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The Plan continued….

Costa Rica: A Tropical Paradise You Can Call Home http://internationalliving.com/2012/09/costa-rica-a-tropical-paradise-you-can-call-home/


How about never retiring? Sounds good to me.

Listening to NPR on a Saturday morning and the chat is about 401k’s, “your number”, investment advisors, etc….and then there’s this modern family story in my inbox:

“The Roussel children are no strangers to adventure. Perhaps that’s because Jonah, 11, and Elijah, 18 months, have traveled rather more than your average Canadian youths.

Mom and Dad—Susan, 37, and Denis, 35—are self-confessed globetrotters. It helps that Denis is able to work from anywhere; he’s in marketing and online advertising. And Susan is a certified teacher who loves to teach and travel—a combo that works well, as teaching young kids (in English) is a job that’s easy to find nearly anywhere in the world.

Last year, they decided to do more than simply take a vacation. ”We just decided that we were going to make a move somewhere other than Canada,” says Susan. “We wanted to get away and experience a tropical hot climate for a year.”

The Roussels visited Costa Rica but didn’t find an area that “spoke” to them and their needs. When a family member insisted they check out Panama, Susan balked: “Isn’t Panama dangerous?We had no idea,” she laughs. “We had heard a lot about Costa Rica but it seemed no one talked as much about Panama.”

It seems Panama was meant to be. On the plane back home from Costa Rica, they found an article in the glossy airline magazine. They pored over color photos and read about Panama’s modern infrastructure and excellent residency programs. Though Panama was unknown to them, it seemed incredibly safe and stable.

Denis and Susan started to read about Panama in earnest in the pages of International Living. The Pacific coast beach communities near Panama City sounded ideal, especially the beach town of Gorgona. Adjacent to the growing town center of Coronado, Gorgona is convenient and very affordable.

“We’ve been in Gorgona for about four months,” says Denis. “We are planning on staying until June.” After that, the Roussels plan to go back to Alberta and decide whether to move to Panama permanently.

Even with the tuition fee for a private school… and $1,200 a month in rent for an ocean-view condo that is literally on the beach (the Roussels can step into the sand from the building’s pool area)…the Roussels are saving a lot of money. Their cost of living, says Denis, is about half what it was back home.

Jonah has taken time to adjust. But, says Susan, he is now starting to really enjoy it. “He’s so active here, he has lost weight and met other kids…half the time we look up to find him gone to visit some friend in the building.”

Susan says the locals in Gorgona have been very friendly and welcoming, attempting to teach her Spanish a little at a time. “We’ve also been able to spend more time as a family together,” she says. “We can have fun and not worry it’s costing a fortune.”

In addition, the excellent health care gives them peace of mind, as Jonah has a neuromuscular condition that could require medical attention at any time. “But most of all, we’re happy,” says Susan, smiling at baby Elijah as he attempts to climb everything in sight. “That’s all that counts.”

Crazy? Out of the box thinking? Just not normal?  Yes, please.

We’ll never retire. We’ll just keep on living here and eventually way over there too. Love this plan.

Emancipation….no, really….

Emancipation. That word has almost a singular meaning to most  Americans. You know. That part of our history that we don’t want to think about. That part where President Lincoln emancipated a group of people that shoulda been free to begin with.  This week, that word took on a totally new meaning for me.  A new meaning that almost motivates this guy to drive all the way to a particular state capital and kiss a particular old governor on the lips….but, I digress. 

We really should be free. This country was billed as the “land of the free”.  This week, according to our current vice president, we are headed back to slavery in one form or another if the wrong guy is elected to the White House.  Politics is a really funny thing sometimes. 

To what extent it can be controlled, the election is not about tax returns, who’s better in the White House, who’s more American, etc…this election is truly about who’s facing reality and who’s not. 

Politicians are quick to condemn those who don’t live within their means over the last few years yet will not to face the fact that the government has not lived within its means for 15 years.  Typical politics and hypocrisy go hand in hand right off the fiscal cliff that everyone’s talking about today. 

Mitt Romney doesn’t have to release his tax returns to prove what kind of successful businessman or shrewd ROI guy he is. We all know that. We also know the real hope and change is really hard to come by. So the President has no credibility with his record of little change and very little hope.

In the words of Joe Biden himself, we need to “unchain!!!” America in more ways than one and believe in people to do what they can do to make their lives better… better for their family, better for the community, and better for the country, as a whole.  

As individuals in this country, we need to unchain ourselves from stuff. Stuff.  You never own stuff. Stuff owns you.  That is a fact. 

