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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Since our move to Ecuador a few years back, interest in this country has exploded. We get questions about how best to travel the country and what not to miss…we’re asked which is best: mountain or beach living…and how Ecuador compares to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama…
Everything is old in Loja. Of course, that’s not literally true…but stroll through the historic colonial heart of this city in southern Ecuador and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. If you wish away the cars and buses and try not to see the youngsters with their stylish hair-dos and piercings (this is a university town, after all), you can sense what this city must have been like, oh…nearly 500 years ago.
St Tola goat’s cheese and organic leaves with a tomato, basil and vodka jelly…roast hake on a risotto of pearl barley with a truffle salsa. For a story about eating and drinking stops along Ireland’s river Shannon, the Purple Onion gastro-pub in Tarmonbarry is definitely worth including.
This place boasts the world’s best climate…averaging daytime temperatures in the mid-70s every day of the year. So where am I? In Loja, a manageable city of about 180,000 people in southern Ecuador. At 6,750 feet above sea level, Loja is at a lower elevation than many of the country’s other major cities perched along the spine of the Andes mountain range.
It’s 8.00 a.m. on a Friday morning and I’m in Gouyave, on the west coast of Grenada. The beach is crowded with fishermen at work. Some are fixing their nets and sharing stories. Others are already out in the water in their canoes.
While on a working vacation in France, I decided to take a week-long side-trip to Spain. I had some friends from the Catalonian region in the north of the country and they invited me to visit. I’d never been there before, so I jumped at the chance to see a new part of the world.
Rent overseas before you buy. That’s good advice for anyone looking to try a new country on for size. Despite its incredibly low real estate costs, Ecuador is no exception. Fortunately, rental costs in Ecuador are very affordable, too.
Ecuador is a retirement paradise. Yes, it is the winner of IL’s Global Retirement Index 2012. But you don’t need an index to tell you that the climate is incredible…and varied—lush mountains, dense Amazon jungle, sun-drenched Pacific beaches…
Just a few decades ago there were only two ways to reach the natural paradise of Las Terrenas, on the Dominican Republic’s Samana Peninsula. You could take a horse, or a boat. Then, word spread among Europeans about a place with stunning waterfalls cascading down from lush green mountains, and shady woodlands touching on miles of palm-fringed, white-sand beaches.
“We’re right on the beach and we love that,” says expat Cynthia Kelley. “We can hear the ocean at night and we love to watch the sunset over the water in the evenings.” It’s easy to get the feeling that you’re a million miles away from the rest of the world in Canoa, on Ecuador’s northern coast.
Ever since settling in the Toledo district of the country in 2005, Chris and his wife Sue have been surrounded by a tropical wonderland of flowers, trees and animals. Life is simpler in Belize. Unobtrusive government, healthy food, a friendly, laid-back population, and a cheap standard of living make life easier all-around, says Chris.
I had to work last Sunday. I was up by 7.30 a.m. But don’t feel bad for me just yet. Once out of bed, I slipped into my swimsuit, cover-up and flip-flops and checked out of my room at a hotel I was staying in at the mouth of the Rio Dulce in Livingston, Guatemala.
When I first moved from New York to Paris, France people told me all the time how lucky I was. I understand why everyone thought that. I worked as a lawyer for a prestigious firm and lived in a beautiful apartment a stone’s throw from the Louvre. I traveled all over Europe for business: I would be in five-star hotels in Milan one night and Frankfurt the next.
The Panamanian side of the Darién is dominated by deep valleys, rivers and a 6,000-foot-high mountain peak. You won’t find much else here. Starbucks hasn’t made it, and there’s no Home Depot. This is frontier country. But you will find an open door to immediate residency in Panama, along with a chance for profitable investing.
A blue sky, blue-water scene is unremarkable in the tropics. But this is Europe. I’m in southern Spain, on Murcia’s Costa Cálida—the “warm coast.” Whoever thought up the name wasn’t exaggerating. Summer temperatures soar above 90 F, and there’s an annual dose of at least 320 days of sunshine. On the coast, spacious furnished rentals are $508 to $635 monthly.
“What do I wear in bed?” mused Marilyn Monroe. “Why, Chanel No. 5, of course!” Perched in the hills above the Côte d’Azur in France, Grasse has been the world’s perfume capital since the 17th century. The countryside around this Provencal town is where the jasmine and roses that go into the country’s famed luxury fragrances are grown and harvested.
A few years ago our friends spent a month in Tahiti, one of French Polynesia’s paradise islands. When they showed us photos of the house they stayed in, my wife and I were speechless. They live in Ingleside Heights in San Francisco in a lovely three-bedroom, two-bathroom home. The house in Tahiti was 2,800 square feet of beachfront opulence. It came with two maids, a cook, and a gardener.
Walk down any street or narrow village lane in tiny Belize (only about the size of the U.S. state of Rhode Island) and you’ll hear any one of a half dozen or more languages—pretty remarkable in a country that’s less-populated than many U.S. cities (320,000 inhabitants).
Nicaragua’s best-preserved colonial city, Granada is a popular tourist attraction with a thriving expat community. My husband Shylow and I came here in May 2010 and fell in love with the beautiful architecture, friendly locals, and seriously low cost. After leaving the U.S. and all that we were used to, we found a place where our hard-earned money could stretch past the house mortgage.
