There's no better way to get a feel for a place you may consider as your ideal overseas retirement destination than to actually see it.
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In the heart of Costa Rica’s Central Valley is Grecia, a charming town of about 16,000. Like the rest of the Central Valley, Grecia has an ideal spring-like climate and enjoys quick access to the capital of Costa Rica, San José. There you can find the best medical care and shopping in the country, as well as the main international airport.
- Video Reveals Belize’s Lesser Known Caribbean Island (Very Affordable)
Posted on February 20, 2014 by Erica Mills
You’ve probably heard a lot about the stunning, tiny Caribbean island of Ambergris Caye (pronounced “Key”), Belize. But if you’re looking for a quieter, even more laid-back slice of the Caribbean, you’ll want to check out Ambergris Caye’s little sister, Caye Caulker. The motto of this island is “Go Slow”… Spend any time with the easy-going locals and expats who live here, and you’ll discover it’s a motto they take very seriously.
For many years now, we’ve contributed to International Living’s annual Global Retirement Index. It’s a ranking of the 24 countries that International Living editors feel offer the best potential for anyone considering moving abroad for a more affordable or adventurous retirement.
Just three and a half hours or so northwest of San José, Costa Rica’s capital and site of the main international airport, is a unique mountain community. Monteverde, with its main town Santa Elena, is the site of a large protected swath of land, including the cloud forest the area is best known for. This is a type of high-altitude rain forest where the clouds sweep through the trees, leaving a lush, moisture-rich environment. Trees are covered in orchids, moss, and bromeliads.
High in the Tilaran Mountains of Costa Rica is the Monteverde region. It’s one of the top tourist destinations in the country thanks to the natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and opportunities for adventures sports and hiking. It’s a bit over three hours to the west of Costa Rica’s capital, San José. The main town of the region, Santa Elena, serves as a home base for travelers and long-time foreign residents alike.
There are a lot of practical advantages to living in Costa Rica that I’ve discovered during my two years here. A big one for my family is the savings on medical care. When my son was born in June of 2012, we paid just $3,000 for the birth at a private hospital, including all the doctors’ fees and an overnight hospital stay. That’s cash, no insurance. We would have paid $15,000 to $20,000 in the U.S. When, at six months, the baby developed some health issues, testing and treatment was cheap too.
- Costa Rica Versus Panama: Which Country is Best for You?
Posted on November 21, 2013 by Dan Prescher
My wife, Suzan Haskins, and I were married in Costa Rica 14 years ago and have been back for business and pleasure almost every year since. We also lived in Panama in 2006 and, like Costa Rica, have returned nearly every year for International Living events, editorial trips, and vacations. So it is inevitable that…
I have a pretty standard morning routine. I’m awakened very early by roosters but stay in bed for a while as the sunrise filters into the bedroom. I start the coffee, open the sliding doors, step out to my deck, and look down into the valley below. I usually see hummingbirds buzzing around my flowers, sometimes a blue-crowned mot-mot. Some mornings one of my neighbors, a farmer, has been up even earlier…
- A Laid Back, Low Cost Lifestyle in Punta Gorda, Belize
Posted on October 31, 2013 by Glynna Prentice
Every now and again, when life feels hectic or I fear I’m getting into a rut, I think of little Punta Gorda, Belize. It’s become one of my favorite places to dream of visiting again. Right down near the southern tip of Belize, Punta Gorda looks out on the blue Caribbean. The barrier reef and its wealth of marine life—one of Belize’s main claims to fame—is 30 miles offshore here.
- Video: The Natural Beauty of Costa Rica’s Southern Pacific Coast
Posted on July 24, 2013 by Jason Holland
About three to four hours from Costa Rica’s capital, San José, is the country’s Southern Zone. It’s a stretch of coast that starts roughly at the former fishing village turned surfer haven, Dominical, to the border with Panama along the Pacific coast.
- Video: A Vibrant but Little-Visited Cloud Forest in Costa Rica
Posted on July 2, 2013 by Jason Holland
About an hour north of Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose, lies a little-known national park: Braulio Carrillo.
