The Low Cost Of Travel In Lviv, Ukraine

This Place Is Dirt Cheap...And Delightful

Aug. 18, 2014
Lviv, Ukraine

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Vicki and I were in Lviv, Ukraine, checking it out as a potential travel base.

Lviv offers easy access to six borders: Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova. The Baltic states lie just beyond. Only Belarus requires a visa; other countries just invite you in, usually with a maximum three-month-stay restriction.

At times in its history, Lviv attached itself to Poland or the Austro-Hungarian Empire. One sees the past in the old cemetery, where those who died in the 19th century display tombstones in Polish or German. Those who died more recently lie under tombstones in Ukrainian.

Ukraine has stayed out of Europe's Schengen region, so Westerners can do three months in Ukraine, three months in the EU, and then back again. Toss in a winter escape every year, or three months next-door in Romania, or both, and most of us can base out of Lviv forever, without hassling with resident visas.

Our first evening in Lviv, we walked across the street from our hotel to the magnificent Opera House. We saw the Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet's performance of Swan Lake, a full production with 30-piece orchestra. The hot audience seemed to anticipate every move.

Lviv has three state theaters downtown, all within a few blocks of each other: opera and ballet, theater, and philharmonic. Forget theater; we don't speak Ukrainian. But the other two offer a pleasant diversion in gorgeous surroundings.


A Spurt Of Development Arrives To Cayo, Belize

Comfort And Convenience In Cayo?

Aug. 17, 2014, Cayo, Belize: Kathleen discusses the developments that are beginning to take place in Belize.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

"Belize has great resort product," Belizean businessman Ian explained to me last night, "both budget and ultra-high-end, places that go for US$1,500 per night.

"And many of these resorts—Chaa Creek, Blancaneaux, and Ka'ana, for example—have made names for themselves. They are established destinations. People from all over the world seek them out. However, Belize's regions and towns themselves, other than maybe Ambergris Caye, they remain unknown.

"San Ignacio, for example," Ian continued, speaking of the place where we were sitting enjoying the early evening breeze, "this isn't a destination. Nobody's planning a trip to San Ignacio or anywhere else on the Belizean mainland.

"And this is a shame because some spots in this country are destination-worthy...or, well, they could be. But right now nowhere in mainland Belize supports traffic, not tourist traffic, not business traffic, and not retiree traffic. I feel a responsibility, as a Belizean businessman, to try to change that.

"So I've embarked on a program of local destination development, starting here in San Ignacio. The first step was this square we're looking at right now. Do you remember," he asked, looking at me with a big smile, "what this place used to be? This was a parking lot for old, broken-down buses."

"Yes, I remember," I said.

"But the government committed to an investment here," Ian went on, "and they followed through...and today we have this little public square with trees and benches and an office for the tourist board over there.


Xalapa, Mexico Is A Top Retirement Haven With Bargain...

Elegant, Non-Gringo Mexico Starting At US$38,000

Aug. 15, 2014, Xalapa, Mexico: With all that Xalapa has to offer its residents, it’s surprising that real estate is still surprisingly affordable. And, it’s not yet overrun with expats.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Since my first visit to Mexico's Xalapa in 1998, it's been one of my top choices in Latin America and my favorite in Mexico.

The city is an extremely rare blend in Mexico of modern conveniences: a rich, traditional, and educated Mexican culture and the energy and spark of a university town, without the cultural influence of American expats.

And you can own a property here in Xalapa starting at less than US$38,000.

Xalapa (pronounced hah-LAH-pah) is a fairly big city, with about a half-million residents in the town proper and more than 800,000 in its metro area. Also spelled Jalapa, it's a town of rolling hills, with an elevation that runs between 4,300 and 4,800 feet (about 1,300 to 1,450 meters), depending on where you are in town. The hills around town provide for some great views from the properties here. And the elevation provides for pleasant temperatures that average about 15 degrees cooler than the nearby Gulf Coast, some 35 miles away as the crow flies.

