My husband and I were happily living in Arizona in a retirement community when, in 2008, everything changed,” says Patty Grimm. The ﬁnancial crisis dealt the couple a heavy blow, and they no longer felt they could live the same quality of life on their retirement income. “We knew that if we wanted to keep our nest egg, we’d have to look outside of the U.S. to live.”
Cuenca is a cultural hub, with no shortage of things to do. And as entertainment is modestly priced, you’ll have plenty of money in your pocket to afford it. A thriving expat community guarantees you’ll ﬁnd plenty of like-minded people in the city and have no trouble making friends.
As we move into May, the northern hemisphere continues to warm up, affording you more and more opportunities to get out and explore this weird and wonderful world. The Swiss Alpine town of Le Gruyère is renowned for its cheese, and the town celebrates this heritage with its annual cheese festival. As you’d expect, the world-famous cheese to which the town lends its name will take center stage. Unpasteurized, and still produced in the high Alps using methods honed over centuries, Gruyère cheese is known for its fruity flavor when fresh before developing a more earthy taste as it ages. You can also see traditional Swiss cheese-making techniques for yourself and explore a range of Alpine handicrafts, including exquisite crocheting and lacework. The event takes place on May 3.
In Western Australia, April marks the return of the majestic whale sharks to Nimbaloo Marine Park. This is a perfect time of year to snorkel with these gentle giants— the largest fish in the ocean. If behemoths of the deep aren’t your thing, there’s plenty more for you to do at the Surfer’s Paradise Festival, on the country’s Gold Coast April 3–18. You’ll find a wide array of food, street performers, art, music, and other entertainment to cater to all tastes… and all of it free of charge. April also rings in the Buddhist New Year. In Malaysia this is marked by the Songkran Festival (April 12–14), which also serves to celebrate the country’s Siamese community. Rivers and beaches in the state of Kedah are ornamented with sand temples, called stupas, which are then washed away by the tide.
March sees the Irish across the world assemble to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and there are few better places to take part in this grand revelry of all things Irish than the capital city, Dublin. But it won’t be just Irish culture on display this March 17; the parade in Dublin (Ireland’s largest) will feature floats and performers from around the world, not to mention copious amounts of beer. Not to be missed. Neighboring Scotland will have a more literary focus in March as StAnza, one of the UK’s premier poetry festivals, comes to the historic town of St. Andrew’s. From March 4 to March 8 a wide variety of poets will descend upon the town for readings, workshops, discussions and, of course, live performances, bringing with them a terrific atmosphere to the area. This is also a great time of year to explore St. Andrew’s. It’s one of Scotland’s most beautiful towns and is famed for its prestigious university, coastal resort, and some of the best golfing to be found anywhere in the world.
February sees Saint Agatha’s Feast Day take place in the city of Catania, on the Italian island of Sicily. The patron saint of the area, St. Agatha died at age 15 in the 3rd century, and every February 4 commences with a mass held at dawn in her name. Her statue is then given pride of place atop a massive silver carriage and carried to the top of Mount Sangiuliano by over 5,000 men. The ensuing days offer the chance to enjoy Sicilian food and wine, and the ceremony closes with a massive fireworks display. From February 11 to 17, you can experience the magic of Carnaval without having to take a flight to Rio. Just hop across the border to Mexico. It too is noted for its carnival celebrations, which take place in cities across the country. The most notable Carnavales take place in Veracruz, Mazatlán, and Mérida. You’ll have an exciting selection of parades, displays, live music, and cuisine to choose from, as the party atmosphere sweeps the nation.
Brazil may be the spiritual home of carnival, but neighboring Argentina proves that it’s got what it takes when the Gualeguaychú Festival comes to the town of Gualeguaychú. Kicking off on January 10, the festivities draw thousands of enthusiasts to savor the festive atmosphere and enjoy the ornate costumes, flawless choreography, and magnificent floats. Costa Ricans also get into a party mood each January as the Fiesta Palmares descends on Palmares de Alajuela, just north of the capital, San José. More than 500,000 people are drawn to the festival, which focuses on Tico-style bull fighting (the bull isn’t killed) and a horse parade in which cowboys abound. That’s not counting music, dance, and copious beer consumption. All told, it’s a great two weeks, kicking off on January 9.
The enticing smell of bratwurst and gingerbread wafts through the city. Everywhere you’ll see stalls adorned with medieval regalia and in the old quarter you’ll find an old-fashioned carousel. Welcome to Nuremburg, home to Germany’s most famous Christmas market. It lasts until December 24. While northern Europe might be caked in snow throughout much of December, in the southern hemisphere summer is in full swing. Head Down Under to soak up some rays at Australia’s National Cherry Festival, which takes place from December 5 to 7 in the town of Young in New South Wales.
Moving abroad is a great—and usually rewarding—adventure. But many aspiring expats fret over losing touch with friends and family back home. Thanks to modern technology, though, staying in touch is no longer difficult or expensive. Today, with high-speed Internet more widely available every year, connecting with friends and family has become easy, fast, and cheap—often even free. “When my wife Suzan and I moved abroad 13 years ago, the Internet and cellular telephone technology were just beginning to develop,” says IL Editor Dan Prescher, who lives in Cotacachi, Ecuador.