Hold the Salt—Five Freshwater Havens for a Lakeside Retirement Overseas—Internationalliving.com

August 13, 2019  
Filed under Travel

Love the water but hate the salt? In a new report, the editors at International Living identify five good-value, fresh-water destinations where retirees can enjoy lakeside living—complete with great views, fishing, and boating—for a fraction of what a comparable lifestyle would cost in the States.


Source: Internationalliving.com


“I love the water, but living next to the ocean isn’t my ideal,” says Dan Prescher, senior editor with International Living. “I know a lot of expats and retirees who feel the same way. Salt and sand have a way of slowly corroding everything, and it’s a constant struggle when living on or near an ocean beach. But lakeside living is the best of both worlds. You get the water and all the fun and beauty that comes with it, but without the downsides.”


International Living has identified five lakeside havens around the world where good living doesn’t cost the moon.



Lake Chapala, Mexico

Lake Chapala is Mexico’s largest lake, and the surrounding area is also home to one of the largest concentrations of North American expats in the world. Located in west-central Mexico, about an hour south of Guadalajara, the Lake Chapala region sustains approximately 20,000 expats, most from the U.S. and Canada, and the vast majority are retired. That number roughly doubles during the cold Canadian winter months, when thousands more migrate to the area for about six months each year.

Two quaint towns, Chapala and Ajijic, support most of the expat population, with Ajijic holding the edge when it comes to numbers. Both communities are nestled along the lake’s shoreline and separated by only a few miles.

The enormous appeal of this area is easy to understand. In addition to the overall affordability, the area also boasts the second-best climate on the planet; daily temperatures are almost always 75 F to 78 F, under bright blue sky and sunshine. Rain, when it happens, is usually at night. The areas elevation, at about 5,000 feet above sea level, assists with the stability of the climate.

There are ample restaurants as well as modern theaters, garden clubs, Spanish classes, art exhibits, book clubs, dancing classes, chess clubs, and practically any kind of activity desired. Medical care is handled by local clinics and the cost is reasonable. For serious issues, and for serious shopping, Guadalajara is just an hour north.

“My husband, Walter, and I recently relocated to Ajijic to escape Chicago winters,” says Miriam Ditchek. “Since living here, I have found that retiring is not the end of the line, but the beginning of a new adventure.

“I have become both a teacher and a student. Between taking art classes, Spanish language classes, and teaching English, I am busier now than when I was working a nine-to-five job. The difference being that I love what I am doing. Painting has become my passion along with teaching English as a second language to Mexican adults who want to advance in their chosen careers.

“The Lake Chapala Society is primarily a meeting place for expats. There is an annual registration fee of $38. For seniors over 79, the fee is discounted $30. We attend lectures, discussion groups, movies, exercise classes, and take advantage of health screening. There are also art and chess classes for children. My husband enjoys the bridge group that meets twice per week.

“There are many restaurants that cater to all tastes and are inexpensive by U.S. standards. My favorites are Cocinart, La Sima del Copal and Tango. La Sima del Copal sits at the top of a mountain peak and offers the most beautiful view of the lake at sunset. Dinner for two, including a glass of wine and tip, will cost approximately $25. For those on a limited budget, there are less expensive restaurants that are also very good.”


Lake Arenal, Costa Rica

About three hours northwest of Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose is the 33-square-mile Lake Arenal.

Although this is Costa Rica’s showpiece lake, there isn’t much boat traffic and rarely any noisy Jet skis, but plenty of windsurfers and kite boarders. For those seeking a more leisurely pace, kayaking is popular too.

Year-round temperatures are moderate, although there is a healthy rainy season in Costa Rica from May to November which brings out an array of green in the trees and foliage.

Construction within 50 meters of the lakeshore is prohibited. (This is because Lake Arenal is a man-made lake created to generate hydroelectric power. Costa Rica generates close to 100% of its electricity from renewable resources.) There are no large resorts, only a few small marinas, and no big condo or hotel towers ruin the views. It’s mostly rural; a farming community as it has been for decades.

One drawback is the lack of major medical services, but there are clinics and doctors’ offices for basic needs. For specialist care, locals and expats travel two hours west to Liberia, the closest city, where there is also an international airport.

The main hub of activity on the lake is the small village of Nuevo Arenal; many expats also live a quick drive into town on the water on either side.

“The road from Nuevo Arenal to La Fortuna is one of the best two-lane roads in Costa Rica,” says Stephen Day. “Our house is located down this road. It’s only eight minutes from the center of town, up a steep, paved driveway, and it brings you to a vista that will take your breath away the first time you see it. From it, my wife, Christine, and I have a view of Lake Arenal, from the whirling wind turbines of Tronadora to the north, all the way south to the majestic Arenal Volcano. The lot is well worth the $60,000 we paid for it in December 2016.

