Articles Related to Retire to central america

As a friend who has been retired in Asia for many years puts it, "Everywhere in Asia is more affordable than the cheapest places in Latin America right now." That may be a stretch, but pockets of Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, China, Vietnam, and India, for example, can be absurdly cheap. You could live a modest but comfortable life in this part of the world on a budget of $700 or $800 a month, even less.

Living on this side of the planet, you'd also have access to some of the world's most beautiful beaches. Your life would be full of adventure, the exotic, and the unexpected. That is to say, the culture shock would be significant. For some, this reality is thrilling and invigorating...for others, it's intimidating, even terrifying.

In Asia, as well, you have an added challenge related to residency. Typically (an exception is Malaysia), you aren't going to be able to arrange to stay on indefinitely (legally) as a foreigner. You'll have to make regular border runs, which can grow tiresome and expensive (not to mention being illegal).

The easier alternative is not to approach Asia as a full-time choice but, instead, to create a  where-to-retire-overseas plan for yourself that allows you to enjoy the benefits of Asia (super cheap and super exotic) part-time. Don't worry about trying to qualify for permanent residency. Stay as long as you can as a tourist and then move on.

How about three months on the coast of Thailand, where your retirement budget would stretch far indeed, followed by a few months in the south of France, say, or Tuscany?

Where to Retire Overseas

Which brings us to the Continent. Not everyone is cut out for life in the developing world. If you're less interested in an exotic retirement than you are in a fully appointed one, your best options for where to retire in the world could lie in Europe. Most would-be retirees abroad dismiss this part of the world as too expensive, but that isn't necessarily the case, and, if it's a Continental lifestyle you dream about, I urge you not to write it off too quickly. Sure, a retiree on a modest budget probably can't afford Paris or Florence, but have you considered southwestern France, where life is quintessentially French but, as well, surprisingly affordable, or Pisa, about an hour from Michelangelo's hometown but dramatically less costly?

One of the big advantages of Europe, compared with other regional retire-overseas options, is the opportunity it affords for what might be referred to as "high culture." Every country in the world has local culture, but not everywhere has world-class museums, opera, and live theater, for example. If you're interested in a life that includes what are conventionally recognized as cultural offerings of the high-brow variety, you should be looking to France or Italy, Spain or Portugal.

This is not to say it's impossible to enjoy an Old World Continental lifestyle anywhere else. Some cities in South America offer a fair imitation, including, for example, Buenos Aires, and Medellin, Colombia. Both are cities of open-air cafes, classic-style museums and theaters, art galleries and antique shops.

And both, you'll note, are in South America, not Central America. The differences between these two regions, even between Panama and Colombia, next-door neighbors, can be striking. I'm speaking generally and you could find exceptions to every point, but, again, generally speaking, South America offers what I'd call more polished retirement options and is a good place to look if what you want is culture on the cheap.

Central America, by contrast, is, everywhere, rough around the edges. These are small, developing countries, struggling (let's be honest) to keep the lights on and the highways paved. They don't have money to invest in things like art museums. This can make for a way of life that is, for some, charming. Romantics (like me) in Central America see the potential for what could be rather than the reality of what sometimes is. Others find Central America frustrating, disappointing, even appalling.

On the other hand, this sun-blessed region can be but a quick plane hop away and a user-friendly place to establish foreign residency if you'd like to settle in full-time.

Pluses and minuses...give and take.

Kathleen PeddicordContinue Reading:

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Asia boasts a number of the most cost-friendly places anywhere to call home right now. Pockets of Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, China, Vietnam, and India, for example, can be absurdly cheap. Living on this side of the planet, you'd also have access to some of the world's most beautiful beaches.

Your life would be full of the exotic, the unexpected, and the adventuresome. That is to say, the culture shock would be significant. For some, this reality is thrilling and invigorating...for others, intimidating, even terrifying.

In Asia, as well, you have an added challenge related to residency. Typically (an exception is Malaysia), you aren't going to be able to arrange to stay on indefinitely (legally) as a foreigner. You'll have to make regular border runs, which can grow tiresome and expensive.

