On a sunny spring day last year, I spent a pleasant hour or so shopping at my local market. The produce was fresh and appealing, the fish and seafood incomparable. My produce included goodies like ripe tomatoes; big bunches of fresh greens; tender artichokes picked so young that they have no fibrous choke; and juicy oranges and plums. On top lay my purchases from the fish hall: a pound of small shrimp and another of freshly caught tuna, from which I got three thick tuna steaks. I filled two large shopping baskets with food, for a total cost of about $18.
About a year ago, we sold our home and began a new chapter in our lives in northern Italy. We rented an elegant two-bedroom apartment one block from our favorite lake, Maggiore, for just under $1,000 per month. Verbania, Italy, where we live, is home to about 31,000 people. It sits on the western shore at the southern end of the long lake, which snakes up into Switzerland. An esplanade skirts the lakefront, with cafes and bars galore.
Just three years ago, I would not have believed it possible. In spite of a family income of six figures, we were still not able to put much toward retirement. We were living in a great waterfront condo in Maryland, but at a cost. Our monthly expenses were over $6,000. Our HOA fees alone were almost $900. On top of that, property taxes were about $5,000 a year. We were happy living there, but I was resigned to working until I was 65, at least.
By choosing to retire in one of the world’s best bang-for-your-buck destinations, Rob enjoys a lifestyle well beyond his reach if he had stayed in the U.S. Every day he can choose to relax on the beaches around his home in the town of Sihanoukville, on the Cambodian coast, dine on fresh French croissants…rent a sailboat or go fishing on an offshore charter…
When you meet a local in Penang they’ll ask you two questions. Firstly, “How are you?” And then “sudah makan?” which roughly translates as “Have you eaten yet?” It’s asked when you get a haircut…when you get a taxi…when you shop at the market… And they truly want to know. If you answer yes, they will ask “What?” and “Where?” and then proceed to tell you their favorite food and where to get it. It's a conversation, not just a question. Food is that important in Penang. (And don’t worry, people speak English…you only need to know a few words of Malay.)
Life, as we all know, is full of contradictions. Even here in Panama City—my little slice paradise. I’ve been living here since 2005, ever since I quit my job sailing the world aboard luxury cruise liners. For my money, there’s no better location and no better value anywhere in the world.
If you drop by Dan and Mary Elizabeth Crofts home in Corozal, Belize, you might find Dan indulging in one of his favorite new pastimes…feeding the local iguanas. Mary Elizabeth explains, “We have a family of three that we have named: Greta, Gary, and their son, Genghis. They love bananas and we have a video of Dan feeding them”.
There’s so much to love about island life in Penang, Malaysia, that it’s hard to know where to start. The cost of living has gone down due to the strength of the U.S. dollar and the falling Malaysian dollar, which is great for expats living here. For example, a 2,000-square-foot apartment with sea views that cost $900 a month to rent two years ago is now just $700.
Frank and Dale Reams took their first vacation to the quaint fishing village of Puerto Morelos on Mexico’s Caribbean coast in 1998 and knew, instantly, that they belonged there. “We fell in love with this area and after several more vacations, we decided that Puerto Morelos would become our retirement home when the time came,” says Frank.
Forget what the scientists tell us about the five happiness factors. I’ve lived in Nicaragua for eight years and I can easily explain why I am much happier here than I ever was in the U.S. Don’t get me wrong, my life was fine in San Diego, good even. But now that I see how life can really be for a retiree, there’s actually no comparison. Here’s why:Don’t get me wrong, my life was fine in San Diego, good even. But now that I see how life can really be for a retiree, there’s actually no comparison. Here’s why: