- The “Retirement Bonus” for the Rest of Us: The Getaway Nation Where You Can “Live Rich” on $1,700 a Month
Posted on February 24, 2014 by International Living
You deserve a dignified, comfortable retirement. And that’s becoming harder and harder to come by these days. You can have one, though…Because when you take advantage of this “retirement bonus,” it’ll no longer matter that the Fed is keeping interest rates at near-zero.
Inside this Issue:
Bargain Living in Spain’s Romantic South; The Slow Pace of Life on an English Narrowboat; The Intag Valley: Ecuador’s Hidden Eden; The Best-Value Beach Lots in the World; Explore Croatia’s Affordable Dalmatian Coast and much more…
Download the March 2014 Issue here.
Europe may be the second-smallest continent by land mass, but it’s extravagantly diverse in geography, climate, language, and culture. From the flamenco-dancing south of Spain to Rembrandt’s tulip-filled homeland, to the rugged cliffs of Italy’s Mediterranean coast, it’s equally rich with opportunity…for gracious travel…comfortable living…even for good-value investing.
Not the safest religious tradition we’ve ever heard of, but the Fire Wheel Festival in Sinca Noua, located near the city of Brasov, Romania, does sound like quite a sight. Celebrating the start of Orthodox Lent on March 3, the village asks its young men to roll hay wheels to the top of a local hill before each wheel is set alight. What follows is a true feast with music, drinking, and dancing.
- A Literary Drinking Den, Romantic Spain, Tea with Cats and Much More…
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Its parks are filled with roses, myrtle and the sound of nightingales. Water still splashes and trickles over marble fountains in the courtyards of its kings… “A pearl among emeralds” was how Moorish poets once described the royal palace of the Alhambra. It was from here that Spain’s last Muslim kingdom, Granada, was ruled and it’s just one of the gems you’ll find in Andalusia, Spain’s huge southern province.
Poland’s eastern border has long been wild and a little untamed. This is a region of magnificent primeval forests untrammelled by tourists and dotted with castles and medieval towns. A disputed land for centuries, today it is home to poles, Belorussians and Ukrainians, resulting in a rich mix of architectural styles and traditions. You’ll find Orthodox churches and colorful wooden houses throughout, and—in the town of Bialystok—palace Branicki, once known as the polish Versailles for its 18th-century, French-style design and landscaped gardens.
- A New Global Wealth Tax, Asian Currencies, Diamonds in Panama and Much More…
Posted on by International Living
In the U.S., there’s a simple reason why our medical bills are high: Going to the doctor costs more. Perceptive, I know. But it’s the truth. If we dump the unions, the politics, Medicare, government and any other hot button from our discussion, we’re left with the simple yet disturbing fact that Americans pay more for services than patients elsewhere around the world—even in similar “first world” economies. Lots more.
Spring is here, and in the markets plump porcini mushrooms, chestnuts, and long, elegant brown pears are giving way to figs and basil and zucchini flowers. In the streets, young women glide along in five-inch heels, leather jackets, and American jeans, chic scarves draped carelessly at their necks. Along the river Arno, newlyweds stroll hand-in-hand in the warm sunshine.
We arrived at our rented villa just in time to see the sun slipping down toward the liquid-blue horizon. Perched on the terrace, we sipped rosé wine bought in a winery down the road and watched as nature splashed a rosy hue across the western sky. Fishermen returning with their catch left a silvery wake in the waning light. One hour in Cilento and we were smitten.
When Melissa Adams stepped out of the airport and into Amsterdam for the first time, it felt like coming home. “The minute my feet hit Damrak—the street leading from Central Station to Dam Square—I said ‘I’m moving here.’ Everything—from the city’s physical beauty to its tolerant vibe and rich history— entranced me.” But while Melissa’s experience of Amsterdam was love at first sight, she also wanted to be practical and make sure her passion had some staying power.
Twice a year, Lucy Fayette flies from her home in Switzerland to Hungary to visit family— for a round-trip fare of just €50 (about $65). That’s right, Lucy’s airfare, which takes her across 800 miles in less than two hours, costs the same amount as a nice dinner or a fancy bottle of wine…and all because of Europe’s budget airlines.
