replied to the thread Is Guatemala Right for Me?
on the Guatemala forum on May 29, 2015:
Hubby and I are thinking of an overseas early retirement in 2-3 years. We’re just starting the investigation process and I am looking for tips on where to focus. Obviously we’ll visit and spend some time first, but I would like to start narrowing down the list! Here are our priorities:
1. Access to good medical care if the need arises – we both have family history of cancer and heart disease. This includes vet care for the dogs.
2. Safety – want to be able to walk down the streets in our town/city without fear of getting robbed, or having our house broken into every time we leave.
3. Culture/Environment – would like other expats around to start building a base of friends. We like to go to cafes and sit outside and drink wine, or coffee, or whatever. We like a nice restaurant every once in a while.
4. Housing – we have 3 dogs so we will need a house, not an apartment/flat. We’re not extravagant but we’d like a nice place to live. We’d like it to be walkable to a town.
5. Climate – hubby needs a warm climate. Cold and damp are not his friends. I think that takes Cuenca off the list :-(
6. Shopping – while day-to-day shopping would be in the local market, I would like there to be stores within an hour or two where you can buy nice furniture, appliances, household goods, etc.
7. Budget – living comfortably/nicely for about $3,000 USD/month.
8. Legal – hubby uses medical marijuana. Need a place that is tolerant of discreet, personal use.
A little about us:
I have moved around a lot for work so we don’t have a close friends base. Our parents are deceased, we have no kids, and we can live without seeing extended family on a regular basis. So there’s really nothing keeping us in the US.
My “fantasy” vision of living as an expat means having a nice house with a big porch or deck where we can sit outside, drink coffee, read, hang out, enjoy the view. A pool would be awesome, but I don’t know how realistic that is! Would want to go to town a few times a week to be sociable, sit in a café, people-watch. Make friends to have over for dinner from time-to-time (I love to cook). Have opportunities for part-time volunteer work. Take some road trips. Think “European charm” without the European price tag.
Why am I thinking of leaving the US? Commercialism and media. I am disgusted by billboards everywhere, out-of-control consumerism, political BS and drama, etc. Don’t get me wrong – I like nice stuff! Not a hippie or off-the-grid type! But there’s a happy medium. Christmas is ruined for me…it’s supposed to be a fun holiday to share with family and friends, decorations, etc. but now people start obsessing over Christmas shopping in September. Thanksgiving has been ruined by Christmas shopping which now starts on Thanksgiving instead of “Black Friday”. I’m really just disgusted with American consumerism. We focus on “stuff” and not people/relationships. We work 50-hour weeks to afford all this “stuff” and have no time/energy to enjoy it.
So, after reading this insanely long introduction, please start suggesting places to research further and why. My initial interest is Antigua, Guatemala, or maybe Lake Atitlan (Panajachel?). Also Medellin, Colombia has been recommended.
replied on May 29, 2015 with:
Another option is to move to Antigua and be a good productive guest and not causing any harm nor feeling the need to pander to the locals either. Just be respectful, fair and lead by example.
Make sure wherever you go you are going for the right reasons. Go because you genuinely want to be there and not because you are escaping from somewhere else and choosing the lesser of two evils. There is nothing worse than being around unhappy expats who are just hiding out from their home country until the dust settles there. That's the way it is in most expat colonies.
"Hubby is skeptical" -
It's good to be skeptical! Moving to another country is a HUGE step. I would caution you not to pick anywhere without visiting it for at least a month first. A week or two is not enough, you need enough time to explore, take off your vacationer glasses and see what's it's going to be like to live there. A month will also give you lots of time to see sample rentals at various price points and in different neighborhoods, all with their own pros and cons.
Don't buy an apartment or house, even if you "fall in love" with the location and feel certain you want to retire there. Rent first, for a year or two. That will give you lots of time to get to know the culture, experience a full calendar year of the weather, deal with medical care and all the other little nuances of life. Then if you still love it and don't want to leave, buy if you can afford it and want to stay permanently.
