Retire To George Town, Penang, Malaysia

A Foodie's Dream Retirement

Oct. 13, 2014, George Town, Malaysia: George Town, Penang, Malaysia, is a top retirement choice in Asia.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

It's hard to think of George Town, Malaysia, without thinking about food. Few other places in the world do you find cuisine so varied, food so fresh, or prices so low. In 2013, CNN Travel named George Town among the "Top Ten Street Food Cities in Asia," and, this year, Robin Barton, commissioning editor for Lonely Planet, announced that Penang has been chosen as the top food destination in the world.

Penang is one of our top picks in Asia and, indeed, the world, too—not for eating (that's not our beat) but for expat living and retirement.

Penang in general and George Town in particular have a great deal to offer the would-be expat and foreign retiree. The natural surroundings are beautiful, and you have many options for how to spend your time (beyond eating!). In addition, Malaysian immigration laws are welcoming, including for retirees. For these reasons, thousands of foreigners, both working and retired, have settled in the area, creating a network of support for others who'd like to follow in their footsteps.

Historic George Town, the capital of the state of Penang, got its start in the 18th century, when the British established a colonial outpost to control trade in the Straits of Malacca and exploit a thriving opium market. Commerce prospered and, by the 19th century, George Town had developed a busy financial district, an active seaport, and scores of wholesale shops. Immigrants flooded the town hoping to improve their fortunes.

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Pensionado Programs In Thailand And The Philippines

Retire To Asia—It's Easier Than Ever And Cheaper Than Anywhere Else On Earth

Oct. 12, 2014, Panama City, Panama: Thailand and the Philippines are two Southeast Asian countries in particular recruiting foreign retirees with benefit-rich, low-cost-of-entry visa programs

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Starting in the 1980s, when Costa Rica launched its now famous pensionado visa program, Central and South American countries have made an agenda of attracting foreign, especially North American, retirees, who had something these countries were in the market for—disposable currency. Today, Panama, Nicaragua, Belize, and Ecuador offer competitive pensionado programs that make it easy to establish full-time residency as a retiree and to enjoy, when you do, tax and other discounts and perks.

Key countries in Southeast Asia have taken notice and are now also competing for the attention of North American retirees. In several countries in this part of the world, the visa run is a thing of the past, replaced by user-friendly, turn-key, and affordable retirement residency programs.

Bottom line, Southeast Asia's big appeal for the foreign retiree is its cost of living. Countries in the region top any list of the world's cheapest places to retire. Your money goes much further than in the United States or any other Western country, but that does not mean that the standard of living is necessarily lower. It is possible to buy whatever lifestyle you're looking for and to stretch whatever retirement nest egg you've got to be able to enjoy a better lifestyle than you could afford anywhere else on earth.

In the United States, you're probably paying at least US$50 per month for reasonably fast Internet. In the Philippines, Internet costs US$12 per month, likely for faster speeds than you have now. In Thailand and Malaysia, fast internet is US$18 per month.

Similar savings can be seen in the prices of everything from rent and phone service to cooking gas, electricity, and your monthly spend on groceries. A visit to the doctor costs less than US$20 throughout most of the region, and the care you'll receive likely will exceed your expectations. English-speaking doctors educated in Europe, Australia, and North America are the norm. They work in hygienic offices with modern equipment and can be affiliated with state-of-the-art internationally accredited hospitals. Thailand and Malaysia are among the top five countries in the world for medical tourism.

English is widely understood throughout the region, and it is an official language of the Philippines and parts of Malaysia. The majority of people you come into contact with in these two countries are English fluent. Additionally, English is a required subject at schools in every country in Southeast Asia. Urban areas and many small towns have enough English speakers so that communication rarely presents a significant barrier.

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How To Invest In Cash-Flowing Rental Properties Overseas

Cash-Flowing Foreign Real Estate Assets As A Top Hedge Against The U.S. Stock Market

Oct. 10, 2014, Panama City, Panama: Cash-flowing rental property investments overseas are an ideal hedge against the U.S. economy, the U.S. dollar, and the U.S. stock market.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

With the U.S. stock market behaving like a ride at Coney Island this week, real estate investors have reason to feel pretty good about themselves.

As I write, the Dow Jones Industrial Average sits at essentially the same value as at the beginning of this year. However, its volatility, especially over the last week, has been spectacular.

By comparison, real estate investing (unless you're using leverage) is slow and steady. Stock investor friends make fun of my annual rental yield targets. If I'm netting 5% to 8% per year from my rental investments, I'm happy. Friends who prefer stocks try to tempt me by bragging about their big hits. I stay the course.

We property investors can see big hits, too. I've earned better than 12% net per year for eight years running from one rental property I own in Panama City, for example. And I've bought and sold to realize annualized returns of 30%, 40%, 50% and more.

Yes, the U.S. stock market did gangbusters last year. However, over decades, it has returned between 8% and 10% annually, depending on which statistics you follow.

Of course, property prices can go down as well as up, just like stock values. We saw big downturns around the world between 2008 and 2012, and some markets remain down from pre-2008 highs. However, real estate markets in general are less volatile than stock markets and require less day-to-day attention.

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10 Reasons To Live, Retire And, Invest In English-Speaking Belize

Top 10 Reasons We Like Belize As Much As We Do

Oct. 9, 2014, Ambergris Caye, Belize: Belize is an easily accessible, English-speaking country offering easy residency and diverse lifestyle options.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Belize is a little country with a population of fewer than 350,000 people, most all of whom speak English. Part Caribbean, part Central American, it's mostly wide-open spaces with a long coast and a sprinkling of small islands just offshore fringed by white sand and swaying palms.

This is one of the least densely populated places on earth. In Belize, you enjoy plenty of elbow room...and plenty of opportunity.

Belize is also peaceful, democratic, and stable. The country has generally no beefs with the rest of the world. Really, few other than scuba divers, sports fisherman, and Caribbean sun-seekers give Belize a second thought.

The country flies under the radar, and Belizeans (and those of us who appreciate what it has to offer) like it that way. Belizeans are fiercely independent folks, proud of their young democracy. More than 70% of registered voters turn out for every election. The political process in this country is dynamic, grassroots, and underfunded. That last being an especially good thing. Underfunded politicians are the best kind.

Maybe the reason Belizeans are so engaged in their political process is because they prefer to be in charge of their own destinies and aren't interested in handing over any real power to government. This translates to few laws and little restriction.

Definitely Belizeans take a hands-off approach to living in general. Nobody interferes in his neighbor's business.

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Self-Sufficient Living In Cayo, Belize

The Simple, Self-Sufficient Life

Oct. 8, 2014, Cayo, Belize: Cayo, Belize, is one of the most appealing options for self-sufficient living.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

"Hmmm...no food, no cook, and no sign of any barbecue," I said to friends Bohn and Teri traveling in Belize with us recently 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.

In fact, our chef is our new neighbor. He and his partner also have invested at Maya Spring Estates. They've already begun tilling their 3-acre parcel, preparing the earth for planting. James is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef with decades of experience, his partner a world-class baker. The pair has made their way to this spot in Belize to open a boutique restaurant. They'll prepare meals using ingredients grown on the property, one set menu each day.

Last night Chef James' menu was cheeseburgers prepared over an open fire. Delicious.

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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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