"Graiguenamanagh is in County Kilkenny; St. Mullins in County Carlow. The two are separated by the Barrow River, the life and soul of the area. Choosing between these two outposts of Irish country living, you may be torn. Each has its assets. The good news is that, living in one of these villages, you'd have easy access to the other by foot or bicycle along the 4-mile-long riverside towpath that joins both. "Graiguenamanagh comes from the Gaelic 'Gráig na Manach,' meaning the 'village of the monks.' Founded in 1204 at the point where the Douskey tributary joins with the greater Barrow River, Duiske Abbey, in the middle of the village, is today a buried treasure. Behind its basic exterior, you'll find a vast, bright, and uplifting space where the light bounces off the white stone walls and radiates through the stained-glass windows. "It's hard not to be drawn to places with such history. "The present town, though, is more defined by its remarkable stretch of river than its monastic past. Approaching from the Carlow side of the Barrow provides an extraordinary view of the quayside with its stone buildings, cottages, and line-up of pleasure boats and barges. "Completely off the rest of the world's radar, Graig is one of Ireland's best-kept secrets. Most who make it here do so by boat or by foot along the towpath and feel lucky and special to have stumbled onto a place of such natural beauty and tranquility. Life here, again, revolves around the river, but there's plenty to do out of the water, too. Golfers have great options. Just 2 kilometers outside Graig, on the Carlow side of the river, is 18-hole Carrigleade Golf Course. Other notable courses in the county are Kilkenny Golf Club, Callan Golf Club, and the prestigious Jack-Nicklaus-designed Mount Juliet Golf Course that has twice hosted the WGC-American Express Championship. If you're not a golfer, the Mount Juliet resort is ideal for a leisurely stroll and a treat of afternoon tea. "This southeastern region of the Emerald Isle is rich with old estates, gardens, castles, and period homes to satisfy the history aficionado. Kilkenny Castle and its gardens are a main attraction, but Rothe House, also in Kilkenny Town, is a lesser-known treasure. It's the only surviving merchant's townhouse from the 17th century, today a museum with recently reopened gardens. From Graig, it's just under 20 minutes to Woodstock House and Gardens in Inistioge. "These two towns on the banks of the Barrow, Graiguenamanagh and St. Mullins, have held on to their unspoiled natural beauty. Life here feels more like the 1950s than the 21st century. Go a little beyond either village, and you could imagine yourself in any past century. This is the lost Ireland so many retirees dream of. "Thinking more practically, Ireland is not a super-affordable retirement choice; however, property values today are down 50% and more from their pre-2008 boom-time highs. Markets elsewhere in Ireland, especially in Dublin, are moving up again. This remote region of County Kilkenny, though, remains seriously undervalued, one more reason it's worth a look..." Again, Lynn's complete guide to retirement life in County Kilkenny, including a detailed budget and current property listings, is featured in the current issue of my Overseas Retirement Letter. If you're not yet a subscriber, get on board here now. Kathleen Peddicord P.S. Lynn provided video footage of this idyllic corner of the Emerald Isle. Take a look.
In the six years we've been living and running our Live and Invest Overseas office in Panama, we've moved house four times and office three. This is a small city offering a great diversity of lifestyle experiences, and, to be honest, we've had trouble finding our ideal fit here, both personally and professionally. Finally, though, we think we've hit on the combination that suits us best. We're living in a high-rise tower on Avenida Balboa, enjoying views all around of the Bay of Panama, the Pacific Ocean, and the entrance to the Panama Canal...and we're working from a big old house in El Cangrejo that we've reconfigured to provide pleasant office space with loads of personality. It's a 10-minute commute (on good days) from our apartment building to our office. We have parking out front and all around. Within a five-minute walk of the office are dozens of lunch and Happy Hour options, plus pharmacies, dry cleaners, banks, gift shops, and hotels where we put up guests and visitors. Definitely, this is a great place to base yourself as a small business owner, be your business bricks and mortar or virtual like ours. If you're younger than we, you'd probably also find it a great place to live, as do a half-dozen of our 20-something staff. One of those 20-somethings, Staff Editor Matt Chilliak, shares his perspective on why he's chosen to live and work in El Cangrejo, Panama City's liveliest sector, in the feature report in this month's Panama Letter issue, in subscribers' inboxes yesterday. If you're not yet a Panama Letter reader, you can become one here now in time to read all about our favorite Panama City neighborhood. Kathleen Peddicord
Continue Reading: The Rising Cost Of Living In Panama City
"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.
