On the western end of the pristine, laidback Caribbean island of Roatán, there’s a growing community of contented, beach-loving expats. The beach here is perfectly protected from the island’s prevailing southeastern breezes. This leaves the turquoise waters calm and still, perfect for a refreshing swim or snorkel. For many residents, a people-watching stroll on the white sands with a cold beer in hand is a daily routine.
The city of Medellin, Colombia is many things to many people. For some it is the “City of Eternal Spring” where the weather is always just right and the songbirds are hard at work in the flowers and trees that line the streets. For others, it is a city of innovation where local universities churn out award-winning projects and top-notch students. And for yet others, it’s a place of historical treasure with a past full of gold, colonialism, and a stunning recovery after decades of turmoil.
Sue and George’s interest in Belize was piqued in 2010, while still living in Los Angeles. Sue read an AARP article about retiring in Belize and George watched an International House Hunters program about building a home there. George had long dreamed of building their ideal retirement home. But the Paolettis knew that it would be exorbitantly expensive to do so in Southern California.
“When you get here, I’ll pick you up from your hotel and show you my favorite parts of the city”…this was a message I got from IL Panama Editor Jessica Ramesch when I told her I’d be visiting Panama City last week. I’m off the plane having spent 10 days exploring all that Panama has to offer. And it offers so much…the cost of living is affordable; I know couples who are enjoying life on $1,600 a month. Good-value real estate abounds…you can pick up a three-bedroom house, with a swimming pool, in a Pacific coast beach town less than an hour from Panama City, for $150,000. And then there’s the stunning beaches, picturesque mountain towns, and the best retiree benefits program in the world…all reasons why we picked Panama as the world’s number one retirement destination for 2016. And the reason I came here.
After years of promising ourselves that “someday”…“in the future”…“later” we would have a different lifestyle, my husband, Mike, and I finally boarded a plane to go in search of our piece of paradise. On the advice of an acquaintance we met while checking out Ecuador, we decided to “swing by” Medellín, a neighbouring city in Colombia, for a couple of weeks.
The sun is setting, giving the beach a golden glow. Moments ago the water was a cobalt blue, and I could see the tail feathers of the seabirds gliding above. Now a single cormorant bobs close to shore. I kick off my sandals and walk along the surf, letting it roll over my feet. The water is the perfect temperature. A bit cooler than the air around me, it feels refreshing…inviting.
If you love colonial architecture, as I do, there’s a little city in Ecuador that will speak to you. Located in the heart of the Cuxibamba Valley, Loja, has two major universities, a law school, and assorted arts and technical institutes, it has a young, vibrant flavor. People are friendly. And they’re happy here.
Each year, my husband and I spend six months of the year living in Panama’s Chiriqui province. One of the many reasons we decided to live our snowbird lifestyle here was the lower cost of living. And it’s something I often hear from expats…affordable and good-value cost of living was one of the main factors in their decision to live here.
Santa Catalina is not one of those cute little towns you’re likely to stumble across as you explore Panama. That’s because it’s literally at the end of the road where the pavement meets the sand of the Pacific shoreline. From Santiago, the capital of Veraguas Province, it’s about a two-hour drive to get to the town of Santa Catalina. But why would you want to go? I visited there myself recently to answer that question.
Just a few months after getting settled into life in Guayaquil, Ecuador, back in 2013, I discovered one of my new favorite pastimes—going on viaje (a short vacation).