Articles Related to Retire to cuenca


You don't mind...or, if you do, you're not happy. If you're interested in a lifestyle supported by the diversions and distractions of a big city, Cayo is definitely not for you. If you're delighted by the thought of wide-open spaces where life revolves around the land and where independence and self-sufficiency are prized above all else, then Cayo could be the paradise you seek.

At home in Cayo, the view outside your bedroom window and from your front porch would be of fields and pastures, trees and jungle, rivers and livestock. You'd see Mennonites driving horse-drawn carts and children walking home from school. Everyone going about his or her business, not much bothered by market values, fiscal cliffs, or the mounting deficit. Here, in this land of escape, where life is simple, those things don't seem to matter or even to register.

Living in Cayo, you'd have Internet but maybe not reliable high-speed service. Don't move here if you plan to day trade.

Who Should Retire To Medellin, Colombia?

Medellin is a pretty, tidy city with a near-perfect climate. It's also culturally and recreationally rich and diverse in a sophisticated, developed-world kind of way. On any given day, you could visit a museum or see a tango show. There's opera in season, shopping year-round, and dance clubs, nightclubs, and white-glove restaurants...plus interactive outdoor museum-parks, an aquarium, an amusement park, botanical gardens, a planetarium, a "Barefoot Park" with a Zen garden, and dozens of small, neighborhood parks and treed plazas.

Medellin is an economic and financial center for Colombia, as well as a literary and an artistic one. It's the base for newspapers, radio networks, publishing houses, an annual poetry festival, an international jazz festival, an international tango festival, and an annual book fair. Back in 1971, Medellin was even the venue for Colombia's answer to Woodstock, the Festival de Ancon.

Medellin is a place where things work--the Internet, the metro, street-cleaning, garbage-collection...you can count on these services day-to-day. Taxis are metered, shop-keepers are well-mannered, and the people you pass on the street are well-dressed.

Making this a good choice for someone who wants city life but who also enjoys the out-of-doors (as this is a city best enjoyed al fresco). Medellin is suited to the retiree who isn't interested in hot, humid, or tropical and who appreciates Euro-chic but doesn't want to travel all the way to Europe.

The expat and retiree communities in Medellin are fledgling, meaning that you'd have to assimilate into the local one. This would mean speaking Spanish. If you don't already speak Spanish and don't want to learn, Medellin is probably not your ideal retirement haven.

Who Should Retire To Cuenca, Ecuador?

Cuenca is a colonial city where the cost of living is low and the cost of buying a home of your own is near rock-bottom. The health care is high quality, honest, and super-affordable. As in Medellin, the weather is "spring-like" year-round. Unlike Medellin (which is an emerging retirement haven rather than an established one like Cuenca), the city is home to one of the world's largest and fastest-growing communities of foreign retirees.

On the other hand, you have to remember that, charming as it can be, Cuenca is located in a poor, developing country. In this regard (and many others, too) Cuenca is the yang to Medellin's yin. In Cuenca, as throughout Ecuador, the standards of maintenance for roads, buildings, sidewalks, etc., won't be what you're probably used to and the hassle factor associated with any administrative task will be big.

Expats we know who are happy living in Cuenca are able to consider these annoyances fair exchange for the simple, 1950's lifestyle the city offers. Walking around town (Cuenca is a place where you could live comfortably without owning a car), you'll get to know the shop owners and your neighbors, who will all get to know you, too.

Cuenca will appeal to the expat who wants city life but who also has a sense of adventure and who is up for (rather than intimidated by) culture shock.

Who Should Retire To Puerto Vallarta, Mexico?

Romantic. That might be the best single word to describe Puerto Vallarta. The city also offers shopping and fine dining, boating and golfing, country clubs and community, gourmet shops and designer boutiques...all alongside a beautiful stretch of the Pacific Ocean.

Puerto Vallarta could be called glamorous, but the cost of living and of buying real estate here aren't jet-set. This is one of Mexico's most sophisticated resort spots, with more cachet than Mazatlán and more chic than Cancún. Walking around Vallarta, you get that happy, vacation-time feel that successful beach resorts exude.

And that's the would-be retiree overseas who should consider Puerto Vallarta--the beach-loving soul who likes the idea of retirement as a perpetual, fully appointed vacation.

Who Should Retire To El Cangrejo, Panama?