The easier alternative is not to approach Asia as a full-time choice but, instead, to create a retire-overseas plan for yourself that allows you to enjoy the benefits of Asia (super cheap and super exotic) part-time. Don't worry about trying to organize permanent residency. Stay as long as you can as a tourist and then move on. How about three months in Chiang Mai, where your retirement budget would stretch far indeed, followed by a few months in the south of France, say, or Tuscany?

Which brings us to Europe. Most would-be retirees abroad dismiss Europe as too expensive, but this isn't necessarily the case. Sure, a retiree on a modest budget probably can't afford Paris or Florence, but have you considered southwestern France, where life is quintessentially French but, as well, surprisingly affordable, or Pisa, about an hour from Michelangelo's hometown but dramatically less costly?

One of the big advantages of Europe, compared with other regional retire-overseas options, is the opportunity it affords for what a friend last week referred to as "high culture." Every country in the world has local culture, but not everywhere has world-class museums, opera, and live theater, for example. If you're interested in a life that includes what are conventionally recognized as cultural offerings of the high-brow variety, you should be looking to the Continent.

Which is not to say it's impossible to enjoy an Old World Continental lifestyle anywhere else. Some cities in South America offer a fair imitation--Buenos Aires, for example, and Medellin, Colombia, to name two. Both are cities of open-air cafes, classic-style museums and theaters, art galleries and antique shops.

And both, you'll note, are in South America, not Central America. The differences between these two regions, even between Panama and Colombia, next-door neighbors, can be striking. I'm speaking generally and could name exceptions to every point, but, again, generally speaking, South America offers what I'd call more polished options, a good place to look if what you want is culture on the cheap.

Central America, by contrast, is, everywhere, rough around the edges. These are small, developing countries with non-existent budgets for things like art museums.

Making for a way of life that is, for some, charming. Romantics (like me) in Central America focus on the potential for what could be rather than the reality of what sometimes is. Others find Central America frustrating, disappointing, even appalling.

On the other hand, this sun-blessed region can be but a quick plane hop away and a user-friendly place to establish foreign residency...

Pluses and minuses...give and take.

Kathleen PeddicordContinue Reading:

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Aug. 3, 2011:

"Would you like the same table as yesterday?" the maître d' asked as I entered the dining room this morning.

"Black tea with milk?" the waitress asked as I sat down.

"Two eggs scrambled?" confirmed the omelet guy behind the buffet.

The Hotel Park 10, where I'm staying this week in Medellin, is a charming boutique hotel with a pleasant courtyard and comfortable, well-appointed suites. But you can get those things at lots of places. What is very hard to come by is the level of service one enjoys as a guest at the Park 10.

I'm in the city to get the renovation of our recently acquired apartment in El Poblado off the ground. As I said to Marion, my assistant, who is here with me, translating and otherwise facilitating, "It's hard work spending money in a flurry like this."

The truth is, we're not spending that much money. Many things, we're discovering, from parquet floors to hand-painted tiles, are an absolute bargain.

Other things--anything imported--can be crazy expensive. I don't understand, given my experience in the five appliance stores we've visited to date, how the average guy can afford to buy an oven in this town.

Carlos, my general contractor, says he knows another place...where the prices are much better. We're headed there this afternoon. Meantime, the apartment has been reduced to a concrete shell with great piles of rubble in many of the rooms. If I didn't have faith in Carlos and the plan for what comes next, I might well be fully panicked...

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Aug. 3, 2011:

"Kathleen, I am very interested in your info and Belize Starter Kit, but I noticed you didn't mention such real-life challenges (problems) as tropical insects, diseases, and, especially, hurricanes. I prefer someone to be up-front about everything and not to gloss over real concerns just for your marketing purposes!

"What about this? Is hurricane insurance available?

"Keep it real!

"What are the odds of this showing up with your saccharine-gushing customer comments?

"I really am interested, though, but I need to be totally informed."

-- John E., United States

Yes, sir...Belize has hurricanes, insects, snakes, and tropical diseases...as elsewhere in the Caribbean...and as suggested here: Belize Warts And All.

