Articles Related to Retirement

Think about the weather. What do you prefer? Year-round sunshine? Four seasons? Low humidity? Minimal rainfall?

Consider things related to infrastructure. How important to you are wireless Internet and cable TV?

Think about health care. Would you be comfortable being examined by a doctor who didn't speak English? Do you have an existing health concern that could require emergency medical attention? In that case, it's important to you to be within a, say, 20-minute drive of a First World hospital.

How do you like to spend your free time? Do you like to surf? Boat? Fish, dive, play golf?

Or are you more interested in gallery openings, live theater, foreign flicks, and pleasure shopping?

Do you like to move around? That is, would your ideal retirement life include lots of travel? In that case, it's important to you to be within easy commuting distance of an international airport.

How do you like to eat? In restaurants three or four nights a week? Or do you prefer to cook? If cooking is a passion and a pastime, a big and fully equipped kitchen is a priority.

Do you enjoy Aunt Jemima syrup on your pancakes and French butter when you bake? (That's ok, so do I.)

Do you intend to invest in a place to live in your new home overseas? Then restrictions on foreign-ownership of property as well as the costs of buying and selling it are important to you.

Do you want to own a car in your new home overseas? Usually, you're better off if you don't. But if you aren't going to have a car of your own, local public transportation becomes important to you.

Will you want to be able to return to the States to see your grandkids often? Then the cost of a round-trip ticket from where you'll be living to where you want to visit is important.

Do you intend to live full-time in your new country? Then the available options for establishing legal residency are important.

Would you like to start a business as part of your new life? Then you care about things like the quality, diversity, and cost of the available local pool of labor, as well as the country's general doing-business climate.

Will it bother you to have to pay attention to a fluctuating exchange rate between the currency of the place where you're living and the currency your retirement funds are denominated in? If so, maybe it'd be better to focus on places where they use the U.S. dollar (assuming that's the currency of your retirement money).

Would you be uncomfortable living among the locals? That is, would you prefer to minimize culture shock and avoid learning a new language if possible?

What would you like to see from your bedroom window every morning when you wake up? The beach? A wildflower-covered hillside? A city scene?

And what would you like to hear outside your bedroom window each night as you fall asleep...

That's how you get going with this. You make a list. 

That's Step 1. Step 2 tomorrow...

Kathleen Peddicord


Nimes is a lovely city where, in Roman times, soldiers were given plots of land to farm in their retirement. Augustus Caesar liked Nimes and made it the capital of Narbonne Province in France. It was to provide water for Nimes that the Romans built the famous Pont du Gard aqueduct, which is also a bridge crossing high above the River Gardon, a breathtaking and inspiring engineering accomplishment. The Romans did a lot of other building in Nimes, too, and the city thrived during the first few centuries after the time of Christ.

One of the outstanding attractions in the center of Nimes is a slightly smaller version of the Coliseum that is in Rome. The one in Nimes is in much better condition than its better known counterpart in Rome, and it is still used for bullfights and other events that attract large crowds. In an aerial view of the city, its amphitheater (coliseum) can be clearly seen in the very heart of the city where all the major roads meet. You can shop in the old part of the city, linger at a sidewalk café, and tour the amphitheater all within a few blocks. This is a city for walking.

Southern France is lovely in the early spring when the trees leaf out early and the streets aren't crowded with tourists. Really, though, Nimes is lovely at any time of year. A home of your own in Nimes itself isn’t a super bargain. You could invest in a four-room 1,000-square-foot home for US$260,000 to US$280,000 at current exchange rates. However, prices can be much more moderate in nearby villages.

You could follow the example of the Roman Legionnaires and retire to Nimes. Living here, you are close to Avignon and Orange, and Marseille is not far away either…

Orin Grovum

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When you identify a destination that meets this description, I recommend you take stock of it bigger-picture, considering, first, whether that destination is also a place where you think you might like to spend time in retirement and, second, if the real estate market there presents potential for capital appreciation or cash flow. If the answer to either of those questions is yes (and certainly if the answer to both of those questions is yes), then you've found your ideal second home overseas.

Over the years, Lief and I have come to this conclusion about not one but several destinations around the world. Our plan for retirement, therefore, when the time comes, is to be able to move around among these spots where we most enjoy spending time, with established infrastructure in each so that we can come and go as residents, not tourists, with friends and connections, social circles and, important to us, homes of our own. 

