How will a couple’s retirement look when there’s a big age gap?

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By Michelle Singletary | Tha Washington Post

I’m a planner. Always have been. When it comes to retirement, my husband and I are working the numbers, discussing whether we want to stay put or move and talking about how much traveling we want to do.

We are just a year apart in age — he’s older — so the plan has generally been that we would retire together. I’m looking forward to spending even more time with my “boo.”

But a reader raised a question recently that could create problems for some couples: “What can age difference mean when it comes to retirement?”

The Pew Research Center looked at the age gap in couples. For the most part, people marry someone close in age. However, one stereotype proved to be true: Men who are remarrying tend to wed younger women.

“Not only are men who have recently remarried more likely than those beginning a first marriage to have a spouse who is younger; in many cases, she is much younger,” wrote Gretchen Livingston, a senior researcher focusing on fertility and family demographics at Pew Research Center. “Some 20 percent of men who are newly remarried have a wife who is at least 10 years their junior, and another 18 percent married a woman who is 6 to 9 years younger. By comparison, just 5 percent of newlywed men in their first marriage have a spouse who is 10 years younger, and 10 percent married a woman who is 6 to 9 years younger.”

Among remarried women, the likelihood of having a much younger spouse is far smaller than among remarried men, Livingston wrote.

So, does age matter? It can when it comes to retirement.

“As you approach retirement together, that age gap becomes a factor in decisions about when you retire and when you take Social Security, and in planning how much money you need to save and how it should be invested,” wrote Arielle O’Shea for NerdWallet. “Especially if the younger partner is a woman, an age difference can mean you need your money to last longer. Women outlive men on average, which adds additional years to retirement.”

One of the biggest issues when there is an age gap is when to retire.

“Couples with big age differences may need to plan for different retirement dates and life expectancies — with related implications for portfolio-withdrawal strategies, asset allocation, and Social Security filing,” wrote Christine Benz, Morningstar’s director of personal finance. “Long-term-care considerations can also take on greater prominence for couples where there’s a big age discrepancy.”

Benz offered advice on how to plan when there is a significant age gap.

“Couples with big age gaps should craft their plans to accommodate the partner with the longest life expectancy,” she suggests. “That means that a 70-year-old husband and a 58-year-old wife should plan for their portfolio to last over the wife’s longer time horizon — 28 years, on average, and even longer if she has good health and a family history of longevity.”

Be careful about retirement withdrawals, and definitely give more thought to when you both will start taking Social Security, Benz said.

“If the older partner had the higher income over his or her working career, delaying Social Security filing past full retirement age, as late as age 70, may be especially valuable” she said. “Not only will that enlarge the higher-earning spouse’s benefits during his or her lifetime, but it will also enhance the lifetime benefits for the surviving spouse.”

If there is a wide age gap between you and your partner, you definitely need to have the retirement discussion sooner rather than later. Here’s more on the topic of retiring as a couple:

Your Thoughts

Is there a big age difference in your marriage that may affect your retirement plans? I’d also like to hear from couples on how they handled the question of when to retire. Did you retire together? If not, why not? And how is your plan working? Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Please include your name, city and state. Put “Age Gap” in the subject line.

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 yet, 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.”

Have you decided to make changes to your retirement portfolio based on recent events in the stock market?

Fran Skomo of Pittsburgh wrote: “I was concerned about the market in January but did not move money. Boy did I regret that. So about a month ago I was getting worried about the stock market highs, so I did move a lot of my equity holdings into bonds and even some into a money market account, which is now earning more than my bond and stock portfolio combined. I suppose I am now exposed about 25 percent equity, 30 percent bonds and 45 percent cash equivalent. Until all the trade agreements are ironed out and I see what is going on globally and with third quarter corporate profits results, I won’t be back into the market to any great extent. I am retired, and I have to be careful that my income lasts another 30 years or so.”

Charles Anderson of Chesapeake, Va., wrote: “My wife and I are both retired, age 68. The recent drop in the market lowered our retirement funds. No panic. We lived through worse (1987, 2008/2009), but we read your column on retirement planning with a link to ‘Reducing Retirement Risk With a Rising Equity Glide Path’ that suggests getting more aggressive as you get later into retirement and want to do less traveling etc. This changed our investment strategy. It made sense. Kind of a retirement ‘life happens’ fund. We calculated how much we would need to withdraw in the next 15 years and moved that into short-term investments and left the rest in stocks so we can do what we wished in retirement. Every year we will readjust accordingly, based on our health and family matters. Yes, we took a loss, but it was all gains from earlier gains.”