- Video: Los Chorros: A Spectacular Waterfall in Costa Rica’s Central Valley
Posted on April 4, 2013 by Jason Holland
Thanks to Costa Rica’s mountainous terrain and abundance of rivers, there are spectacular waterfalls throughout the country. In the video below, International Living Costa Rica Correspondent Jason Holland highlights a waterfall, known as Los Chorros, just outside of the village of Tacares. From the center of Tacares you’ll see large signs directing you to the waterfall, officially known as Los Chorros Parque Recreativo, which is three kilometers outside of town
Costa Rica’s Central Valley has been an expat haven for decades. For good reason. It’s got one of the world’s best climates, averaging in the mid-70s year-round. And most towns are within short driving distance (30 minutes to an hour-and-a-half) of the amenities of the capital, San José, and its suburbs like Cariari and Escazu. We’re talking North American-style shopping malls and multiplex movie theaters (with movies in English), plus the country’s best private hospitals.
- Video: A Bird’s Eye View of Colonial Buildings in Granada, Nicaragua
Posted on March 22, 2013 by Jason Holland
Founded in 1524, Granada, Nicaragua is a historic city with homes and other buildings hundreds of years old. Colonial homes are known for their red tile roofs and interior courtyards with gardens, fountains, and sometimes even swimming pools.
- Video: Three Areas to Consider When You Move to Punta del Este, Uruguay
Posted on March 22, 2013 by David Hammond
Punta del Este’s identity is evolving. In addition to being the area’s most popular beach resort, it is becoming an education center. It currently has four bi-lingual schools and a new university is being constructed. There is also a new large conference center in the works. In addition to traditional resort businesses extending their seasons, there are new stores and businesses being set up.
- Living in Montevideo, Uruguay: Three Neighborhoods to Consider
Posted on November 16, 2012 by David Hammond
Living in Montevideo, Uruguay is becoming increasingly popular for expats looking for an urban environment with a year-round menu of dining, entertainment, cultural events, and social opportunities. However, Montevideo is a big city covering 200 miles with 62 different neighborhoods. So where do you start when looking for a new place to live in Montevideo?
In this video, Jason Holland, International Living’s Costa Rica correspondent, highlights the beautiful beaches and laid-back towns of the country’s southern Caribbean coast, including Manzanillo, Puerto Viejo, and Punta Uva.
- Video: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua–Laid-Back and Affordable
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Jason Holland
On Nicaragua’s southern Pacific coast, just a short hop from the Costa Rican border, you’ll find San Juan del Sur. It’s the ideal beach town: funky, laid-back, and cheap. Plus, its location on a small cove, with cliffs rising dramatically from the water on either edge, means the views, especially at sunset, are spectacular.
Costa Rica has a worldwide reputation for sport fishing on its Pacific Coast. But in the highlands about three hours from the capital, San Jose, you’ll find Captain Ron Saunders on the waters of Lake Arenal. This former custom cabinet maker from Last Vegas and lifelong fisherman has spent the last seven years here as a fishing guide for locals, tourists, and expats.
- Costa Rica Video: Save Your Dollars by Shopping Like a Local at a “Feria”
Posted on June 8, 2012 by Jason Holland
In the video below, Costa Rica correspondent Jason Holland shows us his local Feria in Grecia, a small town in the Central Valley of Costa Rica located about an hour northwest of the capital, San Jose. A great way to cut down on your cost of living in Costa Rica is to go to the Feria, the weekly farmers’ market, for fresh fruits and vegetables. In the U.S., this healthy habit can cost a fortune.
- Video: A Beautiful Property with Lake Views in Arenal, Costa Rica for $195,000
Posted on May 24, 2012 by Jason Holland
In the video, you’ll see a beautiful property for sale on the lake in Arenal, Costa Rica. The views from the back porch are of the lake and the volcano at Arenal. Lake Arenal has an ideal climate—no AC needed, even on the hottest days. And it has a close-knit community of expats from all over the world (about 400 according to an informal survey by one resident).