If we can eventually elect the right people who actually balance rugged individualism with a level of government  only for the most basic safety nets & promises fulfilled… well, we will have a future for this country that’s promising, hopeful, and delivers real change we really need.

That’s the emancipation that every man, woman, child, and business needs in this country very soon.  Alas, I think we’re 4 to 8 years away before any reality check really hits Washington DC. That’s why Panama, Ecuador, Uruguay, and Belize seem so darn attractive to me. 

As for this election in 2012, I’m not holding my breath and you shouldn’t either.  

Find your own emancipation! 

Dream BIG!

Watching The Open now.  The British isles are beautiful and offer a tremendous opportunity.  Just like North America. However, let’s look towards the Carribean.  Much bigger upside there. Thinking Belize, Ecuador, Panama, Uruguay, or Costa Rica.  Check them out.  Your Paradise Found

It’s just a matter of time….

And here’s great advice from someone who knows how to live big…

By Susan Haskins of International Living –

“My husband Dan Prescher and I recently celebrated 10 years of living the expat life. We’ve lived in seven different locations (in Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Ecuador) and spent considerable amounts of time in many, many more—especially Belize and Costa Rica.

Believe me, we’ve learned a lot in the past decade!

Importantly, we’ve learned that it’s impossible to compare and contrast the merits or disadvantages of entire countries.

Years ago we’d talk confidently about the benefits of Mexico versus Ecuador…or Panama versus Costa Rica. But we’re finding that we don’t do that too much these days.

It’s not because there aren’t differences between entire countries… there are obvious and, sometimes, major ones. The visa choices and requirements of Belize may be a better match for you than those of Nicaragua. Panama’s tax laws may meet your needs better than those of Costa Rica right now.

But when it comes to quality of life—which is, after all, the thing that most people are looking for when they think about retiring or living abroad—Dan and I find that comparing countries is far too difficult.

For instance, in the last couple of years, Dan and I have thought a lot about the locales we’d most consider as a place to really call home… at least for a while. We’ve talked about what countries we like, but we have been much more dialed in on specific locations within those countries.

When we decided on Cotacachi, Ecuador as a home base, it was only partly because it was in Ecuador, one of our favorite countries. It was more because of what Cotacachi itself offered… peace and quiet, a very interesting and colorful culture, safety and security, an extremely low cost of living and—for us—the perfect climate… not too hot and not too cold. All of these things mattered far more than what Ecuador itself offered as a country.

When you approach the idea of living overseas, you naturally start from a country level, but if you do your research well, you inevitably sharpen your focus on specific locations.

Laidback Lake Living or Coasting on the Caribbean?

Take Costa Rica… with a bit of research it’s easy to see why it’s a wonderful place to live and retire. It’s an extraordinarily beautiful and diverse country—truly a place with something for everyone, whatever your lifestyle needs or desires. And health care there is among the best (and most affordable) in the world.

But once you’re determined that Costa Rica is the place for you, then you need to drill down and figure out where to live… In a country as diverse as Costa Rica, this can be tough. Perhaps you’d prefer the gorgeous laid-back lake country of Arenal…or the urban convenience of the Central Valley…or the tropical splendor of the newly opened southern coast near Ojochal…or even the adventure of the Caribbean coast.

Same with Ecuador or Mexico… are you after the size and excitement of a city like Quito or lively Puerto Vallarta? Or are you after small-town village life in a place like Cotacachi or Ajijic?

Maybe you’re a surfer… In that case, you might set your sights on Ecuador’s Pacific coast near Salinas or Mexico’s Pacific Coast state of Oaxaca. Scuba divers might want to check out Tulum on Mexico’s Riviera Maya…or even go farther south to Belize.

Like many of our friends and fellow writers for International Living, Dan and I have been lucky enough to live in or near many of these locations long enough to have made the jump from being tourists to being locals. That’s why you’ll often find us writing about specific locations within countries rather than the countries themselves.

Your quality of life can vary enormously from the west side of Mexico to the east, from the north of Nicaragua or Belize to the south, even from one neighborhood of Quito, San Miguel de Allende, or Panama City to the other.

Assessing exactly what you’re looking for as a potential expat, then getting past the “Europe vs. Latin America” stage to the “Ecuador vs. Panama” stage and well beyond—to pinpointing a specific location that matches your requirements, will not only save you time and effort, it will focus your thinking on what’s most important to you.

A final tip: Taking advantage of the experience offered by those who actually live in the specific locations you’re considering is a great way to get the kind of boots-on-the-ground intelligence you need to make those decisions. Ask probing questions, listen to their advice, and look before you leap.”

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