Retire Abroad: Golden Years Go Global By Missy Sullivan in SmartMoney Magazine on March 13th, 2011:
Mexico, for one, is stepping up its medical tourism industry and lobbying the U.S. government to extend Medicare benefits to Americans living there.
...and the government, like many, offers generous financial incentives for American retirees to come crack open their piggy banks.
Rural outsourcing on the rise in the U.S. by Bob Violino in ComputerWorld.com on 3/7/2011. "The rural option offers better intrateam communication than offshoring, better pricing than the huge outsourcing firms."
The World's Top Retirement Havens For 2011 by Kathleen Peddicord in U.S. News & World Report on November 22nd, 2010.
As we move toward the start of the new year, it's time to take a look at the world map to identify the world's top retirement havens for 2011. Depending on the size of your retirement budget, here's where you should be looking to realize the adventure-filled retirement of your dreams.
1. Nicaragua -- specifically Leon, Granada, and San Juan del Sur. Nicaragua is more attractive than ever for one important reason: It's a super cheap place to live. I've been a fan of this misunderstood country since my first visit nearly 20 years ago. Property values, especially for beachfront property along the Pacific, reached bubble status last decade. Today prices are more realistic and more negotiable. In the meantime, the cost-of-living has remained seriously low. And last year Nicaragua inaugurated a new and improved foreign retiree residency program. For all these reasons, 2011 is the time to put this country at the top of your super-cheap overseas retirement list.
2. Ecuador -- specifically Cuenca. Ecuador is well established as an affordable retirement choice. A friend calls it, "the cheapest place in the world where you'd want to live". This expat-friendly country also has a pleasant climate.
3. Colombia -- specifically Medellin. This moderately priced country is cultured and sophisticated. To live an expat-standard lifestyle in Colombia, I think you would need to spend more than you would in Nicaragua or Ecuador. Real estate, on the other hand, especially in certain areas of this country, can be a screaming bargain.
4. Thailand -- specifically Chiang Mai. This exotic and adventure-filled country can be, in parts, extraordinarily affordable and even peaceful.
1. Panama -- specifically Las Tablas, Boquete, and Panama City. Panama City has the best infrastructure in all of Central America, but it no longer qualifies as super-cheap. Other places in the country can be affordable. But the cost-of-living and of real estate in the capital and other more developed parts of the country has risen to the point where I wouldn't include Panama on our list of bargain havens.
2. Uruguay -- specifically Montevideo. Uruguay is safe and stable with a good standard of living.
3. Argentina -- specifically Buenos Aires and Mendoza. This is another country that used to qualify as super-cheap but has grown steadily more expensive. Still, Argentina has much to offer in the way of lifestyle.
4. Belize -- specifically Ambergris Caye and the Cayo. Ambergris Caye has white sand and the best diving in the Caribbean. This area isn't absolutely cheap, but it can be relatively affordable compared with the cost-of-living and of owning beachfront real estate on other Caribbean islands. Elsewhere in Belize can be far more affordable than Ambergris. The Cayo, for example, is a beautiful frontier where you can escape from the real world and create your own future. It's also an English-speaking country.
5. Malaysia -- specifically Kuala Lumpur and Penang. This is the most user-friendly and expat-friendly choice in Asia. Malaysia is the only country in this part of the world that makes it relatively easy for a foreigner to establish legal full-time residency.
Luxury on a Budget
1. Mexico -- specifically Puerto Vallarta. My recently-rediscovered top pick for living the good life on a reasonable budget is Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. This is a fully turn-key overseas retirement option that, unlike Ajijic and Chapala, has managed to retain its Mexico-ness. This charming town boasts great restaurants and nightlife. The beaches, marinas, and golf courses are beautiful. This is my top 2011 choice for a five-star retirement at the beach on a three-star budget.
2. France -- specifically Paris and Languedoc. France is a country of superlatives and one of the best places on earth to live well. Paris has the world's best luxury lifestyle options while Languedoc offers quintessential French country living.
Get started now, and you could be living the good life in your new home overseas by this time next year.
The 10 Least-Expensive Cities For Living in the U.S.A. By Cameron Huddleston in the Real Estate section of Kiplinger Magazine online.
It’s hard to beat the low cost of living in the South. Seven of the ten least expensive cities on our list are in Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee.
We compiled our rankings based on the ACCRA Cost of Living Index produced by the Council for Community and Economic Research. The Index measures relative price levels for housing, utilities, transportation, grocery items, health care and miscellaneous goods and services (it does not include taxes). A composite score of 100 reflects the national average. So scores lower than 100 reflect a lower-than-average cost of living, and scores higher than 100 reflect a higher-than-average cost of living. Median household income and average home prices are from the Toronto-based Martin Prosperity Institute. We sampled all U.S. cities with metropolitan area populations of at least 75,000.
