A ‘gray divorce’ can devastate your retirement plans. Here’s how

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Michelle Singletary | The >Washington Post

Heading into retirement, more couples are calling it quits. Their children are now adults, and they decide they no longer want to be married.

Or facing retirement — another 20 or 30 years in the second season of their lives — some couples decide they would rather not spend it with spouses they no longer like or have anything in common with.

“Retirement is often envisioned as a life stage where a couple finally gets time together,” writes Forbes contributor Joseph Coughlin, the founder and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab. “The kids are gone, the work is done; now there is time for us. But that uninterrupted time together may not always be the reward that many assume as they plan for retirement.”

These parting of the ways have resulted in an increase in divorce for people 50 and older.

“At a time when divorce is becoming less common for younger adults, so-called ‘gray divorce’ is on the rise: Among U.S. adults ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s,” according to a report last year by the Pew Research Center.

For people 65 and older, the divorce rate has roughly tripled since 1990.

But the breaking up of these marriages can have a profound impact on retirement savings forcing people to readjust their plans.

“Gray divorce potentially endangers retirement for both parties, since they may be living on half the income they’d expected to have and may feel resentful about their change of plans,” writes Tim Sobolewski, president of the Financial Planning Center and Wendy B. Pegan, founder and director of the Creative Relationship Center. “Whatever money the couple has in 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts, 457 or 403(b) accounts and pensions will usually need to be divided — often with that pricey legal tab.”

Sobolewski and Pegan offer some tips on what to do and what to avoid should you find yourself having to divide your retirement assets in a divorce.

For example, make sure IRA transfers are done properly. “In other words, you cannot just write a check to your ex-spouse — if you do, you will be subject to taxes and penalties,” they write. And be sure to hire an attorney who specializes in Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDROs.

“Unfortunately, all of these property divisions have the same effect as starting to save too late in life for retirement, or suffering a major loss in the market: There are no longer enough working years to make up the loss,” they write. “The greatest financial fear for most retirees is running out of money before they run out of life span.”

Here’s some additional reading.

— Gray Divorce & How Working In Retirement Might Just Save Your Marriage

“To manage marital risk in retirement, some couples are taking the adage that a good marriage takes work to heart,” Coughlin writes. “They are learning that it may be work that contributes to keeping a marriage together through retirement.”

— The True Cost of Gray Divorce

“I’ve seen couples spend $200,000 in legal fees in a tug of war over a $1.5 million estate,” writes Scott Hanson, a certified financial planner. “That’s partly because older people, while usually not involved in long, drawn-out child custody battles, have less time to rebuild financially, which means divorce can literally be a fight for your future standard of living.”

Hanson adds, “It’s difficult to recover from divorce when you’re older because, after 50, you’re more likely to have maxed out your earning potential, your assets may be mostly fixed, and your employment opportunities tend to become more limited. And while it’s true that older divorcers generally have more assets than younger people, they often don’t have as much money as they think they do.”

Hanson, writing in Kiplinger Personal Magazine, warns that if you’re getting a divorce, be careful about giving up too much to keep the house.

Why?

Here’s an example he provided: “I worked with the family of a well-employed, recently divorced woman who bypassed her claim to all other marital assets in exchange for keeping the house, which, when appraised, had almost $1.6 million in equity. Even though she agreed to give up the balance of her 401(k), she was still only in her 50s, and with seemingly many more years left to work. At the time of the divorce, it appeared she’d made out reasonably well. Unfortunately, in rapid succession, she was forced to retire due to a health emergency that coincided with the onset of the 2008 real estate collapse. Eventually, with all her eggs in that one basket, she lost her only real asset to the bank via repossession.”

Your thoughts
Did you go through a gray divorce? What was the impact on your retirement plan? Share your story. Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com.

Retirement rants and raves
I’m interested in your experiences or concerns about retirement or aging. What do you like about retirement? What came as a surprise.

If you haven’t retired, what concerns you financially? You can rant or rave. This space is yours. It’s a chance for you to express what’s on your mind. Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “Retirement Rants and Raves.”

Last week I asked you to weigh in on this question: Did you think you would work longer to make up for a retirement savings shortfall and couldn’t?

