Editors’ Choice—Here’s What We Really Think
Panama City, Panama
Our Live and Invest Overseas team is fully occupied these days debating the answer to the question:
Where is the best place in the world to retire?
Our editors are compiling data, reviewing statistics, comparing property values, updating budgets, and arguing over interpretations of things like “spring-like climate.” We’ll be unveiling our picks for the best places in the world to live or retire overseas in the special expanded August issue of my Overseas Retirement Letter…a complimentary copy of which will be distributed to every attendee at this year’s Retire Overseas Conference in Nashville Aug. 29–31.
This ambitious effort is reminding me that, statistics, data, and costs aside, the only real answer to the question where is the best place in the world to retire is…don’t ask us. Because the only answer that matters is your own. Best made, the choice for where to retire overseas is thoroughly personal.
That’s why, in the August edition of my Overseas Retirement Letter (ORL), we’re supporting our spreadsheets and data-crunching with the biased, nonobjective, 100% unscientific, and personal recommendations of key Live and Invest Overseas correspondents.
If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
Here’s how some among us who’ve seen a lot of the best of what this world has to offer answer that question…
Asia Correspondents Wendy and David Justice: Hanoi, Vietnam
Of all the places we could pick from in our travels, Hanoi, Vietnam, is the city we have chosen to call home. The city is an energetic and chaotic jumble of ancient neighborhoods, tranquil parks and lakes, modern high-rises, and centuries-old pagodas. It is also home to one of the most healthy and varied cuisines in the world. In more than two years of living in Hanoi, we are still discovering delicious and exotic new foods.
Even more important to us are the people. They are curious, polite, friendly, and generous to a fault. They really want to get to know you and to make friends. Friendships we’ve formed here have lasted many years.
There are always other foreigners to socialize with if we want, and there is always something to do. And the cost of living is so affordable. Here in Hanoi—anywhere in Vietnam, for that matter—we don’t have to worry about money. We know that Hanoi isn’t the right place for everyone, but we can easily imagine living here for many more years.
If we ever had to leave Vietnam, we would probably head over to Pai, Thailand. Its funky, mountain-town ambiance reminds us of the small towns we knew in the Colorado Rockies. If we developed ongoing health problems or became too elderly and frail to tolerate the stimulation of Hanoi, we would strongly consider moving to Hua Hin, Thailand.
Asia Correspondents Vicki and Paul Terhorst: Lviv, Ukraine
Vicki and I are perpetual travelers, which means we wander around the world without a fixed home base. By default, therefore, wherever we are at the moment becomes our favorite place. Otherwise, why would we be here?
I’m writing this in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which makes Chiang Mai a favorite place.
Recently, we chose to spend time in Lviv, Ukraine, because of its combination of European culture (historic buildings and churches, art museums, opera and ballet, convenient public transportation, cafe society, hearty food, robust wine) and low prices.
Lviv also makes a useful base for exploration to the rest of Eastern Europe, with six international borders within 200 kilometers or so. Just jump on a train or bus and you can get to Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, or Belarus. The rest of Europe lies just a bit farther along.
Ukraine’s pro-Russia rebel insurgency remains far to the east of Lviv, more than 800 miles away. Your biggest day-to-day problem in Lviv will be the language. Ukraine uses a different alphabet, making it hard even to guess at street names or menu offerings.
Along with Lviv and Chiang Mai, I’d choose Paris as our third favorite place. Having three favorite places makes it easy to avoid running into trouble with 90-day visa rules in any one of them.
Asia Correspondent Robert Carry: Cambodia
Cambodia might seem an unusual number-one pick, but it has some serious strikes in its favor. First up is cost of living. Put simply, this is the cheapest place I’ve ever been to. You can get a great apartment in a city center location for less than US$400 a month. A Cambodian-style meal in a local eatery will run you less than a dollar and some of my favorite watering holes charge 75 cents a beer (and as little as 25 cents during happy hour). Everything here is just unfathomably inexpensive.
Then there’s convenience. You can turn up at the airport unannounced and get a one-year visa, renewable at the end of the 12 months, on arrival. It’s almost too easy. Plus, the U.S. dollar is the main currency here, English is widely spoken, and there’s a sizable expat community in place.
However, Cambodia’s real draw is its people. After decades of war and continuing poverty, the Khmers have somehow managed to keep their smiles. They’re warm, welcoming, and infectiously optimistic. Cambodia’s enchanting culture and Buddhist ethos underpins its peoples’ relaxed, live-and-let-live way of life. When I retire, Cambodia is where you’ll find me.
Tomorrow, top picks from key correspondents in Europe and the Americas…
Editor’s Note: Want to learn more about what Live and Invest Overseas correspondents really think about living and retiring overseas? Join us for three days of live discussions next month when we’ll be convening with dozens of our normally far-flung experts and expat friends for this year’s Retire Overseas Conference taking place in Nashville Aug. 29–31.
You have four days remaining to register for what will be the biggest retire-overseas event of the year taking advantage of the Early Bird Discount. This discount, which can save you up to US$300 off the cost of registration, expires this Thursday, July 31, at midnight.
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