International Living editor Glynna Prentice is in Puerto Varas, a resort town in Chile’s Lake District. Puerto Varas is a popular summer vacation region for Chileans (January and February). Right on the shores of Lake Llanquihue, Puerto Varas looks out on the lake and, beyond it, on two snow-capped volcanoes. The town is about 550 miles south of Santiago and is just half an hour from Puerto Montt, the jumping-off point for Chilean Patagonia.
- Video: Playa Herradura, Costa Rica: A Great Weekend Getaway on the Pacific Coast
Posted on May 23, 2012 by Jason Holland
Just four miles north of the bustling surf and sport fishing town of Jaco on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific coast is tranquil Playa Herradura. In this video, IL correspondent Jason Holland gives a short overview of the beach, including the picturesque view across the cove and the casual beach bars and restaurants that line the access road – bare feet and swimsuits encouraged.
In this video, IL editor Glynna Prentice is in Frutillar in Chile’s Lake District. This region is a popular summertime destination for Chileans, thanks to its unspoiled beauty—plenty of lakes and volcanoes—cool summertime weather, and wealth of outdoor activities, from boating to hiking to fishing to horseback riding. Frutillar lies along the shores of Lake Llanquihue, a large fresh-water lake.
In this video, IL Costa Rica correspondent, Jason Holland shows footage of his beautiful rental home in Grecia, Costa Rica. Just like any desirable retirement destination, you can find luxury in Costa Rica when it comes to where you live. But there is plenty of opportunity for regular folks to find their own slice of heaven.
In this video, Mexico editor Glynna Prentice speaks to an expat couple in Mexico, each of whom moved abroad as a single person. They talk about how being single affected (or not) their decision to become an expat and where to move. This (now) couple, moved to Mexico on their own and met one another there. They both offer advice on moving overseas as a single person.
In this video, International Living Panama editor Jessica Ramesch talks about her cost of living in Panama City, Panama. Though it’s possible to live (and spend) like a millionaire here, Jessica says it’s easy to live the good life, even if you’re on a budget, like her. Your cost of living can be low in Panama but you can still buy the same groceries as back home.
Europe’s sunshine doesn’t disappear in winter. It’s hiding away in southern Spain. Largely unknown to foreign travelers, Murcia slots between the regions of Andalucia and Valencia. Strung with beaches, its 156-mile coastline is called the Costa Calida—the warm coast. Summers can be blistering, but winters are really mild.
- Panama Video: Living in Santiago–The Provincial Capital of Veraguas
Posted on February 14, 2012 by Jessica Ramesch
If you decide to live anywhere in or near the Veraguas province of Panama, chances are you’ll visit the provincial capital of Santiago often. Most “capitalinos” (Panamanians from the capital) will tell you there’s nothing much in Santiago, but on a recent visit I found the opposite.
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).
- IL’s Jen Stevens Talks to CNBC About Retiring Overseas
Posted on February 3, 2012 by International Living
In this video, International Living Executive Editor Jennifer Stevens talks to CNBC about the growing number of U.S. retirees moving overseas — to countries like Panama, Mexico and Ecuador. Jen also talks about International Living’s just released retirement competition. We’re looking for someone to spend a month in the world’s top retirement haven—on us.
In this video, International Living Panama editor Jessica Ramesch visits the mountain village of Santa Fe in the Veraguas province of Panama. The tiny town is rich in mountain charm, from its small, friendly community of locals (and just a few expats) to its lush vegetation and rural mountain feel.
Whether you’re shopping for traditional wooden toys, nutcrackers, tree decorations or unusual gifts, nowhere does Christmas markets quite like Germany. And Berlin, the capital, has over 50 Weihnachtsmärkte to investigate in the four week Advent run-up to Christmas.
- Video: The Cost of Living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Posted on November 24, 2011 by Glynna Prentice
San Miguel de Allende is one of Mexico’s prettiest colonial towns and an expat favorite. But it doesn’t have to be expensive. You can find properties there now starting at about $150,000, and enjoy San Miguel’s vibrant atmosphere and many amenities. And your cost of living in San Miguel will be low, too.
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