Rivers, Ruins, And Rainforest In Cayo, Belize

This Place Is Always An Adventure

Oct. 7, 2014, Cayo, Belize: Cayo, Belize, remains one of the world’s great adventure travel destinations.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Returning recently to what has been one of my favorite places on earth since I was a young girl for my first extended stay in years, I found Belize's Cayo hardly changed. Me? I have to admit that, back in Belize at last, I was a little harder to recognize.

I came to Cayo for the first time almost 30 years ago. I had seen little else of the rest of the world by that time, but I recognized something in this part of Belize that I appreciated immediately—a big-time potential for adventure and discovery.

"This is what's great about Cayo," I told my 14-year-old son Jackson as he, his father, and I drove around lost in the dark on the unpaved, unmarked, unlit jungle roads our first night in the country trying to find our lodge.

"You can always count on having an adventure."

On my first visit to this part of the world three decades ago, my first friend in Belize, Mick Fleming, wondered just how much adventure I was up for.

Sitting next to me at the wooden bar of his Chaa Creek jungle lodge, Mick turned and asked, "Do you want to go on a guided tour of the Mayan ruins...or would you be up for a real Belize experience?"

Being 22-years-old, how could I resist an opportunity for a real Belize experience, even though I had no idea what that might mean.

Mick had one of his staff drive me deeper into the jungle, to the two-room thatched-roofed home of a Mayan family. Alongside their little house, Mick had helped them to build a second, smaller place, a single room that they rented out to tourists. I've always wondered if any other tourist actually ever stayed in the place. This tourist has remembered my night there ever since.

Mick's man dropped me off and said he'd be back for me the next morning. It was just past lunchtime. The family I now found myself the guest of consisted of a mother, a father, and three children. The oldest child, a 13-year-old boy, spoke English. He asked what I'd like to do and then suggested a hike to a nearby cave. I smiled agreement.

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Reasons To Retire To San Miguel De Allende

Jim And Iven Cut Their Cost Of Living 40% By Retiring To This Colorful City Of Artists


Oct. 6, 2014, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: San Miguel de Allende, home to some 10,000 foreign retirees, is a top retire overseas choice in Mexico.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, was discovered, you could say, in 1937, by the American writer and artist Stirling Dickinson and the wealthy Peruvian artist Cossio del Pomar. Cossio was so impressed with the potential of the colonial city when he saw it that he purchased and renovated several properties in the center of town. His efforts attracted famous artists, actors, writers, musicians, and other creative people of the time, who, likewise, invested in further restoration of San Miguel's beautiful old haciendas.

Cossio's principal contribution, though, was the establishment of an art school. The first school opened in an ex-convent that had been the quarters of a cavalry regiment. Cossio arranged private financing for the project and then worked with Stirling Dickinson to attract some of the biggest names in Mexican art to form the faculty. The couple marketed their curriculum throughout North and South America, opening the doors of their Escuela Universitaria de Bellas Artes in 1938.

The first group of 12 students arrived to find a town without a single restaurant or adequate lodging, but the opening of the school quickly created a commercial boom. Stores, eateries, lodgings, and cantinas popped up to service the students and faculty. The school suffered declining enrollments during World War II, but the post-war G.I. Bill kick-started interest again as American veterans took advantage of education subsidies to attend the school starting in 1946. The gifted artists and teachers who settled in San Miguel during this period were significant in converting San Miguel de Allende into a world-class artist colony, attracting first artists but, as time passed, another group of folks who appreciated the community the artists had formed—retirees.

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Video Footage Of The Emerald Isle

New Video Shows The Best Of Irish Country Life
In Retirement

Oct. 5, 2014
Panama City, Panama

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

When I relocated to Ireland years ago, it wasn't as a retiree but as a businesswoman and a mom. My partners and I made application for and were accepted into the investor-incentive program the Irish Development Agency (IDA) was offering at the time. The group had targeted areas of the country for economic stimulation and gave us three choices for where to locate the business we planned to base in Ireland taking advantage of IDA corporate tax perks—Sligo, Galway, and Waterford. I chose Waterford and lived in that city, running a business and raising a family, for seven years.