“Yes, had to retire at 62,” Katie wrote. “Loved my job, very busy, healthy as a horse … and then I wasn’t. I had planned on working until at least 66, and because librarians do seem to have staying power, I thought I might even continue longer. I also had a well-paying seasonal gig that I expected to continue. Then I got sick. As in, partially disabled, can’t work, it’s chronic kind of sick. It was a shock. Isn’t 60 supposed to be the new 30? The trouble with me and my peers is we tend to think we’ll go on like this forever. Old age is either for our parents in their 90s, or for other 60 somethings who aren’t somehow trying hard enough (Yoga! Meditation! Diet!). Now I’m scrimping away on Social Security and a small pension, waiting to get into senior housing. As long as I get no sicker I should be okay, but it’s all quite the crap shoot at this point.”

Suzanne Jamison of Gila Hot Springs, N.M., knew she would have to continue working. At 72 she’s still working for herself.

“As a self-employed person for most of my working life, I never made much money after expenses nor could I afford to pay myself health care and benefits.” Jamison wrote. “I did save about $50,000, of which over half disappeared during the financial crash in 2008. I chose to be self-employed to be free to care for my children without sending them to day care or having them go home to an empty house; to be able to attend parent-teacher conferences and school activities; participate in their education; not be tied to a time clock. As a result, I have a very small IRA, very small Social Security payment, and no health care, except for the Part A. I enjoy working and will continue to do so as long as I have clients and capacity. Fortunately, I have no mortgage, no car payments and no credit card debt. If something happens so that I can no longer work, my plan is to move to Bolivia, where I can live more reasonably than in the United States. I have spent three months a year for about the last eight years living and working in Bolivia, so I have some idea about how to live there.”

Myron M. Miller of Raleigh, N.C., wrote: “I think people are dreaming if they think that can work past a normal retirement age. Today’s good jobs require a high degree of technology savvy and most older workers don’t have it. Only those who have the technology skills that are up to or better than young folks will [be able to work] in retirement years. I’m 86 years old, by the way, and still did some paid work up to age 79. I was able to do that because of my expertise in strategic planning and international business, but even now I would have a very hard time finding work if I wanted to.”

Dennis O’Brien from Massachusetts wrote: “I am one of those gainfully employed, well-educated, healthy at the moment people, who plan to work full time until 70, so I can max out on Social Security benefits. Because I love what I do, I am also planning to work part time into my 70s.”

“I am here in New Mexico, where it is clear that age works against you,” wrote T.B. “In fact, of all of the places I applied at most including temps, would not even talk to me. If I did get an interview it was a waste of time. I am 58 and have realized that I am better off going to work for myself. I have heard that 70 is the new 65. I hope to make it that long.”

Judy Burns of Oklahoma City wrote: “My husband retired at 66 (our earliest full retirement age for Social Security). He had been a long-haul truck driver for 40 years. He could not have physically continued to work at that job. I started drawing my Social Security but continued to work at a good job on a contract basis. Because of the advice of a great investment adviser and a good accountant, we were able to add to our modest IRA savings during the additional years that I worked. When I reached 74, I decided that work was no longer fun and I retired. We can afford to do most of what we want to do and we are satisfied with our lifestyle. But we are aware that health-care costs could become an issue as we grow older. My primary warnings to anyone contemplating retirement would be to take no debt into it and get a good investment adviser no matter what your retirement savings may be. You need that financial advice very early in your planning.”

Orginal Source: https://wapo.st/2utgxF8

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4 Reasons Why Americans Retire in Mexico

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By Justin Walton | Investopedia

Retirees living in Mexico enjoy a low cost of living, warm climate, natural beauty, modern infrastructure and one of the world’s most intriguing cultures. Many airports throughout Mexico offer short, direct flights to the United States, making it easy to return home or to have visitors. And, of course, it’s just over the border from the U.S.

The low cost and high quality of Mexico’s healthcare system also attract many retiring Americans. With more than one million Americans living in Mexico, it is clearly not a fad.

Retiree Real Estate Developments

Many real estate developments have been built throughout Mexico specifically for American retirees. Oceanfront developments in Baja California, 30 minutes from the California border, offer luxurious amenities at a fraction of the cost of the same in the U.S. As of 2017, a three-bedroom oceanfront condo in the San Diego area cost around $3.5 million with $35,000 in annual property taxes. A comparable property just south of the border in a specially designed retirement community could be had for as little as $350,000 with only $1,000 in annual property taxes.

Thriving Expat Communities

Many traditional tourist destinations in Mexico not only welcome travelers but also cater to American retirees. Puerto Vallarta, Lake Chapala, San Miguel de Allende, Baja California and Cancun are among the most popular with Americans. These areas provide a wide range of real estate options, from modest housing in good neighborhoods to high-end gated communities with 24-hour security.