Yes, you can insure against the hurricanes. Not, though, against the bugs or the snakes. 

***

"Kathleen, could you please tell me what Tricare medical care is, how you get it, and roughly what it costs? This is the first I have heard of it. Is it accepted in Mexico,particularly around Guadalajara and the lake communities?

"After a recent visit, I believe that I will give the area around the lake near Guadalajara a try. Are there other private medical insurances accepted in Mexico, instead of the state-run insurance? Thanks so much."

-- Jim F., United States

Tricare is the U.S. health care program serving active duty service members, National Guard and Reserve members, military retirees and their families, and certain former spouses worldwide. To be eligible for Tricare benefits, you must be registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. Several different medical plans are available if you're eligible. You can find out more here:www.tricare.mil.

If you don't qualify for Tricare coverage in Mexico, several other good health insurance options are available in this country, including both Mexico-based insurance policies (what we call "local policies") and international insurance policies (for example, Bupa, www.bupa.com).

Our complete guide to medical insurance around the world is available here.

 

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San Pedro town, a former fishing village, is the center of activity and home to a growing expatriate community of North Americans and Europeans catered to now by dozens of restaurants, shops, art galleries, and community organizations. You could settle in here quickly and easily, as the language (like everywhere in Belize) is English.

The real estate market, for both buying and renting, is developed, meaning you have many options at all price points. You can buy a condo for as little as US$100,000 or invest up to US$1 million or more, and you can rent for as little as US$600 to US$700 per month.

Life on Ambergris is relaxed and friendly, carefree and sunny. Adopt this island as your home, and you'd enjoy most all services and comforts of home. And you'd certainly never want for like-minded company.

That's one face of Belize. Back on the mainland, life is very different.

Mainland Belize can be broken down into four zones: Belize City; the northern coast around Corozal; the southern coast around Placencia; and the interior Cayo.

Forget Belize City. This isn't a place you'd want to live. The city has a reputation for being poor, dirty, and unsafe...and that reputation isn't for nothing. I was in the city a month ago and found it cleaner and more pleasant than I remembered from my most recent preceding visit. You, however, seeing it for the first time, especially certain neighborhoods south of the river, might find the whole scene appalling.

But Belize City is not representative of mainland Belize.

Following the highway from Belize City south (this is one of but three highways in the entire country!) you come to Dangriga, Hopkins, Placencia and then, way down south, Punta Gorda. This is perhaps the most culturally diverse part of the country, home to the Garifuna, black Carib Indians known for their pounding and sensual song and dance. It's really something to see, alone worth a visit to this region.

Following the coast north from Belize City brings you to Corozal, where life couldn't be more laid-back. This is a part of the world where you can still arrange a home of your own directly on the beach with nary a neighbor around...if that's what you're in the market for.

The fourth face of Belize is my favorite. Inland, in the rain forest, is the Cayo District, a land of mountains and Mayan ruins, rivers and waterfalls. This is Belize's frontier, a land where a man (or a woman) comes to stake a claim and make his own way. The wide-open spaces of the Cayo appeal to the adventuresome and the independent. Living here, you'd enjoy lots of elbow room and far-reaching vistas.

You'd also enjoy a higher level of support than you might expect. I was surprised and delighted during my most recent visit to Cayo to find many more shops and services than existed when I was in this part of the world last.

I found my favorite haunts, including Eva's, the café and expat meeting spot in the heart of San Ignacio, Cayo's main town. Today, though, Eva's is hardly the only place for an expat to connect with his fellows.

Alas, development is coming to the Cayo. I acknowledge this with melancholy exuberance. Cayo is one of my secret favorite places on earth. Now it's easier than ever to spend time here more comfortably than ever.

I need to stake my claim now, I guess, before the market moves past me.

Kathleen Peddicord

Editor's Note: We'll introduce you in much greater detail...and with the help of local residents and experts in each case...to the many faces of Belize during our Live & Invest in Belize Conference planned for Nov. 14-16. And, for a limited time, you can register at a greatly reduced cost with the Early Bird Discount in effect. You can read full details of the program we're planning here.

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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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