“I look at stock market losses differently now,” wrote Scott Fossum of Houston. “The October stock market drop put me back three months to the first half of July as measured by the S&P 500. Still up year-to-date, so I’m mentally okay. As long as I only have volatility and not a bear market, this method of rationalizing market drops works for me. I was happy three months ago and I’m still happy now. No need to get complicated and calculated nominal versus real returns, as I can’t see inflation in a three-month time span. If we get a bear market that takes years to recover from, like the ones since 2000, then it gets more complicated, and I look at real returns and would be depressed if I was a ‘buy and hold’ guy.”

Deborah G. from New York wrote: “When the market dropped recently, I think I gasped, but then moved on. That’s because my grandparents lived through the Great Depression. Back when the market crashed in 1987, I was much younger but still had some savings and lost $700 in a single day. That was a lot to me then. I immediately closed my money market fund and put everything into cash savings. When I told my grandparents, they told me I shouldn’t have done that — to never bet against the stock market because it always comes back. I still follow their advice. And I saw that proven still correct after the 2008 crash. While I have little faith in current leaders, and worry if the current Washington insanity will destroy that, I am trying to remain hopeful that my grandparents’ advice stays the course into these uncertain times.”

Deborah continued: “To plan for my retirement, I have decided to prepare to use the bucket strategy — to keep enough cash in my portfolio so that if there is a crash when I am retired, I have enough to go two years without taking anything out of equities, so there is time to recover before I make any withdrawals. I’m not there yet, but that is what I am working towards. I do check my account balances several times a week, but that is mostly because I worry about identity theft, that someone will steal my ID and clean me out. It can be nerve-racking to see the drops, but I also keep thinking about the long game.”

Scott E. from Sheboygan, Wis., wrote, “About three weeks ago, I sold $15,000 worth of stock to free up cash for when — not if — the bottom drops out of the market again as it did in 2008 and 1987.”

On retiring in general, Mark Press of Henrico, Va., wrote: “Looking ahead, what one plans on doing in retirement is at least partly correlated with how much one will need when the paychecks stop. A lot of retirement material focuses on finance but not so much on lifestyle, and that, too, needs to be taken into account. After all, time, too, is a limited resource to be managed.”

Original Source

Living Near the Enchanted Forest of Guadalajara

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By Robert Nelson | Expats in Mexico

Did you know that Guadalajara is located at the confluence of five ecosystems in Mexico? John Pint discovered this remarkable land over three decades ago and has been living near the enchanted forest of Guadalajara ever since.

John Pint, Pinar de la Venta, Mexico
John Pint

Pint, 77, is a man of many stories and accomplishments. He lives with his wife Susy on the outskirts of Guadalajara’s Bosque de la Primavera, a beautiful pine and oak forest that covers more than 139 square miles. Known as “Guadalajara’s lungs,” it was declared a Protected Area and Wildlife Refuge in 1980 to save it from developers.

“We live in Pinar de la Venta, which was once part of the Primavera Forest,” Pint said. “It was created as a community for people who had weekend homes, but when we came we said wow, this is just the kind of place we want. It’s like living in the woods.”

The journey to his enchanted forest began in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where Pint was born. Later, he graduated from high school in Cincinnati, Ohio before entering the Catholic seminary system and receiving a bachelor’s degree in theology at the Pontifical Seminary of Milan, Italy. Four years later, following a stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica, Pint graduated from the Brattleboro School for International Training in Vermont with a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language (TESOL).

His graduate training opened the door to many years of international travel with his wife, Susy, a student he met while teaching English in Querétaro in 1971.

Susy Pint, Pinar de la Venta, Mexico
Susy Pint

“After we got married, we decided we would like to get to know the world and the best way we could do that would be if we went as teachers of our own languages,” he said. “We spent the next few years in South Korea teaching English and Spanish. Susy had no problem finding students who were interested in learning Spanish. There are a lot of people who are very happy to sit down and have a conversation with a native speaker. Teaching a foreign language is a great formula for people who want to see the world.”