The economies in these areas are driven by North American tourists and retirees. Most businesses have English-speaking employees, and restaurants usually have menus printed in English. Adding more familiarity, most Mexican cities have stores found in the U.S. such as Walmart and Costco.

Affordable Quality Healthcare

Certainly one of the largest factors for retirees to consider when moving abroad is the availability of quality healthcare. Many are surprised to find the healthcare system in Mexico is not only very good, it is actually world class and very affordable. Costs for common surgeries and procedures can be 25% to 50% of what is paid in the U.S. Doctors and dentists are commonly educated and trained in America and Europe, and their facilities are usually supplied with the latest equipment and technologies. Many foreigners travel to Mexico from all over the world for medical treatments or procedures. Medical tourism has boomed in Mexico because many procedures and treatments, which have proven to be successful, are either extremely expensive or not yet approved in other countries.

As of 2017, an office visit with a doctor or specialist cost approximately $35 to $50, according to International Living. House calls were around the same price. Lab tests clocked in at about a third of the price paid in the United States, and a CT scan cost 25% of what is paid for the procedure north of the border. An overnight stay in a private hospital room is under $100 on average, and a visit to a dentist for teeth cleaning costs around $30. Prices have risen in Mexico, but also in the U.S., so the general difference seems to be about the same.

Infrastructure and Communications

While not as advanced as in the U.S., Mexican infrastructure and communications systems are improving. Most populated areas of the country have good cellular coverage and widely available high-speed Internet. These factors help make Mexico a popular choice for those looking to semi-retire by managing their business while sitting on a beach with a laptop.

In 2013, Mexico announced plans to invest $320 billion through 2018 to improve its infrastructure and communications in an effort to establish the country as a true emerging economic leader in the 21st century. Improvements to highways, rail lines, airports and shipping ports will only improve the nation’s economy and quality of life.

Original Source: https://bit.ly/2GjBPdN

How to Retire in Mexico

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Lauren Perez | Smart Asset

Many people dream of spending their retirement in a sunny and warm locale, often heading to Arizona or Florida. But perhaps you’re interested in retiring abroad instead of stateside. In fact, heading south of the border to Mexico has become increasingly popular for American retirees. This is largely due to the warmer weather and lower cost of living. Before you hop on a plane, it’s important to know how to retire in Mexico.

Average Cost to Retire in Mexico

A retired couple can expect to retire pretty comfortably in Mexico with an average of $2,175 a month, or $26,100 a year, according to Investopedia. Interestingly enough, these figures include the cost of rent on a two-bedroom house, three-times-a-week maid service and a weekly gardener. It also includes housing, utilities, groceries, dining out, healthcare and more.

A few factors play into your cost of living for retirement in Mexico. Your exact costs will largely depend on where you live and the lifestyle you plan to lead. Whether you want to retire early, late or on time will also affect your expenses timeline. You will also want to keep an eye on the exchange rates from USD into pesos. Not everything in Mexico is marked as pesos, with many merchants accepting USD, especially in tourist areas. Plus, shopping and living like a local, like buying from street vendors, can save you even more money.

How to Retire in Mexico – Visas

Retiring in any foreign country is bound to take a couple extra steps than if you were to stay put in the U.S. For starters, you’ll need to obtain a visa to reside in Mexico. The duration of your stay in Mexico will determine the kind of visa you need to apply for. Do you plan to stay for a few months at a time, for a few years or for the rest of your life? The shortest option is applying for a tourist visa. These cover your stay for almost six months.

As a retiree, you can choose to apply for a temporary resident visa which lasts for up to four years. To get the process started, visit your nearest Mexican consulate. Your eligibility depends on your assets. For one, you can provide proof that you can support yourself as a retiree on funds you’ve made (or are making) outside of Mexico. The minimum monthly requirement is about $1,400 in net income for an individual. Dependents add about $520 each to this amount. You may also choose to provide bank statements for the last 12 months that show an average balance of at least $23,500. Lastly, you can qualify if you own a property in Mexico with a value of around $207,000 or more.

If you choose to stay longer than four years, you can apply for a permanent resident visa. If you made it to four years with a temporary resident visa, you can fairly easily alter it to permanent status. Permanent resident visa status allows you to work in Mexico. To qualify, you must show investment statements with an average monthly balance over the last 12 months of $93,000 or a monthly net income (or pension) over the last six months of at least $2,300.

