“You could hike every day here and see something different,” says Kristin Simmon-Lowman of her new home in the highlands of Ecuador. “My friends and I just hiked Fuya Fuya (an inactive volcano), which was wonderful. Now we’re working up to doing Mount Imbabura (one of Ecuador’s most iconic mountains), so we’ve been getting a training system going to get in shape for that. There are waterfalls all around and a lot of lower foothills.”
“For the good of my health, I had to make a change,” says expat Jennifer Enright of her decision to relocate to the Colombian city of Medellín. “I had to reinvent myself businesswise. After working for years as an executive head hunter for high-tech companies in Seattle, I had had enough. Too much rain and cold, and I injured myself from too much repetitive motion.”
Lying in the northern mountains of Nicaragua, at the heart of coffee country, the city of Matagalpa is green all year round. With temperatures ranging from 59 F to 74 F, the cool breezes are a welcome break from the warmth of the lowlands. And even by Nicaraguan standards, Matagalpa is highly affordable: Figure $1,200 a month for a couple, all in. But these advantages aren’t all you’ll find here.
"The stars here are incredible,” says expat Linda Ott of the views she and her partner Mike Short enjoy from their self-built home in Santa Fe, Panama. “There’s no light pollution. Orion’s Belt goes right over our house. And during the day, we can see hummingbirds, hawks, and toucans right from our terrace.”
“We were tired of punching the clock, making other people rich, losing time,” says expat Benjamin North Spencer of his and his wife Nadine’s decision to relocate to Sicilian wine country. Here they enjoy a rural Mediterranean lifestyle for half the cost of living in California. “In Sicily, we really can measure and appreciate so many things that escaped our awareness when we were trapped in the cycles of American culture.”
In the Loire Valley, the so-called “Valley of the Kings,” every day ends with a glass of affordable, delicious local wine. The mornings and afternoons are rich—full of leisurely cycle rides along the beautiful and famous Loire River, past verdant vineyards, visiting sprawling chateaux with their ancient towers and lush gardens, and strolling through historic, well-kept towns. The weather is mild and pleasant. And the cost of living is decidedly affordable.
I’d like to let you in on one of Spain’s best-kept secrets: Logroño. This small but bustling city in the heart of Spanish wine country is the perfect place to while away mornings sipping coffee and people-watching, and your afternoons with delicious wine from a nearby bodega.
Marty and Michelle Kramer know that the road to paradise is not always direct. They’re okay with that. As they will tell you, what counts is being happy where you end up. They found the right fit for their retirement dreams in the bright and breezy beach town of Playa del Carmen, on Mexico’s famed Riviera Maya.
In 1999, the 50-year-old Valorie Gallagher fell in love while vacationing along Mexico’s Riviera Maya. She’d been looking for her perfect match for years, and once they met, she instantly knew that her life would never be the same. This wasn’t the typical affair of the heart, however. Valorie had fallen head-over-heels in love with one of the lesser-known jewels of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, the fishing village of Puerto Morelos. And 17 years later, she’s still in love with it.
“What would we do in Wisconsin in retirement?” says Lance Koehler, reflecting on his new life in beachside Tulúm. “Go to the mall, shovel snow. Here I love the warm weather, the sun, and going to the beach.” Lance and his wife Jeanette have found more than their place in the sun. They’ve also found their place in the local expat community.