"Rule #4: Acknowledge your bad Spanish. "I've found that this gets you a lot of points. Unless your Spanish is legitimately fluent, begin any conversation with, 'Excuse me, my Spanish is not very good, but...' First, this makes the Spanish-speaker more attentive to what you're saying, but it does something else, too. It lets the person on the other end of the conversation know that you're not a cocky American who's going to barge in and belligerently demand what he wants. It signals instead that you're asking for help. That really puts someone in a different state of mind. "Rule #5: Pedestrians do not have the right of way, ever. "Lots of people get run over. One trick when crossing a street with a stop sign is to cross behind the lead car. Locals don't ever cross in front because that car is watching the traffic. When there is an opening to go, they will go whether there is someone in front of the car or not. The pedestrians are just expected to scatter. It takes some getting used to, but you can't expect crosswalks to be honored or for pedestrians ever to have the right of way. "Rule #6: You've got to drive aggressively. "If you're a yield-to-the-right-of-way person, you're going to be sitting at the first intersection you come up to until doomsday. Ecuadoreans are very aggressive behind the wheel. They don't let people in and they don't show courtesy, neither to pedestrians nor to other drivers. If you can't drive like them, you're better off not driving. I found it fun, so much more fun than driving in the States, when I got used to it. "Rule #7: Forget your ideas about personal space. "We tend to treasure a little space around us and don't touch or rub up against each other in public. Once in this country I was taking the bus and sitting next to a 12-year-old girl on her way home from school. As we were riding along, she fell asleep on my shoulder. When we got to her stop, she woke up and got off. That's a kind of closeness we're not prepared for. "Rule #8: Don't get in a taxi without agreeing the fare in advance. "I just read that Cuenca now has metered taxi. Guess what? Cuenca had metered taxis in 2002 when I was living in that city. They became law, but the taxistas refused to use them. They still do. They get away with it because customers don't complain. The taxista just puts a rag over the meter so you can't see it. So you want to get an idea of what the fare should be before getting in. "About a year ago, I arrived at the Cuenca airport and asked a driver, 'How much to downtown?' He said, 'Six dollars.' I said, 'I don't think so. I live here!' He said, 'Two dollars.' "Rule #9: Don't wait to be seated and other restaurant etiquette. "In the United States we wait to be seated, but here you seat yourself. Also, in our culture, a waiter is designated to certain tables, and you only ask your waiter for more water, etc. That doesn't happen here. All the waiters are happy to help. If you need something, don't worry about who took your order, just grab the next guy you see. "Also, you need to ask for the check. I can't tell you how many times I've seen folks angrily waiting for their checks while the restaurant has wanted to close 20 minutes ago. All the waiters stand shoulder-to-shoulder by the kitchen wishing the people would just ask for the check so they can go home. It's a standoff that happens all the time. It would be rude for a waiter to bring the check before you ask for it. By asking for it, they know you're done. You can say, 'La cuenta, por favor.' "Restaurant bills here include a 10% tip. If you want to leave something extra, that is fine but not expected. If I know the restaurant owner doesn't distribute tips to the wait staff, I leave cash on the table. "Rule #10: Bring patience with you. "Know that nothing will be as efficient as where you're from. Be patient. You're gonna' love it here if you learn to appreciate the differences." Kathleen Peddicord P.S. Lee Harrison was master of ceremonies for last week's event in Ecuador. His presentation on Ecuador etiquette was recorded, along with every other presentation. These audio recordings are being edited now to create our all-new Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference Kit, which will be available for fulfillment two weeks from today. Meantime, you can purchase your copy pre-release and save more than 50%. Do that here now.