Their next stop was Saudi Arabia, which they found was a lucrative way to earn the money they needed to purchase a home when they returned to Mexico.

“After only four years in Saudi Arabia, we saved up enough money to be able to buy a piece of property just outside of Guadalajara in Pinar de la Venta, which is about eight kilometers west of Guadalajara,” he said. “Our house is about 2,200 sq. ft. with three bedrooms and one bath. It’s at the edge of the Primavera Forest and is all jungly, wild and full of creatures.”

The adjacent forest has about 750 species of plants and at least 225 species of animals, including around 140 kinds of birds. By day, said Pint, you may come across white-tailed deer, ground squirrels, kingfishers, woodpeckers and road runners, while at night the woods come alive with raccoons, grey foxes, possums and more exotic animals like lynxes and even a few pumas.

Before Pint bought the house, he convinced the seller to allow him to spend the night there so he could get a feel for what sleeping there would be like.

“The next morning, I heard a strange creaking sound and I could see the doors were moving,” he said. “When I looked outside even the trees were swaying. That was the famous earthquake of 1985 that destroyed a big part of Mexico City. Luckily, our home had no damage.”

Although Pint and his wife visit Guadalajara, they are people who are most at peace in the countryside, enjoying the area’s ecological riches.

“Guadalajara is very unusual because it is located at the point where five big ecosystems meet in an area called “the magic circle,” he said. “It’s 500 kilometers in diameter with Guadalajara right in the middle. There are few cities where you can go in five directions and end up in a different ecosystem.”

Pint has been explaining and promoting the ecosystem through his website, three books and numerous articles that have appeared in mainly expat newspapers and magazines.

“If you are an outdoor adventurer, this is the place for you,” said Pint. “If you talk to rock climbers, they will tell you to keep it a secret because it’s the most wonderful place to climb you can ever imagine. Whitewater rafters say the same thing. The area is a paradise for rafting. Canyoners, also, come from far away to repel down the waterfalls.”

Pint is currently writing an article for Mexico News Daily about the Jalpa River, which is not far away from him.

“It turns out there are 12 waterfalls along a two kilometer stretch of this river that are absolutely beautiful,” he said. “One is about 20 meters high with a beautiful pool of water at its base.”

Caving in Mexico
Credit: John Pint

Caving is another adventure sport that draws people to the area, including Pint. He said there are hundreds of amazing caves to explore but few people know about them, and like many of the other natural wonders nearby, they are hard to reach.

“Nothing is really easily accessible,” he said. “You need to have a pickup truck or a vehicle with four-wheel drive to see everything. Many of these wonderful places are at the end of a rocky dirt road with 1,000 ft. drops. I have, though, a long list of places that are reachable by ordinary sedan where people can go camping and hiking.”

There are additional benefits to living in the country outside of a large city. Pint told us the cost of living where he lives is much lower than Guadalajara. When he and his wife dine out, their meals rarely cost more than $350 pesos.

But the real secret to happiness in Mexico, Pint said, is the friendliness of the Mexican people.

“It’s extraordinary and might be the number one biggest attraction for being here,” he said. “People are generally interested in having a chat with you, sitting down and relaxing. I think this is rather unusual. We saw so many different kinds of people when we were living in other countries and can tell you that it is the most attractive thing about living in Mexico.”

Pint does not believe that the U.S. media’s portrayal of Mexico as a dangerous place where people are decapitated is a true picture of Mexico.

“The truth is totally opposite,” he said. “The big attraction of being here is the warmth and genuine friendliness of most of the people you meet.”

Living in the nexus of five ecosystems makes a natural nature lover like Pint very happy.

“I love nature, hiking, camping and other outdoor activities,” he said. “The fact that I am out here in nature and have all of this available to me is the second biggest attraction for living in the Guadalajara-area.”

Pint also is very much in step with the relaxed attitudes he has found in his adopted homeland.

“I would say that there is sort of a laissez-faire attitude of not worrying about laws and rules and regulations,” he said. “It has a good and bad side to it, though. In some sense, you’re free of the hassles you might get in other countries where they have rules and regulations for every little thing. Here, you find much less of them.”