Cost of Living Index: 86.1
Brownsville/Harlingen Metro Population: 385,274
Median Household Income: $28,026
Average Home Price: $221,445
Housing prices in the southernmost city in Texas, on the Gulf Coast near the Mexican border, are well below the national average and are a big factor in the city’s overall low cost of living. The average cost of grocery items, transportation and health care also fall below the national average -- but utility costs are about 10% higher here. Brownsville/Harlingen has long been a popular destination for retirees on fixed incomes.
Cost of Living Index: 86.5
McAllen/Edinburg Metro Population: 706,039
Median Household Income: $28,328
Average Home Price: $213,383
Located only 50 miles away from Brownsville/Harlingen, this city in the southern tip of Texas also has extra-low housing costs. However, utility costs are higher than the national average.
Johnson City, Tennessee
Cost of Living Index: 86.6
Metro Population: 193,457
Median Household Income: $36,853
Average Home Price: $217,986
Affordable homes and below-average utility, transportation and health-care costs keep the cost of living low in this city on the western edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It's about a two-hour drive from Charlotte, N.C., or Knoxville, Tenn. To top it off, Tennessee has no state income tax.
Cost of Living Index: 87.7
Metro Population: 1,231,989
Median Household Income: $46,095
Average Home Price: $214,222
Louisville plays host every year to the Kentucky Derby, which draws the rich and famous. But the city’s low cost of living makes it suitable for the average Joe year-round. Housing costs well below the national average play a big role in the city’s affordability -- as do lower-than-average costs for grocery items and health care.
Fabulous Freebies 2010 in Kiplinger.com Magazine online.
It's been said that the best things in life are free. And we couldn't agree more. That's why we're back with our fourth annual list of our favorite freebies.
We looked for primo goods and services -- no useless junk allowed. And, boy, we found them, from financial tools to entertainment to cold, hard cash. So put away your wallet -- your money is no good here.
Rejoice! About 6,800 Starbucks and 11,500 McDonald's nationwide recently began offering free Wi-Fi.
You can also go to WiFiFreeSpot.com to find places to surf free when you're away from home. The database includes airports, restaurants, hotels and more.
Free Business Advice
Run your own business and you're bound to have questions. Go to SCORE.org to get free, confidential small-business advice. The nonprofit has 12,400 volunteer counselors, who are working and retired executives and business owners. Drop in to one of SCORE's 364 offices nationwide for a face-to-face consultation, or chat with an expert online.
Another great resource is the Small Business Administration. It often hosts free local workshops, and its Web site (SBA.gov) has an extensive list of tools and resources for entrepreneurs.
Free Car Repair Help
It won't fix your car free (darn), but RepairPal.com will help you find out whether your mechanic is quoting a fair price.
Enter your car's make, model and year, plus your zip code. Then choose among dozens of fixes to get a price range for the job at dealerships and independent shops in your area.
Don't let your short-term savings stagnate. Stash it in a high-yield online savings account such as ING Direct or HSBC Direct. They're FDIC-insured and were recently paying 1.1%. (For every $1,000 in your account, that's $11 free every year.) Online interest-bearing checking accounts from ING Direct and Everbank are also a good deal. They pay from 0.25% to 1.46%.
Another source of free cash: Some employers will match your contributions to your workplace 401(k) plan. For instance, if you contribute $100 per month, they may toss in another $50. You've got to save for retirement anyway, so take the free cash if it's offered.
Free Tech Support
If you're a member of Sam's Club or Costco, you can get free tech support -- even if you didn't buy the device at their store.
Or, for PC problems, anyone can head to TechGuy.org or 5starsupport.com for free help. You can search the forums for your computer's particular ailment or post a question to receive a timely response from the sites' groups of geek volunteers. And don't forget to try the manufacturer's web site. Many post user manuals and FAQs to help you solve your dilemma.
Free Credit-Card Perks
By simply carrying a credit card, you're entitled to some pretty cool freebies. For example, most credit cards come with free rental-car insurance, and some will cover the cost of your vacation if you have to cancel your trip. Some cards will even cover the cost of an item you bought that gets lost, stolen or destroyed, or will allow you to return an item to them that the store won't take back (like those shoes you bought on clearance). You might also score a free extended warranty on your purchase.
Call your card issuer to ask for a list of your benefits.
Your favorite snack shop or fast-food restaurant may have an annual freebie day. Mark your calendar for free IHOP pancakes in February; free Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Rita's Italian ice, and a Starbucks pastry in March; free Pretzel Time pretzels and a Cinnabon treat in April; free Haagen Daas ice cream in May; a free Krispy Kreme doughnut, Sonic root-beer float and TCBY frozen yogurt in June; and a free Chick-Fil-A meal in July -- to name a few.
You can also sign up to score free food on your birthday from Famous Dave’s BBQ, Cold Stone Creamery, Denny’s and other eateries. Search the Web for "birthday freebies," or call your local restaurants to ask whether they offer such a deal.
Many colleges and universities, such as Johns Hopkins, University of Notre Dame and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, post course material and lectures on their web sites. You won't get credit toward a degree, but you can pursue an interest, sharpen your skills or even learn a language.
You can also go to Apple's iTunes U to access more than 250,000 free lectures, videos and other materials from 600 universities, including Oxford, Stanford and Yale.
