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3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.
Old 03-31-2007, 08:40 AM   #1
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3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

Today's Wall St. Journal has some great information in it (a whole section, by the way) on retirees living in SE Asia, oceanfront Florida hazards and joys, retirees who have moved a number of times already looking for mecca, and so forth. Really great information in them, so, if you can get ahold of a copy, do so. Worth the reading.
And I thought that I was the only one thinking of retiring in SE Asia...haha!
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.
Old 03-31-2007, 10:14 AM   #2
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

Thanks for the info.

It does seem that some of us are either looking for a lower cost of living or adventure/change or both.

I have not considered moving to asia, but I have considered extended visits.
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.
Old 03-31-2007, 06:56 PM   #3
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

Thanks to Uncle Sam, I lived all over Asia for the first fourteen years of my life. I enjoyed the Philippines and Sri Lanka although DW would not retire there. I know that the old Mission director retired in Sri Lanka, along with Arthur C. Clarke.
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.
Old 03-31-2007, 08:09 PM   #4
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

I don't have a subscription to WSJ. Can someone summarize it?
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.
Old 04-01-2007, 04:28 PM   #5
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

Here is one of the better articles:



Distant Shores
Affordable living is drawing retirees to Southeast Asia
By STEVE MOLLMAN
March 31, 2007; Page R4
If there was a better place to spend their retirement years, Harold and Mary Richards would have found it.
The British retirees stepped back and surveyed the globe, drawing upon the years of living abroad that Mr. Richards's career in education had led to. They considered overlooked spots such as Croatia and Bulgaria. They even gave promising contenders a fighting chance, first trying out South Africa and then Spain.
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Ultimately, they picked Phuket, an island on Thailand's west coast blessed with sunshine, tranquility and friendly people. (Parts of the island were damaged in the 2004 tsunami, but the Richards's neighborhood was largely untouched.) The price of entry also worked in their favor: For about $500,000, they got a four-bedroom luxury villa with a private pool, courtyard and garden. They figure that's less than half what it would have cost in similar spots in most European countries.
"This is a palace," Mr. Richards says, surveying his new home. "What more could a man want?"
The Richardses aren't the only retirees from abroad happily settling into Southeast Asia. More people from around the world are coming to the region, drawn by word of mouth, the easing of some requirements by regional governments, and affordable living -- including cheap housing and relatively inexpensive medical care.
Retirees everywhere "are taking a very close look at the relative quality and cost of living in deciding where to spend their retirement years," says Su-Yen Wong, a managing director for Mercer Human Resource Consulting in Singapore. "Much of the Southeast Asian region scores particularly favorably in the analysis."
According to Mercer's 2006 cost-of-living study, Kuala Lumpur ranked 114 out of 144 cities, while Bangkok was 127th and Manila came in at number 141. By comparison, London and New York ranked among the top 10 costliest places, Miami was 39th, and Monterrey in Mexico was 103.
Growing Ranks
While the overall number of overseas retirees in Southeast Asia is still small, it's growing fast. Malaysia, for instance, started issuing retirement visas in 1996. By 1998, there were fewer than 50 holders of such visas. In 2001, the total had grown to more than 800 and last year there were 8,723. Malaysia aims to add 3,000 to 3,500 retirement visas annually over the next three years under its Malaysia My Second Home program, says Donald Lim, the country's deputy minister of tourism.
Thailand doesn't have an official retirement program in place, but the number of retirement visas is climbing there, too. Thai officials say nearly 1,500 visas were granted to overseas retirees in 2005. The final tally isn't in yet for 2006, but they say it will show a big increase.
The Philippines, meanwhile, has revved up its recruiting efforts. The number of overseas retirees rose by 1,273 last year, more than double the previous year. The number of active retirement visa holders totaled 5,183 at the end of 2006, not counting spouses or dependents and including the 1,826 people who withdrew from the program.
"We aim to have one million retirees here by 2015," says Ernesto M. Ordonez, president of Philippine Retirement Inc., a nonprofit agency that helps foster cooperation between private companies and the government's Philippine Retirement Authority, which processes retirement visas.
With that ambitious goal -- and the competition -- in mind, the Philippines in January halved the size of the local bank deposit it requires retirees to make to prove their financial viability -- this after Thailand stopped requiring any deposit from retirees as long as they can demonstrate a pension of about $1,985. The Philippines now requires $10,000 per registered retiree, including a spouse. Retirees also must show a monthly pension of $800 for a single person or $1,000 for a couple.