Personally we plan to rent and not ever buy, as we want the freedom to live in Antigua several years, and then head to a new adventure in another country without any problems.
replied to the thread Phone in Italy
on the Italy forum on May 29, 2015:
My US phone will not work in Italy. It's apparent to me that I will need a phone and a phone number before leaving the States. I would like to have an Italian number using a SIM card. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what type of cell phone or where to buy it in the US?
Please excuse the info on Verizon, it was as of the last time I checked. Also, I believe I said this, "even if one's U.S.-based cell phone operates on the GSM standard, unless it has the 900 and 1800 frequencies, it will not work." IPhones have the correct frequencies, but I don't recall the original poster saying he had an iPhone. My info. was for general purposes about using cell phones in Italy as I have no idea what kind of phone the gentleman has. BTW, and begging your pardon, the experiences I cited regarding my two friends' issues is not "here say." The first had to call me using the international call numbers, the other had a locked iPhone that her carrier neglected to unlock. Period.
Hey JacksterJam...thanks for the technical info on the frequencies, much appreciated, however the info on the iPhones is not correct. First of all before moving here I had an iPhone 4s with a Verizon service plan. Before leaving to work in Abu Dhabi I went to the Verizon store to get it unlocked, to which I was told it came that way. However upon arriving in the UAE and buying a SIM I realized it was not unlocked. A 1 minute phone call to Verizon and it was unlocked and I used it with the UAE SIM without a problem. For a year I switched between my Verizon and UAE SIM and had no issues. After departing the UAE I went back to the U.S. and continued with Verizon, no issues. Jan 2014 I moved permanently to Italy using the iPhone 4s with Vodafone, and yup you guessed it worked like a charm. Last Jan I bought an iPhone 6 from the U.S. Apple Website with T-Mobile as the carrier but opted for no SIM as I was not going to use it Stateside...and once again works perfectly in Italy with Vodafone SIM and I get 4G service. Apple phones have been "unlocked" off the shelf since the iPhone 5 came out, so there is no reason to even worry about that unless you are buying an old iPhone 4s or 4 (which are
not even made anymore).
My son in NY uses his iPhone 6 Plus with T-Mobile and when he visits us in Italy we swap his SIM and absolutely no issues. So the info you posted about T-Mobile and Verizon is not correct, at least concerning an iPhone.
When I post on this forum it is based 100% off of personal experience, not hearsay or speculation.
So Whidden39 if you have an iPhone 5 or later it WILL work over here with an Italian SIM...period!
replied to the thread Banking: US-Italy
on the Italy forum on May 29, 2015:
We are less than a year away from moving to Italy and I recall seeing on this site information about opening a Schwab account or, good information about banking in US & Italy.
My husband will need to have his SS check deposited and I have a daughter that reimburses us monthly for a debt we paid for her.
What US account should we open to have money deposited but available to us in Italy? We will need an ATM card in Italy too.
Looked way back but couldn't really find the information. Thanks for any assistance.
I had looked at Schwab as an option when I moved to Italy, but forgot why I didn't open an account with them. I went to their site to read up on account features and found this statement: "Domestic wires only (Schwab Bank does not send wires to countries outside the U.S. and its territories)." That is why I didn't choose them.
replied on May 29, 2015 with:
Thanks Jackster Jam- I thought from reading some months ago that it was better to open a Schwab account for your US transactions, as well as chacking and savings, and that it would be beneficial to assist with any money you need overseas.
If I recall, those living abroad had no issues with Schwab and recommend them. I should have kept the info. I just want to have an account I won't have any issues with and I assume (guess I need to go speak with them) that my Desert Schools is more local and wouldn't be a big company to deal with while in Italy.
replied to the thread Wire Transfer from US
on the Belize forum on May 29, 2015:
We have sent a downpayment for the lot that we are trying to buy via wire transfer. It has been a week and the lawyers have not received it yet. The lawyers account is at BoA.
