Until about 100 years ago, you didn’t need a passport for international travel. If you were traveling for some official purpose, or needed a way to identify yourself, you often had the option of carrying one. But you didn’t need permission from anyone to cross international borders. For better or worse, that’s not how things are today. Your passport doesn't belong to you. It belongs to whatever government issues you a passport and it can be taken away, for any reason.
An international bank account is always a good idea, particularly if you live, work, invest, or own property abroad. It allows you to control your money wherever you are on the globe, and it is your key to international investment opportunities. Even if you put a few thousand dollars in a non-U.S. bank, you still have the opportunity to take advantage of several key benefits of offshore banking.
Most people think that Social Security is “set-it-and-forget-it”: Once you start up your benefits it’s a “done deal” from there on. Unfortunately, most of us “set-it-and-forget-it” without first understanding how the program works. The result is usually a costly loss in cumulative lifetime benefits. Yet our initial claim doesn’t have to always result in a “done deal”: This is a mistaken impression that leads to all manner of errors...and loss in benefits.
It seemed to be a magical evening on the beach. My wife, Susan, and I decided to find a place to sit in the sand to watch the sunset. As we settled in, a couple of friendly dogs that probably belonged to local surfers, joined us. Soon people were coming from everywhere to find their little piece of real estate to watch what was turning out to be a beautiful sunset in Montanita, Ecuador during our first full week of a three-month visit to this amazing country.
If you’ve been keeping up with the stories about the Panama Papers in the mainstream media recently, you’d be forgiven for equating the word “offshore” with tax evasion, money laundering, and other criminal behavior. But there’s one small detail the media isn’t disclosing: The vast majority of the individuals whose confidential financial data was stolen weren’t doing anything illegal. According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which coordinated the review of the documents, more than 320,000 offshore entities appear in the leak.
Millions of baby boomers qualify for a valuable Social Security claiming option that can provide them as much as $63,336 in extra benefits...yet they don’t know it. In fact, the great majority of working couples, where one or both spouses reached age 62 on or before January 1, 2016, can still make use of this unusual strategy.
“It reminds me of the small town I grew up in. The people are friendly and pleasant,” says Mel Rosiechuk, 70, of his new home in Costa Rica. Like many northerners, Mel, who came to Costa Rica in 2008 from his native Edmonton, Canada, was motivated to move here because of the weather…and soon discovered other benefits as well.
Kuala Lumpur is a big thriving city of about 1.6 million people. Expats living there have all of the conveniences of the Western world mixed with a Malaysian flair. There is a good public transportation system consisting of buses and trains, but taxis are common throughout as well. It isn't just the capital of Malaysia; it is the largest city, too. There are thousands of restaurants serving up everything from local noodle dishes to Australian steaks and burgers.
Bless her heart, but my wife’s friend “Linda” (name changed to protect the embarrassed) has a knack for often saying the “wrong” thing when speaking Spanish. And during her visit to our home in Costa Rica years ago she outdid herself. It’s a story we still laugh about when we’re all together. And I tell it to you so you see some of the struggles and embarrassment you might feel when practicing Spanish. But, more importantly, you’ll understand why it’s not such a big deal and learning Spanish will be a rewarding experience and connect you more closely to your new home.
For many, the American Dream of owning your own home is fast becoming more of a fantasy than a dream. But more and more North Americans are finding their dreams coming true in the quiet town of Ballenita on the southwest coast of Ecuador.