El Cangrejo is the expat hub of Panama City and a top choice for a comfortable, affordable, downtown-city-living experience. In El Cangrejo, you're smack-dab in the middle of everything Panama City has to offer.

This is one of the few neighborhoods in this city that is walkable and where you could get by without a car. It's also the only neighborhood in this city I'd describe as "cool." Over the years, El Cangrejo residents I've known have included a Chilean artist, a corporate transplant from Canada, many young Panamanians bucking the tradition of living with their parents through their 20s, retired hippies from the States, an entrepreneur from Serbia, and an Irish writer.

Panama City is the region's melting pot, and El Cangrejo is where the most interesting of the many transplants to this town choose to settle.

It's also Panama City's red-light district, the center of its prostitution (legal in this country) and casino trades. El Cangrejo's streets are lined with nightclubs and cafes, restaurants and pubs, plus low- and mid-rise apartment buildings. This isn't flashy Panama City (you find that in the high-rises along Avenida Balboa and in Punta Pacifico) and it isn't power Panama City (that's in Altos de Golf). El Cangrejo could be called the soul of this city, a good choice for the retiree with an open mind...

Who doesn't mind heat and humidity, congestion and traffic, noise and litter. These things, too, are all a part of the scene here.

Kathleen Peddicord

 

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Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader, 

Where is the best place in the world to retire?

That's a tricky question to answer, so I suggest coming at this from a different angle. Rather than trying to identify the world's top retirement haven, consider instead who's best suited to retire where.

A short list of top retirement options in the Americas right now would include:
  • Cayo, Belize
  • Medellin, Colombia
  • Cuenca, Ecuador
  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  • El Cangrejo, Panama

Which one of these places is the best choice? It depends on who you are.

Who Should Retire To Cayo, Belize?

Belize is a retirement, a tax, and an offshore haven. This is a sunny country where the folks speak English and value their freedom and privacy. Belize is easy to get to from the States, and the people living here are welcoming and hospitable once you've arrived.

On the other hand, this is a small country where the infrastructure is most kindly described as "developing."

The cost of living can be affordable, even low, but not if you want to live a more developed-world lifestyle that would mean buying lots of things not produced locally. Anything imported comes at an inflated price.

My favorite part of Belize is its Cayo District. No infrastructure, limited services and amenities, and little market demand could be interpreted as negatives, but, in Cayo, these things are a big part of the appeal. Once you get to Cayo, you don't mind that there's no infrastructure. You don't mind that the culture is more concerned with country living than consumerism.

You don't mind...or, if you do, you're not happy. If you're interested in a lifestyle supported by the diversions and distractions of a big city, Cayo is definitely not for you. If you're delighted by the thought of wide-open spaces where life revolves around the land and where independence and self-sufficiency are prized above all else, then Cayo could be the paradise you seek.

At home in Cayo, the view outside your bedroom window and from your front porch would be of fields and pastures, trees and jungle, rivers and livestock. You'd see Mennonites driving horse-drawn carts and children walking home from school. Everyone going about his or her business, not much bothered by market values, fiscal cliffs, or the mounting deficit. Here, in this land of escape, where life is simple, those things don't seem to matter or even to register.

Living in Cayo, you'd have Internet but maybe not reliable high-speed service. Don't move here if you plan to day trade.

Who Should Retire To Medellin, Colombia?

Medellin is a pretty, tidy city with a near-perfect climate. It's also culturally and recreationally rich and diverse in a sophisticated, developed-world kind of way. On any given day, you could visit a museum or see a tango show. There's opera in season, shopping year-round, and dance clubs, nightclubs, and white-glove restaurants...plus interactive outdoor museum-parks, an aquarium, an amusement park, botanical gardens, a planetarium, a "Barefoot Park" with a Zen garden, and dozens of small, neighborhood parks and treed plazas.

Medellin is an economic and financial center for Colombia, as well as a literary and an artistic one. It's the base for newspapers, radio networks, publishing houses, an annual poetry festival, an international jazz festival, an international tango festival, and an annual book fair. Back in 1971, Medellin was even the venue for Colombia's answer to Woodstock, the Festival de Ancon.

Medellin is a place where things work--the Internet, the metro, street-cleaning, garbage-collection...you can count on these services day-to-day. Taxis are metered, shop-keepers are well-mannered, and the people you pass on the street are well-dressed.

