Live and Invest Overseas

“Back In The States, We Couldn’t Afford This Lifestyle At All…”

Oct. 3, 2008
Panama City, Panama

PLUS:

n Judy’s Doing It…Leonard’s Doing It…Paul’s Done It…And You Can, Too…
n How To Take A Shower In Central America…
n Golden Frogs…Golden Altars…Crafts Markets…and Club-hopping…How To Spend Your Days (And Nights) In Panama City…

AND:

n  “I Have US$100,000. Is That Enough To Retire Overseas?”…

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Dear Overseas Opportunity Letter Reader,

“We never imagined we’d be able to afford an island retreat, let alone one right on a secluded beach,” says Judy Ahern.

“For years, we’d check out the real estate when we were on vacation. We looked all over Hawaii and in other places on the water. But it was always too expensive.

“Yet here we are now on this Caribbean island nearly full-time. We’re enjoying the open-air house we had built and an incredible quality of life for a fraction what it would cost us anywhere else nearby. In the States, we couldn’t afford this lifestyle at all.”

Judy and her husband are originally from California and in their 70s today. Judy was a teacher and an actress; her husband Bill is still in the airplane-parts business.

Back in 2002, they traded in their expensive, traffic-clogged life for a quieter, more affordable one on a lush mountainous island where sand crabs meander across the roads. You may never have heard of this place…but it’s only a two-hour flight from Houston.

Judy and Bill are living on the Caribbean Honduran island of Roatan, where they have access to solid heath care…where they enjoy dinners of fresh-caught lobster with wine and dessert for less than US$30 whenever they want…where they enjoy all the comforts of life back in the “real world”…

And where, as Judy explains it, “we’ve changed the way we experience life…for the better.”

“There’s a freshness here,” Judy continues. “A quickening of the senses.

“Instead of retreating someplace to retire, we’ve reached out toward new challenges.

“I’m keeping busy as the director of a pre-school that serves underprivileged, working families. And I’m editor of our local island magazine.

“Sure, living here isn’t without its inconveniences. But it’s as if we’re looking not at the end of our lives now…but at the beginning of another life altogether.”

Leonard Holden and his wife Jenna aren’t independently wealthy. Not by a long shot. But they’re not worrying about outliving their retirement nest egg, as are so many others who are at or nearing retirement age right now. Leonard and his wife are confident they’ll have more than enough to carry them comfortably through retirement, no matter what the economy does at home.

Leonard and Jenna used to spend about US$8,000 a month living in Manhattan. At 49, when Leonard “retired,” he took with him a pension of US$1,800 a month. They could have stayed in New York. But it would have meant some serious scaling back, living on savings, or even taking another job.

Only Leonard and his wife were ready to stop working and to start living. And there was no way they could maintain the lifestyle they’d grown accustomed to on less than one-quarter of their income.

So they looked for a place where that US$1,800-a-month pension would stretch.

And they found it in a safe, welcoming, warm-weather city in Ecuador, where they’d be among the community’s wealthiest residents.

There they could afford a 5,000-square-foot house, two cars, and a care-free, even luxurious lifestyle that included a housekeeper, dinner out a few times a week, and the time and funds to travel and to explore their new corner of the world.

Leonard and Jenna are part of what is rapidly becoming a real movement among adventuresome (and pragmatic) folks. A revolution.

The New Retirement Revolution.

Our own Paul Terhorst was a front-runner of this movement. He and his wife Vicki retired 25 years ago at the ripe age of 35. Paul dumped the corporate life and took off with Vicki to discover a new one. In the two-and-a-half decades since, they’ve lived in Paris, Chiang Mai, and Buenos Aires…and they’ve traveled from Campeche to Montevideo, from the South of France to the coast of India…

They’ve lived 25 years already on their “retirement fund”…and they’re still young, healthy, and vibrant today…which means they’re looking at many, many more years of “retirement” living.