“As a 71-year-old, retired from careers in education and real estate, I have always worked within a strict budget. It’s no different here. We have no expenses for heat or air conditioning, because the temperature is always between 65 F and 85 F. The electricity we use runs about $50 a month. I pay $75 a month for internet and another $50 a month for TV and cable. Our cellphones cost us $140 a month, because we do make quite a few international calls. The house is paid for, and so is the one car we share. My car insurance, for very good coverage, costs me about $75 a month. All told, I estimate that we spend another $1,200 a month for all our food, restaurants, propane for cooking, and gasoline.”



Lake Bacalar, Mexico

Known as the Lake of Seven Colors, Lake Bacalar, a 26-mile-long, mile-wide body of fresh water on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, mimics the Caribbean Sea in its turquoise color and crystal clarity. It offers visitors an unusual, tranquil, wave-free experience in a freshwater lake.

In the early 1700s pirates attempted to take Bacalar from the Spanish in a bloody battle. The town’s fort, Fuerte de San Felipe, built of stone in the shape of a four-pointed star and ringed by a now-dry moat, was built shortly after the pirate attack. Now it houses a museum with plaques in both English and Spanish. A public beach club, Balneario Ejidal, provides walk-in access to the lake (for about 50 cents), along with a restaurant, palapa-covered picnic tables, a craft market, and a water slide.

The main attraction here is the lake’s natural beauty. But for medical care, shopping (including Costco), government services, and other conveniences, the city of Chetumal is only 40 minutes’ drive south. The border with Belize is not too far beyond that, making weekend trips possible. There’s even a water taxi that runs from Chetumal to Ambergis Caye in Belize.

And the area’s beautiful Caribbean beaches are also close by.

As in the rest of Mexico, a couple can live quite well on about $2,000 a month, including housing, medical care, and all other expenses. To live in a place with natural beauty found nowhere else and the laidback lifestyle, it’s a bargain. You can fill up a bag to bursting with fruits and veggies for less than $10. And there are other goodies on offer.

“When I visited Bacalar, we didn’t feel like cooking. So, we went to one of the many grill restaurants in town. Two pounds of grilled skirt steak, with tortillas, hot sauce, rice and beans, cost us about $8,” says ILs Roving Latin America Correspondent, Jason Holland.


Lake Bracciano, Italy

Mention Italy’s Lake District and most people will think of the northern glacial lakes—Lake Maggiore, Lake Garda, and of course Lake Como. While their glitzy reputation as a playground for the rich and famous draws lots of visitors, Lake Bracciano is a lesser-known, laidback alternative.

Lake Bracciano is just an hour from Rome but is a tranquil world away. The only motors allowed are those of the ferries that connect the three lakeside towns. All other boats, including the fishermen, have to paddle. This ensures not only a peaceful ambiance but a safer environment for kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders who don’t have to contend with jet skis or motor boats.

Three towns grace the shore of Lake Bracciano. On the south side of the lake are Bracciano and Anguillara Sabazia, while on the north side is teensy Trevignano Romano.

Bracciano with its imposing 15th-century castle sits above the lake and has a bustling feel. Anguillara Sabazia is a stunning sight as it sits out on a promontory. And Anguillara is big enough to provide all the daily services and amusements while retaining a small-town feel and appeal with a sense of community.

Lake Bracciano doesn’t just boast proximity to Rome. It’s also less than an hour from the Mediterranean Sea, and is at the gateway to Tuscia, the ancient Etruscan land where timeless places like Sutria, Vetralla, and Viterbo (and many more) offer endless exploration opportunities.

“You’ll have abundant nature, beautiful countryside, ancient archeological sites, the Mediterranean coast, intriguing towns, and city life all in easy reach,” says Valerie Schneider, IL Italy Correspondent. “It’s a wonder this central lakes district isn’t more popular, but its lack of crowds makes it all the more appealing.”

For less than a studio apartment costs in Rome, you can buy a townhouse with garden, garage, and roof terrace near Lake Bracciano. It has two bedrooms, a studio, and one bathroom set out on two floors, in a quiet country-like setting. Price: €195,000 ($221,884).


Lake District, Chile

With its wild beauty and seemingly endless, wide-open spaces, Chile’s Lake District seems like the last perfect place at the far end of the world. However, it offers one of the most First World lifestyles in Latin America.

The Lake District is one of Chile’s most popular vacation areas, with cool, freshwater lakes for summertime vacations and, in some parts, wintertime skiing, as well. In spite of the country’s reputation for seismic activity, the Lake District long had a smattering of mostly European expats. Now those from the U.S. and Canada are putting down roots in this region, too.

“When we tied the knot all those years ago, my husband, Jim, and I never dreamed that we would be celebrating our 28th anniversary under the stars of the Southern Hemisphere,” says Lori Dorchak


“But when the financial crisis of 2007-2008 destroyed our real estate brokerage, development, and appraisal firm, we felt that we were living in front of a computer screen, working harder and harder to make less and less. What’s more, all we had to show for it was chronic heartburn, a perpetual headache, and empty pockets.

