Banking In Ecuador…Off The Grid In Belize…Coffee Profits In Colombia…And Much, Much More
Dec. 12, 2012, Panama City, Panama: Advice for readers interested in retiring to Belize, Ecuador, Uruguay, and beyond.
Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,
While we've been in planning meetings this week here in Panama City, the mail has been piling up. Therefore, today, let's dig straight into the Mailbag:
"Kathleen, my wife and I now have an account at Caye Bank in Belize, thanks to you. Do you have a bank in Ecuador you would recommend?"
--Frank H., United States
Latin America Correspondent Lee Harrison, a one-time resident of Ecuador who happens to be in Panama City with us for this week's meetings, responds:
"I used Banco Pichincha while in Ecuador. They had a good web interface and web functionality, and they remained solvent throughout Ecuador's banking crisis in 2000. Also, they have lots of branches around the country, so there's always a convenient location when you need to go in person.
Most important, they offer direct-debit for your utility bills, so you don't have to go to the utility and stand in line in order to pay.
Aside from Banco Pichincha, I'd also recommend Banco de Guayaquil. I never had an account there personally, but they were recommended by the U.S. consulate, and the consulate actually uses them for their own banking.
"Kathleen, I've often thought how good it would be to buy a piece of land, even perhaps a small village, abroad and move there with friends in retirement, creating an instant community and avoiding all the problems of being alone in a new country. But it is a pipe-dream to think that friends would all up sticks and do the same thing together. This is where the idea of the 'self-sufficient community' created by Phil Hahn in Belize has great potential. It means that the community is there.
"I hope that other entrepreneurs can do similar things in other parts of the world. Perhaps somewhere coastal where it is warm but not too hot..."
--Stewart B., United States
A colleague is working now to set up such a community in Panama near the coast. We'll keep you advised as this project progresses.
"Kathleen, excellent piece from Lief on Colombian coffee, which is still the best. Unlike Brazilian coffee, which is machine harvested, Colombian coffee is hand-picked.
"However, you need to look at the role of the Coffee Federation Co-Op. They control what coffee does in Colombia and overseas."
--Bob A., United States
The Coffee Federation Co-Op is an important reason why the opportunity exists for the guys we reported on to buy the coffee direct from the growers and offer a better price for better coffee. You can go here now to read more about growing coffee in Colombia.
"Kathleen, I've been reading your work since the old days. I credit your influence with helping me to decide to move from New York City to Palma de Mallorca (Spain) almost nine years ago. Well, I think Palma's run its course. And Uruguay has been tickling my brain for a couple of years now.
"At the moment, my plan is to spend the entire month of August traveling the country. I know that it will be winter there at that time, but I believe it's best to look at a place in the off-season.
"It's a pretty big step. But, having done it before, I know it's possible. Last time, I think I got a little lucky. I'm trying to be a little smarter this time. That's why I'm reaching out to you folks for any contacts you might have to offer and why I've given myself a reasonable amount of planning time."
--Lee B., Spain
"Kathleen, the 'Worldwide Weekend Wire' you're now publishing provides excellent news and information. News organizations all over the world could learn how news is supposed to be written/presented . No slant...just the facts. WOW!
"Kudos and thank you. I read each week's issue from top to bottom."
--Linda F., United States
"Kathleen, I'm enjoying your writings about Panama. I spent 32 months there when I was in the Navy. I was at Balboa naval station. Years back, my wife and I and about 30 friends took a cruise through the Panama Canal. My surprise was that they had built a bridge across the canal. We had to wait if a ship was going into Miraflores locks, and people on the ship would wave at us.
"My, how things have changed. Lots of fine memories..."
--John B., United States
"Kathleen, the expression is 'down-at-heel,' not 'down at the heels,' as you've used it recently. Bloody American English! You yanks butcher the language!"
--Robin B., United Kingdom
"Kathleen, much of the information in your 52 Days retirement abroad program is geared to people who are probably retiring with little money and may need to work abroad. Hence, nations like Panama, Belize, and others are promoted.
"What if we can have a bit more money and need not live only on our Social Security checks?
"What is the next tier of nations? Or which cities in Central or South America might we also explore?
"Our preference is to reside part of each year in rotation countries; that is, perhaps Bariloche for part of the year, Montevideo for part of the year, and western Costa Rica for the rest.
"Does this approach make sense, or do you suggest that we simply pick a preferred country and then search for the right neighborhood?
"Many thanks, as we look forward to your 52 Days assignments every day!"
--Bill B., United States
What you're contemplating is what I call "following the seasons," spending time in three or four countries each year depending on the weather or some other criteria, depending on what is most important to you. This is a strategy that definitely makes sense. In fact, it's the strategy that Lief and I intend to follow when the time comes.
The downside to this approach is that it requires more administration than simply relocating or retiring to a single spot full-time.
You could invest in properties in each location where you want to spend time, you could invest in homes of your own in some of the locations, or you could buy in just one of the locations you've identified, a place to use as a base...then you'd rent furnished places in the other locations. Or you could rent everywhere and just travel with a couple suitcases and a laptop. We know people approaching this both ways. Our intention is to own in all the places where we want to be, but that's primarily because real estate is our preferred form of investment. This is a strategy that allows us to marry our retirement plan with our overall approach to investing.
Higher-end destinations in Latin America to consider in addition to those you have listed (Bariloche, Montevideo, and Costa Rica) might include Medellin, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
I'd suggest also considering Europe. If budget isn't a concern, then including at least one European destination as part of your rotation could add a lot to the overall experience. Top of the list of top-end choices in this part of the world would be Paris, as well as the South of France; Barcelona, Spain; much of Italy; Croatia; Geneva, Switzerland; and Vienna, Austria.
I hope that helps.
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