Unlike several generations before, those headed into the retirement years today are taking very different paths. Where people who retired at the end of the last century might have been content to play golf or cards and take the occasional trip, today's active baby boomers have big and diverse plans. And what's most interesting is that they are not passive plans.
So, what makes a town a good foodie town? It's not just an abundance of great restaurants, from white tablecloth to diners. Markets -- both farmers and specialty food purveyors -- butchers and fish mongers, bakeries, cooking classes and dinner clubs, brewpubs and local vintners are all the requirements of a five-alarm foodie.
Friends returned recently from an extended stay in Thailand. They'd also recently spent time on the west coast of the United States (Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle) and a month in Paris. Their conclusion? That at street level Paris costs roughly double the west coast of the United States. The United States in turn costs roughly double Bangkok or Chiang Mai in Thailand.
My friend is facing a retirement with absolutely no savings. She declared bankruptcy four years ago and still has another three years before she can start saving. The good news is that she moved to another part of the country, was able to find a new job and is slowly putting her life back together. Sadly, the financial devastation she experienced will seriously impact her ability to retire.
For me, going away to school was the first time on my own. I was in a new place where I could reinvent myself. It was in college that I really became me. There was an energy in college that was unique. Each day our minds were exposed to new ideas. It was exhilarating. It's not surprising then, as people start planning their retirement, that moving to a college town environment is so popular.
Before you're ready to retire, you're likely to notice places around the world where you'd like to be able to spend time. Not just once every several years or so in a hotel, but more regularly, as often as possible, in the company of your family and friends, and in a place of your own. That's the realization we made years ago in Istria, Croatia.
Moving overseas can be the right move for a lot of us, especially those of retirement age or those with portable careers or even for families with children. If you want your kids to become true citizens of the world, there's no better way to give them some top-notch educational and cultural opportunities than by immersing them in a foreign culture.
There are always a few expats who feel that, once they arrive in a country, no other foreigners should be allowed in. As soon as they're settled, they'd like all talk of this great place they've found to live or retire to cease (except for their own blogs and posts about what a great place they've found to live or retire).
Kilkenny Town itself could be a great retirement choice, but I'd say that the best retirement spot in all the Emerald Isle would be just outside that city, where you can embrace quintessential Irish country life while remaining in easy reach of the shopping, entertainment, festivals, and town amenities of Kilkenny proper.
The explosion of foreign retirees moving to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico began in earnest in the 1970s. At the start of that decade, the city had a total estimated population of about 15,000, including 1,000 expats. The expat population increased to about 2,500 by 1990 and then to somewhere between 7,500 and 10,000 today (among a total current-day population of about 75,000).
I wake up naturally, no alarms needed anymore. The sun greets me, as it does every morning, and my French doors open onto my patio, where I can watch the waves crash over the rocks in the bluest of oceans. Birdsong mixes with the calls of howler monkeys, letting me know that they are somewhere in the trees. My yard looks like a jungle -- coconut palms, fruit and avocado trees.
If there is one thing we know, no matter the country we expats live in, we will never be 'locals.' We can get legal residence status and even become full-fledged second-passport carrying citizens of any of these countries if we so choose... but we will never ever be Mexican or Ecuadorian or Nicaraguan or Costa Rican or Panamanian...