Real life stories from people, just like you, who have made the move overseas.
For more than 30 years, International Living has been reporting on the world’s top overseas retirement and relocation destinations. We have editors all over the world, and in this time they have met many people who are living their dream overseas.
Some have retired…others have relocated and started their own business in their new country.
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From Europe to Latin America, International Living profiles tell the inspirational stories of those who have taken the leap and moved overseas. If they can do it, so can you. See below for their stories.
For Rebecca and Keith Clower, and their two young children ages three and five, their house by the beach isn’t just an address…it’s a lifestyle. They recently built a home in a development on the Bahia de Los Piratas, or Pirate’s Bay, on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, also known as the Gold Coast. They live on a hill, with an ocean-view, and you can see clear to Playa Flamingo and Playa Conchal, two nearby expat enclaves. The beach is mere minutes away on foot.
- Living Internationally: How to Enjoy a Roving Retirement
Posted on November 14, 2013 by International Living
Advances in technology have opened up the world. Planes, trains and the Internet are all getting faster and—if you know where to look—you can embrace these changes and make your dream of exploring dozens of overseas destinations come true. Right now, living internationally…
Eleven years and dozens of countries after selling their California house to travel the world, Trish and Marvin Scott say they have never regretted their decision. “We look for places off the tourist track. We’ve set up households in 20 countries, and currently we are living in an old communistera apartment in St. Petersburg,” says 70-year-old Marvin.
It was New Year’s Eve 2012 and the view outside my window was perfect. In the darkness, I could just make out the rolling Italian hills, dotted with brick houses with terracotta rooftops. A lone bell tower rose from a small, ancient church into the sky. And as the bell tolled midnight, the sky lit up with fireworks from three different directions.
I’ve rarely seen such a stunning city…like Istanbul meets San Francisco, with its pastel-colored buildings and the wide river running right under a Golden Gate look-alike and sweeping out to the ocean. My husband Tim and I were in Lisbon, Portugal, on the way to our rented house at the beach in Copa da Caparica. For $1,500 we were set up with a rental for a five-week stay living in this beach town just 15 minutes from the Portuguese capital.
It’s like it was fate that brought Sandy, 69, and Chip Bublik, 75, to their home on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast nine years ago. First, their step-son offered to give them land to build a home. Second, Sandy had just retired and the going-away gift from her employer—she was a receptionist at an ad agency—covered the cost of a container to ship their household goods to Costa Rica.
- No Stress, No Regrets—Living off the Land in Belize
Posted on September 19, 2013 by Domini Hedderman
Alfredo and Yvonne Villoria were just another fast-paced, career-minded couple in Los Angeles. But money-making wasn’t enough. “We felt that something was missing,” says Yvonne.
Penny Ripple is perhaps Boquete’s most enthusiastic resident. “The landscapes here just blow you away. I can see Volcan Baru, a dormant volcano and the highest point in Panama, from my window. We’re about 3,500 feet above sea level in Panama’s Chiriqui province, near the Costa Rica border. I love it here,” she says.
The Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh was once called the “Pearl of Asia” for a reason. Wide boulevards, riverfront promenades, and elegant colonial buildings were all signs of the city’s French influence. Its bustling markets, golden temples, and smiling citizens rooted it in a rich and ancient culture.
Our journey to Ecuador started a few years ago. First the bottom fell out of the U.S. economy…and the equity in our home vanished in a few months. Then I had my second heart attack and lost my job—just about the time that retirement was looming.
For some time now, I’ve silently wondered if I am the only one who winces at the frequent admonishment to “go big or go home.”
Why, I muse, would folks smart enough to abandon a large working environment want to replicate that? Why is millionaire status still flaunted as the pinnacle of success? Or home ownership the epitome of the American Dream? It all seems so…well…20th century.
Combine your creative talent with the craftsmanship and designs of another country and you could find an opening for an interior design business. In Jacó, on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast, Lynn Gensemer, 56, of Chungo Interior Designs, eschews expensive imported furniture and fixtures from the U.S. in favor of working with local craftsmen to create custom designs.