Does anybody has some experience on how long it usually takes for the wire to reach destination in case of buying a property in Belize?
Who is PNC . As I just said my transaction took minutes. Think you used the wrong lawyer or bank. I get very worried using any Belize based bank or legal firm.
This sounds like it is nothing to do with Belize banking - Bank of America does not exist in Belize, so you are doing a US wire transfer.
If you are transferring to Belize Bank, with Bank of America as the intermediary bank, they are no longer making any transfers to Belize, so your transaction will be rejected. I'd check out where the end bank is.
replied to the thread Help with the visa transpaso
on the Colombia forum:
Tomorrow I am traveling to Bogota to turn in my visa indifenativo for the new 5 year temporarily visa.
I need advice, has any one done this yet?
Where is this office located? I need to get a hotel and the closer the better.
What time in the morning do they open? I only have the one day and I want to get it all done on Friday.
The foreign ministry in Bogota has been known to interpret rules diferently than the Migracion Colombia folks.
The ministry of foreign relations has told us that it is not necessary to get a new visa unless your passport runs out. My attorney has called in to the local Medellin office and verify it. The thing is if you talk to different people there you get different answers. To clear this up you have to go to the boss lady at migracion colombia in Medellin and make sure your not getting it from the lower poorly trained employees.
The law says foreigners have to turn in the residency visas, but the MRE office in bogota says only when the passport expires or gets lost.
A citizen can force a response from public oficials in 2 weeks. This can be done to an oficial in Migracion Colombia and the Ministry of Foreign Relations.
Remember the only thing consistant in Colombia is inconsistency.
"My friend went to Imagration in MDE and they told him that his indefanitivo visa good untill his Cedula expires."
I have received the same information of a client who went to a Migración office in the costa region.
As per current immigration regulation, this information is WRONG.
Every foreigner who has been in possession of an indefinite resident visa has to apply for a new cédula until 24 June 2015.
As a condition for cédula application, the traspaso is required.
There seems to be a lot of confusion on this matter within the Foreign Ministry and especially Migración Colombia. It would have helped a lot if immigration regulation was more clear and transparent. But the current chaotic situation was foreseeable taking into account the confusing wording of article 75 of Decree 834/2013.
Honestly, I am getting tired of this discussion.
Right now, I need to request a written legal opinion of the Foreign Ministry because Migración officials (in Medellín for example) are spreading wrong information.
replied to the thread Chitre Shopping
on the Panama forum on May 29, 2015:
We will be taking the bus from Albrook to Chitre before getting a taxi from there to a beach rental. Hoping someone here has suggestions on where (and how to get to ) to shop in Chitre. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Also, does anyone know if the Grand International Hotel in PC is within walking distance of the fish market (not the restaurant) ?
Thanx for responding. Thinking the first stop will be for groceries mainly. Any suggestions for directions from the bus stop ?
What are you shopping for? There is a mall with Madison, Arrocha, todo a Dollar, Rey and specialty shops. Elsewhere, building supply, Spiegel, Novey, furniture/appliance stores and a great restaurant supply. I don't know my way around the entire town yet, but there is more.
We are planning a road trip from Costa Rica into David and Boquete this coming June and am looking for recommendations for place to lodge. Doesn't have to be resorts, but nice. Will have a car.
The apartments that panamajames is talking about are nice. Most anyone would be happy in them and the landlord is really nice and helpful. Definitely send a message to panamajames and get the details or that would be my advice.
We have some great apartments here for expats in Boquete. Best views in the entire town and free parking. Email me at email@example.com
replied to the thread Ripp-Off Business In Panama
on the Panama forum on May 29, 2015:
I am in the process of moving to Panama and decided to purchase an empty 20FT. Sea Container to be used as storage on my property. The company I dealt with is Container Living Concepts. Google to get full story I paid for the container in full and the company/manager never delivered. I lost $2400.00. Beware of low prices and stories that sound extremely good.