The average daytime high varies between 72 and 82 degrees, with January being the "coldest" month and May the warmest. Most rainfall occurs between May and October. June and September are the wettest months, while December through March are the driest. There is sufficient rainfall to keep the town and surrounding area green and lush. Morning fog is common in the winter.

Capital of the state of Veracruz, Xalapa is home to about two dozen universities, the most prominent of which is the Universidad de Veracruz. As anywhere, the large presence of intelligent young people gives the city a youthful, vibrant energy. You may well decide to buy a full- or part-time retirement home here, but don't expect the feel of a retirement community. If you'd like to get a feel for what it looks like, have a look at this two-minute video of Xalapa put out by the city.

The expat community in Xalapa is fairly small and well integrated. There are an estimated 400 to 600 English-speaking expats in Xalapa and the surrounding areas who seem to be well integrated into the community. I only ran into three expats in a week. So if you're looking for a welcome committee, expat hangouts, or English-speaking discussion groups, Xalapa won't be the place to find them.


Planning A Small Plantation In Cayo, Belize

Sundown In Cayo

Aug. 14, 2014, Cayo, Belize: The Cayo region of Belize is the perfect setting for a small plantation—a chance to experiment, become more self-sufficient, and make some money from the harvest.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

" food, no cook, and no sign of any barbecue," I said to friends Bohn and Teri traveling with us in Belize this week as we drove up to the palapa at Maya Spring Estates.

It was nearly 5 p.m.

"Looks like the 4:30 cookout might be a little delayed. At least we've got the cooler with the drinks."

About one hour and two One Barrel Belizean rum and cokes later, still no sign of dinner. Someone's cellphone rang. Several of the men jumped up and into one of the SUVs. Young Jackson came over to Bohn, Teri, and me to give us an update.

"Con, who's bringing the food and the cook, had a flat tire. Phil and some of the others just went to help him change it."

Teri made us another round of rum and cokes, and we settled into hammocks on the upper level of the two-story palapa to watch the sunset over the hills. The darkening sky was streaked brilliant red.

Eventually, the men returned, followed by Con with the food and our chef for the evening.


TEFL, TESOL, AND CELTA: What You Need To Know About...

Teaching Opportunities In Southeast Asia

Aug. 13, 2014, Hanoi, Vietnam: English teachers are in high demand around Southeast Asia. Practices differ by region and by school—and pay depends largely on your qualification level.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

People who want to live abroad but lack the funds to support themselves have a wide variety of choice in Southeast Asia. The growth of the middle class, the progressive development of virtually every ASEAN member country, and a region-wide push for English fluency make Southeast Asia a destination ripe with opportunity.

Teaching English is probably the most common way for an expat to earn a living wage throughout this region, and there is a high demand for English teachers. The requirements vary from one country to another, but most people can qualify for a reasonably high-paying job with a little preparation.

Officially, a bachelor's degree or higher is required for teaching anywhere in Southeast Asia. Unofficially, the requirement may be waived by schools in rural areas where demand is high and teacher recruitment is difficult. Teaching in a remote village can be extremely rewarding but will probably not pay well—many places will offer a room or house, utilities, and food, but they can't afford to pay a salary.

Teaching in the cities is different. The most important consideration is the type of degree or certification you have under your belt.

Most English teachers have a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certification in addition to a college degree. The TEFL certification is the easiest and least expensive to obtain. Courses ranging from 40 to 120 hours are offered online and may or may not require actual student interaction before graduation.

Teachers with a TEFL certification can find work, but the pay offered and employment opportunities will be less than for those who have earned a more prestigious certification.

A TESOL certification requires 120 hours of training and in-class teaching is part of the curriculum. A CELTA degree requires a similar amount of training, but the coursework is more intensive and the cost of the course is higher.

Classes in TEFL, TESOL, and CELTA are offered in major cities in the United States and abroad. Schools offer courses that range in price, from practically free up to around US$2,800, depending on the number of hours and intensity of the program. Dave's ESL Café is a good resource for learning about the certification process and the experience of teaching English abroad.


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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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