"I'm from Seattle, born and raised there. I had a 15-year career at Microsoft before I moved down here to Ecuador. In the middle of that career, in 2007, I came to Ecuador and met a lot of people who you're meeting at this conference, including attorney Grace Velastegui and Cuenca real estate expert David Morrill. "Why did I decide to make the move from the life I had in Seattle to the one I have here now? It was almost a supernatural experience for me, not anything I could quantify. "I love the Andes in general. That's one thing that attracted me to Ecuador originally. "I've traveled all around the Andes, not only in Ecuador but also in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. In doing that, I discovered a problem that seemed like an opportunity. It was nearly impossible, when I first started traveling in this part of the world, to find bus or train schedules that crossed borders. So I, along with a few other bus geeks, started a company called AndesTransit. We are now the number-one South American bus and train schedule resource. Next year we'll be expanding to Argentina and Chile. The site works like Kayak and Expedia. You can even use it to find hotels in these countries. "Bottom line, I came to Ecuador because it felt right. And I'd say that's the most important thing, to choose the place that feels right to you, depending on what you're interested in doing with your time and with your life. "One great thing about Ecuador is that it's easy to get traction here. I think that it'd take longer in other countries to go through the getting-established process. Getting residency, for example, can be easier. Not easy. Just easier than elsewhere. I loved Colombia so much, but the process of gaining residency seemed more difficult to me. "Am I happy now that I'm here? No question. Cities are jungles, too. You don't have to go to the jungle to have that experience in this country. Quito is a jungle, too. In a good way. After two years, I've seen only 10% of this town. It amazes me every day, the little corners that have their own traditions and their own interesting things to see. I find this exciting and invigorating. "Of course, there are downsides living here, as anywhere. Ecuadorians don't have any tradition of personal space, for example. They cut in front of you in lines, and they can be pushy on the street. People walk arm-in-arm on the sidewalks, and you have to walk into traffic to pass them sometimes. "The flip side of how close people can be with each other here is that there's a great sense of community. Everyone is family. "Another downside is inefficiency. It's everywhere. The flip side of inefficiency is business opportunity. The bus situation was my opportunity that I identified out of an inefficiency. "Another challenge is banking. There's no banking infrastructure in this country to speak of. I'm not sure what the flip side to this is. I think you just remind yourself of all the other things that Ecuador does offer! "Language can be a challenge. Or you can see the limited English spoken as an opportunity for you to learn Spanish. "And every inconvenience you identify is another excuse for an adventure. "If you see it that way. That's the key—your perspective. "Taking the bus, as I think of it, and starting your life over in a new country, Ecuador or somewhere else, isn't easy. But I've not regretted my decision one day since I made it. My life has been completely reinvented, and I know that, living here in Quito, I have so much more adventure to look forward to. I can't wait to find out where this bus takes me next." Kathleen Peddicord P.S. Alas, I was unable to be in Ecuador for this week's event. "All is going well," skyped Conference Director Lauren Williamson from the meeting room of the hotel in Quito this morning, "but you're missing out! Really, we're having a great time." It was Lauren who shared details of Kali's presentation today. Lauren and Lee Harrison, who's acting as emcee for us, promise more from the scene tomorrow. Meantime, as always, we're recording every presentation of this week's event to create our all-new Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference Kit. This collection of audio recordings and other materials will be available for fulfillment two weeks after the event has finished. Meantime, you can purchase your copy pre-release and save more than 50%. Do that here now.
"Kathleen, I have been reading your letters about Nicaragua and am curious as to why you never mention the Caribbean coast of that country. Is there a reason to stay away from it?" --Rick W., United States Nicaragua's Caribbean coast isn't much developed. The majority of this country's population and investment in infrastructure lie in a band between the Pacific Ocean and Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua.
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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.
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