If you live here long enough, you will hear all the stories. I know of a Panamanian who clipped a Canadian, an American and a fellow Panamanian. I also know a Canadian who clipped an American and another Canadian, and also got a Panamanian. And I know an American that clipped a Canadian and a Panamanian, and a fellow American. So Acodeco does what it can under the law, but sometimes a few dollars can override the law. I know of many people who say there is no justice in North America, and I hear that there is no Gringo justice in Panama. We all have to live here, so be nice to one another. Go and hug someone today who needs a hug. Don't worry..........be happy.
To bad these guys give Panama an ugly face. I have been trying to resolve this the legal way thru ACODECO (Consumer Protection) but it's not working out. This guy must know some one. Best I can do is put the word out with the hopes he doesn't hit on someone else. This I can control.
replied to the thread Prostitution
on the Ecuador Welcome Forum forum on May 29, 2015:
I have read where prostitution is legal in EC. Is this true?
ED doesn't like spam, says it's too salty, go figure.
Yes there is a trigger on that certain ED medication that starts with a V... so those selling it wont spam the site with ...BUY IT CHEEP CHEEP ;)
replied to the thread This came as a private message to me
on the Colombia forum on May 29, 2015:
Hi, I am taking the liberty of contacting you to request if you might be able to help me with useful information or make some introductions locally.
I am a published freelance writer based in California and while reading Expat Exchange (Colombia) came across your replies and comments and felt they had been carefully thoughtout, very useful and genuinely made.
In the recent past, I have concentrated my freelance writing efforts on travel. Travel and entertainment readers like stories to be personal, original and literary, not the usual guidebook recounting of where and what. The want to know about and sense the magic and wonder of a place, to know what it means to go there, to know how the visitor might be changed by the journey. They want to know about the people that live in a place, their regional customs, and where the locals hang out. Moreover, they want to smell the aromas, taste the food, and explore the streets and walk down the hidden paths.
I am planning for a 6 - 8 week trip to Colombia, preferably Medellin, to begin around July 10, 2015, with flexibility to begin either a bit earlier or later. My primary purpose will be to immerse in a program of learning Spanish and the local culture. Although I have studied Spanish on my own for the past six months, I feel that actually living in a place, among its people, hearing and seeing its native language will greatly enhance my Spanish learning experience. I will be looking into 8 -10 hours a week of language instruction, whether group or one-on-one, and staying in an apartment or preferably a homestay room.
Would you be able to give me information and recommendations as to Medellin language schools and accommodations? Since I will be on a budget, would you know of any persons/entities that you might formally introduce me to as 'sponsors' so that my tuition and accomodations would be complimentary or at a reduced rate? Such sponsors could be organizations or commercial enterprises, or even the schools themselves, such as ProExport Colombia. In return, I would be happy to use my English writing skills for reports, write-ups, correspondences, etc to assist and promote the activities of the sponsors in this regard. For travel-tourism activities, I would be happy to write stories of interest based on my Colombian experience for submission to popular travel resource outlets in North America and Europe.
If you would like links to some of my published stories, please let me know. I think you would find my stories very interesting reading, touching upon various subjects such as historical destination, local customs, outdoors, food and architecture.
I look forward to hearing good news from you.
H. Quan, freelance writer/journalist
I wrote back:
Hello Sufer USA, I do not know of any one in Colombia that wants to give you free boarding or free Spanish lessons or free food or transportation or free anything.
The majority of Colombians live on somthing like $5 a day. The people with money are not giving anything away and the ones who have nothing are eager to help, if only they could.
I sugest you get a job, earn some money and pay for your vacation just like everyone else.
You sound like an email from Nigeria telling me about my million dollar jackpot.
hahahaha, good reply, Martin. I got the same impression, but heck, you have to give the guy credit for trying, right? Maybe there's someone out there so eager for a visitor that they will let him stay with him? If has no takers, maybe he can try out a hostel? Those places seem to magnets for tourists without money trying to live on the cheap.