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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In Belize, more than 40% of the country is protected as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and marine reserves. But this lush ecological paradise is not just a haven for wildlife. Belize encourages offshore business and welcomes foreigners as local residents, too. In fact, if you’re looking into your residency options, Belize should be high on your list.
In some countries, residency can be expensive (needing, perhaps, investments of hundreds of thousands of dollars). Not in Panama. Panama’s Pensionado program has made it easy for Baby Boomers to take advantage of everything this tiny tropical powerhouse has to offer. Most pensioners who can prove an income of at least $1,000 a month are eligible to apply.
As a Texan firefighter my husband, Clyde, had premium health insurance—which the city helped pay for. But once he retired we would have had to pay the full amount, about $1,000 a month. Since we were both too young for Medicaid, we wanted to live somewhere with good health care that cost less than the U.S. Panama topped all the lists.
Life in Costa Rica feels like a dream—but one I don’t have to wake up from. The climate here is awesome. Sunrise and sunset are at the same time every day, allowing my internal clock to get into a natural, uninterrupted rhythm. The sun rises at 5.00 a.m., warms the land and fills me with happiness for 10 months out of the year.
Despite the economic news you hear, you’ll find in Europe today many places that are incredibly livable…where the lifestyle is active, the food is fresh, there’s an abundance of activities, you can travel easily, the weather is great…and everyday life is affordable.
The idea of living better for less overseas has been around for a long time. So long, in fact, that there are a surprising number of people doing it right now. As a constant participant in International Living’s events, I notice this surprise on the faces of attendees every time we do a seminar or conference.
When it comes to living the expat life, there is only one candidate that deserves your vote: You. As your own commander in chief, you can live wherever you like and by your own set of rules. I’m Suzan Haskins and I’m writing to you this week from Cancun, Mexico, and the International Living Ultimate Event 2012.
He had a huge panoramic photo of his home—although you really couldn’t see the house for all the brilliantly colored bougainvillea tumbling over the walls and the fruit trees in the yard. Mango, lemon, lime, orange, raspberry, passion fruit, banana, and much more we weren’t familiar with…even coffee.
People are like shoes. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and styles. And one size never fits all. The more research I do about living, working, retiring, and doing business overseas…the more apparent it becomes that this is not a “one size fits all” idea. Everyone has different dreams, perceptions, and lifestyle requirements.
On March 1, real estate prices in Ireland will reach an all-time low. You could pick up an Irish country cottage for $9,750…a Dublin pied-a-terre for $46,500 or a beachfront hotel for $15,365 per room. You could buy at discounts of up to 90% off peak prices. You could buy with cash on cash yields of 22%.
For me, with my own company doing project management for large Information Technology infrastructure deployments, my job was a means to an end. I worked to earn money to travel and take photos of interesting and exotic places. But I longed for a job I could do from anywhere, which would permit me to travel as I worked.
Six months ago we moved to Panama. We knew that we didn’t want to live in a gated community. For us, it just made more sense to live among the locals where we could immerse ourselves in the culture and get to know everyone.
I’m sad to report that most visitors to Panama never leave the capital city. But if you’re willing to look beyond the city skyline, a world of choice awaits. This is a country roughly the size of South Carolina, so you needn’t go far to find idyllic mountain, beach, and valley hideaways with a “so close, yet so far away” feel.
Panama City is color, light, noise, and action—a thrumming, modern city that surprises first-timers with its stellar roads and steamy nightlife. But the beauty is more than skin-deep. Panama is also the region’s most convenient capital.
If you want to live with world-class natural beauty without the world-class price tag, come to Mexico’s Baja California Sur. And be sure to bring a camera. This is a desert land of sharp, clear lines. The mountain peaks in the distance gleam a delicate mauve.
I arrived on vacation to Buenos Aires, Argentina and was seduced into staying. You see, I figured out how to hemisphere-hop for free. This way I get two summers a year plus the snowy New England Christmas I couldn’t give up. I’m not a true expat. I’m a cheater. At first I lived off savings, and then pieced together an income from freelance writing and editing.
If your dreams of life in a new country mean securing an overseas income, then Panama must be high on your list. Here’s five reasons why Panama fits the bill for today’s move abroad adventurer. Reason #1—Economics: Panama is fast becoming an economic giant on the world stage. Why? Simple—geography.
Located in the Panamanian beach town of Coronado, the always happening Picasso is owned and run by British transplant Claire Ross. Claire didn’t come to Panama intending to start a restaurant here, but while doing some consulting work in Panama City she found a town an hour’s drive away that has it all.
Campana National Park may well be Panama’s best-kept secret. That’s amazing considering its location—just an hour west of Panama City, a big sign marks the entrance. It’s on the Pan-American Highway, also known as Highway One, which spans the isthmus (in fact, it runs from Canada all the way down to Argentina, with just one “gap” between Panama and Colombia).
I’d always wanted to be a writer. It was something I yearned to do for a living. I had worked in banking all my life but in 2008, aged 47, I decided that it was now or never—I would take a chance. So, I quit my job, sold my house, gave away my two cats (to a woman who adored them) and moved lock, stock and barrel with my wife to Malaysia.
