Every day in my travel research I come across the terms "hidden gem," "off the beaten path," "unspoiled, authentic, undiscovered..." The Dordogne region of France is the only place I have been to date where it is actually true. Castles sit like crown jewels along the river banks. My family and I often found ourselves beating our own path through the oak forests toward the river bank.
Certain images are fixed in my mind of the French town of Montpellier. When I think of it, I remember cobblestone streets filled with students and a cheerful energy. I remember riding a sleek tramway entirely painted with bright, intertwined flowers. And I remember eating one of the most extraordinary meals of my life there at the charming Lozèrois restaurant, Cellier & Morel.
I arrived in Alicante planning to stay just a few months, thinking I'd wait out Spain's scorching summer months here beside the city's languorous stretch of Mediterranean coastline, a chance to relax and recharge before returning to a larger city. My German landlord eyed me dubiously. He'd moved here almost a decade ago, planning to stay just one year.
Uruguay is a nation of immigrants—which means that if you're looking to retire overseas, you'll fit right in. This unique country's citizens are descended from all corners of the world; about 90% of Uruguayans have ancestors from Western European, with the highest percentages from Spain, Italy, and France. And, because most Uruguayans are descendants of immigrants (and many know and can tell you their family's relocation story) newcomers are generally treated warmly.
If you're a regular IL reader—or you've been following the World Cup hoopla—then you've likely heard of the cities of Fortaleza, Natal, and Recife. If you're not familiar with them, they're all state capitals in the tropical northeast of Brazil. All are popular tourist destinations for Europeans, although North Americans have been slow to catch on to their delights. All are hosting World Cup games.
If you've ever sat at a desk dreaming of owning your own jungle lodge in paradise, look no further than Wendy Green for inspiration. On the outskirts of Ecuador's cloud forest town of Mindo, two hours from the capital, Quito, Wendy runs wellness/yoga retreats on her five-acre parcel of land, complete with three waterfalls and a freshwater spring.
Since becoming an expat, my behavior has changed. I don’t greet friends with a handshake anymore; I kiss them on the cheek.
This life could be yours. Plenty of everyday people are choosing to live on the water full-time—in their retirement, no less. After a bit of training and hands-on experience at home, they're tying up beside mega-yachts in the Mediterranean...finding large floating communities of like-minded expat sailors in the Caribbean...and island hopping in the Gulf of Thailand, heading wherever their fancy takes them.
Five years ago, my husband, Jeff, and I started looking for a vacation home where we could eventually retire and—after extensive research—we decided on Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic. It has everything we were looking for.
Each morning, I begin my day by opening the French window of my studio apartment in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I am greeted by views of towering mountains on the horizon and the golden peak of the famous Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple glittering against the lush green background. Although Chiang Mai is the second-largest city in Thailand, with a population of around 1.5 million people, you won’t see high-rises dominating the skyline. Instead, the ruins of ancient moat walls and crumbling Buddhist stupas continue to thrive, keeping Thai history alive against a backdrop of modern development.