Given all this, should you retire to Panama...or to France? To Argentina...or to Thailand? I have no idea. You've got to do the work of considering the 22 destinations on our World's Top Havens list in the context of your personal preferences and priorities yourself. You've got to connect your own dots. For example: If you're looking to retire on a limited budget, look closely at Ecuador, Nicaragua, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, the world's most affordable places to live comfortably. If you want a temperate climate year-round, put Cuenca, Ecuador, and Medellin, Colombia, at the top of your list. If you want four seasons, think about Argentina, Chile, Croatia, France, or Italy.Get the shakes at the thought of life without reliable Internet? Take Nicaragua off your list and parts of Ecuador, too. If top-tier infrastructure is a deal-breaker for you, I'd recommend reconciling yourself to city living in Latin America and Asia in general. You can't count on regular, reliable Internet in the "interiors" of most countries in these regions. Don't like bugs? Don't retire to a tropical beach. Get sad without sunshine? Don't move to Ireland. Want to start a business? Come to Panama, the most business-friendly jurisdiction in the world today...or Malaysia if you want to be on that side of the planet. Travel a lot? Come to Panama in the Americas or France in Euro-land. From Tocumen you can get anywhere in North or South America with ease...and from Charles de Gaulle, you're no more than a couple of hops away from anywhere, period. Value regular nights of culture? Consider Buenos Aires, Paris, or (more budget-friendly) Medellin.Want to be far away from the troubles of the world? Think about Cayo, Belize, where life continues safe, simple, and separate. "Retiring" with children? Education is your number-one priority. In this case, consider France, Panama, or Argentina. If you have an ongoing health concern, medical care facilities are your top priority. Put, again, France, at the top of your list if budget is not another of your key criteria...and consider Panama, Malaysia, and Colombia if it is. Panama is an international banking center...Nicaragua is not. Foreign ownership of property is restricted in Thailand, if that matters to you. Argentineans enjoy drama—in their politics, in their economic policies, in their cocktail party conversation. Will you find that entertaining or unnerving? France is one of the most legislated places on earth. The French, though, simply ignore the rules and the restrictions as suits them. Could you? Taxis in places like Panama City, Panama, and Granada, Nicaragua, often come minus things like door handles, air conditioning, and tail lights. Will that bother you? Latinos live life loud and in the street and don't value their own time let alone yours. The French are reserved and formal. Asians don't have the same ideas about personal space that North Americans do.Which of those things make you uncomfortable?OK, over to you. You'll have to continue this line of thinking for yourself, but you get the idea.Meantime, as we begin the countdown to the New Year, we're gearing up to do everything we can to support your connect-the-dots efforts. We want 2015 to be the year your new life overseas dreams become reality.Kathleen Peddicord
Continue Reading: How To Send Money Overseas
Will it bother you to have to pay attention to a fluctuating exchange rate between the currency of the place where you're living and the currency your retirement funds are denominated in? If so, maybe it'd be better to focus on places where they use the U.S. dollar (assuming that's the currency of your retirement money). Look at Panama and Ecuador, specifically.Would you be uncomfortable living among the locals? That is, would you prefer to minimize culture shock and avoid learning a new language if possible?What would you like to see from your bedroom window every morning when you wake up? The beach? A wildflower-covered hillside? A city scene?And what would you like to hear outside your bedroom window each night as you fall asleep?That's how you get started at this. You make a list. That's Step 1. Step 2 tomorrow...Kathleen Peddicord
Continue Reading: Plan For A Nicaragua Canal
Jonathan P.: "My wife and I retired in 2003 at the ages of 54 and 53, respectively. We moved to San Antonio Tlayacapan on Lake Chapala in Mexico in 2005, where we learned quickly that we would have to find a place to escape the cohetes (mortars) that are blasted up to 16 hours a day for up to 15 days at a time during fiestas! We stabbed our fingers at a map and came up with La Manzanilla del Mar on the Tenacatita Bay, north of Manzanillo. It was love at first two-week visit. "We began spending more and more time in 'La Manz,' including house sitting for people who became friends. Two years ago, we bought a house just a three-minute walk from the beach. It is now our primary residence. "Meantime, we have kept our US$320-per-month, two-bedroom, two-bath rental in Chapala. We sublet the house to an American snowbird for 6 months a year. The rent covers more than 10 months of our costs each year. "About the middle of July, the beach at La Manzanilla starts to get oppressively hot and humid. That's when we head north and lakeside. We then have three or four months of delightful weather during what qualifies in this region as the off-season, which is our favorite. We think that we are living the ideal life, splitting our time between the ocean and the largest lake in Mexico..." David L.: "My wife and I have been reading your overseas-retirement materials for a dozen years or more, Kathleen. We recognized early in the game that selling everything and getting out and into a full-time life overseas would not be the right thing for us. Instead, we visit places outside the United States three or four times a year for two- to three-week periods. In each place, we rent a little apartment and experience living as a native. "It works well for us, as we like some variety in where we go. In some places we have noticed important negative changes and have said to ourselves it sure is good that we didn't buy and move here full-time. "We get very good leads on these places to experience from our readings, so thanks for the hundreds of articles you have written over the years. They sure expanded our horizons, and we have enjoyed spending weeks in many of the places you have introduced us to!" Frank L.: "Kathleen, we've just returned from two months in China. We were there to check out the country for possible retirement. I wanted to write to tell you that your Overseas Retirement Letter issue about Hangzhou was marvelous and a great help. We fell in love with the city and think it is the place for us." James S.: "We moved to Panama (Altos Del Maria) four years ago. Built a lovely home and lap pool in the mountains with breathtaking scenery. Year-round temp 76 to 82 degrees. Panama's Pacific beaches are 30 minutes away. "We moved here for the Panamanian government's excellent retirement program, the cost of living, and the weather. We do not regret this decision. Although the house-building process was difficult. "As you told us, Kathleen, well worth a look-see!" Vic S.: "Medellin, Colombia, is the best place on your list by far. Money is no object for me, and I still choose Medellin for my working retirement. You can live like a king for US$1,800 per month and I live like royalty for US$5,000 per month. 1,000 times safer than all other locations mentioned." More than 20,000 real-life stories of success and counting...Kathleen Peddicord