“Disillusioned with the American Dream, we decided to close our business and retire to paradise. We were having a midlife crisis together. But our dream of paradise did not include palm trees and relaxing on the beach. We were only in our early 50s and felt we still had lots of living to do, besides building that homestead we’d always dreamed about and raising the children still left at home.”


The couple decided to settle in Puerto Octay, a town on the north shore of Llanquihue Lake in Los Lagos Region in the south of Chile. Lake Llanquihue is a vast, blue expanse with the snow-capped peaks of two volcanoes, Osorno and Calbuco, clearly visible on its far side. There are several villages scattered along the shores of Lake Llanquihue, all of them surrounded by forest.


“We chose here because of the spectacular scenery, year-round mild climate, and because it is just a bit off the beaten track.


“We came from South Carolina, which has a pretty low cost of living. In comparison, some things in Chile can be more expensive, like technology and imported items. On the other hand, many everyday expenses are significantly cheaper here, like rent, utilities, and locally grown food (in my opinion, these are the important things). Out in the country, we have found rents on modest family homes to be as low as $200 a month, while in the cities, a larger three-bedroom furnished apartment can run from $500 to $800.


“Our experience with the Chilean healthcare system has also been very positive. For minor illnesses like the flu, we just go to our local hospital. Before we signed up for the national insurance plan, which costs around $25 a month for our family, we were charged just $15 to see the doctor. Medicines usually cost us less than $5. If we want better quality or service, we can always go to the private hospital for a slightly higher co-pay. The quality of care here is comparable to the U.S., with more of a focus on prevention.


“The freedom we experience living in the countryside of southern Chile is marvellous.”


Retire to Europe on Less Than $35,000 a Year in These 7 Places—Internationalliving.com

July 23, 2019  
Filed under Travel

Despite common assumptions about costs being high, a retirement in Old World Europe can, in fact, be affordable. In a new report, the editors at Internationalliving.com pinpoint seven spots in Europe where it’s possible to retire comfortably for less than $35,000 a year.

Source: Internationalliving.com

It’s not hard to retire to Europe and enjoy a high quality of life on less than $35,000 a year. In welcoming, warm-weather, good-value escapes, expat retirees can find great bargains and stretch their dollars.

“Europe as a value retirement destination seems kind of counter-intuitive,” says Dan Prescher, senior editor with International Living. “But it takes a little out-of-the-box thinking. Get outside the big cities and popular tourist destinations, and life can get very affordable.”

International Living has identified seven communities where the weather is good and a relaxed Old World lifestyle is surprisingly affordable.

Provence, France

Provence is a sweeping area at the center of the Alps-Provence-Cote d’Azur (PACA) region of southeastern France. It shares a border with the Languedoc-Roussillon region as well as the Auvergne-Rhône-Alps. France’s second largest city, Marseille, is its capital, but visitors tend to gravitate to smaller popular towns, such as Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, and Arles.

Given that Provence offers some of the best year-round weather in France, it’s an ideal retirement location for those seeking long days of sunshine and blue skies. The region boasts 300 days of sun, and warm weather that stretches from April through October. Winters tend to be cool with some rain, but rarely dip beneath 40 F.

Popular towns near the coastline tend to have inflated prices compared to small inland towns. For example, rent for a small, furnished one-bedroom apartment in Aix-en-Provence runs about $920 per month, while the same amount will get you a large, two- or three-bedroom, fully-furnished house with a garden in the hilly green heart of the Var department, about 50 miles further inland.

Find the right spot in Provence, and a couple can live well renting a one-bedroom apartment for $2,695 per month—$32,340 a year.


Seville, Spain

Seville (population about 700,000 in the city and 1.5 million in the greater metro area) is a mecca for those who love gracious living, southern Spanish style. Located on the Guadalquivir River, the largest navigable river in Spain, Seville is about 50 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

Winters are relatively mild, with average highs in the 60s F and lows in the 40s F. But summer temperatures, especially in July and August, can soar well over 100 F, with next to no humidity. How better, then, to spend the hot days than in a house with thick stone walls to keep out the heat and a placid central patio, perhaps with a tinkling fountain in the center, and masses of flowers around it? This lifestyle has appealed to Sevillanos for centuries…and in this city, tradition runs strong.

The city is justly famous for its Moorish architecture, bull fighting, flamenco dancing, and lively culinary scene. Seville’s Holy Week (Semana Santa) processions are widely considered the most solemn and impressive in Spain, drawing millions of visitors each year. And its feria (fair) in April, with its wealth of street activities, is also a highlight of the year.

In the right neighborhood, a couple can live well in Seville on $2,319 per month including rent, or $27,828 a year.


Nazaré, Portugal

Just 32 square miles in area, Nazaré is a livable city on the coast between Lisbon and Porto. While it’s delightful to explore on foot, reliable bus and taxi service is available. There’s a local market in town as well as supermarkets, more than 100 restaurants and cafés, and other amenities.

