For Steve and Nancy Riley…it’s paradise. They live on a little over 12 acres of land on a hillside, with panoramic views of the surrounding forest and farmland thanks to the elevation of 4,300 feet. A former coffee plantation, they’ve transformed their property into a botanical garden with walking trails and thousands of tropical plants like heliconias, bromeliads, 550 different species of orchids, and more. It’s Nancy’s vision and passion, and with a helper, she works hours a day in the garden.
Here at International Living we’re very much a global family. One that’s spread out around the world…across four continents, actually. Our correspondents and editors—who are always on the move, scouting out new locations and revisiting old favorites—are our eyes and ears in the world’s best retirement havens. And like any good family, we’re in constant contact with each other.
Remember back when you were young and everything was possible? You could do anything, be anybody, go anywhere. In recent years, more than once, I found myself longing for those days and that feeling. After spending more than 30 years working in a high-pressure career as a healthcare executive, I’d had enough.
There have only been two times in my life when the influence of others has provided immeasurable positive benefits for me. The first was when I met and married my wife, Diane. The other was when I discovered International Living.
When my husband Mark and I first decided to move to Cuenca, Ecuador, six years ago it wasn’t because of the spring-like weather, the low cost of living, the abundant fruits and vegetables, the proximity to the U.S., or even the picturesque colonial architecture. It was the medical care that drew us to Ecuador.
Three years and 45 pounds ago, I moved to Costa Rica with my wife. We left corporate America behind, searching for a healthier and happier life; we found it in the hills of the Central Valley. As the name implies, living in the Central Valley means living in an area surrounded by mountains. The valley includes many popular expat locations such as San Ramon, Atenas, and Grecia. The region also incorporates the country’s largest cities: the capital San José, Alejuela, and Cartago. Nearly three quarters of the country’s population live in the Central Valley.
Much has been written about Ecuador as one of the most ecologically diverse countries on earth, with near-perfect climates to choose from and landscapes including plains, mountains, coastal, and everything in between. For a country about the same size as Wyoming, this is impressive. Choose the weather and terrain you like best, and most likely you can find the ideal spot in Ecuador.
Sometimes the level of uric acid in my blood gets too high and I get very localized, very painful arthritis. In my case, it’s usually in the joints of my big toes. They turn an angry red and throb with a slicing, burning pain that makes walking—or even drawing a bed sheet over my foot—impossible.
It's another hot day in Battambang, Cambodia and what better spot to linger than at a downtown sidewalk bistro with a platter of cheese and a chilled glass of French wine... Cambodia's second largest city moves at a slow and lazy pace. Maybe it's the heat, but I get the sense that Battambang is like this every day of the year. People stroll down the sidewalk, taking time to stop and chat along the way. No one is in a hurry.
Having grown up a military brat, I was no stranger to living overseas. After working for corporations for over 30 years, when retirement came around my wife Mary and I had become unhappy with the way things were going in the U.S. So we decided to find somewhere else to retire to. We made a list of 15 countries including some in Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand, and Asia. We spent a year doing research, eventually settling on Ecuador. We took a couple of scouting trips and finally moved to Quito in February 2015.