"Dear Team Live and Invest Overseas, I thought this might interest you... "According to my Weather Pro App (widely used by Irish farmers) we can see that our trip to Dubrovnik next week will be somewhat of a disappointment weather-wise compared with Portugal. I never expected that. Just goes to show your weather reports in your recent Retire Overseas Index report were spot on." --Bea D., Ireland
"Right now it's fall in Nebraska. While fall is a beautiful time of year, it's also a sad time because it signifies the end of the growing season. We don't have that here. The growing season is continual. As a kid, I knew what a poinsettia was. It came in a pot, and you bought it at Christmas time. Here poinsettias are trees. Impatiens, which were annuals back in Nebraska, grow to be bushes here. "I have a house with a yard and a gardener to take care of it, but I'm a Nebraskan. My parents taught me to mow the lawn. My neighbors all think I'm a gringita loca because I like to mow my lawn. They don't know what to make of it. The gardeners here pick something and stick it in the ground and, wow, it grows! There's joy in that. My second F-word for Ecuador is: Fantastic. "We tend to throw around the word 'fantastic' to the point where it ceases to have meaning. Fair enough. We should use it only when it really applies. 'Fantastic' means extraordinary. "I travel with some frequency to Ecuador's three major cities to try to stay on top of my businesses. On any given flight you can have a fantastic experience just looking out the plane window. The Andes...the volcanoes...these are fantastic sights. "One time in Baños, a little town with hot springs, our guide told us to go across the river and up the mountain and wait. At around 4:30 to 5 p.m., our guide told us, the clouds will part. So we went, and we waited, and, just as the guide had promised, the clouds parted...and there was the volcano. Not only that, but we could feel it rumble. I thought, 'Wow, this is definitely not Nebraska.' My next F-word is: Frustrating. "Now we get to the reality of living in a place that is not your home. After living here for nearly 15 years, I still have to remind myself not to become the person who thinks everything in the United States is turn-key, perfect, and efficient and then is unhappy because that's not how things are here in Ecuador. "Banco Pichincha is one of the largest banks in this country, and nearly everyone has an account there. On the 15th and the 30th of each month, there is a line like you would find at Disney World for their most popular ride that just snakes around and around outside the door of every Banco Pichincha branch. That's because everyone just got paid and is waiting in line to cash their paychecks. For me as a business owner, this can create huge frustrations. I can have to wait in line hours to make a simple deposit. But what are you going to do? Nothing. You just have to roll with it. "I applied for my citizenship here months ago. My lawyer and I compiled all the required paperwork and went to the immigration office. They told us, 'You're missing this paper.' "We got that paper and went back to immigration...where they told us that 'this document that you got two weeks ago was only valid for 10 days...' "After a few visits, even my Ecuadorian lawyer was frustrated. I finally said to him, 'I know what I have to do. Let me see what I can do on my own...' "I finally went by myself, said a prayer outside the building, and they took my application. "As I said, you've just gotta roll with it...all of it. Next F-word: Flexible. "This has to do with expectations and attitudes going into a new experience. If you expect that living in another country will be like a U.S. experience only in a different place, you'll struggle. But if you go into it with the attitude 'I'm gonna roll with whatever challenges come' and keep your mind flexible with a capital F, you'll be more likely to enjoy your experience. My final F-word for Ecuador is: Focus. "One thing that has really helped me make the most of my life here in Ecuador has been shifting my focus so that it's not on me and what I want but on other folks. For me this has led to becoming involved in the local community as a volunteer. Several years ago, in the English language church where I attend, they were asking for volunteers for the women's prison ministry. I raised my hand, and it's been life-changing..." Kathleen Peddicord P.S. Thank you to Conference Director Lauren Williamson and Master of Ceremonies Lee Harrison who have co-hosted this week's event in Ecuador for us...and who have provided me with from-the-scenes reports to make it possible for me to share some of the goings-on in Quito with you. More to follow next week... Meantime, as always, we're recording every presentation of this week's event, including Theresa's introduction to the F-words of Ecuador. We'll bundle this collection of audio-recordings and other materials to create our all-new Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference Kit, which will be available for fulfillment two weeks after the event has finished. You can purchase your copy pre-release and save more than 50%. Do that here now.
#8: Abruzzo, Italy It's hard to think of a lovelier corner of Italy than the Abruzzo. The beaches are golden, and the sea rolls out like a giant bolt of turquoise silk. There are mountains, too, meaning that, living here, you'd have both skiing and beach-combing on your doorstep, depending on the season. This region is one of Italy's secret treasures. No overcrowding, no heavy industry, only castles, vineyards, and villages made of stone. Life in the Abruzzo hasn't changed much over the years, and exploring here is like wandering into a gentler, kinder yesterday. This region of Italy is also one of Europe's best bargains. A couple could retire here on as little as US$2,000 per month or less, including rent. #7: Medellin, Colombia Medellin is a city of parks and flowers, pretty, tidy, and, despite its checkered past, safe. It's also architecturally consistent and pleasing. Most every building is constructed of red brick and topped with red clay roof tiles. The overall effect is delightful. Medellin is both an industrial, economic, and financial center for this country and a literary and artistic one. Newspapers, radio networks, publishing houses, an annual poetry festival, an international jazz festival, an international tango festival, an annual book fair, and, back in 1971, Colombia's answer to Woodstock, the Festival de Ancon, all have chosen Medellin as their base. Thanks to its mountain setting, Medellin is another of a handful of cities around the world that bills themselves as lands of eternal springtime. The cost of living is affordable, though not super-cheap. The medical care is excellent, with 5 of the 35 best hospitals in Latin America located here. The European undertones in Medellin are strong, from the way the women dress to the way people greet you in passing on the street. This is South America, not Central America, and the differences between the two regions can be striking. Medellin was named 2013's World's Most Innovative City and is finally beginning to shed its bad-boy image from Pablo Escobar days and to become appreciated for the romantic city it is, with good wines, great coffee, outdoor cafes, and open-air music venues. #6: Pau, France The city of Pau, also known