What I love best about living in Atenas, Costa Rica, is how peaceful it is. The capital city of San José is only an hour's drive to the east. But whenever I have to go there, like just the other day, I always breathe out a big sigh of contented happiness when I turn off the highway and onto the main road into Atenas where we live.
"Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning." Those are the famous directions to Neverland—a magical place, overflowing with adventure, where you don't grow old.
Even though Costa Rica is only about the size of West Virginia, it has a variety of climates and landscapes to suit every taste...and a choice of locations to suit every budget. One of the most popular areas of the country with expats is the Central Valley.
I'm addicted to House Hunters International. I used to spend hours watching people pick out their dream homes in exotic locations at a fraction of the cost of living in the States, never realizing that one day I would be one of them.
It's no secret that the coast of Ecuador has some of the lowest-priced coastal properties in the world. Still, cash is king in the real estate market here, and not everyone can take advantage of the bargains to be found.
If I had magic powers, I would clone the little town of Cotacachi, Ecuador, and transport it to wherever you are right now. That way, you could see for yourself what a wonderful place it is to live. It's a quiet, peaceful, and clean little town where kids can still walk home from school and ride their bikes all over town long into the evening hours.
You look out from your terrace over a vast tropical garden. You're surrounded by heliconias and bromeliads in shades of vivid red, bright yellow, orange, and combinations in between, along with orchid blooms. Banana and mango trees are heavy with fruit. It provides the perfect backdrop to a life lived outdoors, thanks to a year-round temperate climate—mid-70s F during the day, cooling off into the 60s F at night.
"I woke up this morning and saw 30 or more horses grazing in the bamboo forest across the street from our home," says Roger Wergin. "How's that for a tranquil retirement view?" Roger and his wife Cyndy feel they made the right decision when they bought a lot and built their three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in a gated community, just a 10-minute walk from the town of Olón, Ecuador
The first two times I visited the town of Santa Marta, on Colombia's Caribbean coast, I was a tourist who just wanted to relax on its superb beaches, eat its amazing, fresh seafood, and soak up its vibrant nightlife. And Santa Marta delivered.
The Caribbean island of Roatan, about 40 miles off the coast of mainland Honduras, is well and truly on the expat radar. But that doesn't mean there aren't real estate bargains to be had. Prices here dropped during the housing crash of 2008 but have since leveled off. Plus, due to the devaluing of their dollar, Canadians, a major percentage of buyers on the island, haven't been buying in recent years.