“You’re out of your mind!” This was one of the milder things people said when I announced that after 30 years of living in the paradise of Maui, Hawaii, I was moving to South America. And at 80 years of age. Alone. Without speaking a word of Spanish.
As a lawyer for many decades now, I know how important it is to read and understand what you read. I also know from experience that Americans have been bombarded for years by class warfare politicians attacking wealthy people as if success in life was a crime.
I like to travel. I work much of the time from my home in Colorado (where my tax-deductible office is exactly 11 steps from my bedroom and has a million-dollar mountain view). But, I’ve also worked from Vail, Denver, and Leadville… I’ve toted my computer to France, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Germany, and the list goes on (and on).
Saturday night in Murcia City, southern Spain. I’m in El Secreto tapas bar, trying to summon up the willpower to eat a sea urchin. It looks absolutely bizarre. And in all honesty, absolutely vile. But as all vacationers need to eat, food stories are a travel writer’s staple.
Ashley and Jason Bartner were beginning a new phase in their lives. The couple had planned to settle down and buy a home in New York, but during their honeymoon, exploring cozy cafés, cobblestone avenues, and seasonal fruit markets, they fell in love with Italy.
We’re looking for someone to spend a month in the world’s top retirement haven—on us. If you like the idea of relaxing in a spring-like climate, exploring a colonial University city, making new and interesting friends from all over the world, trying new things and maybe even reporting about your adventures…this could be for you.
“Lazy” isn’t quite the right word to describe the village of Santa Fe de Veraguas, located in Panama’s Veraguas province. Other words come to mind: “bohemian,” “quirky,” and “effortless.” A town of about 3,000 people, Santa Fe has no traffic. Even on the main road cars pass infrequently. And everyone—every single person—says hello or buenas as they pass.
Amid the towers of steel and chrome waft the tantalizing smells of seafood and spices. Argentine, Cuban, Swiss, German, Thai, and Indian are only a few of the offerings you’ll enjoy today in Panama City.
Six years ago, I received a birthday present worth over $70,000. No, I’m not friends with Oprah. We had recently fallen in love with—and bought—a crumbling, pigeon-infested, 150-year old maison bourgeoise in northern Burgundy, France, only two hours away from our apartment in Paris.
You can volunteer at an organic farm next to the Podacarpus National Park in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, or on an apple orchard and organic bakery in Mendoza, Argentina. Help make goat cheese on an Irish farm near Ballyvaughan, County Clare in Ireland, learn about wine making on a vineyard in Italy’s Piemonte district while staying in a village house with a view of the Alps…
You’ll often hear the phrase “Same Same… But Different” in places like Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. And that phrase sums up the freelance copywriter’s lifestyle in Southeast Asia almost perfectly. Here’s why.
I work in Paris, France with plenty of free time to explore this phenomenal city with my children, because of my career. As a copywriter, I work a few hours a day, three or four days per week, and I can think of no better place to live.
Five years into my expat life, I look forward to downsizing. In fact, I recently bought a small, manageable, lock-and-leave property in Guanajuato, in the Colonial Highlands. It’s a far cry from what I thought I wanted when I first moved to Mexico… Then, I’d wanted a good-sized house, instead of an apartment as I’d had in the U.S.
When my wife, Suzan Haskins, and I moved overseas in 2001, we had no idea how much we didn’t know about living abroad. But we learned quickly. I still remember trying to figure out the nuts and bolts of Spanish hardware…literally.
We’ve pinpointed three locations with strong rental potential. Two of them would make fantastic second home destinations. The third would suit investors looking for a mix of good potential rental yield and appreciation.
After a few years spent teaching in Ecuador, Brazil, Australia and Thailand I returned to England to catch up with family and friends, but I missed the adventure, learning a language and the creative energy of life overseas. And that’s how I ended up in Spain.
I’m not a professional photographer, but for over five years now I’ve used stock photography to supplement my income and help cover travel expenses. One of my favorite trips in recent years was to La Paz, Bolivia.
For one of the most breathtaking experiences in the Scottish Highlands, take the A87 highway from Fort William to the Isle of Skye and descend into Glen Shiel to Loch Duich. A few miles farther along the lakeshore, you’ll suddenly come across the iconic sight of Eilean Donan Castle sitting on an island at the point where three of the great Scottish sea lochs meet.
Expat Juliette Cunliffe gets up at sunrise to enjoy the view from her bedroom. With a home perched high on a ridge above Lake Phewa Tal, she can gaze out at the snow-capped Annapurna mountains, look down at the town of Pokhara along the lakeshore, and plan her day in the lush foothills of the Nepalese Himalayas.
These islands are an independent country joined in “free association” with New Zealand. It has its own government and court system, the New Zealand dollar is the local currency, and it definitely qualifies as what used to be called a “tax haven,” now replaced by the politically correct term “offshore financial center.” Fifteen in all, their beaches are of white-powdered sands, the waters aquamarine and turquoise, and the climate ideal.