I'm starting to daydream again about living in Valencia. It's one of my favorite cities in Spain…and whenever I daydream about living in Spain, Valencia is the first place I dream of. And no wonder: There's a lot to like about Valencia. First, there's the location and climate. It sits right on Spain's eastern Mediterranean shore. That means urban beaches and a temperate climate that is spring-like much of the year. Next, it's a major city—Spain's third-largest—with all the big-city amenities I like, including an international airport, plenty of culture (it's especially famous for music), and great restaurants, bars, and cafes. Yet Valencia is reasonably small—about 800,000 in the central city, and around 1.6 million in the urban area—so it's manageable.
Cathy Pegolo loves cities with theaters, music, restaurants, and culture. And she has found all that and more in her new home of Bologna, Italy. Cathy’s Italian heritage inspired her to visit the “old country” and she and her husband, Paul, traveled widely in Italy before finally deciding to buy a place of their own there.
Like many of a certain age easing their way into retirement, my husband John and I traveled to the Caribbean on vacation many times while also keeping our eyes peeled for something we could make into our own slice of paradise. You know what I'm talking about… Our own bit of sand, surf, and eternal sunshine. A place to vacation in the run-up to retirement and then in our golden years, turn into a tropical escape from those long nasty winters, like those that slam our home near Toronto, Canada.
This is Europe. That means walkable cities (leave the car behind), with culture and history all around you. Want to stay in a restored castle or live in a centuries-old (but renovated) apartment? You can. Like museums? Science, art and history museums are all over, and many have hours when there's no entry charge.
Relaxing in a lounge chair, on the expansive sandy beach of Caye Caulker's eastern shore, a refreshing breeze tickles my skin, providing a reprieve from the mid-day heat. Frigate birds glide overhead, buoyed by a constant salty sea breeze. My gaze follows the avid kite surfers as they bounce along the sparkling sea, their colorful sails billowing as they acrobatically turn mid-air. I'll never tire of this idyllic Caribbean scene.
It's not a place for your typical expat lifestyle, that's for sure. There are no theaters, no shopping malls, and no gourmet restaurants. You won't head to a local sports bar to watch the Super Bowl or soak in your condo building's on-site pool. But for a certain type of person, Ecuador's Intag Valley holds just the life they are looking for.
Daily sightings of howler monkeys and a variety of lizards never gets old. Between the monkeys and the tropical birds found here, chances are you'll be waking to the tune of a different type of alarm clock. Arguably the most developed town in the Guanacaste region along the northern Pacific coast, Tamarindo offers the convenience of a bustling little town and also the tranquility of nature, with its nearly two miles of sandy beach, surrounded by mountains and tropical dry forest.
Set in Mexico's famed Colonial Highlands is San Miguel de Allende, which many consider to be the most charming town in this region. It's certainly one of the most popular with expats. They've been drawn here since right after World War II by the artsy and bohemian vibe, the full calendar of cultural events, indigenous festivals, an ideal climate, and low cost of living.
Imagine sitting on your terrace with a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Your view takes in the entire arc of the bay as pelicans gracefully swoop and splash into the surf, gathering their morning meals. Several humpback whales are surfacing just offshore on their annual migration. The sky is, once again, a brilliant blue and the gentle, warm ocean breeze regularly delivers the fresh scent of the sea.
Lake Chapala is a snowbird’s paradise that is home to a large and welcoming expat community. And that’s not all. In my opinion, Lake Chapala has the best-value real estate you’ll find in any of this country’s expat hubs. Sitting at an altitude of 5,000 feet in west-central Mexico, Lake Chapala (the country’s largest freshwater lake) boasts one of the best climates in the world.