I love to travel to exotic destinations—like on my last trip to Panama. I trekked in Cerro Azul in the majestic mountains overlooking Panama City and visited Santa Fe—one of the country’s hilly frontiers. The rugged natural beauty of these places begs to have a camera pointed at it. Bring a camera with you, and you can start making money right away.
Making the decision to transplant ourselves to Italy was easy. Making the move to Italy itself was painless. Making ourselves at home was smooth and immediate. Making a living…well, that’s another beast. I’m not going to lie to you—working in Italy can be difficult. But it’s more than worth it.
On this, my second trip to Belize, in 1980, I’d come to dive the world’s second largest barrier reef, just offshore the small towns of Seine Bight and Placencia in southern Belize. Flying by tiny sea plane was the easiest and fastest way to get here…as the dirt road from Belize City was perilously rutted and would take an entire day (if you were lucky and popped only one tire).
the best thing about being a copywriter is that it allows me to enjoy the type of lifestyle that I’ve always wanted. Right now, I’m living and working in Southeast Asia—in a sunny, laid-back little beach resort town called Sihanoukville in Cambodia.
Belize has a lot going for it. For a tiny country, it packs a big wallop when it comes to charm and scenery. For the would-be expat—especially if you’re looking for real value—there are many places deserving of your attention. Places where you can live the laid-back, Caribbean lifestyle of your dreams.
Ever since my first extended trip overseas back when I was a student, I dreamed of landing the “perfect” overseas job. I craved new experiences in faraway lands. And I was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen. At first, it didn’t matter what the job was. As long as it gave me a chance to support myself while living in a world-class overseas destination, I was in.
This is the most stunning stretch of white-sand beach I have set foot on. Standing here, on Tulum’s Caribbean coast in Mexico, with warm sea breezes rustling through the palm trees, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d want to be. If you’re looking for a manufactured resort, stay in Cancun. Tulum is the real thing. Jungle crawls over ancient Mayan Ruins. You’ll find caves and underground rivers.
I knew very little about Chile—I had an idea of a long, thin country full of lamas, Spanish colonial architecture and Indians dressed in homespun wool. But, I was about to find out a whole lot more about the South American nation—I had just agreed to accompany a friend on a trip there.
Sometimes the best way to see something is through someone else’s eyes. For example, I know Panama. My wife, Suzan Haskins, and I lived in Panama City several years ago, and we’ve traveled nearly the entire country. We’ve also attended dozens of International Living events in Panama.
An Irish breakfast is something to behold; and something to photograph. A lovely array of oatmeal, toast, eggs, black pudding, white pudding (not the sweet treat it sounds), Irish bacon (really more like a slab of ham), grilled tomatoes and tea—lots of tea.
My husband Bill and I are avid travelers, a habit formed working for international organizations for many years. When we decided to retire in 2009 and focus on our passion for travel, we looked for a way to stay in touch with friends, make new connections, and—if we could—fund some of our travels by writing about our discoveries. Our blog was born.
In the distance I can see the national park, where hiking trails crisscross hills lush with rainforest. In the treetops above me, I’ve seen monkeys and toucans and several species of birds I can’t name. This is Santa Fe de Veraguas, a tiny mountain hideaway about 200 miles west of Panama City.
It’s Wednesday night and I’m sitting in The Roaring Donkey—a neighborhood pub in Cobh, Ireland—Guinness in hand as I attempt to sing along with my new friends, the residents of this colorful town. I’m here because a local invited me to join him and his friends for an informal “jam session” of traditional Irish music.
A typical day for us starts with the braying of our pet donkeys Molly and Malone. Getting up to feed them and our goats is never a chore. We left Massachusetts for Ireland to live in exactly this kind of quiet, rural oasis.
Times are tough in Spain. Half her young are unemployed—if they haven’t emigrated. Her economy, banks and real estate industry is in tatters. Like in Ireland, they built too many homes. Homes that nobody would ever want. Speculators snapped them up, betting that prices would go even higher. Then the party ended in 2007. By 2008, all activity stopped completely.
I knew the basics…importing means bringing items from one country in to another and exporting, conversely, involves sending products from one country back to another. Mostly I was just eager for an adventure, and I was taking a leap of faith. At the time, I had no idea how profitable it can be— and how much fun it is.
Zanzibar is one of those places we’ve all heard of, but don’t know where to find on a map. The name conjures up visions of exotic tropical beaches and trading ports that haven’t changed much since the heyday of the spice trade. When my sister accepted a one-year assignment in East Africa, my wife and I booked a trip to see her. It was a great opportunity to visit this fabled island just off Tanzania’s coast.
Not everything is yet labeled “Made in China.” Throughout the world, artisans still produce handcrafted objects of desire that carry serious mark-ups when resold in North America and Europe. And if you like something, chances are other people will like it too.
For many years it was the “Jewel of the Pacific.” Even today, long after the Golden Age of the port city has passed, the brightly-painted hillside houses, cobblestone alleyways, and winding streets of Valparaíso, on Chile’s central coast, are among the country’s most enchanting finds.
At home, prices are rising. It costs more to put gas in the car, buy groceries, and pay for health insurance. At the same time, retirement savings eroded in the market downturn. And with interest rates at near-zero today, it’s difficult to rebuild. More than ever, retirees need to stretch their dollars.
After dinner one night, Simon and his wife Lisa decided to take on a massive fund-raising expedition—they would ride around the world raising money for charity and taking photographs and documenting their story online as they went. In 2002, they sold their house and all of their possessions—and bought two BMW motorbikes.