"When we decided we were moving to Nicaragua, we packed up a container full of furniture, toys, and our car, everything we had, really, and we moved it here with us. In fact, we sent the container about a month before we made the move ourselves. So when we got here, the container was already in the country. "I went the very first day to ask about it. I could see my container on the docks. They told me, ‘OK, no problem, tomorrow we can bring it to your house.' "So I went every day that week, and every day they would tell me tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. I had a 2-year-old baby and no one to watch her for me, so she came along every time. After a week of visiting every day, they told me I was going to need to have the bill of lading translated into Spanish. I just burst into tears. "When I cried, they released my container and took it to my house. "Today, 12 years later, it's much easier to find what you need in Nicaragua. So much more furniture, household goods, electronics, etc., are available here in Managua now. If I were to move here today, I would sell everything in the States and just buy it all new when I got here. "One of the biggest practical challenges when we arrived here was getting around Managua. There were no street signs. I had a map, but it's hard to follow a map without street signs. This has gotten a lot better, though. Now you can use Garmen and even Google Maps, but you need to count the number of blocks to see how far it is to your destination. "Directions are always unusual. If somebody invites you over to their house, they are going to tell you something like: ‘From such-and-such landmark you are going to go two blocks toward the lake and two blocks east and then it's the blue house with the green gate.' "Each city is different. In Managua, toward the lake means north, but in Granada, toward the lake means east. It's important to know the lingo in the city you are navigating. "Something else you need to understand is that, if you are in a hurry in Nicaragua, you are the only one who is. Say you are in the grocery store, picking up a couple of things on the way to a meeting. You're running late, and there is one person in front of you. That person might say to the cashier, ‘Hold on a minute. I forgot a few things...' and then go back into the store to do more shopping. You just have to wait. You have no choice except to adjust to the reality that you are the only person stressed out about time. "So those are some of the challenges of living here. What are some of the benefits? "One that may surprise you is the medical care. I have been super happy with the care available here in Managua. We have a brand-new hospital, and, for less urgent care, we've found great doctors. I have the home number of my pediatrician. When one of my kids is sick, I can call their doctor at home and give him the symptoms. When we go in for an appointment, whether for myself or my kids, the doctor sits with us for as long as it takes. There is no hurry, and he really listens to what we're saying. "And it's super inexpensive. We pay US$45 to see the doctor. The lab work is done immediately. I've gone in, feeling bad, and my doctor has told me to run down to the lab, get the blood work, then bring the results back up to him. He's able to diagnose me and prescribe treatment right away. It's not this long process that you undergo in the States, and it's all so much less expensive. "My oldest daughter Amanda needed surgery on both feet when she was 11. After investigating the options, we chose to have the surgery performed here in Nicaragua as opposed to in the United States, The doctor we found here teaches at a U.S. medical school, and we felt very comfortable with him. The experience was unbelievably positive and successful. The cost was US$1,500 per foot, including the overnight stay in the hospital and all other costs. "Dentistry, too, is super inexpensive. It's US$30 to have your teeth cleaned. My daughter Amanda wore braces for 18 months; she just had them removed. The total cost was less than US$1,500, including the retainer she now has. And we're really happy with the result. "Cosmetics procedures are readily available. You can have Botox and fillers right at the salon where you're having your hair done. Again, it's super inexpensive compared with elsewhere. "Many of the doctors here speak English. You can request this when making your appointment. "The cost and quality of medical care in this country is a big benefit. There are smaller benefits, too. One nice benefit for us are the movie theaters. We have VIP movie theaters here where you can watch a first-run movie in English while being served dinner—wine, sushi, etc.—in a fully reclining chair. You pay for the food separately, of course, but the movie ticket is just US$6. "Another nice benefit of living here for me has been to do with my car. Whenever it breaks down or I hear a rumble, I call my mechanic and he comes right over. He comes to my home and works on the car in my garage. He'll figure out what's wrong and go out to get the parts then come back to make the repairs. When the repair is going to take longer than a day, I can call the rental car company and they will bring a car to me. It's super easy, unlike what I remember from when I was living in the United States. I remember it being complicated and hard and crying when the mechanic told me how much it was going to cost. Here it is very affordable. "Why are we still here 12 years later? Really, because we love it. Mike and I have considered the idea of moving back to the States a couple of times, but, each time, we've made lists of the pros and cons, West Virginia versus Managua. And every time our life in Managua wins..." Kathleen Peddicord P.S. Carol's presentation on expat life in Nicaragua was recorded, of course, along with every other speaker's presentation from last week's Live and Invest in Nicaragua event. We're editing these recordings now to create our new Live and Invest in Nicaragua Home Conference Kit. You can order your copy pre-release now and save more than 50%.