The good news for these countries is that the pool of potential retirees keeps expanding. The retiree population -- defined as age 60 and above -- from the U.S., Europe, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China totaled 326.6 million in 2006, according to the Healthcare Coalition Institute, a Santa Fe Springs, Calif., industry research group. And that figure should reach 425.6 million by 2015, the institute says.
Home Sweet (Second) Home
Of course, the concept of retirement means different things to different people. Some want to resettle permanently in a location; others want to split their time between favored destinations.
Take Billy and Marita Thomson, who recently purchased a retirement condo in the Philippines' Subic Bay area, site of a former U.S. naval base northwest of Manila. They met there in the 1960s when Mr. Thomson, now 60, was a U.S. Marine. But, having lived in Alaska for the past 30 years, Mr. Thomson isn't about to give up his salmon fishing. So, the couple plans to spend half the year in Alaska and half the year in the Philippines' warmer climes, where he enjoys swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving and she visits her family.
Others make a more permanent move. Jack Simon, a retired swimming coach from Tampa, Fla., chose to settle on Penang, an island off Malaysia's northwest coast. The 68-year-old bachelor, who is fluent in Spanish, considered settling somewhere closer to home, such as Mexico, Ecuador, Uruguay or Chile. But he had attended a work conference in the region a few years back, and on a side trip to Penang was impressed by the island's food, friendliness, climate -- and low costs.
Mr. Simon describes life on Penang as "unbelievably inexpensive," noting that he gets by mainly on his Social Security checks and that he rarely touches his savings. He says he pays about $350 a month for a two-bedroom, two-bath condo that overlooks the Andaman Sea and is surrounded by tropical jungle. He plays golf frequently with friends he has made there, and dines out four or five times a week. He says he buys all his food and local produce at a nearby mart. And a maid cleans for him once a week.
All told, Mr. Simon says he lives on less than $1,500 a month, adding that he could never enjoy his current lifestyle on the Florida coast spending the same amount.
Mr. Simon says accessibility to good health care also influenced his decision to stay in Penang. Not long after arriving, he had major spinal surgery at Island Hospital, a local private facility. This was followed about a month later by minor prostate surgery. "Medical care here is first rate," he says. "And I can speak firsthand." Mr. Simon says he isn't insured, so he paid cash, and adds that the two procedures, including hospital stays and 24-hour home care, totaled less than $10,000. He figures the tab would have been at least 10 times that in the U.S.
The relatively low cost of living also drew Takeshi Yano, 63, and his wife, Junko, to Penang. "It's very, very hard to live in Japan with only a pension, so [retirees] are moving here," says the former cosmetics importer from Tokyo, who used to travel to Europe on business about four times a year.
Mr. Yano, who says the couple didn't know anyone in Penang when they decided to move there, receives a monthly government pension of about $2,000 to $2,500, depending on the exchange rate. "I wanted to go to Europe or the U.S., but the basic idea is: Can we live with the pension or not?"
On Penang, he says, he manages by paying about $450 a month in rent for a three-bedroom, sea-view apartment. Mr. Yano says he plays golf once a week and enjoys socializing with other Japanese retirees and expatriates, as well as the locals, who he says are very friendly.
Some Adjustments
Such a lifestyle change, however, is not for everyone.
Mr. Yano says some acquaintances on Penang went back to Japan after a few months because they couldn't adjust. They didn't speak English -- almost everyone there does. They also didn't own a car, he says. Penang isn't pedestrian-friendly, and doesn't have a subway system or enough taxis -- and taxi drivers charge the Japanese more, he grouses.
Other things some people have difficulty adjusting to are the lack of seasons and the sometimes-oppressive heat and humidity. And, of course, there's the distance from family and friends, especially for retirees from Europe and the U.S.
Then there's insurance. Medicare doesn't apply, so medical expenses -- even though they may be much lower than in the U.S. or Europe -- must be paid out of pocket if retirees aren't covered by private local insurance, which can be hard to obtain for anyone over 60.
Back in Thailand, the Richardses -- he is 81 and she is 79 -- are convinced they made the right decision. Married for 59 years, they spent all but five of those living outside Britain. They are still settling into Phuket's lifestyle, having moved into their villa in late November. But aside from minor annoyances, like having to renew his Thai retirement visa every 12 months, Mr. Richards says he can find little to complain about.
"This seemed to be an ideal place to spend the rest of our lives," he says. "We settled here, and we have absolutely no regrets at all."
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.
Old 04-02-2007, 10:39 AM   #6
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

