When I first went to Fiji in 1999, I had no thoughts of buying a lot, designing and building a house, and becoming a vacation rental expert. Of course, life often turns out better than we ever imagined...and I'm living proof of that.
Everyone has their own vision of paradise. Perhaps your perfect utopia involves sand beneath your toes, turquoise waves, and gently swaying palm trees. Or maybe you prefer the urban jungle where you're surrounded by the modern creations of man.
In 1999, I traveled to Fiji. For me, living in the mountains of North Carolina, it was a long journey but some of my friends thought I was heading to Mt. Fuji, Japan. After getting there, honestly, I was a bit disillusioned.
It's not unusual for expats to describe living in the Andes of Ecuador as "Little Switzerland," with its verdant mountains, deep river valleys, and charming towns with church spires dotting the countryside.
In 2015, when my wife, Brenda, and I told our two adult children and their families that we were buying a condo in Costa Rica, we did not get the usual guarded responses, nor the dreaded "What are you thinking?"
The colonial homes of Granada have secrets. Lush courtyards, cool plunge pools, fountains, and art. In their shade, old men in rocking chairs nod you a "buen dia." (It's how they say it here.) Their wives might look up from embroidery and smile.
When I awaken each morning to the sounds of the Caribbean surf rolling onto the sugary beach only yards away, and watch the pelicans and gulls plucking their breakfast from the waves, I realize my good fortune to live where I do on Mexico's Riviera Maya.
Nestled along a secondary highway between Boquete and David in the province of Chiriquí lies a little-known gem called Potrerillos, meaning "Little Pastures."
In many ways, Pedasí, Panama reminds me of small-town America 50 years ago. It's a friendly village of 2,000 people, downtown is picturesque with a quaint church and colorfully painted town square, and large cattle ranches and corn and hay fields on rolling countryside surround it.
Tucked away and hidden off the Pan-American Highway in David, several country roads lead to new housing developments. These smaller developments are quiet, have great views, and a laidback atmosphere.