My choice for where to base myself in Ireland was limited by the options the IDA put before me. However, now, knowing this country as I do, I'd recommend a different region altogether for someone interested in Ireland at a retirement stage of life—namely, the southeastern part of County Kilkenny, which, once we discovered it, became our favorite part of this country.

Longtime friend and Ireland correspondent Lynn Mulvihill shares my affinity for this corner of this country and reports in full on the pleasures and delightful lifestyle to be had in County Kilkenny in the most recent issue of my Overseas Retirement Letter.

As Lynn explains:

"Kilkenny Town itself could be a great retirement choice, but I'd say that the best retirement spot in all the Emerald Isle would be just outside that city, where you can embrace quintessential Irish country life while remaining in easy reach of the shopping, entertainment, festivals, and town amenities of Kilkenny proper. This is a region of Ireland wholly undressed for tourists, where, for every freshly painted cottage, you also find a dusty, downtrodden building that, on first glance, makes you wonder if it's shut forever...or just for lunch.

"In fact, this is a tale of two villages. The first is Graiguenamanagh (pronounced Graig-na-MAN-ah and known simply as "Graig" among the locals), on the west bank of the River Barrow, where, during the summer months, colorful barges moor along the shores, families come to swim and coax each other down from the landmark diving boards, and the annual regatta attracts rowing enthusiasts.

"The tranquil village of St. Mullins is the counterpart. Without the quayside facilities and mooring of Graig, from the eastern banks of the Barrow here, river life is dominated more by fishermen and the occasional kayaker than by rows of pleasure boats.

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How To Choose A Rental In A Foreign Country

Five Rules For Renting Overseas

Oct. 3, 2014, Panama City, Panama: Finding a rental in a foreign country can be more complicated than you might think.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Rent before you buy.

We make this recommendation regularly. Renting first wherever you relocate overseas gives you a chance to try the place on for size and to confirm or reconsider.

Kathleen and I have done this for each of our international moves, and, in each case, we've been glad we did. In Ireland, for example, renting first saved us from making the big mistake of settling in Waterford City. It took only a few months living there to realize that where we really wanted to be was out in the country.

We've been renting here in Panama, as well, since our move from Paris six years ago. In that time, in fact, we’ve rented four different places. This is a small city that offers, nevertheless, a tremendous diversity of lifestyle options. We’ve had trouble finding the one that suits us best. Finally, our current situation feels right.

This serial rental experience has reminded us that, just as buyer should beware in a new market, so should a renter. Not all properties are created equal, and neither are all property owners or property management companies.

Here are five caveats to keep in mind when renting long-term in a foreign country:

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Expat Life In El Cangrejo, Panama City

Panama City's Rowdiest, Bawdiest Zone

Oct. 2, 2014, El Cangrejo, Panama: El Cangrejo is a top choice in Panama City for the expat, the entrepreneur, and the retiree.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

El Cangrejo is our top pick for an urban lifestyle in Panama. Other Panama City neighborhoods can be more affordable (the area around Via Tocumen, for example)...more luxury (Punta Pacifica)...more historic (Casco Viejo)...and more scenic (certainly if your ideal view is of the water...El Cangrejo is not oceanfront).

But no other neighborhood in the Panamanian capital has as much personality. It'd be fair to describe all Panama City as multicultural, but nowhere else is the diversity more apparent than in El Cangrejo. This region at the heart of this city is dense with restaurant options (Italian, French, Swiss, Colombian, Cuban, Lebanese, Chinese, Mexican, Argentine, and on and on), small, family-owned businesses (where the proprietors, again, hail from across the globe), and an eclectic expat community, North American, Latin American, European, and Asian, that mingles everywhere and always with their neighbor Panamanians. The expats in El Cangrejo aren't segregated or separated but fully integrated.

El Cangrejo is also Panama City's rowdiest, bawdiest zone. It could be called the city's Red Light District, though no discrete red lights are required to signal the locations of brothels or other sex-industry businesses. Prostitution is legal in Panama, and El Cangrejo is where the trade is largely focused in the country's capital. This may bother you or be just what you're in the market for. In the case of the latter, know that the Veneto Hotel and surrounding streets are a good place to hang out. If the case of the former, the Veneto and environs might be a good area to avoid.

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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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