When making your own plan for retirement overseas, the starting point, key to the success of the adventure, is to be honest with yourself as to what kind of lifestyle you're after. When Lief and I ask ourselves what kind of lifestyle we want in retirement, the answer is: Varied. City and coastal, Caribbean and highland, spring and summer, fall and winter, developed and emerging, sophisticated and raw, refined and gritty, we appreciate it all. So we've conceived a retirement plan, that we've been working for the past 16+ years to engineer, that will allow us to enjoy it all, perpetually, in turns. 

We've held on to the apartment in Paris that we called home when we lived in that city with our children. This will be our retirement base. From Paris, we'll enjoy regular extended trips to Istria, to stay in the farmhouse there; to Medellin, Colombia, to enjoy life in that sophisticated mountain city; and to the Pacific coast of Panama, where we're building a beach house. This is an ambitious plan, I admit (some might say ridiculously so), but we've had time to evolve it.

Whatever your plan, I encourage you to start developing it as soon as possible. An easy first step can be the purchase of a piece of property in a locale where you want to be able to spend time now and that you think eventually could become part of your retirement plan. Meantime, whenever you're not using the property yourself, it could be generating cash flow from rental, and, over time, it could be increasing in value, too. Your future retirement residence could be a nicely appreciating asset on your balance sheet.

That's the ideal situation--when the holiday home-cum-retirement plan you buy also qualifies as an investment. This is what has tipped the scales for us with many of the property purchases we’ve made over the years. 

What’s important, thinking practically, when sizing up a potential second home overseas? You’re buying primarily for personal use, so the driving consideration should be the pleasure potential for you and your family. Buy what and where you want. Balance that objective, though, against what matters most for rentals in your chosen market, because one important objective for any holiday home is that you’re able to rent it out when you’re not using it, generating enough cash flow to cover associated carrying costs and, ideally, leaving something left over each year (positive cash flow), to boot.

Property type and size are universally important rental factors. In most markets, a one- or two-bedroom property is more rentable than a three- or four-bedroom place. The incrementally higher rental rates you should be able to charge for a three-bedroom usually don't compensate for the higher cost of purchasing the larger apartment. While a super-high-end property might suit your personal preferences, a higher-end (read: more expensive) property probably means a lower rental return. To keep your occupancy up, you'll likely have to compete on price with the general (not high-end) market. 

Also consider:

  • Where in your target location do people most want to stay? In Paris, for example, perhaps the world’s most recession-proof rentals market, the traditionally best arrondissements for rental are the 5th and 6th...
  • What size rentals are in demand in your target market? Again, generally speaking, one- and two-bedroom apartments are the rental sweet spot. However, a market can be overrun with rentals of this size, creating opportunities for either smaller (studios, for example) or bigger (three-bedroom) places...
  • Is there a high season and what's the opportunity for occupancy beyond that time? Also, when considering the rental season, remember your plan (if you have one) for personal use. Would you want to be occupying the place yourself during the season when much of your rental return otherwise might be earned?

Punta del Este, Uruguay, is a good case study in this context. The high season in this coastal resort town is mid-December through February. Over this 10-week window, you can charge outrageous rental rates. In fact, it's not uncommon to earn as much as 80% or 90% of the annual rental income during this peak-season period alone. The rest of the year, the going rental rates are a fraction of the short-term rents you can ask in January and February. That's ok, as you can earn enough during this period to make the investment worthwhile overall. Unless, of course, that's the time of year you'd want to use the place yourself. In that case, your intended rental investment could default into a holiday home for the family, period. 

Kathleen Peddicord

Editor’s Note: Registration for our first-ever Global Property Summittaking place in April 2014 in Panama City opens tomorrow. Today is the final day to get your name on the pre-registration list for special VIP benefits and access. Do that here now.

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“Cuenca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The weather is great, as is the infrastructure. The available health care is the best and least expensive in the country and globally competitive. Plus, you have lots of choices for how to spend your time. This is a cultural capital, with art galleries, an orchestra, museums, indigenous crafts, food festivals, even a biennale. 

