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.
Right now, I see one last frontier market in Central America where you could buy a piece of land or property that's set to rise in value. That frontier market is Northern Nicaragua. This stunning part of the world has stayed off the radar of most real estate buyers thanks to an outdated reputation. Many still see Nicaragua as a war-torn, basket-case country. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Nicaragua of today is peaceful, developing, and one of the friendliest places I've ever visited.
As you consider your new home overseas, you'll no doubt be asking yourself a number of questions about exactly where you might want to live. Once you've narrowed it down to Panama, you still have a number of choices to address. Do you want to live in the mountains or near the beach? Do you prefer to live in a town or big city? How about a gated community or a favorite expat destination? Do you like having neighbors close-by or more privacy? There's a lot to think about. Me? I'm definitely a country gal, not a city gal.
Panama City is a modern metropolis with a skyline to rival that of Miami. The Panama Bay is the blue backdrop for towers that sparkle at night. They house ocean-view apartments and sleek executive offices filled with an international set. A jaunt along the Cinta Costera will show you the best the city has to offer. This network of roads, walkways, bicycle paths, and green areas is sandwiched between the bay and the artery known also as Balboa Avenue.
Rome is undeniably alluring with its historical monuments, jaw-dropping artwork, trendy restaurants, and cultural events. But living in the city is expensive and sometimes just not desirable for those who prefer the rhythm of small town life. Luckily, you can have the best of both worlds. There are some beautiful towns where you can enjoy a laidback lifestyle while still being able to reach the center of Italy's capital city Rome in just an hour.