as the "Green City" and the "Garden City," has one of the highest ratios of greenery per square meter per person of any European city. Further, Pau's greenery is tremendously diverse and includes trees and plants from Japan, the Caribbean, Mexico, Lebanon, the Mediterranean, Chile, and California, this huge variety in part thanks to the English settlers who came here after the Napoleonic wars and brought with them their love of gardening and parks. Pau's is a landscape of accessible woodlands, the steep slopes of Jurançon wine country, the history-packed Plaine de Nay and its main town of Nay, and the pretty rolling countryside and ancient towns of the Gaves de Béarn. Pau is a university town, with close to 12,000 university students living on and off campus, helping to keep it lively. The retiree who has dreamt of France but who can't afford Paris should consider Pau. A couple could retire here on as little as US$2,000 per month. #5: Dumaguete, Philippines In addition to its welcoming, friendly, English-speaking people, Dumaguete boasts a warm, tropical climate and lots of opportunity for outdoor adventures, including world-class diving and snorkeling and whale and dolphin watching. Dumaguete sits right along the ocean, with attractive beaches to the north and south of town. This is also a university city, meaning an abundance of inexpensive restaurants that cater to "starving" college students. Foreigners have the opportunity to make friends with educated professors and aspiring students, take classes, and enjoy cultural opportunities not typically found elsewhere in the Philippines, including theater, ballet, art shows, and libraries. Medical and dental care are good, with a new hospital under construction and international-standard health care available in nearby Cebu. More than 5,000 retirees, including many Americans, have decided to make Dumaguete their permanent home. The primary appeal for the would-be retiree is a super-low cost of living; a couple could retire here on as little as US$1,000 per month. #4: Chiang Mai, Thailand Chiang Mai has been luring expats from the West for many years with its low cost of living and great weather. The high-quality health care and health-related services are also big pluses for foreign retirees. Chiang Mai boasts modern infrastructure and an abundance of Western amenities. It's also a place where it can be possible for foreign retirees to find work if they're interested in supplementing their retirement nest eggs or simply looking to become involved in their new community; many Westerners are employed in Chiang Mai in language schools, universities, medical facilities, and tourist-related industries. #3: George Town, Malaysia George Town is a busy, thriving city with a large expat community that has managed to retain its colonial charm (it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The city is affordable, with a tropical climate, an intriguing culture, and gorgeous white-sand beaches. George Town's total population is about 740,000, small enough that it's easy to make friends and meet people, yet big enough to mean health care that meets international standards and easy availability to goods and services most retirees are looking for. Year-round sunshine, First World infrastructure, turn-key permanent residency, and English-speaking locals make the living here easy. This is a paradise for food lovers and, all things considered, one of the most livable cities in Southeast Asia. #2: Cuenca, Ecuador Cuenca is a charming, walkable colonial city in the highlands of Ecuador, meaning the climate year-round is spring-like. The cost of living is low (though rising) and the cost of real estate is near rock bottom for Latin America. The health care is high quality, honest, and inexpensive. Cuenca's large and growing expat community is one of Latin America's most established and well integrated with the local community. Ecuador offers user-friendly retiree residency options, and the country uses the U.S. dollar, meaning no exchange-rate risk for American retirees. Thanks to the big and growing expat community based here, downtown Cuenca boasts cafes, restaurants, bars, and bookshops alongside the traditional butchers, tailors, repair shops, and bakeries. Cuenca is also the country's center of art and literature; you can attend the orchestra or a play, enjoy a tango show or an art opening, all often free. #1: Algarve, Portugal Portugal's Algarve is the best place in the world to retire in 2014. This Atlantic coastal region is already home to more than 100,000 resident expat retirees and offers the best of the Old World, from medieval towns and fishing villages to open-air markets and local wine, plus some of Europe's best beaches. The Algarve also boasts great weather, enjoying 3,300 hours of sunshine per year, more than most anywhere else in Europe. Portugal ranks as the 17th safest country in the world. The infrastructure is good and improving, and the health care is international-standard. Medical tourism is a growing industry. The cost of living in Portugal is among the lowest in Western Europe. A retired couple could live here comfortably on a budget of as little as US$1,500 per month. And the country's new Non-Habitual Resident and Golden Visa programs mean it is easier than it's ever been for a foreign retiree to arrange legal residency. Kathleen Peddicord P.S. Our 2014 Retire Overseas Index, which rates and ranks the world's top 21 retirement havens, is featured in full in this month's issue of our Overseas Retirement Letter. If you're not yet an ORL subscriber, become one now to receive this bumper special annual edition, hot-off-the-virtual-presses. Or you can purchase a copy of the Index on its own here.
Aug. 26, 2
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 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 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 to be a great value. Prices have appreciated about 8% per year on average during 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 HarrisonEditor's Note: Ecuador is the top place in the world right now to retire well on a very limited budget...even to live the adventure of your lifetime on a Social Security check alone. If you're serious about this part of the world, don't miss our upcoming Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference. Registration is now open (with a limited-time easy payment plan)...
June 12, 2014
"Kathleen, I'm 56 years old and one of your new '52 Days' students and a very tired vet. "That is, I'm a retired disabled veteran, and I am longing to move to Belize. I've bothered family and friends with this notion for a couple of years now. They mostly approve. Mostly they love me to pieces and want me to be happy and safe. I so want to prove to them and myself that this can be done. "Therefore I am taking my 52 steps quite seriously. Because I'm a disabled veteran, I am assigned a Social Security Finance-Payee person. She's fantastic and is 100% encouraging me to do this. "It seems this may be really possible? Could this be really possible?" --Anita K., United States Yes, it's really possible. Follow along with the 52 Days program and let us know if we can do anything more to help.
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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.
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