- Taking Face-to-Face Sales Skills Online in Costa Rica
Posted on September 1, 2013 by Jason Holland
Despite his many years working as a car-insurance salesman in Portland, Oregon—and making good money— Caelan Huntress always considered it a temporary gig. Today he has thrown out the cubicle, tie, and daily commute…and taken his sales skills online. He lives and works from his home in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone—a region on the southern Pacific coast, near the border with Panama. The beach is 45 minutes away. Shopping and quality medical care is just 15 minutes down the hill. And the verdant green mountains of the interior are an even bigger draw.
Moving from New York City to a small town in the U.S. is quite a culture shock on its own. But Rick Macsherry, 60, and Christina Spilsbury, 58, did one better. In 1989, they moved to a small fishing village on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast.
A herd of goats files into the pasture below my patio. The flock leaps over the stream, threading its way through the field. They butt each other in exuberance as I savor my morning coffee and fresh rolls with creamy butter.
- Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia: Three Great Destinations to Live in Southeast Asia
Posted on July 12, 2013 by International Living
Living in Southeast Asia is a lot easier than you probably think…it’s easier to get around, to get what you need, to find a community that will welcome you. While the distance may be intimidating, the reality on the ground is much less so than you may imagine. Expats living in this part of the world report that life is at once exhilarating, comfortable and affordable.
If you want to set up business overseas, you will most likely consider doing it by yourself. But if you don’t have the language and you’re not familiar with the country itself, this can be a daunting prospect. A solution could be partnering with a local.
It’s not every morning you find a monkey eating your breakfast. But it happens. Investigating a noise in the kitchen the other day, my husband John found a Macaque monkey carelessly tossing banana skins onto the floor. After a brief stare-off, the monkey tucked our bananas under his arm and bolted into our garden.
Living on a hillside in San Ignacio, Belize, just a short car ride away from the Guatemalan border, Michael and Amanda Cyphers have finally found the simplicity they looked for so long. “I wake up every day and think, ‘What do I do with all this freedom?’” says Amanda. “At home, we had to do, we had to perform. We had bills to pay, places to go, schedules to keep. So much so that we were up at night worrying about how to get it all done.”
- The Positives of Life in the U.S. for Less in Costa Rica
Posted on June 20, 2013 by Jason Holland
Bruce and Karen Huss’s move to Costa Rica’s Central Pacific coast evolved over time. Their first visit was five years ago, when they spent time in the exclusive Los Sueños resort community in Playa Herradura
- Health Care in Ecuador: A Top Haven for Quality Care Overseas
Posted on May 29, 2013 by Edd Staton
Patty and Mike Grimm have been in Ecuador for nearly three years. During that time, “we have pretty much covered the gamut of medical care, including dentistry, eye exams and glasses, emergency rooms, colonoscopy, mammogram, gallbladder removal, treatment for ulcers (endoscopes), and serious back treatments,” says Mike.
Life was good in the States. We had a big house, two cars, and a community of friends in our Pennsylvania hometown. But something was missing. The lifestyle we were living was too stressful, too busy, too unhealthy, and too expensive. We found ourselves accumulating—and worrying about unnecessary stuff.
I checked out of the traditional career path—the “rat race”—about 10 years ago at the age of 35. On the surface, life in Texas was great for me. I’d graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in journalism and worked in the advertising business as an account executive (a “suit”) for about 10 years.
When Valerie and Gaylord Townley first visited Tamarindo, it was a simple fishing village. The only visitors were pioneering surfers (Gaylord was one of them) and sport fishermen. There were a few small hotels, only a few phone lines, and no TV. The number of permanent expats could probably fit in one of today’s larger restaurants.
- Small Town Life in Atenas, Costa Rica’s Central Valley
Posted on May 23, 2013 by Jason Holland
“I knew when it was time to retire we’d move to the tropics. I was bored with the predictability of life in the U.S….the politics…the franchises,” says 70-year-old Roberta Laidman.