There’s already an established expat presence here, although the city is not overrun, as some popular places are, like the southern region of the Algarve, for example.

Nazaré’s climate is temperate, with highs reaching toward 85 F in summer, dipping to averages around 50 F in January, the coldest month. It might not suit those who are looking for year-round sun, but even in November, for example, rainfall averages only three-and-a-half inches compared to the five inches the capital, Lisbon, receives.

The town’s market is within easy walking distance from center, where locals and visitors alike can purchase fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, and bakery items like fried pumpkin cake. Perhaps the most attractive part of Nazaré is Sítio, a primarily residential area. Perched high on a cliff above the coast and town, this suburb offers magnificent views and can be reached by walking (for hearty souls), driving, or taking the funicular from below.

And best of all, a couple can rent a large apartment close to the beach and live well on $1,845 a month, or $22,140 a year, in Nazaré.


Sorrento, Italy

A dignified small city resting on a bluff, Sorrento is a sun-splashed energetic place. Its position on the Sorrentine Peninsula gives it stunning views of Vesuvius looming over Naples as well as the magical rocky island of Capri. There are relaxing cafes, plenty of shops from posh to practical, and a sheltered shoreline below the cliffs.

The city is sort of divided into three parts—the centro old town, the waterfront marinas below the cliffs, and the newer town beyond the ancient city walls. Despite the summer crowds it draws, Sorrento isn’t merely a beach resort; it enjoys a vibrant year-round life. There is a “cultural university” that offers a range of adult cultural classes and volunteer opportunities, along with the University of Mediterranean Cuisine.

The climate is pleasant with hot, dry summers and mild, moist winters. The average temperature in summer is 85 F tempered by sea breezes, and in winter the average temperature runs around 50 F. Expect some rainy days from November through February, but there are theater shows, cinemas, and museums to get you out, and the train to Naples and big city amenities takes just an hour.

Renting a one-bedroom apartment, a couple can live well in Sorrento for $2,817 per month—which comes to $33,804 a year.


Lagos, Portugal

In Portugal’s Algarve region, Lagos is blessed with a year-round moderate climate, with average temperatures ranging from 52 F in winter to 75 F in the summertime, when the normal average population of 22,000 swells with visitors from Europe and elsewhere. While landlubbers enjoy golfing, tennis, horseback riding, and hiking, the ocean offers the best of conditions for kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, kite surfing, windsurfing and more in the area’s tourist-based economy.

It’s easy to get around Lagos on foot. Much of the city is fairly flat, especially around the lovely marina. Buses and taxis are plentiful, and trains go to other regions of the Algarve and even up to Lisbon and beyond.

Despite the tourist-oriented nature of Lagos, particularly during the peak season of July and August, prices are surprisingly reasonable. Including rent, a couple can live well in Lagos on $2,080 per month, or $24,960 a year.


Modena, Italy

Sitting prettily on the ancient Via Emilia, roughly 80 miles north of Florence, Modena is well-connected and well-heeled. This city is one of the most underrated in Italy—a well-to-do city without being stuffy (or over-priced).

Its classy historic center packs a cultural punch with its monuments, museums, art, and entertainment. No wonder Modena consistently ranks high on Italy’s quality of life index ratings.

The university draws young people from around Italy to study law, medicine, and mechanical engineering—not surprising, given the number of automakers in the area. You can visit Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and Pagani.

Outside town, vineyards swath the hills and plains, turning out frothy Lambrusco and its lively white equivalent Pignoletto.

Maybe it’s the sparkling wines produced here that gives Modena a bubbly demeanor, or maybe the light-hearted pastels of the buildings. Whatever it is, the ambiance of this city of 175,000 residents is pleasant and somewhat reminiscent of Florence with Renaissance influence.

It is well maintained and well-endowed with parks and culture, thanks in part to Ferrari and other local industrialists whose philanthropy keeps Modena green and clean.

The lifestyle here is relaxed, like most places in Italy, but with a touch of class and culture. In the right spot in Modena a couple can live well for as little as $1,617 per month including rent, or $19,404 a year.


Granada, Spain

The climate and weather of Granada justify why so many peoples have sought to be here. Set at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, humidity is low, which makes it comfortable to be out and about on foot. Winters can have a chill, but snow rarely lasts in town for more than a day. The hot summers remain dry and humidity-free, nothing that a shaded café and a cold tinto de verano (iced summer wine) can’t counter.

Today, Granada remains a mid-sized town (235,000 people) that one can walk the length of, though the city transit system is so easy, regular, and accessible, it is second to none. Everyone uses it, which makes it both convenient transportation and a social meet-up.

Surrounded by gently rolling foothills, mountains streams, and open meadows filled with olive and fruit trees, Granada is a hiker’s paradise. One can find villages situated in valleys that have been occupied for 5,000 years, and with each new generation, a new layer (and outdoor wine/tapa café) is added to the area’s vivacity.

A couple can enjoy all Granada has to offer for $2,476 per month including rent—$29,712 a year.