How to Retire in Mexico – Housing

How to Retire in Mexico

Luckily for Americans who want to retire in Mexico, the U.S. dollar’s strength against the peso allows for some great real estate deals. If you want to rent in retirement, you can expect to find apartments starting at $400. A two-bedroom would only set you back $900 a month. If you’re looking for something more permanent, you can easily find a home for $200,000 or less. You’ll still have to pay utilities and property taxes, which typically totals around $300.

When you buy a home in Mexico, you can do so with a “direct deed,” in a local corporation or via a fideicomiso (bank trust). These options provide safe and trustworthy ways to buy a home and have access to homeownership rights. Plus, many Mexican real estate markets employ English-speaking agents to help you throughout the process without worrying about a language barrier.

How to Retire in Mexico – Healthcare

Healthcare may not be the first thing on your mind when you’re planning to move to a new country. However, healthcare is an especially important aspect in retirement. Once you move countries, your healthcare plan won’t follow you. Luckily, Mexico provides excellent medical insurance plans and facilities. It is important to know ahead of time that most Mexican medical facilities are private institutions.

You can find health insurance plans from both local and international providers. You can even find some banks that offer medical plans. Keep in mind that it becomes more difficult to obtain health insurance after you turn 65, just like in the U.S.

How to Save for Your Retirement

How to Retire in Mexico

In the U.S., the average retirement account balance was around $201,300 in 2013, according to the Federal Reserve. Plus, retired workers averaged a monthly Social Security benefit of around $1,300 as of October 2016. With an average cost to retire in Mexico of $26,100 a year, Americans can retire comfortably by meeting the average retirement savings numbers.

This is why knowing the kind of lifestyle you want to live in retirement is the first step toward saving for retirement. It helps you determine how much and how aggressively you need to save. You’ll need to save even more if you want to retire early.

Once you’re retired, if you’re 60 or older and have a resident visa, you can also save through Mexico’s retirement benefits program, or Personas Adultas Mayores. This offers savings for healthcare, transportation, hotels and even museums. Don’t forget that you can also save easily by shopping at local markets and buying fresh.

It will also help to be aware of the costs of international money transfers and currency exchange. If you find yourself constantly transferring money to and from the U.S. and exchanging USD to pesos (or vice versa), that can take a dent out of your precious retirement savings. In these cases, you’ll want to open a Mexican bank account and find ways to transfer money internationally for free.

Bottom Line

If you want to retire in a place with a low cost of living or warm weather, Mexico is an excellent option. Just remember that your exact costs will depend on how you want to live in retirement. If you’re willing to live like a local and cut some of your luxuries, you won’t need to have an exorbitant amount of money saved. But if you just can’t live without constant air conditioning or a five-bedroom house, you should be prepared to pay a little more than the amounts you see here.

Tips for Saving for Retirement

  • A great way to start your retirement savings is by taking advantage of your employer-sponsored 401(k) plan. If possible, you should contribute as much of your paycheck as you can to boost your savings. This also lessens your taxable income, offering a nice tax break each year you contribute.
  • If you find yourself having trouble maximizing your savings, you can seek the help of a financial advisor. An advisor can help you manage your money, investments and set up a retirement plan. You can even find a financial advisor who specializes in retirement planning.
  • Retirement savings accounts should only be used during your retirement. While it might be tempting to dip into your 401(k), you’re only doing your future self a disservice. If you foresee yourself needing extra funds along the way, consider starting an emergency fund.

Original Source: https://bit.ly/2Gqa2EQ

No retirement savings? Thinking you’ll just work longer? Think again.

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By Michelle Singletary | The Washington Post

You know you need to save for retirement, but so many other things are getting in the way — kids, a mortgage, the vacations to take to stay sane. March Madness. Maybe you should buy a better television to watch the NCAA basketball tournament.

And if you can’t save, no problem. You just won’t retire, right?

Your backup retirement savings plan is to work longer, maybe well into your 70s.

For many people, 65 is just a number. It’s certainly not retirement age.

“Nearly 20 percent of people age 65 plus are still working full or part-time — the highest rate since 1962,” Trent Gillies writes for CNBC. “After the end of the Great Recession, more seniors were forced to stay in the workforce longer, in order to make ends meet.”

A shocking number of workers — 79 percent — expect to supplement their retirement income by getting a job, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

Just one problem if this is your retirement plan: What if you can’t work?

Yes, more seniors are staying in the workforce past 65 and happily so. But many others are finding themselves in a retirement quandary. They thought they had more time, but the reality is they are forced to retire.