Are they worried the nest egg might run out? Nope. As Paul explained earlier this week, he and Vicki have been through “a dozen financial meltdowns…and counting.”

Paul continues:

“Vicki and I are perpetual travelers. We move every now and again. We’re used to it.

“But we understand that the first move overseas is the toughest. After you settle in abroad the first time, though, you’ll move and adjust more easily. Pretty soon, moving will become a core competence. That’s your advantage over the poor guy who’s stuck back home.”

Paul and Vicki were well ahead of their time…but the world is finally catching up with them…and finally catching on.

Seeking and building a new life abroad is not only the most sensible way to approach retirement in the current global market climate…

It’s not only the best (maybe the only) way to assure yourself that your retirement funds will carry you all the way through retirement…comfortably and even in style…

It’s not only the best way to make sure you’re able to sleep at night…that you’re not kept awake at 3 a.m. by money and budget concerns…

It’s also the start of the greatest adventure of your life. The most fun you’ll ever have.

More here.

Kathleen Peddicord

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TODAY:

“I couldn’t be happier with my new life in Central America,” writes Guatemala correspondent Michael Paladin, “but, yes, there are downsides to living in this part of the world.

“For example, take a look at this.

“You may never have encountered something like this, but, throughout Mexico and Central America, you find these.

“When you do, have no fear. These devices can be intimidating, but they do work.

“The first rule of taking a shower with this contraption is to inspect it carefully before turning it on. You’ll find an adjustable slide button on the front. All the way to the left is usually a black dot. In the middle is a blank oval. To the right, a half-black/half-blank circle. These are the temperature settings.

“Second rule: Never adjust these while you are in the shower with the water running.

“The device uses AC electrical current to power a heating coil in the shower head…something like the heating element you might use to heat a cup of tea.

“Third rule: Note the wiring…but never touch it either. It’s usually haphazardly wound and taped together, certainly not something you want to fiddle with while wet.

“Turn on the water slowly, allowing the heating element to do its job and warm the water to your desired temperature. Then enter the shower and position yourself under the flow of water. Once in, it is safe to increase or decrease the water pressure for changes in temperature.

“And, yes, it’s safe, too, to turn the thing off. Carefully…”

***

Our daughter Kaitlin is coming for a visit next week. We’re making a list of things to do with her while she’s here in Panama City:

n Go in search of the country’s famous golden frog. This is Jack’s top choice. We’ve been directed to El Valle.

n Go bar-hopping along Calle Uruguay, legendary for its raucousness come Saturday evening. This is her boyfriend Harry’s top choice. We’ll leave the clubbing to them. 

n See the Golden Altar in Casco Viejo’s Cathedral of San Jose. At the top of my list.

n Visit the La Vieja ruins of the original Panama City. Lief’s pick. We’ll go Sunday morning, when there’s a crafts market nearby.

FROM THE MAILBAG:

“I probably only have about US$100,000 to play with right now. Would this work?

-- Dr. Paul D., United States

It depends, dear reader. If your entire retirement nest egg is US$100,000, and you have no Social Security, no pension, and no other assets, the honest answer is…it’ll be hard to make this work as an overseas retirement fund.

But harder to make it work as a non-overseas retirement fund.

That is, no matter how much money you have to retire on, it can buy you a bigger, better retirement outside the States.

If, though, you’ve got US$100,000 to play with…plus some other ongoing source of income (Social Security, etc.), then you’re golden. In Ecuador, Uruguay, Nicaragua, or Argentina, for example, your US$100,000 nut could buy you a comfortable home…and your monthly Social Security or pension could afford you a very comfortable life.

It also depends, of course, on your age. If you’re 45 or 50 years old, you’re looking at many active retirement years, and US$100,000 isn’t likely enough to carry you through them. You’ll need to supplement with some form of income. Right now, friends are planning their third annual How To Fund Your Travels workshop here in Panama. Their ideas could work as well to help fund a new life overseas…

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