Making this a good choice for someone who wants city life but who also enjoys the out-of-doors (as this is a city best enjoyed al fresco). Medellin is suited to the retiree who isn't interested in hot, humid, or tropical and who appreciates Euro-chic but doesn't want to travel all the way to Europe.

The expat and retiree communities in Medellin are fledgling, meaning that you'd have to assimilate into the local one. This would mean speaking Spanish. If you don't already speak Spanish and don't want to learn, Medellin is probably not your ideal retirement haven.

Who Should Retire To Cuenca, Ecuador?

Cuenca is a colonial city where the cost of living is low and the cost of buying a home of your own is near rock-bottom. The health care is high quality, honest, and super-affordable. As in Medellin, the weather is "spring-like" year-round. Unlike Medellin (which is an emerging retirement haven rather than an established one like Cuenca), the city is home to one of the world's largest and fastest-growing communities of foreign retirees.

On the other hand, you have to remember that, charming as it can be, Cuenca is located in a poor, developing country. In this regard (and many others, too) Cuenca is the yang to Medellin's yin. In Cuenca, as throughout Ecuador, the standards of maintenance for roads, buildings, sidewalks, etc., won't be what you're probably used to and the hassle factor associated with any administrative task will be big.

Expats we know who are happy living in Cuenca are able to consider these annoyances fair exchange for the simple, 1950's lifestyle the city offers. Walking around town (Cuenca is a place where you could live comfortably without owning a car), you'll get to know the shop owners and your neighbors, who will all get to know you, too.

Cuenca will appeal to the expat who wants city life but who also has a sense of adventure and who is up for (rather than intimidated by) culture shock.

Who Should Retire To Puerto Vallarta, Mexico?

Romantic. That might be the best single word to describe Puerto Vallarta. The city also offers shopping and fine dining, boating and golfing, country clubs and community, gourmet shops and designer boutiques...all alongside a beautiful stretch of the Pacific Ocean.

Puerto Vallarta could be called glamorous, but the cost of living and of buying real estate here aren't jet-set. This is one of Mexico's most sophisticated resort spots, with more cachet than Mazatlán and more chic than Cancún. Walking around Vallarta, you get that happy, vacation-time feel that successful beach resorts exude.

And that's the would-be retiree overseas who should consider Puerto Vallarta--the beach-loving soul who likes the idea of retirement as a perpetual, fully appointed vacation.

Who Should Retire To El Cangrejo, Panama?

El Cangrejo is the expat hub of Panama City and a top choice for a comfortable, affordable, downtown-city-living experience. In El Cangrejo, you're smack-dab in the middle of everything Panama City has to offer.

This is one of the few neighborhoods in this city that is walkable and where you could get by without a car. It's also the only neighborhood in this city I'd describe as "cool." Over the years, El Cangrejo residents I've known have included a Chilean artist, a corporate transplant from Canada, many young Panamanians bucking the tradition of living with their parents through their 20s, retired hippies from the States, an entrepreneur from Serbia, and an Irish writer.

Panama City is the region's melting pot, and El Cangrejo is where the most interesting of the many transplants to this town choose to settle.

It's also Panama City's red-light district, the center of its prostitution (legal in this country) and casino trades. El Cangrejo's streets are lined with nightclubs and cafes, restaurants and pubs, plus low- and mid-rise apartment buildings. This isn't flashy Panama City (you find that in the high-rises along Avenida Balboa and in Punta Pacifico) and it isn't power Panama City (that's in Altos de Golf). El Cangrejo could be called the soul of this city, a good choice for the retiree with an open mind...

Who doesn't mind heat and humidity, congestion and traffic, noise and litter. These things, too, are all a part of the scene here.

Kathleen Peddicord
Read more...
 

In the end, I was shocked at how financially easy it was. For most of my adult life, I thought that retiring overseas was for the very wealthy, not for an average person like me. I first got the idea to retire abroad when I was browsing in a bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona. I found a book written by a guy who had retired early and was living comfortably abroad for about US$650 per month. He was an honest writer... and a regular guy like me.

His book changed my thinking entirely.

Instead of working until I'd earned a pension large enough to live well in the United States, I realized that I could retire years earlier... and still have plenty of money to live well abroad.