And why can’t they keep working? Among the reasons, experts say, are health problems, layoffs, age discrimination and caregiving needs.

“When surveyed, 61 percent of Americans say they retired sooner than they’d planned,” according to a report by Ben Steverman in Bloomberg News. “That’s more than anywhere else in the world, according to the 2017 Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey, of 16,000 people in 15 countries. Globally, 39 percent of retirees say they quit working early. Even part-time work may be unrealistic. EBRI finds that just 29 percent of retirees say they worked for pay at some point in their retirement.

“The irony is, those seniors who find it easiest to keep working — healthy, well-educated and highly skilled people who enjoy their jobs — tend to be the least likely to need the money,” according to Steverman. “Other older Americans, faced with few good job choices, often just decide to retire and live frugally off Social Security and savings.”

Personally, I’m hearing from a lot of people who had intended to work past 65 to give them more time to save, but they complain they’re being pushed out of their jobs because of age. They are hitting the “gray ceiling.”

“Even though employers aren’t supposed to discriminate based on how old you are, getting hired can be a challenge when you’re considered an ‘older worker,’ ” wrote Alison Doyle for the Balance. “In addition to being considered ‘old,’ experienced candidates are sometimes considered to be more of an expense (higher salary, pension, benefits costs, etc.) than a younger applicant would be.”

Sure, life — your needs and wants — can get in the way of saving. But when it comes to retirement, reality may derail your backup plan. You may find you can’t work to fill your savings gap.

Retirement rants and raves

I’m interested in your experiences or concerns about retirement or aging. What do you like about retirement? What came as a surprise.

 

If you haven’t retired, what concerns you financially? You can rant or rave. This space is yours. It’s a chance for you to express what’s on your mind. Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line, put “Retirement Rants and Raves.”

Last week, I asked you to weigh in on this question: Do you think you’re saving enough for retirement and if not, why not?

“In my case marriage was my financial destruction. Worked three jobs to be sure family and basic expenses could be covered,” wrote Wendy R. “I turned life and stress around and am now two months from retiring at 70 from a state job that paid defined contribution rather than Social Security — my salvation!”

Spencer in Great Falls, Va., wrote, “As I approach the time of retirement I can clearly see what was done right and what was done wrong.”

He’s got some tips from experience:

Invest pretax dollars whenever possible and put away more than you think you can.

Once it is invested, it is “out of sight — out of mind.” And don’t touch it unless you absolutely have to.

Make a budget and keep it. Building up credit card debt is way easier than it used to be.

Keep your electronic expenses sensible; every penny adds up over time.

Anthony from Central Florida wrote, “When I retired at age 65, I had about 13 times my final year earnings in retirement savings. I was fortunate to be employed by the same company for 43 years that also provided a pension. I had a good income, which allowed me to fully fund my 401(k). I had a strong employer match, purchased company stock at a discount, and contributed to an IRA and other non-qualified savings/investments. My wife and I, who both grew up in families with very limited means, fully recognize that we have been blessed for our good fortune. Our past informed us and we always lived below our means.”

“Retirement is something that is constantly on my mind even though it is most likely decades away.” wrote Joseph from North Bergen, N.J. “My personal opinion is that retirement is not a specific age like the government sets for us but rather a number. If I have enough money invested and it gives me enough dividends to live off of then I will be able to retire. I am proud to say I have well into the six figures already set aside for retirement diversified into three categories tax free, taxable and tax deferred. If more people could just understand the power of compound interest and know that you do not have to invest tons of money at once there will be more people with money. Consistency is key. If you are willing to live like no one else while you are young. You will be able to truly live like no one else in retirement!”

Original Source: https://wapo.st/2pA3A7L

Safe places to visit in Mexico now

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By Lonely Planet

‘Is it safe to go to Mexico?’ We hear that question constantly, and the answer is always yes, if you know where to go and do your research.

The grisly drug-related murders that make the headlines usually happen far from where the majority of travelers to the country visit, and yet many potential visitors are still avoiding the country.

Before brushing a Mexico trip aside though, consider these favorite places of ours to visit (there are dozens of other candidates), in terms of travel appeal and safety record. None are on the US State Department’s warning list.

 

Mexico City

There really is no more fascinating city in the world than Mexico’s misunderstood capital. With a population of over 21 million (and a crime rate about a third of Washington, DC’s), Mexico City had a serious scrub-up for its bi-centennial, and now some places like mariachi-filled Plaza Garibaldi are considered (like Times Square in New York) safe enough to be a ‘Disney version’ of its former gritty self. Also, many restored colonial buildings show details long obscured by years of pollution build-up. Meanwhile, this ancient city built over a filled-in lake has Aztec canals, pyramids, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo’s old studio, and hipster dining in chic eateries of the Condesa and Polanco. That and a million other things.