Thanks JJG.
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.
Old 04-02-2007, 11:18 AM   #7
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

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Ultimately, they picked Phuket
I am still laughing. That is also the choice I made.
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.
Old 04-02-2007, 03:41 PM   #8
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

Yeah, that's what I say about work. Phuket
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.
Old 04-06-2007, 11:51 PM   #9
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

The guy with the 2BR place overlooking the Andaman Sea for $350 a month is on to something... We travelled in Malaysia about 15 years ago and it was great. Still, it's a long way from kids (and maybe someday grandkids). But to be able to live well and still bank some of his SS check sounds like about as low a SWR as you could get.
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Old 04-07-2007, 03:01 PM   #10
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

We just came back from a month vacation in the Philippines. It was BEAUTIFUL! I was born there and actually lived there until I was 10, but I never knew it could be as beautiful as it was! El Nido was like being in Yosemite on the China Sea!

We are definitely considering it as a possible place to retire. Although I can buy land there, we found out that we can rent a house overlooking the ocean for just $200 a month. That, coupled with $5 massages (no - not THAT kind...those would cost extra), it's a very viable option. It would be a great place to explore that part of the world....half the year we could come back to the US and bounce around either in an RV, a low-cost home or maybe even staying with relatives. We're still 2 years to FIRE and have dogs that would hate the plane ride so we'll have time before we do it....it really gave us the option though, that if we just can't stand working for 2 more years, that we could afford to retire earlier than planned.
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Old 04-07-2007, 08:59 PM   #11
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

Bearkeley,
Are you a golden bear? We went to the Cal-Stanford game this year and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

I think the Plan B approach is really valuable for anyone in or around ER. It may never happen for a of people, but if you can wrap your head around living abroad, the financial bar for ER becomes a lot more accessible. Good luck with your decision process over the next few years.
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.
Old 04-07-2007, 10:19 PM   #12
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

Quote:
Ultimately, they picked Phuket
Quote:
I am still laughing. That is also the choice I made.
Quote:
Yeah, that's what I say about work. Phuket
(Pssst! Hey you guys! It’s pronounced poo-KET! But your way is funnier… )

Quote:
Mr. Simon says accessibility to good health care also influenced his decision to stay in Penang. Not long after arriving, he had major spinal surgery at Island Hospital, a local private facility. This was followed about a month later by minor prostate surgery. "Medical care here is first rate," he says. "And I can speak firsthand." Mr. Simon says he isn't insured, so he paid cash, and adds that the two procedures, including hospital stays and 24-hour home care, totaled less than $10,000. He figures the tab would have been at least 10 times that in the U.S.
Philippines Launches Plan to Lure 'Medical Tourists'

http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/...hilippines.htm

Bearkley
Quote:
We just came back from a month vacation in the Philippines. It was BEAUTIFUL! I was born there and actually lived there until I was 10, but I never knew it could be as beautiful as it was!
Hey Bearkley, where all did you go? We plan to be there this summer… any suggestions? We want to check out the options – retirement, medical care, housing, etc… I hear Manila is difficult to be in – smoggy, crowded and noisy, but outside the city is very nice. What do you think? Does one need a vehicle? Can we get by with local transport? Thanks.