Instead of working until 62 as planned, I found I'd have enough to live overseas comfortably prior to age 50.

Instead of hoping for good health in my old age, I could retire when I was relatively young, fit, and able to enjoy the good life.

But it was critical that I choose the right country.

Very few countries offered a cost of living low enough to meet my needs. And of those that did, most were places I didn't want to live... places that were cheap enough, but didn't offer the comfortable, convenient, and exciting lifestyle that I was hoping for.

But one country fit the bill... with room to spare:

Ecuador.

In fact, it exceeded my expectations in every way.

I had hoped to find a decent house at a reasonable price. But instead, the proceeds from my small A-frame in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, bought me a beautiful home of over 5,100 square feet... in the best neighborhood of Ecuador's most beautiful city.

I expected low property taxes on that home... but was amazed to find that they were less than US$200 per year.

I wanted to save on utilities... but was taken aback by the huge savings that come with a climate that doesn't require heat or air conditioning.

I had hoped for a country with abundant natural beauty and diversity. And again, Ecuador exceeded my expectations, with staggering Andean peaks... magnificent colonial cities... hundreds of miles of Pacific coastline... the Amazon rainforest... the Galapagos Islands.

And most critically of all, I needed a low cost of living. I had a small nest egg and a small pension that needed to stretch more than 30 years.

Here, again, Ecuador exceeded my expectations. I had allowed for what seemed like a small budget... but ended up spending even less. In fact, I even managed to add to my savings, which was the biggest surprise of all.

In Ecuador, I found that there's a rich lifestyle available for every income level. A couple settling in a small town in this country can live on around US$700 per month. In a rural setting, two of my close friends are living on less than US$600 per month.

If you'd be happier in Ecuador's most beautiful colonial city--with its theater, orchestra, art shows, restaurants, and cafes--you can do that starting at US$1,100 per month.

To put this in perspective, over 36 million retired Americans over 65 are receiving Social Security. Their average payment is US$1,233 per month.
So who can live in Ecuador on a Social Security check? Almost everyone.

And what's amazing is that you'll do more than just live. You'll live well... a wealthy and enriching lifestyle that just wouldn't be possible back home.

But best of all, you'll have the experience and adventure of a lifetime.

When I retired to Ecuador, things were different. It was a lot of work back then. I covered the country from top to bottom in a rental car--with very limited Spanish--exploring unknown regions via poorly marked roads.

Working with the Ecuadorian officials, I had to figure out how to get a residency visa from scratch.

I wanted to learn Spanish but had no idea which language schools were any good, among hundreds that were marketing their programs.

After picking my city, I had to find an honest real estate agent, and navigate a disorganized market with no Multiple Listing Service. It was every agent for himself, with me at their mercy.

After selecting a home, I didn't know an English-speaking attorney. I had to go to the U.S. embassy to try to find one.

And hardest of all, I didn't know anyone who lived in Ecuador... no one who had already done this, who I could ask for help.

In other words, I didn't just drop into a paradise, like Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz."

But you can.

You can land in Ecuador and hit the ground running with your new life in front of you.

That's the clear-cut objective of the new Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference program that I've worked to put together. Over three days in Ecuador this October, I'm going to condense and share all my months of effort and years of experience in this country... along with that of dozens of our top local contacts, resources, experts, and expats.

You'll come away knowing everything and everyone you need to know to realize your own adventure in Ecuador.

Here's my personal promise: Whatever you decide to do in Ecuador, it will be the adventure of your lifetime. And I am not exaggerating when I tell you that you can seize this adventure even if your retirement budget is very small. Even if it's no more than a monthly Social Security check.

Complete details of the Live and Invest in Ecuador program will be released very soon. I very much hope to meet you there.

Lee Harrison

Editor's Note: Lee Harrison will be one of the key Ecuador experts participating in our Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference in October.

We're finalizing details and the dates this week and hope to be able to begin taking registrations for this, our final Ecuador event of 2013, soon.

Meantime, you can get your name on the Hot List for special discounts and VIP attendee perks here now.

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Cuenca beats out its competitors for a few reasons, including great weather (no need for heat or air conditioning); a very low cost of real estate; one of the continent's lowest costs of living; inexpensive, world-class healthcare; and one of the most fascinating and well-preserved Spanish-colonial settings you'll find anywhere.