Expert tip: Enjoy a great night’s sleep, a delicious breakfast and a top-notch location at Condesa Haus. Be sure to check out the original tile floors, the stunning archways, and ask for a peek into the Puebla room to see a bathroom unlike any other.

 

Mérida

Merida is gorgeous colonial city about three hours inland from Cancun. The buildings are well-preserved and brightly colored. The city itself is the best place to enjoy amazing Yucatecan foods like cochinita pibil, papadzules, and panuchos. The city is best on weekends, when the historical core – a scene of 17th-century cathedrals made from Mayan bricks – closes to vehicles and fills with open-air stages, taco stands and balloon vendors. For a fun cantina experience, head to La Negrita. There’s live music most nights and as long as you order a few drinks, the free snacks will keep on coming.

Expert tip: Luz en Yucatán is a fine boutique option a few blocks north of the cathedral, with a pool and nicely designed rooms.

 

Todos Santos

If you’ve not been – and most haven’t – circle ‘Todos Santos’ for the next Baja trip. Sure, some long-timers say it’s not what it used to be, as popularity has swelled (and its ‘gringo: Mexicano’ ratio has evened out), but it still beats the Cabo San Lucas condos for laid-back sense of peace in Baja Sur. A couple of hours from the Cabo or La Paz airports, is a mountain-backed artist community with good surfing beaches. You can easily drive into Sammy Hagar bars and or take a boat trip to Cabo, then return for the quiet at night. Plus the Hotel California here likes to claim it’s the Hotel California.

Expert tip: Learn to surf at Mario Surf School. Or if it’s just comfort and a rooftop pool you want, boutiquey Guaycura Hotel is a classy option in Todos Santos.

San Miguel de Allende

Yes, it’s an obvious choice – and with reason. A bit of an American-expat go-to of the silver towns of the central highlands north of Mexico City (and two hours from the León airport), San Miguel de Allende is a stunner, with any worry of drug violence a distant rumor. The town itself – as seen in Robert Rodriguez’s Once Upon a Time in Mexico – is the main attraction. A Unesco World Heritage site since 2008, the town of 62,000 is filled with handicraft shops, 17th-century cathedrals, botanic gardens, organic farmer restaurants and lovely (sometimes luxe) guesthouses.

Expert tip: San Miguel’s a good spot to study Spanish or cooking. Set in a colonial building, Academia Hispano Americano is a good choice (and can arrange homestays).

Huatulco

If it’s resorts you want, Huatulco is a rare success story in recent resort development. This former fishing village has become the Oaxacan beach resort of choice lately, benefiting from its gentle development plan that keeps much of the 12 miles of sandy shoreline completely unspoiled and the town under six-stories high. Activities can fill several days. Snorkeling, diving, kayaking, surfing, cycling and rafting trips are easy to find, as are tours to waterfalls and coffee farms. There are flights in from Mexico City and Oaxaca City.

Expert tip: The Misión de los Arcos offers comfy rooms, most with balcony, a touch of colonial style, and a warm welcome.

 

Guanajuato

A gorgeous hill town of 16th-century cathedrals and brightly colored homes on plazas lined with laurel trees, Guanajuato is best visited during October’s Festival Cervantino – a serious cultural extravaganza with orchestras, ballet folklórico, modern art, mariachis, and Mexico City punk bands. And most of it’s free. At any time of year it’s a great hub for laid-back colonial life and a look at a mummy museum, plus a visit could easily be combined with nearby San Miguel de Allende. The town’s 30 minutes from León’s Bajío airport, or five hours by bus from Mexico City.

Expert tip: Several schools offer Spanish classes and homestays, including Escuela Mexicana.

 

Puebla

A ‘mini Mexico City’ – with a mere 1.5 million residents – Puebla is a colonial wonder city, packed with cathedrals and a wonderful museum devoted to ancient artifacts, and is far more manageable and laid-back than its size would suggest. The historic center is the place to stay, with buildings decked in azulejos (painted tiles) and many spots to sample the local taco árabe (Arabic taco), made of marinated pork served on Middle Eastern-style flat bread. The more adventurous should ask for escamoles (rice-like ant larvae sauteed in butter). It’s two hours by bus from Mexico City.

