Expat Life On Panama's Pearl Islands

Dreamy Pearl Island Escape

Feb. 20, 2014, Pearl Islands, Panama: Panama's Pearl Islands, location for two seasons of “Survivor,” offer quintessential island escape and have attracted the global jet-set, including John Wayne, Mickey Rooney, Julio Iglesias, and Joe DiMaggio, for decades.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

The currency of Panama is called the Balboa. It's worth exactly a dollar, making Panama's a dollar economy. The country uses U.S. bills, but mints its own coins, which show a picture of a guy in a tin hat: Vasco Nuñez Balboa.

Balboa played a big part in the history of Panama, especially in the history of an archipelago of islands that lie just offshore Panama City. He discovered and named these Pearl Islands, claiming the dollops of land and their riches in the name of King Ferdinand of Spain. In a letter to his king, Balboa wrote, “There are many islands in this sea. They tell me that there are pearls in abundance, of great size, and that the natives possess baskets filled with them.”

For two centuries, Las Perlas played a pivotal role in Spain's “dash for cash” in the New World. The islands became the Pacific hub for gold and silver to be shipped back to Spain. The loot was assayed and counted on one of these Pearl Islands in particular, the island that became known as Contadora (the counting-house).

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How To Vet A Foreign Property Developer

10 Questions To Ask Before Buying Into An Overseas Property Development

Feb. 19, 2014, Medellin, Colombia: The easiest and safest way to invest in real estate overseas can be to buy into a development; here are 10 questions to ask to vet an overseas property developer.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Investing in a piece of foreign real estate can be a rewarding and even profitable part of a retirement move overseas. For most retirees, the easiest and safest way to take the overseas property plunge is by buying into a development. Typically, developers in markets appealing to foreign retirees build to the standards those foreign retirees want and expect, speak English and sometimes even offer developer financing.

But buying from a developer in a foreign country is not without its risks. How can you be sure you're working with an honest and reliable developer who is representing his project fairly? Remember that overseas developers are often not subject to the same regulations and oversight as developers in the United States, meaning you don't have the built-in protections that you're accustomed to.

Here's a checklist of 10 questions to ask when selecting and vetting an overseas developer:

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Retirement and Investment Opportunities In Medellin, Colombia

and Montevido, Uruguay Compared

Two More Top Retire Overseas Choices Compared

Feb. 18, 2014, Medellin, Colombia: Medellin, Colombia, and Montevideo, Uruguay, are two top options for retiring overseas, though Medellin is the more affordable option.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

"The two cities that I am presently considering are Montevideo and Medellin," writes reader Phyllis D., of Sacramento, "and I've been researching various websites, trying to work out a realistic cost of living.

"From what I've found so far, it doesn't look too easy to live well on a low budget in Montevideo. Based on what I'm finding, it seems the more economically suitable choice would be Medellin..."

Phyllis brings up a good question...one that I hear frequently about these two popular retirement destinations. Having lived in both cities, I think it's worth a few minutes to compare the two.

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Comparing Retirement In Cuenca, Ecuador, With Retirement In

Panama, Ecuador, And Belize

Is Cuenca A Better Retire Overseas
Choice Than Medellin?

Feb. 17, 2014, Medellin, Colombia: Cuenca, Ecuador, and Medellin, Colombia, are two top but very different retire overseas choices.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

"If you like Cuenca, Ecuador, so much, why did you ever leave?"

That's the question I hear most frequently when I give a presentation on Ecuador or when I discuss it among expats. I get the question because I continue to recommend Cuenca very highly to potential retirees overseas. At the same time, it's true that, while Cuenca was the first place I moved when I decided to retire overseas, I no longer live there.

In fact, after almost six years in Cuenca, I've since lived in Uruguay, Brazil, and now, Medellin, Colombia. I loved each of these places, for different reasons. My motive for moving from Cuenca had nothing to do with dissatisfaction. It was more of a gradual evolution--a migration--from one phase of my retirement to the next.

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Live And Invest Overseas Conferences

Our Conference Calendar Through 2015 (I Promise The Real Estate Agents Will Wear Pants)

Feb. 16, 2014, Panama City, Panama: Kathleen Peddicord has been putting on overseas conferences for nearly thirty years. Now is your chance to get in on our 2014-2015 Live and Invest Overseas Conferences. Our Conference Calendar is here.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

As I mentioned on Friday, I hosted the first conference of my career nearly 30 years ago in Costa Rica. It was a tour, too. The group spent a few days in San Jose and then a few days on the coast at Guanacaste. My co-hostess for the event was a friend and colleague at the time named Josianne.

Our first morning at the hotel in Guanacaste, Josianne and I woke early and walked over to the hotel’s open-air dining room on the beach. The door to the kitchen behind it was locked. Looking through the windows, we could see inside. The tiny kitchen was dark and empty. Where was the staff? The cook? Our group would be arriving for breakfast anytime.

At this time on this coast, options, including dining options, were limited. Our group needed a morning meal, and there was nowhere other than the dining room of the hotel where we were staying for them to go to get one.

Josianne and I walked back to the hotel lobby. The young girl at the front desk didn’t know where the kitchen staff was or why they were late showing up to work. She did, though, have a key to the kitchen. By now, a couple of our tour-goers had found their way to the dining room. They had seated themselves and were looking a bit annoyed. No wait staff in sight, and the air was hot and still. The control for the ceiling fans was inside the locked kitchen.

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Read more here.

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