Living With The Unpredictable In Hanoi, Vietnam

Do You Ever Get Used To It?

Aug. 4, 2014, Hanoi, Vietnam: Living in the exotic city of Hanoi brings with it new levels of noise and chaos and an overall sense of wonder.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Walking down a street near our house in Hanoi recently, we passed a group of four tired and miserable looking French tourists taking shelter on the stairs in front of a clothing store. One of them saw us and jumped up to block our way.

"Do you speak English?" she asked plaintively. We reassured her that we did, and with panic in her eyes, she asked us if there was any place to eat around this area. They were lost, hungry, overstimulated, and overwhelmed.

With plenty of restaurants all over the neighborhood, we were a little taken aback by her question but calmly reassured the group that we could take them to "Food Street," an alley of two small blocks just a short walk away that was lined with restaurants. The four of them huddled close to our side as we crossed a moderately busy intersection, hoping that our presence would save them from being run over by the first passing motorcycle. Along the way, one of them asked, "Do you ever get used to it?"

I considered her question and came up stumped. "What 'it' are you referring to?" I asked her.

"It!" she said, the earlier panic still evident in her voice. "The traffic, the chaos, everything!"

It wasn't an easy question to answer. The traffic and chaos can't be ignored here, but after a while, they cease to be an issue. There are ways to cross the street that may seem counterintuitive but are perfectly acceptable and safe in Hanoi. Horns are constantly honking, but they become white noise after a while. The swarms of vehicles swerve and cut each other off, but no one gets road rage and accidents are surprisingly uncommon.

On rare occasions, I still freeze when crossing a busy street. Vehicles don't yield to pedestrians, though they do avoid hitting them. You have to take that first step and keep walking, slowly and deliberately, until you reach the other side of the street. Taking that first step can be hard, though. More than once, a tiny, elderly lady has grabbed me by the hand and walked me across the street, acting as a buffer against the onslaught of motorbikes. Where I come from, we help senior citizens cross the street. In Vietnam, they help us.


Choosing between retirement in Barcelona, Spain, or Pau, France

Best Place To Retire In The Old World?
France Vs. Spain

August 3, 2014, Panama City, Panama: A look at what these two Old-World cities have to offer.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Throughout the past decade, as relocating overseas in retirement has become an increasingly appealing idea, communities of expat retirees have developed in places like Ajijic, Mexico, Boquete, Panama, and Cuenca, Ecuador, making those spots particularly attractive to those who want to enjoy the advantages and benefits of being retired overseas but who also want their new lives to be as familiar as possible. Retiring to a new country is no small thing. Relocating to a place where your neighbors speak English and share many of your same life experiences and objectives at this stage can ease the transition and make the whole proposition far less intimidating.

Maybe you'd like to be able to plug into a ready-made community of foreign retirees when reinventing your life overseas, but you don't want to retire to Latin America. More interesting to you is Europe. In that case, you'll be glad to hear that such communities exist on the Continent, too, including in two Old World cities of special appeal: Pau, France, and Barcelona, Spain.

Pau, France

More than 50,000 expats, including many retirees, live in Pau, in the Béarn region of France. This sizable and welcoming community has developed for two reasons—the oil and gas industry and the historical connection of this part of France with the UK.

The oil and gas industry brings many working expats with families to Pau. They come for two- and three-year assignments in the city with the French oil company Total, which has its research headquarters on the outskirts of Pau. The result is an eclectic community that includes people from all over the world—British, Colombians, Mexicans, Dutch, etc. The existence of this group means strong and ever-growing infrastructure, amenities, and services to support and facilitate expat living.


Price Increase Imminent For Mango Investment In Panama

Turnkey Agricultural Investment In My Favorite Save Haven Earns Up To 30% Per Year

Aug. 1, 2014, Panama City, Panama: An investment in this mango plantation in Panama could earn you up to 30% per year.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

With drought in California, food prices in the region are rising.

This current crisis will pass, but it helps to make the point: An investment in agricultural property is a better idea every day.

I've been strongly recommending you make productive land part of your investment portfolio for more than five years now. My preference (and beat) is land outside the United States in locations where water sources are more secure and more stable than in places like the Southwest United States.

Panama qualifies. I've invested in timber in this country and, more recently, mangos.

I've recommended this mango opportunity to you in the past. The developer has been busy over the past four months preparing the land for planting. These are serious guys proceeding carefully and meticulously. Their plantation preparations have included sending up a drone every week to map the land to ensure they're getting the drainage slopes right.

The next step is to put the trees in the ground. This works begins tomorrow.


Retire To Los Islotes On Panama’s Western Azuero Peninsula

Why Peg And Pat Are Retiring To Panama's Beautiful Pacific Coast

July 31, 2014, Los Islotes, Panama: Peg Fairbairn and Pat Kloosterman are among the retirees who’ve chosen Los Islotes, on the Pacific coast of Panama’s Azuero Peninsula, as their ideal retirement spot.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

"I'm a retired schoolteacher from Austin, Texas," Peg Fairbairn told me yesterday. "I've got limited savings, and I'm on a fixed income. Those are my realities.

"However, I also had a dream. I wanted to retire to the Pacific coast. I wanted the good life at the beach.

"With my savings and my income, I knew I could never afford what I wanted in the States. But here in Panama? I've been able to buy it in full. I've found my dream in a turn-key package that fits my budget.

"Why am I in Panama? Because here I can afford my dream and back in the States I couldn't. It's that simple."

Pat Kloosterman is also retired, though her husband is still working as an engineer in Ohio. Full-time retirement is a few years away for this couple still, but they're putting their plan in place now.

"We started thinking about the big 'where to retire' question a couple of years ago," Pat explains. "We took a survey online. Based on the criteria we entered, the recommended destination for us was Panama. It had everything we were looking for, including easy access back to the States and a tropical climate. Plus Panama uses the U.S. dollar. We liked that, too. So we decided to take a trip to see the place for ourselves.

"When we got to Panama, we fell in love with the land itself. The ocean, the mountains, the's just beautiful. We wanted to be on the coast. Los Islotes, where we've bought a lot and are just beginning construction of our house, is on the Pacific, but, where we've bought, we're on a ridge that has views both of the ocean and of the mountains. We look one way and see the ocean. We look the other way and see the mountains. Really, we couldn't imagine anything better. The whole's just awesome..."


Retire To Kilkenny, Ireland

Our Pick For The Best Of Ireland

July 30, 2014, Kilkenny, Ireland: Medieval Kilkenny, Ireland, is a top choice for the would-be retiree.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

When I'm asked to recommend a single spot in Ireland for the would-be retiree, I come up with at least five possibilities. Then, for each place, I ask one critical question: Could a non-local (one not born into a harsh Irish winter) survive here year-round? Is there enough to amuse when the nights are long and it rains for a week at a time? The one place that stands out to me right now—passing this year-round test with flying colors—is Kilkenny.

This "Medieval city" (now officially a town) is the arts and artisanal center of Ireland. From April to October, its streets buzz with local and tourist shoppers in search of unique clothing, gifts, and home-wares. They come in the winter months, too, though in lesser numbers. The big event in town is the annual Cat Laughs Comedy Festival in June that attracts comedy fans from around the world, while November's Kilkenomics Festival—a quirky marriage of economists and comedians from around the world—is growing in popularity. And, any time boredom strikes, you can reach Dublin in 70 minutes by direct motorway.

The whole county of Kilkenny deserves to be explored, particularly those towns and villages along the Nore and Barrow rivers. Dotted between patchwork fields representing every shade of green, you'll find potters, glassmakers, and jewelry designers, all inspired by the natural beauty surrounding 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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