And, while, living here, you may feel like you've traveled back in time 200 years, you'll also be enjoying all the comforts of the 21st century, including drinkable water, reliable electric and phone service, and modern, high-speed internet.

Returning to the city recently, I was struck by the fact that, as good a retirement choice as Cuenca is, it just keeps getting better. With each return visit, I continue to be amazed by the new upgrades and innovations.

These days, scores of inviting restaurants, many owned by expats, serve food from around the world. You can enjoy casual or fine dining or spend the afternoon at a pleasant sidewalk cafe.

Cuenca's downtown airport has again been improved and is now one of the most modern and convenient airports in the region. It's only a few minutes from the center of town, and flights around the country are cheap and efficient on new, modern aircraft.

Cuenca's colonial historic district is clean, well-preserved, and well-maintained. On my most recent visit, I noticed that, even since my last visit last year, many of the sidewalks have been widened and resurfaced, making the downtown even more walkable.

I also noted that most of the downtown crosswalks now have pedestrian Walk/Don't Walk signals, making things just a bit safer. Don't get me wrong; it's still fairly easy to get hit by a car in this city, but I'm sure the survival rate for pedestrians is higher than it was a few years ago.

Meantime, while there are always new and interesting additions to Cuenca, it's good to see that the best of the town's old mainstays continue to thrive. For example, the Villa Rosa restaurant, an elegant venue of Cuenca's elite before all the newcomers came along, is still serving its delicious cuisine. It's hard to spend more than US$8 on an entrée, and they're still charging only US$18 for a bottle of Chilean Chardonnay. Likewise, the Eucalyptus Café, Cuenca's first expat-owned restaurant, is still alive and well, serving great dishes from around the world.

While almost all of downtown Cuenca's indigenous markets have been overhauled and modernized, you can still find one old-fashioned, run-down market where you can experience the feeling of years gone by.

The real estate market in Cuenca continues strong. Values have appreciated about 10% per year on average over the past eight years or so, and the furnished rentals market is active.

Progress and prosperity have their downsides, and one in Cuenca right now is the traffic. A pedestrian navigating the historic center will make better time than a car much of the day, which makes a good case for walking, rather than driving, in this very walkable city.

Another consequence of the tremendously expanded popularity of Cuenca is the presence here today of thousands of North American expats and retirees, most of whom have arrived on the scene in the past few years. This is, in itself, neither a good nor a bad thing. It depends on your perspective and the kind of retirement lifestyle you're looking for.

If you want to feel like a pioneer, out on your own, in a place where you're one of just a few foreigners on the scene, then Cuenca is not going to be what you're looking for. On the other hand, if you're interested in a thriving, active expat community, and the support and comradeship that it brings, then Cuenca will be a good choice for you, one of the best.

Something else struck me on my most recent visit to Cuenca. It's not just this city that's improving; it's the entire country. As I traveled around Ecuador, I noticed great improvements to the infrastructure. Whether you're on the coast or driving at 13,000 feet along the continental divide, you'll now enjoy new bridges and solid, well-marked roads…roads that were pot-holed nightmares just a few years ago.

Markedly reduced corruption means that Ecuador's wealth is coming back to her, being invested in infrastructure, rather than going into someone's pocket.

If you thought Ecuador was a good choice for retirement before, you'll find it's an even better choice now. And if you thought it was too rough around the edges a few years ago, it's time for another look.

Lee Harrison

P.S. I think I've found the most overlooked hotel deal in Cuenca, a city where hotel prices have jumped markedly over the past few years. The hotel is the Cofradía del Monje, located at the San Francisco market about a block from the cathedral and town square. Situated in a restored colonial house, the hotel has wide plank floors and floor-to-ceiling windows opening out to the market. The private rooms are built around a courtyard cafe. It's not what you'd call luxurious, but the rooms are spacious and comfortable and will make you feel like you're back in the 1800s. Rates are just US$29 per night for one person, US$48 for two, including breakfast.

Editor's Note: Lee Harrison will join us live on stage for our Retire Overseas Conference taking place in San Antonio, Texas, Sept. 4-6, to introduce attendees to Cuenca, Ecuador as well as other top retirement options across Latin America.

This event is filling remarkably quickly. It likely will sell out. You can reserve your place in the room here now.

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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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