The full report on these seven affordable European retirement destinations can be found here at Places in Europe Where You Can Retire on $35,000 a Year

21 Perfect Beaches for Retirement Where You Don’t Need to Be a Millionaire

July 16, 2019  
Filed under Travel

21 Perfect Beaches for Retirement Where You Don’t Need to Be a Millionaire —InternationalLiving.com

Most people who dream about retiring at the beach assume they can’t afford it. But International Living’s new report identifies 21 gorgeous beach destinations worldwide where living with the sand and surf steps from the front door doesn’t cost a fortune—in fact, in some places it can be done on a Social Security income alone.

Source: Internationalliving.com

“Lots of people daydream about retiring at the beach—the warm weather, the laid-back vibe, the endless summer—all that has great appeal. But conventional wisdom says it’s something beyond most people’s reach. In fact, that’s not true,” says Dan Prescher, senior editor at International Living.  “Retiring on the beach like a millionaire has never taken a million dollars. All it takes is knowing where to look. The world is a big place, and there are scores of beautiful beaches where retiring and living the good life is within anyone’s reach. In fact, in some of the beach towns our report points to, a couple can retire well on less than $30,000 a year.”

International Living correspondents have identified the top 21 gorgeous beach destinations that offer a retirement in the sun without breaking the bank. Seven of the best include:

Salinas, Ecuador

Salinas is a fully-fledged beach resort—among Ecuadorians, it’s probably the country’s best-known resort. This is the place for those who like all amenities: modern condominium buildings (which line much of Salinas’s miles-long beach), restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and discos. Plus there’s regular bus service to Guayaquil, only two hours away, which has an international airport. All of this makes retirement in Salinas an attractive option.

Despite the flurry of activity that is Salinas, it may be one of the world’s least-expensive beach resorts. A nice private room in a boutique hotel just one block off the malecón (boardwalk) can be had for $30 a night for a single. A steak or seafood dinner in one of those trendy restaurants costs just $5 or $6. Or chow down on fish or shrimp, cooked any way imaginable, at the local mercado (market) for about $2.50.

A couple can live well in Salinas for about $1,400 per month including rent.

Pedasi, Panama

Pedasi is a wonderful place to live for ocean lovers. Scuba, snorkel, windsurfing, and deep-sea fishing are just some of the things to do here. The town has all the necessary amenities for day-to-day living—the Minsa-Capsi hospital in Pedasi offers most services with a variety of specialists—there are a few grocery stores, gas station and even a public library. Las Tablas is the nearest shopping city and it’s only a 45-minute drive away.

The safety of Pedasi is one reason why many expats move here. In Pedasi, there is little to no petty crime of any kind. Locals and expats all look out for each other, and locals welcome expats and expat businesses.

Including rent, a couple can live well in Pedasi on about $1,265 per month.

Bocas del Toro, Panama

Also in Panama, Bocas del Toro may well be one of the best-kept secrets in the Caribbean with ocean breezes, soft reggae music, stunning scenery, and a laidback atmosphere. Views are quintessential Caribbean—white-sand beaches, perky green palms, and warm crystal-clear water. Typical visitors range from backpackers and surfers to wealthy adventurers who enjoy traveling to off-the-radar locations.

Expats living here tend to be very involved in island life. Some have started businesses, helping fuel the island economy, others enjoy teaching local students, and others find time to volunteer for important causes or charities. Much good has come of this growth, and the community has worked to protect the flora and fauna, and local marine life such as sea turtles. Bocas Del Toro is also a perfect place to test drive your dream Caribbean lifestyle. The expat community is welcoming, it’s organized, and it gives back. A few days is all that’s required to start networking and making friends.

A couple can rent and live well in Bocas for as little as $1,400 a month.

Sayulita, Mexico

It’s all about the beach and the water in Sayulita. Enjoy world-class surfing and standup paddle boarding, as well as fishing in the local open wooden boats for a good price. Sayulita is an active town, with plenty of expat get-togethers, happy hours, and other events, as well as volunteer activities, to stay busy night and day.

A considerable advantage of living in Sayulita is that while there are markets, stores, restaurants, and even medical clinics to cover day-to-day needs, it’s also easy to head south to the larger town of Bucerias or even further to Puerto Vallarta to get anything not found in Sayulita. This makes it very convenient to get the funky vibe of a bohemian beach town with the conveniences and comforts of the big city available just down the road.

With rent, a couple can live comfortably in Sayulita for about $1,800 per month.

Cascais, Portugal

Cascais is blessed with a year-round moderate climate, with temperatures ranging from 55 F to 77 F. Golfing is nearby, and favorable sun and wind conditions make sailing, kite surfing, and windsurfing—in addition to traditional surfing—popular activities in this region whose economy hinges on tourism. These factors—pleasant climate, lovely natural surroundings, accessible culture, and more—combine to make Cascais an ideal choice for retirement.