“Cuenca is big enough to feel like a real city but small enough that you don’t feel overwhelmed or intimidated. It is home to the biggest expat community in Ecuador, which is growing all the time. But you aren’t limited to interacting only with your fellow foreigners. The local community is welcoming, and many of the locals in Cuenca, especially local professionals, speak English.

“My focus today, however,” David continued, “is to show you why this city is not only a great place to live in retirement, but also a great place to think about investing in a piece of real estate. I’d say it’s the most interesting market in this country.

“Unlike in some parts of Ecuador, in Cuenca, there’s a good selection of property, including more than 40 new condo projects. Prices have risen about 10% a year since 2006. New condos today are selling for US$900 to US$1,150 per square meter. You can buy a resale condo for US$650 to US$1,000 per square meter.

“And that’s the product I’d target if you’re buying for investment as well as lifestyle—a condo in a good location for rental. The demand for turn-key rentals is growing rapidly.

“I see this as a big opportunity for someone not planning to retire immediately but a few years down the road. Buy a condo in Cuenca today, rent it out to cover all expenses (which is a realistic goal), and then move in to your turn-key retirement digs whenever you’re ready.

“The rental demand in Cuenca right now is big, specifically for furnished condos where the rent includes all utilities.

“Rental rates in this city are a fraction of those in North America and Europe, but don’t believe everything you read about rental costs. As anywhere, you get what you pay for, and turn-key, furnished units rent for double or so what an unfurnished place might rent for. You have to balance comfort and convenience against your budget.

“When shopping for a rental, think about the location. Is it walkable to shopping, restaurants, and transportation? Is it in the English-speaking area? Is it in a resort area where other visitors are only for short periods?

“How do you find a good deal on a rental in Cuenca? Through the local papers, Craigslist, flyers, and word-of-mouth. The best strategy, as in all markets like this one, is to pound the pavement. Walk the streets looking for ‘Se Renta’ signs. 

“You can also search on Google but in Spanish. Search for ‘arriendos en cuenca,’ ‘se renta,’ or ‘alquiler.’ If you search in English, results will be few and rental rates will be higher.

“What can you expect to find? Here’s a sample,” David explained as he flipped to show a photo on the screen at the front of the meeting room. 

“This is a one-bedroom, one-bath condo of about 60 square meters two blocks from the historic zone. The place has nice views and is renting turn-key for US$550 a month or US$300 a month unfurnished. This would be ideal for a single retiree or even a couple, certainly a great first step.

“Here’s another example,” David continued, flipping his slide show forward. “This is a three-bedroom, three-bath townhouse of about 200 square meters. Living here you’d enjoy great views and clean mountain air. The rent is US$950 a month turn-key or US$550 a month unfurnished with a one-year lease.

“If you’re looking for more space, here’s a four-bedroom, three-bath country house of about 200 square meters on 3 acres. You could rent this turn-key for US$850 a month…”

Kaitlin Yent

Editor’s Note: Our team in Ecuador last week recorded every speaker’s presentation throughout the three days of the event, 23 presentations in total, including David’s talk on how to shop for a rental in Cuenca.

This bundle of resources will be available soon as our all-new Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference KitToday, though, you can purchase the complete kit pre-release and save more than 50%.

Go here to do that now.

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“My friends were little Mexican kids. I ate at their houses. We had beans and rice every day, and I loved it. By the time I was 20, I realized that I identified more with Latin America than North. 

“I have lived in Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador,” Mike continued. “I never made a lot of friends in the first two countries, frankly, but, as soon as my feet hit the ground in Ecuador, I was making friends—real friends. I intend this with the most love, but I’ve gotta’ say, if I had a Tico friend, he wanted something from me. Not so here in Ecuador...” 

Mike went on to give the group a glimpse of his new life on the Ecuadorean coast. 

“I live in San Jose, near Salinas,” he explained. “And I’m telling you, for real, you can live in this part of this country on US$500 to US$750 a month. If you like the outdoors, you’ve got everything you could possibly want on your doorstep, beach and mountains...and all for free—watersports, surfing, hiking... 

“I wake up every day on my little beach, in my little beach house, with my wife and my new family, and I have to pinch myself. We have about 300 sunny days a year, at least. I’m living now for the day-to-day. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve already realized every dream I’ve ever had about what life should be. That’s what Ecuador has meant for me. 

