Why These Nine Expats Have Retired To Cuenca, Ecuador

Expats Of Cuenca


Aug. 20, 2014, Cuenca, Ecuador: The appeals of Cuenca, Ecuador, for the expat retiree are many, and the lifestyle options on offer in this colonial city are many.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Who moves to Cuenca, Ecuador...really? And why?

Emily and Roger Romaine relocated to Cuenca four years ago from Colorado. For this couple of retirees, travel is a priority.

"We have always loved to travel," Emily explains, "and Cuenca is not only a great place to live but also a great launching pad for exploring Latin America."

Emily adds that, as an added bonus, airfares to Europe are generally cheaper from Ecuador than from the United States.

Sylvia Mitchell, a retired school teacher from Indiana, says she chose Cuenca because she wanted to stay active. In addition to volunteering for an animal rescue service and a domestic violence safe house, Sylvia enjoys card games with her friends and her weekly women's lunch group. She says she considered locating in smaller communities in Ecuador but is glad she didn't. For Sylvia, the cultural and volunteer opportunities available in Cuenca are a perfect fit.

David Edwards, a retired U.S. law school administrator, splits his time between Cuenca and a small farm an hour's drive south of town where he tends a garden and raises geese.

"For me it's the best of both worlds," David explains. "I love the country, and I love the city. Back in California I could barely make ends meet with a one-bedroom apartment. Here in Ecuador I can afford to indulge both my lifestyle interests."

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Disadvantages Of Expat Communities Overseas

Mean Girls (And Guys) In Paradise

Aug. 19, 2014, Panama City, Panama: Gossip and rumor can plague expat communities overseas.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

High school, small towns, and expat communities all have something in common that you don't hear much about—gossip. I'd pit some expats I've known against any 13-year-old girl in this regard, including, in some cases, the meanest girls on the playground.

Sipping coffee in their favorite morning meeting spots, expats around the world are formulating and perpetuating rumors as I write. Did you hear that Jim didn't pay his rent to Jane this month? Have you heard that that new restaurant on the corner is going out of business already? George, the owner, is too busy chasing his waitresses, I guess, to run the place. And you'll never guess who was caught with a local girl in his apartment while his wife was away...

Sometimes the stories are true...or based on some kernel of truth...but sometimes they have no basis. Some of these tales are concocted out of whole cloth.

In bigger expat destinations, you can steer clear of the gossip mill. Panama City, for example, is home to thousands of expats. They get together to mingle and, yes, gossip. If that's your idea of a good time, you can join them. The good news, though, is that Panama City is big enough that you can also avoid the rumor-mongers if you'd prefer and still have lots of company when you want it.

You'll have a harder time avoiding the gossip hounds in smaller locales. Take the western coast of Panama's Azuero Peninsula, for example, where my Los Islotes development is located. In this more remote region of this country, some of the relatively few expats in residence spend a lot of their time engaged in gossip. As is the case everywhere where this is the case, the reason is simple. These folks have nothing better to do with themselves.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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