Cascais has not forgotten its origins as a fishing village. Seasoned fishermen still leave from shore in early morning, returning with their catch of sardines, crabs, mussels, robalo, dorado, and octopus. At lunch time, the men eat on the dock, family-style, from huge stock pots of simmering fish stew, sharing stories washed down with local wines. The arresting beauty of the bay charms locals and visitors alike.

A couple can rent and live well in Cascais for about $1,580 per month.

Placencia, Belize

Placencia is a charming little seaside town found at the tip of a peninsula off the coast of mainland Belize. It’s fast becoming Belize‘s most desirable location as it fronts the gorgeous Caribbean Sea to the east and a resplendent freshwater lagoon, full of wildlife and with a view of the gorgeous Maya mountain chain, to the west.

One of only three villages on the entire peninsula, Placencia is still largely seen as a vacation spot, but has everything needed to build a life, including supermarkets, brightly painted restaurants, a small domestic airport, and a medical clinic. The Placencia Peninsula has a population of less than 5,000, and many of these are expats. The combination of relaxation with adventure makes Placencia a perfect beach paradise.

Placencia retains more of a Caribbean atmosphere than found in other parts of Belize. Food, entertainment, and the area’s general appearance all have Caribbean flavor. Beaches are wider, whiter, and in many places, almost empty except for the occasional egret or ibis. And English is the official language in Belize.

Including rent, a couple can enjoy the good life in Placencia for about $1,760 per month.

Penang, Malaysia

Penang is a small tropical island off the west coast of peninsular Malaysia. It is a former British colony, so English is widely spoken. Its population is just over 700,000 with a majority of the people living in its capital, George Town. Penang has been one of the top expat destinations in Malaysia for years. It is not a bustling city like Kuala Lumpur, yet it still has all the comforts of home. There is everything from beaches and shopping to great food and a vibrant culture.

Penang is a multicultural island with about 60% of its inhabitants being Chinese, 32% Malays, and 7% Indian. Culturally it’s a mind-blowing place to live, and with a mix of these cultures, the food is touted to be the best in all of Southeast Asia. In 2014, Lonely Planet deemed Penang to be the top foodie destination to visit in the world.

A couple can rent and enjoy all Penang has to offer for about $1,450 per month.

More information on these and the other 14 beaches to retire like a millionaire can be found here: 21 Great Value Beach Destinations Around The World

How To Throw Out Your Phone On A Summer Road Trip

July 16, 2019  
Filed under Travel

When you go on your summer vacation, can you also take a vacation from your smartphone?


Can you give Facebook and Instagram a rest and enjoy conversing with the people around you rather than constantly scrolling, posting, and checking for comments from your legion of followers?


Critics of chronic users of smartphones and social media doubt people can go without them for long. In today’s digitally consumed world, taking a “digital detox” is difficult for many to do.


But Johnny Welsh (www.johnnywelsh.com), author of Paper Maps, No Apps: An Unplugged Travel Adventure, says vacation is the perfect time to disconnect  — and that it may change your perspective, and your life, if you do.


“With this addiction to our smartphones, this obsession to be connected with the world, we fail to connect with the people sitting right in front of us,” says Welsh, whose book chronicles a 16-day road trip in the western U.S. that he and his girlfriend, Kristy, took while detaching from smartphones and social media.


“The disconnect in face-to-face interactions keeps growing; I see it happening more as smartphones get ‘smarter.’ I imagine what would happen if aliens landed on earth and observed us. They might think a smartphone is something we need to live, like an external nervous system.”


On his road trip, Welsh endeavored to experience “how different life could be without the constant seduction of the flat screen” — while also examining his own social media habits with a sense of humor. Likewise, he thinks others who ditch their phones on a getaway can better live in the moment while not being digitally distracted.


“Be present,” Welsh says. “Turn off your device and really live. Vacations should be a real break from our technology-soaked lives.”


Welsh gives five tips on how to disconnect from your smartphone and enjoy vacation without it:


Use paper maps. Welsh says this is the first big step to looking at what’s around you rather than looking at your phone. Using the old-school way, you won’t have to go to Google Maps for navigation and have an excuse to keep using your phone,” Welsh says. “Plus, using your brain, your imagination fires up like when you were a kid, looking at the back roads on an old map and wondering where they all lead.”


Delete tempting apps. “Addicted to Twitter or other sites? Delete the app from your phone before you leave on vacation,” Welsh says, “and don’t reinstall it until you get back.”


Buy a disposable camera or a real one. “Rather than take selfies on your phone, and constantly posting pictures and agonizing over the perfect hashtags, you can capture memories the old-fashioned way,” Welsh says. “And this way you actually enjoy your surroundings without having your face in a screen most of the day.”


Check hotels with digital-detox discounts. “Yes, they’re out there,” Welsh says. “Some places offer room discounts for giving up your phone upon check-in. A reawakening starts with forced human interaction. We did that for thousands of years before.”


