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...
Today we're taking a look at gay-friendly retirement locations. It turns out that it's a myth that most gay people live in a handful of well-known urban neighborhoods like the Castro in San Francisco or Chelsea in New York City. You can go back to the 2000 Census and learn that same-sex couples live in 99 percent of U.S. counties.
There are so many things to consider if you are contemplating a big move for your retirement. While the financial piece will dictate a lot of it, other things are important too like access to friends and family, cost of living, cost of housing, renting or buying, one home or two, and proximity of good healthcare or continuing education. Will you need a car? Is the new area safe?
Portugal's Algarve, located at Europe's westernmost tip and boasting 100 miles of Atlantic coastline, could be Europe's most famous secret. This region boasts Europe's best beaches, Europe's best golf courses, some of Europe's friendliest folk, and Western Europe's lowest cost of living. It's also Europe's newest tax haven.
Many retirement destinations are promoted on the basis that they're 'just like the United States'... touted for the fact that living there you'd be in familiar surroundings. That's not the case with Cuenca, Ecuador. Walking these cobblestoned streets past the historic Spanish architecture and the old colonial churches, you know that you're not in Kansas anymore.
Chiriquí is Panama's farmland. Its broad pastures are dotted with dairy cows, and you'll find beef cattle ranches and horse stables. Rocky rivers and winding streams crisscross a landscape overlooked by Barú Volcano and the Continental Divide. I guess it reminds me of the countryside of New Jersey and New York State, where I grew up, except for the palm trees! So how did I end up here?
San Miguel is a more affordable place to live than is Santa Fe. And for many years now, San Miguel has been one of the top destinations on the "retire overseas circuit." We lived there ourselves for a few years and we'd happily return to this enchanted place where life is slow and easy, and filled with art, music, literature, and like-minded company.
Today with cell phones, texting, Skype and the relative ease of air travel (OK, I know the security lines are awful but I'm referring to all the flight options), living in different parts of the country than your grandchildren can work. But, if you want a few extra visits, you might want to consider being near certain locations as a bit of a draw.