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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.
Old 04-08-2007, 09:03 AM   #13
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

From charts I have looked at, Manila is always at the bottom in cost of living. Bangkok and Kuala Lumpu look quite cheap also. I'll bet you could live for less than $800 a month. Does anyone on this board have any real world experience with living in any of these places?
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Old 04-08-2007, 09:44 AM   #14
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

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Bearkeley,
Are you a golden bear? We went to the Cal-Stanford game this year and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
ESRBob - Definitely a Bear (spelling on my username though is after our dogs, Bear and Berkeley, so no, I'm not a Standford grad who can't spell!) ;-) Are you an Oski too? Just checking since you had fun at a game we historically have lost! ;-)

Quote:
Hey Bearkley, where all did you go? We plan to be there this summer… any suggestions? We want to check out the options – retirement, medical care, housing, etc… I hear Manila is difficult to be in – smoggy, crowded and noisy, but outside the city is very nice. What do you think? Does one need a vehicle? Can we get by with local transport? Thanks.
Billy -- it's about time you guys visited the Philippines! ;-) We actually went to your site before our visit to try and get some pointers, but noticed you haven't been....hope this helps (feel free to email directly too if you want more specifics or other pointers).

Where to go:

We hated Manila (even though yours truly was born there and my parents moved back to retired there. By the way we don't like NY City too, if that gives you a better sense of our tastes). We found Manila to have too many cars, motorcycles, honking, city smog , etc. However, if you like shopping & dining and a cosmopolitan lifestyle, then you can't afford to miss it. Check out www.pinoyinvestments.com to get a sense of the housing....beautiful houses for less than 100k year. Medical is great if you're a Westerner - I read somewhere that the Philippines is of the quickly becoming largest source of medical professionals brought into to the US.

We prefer nature, however, so we were attracted to the less crowded parts of the country. Here's some highlights:

Palawan was our personal favorite. El Nido and Coron were one the most beautiful places we've seen! Stay in Rosanna's Cottage ($12 - $20) right on the beach in the town of El Nido....the best, unless you prefer to stay at one of the famous resorts ($200 - 450) with all the amenities / service. We rented a boat for a day with 2 personal guides for $32 and went island hopping...bbq lunch included right on one of the secluded islands!

Boracay was also worth going to. It is developed by it was developed very well. It was similar to a Las Vegas on the ocean given all the different things restaurants were doing at nite with the lights, etc.

Puerto Galera was a great dive spot and also very beautiful. There's some shady parts but overall, the people were really very friendly. We actually met an American Army Nurse Practitioner at the resort who plans to open up a business specifically targeting Americans and other Westerners to come to the Philippines for medical procedures...just like the article you sent!

Bagio is also a popular spot, but it's a famous tourist spot so it was more crowded that we liked. It was great to go on a hike up the St Tomas Mountain and be greeted by the local Igorots (natives).

We plan to go back in March and want to visit Cebu, Chocolate Hills and Davao. It was really a great place - enjoy your trip!
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Old 04-08-2007, 10:57 PM   #15
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

Bearkley
Quote:
Billy -- it's about time you guys visited the Philippines! ;-) We actually went to your site before our visit to try and get some pointers, but noticed you haven't been....hope this helps (feel free to email directly too if you want more specifics or other pointers).
Yeah, we have been laggin’ getting to the Philippines. We tried last year’s visit to Asia, but got sidetracked. Hoping for sure we get there this year! Looking forward to some new info and photos! We will certainly email you directly for more insight/info. Thanks!

Quote:
We prefer nature, however, so we were attracted to the less crowded parts of the country. Here's some highlights
We prefer nature also. We like the simple life and Billy just loves the beach. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your info. We very much appreciate your generosity and opinion!

We’ll let you know how it goes..

Be well,
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.
Old 04-09-2007, 10:57 PM   #16
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

Bearkeley,
Naming your dogs after oski, now I like that!
Yeah, a 4th generation Bear and one son is very interested so maybe we can keep the chain alive. The reason we enjoyed the game so much in December is that Cal won -- these days its getting more common. No offense to any Stanford folks here, either. I told my son as a rational parent I would be extremely happy if he could go there, too.

