- Looking for Culture, Comfort and Low-Cost Living? Try Guatemala
Posted on April 16, 2014 by Eoin Bassett
It’s largely thanks to these folks that Guatemala has such a rich and unique culture. And it’s this culture that entices many of the expats who have made their homes here. “I love how different it is, and I want it to stay that way, too,” says Jean Johnson who lives in the colonial city of Antigua. “It’s like traveling into some epic or bygone landscape,” says Portland-native John Kin, of traveling around the highlands.
We discovered our colonial highland home by accident. We were on a year’s sabbatical, exploring the popular expat haven of San Miguel de Allende, when a couple we knew invited us to join them on a day trip to the nearby town of Guanajuato. We climbed the steps from the underground parking lot to a view of lively plazas, colonial-style buildings in bright orange and turquoise, and plentiful pedestrian areas. After an hour’s stroll, we knew this was where we wanted to base ourselves in Mexico. After that first visit in 1999, we kept returning.
If you’re in the process of planning your move abroad, I’m betting you’ve spent a fair amount of time daydreaming about your future experiences, too. But despite the advantages and excitement that a move abroad brings there was one stumbling block that nearly prevented us from taking the leap: fear of commitment. And we’re not the only ones who have faced this. From talking to other expats it would seem that many people experience a mental block when it comes to making a final decision on where to settle.
Why stare at cold gray skies and dirty snow when you could enjoy warm sea breezes? That was the question I asked myself back in 2008. So I decided to search for an ocean view. I conjured up a vision of an international community in a town with an Old World feel, a tropical setting with hills, trees, and water. I was sure I could find a place to rent somewhere south of the border.
We’ve been living overseas since 2001. We’ve lived in seven communities in four countries (and purchased property in a fifth). We’ve bought, renovated and sold two homes in Mexico and bought and renovated a condo in Ecuador, where we now live. We’ve tried out beach life, mountain life, and both big-city and small-town living. So we know something about the expat life…
- A Gentler Life Abroad: When Your Dream Takes You Off the Beaten Track
Posted on March 20, 2014 by Jennifer Stevens
As this idea of living better for less overseas tiptoes into the mainstream, newspapers and magazines mention places like San Miguel de Allende in Mexico or the Central valley in Costa Rica. These communities have long attracted foreign retirees. They’re the “old guard” in expat havens. You can slide into them easily, what with active expat groups, supermarkets, and plenty of homes to rent. They’re convenient, proven, attractive.
We discovered our Colonial Highland home by accident. We were on a year’s sabbatical, exploring the popular expat haven of San Miguel de Allende, when a couple we knew invited us to join them on a day trip to the nearby town of Guanajuato. We climbed the steps from the underground parking lot to a view of lively plazas, colonial-style buildings in bright orange and turquoise, and plentiful pedestrian areas.
Gary Thompson first fell for Mexico at the age of 12, thanks to a classmate’s slideshow of a family trip south of the border. “I was overwhelmed by the beauty and diversity, and that sensation stayed with me,” he says. “Even today, I never get tired of the green mountains and ocean views around me.”
It wasn’t one thing that attracted expats Veronique Marconnet and Julie Foley to Guanajuato. It was a whole bunch of them: superb colonial architecture, vibrant cafés, live music, art…and opportunities to make a living doing something they enjoy. “Guanajuato offers possibilities,” says Veronique. “And you can have a good quality of life at a relatively low cost, too.” Monthly expenses including rent average $1,500.
Six months from now, you could be living in paradise… for much less than it costs you to stay home. In the best destinations overseas, your dollar just goes further…first-class health care is affordable…you can keep a housekeeper or gardener…and live better than you can back home for a fraction of what you pay now…
I visited San Miguel de Allende recently while working on a video project, and I had a chance to catch up with an old friend from when my wife, Suzan Haskins, and I lived there back in 2007 and 2008. It pleased me to find him doing well and to hear that his two children were growing into handsome, intelligent young adults. Part of the reason for that, he told me, were the chances they’d had to travel.
- These Caribbean Condos Could Earn You Thousands of Dollars a Year…
Posted on March 13, 2014 by Ronan McMahon
The Tulum area, at the southern edge of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, has the finest, white-sand beaches on my beat. Turquoise waters lap on soft sand while breezes rustle through palm trees. This is a great place to spend time—a place I like to vacation. It’s jet-set chic here.