Read. “Remember that?” Welsh asks. “Rather than being entranced on your phone, bring a good book. The act of reading a physical book quiets and calms us, incorporates the sense of touch and smell, and allows us to become part of the story in a way that no pop-up headline can.”


“We’re relying too much on instant technology,” Welsh says. “There can be life — a higher quality of life — without these devices.”


About Johnny Welsh


Johnny Welsh (www.johnnywelsh.com) is the author of Paper Maps, No Apps: An Unplugged Travel Adventure. His first book, Weedgalized in Colorado, about the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, won two awards from Readers’ Favorite. A professional bartender in Frisco, Col., for 20 years, he has a B.A. in Italian language, literature and culture from Syracuse University.

Vermont State Parks: Top 5 Views

July 24, 2017  
Filed under Things to do, Travel

ans of Vermont State Parks know and love the awesome scenery and fantastic views. You might try climbing one of the mountain summits, or a fire tower, or maybe you want to take a ride up the Mt. Ascutney auto road. Read more

Three Wonderful Discoveries

May 15, 2017  
Filed under Travel

 The ice fields at Canada’s Glacier National Park have begun to shrink, but are still a favorite of visitors. (Photo courtesy of Bill Neely.)

The ice fields at Canada’s Glacier National Park have begun to shrink, but are still a favorite of visitors. (Photo courtesy of Bill Neely.)

Canadian National Parks

By Bonnie and Bill Neely

Our original plan was to spend our RV camping week in East Glacier National Park in the United States, but we had failed to make reservations and found it full. Fortunately, we had our passports with us and papers from our veterinarian proving that our little dog was safe to go, so we drove into Canada and discovered three wonderful national parks that are now among our favorites.

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See the World’s Most Spectacular Sights by Train

September 15, 2016  
Filed under Travel

The Rocky Mountaineer takes passengers through some of the most dramatic scenery in North America. (Photo courtesy of the Armstrong Group)

The Rocky Mountaineer takes passengers through some of the most dramatic scenery in North America. (Photo courtesy of the Armstrong Group)

By Victor Block

For some people, taking a train is just a way of traveling from one place to another. For others, the trip itself is the major attraction. They’re interested in the ride, the scenery outside and in some cases the activities available to passengers. Here are several outstanding rail trips that will tempt you to get on board all around the country and the world. Read more

Town-Hopping: Food and Fun Close to Home

August 18, 2016  
Filed under Travel

The Battell Bridge in downtown Middlebury was built in 1893 to span the Otter Creek. (Photo by Mike Kimball)

The Battell Bridge in downtown Middlebury was built in 1893 to span the Otter Creek. (Photo by Mike Kimball)


By Jess Wisloski

More than skiing, biking or even pausing to take in beautiful panoramas, Vermonters have a longstanding tradition that often goes unnoticed: Town-hopping. The bucolic downtowns and sweet side streets that pepper the countryside can make a languid Sunday afternoon something like a spectacular way to squander a day. Here’s our roundup of the top places in the area for a great four-hour jaunt. Go get lost in these places, but first, read some suggestions on where to eat and what to do when you get there.

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Summer Events 2016 

June 10, 2016  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Things to do, Travel

The Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival is a feast for the eyes and the imagination. (Photo by Karen Cox)

The Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival is a feast for the eyes and the imagination. (Photo by Karen Cox)

Sunday, July 10 – Saturday, July 16


Addison County’s premier summer arts event — the 38th annual festival will feature family-friendly programs and live performances from musicians both near and far. Free admission. www.festivalonthegreen.org

Friday, July 8 – Sunday, July 10


The 30th Annual Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival returns with 25 hot air balloons set to take flight above the beautiful Green Mountains. The weekend will feature live music, local food and craft beer, gift shops and plenty of activities for children. www.stoweflake.com/activities_balloon_festival.aspx

Saturday, July 9 – Sunday, July 10


The 10th annual celebration allow visitors to explore the vineyards, farms, gardens, art studios and galleries of Grand Isle County. Meet local artists and agricultural producers and purchase items directly from their makers. www.openfarmandstudio.com

Saturday, July 16


The Lyndon Area Chamber hosts the 36th annual festival and parade in downtown Lyndonville. The parade begins at 10 a.m. and the festival features more than 40 crafters and vendors and live music in the park. www.lyndonvermont.com

Thursday, July 21 – Sunday, July 31


Adults and children alike will love this musical based on the Dr. Seuss stories. Tickets for “Seussical” are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and students and $7 for children 12 and under. haskellopera.com/events

Friday, July 15 – Sunday, July 17


The festival returns for its 15th year at Killington Peak Lodge. Guests can sample from more than 400 wines from over 40 vineyards from around the world and take a ride on the K1 gondola to the top of Killington Peak. www.killingtonpico.org/page/wine_festival

Sunday, July 17


Enjoy a day of fun at the Coach Barn at Shelburne Farms — sample more than 150 varieties of artisan cheeses from over 40 Vermont cheesemakers along the beautiful shores of Lake Champlain. This celebration of “food, community and the working landscape of Vermont” will also feature local food and beverage artisans. www.vtcheesefest.com

Friday, July 29 – Sunday, July 31


Burlington City Arts hosts the 9th annual Festival of Fools in downtown Burlington featuring a variety of street theater, circus arts, music and comedy for family audiences. Free and open to the public. www.vermontfestivaloffools.com.