Expert tip: When in beautiful Puebla you should stay in a beautiful hotel and there’s none better than the Casona de la China Poblana.

 

Tulum

There’s a little something for everyone in this sleepy little beach town. It’s known best for the stunning Mayan ruins that hug its coastline, but there’s a lot more to Tulum than this one-day outing. Stay beachside to enjoy a slice of luxury. There are romantic cabanas on the beach and high-end restaurants like Hartwood where people line up hours before dinner service just to get a table. For something more mellow, stay in the town of Tulum where you can take yoga classes, drink freshly pressed orange juice and eat late night street tacos. The best way to get around is by bicycle.

Expert tip: For a unique beachside hotel, check out Be Tulum. They have private villas that back onto the beach and an on-site spa to help you relax even further.

 

Oaxaca City

Last, but certainly not least, Oaxaca is a quiet little city has recently made an international name for itself as the foodie capital of Mexico. It’s home to some of the best mezcal in the country and there is also a ton of culture to explore in the surrounding state. You could easily spend a week exploring the markets, eating mole at different restaurants, and soaking in the history at nearby archaeological sites like Mitla and Monte Alban. Don’t miss out on a tour of the Ethnobotanical Gardens, it’s only offered in English twice a week, but it’s totally worth waiting for.

Expert tip: For a nice boutique hotel in the center of all of the action that doesn’t break the bank, check out Casa Azul. Each room was designed by a popular Mexican artist.

Original Source: https://bit.ly/2pC3QSW

The 8 best places to retire in Mexico

By Kathleen Peddicord | US News

Mexico is a big, extraordinarily diverse country that offers two long coasts, mountains and colonial cities. There are also Mayan ruins, jungle, rain forest, rivers and lakes. You could say that Americans have voted this country the best place in the world to live outside the U.S. in the way that really matters – with their feet.

Mexico’s proximity to the U.S. is perhaps the biggest plus for American retirees, because being in Mexico makes it easy for them to return home to see their grandkids as often as they want. Plus, the excellent infrastructure makes living easy, residency is straightforward and both real estate and the cost of living in general are very affordable.

Mexico is also familiar, and has many businesses Americans recognize. Across the country you find American franchises from McDonald’s and Pet Depot to Walmart and Starbucks. Almost anything you use or consume in the U.S. is also available in Mexico, though how easily available depends on where you base yourself in the country. The more remote or rural your location, the farther you’ll have to travel to shop at the nearest Walmart.

English is so widely spoken in Mexican cities it could be an official language. Living outside a major city or tourist zone, it’s better to speak a little Spanish, but you really can get by in this country with English.

Mexico could be the retirement spot for you if you seek an adventure overseas, but don’t want to give up all the comforts of home. The challenge is that the country offers many appealing lifestyle and climate alternatives, and you need to decide where you might be happiest. Consider these eight retirement options in Mexico:

1. Puerto Vallarta 

In Puerto Vallarta, the warm weather and picturesque location are enhanced by the colonial charm of cobblestone streets and Spanish architecture. Locals are fun and friendly, the seafood is fresh and delicious and this region of Mexico is the birthplace of tequila. In other words, Puerto Vallarta has all the elements of a party just waiting to happen.

In addition, Puerto Vallarta boasts beautiful beaches, abundant opportunity for water sports, great restaurants, a lively art scene, modern, convenient shopping options, a large expat community with English widely spoken and good access to the U.S. All of that combines to make this one of the most affordable and turnkey options for a Pacific coast retirement.

2. Tulum 

The town of Tulum is at the center of the Riviera Maya, an area stretching from Playa del Carmen in the north to Punta Allen in the south along the Caribbean and inland to the Mayan ruins of Coba. This area is easily among the most exotic and beautiful geographical areas on Earth. Rocky coastlines intermix with white sand beaches, spectacular cenotes (crystal-clear swimming and diving pools), tropical jungles and remnants of Mayan temples.

Tulum is separated from the beach by a wide swath of marsh and jungle that is mostly undeveloped. A good road runs from the town to the beach, then follows along the beach for several miles in two directions – one side connects to the picturesque Mayan ruins of Tulum, the other enters the UNESCO World Heritage site of the biosphere reserve of Sian Ka’an. This is truly a nature-lover’s playground. The unpretentious town enjoys a lively cafe, restaurant and bar culture. Dining and drinking out are the favorite socializing activities for expats and retirees here.