- Your Own Condo by Mexico’s Best Beaches for Just $550 a Month
Posted on March 12, 2014 by Ronan McMahon
The best beaches in Mexico are just 70 minutes down the coast from Cancun. Some are still deserted, dotted only with coconut palm trees and curious iguanas. Seabirds duck and dive overhead. It’s a place of utter beauty and tranquility—azure blue water and total silence except for the roar of the surf. But it’s not just about white-sand beaches here.
- These Real Estate Buys in Mexico Could Have Doubled Your Money – Where’s Next?
Posted on March 11, 2014 by Ronan McMahon
Close on a decade ago I first stood on the white sands at Tulum, Mexico. Playa del Carmen was my base for this trip, and I saw first-hand what was happening. Playa was taking off—as were its real estate values. Ninety minutes down the coast (before the road improvements) Tulum was a secluded piece of paradise. It was an empty beach—there wasn’t a single soul. I drove down a potholed, rutted, sand road with a friend.
In Mexico, Ecuador and Costa Rica properties with stunning views can be bought for as little as $119,000, according to a new report by InternationalLiving.com. “A great view usually translates into a premium price tag. But if a buyer knows the right places to look, he can find properties with world-class vistas for much, much less than you’d expect,” reports InternationalLiving.com’s property correspondent, Margaret Summerfield.
We sold the house and had to decide what to do with all that stuff. So we took inventory—stuff we wanted to keep on one side of the ledger, stuff for the garage sale on the other. The idea was to get rid of all the things we didn’t need and keep all the things that we thought gave our life meaning and stability…the stuff we absolutely couldn’t live without.
- Make Money in Property Management— No Experience Required
Posted on March 1, 2014 by International Living
Vacation rentals are a great way for an investor to create an income overseas but, unless they’re living next door, anyone who owns a vacation rental needs someone to manage it for them. Property management is a business you can start with absolutely no investment. You are simply trading your time and effort.
- Find the Perfect Place to Live…and Put Some Money in Your Pocket
Posted on February 24, 2014 by Suzan Haskins
Figuring out how to make some extra money doing something you love is a wonderful thing. And many of my fellow expats are doing exactly that. If you’re looking for inspiration, I’d like to share some of those stories with you. In fact, we know of so many such stories that my husband Dan and I devoted an entire chapter of a new book we’ve written to this exact topic. (More about that in a moment.)
- Life Lessons from 12+ Years’ Experience Living Overseas
Posted on February 23, 2014 by Suzan Haskins
As we approach our lucky 13th year of living overseas, my husband, Dan Prescher, and I are fortunate to have shared so many wonderful, memorable experiences in so many far-flung corners of the world—from Southeast Asia to Europe, and nearly every country of Latin America. We’ve lived in Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, and Ecuador… In fact, we’ve lived in more than one destination in some of those countries. We’ve learned to speak Spanish, we’ve bought and sold property…
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.
- New Profit Potential in My Favorite Caribbean Paradise
Posted on February 19, 2014 by Ronan McMahon
The Tulum area, at the southern edge of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, has the finest white-sand beaches on my beat. Turquoise waters lap on soft sand while breezes rustle through palm trees. This is a great place to spend time—a place I like to vacation. It’s jet-set chic here. Fortunately I’ve an excuse for frequent visits.
On a beautiful morning, I was up early to watch the pale light filter through the trees as the sun rose. The forest came to life as I sat on my balcony. I sipped a cup of rich, locally grown coffee and watched the tropical birds flit through the branches in the early morning sunlight. I refreshed my coffee and settled back to enjoy the sounds of wildlife around me, while my husband slept in our room.
It’s hard to believe that a place of such stunning natural beauty, rich culture, and ancient history as Tulum is so easily accessible. On the Riviera Maya, this town boasts warm Caribbean waters, soft white-sand beaches, centuries-old Maya temples, and jungle filled with colorful wildlife. Standing here, it feels sometimes like you’re stepping away from the hustle and the noise of modern civilization.
I’ve never seen a stretch of the Caribbean more beautiful than the Riviera Maya. Standing on the warm, clean, coral-sanded beach, turquoise water laps at your feet. Behind you, palm trees sway and rustle in gentle breezes. Dive into that water and you can explore the world’s second-longest coral reef. Or step back from the beach and take in untamed jungle, ancient forest cities, and mythical cenotes—underground, swimmable caverns revered as sacred places by the Maya people.
- Five Spots Where You Can Find Premium Views for Less than $150,000
Posted on January 20, 2014 by Margaret Summerfield
A great view usually translates into a premium price tag. But you can afford a home with stunning vistas if know the right place to look. For example, I know of one Pacific coast town where a beachfront condo with Californian-style ocean views and a similar lifestyle will only set you back $119,000. You’d need at least three times that to get close to the beach in California.