Plan B Retirement Options
“I don’t know how people can stand it,” writes our young Marketing Manager Harry visiting in the States this week.
“All you hear and read, everywhere, is bad news. Doom and gloom. It’s like a kind of brainwashing that we’re completely unaware of in Panama.”
My advice to Harry, and now, today, to you, dear reader, is to turn off the TV.
Sure, things are bad. But you know that already.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that the credit crunch has wiped out more than US$2 trillion in Americans’ 401(k) accounts…and that more losses are still to come.
A study by the AARP shows that one in four Baby Boomers is postponing his retirement.
That’s a shame…and not necessary. You have options. And you have more control over your retirement…over your life…than you probably realize right now.
In the United States and elsewhere, this is shaping up to be the retirement era of scraping by and making do.
But not everywhere. In some key spots, forward-thinking retirees who are willing to think outside the box are realizing that, not only can they maintain the standard of living they enjoyed during their hard-working years…they can improve it!
They can live better than they ever did back home.
By the sea…in big cities…in small colonial towns…sometimes, even, on the edge of nowhere…
This week, I introduced you to five super Plan B Retirement options:
- Plan B for Jay Snyder and his wife has taken them to sunny Granada, Nicaragua. Jay writes this week to report: “We certainly have been enjoying our extended stay here in Granada, our second home. We continue to monitor the cold and icy conditions back in the northeast. Although the skiing is great, word of two feet of snow on the roof needing shoveling reminded us why we are where we are right now.
“A group of eight from the Peace Corps in Costa Rica is renting for a few days. We find their collective comment (‘Granada is a happy, peaceful, and very safe place’) interesting. They’re giving us a chance to see Granada anew, as though for the first time again. I have to admit, we take the charms and the pleasures of this place for granted now.
“Frankly, we see in Granada the same appeals that we see in the small town where we come from in Vermont. However, the additions of the tropical climate and the very reasonable cost of living tip the scale for us in favor of Nicaragua…”
- Intrepid Correspondent Paul Terhorst is traveling right now in what he’s discovering may be the top emerging Plan B urban retirement choice: “We’ve spent two days now wandering around Kunming, in Yunnan Province, China,” Paul writes. “Conclusion:”The city enjoys nearly perfect weather, never too hot and too cold for only a few days each winter.”Silent electric motorcycles ensure that downtown stays quiet and peaceful rather than jarring.”Colorful ethnic minorities make for special food and clothing, teas and spices. We’ve seen two mosques and two churches in the center-city area.”People are very friendly, and David assures me we can count on a low crime rate.
“Taxis have run us to the outskirts for just a dollar or two; a dinner for three of us, including tea and a couple of beers, came to less than US$5.
“Talented urban planners have turned the city center into a web of walking streets, plazas, alleys, and markets, all without the traffic farther out. Delightful. Old pockets of Kunming remain, quaint and charming. I loved them.
“But with 1.3 billion people, I figure China has little time for quaint and charming. To handle the growing population, China wants growth and commerce, with steel, glass, and neon replacing quaint and charming. That means urban high-rises and shopping malls instead of little wooden houses and street markets.
- Throughout my nearly 25 years covering this live, retire, and invest overseas beat, I’ve stood on a lot of beaches…and I’ve listened to a lot of beachfront property owners detail enthusiastically their plans for development.When you begin shopping to buy real estate in this part of the world, you’ll hear these stories, too. Promises…these guys are full of promises.Sometimes things work out as they intend…and sometimes they don’t…That’s why our mantra has always been: Buy what you see. If the roads are paved, then you’re buying paved roads. If you see a clubhouse, then you’re buying into a community with a clubhouse. If electrical lines have been run…You get the idea.
In the case of Gran Pacifica, the Plan B retirement community on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua about an hour outside Managua, an ambitious project I was introduced to about eight years ago, I was skeptical at first…even though I was longtime friends with some of the key people behind the plan. You learn that, in an emerging market, skepticism can be your friend.
What’s the story today, all these years later? How have things played out at Gran Pacifica?
Today, these three miles of Pacific coastline have been transformed. When I visited recently, I hardly recognized the place.
More than 40 homes and condominiums have been built, and more than 50 others are under construction.
The clubhouse and pool are in place, overlooking the crashing sea, just as my friends said they would be. The sidewalks are paved with handmade clay bricks, the streets with cobblestones. The fiber-optic cables have been laid, and every house, indeed, enjoys Internet with unlimited bandwidth.
Furthermore, Gran Pacifica is one of the few projects I can think of that promised a golf course…and is, in fact, delivering a golf course. It will be ready for play by the end of this year…”
- “We’re living in charming Chapala, Mexico,” write Retire Early experts Billy and Akaisha Kaderli of their Plan B Retirement. “We’re living well, and it’s costing us less than US$50 per day. With that, we pay for lodging, food, transportation, entertainment, and in-country travel. We eat well, play tennis, socialize, and travel comfortably. We want for nothing.”Many here, in one of the largest expatriate communities in the world, live on less than we do…“
- Last weekend, I spent time among a small but expanding bunch of expats living Plan B on the edge of nowhere, Panama.They’re not all Americans, and they’re not all of “retirement” age. Some are in this remote region of this country full-time…others come and go, spending part of the year here and part of the year someplace else.Not all of them have sought out new lives on the western coast of the Azuero peninsula because they could no longer afford to live wherever it was they came from. Some of them are here with the intention of developing a piece of land (like my husband, for example).Some are here to escape, even briefly, the real world.And some are here looking for adventure.
“Back in Montana, it’s nose to the grindstone,” explained one American I chatted with Saturday afternoon. “Back home, I’ve got all the toys. The big house, the SUV, the gadgets. I’m connected at the hip to my Blackberry. I’ve been down here visiting my brother for three weeks. And I feel like I’m finally starting to get this place. The other day, I found myself driving along the dirt road, not another soul in sight, singing at the top of my lungs and smiling. All alone and grinning like a fool…”
More Plan B Retirement options coming soon. Watch this space.