Few countries in the world can compete with Malaysia for natural beauty, the warmth of its people and diversity of cultures…not to mention the amazingly low cost of living (my live-in maid costs $400 a month). I feel blessed and wish that I had moved here years ago. Betty Cotton loves telling her friends about Malaysia, too—especially Penang.
At ages 67 and 72, we became senior nomads. We had taken stock of our lives and realized that we were happier on the road than anywhere else—and that becoming home-free would give us the flexibility we needed to experience life in other cultures. Since then, we’ve lived in nine countries, and we have no plans to stop until the wheels fall off!
So there we were, my husband David and I, retired in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, we had a lovely home in a great development and spent our time remodeling, doing volunteer work, and getting on with our lives.
“My typical day starts with a steaming cup of excellent Panamanian coffee,” says Jade Wills. “I settle down at my desk and work for a few hours then I take a smoothie break using fresh papayas from our yard. “Later, I’ll ride my bike to the vegetable truck or maybe spend some time gardening. I’ve plenty of time for things like yoga and pilates, and some days I’ll pack up my laptop and work from right on the beach. Life is good.”
- “We Have Luxuries in Nicaragua We Could Never Afford Back Home”
Posted on May 1, 2013 by Jason Holland
When Roberto, 63, and his wife Réjane Rojas retired in 2002, they were looking for a retirement destination with warm weather, a low cost of living that would allow them to live well on their savings and pension, and easy access to both North and South America. “We visited most of the Central American countries before we decided on Nicaragua.”
My husband Tim and I are living proof that older people can learn plenty of new tricks. And our errors have been almost as much fun as our home runs. In 2011, we sold our comfortable California house, dumped the furniture, put our small treasures, art, and clothes in storage, and kissed our four daughters and seven grandchildren goodbye. At ages 67 and 72, respectively, we became senior nomads.
When Roberto, 63, and his wife Réjane Rojas retired in 2002, they were looking for a retirement destination with warm weather, a low cost of living that would allow them to live well on their savings and pension, and easy access to both North and South America. “We visited most of the Central American countries before we decided on Nicaragua. We just loved San Juan del Sur.
- Natal: A Sun-Worshipper’s Paradise in Northeast Brazil
Posted on April 22, 2013 by John Clites
From the Via Costeira (Coastal Way), I descend the dirt path to the beach. Kicking off my sneakers, I jog barefoot south toward the breakwater. The near-white sand is so soft that it squeaks under foot. Though only 8 a.m., the sun is high, announcing yet another beautiful day.
- Senior Nomads: “We’re Healthier and Happier Since We Took to the Road”
Posted on April 22, 2013 by Lynne Martin
My husband Tim and I are living proof that older people can learn plenty of new tricks. And our errors have been almost as much fun as our home runs. In 2011, we sold our comfortable California house, dumped the furniture, put our small treasures, art, and clothes in storage, and kissed our four daughters and seven grandchildren goodbye. At ages 67 and 72, respectively, we became senior nomads. We had taken stock of our lives and realized that we were happier on the road than anywhere else— and that becoming home-free would give us the flexibility we needed to experience life in other cultures.
- “The Lower Cost of a Retirement in Panama Drew Us Here”
Posted on April 16, 2013 by Terri Marshall
When John and Robyn Cole married in 1990 their 12-year age difference wasn’t a big deal. But as they started to age together, the difference became more apparent… and they started to think about the future. “I began to see what life would look like if I worked until age 65,” says Robyn. “John would be 77.”
Lee’s biggest business is advising people how to build eco-friendly homes out of shipping containers, throwing in alternative-energy systems, like solar panels, if they’re interested. He’s also the go-to guy in San Juan when expats and business owners have computer trouble. And he helps fellow expats transition to life in Nicaragua…
With a love for Latin American culture and an itch to travel, Jaime Johnson struck out for Panama four years ago. His life took a turn when he met a “special someone”—and a year later he found himself living in her hometown of Bogota, Colombia. “That first year, I traveled throughout Colombia,” he recalls. “In Medellin I found one of the most progressive cities I’d ever visited.
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