“Business is good, but, if it’s not, I’m not too worried. I have my guitar, my hammock, my beach, my beer, and my family. I haven’t a care. 

“I should tell you about my hammock,” Mike continued. “It’s the ultimate stress reliever. You don’t need therapy. You don’t need massages. You just need a hammock. You can pick one up here for US$10 or less. Add another US$1 for a cold beer, make sure to have your hammock strung up by sunset, and I guarantee you’ll never feel anxiety again. 

“And that’s the real point I’d like to leave with you today. Give up on anxiety. Just walk away from it. It’s time to enjoy your life. We’ve all, all of us in this room, paid our dues. It’s time to do what makes you happy. If that’s in Ecuador, then you should just jump in with both feet. Don’t let anything hold you back or keep you from realizing the life you deserve.” 

Mike took a survey of those in the room. “Who here is into motorcycles?” he asked. A flurry of hands went up. 


“Any musicians?” Another show of hands. 

“Awesome!” Mike said. “That’s what I need. I need motorcycle enthusiasts for friends and people to play with me in my band. I’m trying to do less of this,” he said, waving his arms to indicate the conference room, “and more of that,” he concluded, pointing to photos on the screen of his motorcycle and his band. 

“I’m in love with my life here,” Mike went on. “You’ve figured that out by now. I have to say, though, that probably what I love most is the cost of living. It’s so low that it opens many doors. 

“My family and I take three to five amazing vacations a year, usually to Europe, sometimes to Disney World, Argentina, wherever. I could never have spent thousands of dollars on a vacation before moving here, but now we’re always planning the next trip. 

“And, really, even when we’re at home, it’s like being on vacation. This country has many great hidden treasures, some very simple and unassuming. One of my favorites is a restaurant, a shack, right on the beach. For US$3 you get a whole, grilled, fresh-caught fish, rice, beer,patacones, and a grilled banana dessert. And you eat it all right on the beach, with the surf a few feet away.” 

Mike filled his time describing the lifestyle he’s enjoying living on Ecuador’s coast. Attendees, though, wanted to know about real estate and investment opportunities, too. When the time came for questions, one attendee asked, specifically, “Where are the hot spots for beachfront property investment? Where should I be looking not as much for a new life at the beach as for a chance to make money in beachfront property?” 

“Playas,” Mike replied. “This is the hottest coastal real estate market right now,” he added. “It’s the nearest beach to Guayaquil, and lots of money is flowing from Guayaquil to Playas. 

“Salinas is where I’d shop for a rental investment,” Mike continued. 

“Also interesting is Olon,” he added. “This is the most desirable beach in Ecuador among the locals. I call Olon the Malibu beach of Ecuador. There are five different fishing villages along this coast, no high-rises, and it’s next-door to a party and surfing capital. Many different lifestyle and recreation options all rolled into one...” 

Kaitlin Yent 

P.S. “Real friendships start at events like this one,” Mike reminded the group this morning before leaving the stage. “Take advantage,” he advised. 

For me, that has been the best part of the experience this week—all the people I’ve met. I’ve attended many conferences in the past, and I have to say that the group here is especially friendly and fun. There are many repeat attendees here—readers who I’ve met at previous events in past years. 

“Your parents do an excellent job of getting information together in one easy place,” a couple of these frequent conference-goers told me when we spoke. 

“We’re not the typical expats,” the husband continued. “I left the United States in 1990 for Brazil, and my wife is Brazilian. We tried to go back in 1999 for our son’s education, but I couldn’t do it, and we left again. We are adventurers. 

“We take your mom’s advice as inspiration, then we go and explore for ourselves to draw our own conclusions. We’ve been to the Medellin conference and the Panama conference and now we’re here in Ecuador, and we have loved every one of these events as a starting point for information and ideas. 

“By the way, you need to tell your mom about indigenous town Saraguro, in Loja, southern Ecuador. It may not be a place to relocate to, but boy what a place to visit!” 

Editor’s Note: Kaitlin has promised to continue her from-the-scene reporting through the weekend. Stay tuned for more soon.

Meantime, our team in Guayaquil is recording every speaker’s presentation throughout the three days of the event, 23 in total. This bundle of resources will be available as our all-new Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference Kit as soon as the recordings have been edited. Today, though, you can purchase the complete kit pre-release and save more than 50%.

Go here to do that 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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