International Living Daily Postcards
Each day we uncover some of the most desirable--and cheapest--retirement havens on earth. In International Living's free daily postcards, you'll learn about retirement, property, travel and lifestyle opportunities from around the world.
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West of Fortaleza on Brazil’s northeast coast, wide white-sand beaches stretch to the horizon. You can drive for hours along these beaches. Charming fishing villages with cobbled streets and well-maintained town centers sit just off the sand.
A couple of years ago a friend came to visit us in Ecuador. Once here, he realized that the biggest expense of his trip was his airfare. With nice hotel rooms priced at $30 a night (including breakfast); full meals, including beverage, for $2.50; and beers for $1 or a glass of wine for $2, he was hardly spending anything to kick around the country.
I’m in northern Tuscany’s Lunigiana, the “Land of 100 Castles”. Originally built in the late 12th century, Fosdinovo is one of its best. Crowning a hilltop, it’s a square, fortress-like structure with inner garden courtyards and gorgeous tapestries. Incredibly gruesome stories, too.
About nine years ago I traveled to Thailand for a vacation…and I immediately fell in love with the place. The food, the culture, the beaches, the friendliness of the people…but most of all, the weather. Thailand is known as the “Land of Smiles.” I think the Thais are so happy because every morning when they wake up they see the sun shining in their windows.
There’s even more to Uruguay than beautiful beaches, attractive riverside towns, vibrant capital, friendly people, and profitable property investments. If you’re looking for an environment where your money is safe, you and your family can feel secure, and taxes are low, this country should be on your short list.
Old beliefs die hard—but we’re doing our best here at IL to speed them on their way. From Penang, Malaysia to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico…Dublin, Ireland to the Pacific coast of Nicaragua…from Bilbao, Spain to Mérida, Venezuela…this month’s issue of International Living magazine is packed with boots-on-the-ground revelations about destinations you may think you know…
There may be no better place in the world right now to buy beachfront real estate than Ecuador. But don’t just take it from me. In its annual International Home Price Comparison Index, global real estate giant Coldwell Banker has named Ecuador as the lowest-priced real estate market in the world for the past several years.
As far as I’m concerned, Ecuador rocks. It may be a small country, but it has more to offer than you can imagine…great cities and quiet villages….the majestic snowcapped Andes mountains…impossibly beautiful beaches…and the glorious Amazon rainforest. Importantly, Ecuador has a low cost of living and some of the world’s lowest real estate prices.
Fourteen years ago, while on a Caribbean sailing trip, I decided that some day I would find my own place by the ocean. As time went on, that dream became ever-more important. I was sick and tired of corporate greed and useless politics in the U.S. It was time to make my dream a reality and check out moving overseas.
I moved to Uruguay full-time in 2006. And since then I’ve explored more than a dozen different countries, from Spain to Argentina. I’ve lived in Brazil, have a second home in Colombia, and bought property in Nicaragua. Yet Uruguay is where I call home; and I can’t think of a better place to be right now. The lifestyle is unbeatable, and the cost of living and of properties is reasonable.
I am bullish on Ecuador’s north coast—and have been since 2009. It’s Ecuador’s nicest stretch of coast. And now a new highway joins the new coastal highway at Pedernales, opening up the seaside area around Jama—classic Path of Progress. It’s stunning here but real estate prices stayed low because it was difficult to get to. This coast is hotting up. An owner who got in two-and-a-half years ago has been able to resell his lot in a project I recommended. He sold for close to double what he paid. Not a bad return. Don’t worry. You haven’t missed out. This opportunity is only getting started.
Even travel writers need escapes. One of my favorite getaways is Alicante, a city on Spain’s Costa Blanca. Yes, I know I’ve disparaged “the Costas” in the past. Spain-without-the-Spanish…paunchy northern Europeans overdosing on sun, sex, and cheap booze…hideous plastic donkeys…concrete jungles…acres of lookalike vacation homes. So why Alicante? Well, there’s a big difference between seaside cities and purpose-built resorts. Alicante is lively, sunny, and inexpensive, for sure. But it’s also charming, fairly sophisticated, and its ambiance is as Spanish as that of Madrid.
In Boquete, Panama, you want a really good camera. That’s because the mountain views are lavish and rainbows appear nearly every day. Karl and Liz Parker fell for this landscape when they first arrived. Now they live in Panama part of the year, spending the rest of their time traveling or back in the U.S. with family.
This isn’t five days a week; it’s closer to seven with 12- to 14-hour days. The stress has mounted, your health has suffered, and forget a personal life. You think constantly of retirement, but it is five years in the future. Sound familiar? Fifteen months ago, that was my life…and it was certainly not my own.
If you’re looking for an overseas dream home in a place that has great weather, unspoiled beaches and a more relaxed lifestyle…on a tight budget…no problem.
I was at the International Living Live and Invest in Ecuador Seminar 2011 that wrapped up about a week ago. I wish you were there, too. We learned why Ecuador makes so much sense for anyone looking to find a way to stretch their modest savings and social security checks…and yet enjoy a high quality of life.
I’ve rarely seen such an explosion of interest and exploration in a country after one of our international events. The promise and potential of Ecuador has fired the imaginations of a huge percentage of our attendees here.
Andrea Gingerich started out as a world-traveling biologist. But she had much more fun taking photos of turtles in Belize…and snaps of insects in Costa Rica. Better yet—these are photos she can sell. In fact, Andrea spent most of last year traveling and living off of the royalties from her photos.
When Patrick Robinson lived in Hawaii, he made a snapshot list of what the perfect society might look like. The more research he did the more convinced he became that this place was Ecuador. One place in particular jumped out at him. But still, he wasn’t sure he should go off on this adventure. After all, he was more than 80 years old.