Continue Reading: Retirement In Phuket, Thailand, Versus Retirement In Ecuador And Panama
It was the Irish winter. Though I'd traveled in Ireland for years, I'd never lived through an Irish winter. Some days the sun rises after 9 a.m. and sets before 4 p.m. in the afternoon. In between those hours, it's typically gray, drizzling, overcast and damp. Ireland can be a great place to call home, but before you commit to retirement in the Auld Sod, experience it in winter. Spend time in the country in January and February. Or consider spending only part of the year in the country. Ireland is a place that makes good sense as a part-time retirement haven. You could retire to Ireland each summer, then spend your winters someplace bright and sunny. That was our strategy. After our first long winter in Waterford, we escaped to the tropics every December and returned to the Emerald Isle in early March, in time to appreciate Irish spring and summer. A few years ago, I mentioned the phenomenon to a friend preparing to move overseas for the first time, suggesting that he shouldn't worry about the panic stage he'd eventually experience because it would pass. My friend smiled and nodded politely, humoring me. It can be hard to imagine during the excitement of the pre-move phase that after maybe only a month or two in your new home, you might find yourself questioning the move altogether. My friend insisted that it wouldn't happen to him. "I've spent months researching and making my plan," he explained with confidence. "I understand what I'm getting into. I've thought this through from every angle, and I'm fully prepared." A couple of years later, over drinks one night, he remarked, "You know, before my move, when you talked about the panic stage that everyone goes through at some point after relocating to a new country, I laughed to myself. Panic, I thought. Why would I panic? The idea seemed extreme and, frankly, silly." But then he continued, "But, I have to tell you, it happened to me. It was maybe a year into my move to Ecuador. I realized that I was feeling out of my element and uncertain in a fundamental way, unsure of myself and my new situation. I was experiencing a feeling that, I had to admit, could best be described as panic." I asked what he decided to do. He responded, "I remembered what you'd recommended. I waited it out. I realized that I was feeling overwhelmed by the frustrations of living in the third world. I reminded myself why I'd wanted to make the move in the first place and of all the things about Ecuador that I love. There are many. After a little while, the panic passed." Your panic phase in your new home could be a result of the weather and the seasons, as it was for us in Ireland. It could be a reaction to the trials and frustrating tribulations of life in a developing country, as it was for my friend. It could be homesickness, which you should be prepared for. You're going to experience it from time to time. No country is perfect. Everywhere has its pluses and minuses. The minuses eventually are going to get to you. Living high in the mountains in Panama may provide glorious views and a gentle, spring-like climate, but you won't be near a real city or an international airport. You'll be living a country life among neighbors who, in this part of Panama, speak only Spanish. Sometimes the remoteness will overwhelm you. Ecuador offers an extremely affordable cost of living, but it is also a third world country. Retirement in the third world isn't for everyone. Although it was our third international move and our third country of residence since we left the United States, my husband and I experienced the panic stage in Panama, where we've struggled adjusting to the tropical climate and to the inconvenience factor. Panama is working hard to earn recognition as a first world nation, but, right now, it's not. This is a land where things don't always work as you'd like or expect. The key to being happy in your new home, wherever you decide to make it, is to keep your perspective and your sense of humor. When doubt and frustration creep in, as they will, remind yourself of two things. First, don't make any hasty decisions. The moment of panic will pass. Second, while you're waiting for that to subside, remember why you chose this country in the first place. Was it for the beach? Then escape to the coast for a few days of relaxation beneath the palms. Was it for the super-low cost of living? Take yourself out for a nice dinner on the cheap. What do you enjoy most in your new home? If you moved there for the fishing, then make time to catch some fish and then have your new friends over for an authentic home-cooked American dinner. Think about why you're feeling uncertain about your decision. Once you identify why you're second-guessing your move, you can address those points. If you don't like the current season, go somewhere else until it passes. If you're missing family back home, invite them to come visit. If you're not happy in the neighborhood where you've initially settled, consider another. Be prepared, at some time during your first year of retirement overseas, perhaps even during the first month or two, to wonder what in the world you've done. No, this wasn't crazy, and it wasn't a mistake. Wait it out. The panic will pass. Just on the other side is the new life you came to find. Kathleen PeddicordEditor's Note: All our top-selling how to retire overseas resources are on sale right now as part of our Black Friday/Thanksgiving Weekend mega-sale. Take a look.
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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.
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