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.
After a long career in Silicon Valley, Robbie Felix, 58, was ready for a change. "I showed up there in 1978 right after they broke up the telephone monopolies, and it was booming," says Robbie, who worked as a headhunter specialized in staffing start-up companies. "I loved it. It was fascinating, but extremely stressful."
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.
Most people visiting Costa Rica fly into the capital, San José, site of the main international airport, but head out as soon as possible for Pacific or Caribbean coast beaches. And the majority of expats live on the coast or in more rural areas of the Central Valley.
There's so much we've learned by living overseas. The nuts and bolts alone can be overwhelming. What about Social Security? (Yes, you can still collect it when you live overseas.) Do you have to give up your U.S. or Canadian citizenship? (No, never... unless you choose to officially do so.) What about Medicare?