Live and Invest Overseas By Kathleen Peddicord

How To Find The Right Place For
You To Retire Overseas

Sept. 11, 2014, Panama City, Panama: When deciding where to retire overseas, pay as much attention to your heart as to more quantifiable or scientific considerations.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

One thing I've learned in my 17 years as an American abroad is that you can't spreadsheet a new life in paradise.

As you consider your options for where to reinvent your life overseas, you want to review detailed budgets for the countries that interest you, as we try to help you do regularly. You want to understand the local tax rates as they'd apply to you and the average temperatures by season. You want to research the local standards for medical care and the cost of health insurance. You want to look into air access to and from the places you intend to travel regularly...options for establishing legal residency...


This research is important. But, once you've carried it out, set all the data aside and let your heart take over.

A friend, Jeff, a Brit who has been spending much of his time in Nicaragua for years, passed through Panama City this week.

"People ask me all the time why I chose Nicaragua over Costa Rica," he said.

"There are quantifiable explanations," Jeff continued. "The cost of living in Nicaragua is lower than that in Costa Rica, for example. And Nicaragua has a program of special benefits, tax breaks, etc., for foreign retirees that's very competitive.

"But those aren't the reasons I recommend Nicaragua over its neighbor to the south to anyone who asks or why I chose to focus my time and attention in Nicaragua years ago, when I could as easily have based myself in Costa Rica. Nicaragua simply appealed to me more," Jeff explained, "for reasons that I have trouble explaining."

I knew what he meant. I visited Costa Rica for the first time coming up on 30 years ago. I've returned probably 25 times since. Its Pacific coast is beautiful, as is its mountainous interior. Great surfing, great bird-watching, great boating, great fishing...Costa Rica has all these things. When I first traveled to this country, it was also very affordable and boasted the world's premier foreign retiree program. Still, I didn't get it. I could list out the advantages and benefits of living in Costa Rica, but I couldn't make myself want to live there.

Then, a few years later, I traveled to Nicaragua. I knew within a few hours of wandering around colonial Granada that this was a place I wanted to return to. This was a place I could call home, for visiting it for the first time felt like coming home.


Children’s Christmas In Casco Viejo

Dec. 25, 2011, Stowe, Vermont: The children of l'Ecole Paul Gauguin in Panama City, Panama, celebrated Christmas with a concert in the 300-year-old Teatro Anita Villalaz in the center of Casco Viejo's Plaza de Francia.

Also This Week: Christmas In Cuenca--Celebrating El Pase del Niño Viajero...Caribbean Christmas...Settling In...Why Costa Rica May Become One Of The Least Attractive Retirement Choices In The World... 

Dear Overseas Opportunity Letter Reader,

A few nights before we departed Panama for our holiday visit here in the States, we assembled in Casco Viejo for Jackson's Christmas spectacle.

Our son Jack, 12, attends the French school in Panama City. L'Ecole Paul Gauguin is a small school, with about 200 students in total, many, surprising to me at first, Panamanian. Why would a Panamanian family, living in Panama City, choose to send their children to a French-language, French-curriculum school? I still don't know the answer to that question, but the result, for us, is charming.


The Night Before Christmas In Paris

Dec. 24, 2013, Paris, France: Paul and Vicki Terhorst assimilated to the French traditional Christmas when they took to enjoying the streets and oysters of Paris…

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Fifteen years ago Vicki and I spent our first Christmas in Paris.

We stayed in Paris all that winter and decided Paris makes winter the best season of all. Museums, shows, fairs, conferences...Paris in winter runs at full speed. Everything stays open, without the sporadic closings that plague the rest of the year. French chefs cook better food in winter, with more game and heavier, tastier sauces. Fewer tourists clog up the city. I remember one rainy, cold Saturday morning, I raced to the Louvre to be there when it opened. For several minutes I had the Mona Lisa to myself.

As an aside, most tourists arrive and depart Paris on weekends. I figure they rarely want to take in a museum on either their first or final day. So Saturday mornings become the best time to visit the Louvre, Orsay, or other usually crowded museums.


Caribbean Christmas

Dec. 24, 2012, Ambergris Caye, Belize: Belize, home to more than 10 different ethnic groups, offers a very multicultural mix of holiday celebrations.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

For those of us who grew up in snow country, it seems odd to be walking around in T-shirts and flip flops on Christmas Day. But, having lived here on Ambergris Caye for seven years now, I've come to appreciate that Belize offers a unique collection of blended Christmas traditions. More than 70% of Belizeans are Christian, so the majority of residents celebrate the birth of Christ. However, the country is also home to more than 10 different ethnic groups. The result is the most multicultural holiday celebrations I can imagine.


A Lot Of Charm For Just US$37,000

Sept. 10, 2014, Granada, Nicaragua: Granada, Nicaragua, is the premier Spanish-colonial city and perhaps the best place in the world to shop right now for a Spanish-colonial home of your own

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

A Spanish-colonial city can be a great choice for retirement, and Granada, Nicaragua, is perhaps the queen among all Spanish-colonial city options. At the heart of this city, radiating from the central square, is a great variety of classic and charming Spanish-colonial homes with high ceilings, painted tiles, and private center courtyards.

And the best part is that you can own one for as little as US$37,000.

Founded in 1524, Granada claims to be the first European city founded in mainland America, so it's a truly old colonial city rather than a semi-modern lookalike. It's named after the ancient city of Granada, Spain, and shares some of that city's Moorish architectural influence.

Granada sits at the north end of Lake Nicaragua, with beaches near town and a group of small private islands just offshore, and just south of Lake Apoyo, Nicaragua's largest volcanic crater lake.

The international airport at Managua is a little less than an hour to the north, and the Pacific Ocean lies a little more than an hour to the west. The weather is warm to hot all year, with average high temperatures running seasonally between 86°F and 93°F (30°C to 34°C). Rainfall is moderate at 47 inches, and most of it comes between May and October in the form of afternoon showers.

It's obvious as soon as you arrive: Granada is one of most finely restored and preserved colonial cities in the Americas. It sees a good number of international travelers and has a sizeable expat community. These two things combine to account for the city's wealth of upscale hotels, fine restaurants, and well-kept buildings.


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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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