It’s been a busy year here at International Living. Hundreds of thousands of air miles have been clocked up…lots of ground has been covered…and dozens of the world’s best retirement havens have been scouted by our far-flung team of editors and correspondents.
Marilyn and her husband Mike live in the historic city of Granada, in the foothills of Spain's Sierra Nevada mountains. The Arizona couple moved full-time to Granada in 2012, where they enjoy the warm weather, low cost of living, and a busy social life.
Santiago de Querétaro, in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands, has a lot going for it: an ideal climate, top-notch but affordable medical care, a well-kept Spanish colonial centro, friendly local people, and much more.
As a travel writer, I'm often asked what my typical day is like. That's a tough question. My days are anything but typical. Each destination I visit brings something new into my life—new people, new foods, new adventures, and new experiences.
One of the most rewarding aspects of living in a foreign country is discovering something new. It lends a certain excitement to your life to know that every day might bring a new experience. I especially like it when you find something new when you weren’t looking and least expected it.
We started our cruising life in our early 40s. My husband, Jim, dreamed of sailing to exotic places in search of the perfect retirement spot. But we lived in Colorado, a tad landlocked for ocean adventures. So we learned to sail small boats on mountain lakes. When we grew tired of doing figure eights, we began researching online for blue-water cruising boats, and formulated a plan.
Unless I’m catching an early flight, I never need an alarm clock. The sun rising over the Caribbean is perfectly framed in my oversized bedroom window and delivers its warm, penetrating rays directly onto my face. I merely have to open my eyes for a spectacular view of the languid, aquamarine waters grooming the powder-white sands only yards away. As I finish my first cup of coffee, I peer around gently swaying coconut palms to watch large, pouch-billed Pelicans fold their wings and splash into the gentle surf capturing their bright, wriggling breakfasts.
In my 40s, I started thinking about retirement. Living in expensive San Diego, I never pictured a house with an ocean view because that was out of my financial reach. I had a technical writing business that gave me a good living, but I still had to put two daughters through college.
White sand beaches with bright green palms, ringed by turquoise waters… Glittering swirls of volcanic sand, slender white sea birds soaring above, and dramatic coastlines… Tiny islands that look like little pearls against a backdrop of deepest sapphire blue…
Traditional Korean teahouses set in intricately pattered, antique homes... Ultra-chic hipsters sporting extravagant, bleeding-edge fashion... Open-air markets selling everything from live squid, to children's toys, to fluffy steamed dumplings bigger than your fist.