So you’ve decided to retire to a Caribbean island paradise. You can already see yourself, toes in the sand, sipping a mojito by the turquoise-blue sea. Behind you, children laugh as they cartwheel down the beach, and by the waterfront fishermen chat as they haul in the catch of the day…but where are you?
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.
I recently spent a few days in the beautiful city of Loja, “cradle of art, literature, and music,” in the southern Andes of Ecuador. You know you are in a special place almost from the moment you arrive. Between the ornate castle-like structure of the City Gates, or the walking bridge displaying pipe organs, cellos, and guitars, it is clear that you are entering a city that appreciates music and culture.
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.
The best thing about your diet in Nicaragua is that you are eating healthier by default. GMO is not allowed and many farmers use homemade herbal pesticides because it’s much cheaper. It’s strange, because my friends and family in the U.S. and Australia go to great lengths to find “grass-fed and finished,” “free-range and uncaged,” and fruits and vegetables that haven’t been injected, painted, and waxed. No problem in Nicaragua. We don’t have that stuff. Everything here is how it used to be in the U.S.—fresh, unadulterated food.
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.
When many people think of Mexico, they think of the beach. But one of Mexico’s most popular areas for expat living is the Colonial Highlands, a region a few hours north of Mexico City…and there’s nary a beach in sight. So what makes the Colonial Highlands so special? Here are five reasons why expats love the Highlands…and why you might, too.