Continue reading: Making A Plan For Retiring To Panama
When the living becomes intolerably difficult in one place...move to another! I'm not being flippant. I'm giving you the secret to realizing the retirement of your dreams.
The first move is the hardest, I understand. You need options, and you need help. We're here to deliver both. Let's start with this: The situation is far less desperate than you may fear. You do not have to resign yourself to reducing your standard of living during this important phase of your life. You do not have to plan for two or three decades of scraping by and making do.
But you've already figured this out, I think. By signing on as a reader of these dispatches you've opened your mind to the possibilities. You've allowed yourself to begin to think outside the box and beyond your own borders. As you read this, because you're reading this, you are launching a new phase of your life...maybe the best one yet.
Where will your explorations and considerations lead you? You'll have to figure that out for yourself, but, in these virtual dispatches each day, we'll introduce you to the top possibilities worldwide...and then we'll lead you, step by step, your hand in ours, from wherever you are now to where you'd like to be.
As we stand today on the eve of a new year, where should you be focusing your thinking and your search? I made recommendations yesterday for some of the world's top options for 2013, including Panama, France, Belize, Ecuador, and Thailand...and I'll share more top picks for this New Year later on this week.
I realize, though, and I want to make sure you realize, too, that you aren't going to retire to Panama or Belize, to France or Thailand...and not to any other country either. You're going to retire to a neighborhood or a community, a region or a seaside town in whichever country you identify as your personal Shangri-la. Once you get serious about re-launching your life overseas, you realize that you've got to thin slice your options. You can't think about retiring to "Ecuador" anymore than you could think about retiring to the "United States."
What would that mean, to retire to the United States? What would the weather, the cost of living, the cultural distractions, or the scene outside your bedroom window be in the US of A? No way to answer that question, right? You could determine what the weather would be like in Scottsdale, Arizona...the cost of groceries for a couple of retirees in San Diego, California...or the view from your poolside patio in Naples, Florida...but you couldn't possibly answer those questions for the United States as a whole. Anymore than you could determine those particulars for any other country as a whole.
That's why our editorial mandate for choosing the best place to retire abroad in 2013 is all about thin-slicing. With this in mind, some introductions are in order.
I've been moving around the world with the focused agenda of identifying its best opportunities for living better and retiring well for coming up on three decades (yikes). I know a little not only about this beat, but also about this world of ours in this context. But I know some places better than others, and, I understand, I can't know everywhere well. That's where my far-flung, ever-on-the-move, and ever-expanding network of correspondents comes in. With the help of these savvy souls, this New Year, we're going to bring you more boots-on-the-ground, real-world, real-time, firsthand, and very thin-sliced glimpses of the world's top live, retire, and invest overseas havens.
If you've been reading for anytime, you probably know these folks already. Still, New Year's Eve is a time for reviewing and regrouping, so I'd like to take this chance to present:
In addition, in these dispatches and the other publications we offer, you'll also hear from Phil Hahn and Ann Kuffner in Belize; Mike Cobb in Nicaragua; Lynn Mulvihill in Ireland; Rich Holman in Colombia; Mike Sager in Ecuador; Steve Rosburg in Argentina; and Federico Fischer in Uruguay.
On behalf of the whole bunch of us, please accept my wishes for a healthy, happy, prosperous, adventure-filled 2013. May this year be the year that your live, retire, and invest overseas dreams all come true.
Kathleen PeddicordContinue Reading:
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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.
Read more here.
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