Friday, July 29 – Saturday, July 30


The second annual Stowe Brewers Festival offers three 4-hour tasting sessions featuring 40+ brewers and cider-makers serving more than 130 beers and ciders, bonus taste tickets from premiere Vermont spirits distillers, more than a dozen food trucks, free workshops and demonstrations, a wide variety of specialty food and product vendors, live music and free on-site parking, unlimited cold, filtered water and secure bicycle valet. Standard admission is $45 and includes: entry to single 4-hour tasting session; 15 beer/cider tasting tickets for 3 oz. samples; five bonus spirits tasting tickets; and souvenir tasting glass. VIP admission for $75 also includes expedited festival entry; exclusive VIP lounge tent; 2016 festival swag bag; and the Coveted “Hop the Line” pass.

The live music lineup includes: Session 1: Gang of Thieves; Session 2: Michelle Sarah Band; Session 3: Josh Panda. Designated drivers are admitted free. Round-trip luxury motor coach transportation is available departing from University Mall in South Burlington for only $20. www.StoweBrewersFestival.com.

Friday, July 29 – Sunday, Aug. 7


This mid-summer festival spans the towns of Wilmington, Whitingham and Dover and will feature a Big Blue Parade, a Blue Street Fair, jam making, live music, a blue car auto show, bake sales, blue beer, children’s activities, pick your own blueberries and more. www.vermontblueberry.com

Thursday, July 28 – Sunday, July 31


The 10th annual festival returns to the shores of the Burlington Waterfront and offers a variety of classic boats, long boats, canoes, kayaks and dragonboats on display, as well as live music, local food and hands-on exhibits for children to enjoy. www.lcmfestival.com

Saturday, Aug. 6 – Sunday, Aug. 7


Head out to Main Street Park in Rutland for live music, food, craft demonstrations, kids activities and a day full of art hosted by Chaffee Art Center. www.chaffeeartcenter.org

Friday, Aug. 12 – Sunday, Aug. 14


One of the largest and oldest shows in New England has become a treasured tradition for those in Stowe and beyond. The weekend will feature more than 800 antique and classic cars and new this year the show will feature race cars, food concessions, a flea market, car parade, street dance and more www.vtauto.org.

Tuesday, Aug. 16 – Saturday, Aug. 20


The 171st Vermont State Fair will be held at the fairgrounds in Rutland featuring entertainment, rides, events, music concerts, demolition derby, agricultural exhibits, farm animals, culinary, vegetable and floral exhibits, maple sugar house and dairy barn, grandstand attractions and more. www.vermontstatefair.org.

Saturday, Aug. 20 – Sunday, Aug. 21


The Peacham Acoustic Music Festival returns to the Village Green featuring acoustic music from a variety of genres including folk, blues, bluegrass, Celtic and classica,l as well as music workshops, jam sessions and family events. www.pamfest.com

Friday, Aug. 19 – Sunday, Aug. 21


The Vermont Music Festival is a volunteer-run music festival produced by the Mad River Valley Rotary. Billed as ‘a Vermont musical celebration for the whole family’ it features a wide variety of musical styles. Bring your blanket or lawn chair. visit http://vtmusicfest.org

Wednesday, Aug. 24 – Sunday, Aug. 28


Special events happening daily plus Children’s Barnyard, cattle and livestock, 4-H exhibits, Floral Hall displays, sugar house, giftsShop, antique tractor display, poultry, goats and swine and commercial exhibits. www.vtfair.com

Friday, Aug. 26 – Sunday, Sept. 4


The Champlain Valley Fair is 10 days of fun, rides, food, concerts and more. Essex Junction. www.champlainvalleyfair.org

Thursday, Sept. 15 – Sunday, Sept. 18


A weekend honoring agricultural traditions and features music, food, refreshments and information on farming practices. 889-5555. 

Enjoy an Outdoor Summer Staycation at a Vermont Resort

June 10, 2016  
Filed under Travel

For the adventurous, a zip-line tour like this one at Okemo Mountain Resort can be just the thing to add a little zip to summer.  (Photo courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort)

For the adventurous, a zip-line tour like this one at Okemo Mountain Resort can be just the thing to add a little zip to summer.
(Photo courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort)

Families and adventure seekers flock to Vermont ski and snowboard resorts in the winter for downhill thrills and snowy escapes, but these resorts also shine as a beacon for summer adventure enthusiasts and families looking for outdoor escapes and events. From gorgeous golf greens and mountain trails to lakes, rivers, pools and waterparks, there are so many places (and ways) to play in Vermont’s Green Mountains in the warmer months.

Adventures Read more

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