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.
“We have horses, pigs, geese, dogs, and one chicken,” says Deb Swansburg. Caring for so many animals may not sound like a relaxing retirement to everyone, but for Deb it’s the perfect life. Deb spent the last 20 years in New Mexico...
I'm sitting on my roof terrace looking out at the beautiful Pacific Ocean. It’s an absolutely picture-perfect postcard kind of day here in my new home of Olon, on Ecuador’s coast. And I'm basking in the feeling of being on a permanent vacation. If I turn around, I can see the coastal mountains awash in various shades of green. While much of the coast here is desert-like, the weather is perfect most of the time, creating a micro-climate that is quite pleasant for people, animals, and the large variety of birds that fly in and out of the terrace and the garden below.
It was total bliss…I was sitting in a restaurant, steps from the beach, eating delicious freshly cooked fish, with a cold beer in hand, the turquoise ocean just feet away, and a cool light breeze drifting in…I wondered, could it get any better? There was glittering sandy beach as far as the eye could see, swimmers splashed in the Caribbean waters, and sunbathers took in some afternoon rays…while down the beach, kite surfers made use of the wind.
Long stretches of deserted and undeveloped beaches, on the Caribbean and Pacific Coasts…dense jungles teeming with exotic wildlife…towering volcanoes, lush green valleys, and hundreds of crystal-clear lakes, rivers, streams, and waterfalls… mesmerizing sunrises, sunsets, and star-filled evening skies…all these things, and much more, are drawing IL readers to Costa Rica.
After a vacation in Spain, Karen McCann and her husband returned the following year to study Spanish. The Ohio residents were especially enchanted by Seville. "We spent four spring vacations in Seville, staying for longer and longer periods," says Karen. "Of course, moving abroad—or moving anywhere—has its challenges. But you don't have to wait until all the stars are aligned, the dog passes away, the grandkids are all happily married, and you win the lottery."
Since I moved to rural Burgundy, France more than two years ago, I have discovered that a Frenchman and his money are not soon parted. This is a culture where attention to centimes is ardent…every resident can tell you the exact price of a baguette, a coffee, or a liter of gas. My wife and I have done our best to adopt the techniques of the locals, always searching for bargains, especially when it comes to food and wine.
What makes a particular spot a “perfect" retirement haven? Usually the answer depends on who you ask. Admittedly, one person’s heaven on earth could be the last place in the world another would choose to live. But there are a few special places on the planet—undeniable favorites with travelers, expats and retirees—that are so extraordinary, they are often described as being “heavenly” or “like paradise.”
When Toni Munoz, 53, visited Panama in 2014, she did what no one should. "I came just to look around, but I ended up buying a house!" she says. Conventional wisdom says it's best to visit a couple times and maybe even rent for a while before buying but Toni's spur-of-the-moment decision to buy in the beach resort of Coronado turned out to be a good thing. "I just fell in love with the community," she says.
In 2007, Robin Moulyn and her partner, Rob "literally sold the farm" near a small town in British Columbia to move to Ecuador. "We decided we needed an adventure," says Robin. Rob had done some research and found that Ecuador offered a low cost of living and ranked highly in terms of safety and medical care. For six weeks, they traveled the country, visiting all the likely places they might want to live.