“In 2007, we had great jobs and were pulling down good money. Our retirement account was growing steadily,” says Ron Moore. “Then, it seemed like overnight, everything changed.” The car dealership where Ron and his wife, Terresa, were both part of the executive management team, went out of business. As the economy down-spiraled, so did the couple’s savings.
John and Sue live in Vilcabamba in southern Ecuador. Known as the Valley of Longevity because it’s such a healthy, stress-free place that residents commonly live to be 100 or more, you gotta figure it’s a very good thing that living there costs so little. John and Sue, who are right around 50 and have been retired for more than four years now, have a very long life ahead of them.
Over the last decade, we’ve explored much of Ecuador’s Pacific Coast—and one place we always enjoy revisiting is Puerto Lopez. It’s about halfway down the coast, midway between the larger cities of Salinas to the south and Manta to the north, right off the Ruta del Sol highway.
Sally Stone was searching for superb scenery and a relaxed pace of life when she bought a small stone cottage in Brittany, on the Atlantic coast of France. At the time, Sally was working as a director in a marketing company; the Breton cottage just a part-time retreat. But a year later, in 2002, she lost her job to cost cutting and needed to find something else.
I always thought that I’d want to live on the beach in some out-of-the-way area. When the time came though, a bigger city was the place for me. Medellín in Colombia is physically beautiful. It’s the greenest city I’ve ever been to. The weather is better than any other place I’ve lived.
Quentin and Wyona McKay wanted to move to paradise. They wanted to exchange their hectic life for a simpler, more fulfilling one…to own their own business in an exotic tropical location and work for themselves doing something they enjoy.
Grab your bathing suit and flip flops (that’s all you’ll need) and head for Belize—the only country in Central America where English is the official language. Expats here report that the monthly cost of living in Belize, on average, is about $1,800 (about $60/day). In Belize you don’t need much…
This is what can happen when the Path of Progress rolls through. Real estate prices rise faster than the rate at which shiny high-rises spurt from beachfront sites. In Cancun, Mexico owners of little fishing huts became millionaires.
These days, though, any oncoming vehicle is more likely a modern SUV. But I am in Ireland, and it’s hard not to think in clichés. That’s because most of them are still, thankfully, true. Here the land is indeed green, the people friendly, the pubs cozy, the music lilting.
It might be a palapa bar on a white-sand beach, deep-sea fishing tours, a restaurant, a surf shop… Whatever your idea, there’s a place overseas where you can make it a profitable reality. But readers ask us all the time: Where is best? That’s why we’ve put together International Living’s first-ever Business Index.
Marvin and Joanne Riddle don’t just enjoy “the best of both worlds”…they enjoy the best the whole world has to offer them. The couple spend part of every year in Florida, part of the year living on La Barqueta beach, in Panama’s Chiriquí province, and—when the mood takes them—they travel the world, too.
With few exceptions, today’s Masachapa is not fancy…and generally not a place where you’d come to experience fine dining and high-end amenities. But it does offer authentic Nicaraguan charm, a fantastic beach, and reasonable property prices.
If you have to ask: What’s so special about walnuts?, then you’ve never visited the Dordogne. Noix (walnuts) grow in abundance in this tranquil area of south-west France. It has a special walnut route, and the nuts are brand-protected by an AOC appellation just like French wines. Near the chateau-topped village of Castelnaud, there’s even a museum devoted to walnut culture.
Today I’m going to show you how to rate the value of any real estate you may be interested in buying. I’ll use a current property for sale as a case study. In fact, this is a killer deal near the Pacific Coast. In the place pictured here…bright, thick green jungle canopy rolls down to a coast of sandy beaches and rocky points. It’s truly stunning. While prices in other parts of the country soared, prices here stayed low because it was difficult to get to. Now a new smoothly paved coastal highway has changed that.
Fresh air makes you hungry, of course. Just an hour south of Belmopan we stop for lunch. Beneath a giant open-air palapa we’re served more food than we can possibly eat…grilled shrimp and heaping mounds of the coconut rice and beans Belize is famous for. All this for $5 each—and washed down with deliciously cold Belikin beer.
I heard that money could be made from taking photos for online stock agencies—often images of everyday items, events or places, so I took some shots. I sent what I had into a number of stock sites before applying to one of the bigger ones—Dreamstime. By the next morning, I was an accepted stock photographer! I got a sale fairly quickly, which spurred me on.
“I was a California business owner and completely stressed out by all the laws, regulations, and the failing economy. Plus, I had a dream of living in a different country that was culturally stimulating. Overall, I just didn’t feel in control of my destiny in the States, and I felt there must be a better way.” There was a better way, and Sharon found it in Belize.
I practiced law for almost 20 years before becoming a full-time travel photographer, but I first got interested in photography as a hobby in the mid-90s. I lived in Denver, Colorado, so I had plenty of opportunities to photograph world-class landscapes. I took the next step in 1999 when I began sending out my work to travel publications.
When John Curran turned 39, he decided to retire. It wasn’t that he lucked into a big bonus from work. In fact, John was a teacher from Wisconsin. But he and his wife, Sue, wanted a richer experience from life. At a time when most people are less than half-way through their working lives, John began researching retirement options…
I have a couple of friends who would be the typical tourists who visit the Dominican Republic. They head to Punta Cana each winter to escape the cold and rainy weather back home.
You couldn’t ask for a better location than Panama City’s popular and central El Cangrejo neighborhood. As an example, a furnished, one-bedroom, 650-square-foot condo with air conditioning recently sold for $82,000. The building has all the amenities you’d want like social area and pool, sauna, party room, and doorman.