Free Credit Report and Credit Score
One of our all-time favorite freebies is AnnualCreditReport.com, which gives you a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. (Don't fall for other sites that offer "free" credit reports, which often end up enrolling you in expensive credit-monitoring programs that you usually don't need.)
But your credit score has usually been costlier to come by. Now you can get a free score from CreditKarma.com and Quizzle.com. The sites give you a real credit score. While it's not the FICO score that most lenders use, you'll still get a good idea of where you stand.
Free Financial Apps
There's a slew of free apps for your mobile phone that can simplify your financial tasks.
Among our favorites are apps from Mint.com to track your spending and investments, Allpoint and Moneypass to find surcharge-free ATMs nearby, Yowza for coupons on the go and CheckPlease Lite to easily calculate a tip or divide a restaurant check.
Free RX Drugs
Bring in your prescription, and you can get free antibiotics at some pharmacies, including those at Giant, Meijer, Publix, Stop & Shop and Wegmans. You can also get free prenatal vitamins at Meijer and Schnucks.
Free Tax Software and Tax Filing
Some tax professionals and tax-prep software charge you extra to actually file your return -- which seems downright silly. After all, you already paid them for their service, not to mention you already paid your taxes.
Check out the IRS's Free File program. If you make less than a certain amount (for 2009 returns filed this past Spring, the limit was $57,000 of adjusted gross income), you qualify for free tax-prep software and filing. Make more than that, and you can still file for free, but you don't get the free software.
Free Books, Music, Movies and More
You'll find the mother lode of freebies at your public library. All the books, magazines, audio books, video games and CDs you can carry won't cost a cent. Many libraries also have free Wi-Fi, DVDs and e-books. You may be able to go online to place your order for materials and a librarian will have them waiting for you when you arrive.
And that's not all. Your library may host free book clubs, lectures, film screenings, children's story times, craft activities and other community events.
Free Computer Protection
Is your computer vulnerable? You can download malware-protection services available free online.
We recommend PC Magazine's Editor's Choice: Panda Cloud Antivirus. Or try Microsoft's Security Essentials, which PCWorld.com says renders subscription antivirus services unnecessary.
Free Financial Advice
Kiplinger.com is a treasure trove of free financial advice, if we do say so ourselves. Our tools and calculators will help you get on the right financial track.
Our expert columnists answer your personal-finance questions on everything from general queries to family finances to ethical matters. Plus, we have loads of informative videos and podcasts, top-notch stock and mutual fund analysis, and an active reader's community.
Revealed: Ecuador’s True Costs Posted on September 7, 2010 by Suzan Haskins on InternationalLiving.com. "The lowest cost of living we've found yet. (Expats report monthly expenses as low as $500!)...and the world's lowest real estate prices" I don't work for these people! I have zero association with them. I just love "cheap"! OK, "frugal", sounds better... Retiring is better when you are conserving your resources.
7 Affordable Places to Retire Abroad By Kathleen Peddicord in Money.USNews.com on June 2, 2010. Be sure to check out these places on Google Earth too! Make your retiring more pleasant by knowing what you're getting into.
- Panama. In many ways, Panama is the world’s premier overseas haven. It’s certainly the best choice if you’re considering launching a new business as part of your new life overseas.
- France. France is far more affordable in some regions than you might imagine and delivers an unparalleled quality of life for every euro invested.
- Uruguay. You’ll be far removed from all the troubles of the rest of the world in this safe, stable, and welcoming country.
- Belize. With both Caribbean island and inland highlands living options, this is a country where life is sweet and simple.
- Mexico. Mexico is a good choice if you don’t want to move too far from children or grandchildren.
- Croatia. This is the new and far more affordable Tuscany.
- Malaysia. My top pick in Asia is not only super-affordable but also, unlike most countries in this part of the world, open to foreign retirees. Malaysia has straightforward, user-friendly options for establishing foreign residency.
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.
5 Must-Visit Mexican Destinations By Laura Manske in Family Circle magazine online in July, 2010. "Take your family south of the border to score sweet deals and have some fun in the sun." Destinations mentioned are (might retiring here be an option?):
5 Places to Retire On Social Security Alone by Kathleen Peddicord on Friday, June 18, 2010, in Finance.Yahoo.com and provided by U.S. News & World Report.
Boquete, Panama; Granada, Nicaragua; Hangzou, China; Morelia, Mexico; and Cuenca, Ecuador
Are you researching retiring in Mexico? 2010 Census and Mexican History Book posted in YucatanLiving.com for expatriates living in Mexico.
Mexico drug war doesn't stop Americans from moving south of the border By Sara Miller Llana in News.Yahoo.com on June 4th, 2010.
"Of 5.25 million Americans living abroad, 1 million are estimated to live south of the border. Some communities, such as San Miguel de Allende (a Heritage Site in central Mexico), seem virtual US suburbs."
Ellen Fields and her husband, Jim, run the site YucatanLiving.com and help expatriates settle here.
This is worth researching if you're interested in retiring in Mexico.