It started with a fever that didn’t go away. Ill and worried, I finally went to the emergency room. It was my first time sick in Uruguay and I wasn’t sure what to expect. But, thanks to the great care and house calls of the doctors and nurses, I was soon enjoying a grilled steak to celebrate my recovery. And now—after living here for seven years—health care is one of the things I appreciate most about my adopted country.
Imagine falling to sleep to the soft sound of waves lapping the base of rugged cliffs. The flash of a faraway lighthouse gently illuminates your room and the mild breeze brings the purest of air in your open window. In the morning there’s bright sunshine and the singing of small birds in the shrubbery outside. A distant tractor can be heard as a farmer carries hay to his cows. There are no cars or sirens. And, as you look outside, the sun shimmers off a hundred square miles of ocean.
If you live on an English narrowboat, you have choices to make. Find another town to explore, with a charming tea shop, an Old-World bookstore or a cozy pub. Take a walk to a church, a castle, or through a field of golden millet or lavender…or find a village in which to stay a while, moor your floating home, and get to know the locals.
Tucked into the western slopes of the Andes, 40 miles north of the capital Quito, the Intag Valley possesses that rare kind of climate in which nearly any plant will thrive. Farmers haul in harvests of everything from papayas and passion fruit to carrots and corn. Surrounding their scattered tracts of farmland is a dense jungle of towering palms, broad-leafed ferns and twisting vines. You’ll find more species of orchids than you can count, and a huge variety of bromeliads.
Seductive and sensuous, an amalgam of cultures, Andalusia gets under your skin. Maybe that’s why so many of Spain’s signature sounds and images come from this vast, southern region of the country: castanets, gypsies, flamenco dancers, bull fighters, strumming guitars…This is romantic Spain…the one the tourists flock to.
Do you ever wish you could find a cool little beach town before it gets discovered and invest in land while the prices are still low? You aren’t alone. Global investors are constantly searching the planet for that kind of opportunity. But you know what? They missed a spot. It’s a little town of 1,000 full-time residents, and it’s called Barra del Chuy, in Uruguay.
In Chinese script, the character for crisis is actually a construct of two symbols: one for danger and the other for opportunity. The danger is what everybody sees; the opportunity is not quite as obvious, but it’s always lurking somewhere. Late last year I visited Cyprus to search through the rubble of a crisis—one of the most significant financial meltdowns in recent history.
Big-spending, deep-in-debt governments everywhere are looking for money. So national tax collectors have dusted off variations on an old scheme they hope will attract foreigners and bring in cash. It’s called “economic citizenship”—better described as “passports for sale.”
Can a person make money out of bits of old paper, or are they simply too “ephemeral?” The word ephemera means “something of no lasting significance.” In collecting, however, ephemera is the buzzword for all things interesting made of paper. And for collectors, ephemera have lasting significance, indeed.
For some visitors to France, a fulfilling visit consists of getting a couple of snapshots of the Eiffel Tower, dining in a classic brasserie, and bringing home a piece of France: a case of Châteauneuf du Pape or perhaps a wheel of brie.
It’s not just the freshly-ground beef burgers or the perfectly-seasoned curly fries. It’s everything else that makes walking into Big Al’s Burger Bar like stepping back home. From the warm greetings and friendly customer service to the familiar music and on-tap beer, it’s just like a burger joint in the States… except that it’s 2,000 miles away from the U.S., in the Catalan beach town of Sitges.
The scene is like something out of a dream: The sea stretches for miles, piercingly blue and dotted with mountainous islands hazy in the distance. The shoreline is rocky and white, and dusty-brown mountains jut into the sky behind it. At sunset, the cities along the coast take on a faint pinkish glow as the light bounces off their terracotta rooftops.
From the roadside to the horizon, all we can see are flowers. They stretch in neat columns of brilliant color, striped across the flat landscape—pink, red, yellow, orange, blue, purple, and white. Some blaze brightly in the sun, others are modest pastels. From the roadside to the horizon, all we can see are flowers.
Panama’s a place of sunshine, 365 days a year. You have hundreds of miles of beach…highland retreats with green valleys where the weather is spring-like, even in January and August…and a genuinely cosmopolitan capital city, too, with one of the world’s largest financial districts. And Panama offers the world’s most generous retiree benefits.
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