3. San Miguel de Allende 

San Miguel de Allende is a small town in the heart of Mexico known for its romantic ambiance, beautiful city center and rich and interesting history. For these reasons, San Miguel de Allende has been a favorite among foreign retirees since the late 1960s.

Nestled between low hills on three sides, the semi-desert valley is mostly flat in the historic center, great for walking and chock full of delightful ways to fill your days and nights. The number of first-class restaurants and fine shopping options per block is unmatched anywhere else in Mexico.

The city’s big, historic hacienda-style houses have been renovated into patio restaurants, coffee houses, upscale cantinas and niche shops, most owned and managed by Mexicans native to San Miguel, who are famous for being friendly and gracious. Plus, the town is blessed with great weather.

4. Mexico City 

A mythical and modern metropolis founded by an advanced indigenous people, Mexico City is a mesmerizing hub of human civilization. This is a world capital of art, culture and anthropology with a rich and fascinating history, an abundance of breathtaking architecture and top-tier gastronomy.

At once sophisticated and chaotic, traditional and modern, Mexico City is a place of delicious contradictions that has the feel of many cities in one. This “city of palaces” combines the baroque grandeur of Rome or Vienna, romantic canals like those of Venice, cuisine on par with that you might associate with Paris and the quiet charm of a Spanish-colonial pueblo.

5. Guanajuato 

The silver mines of Mexico’s central highlands provided the incredible wealth that brought Spain to world prominence in the 16th century and also created Guanajuato, the crown jewel of Mexico’s colonial cities. The steep canyon walls of Guanajuato are zig-zagged by twisted alleyways, and most residents live in homes that look down upon the town in the valley below.

It’s an impressive and romantic landscape, but not exactly friendly to people who are disabled. This city of old world architectural marvels might not be a good choice for someone who has difficulty walking or does not want to own a car.

6. La Bahia de Navidad 

La Bahía de Navidad, on Mexico’s Costa Alegre, translates to “Christmas Bay on the Happy Coast.” The bay’s beautiful, sweeping, crescent-shaped coast and beach are home to Barra de Navidad, at the southeast end of the bay, which shares the beach with its neighbor, Melaque, on the northwest end. These two towns, separated by just a short walk across the beach, are very different.

Barra de Navidad is chic, charming and upscale, with good restaurants and jumping nightspots, anchored by the elegant Grand Bay Hotel. Melaque is more rustic and laid-back. This is a typical oceanside Mexican village where fishing, agriculture and tourism provide a relaxed lifestyle for the locals. Both of these towns receive thousands of winter visitors each year. The bay is well connected by air to the U.S., Canada and the rest of Mexico, with flight times of just a few hours.

7. San Cristobal de las Casas 

San Cristobal de las Casas is not your typical Mexican resort or quaint tourist development. This is a high altitude and high attitude colonial city dating to 1528 and set in a lush green valley amid the sometimes fog shrouded mountains of Chiapas State, at 7,000 feet. San Cristobal de las Casas is one of Mexico’s few remaining colonial gems. The downtown is laid out according to the typical Spanish grids, with streets named after heroes and events from the country’s history.

San Cristobal is an elegant center of sophisticated shops and restaurants of every imaginable persuasion. Whether you feel like Lebanese or Argentine food tonight or the latest fashions from Mexico city, it’s all here.

8. Morelia 

Sixteenth-century Morelia, one of Mexico’s finest but least-known cities, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991. When you see it, you’ll wonder why it took them so long. Morelia is a breathtaking city with classic Spanish Renaissance structures all of pink stone. Walking among them is like taking a walk back in time. Horses are still a mode of travel and goods are sold from the backs of donkeys. Yet, this city is also firmly established in the 21st century, with internet cafes and even a Walmart.

Perhaps the most unique thing about this picturesque town in the hills of Mexico is that, despite its ease of access from the U.S. and direct flights from San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago, Americans seldom make their way here. Few Americans have ever heard of this lovely, livable town in Mexico.

Original Source: https://bit.ly/2G6RKbx

Graying Americans Will Outnumber Kids by 2035

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By Alexandre Tanzi | Bloomberg

By 2035, Americans age 65 and older are forecast to outnumber kids for the first time.

The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the population of older adults will surpass children by almost two million in 2035, growing nearly five million to 78 million by 2035. The growth rate of the population of children, those under age 18, is expected to be slower.

This demographic transition is in the developing stages for the U.S., while the trend in other countries, notably Japan and some nations in Europe, is already well underway.

Original Source: https://bloom.bg/2FExDVO