Back to retiring abroad -- I was reading an older WSJ article about real estate tours being organized to places like Uruguay, Nicaragua, Panama, Argentina and a few other places for American retirees. It sounds a bit like volunteering to go to a timeshare salespitch, but maybe its not all bad. Has anyone here gone on one of these?

With direct flights south out of Houston and Miami, you can get to Central American in 2-3 hours, which is the usual time limit people say they want to observe in terms of distance from kids and grandkids.

Also I remember reading that Thailand has started a new Long Stay Visa program to try to get retirees to come for a big chunk of the year each year.

Anyone on the board living in Ajijic in Mexico? That is another place that sounds like it would be fun for expat retirees.
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Old 04-10-2007, 02:13 AM   #17
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

I think that if locality to the US is an issue for you and your family, then it is really tough to beat Mexico. However, you must be willing to learn Spanish. The airline market in Mexico has had more competition from budget airlines come on-line recently and flying has decreased in cost.

Although I would always want to learn a local language, in Asia English is widely spoken in the Philippines and apparently lot of folks speak English in Malaysia, where it is one of the official languages. Also, according the US State Department language training, Malay and Indonesian are the easiest East Asian languages to learn.

http://www.nvtc.gov/lotw/months/nove...ectations.html

The last time that I checked on the Malaysia 10 year resident Visa program, a single person under 50 did not have to have a pension, but he had to deposit about $85000 US dollars (RM 300000) with the government for it. I think you can only draw down on the money if you buy a house (and it must not be a super cheap house) or for medical care.

Thanks for the Philippines pointers I am thinking of adding it to my next Asia trip. So many places . . . so little time. It sounds like a residence Visa in the Philippines would be pretty easy to acquire.

Kramer
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.
Old 04-10-2007, 02:38 AM   #18
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

Quote:
Back to retiring abroad -- I was reading an older WSJ article about real estate tours being organized to places like Uruguay, Nicaragua, Panama, Argentina and a few other places for American retirees. It sounds a bit like volunteering to go to a timeshare salespitch, but maybe its not all bad. Has anyone here gone on one of these?
It sounds like PAYING to go on a timeshare salespitch to me. :P I have not been on one, but once read an account. It sounds like putting yourself on a mailing list of Americans with more money than brains.

I would suggest going on a regular tour and asking a lot of questions. For Latin America, something like an Elderhostel tour. For Europe, try Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door tours.
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Old 04-10-2007, 12:55 PM   #19
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Re: 3/21/07 Wall St. Journal: Retiring abroad; oceanfront;bouncing around; etc.

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Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy
It sounds like PAYING to go on a timeshare salespitch to me. :P
Yes except that is outright sales of investment properties in the 3rd world sunbelt. If you have never lived in the country, don't get greedy and buy something.

I guess all the swampland in Florida has been sold. These same organizations moved on to timeshares and now this.
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Old 04-12-2007, 11:41 PM   #20
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Back to retiring abroad -- I was reading an older WSJ article about real estate tours being organized to places like Uruguay, Nicaragua, Panama, Argentina and a few other places for American retirees. It sounds a bit like volunteering to go to a timeshare salespitch, but maybe its not all bad. Has anyone here gone on one of these?
Billy and I spoke at International Living's Real Estate Tour for Thailand last February, 2006. It was a bit of a push to buy property in Thailand...But the people who came were of that mindset to begin with. Since Billy and I don't own any property here, and many of our Ex-Pat friends simply rent... we gave the alternative view. It was also well received. Good to have choices.

We take the view that it's better to live in a country for a while first before buying property and get 'stapled into place'.

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Also I remember reading that Thailand has started a new Long Stay Visa program to try to get retirees to come for a big chunk of the year each year.
We are currently on a Type "O" visa now... good for one year, multiple entries.

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Anyone on the board living in Ajijic in Mexico? That is another place that sounds like it would be fun for expat retirees.
We spent 10 years in the Chapala/Ajijic area. It is a very fun, active place for Ex-Pats. Everything is put together to have a very comfortable retired lifestyle there. See our Chapala, Mexico Travel Information: http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/...nformation.htm

Be well,
Akaisha
Author, The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement
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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. They have lived over 2 decades of this financially independent lifestyle, traveling the globe.
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