But Pint is delighted that local authorities are making laws to control loud noise, a common complaint in Mexico.

“People that have the misfortune of being right next to a cantina that’s blasting out music all night long are now going to have a system by which they can control it. I think that’s good.”

Original Source

Living on a Budget in Mérida

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By Keith Paulson-Thorp | Expats in Mexico

Perhaps the most frequent question we are asked living in Mexico is just how expensive it is, and if one can survive on a Social Security budget. I am happy to report that after two years we have a pretty solid understanding of costs, and living on a budget in Mérida is not a problem.

The first consideration for living anywhere is housing. You can expect to pay rent between US$300 – $500 per month for a nice two- or three-bedroom house if you do a bit of research. Renting through American websites will be more expensive.

Like most foreigners we know here, we chose to purchase a house almost immediately. We do not regret that decision, as housing prices have escalated rapidly, and if we had waited, it would have been difficult to find an affordable property that met our needs. Since the cost of the purchase and renovations are a capital investment, they are not included in the costs shown. But even owning a house comes with expenses.

Since most of Mérida lies in the restricted zone, Americans can only purchase property through a Fideicomiso. This bank trust comes with annual fees, determined by the bank. Ours is through Scotiabank, is paid annually and amortizes to about US$36 per month depending on the exchange rate. Our property taxes doubled this year (because our renovations were legally permitted), but even now come to only US$208 a year, or just over US$17 per month.

We hire local assistance for maintenance and upkeep. For having our house cleaned once per week we pay about US$102 per month, which includes a nice tip – and we provide lunch. The pool service comes weekly as well, but there are additional costs for salt and chemicals, and we budget for periodic repairs to the system. Gardeners come once per month. These services combined run about US$74.

Because we installed solar panels on our roof, (something that has fallen in cost since our installation) our electric bill is not as high as many, even though we run air conditioning 24-hours-a-day in the music room to protect the instruments.

Houses here retain a surprisingly moderate temperature due to the concrete construction, so our usage is limited to hours when we are sleeping, and rare occasions when the afternoon does not cool down so quickly.

Electric bills come every other month, and usage in the summer is subsidized by the government. The amount of subsidy is determined by zone. Mérida, with its intense summer heat, is in the zone of highest subsidies. Our electric consumption averages US$32 monthly.

We have a well from which we fill our pool and sprinkle the gardens during dry seasons. For the house we have a water softener, and for drinking water, a reverse osmosis system. Our water bill is $180 pesos every two months, or around US$9 – $10. We use gas only for cooking. A truck comes and fills the tank on the roof. We pay about US$35 for this service. After eighteen months of daily use, we still have four-fifths of a tank, so the cost is minimal.

Equally essential are communications: telephone, cable and Internet. One might divide these between competing companies, but service is not always the best in some areas, depending on the company. We use Telmex and limit our Internet speed to 50 mbps. Our service is excellent. For this we pay US$32 per month, which includes a land-line telephone we never use.

Our cellphones DO get extensive use, and our plan through AT&T includes unlimited calling in Mexico, Canada and the U.S. for US$28 per month for two phones.

Our largest expenditure is food. Mérida has many excellent restaurants, and friends who have compared the cost of eating at home and eating out claim to see no difference either way. There are restaurants where you can feed two at lunch for as little as US$6 – $7, but I like to cook at home, and when we dine out we prefer better restaurants. Still, our restaurant budget is never more than US$250 per month.

Fresh fruits and vegetables at the mercado a half block from our house are ridiculously inexpensive. I can buy enough for a week for no more than US$10 – $12! There is also a Super-Aki market and numerous specialty stores nearby, so we need trek to Costco, Soriana or Chedraui (big box stores) only a couple of times per month. Our monthly cost for groceries is between US$500 – $525. We could easily decrease this amount, but this is an area where we choose to splurge.

We both carry medical insurance, Marshal through IMSS, the upper tier of Mexico’s socialized medicine, and I through a private company. The two policies combined cost US$1,558 per year, or about US$130 per month. My policy has a deductible; Marshal’s is all-inclusive. Some people forego insurance and just pay out of pocket, since costs are quite low. My policy covers me anywhere in the world except the United States. When I travel to the U.S. I buy a separate policy for those days.

There are also dental expenses. Since arriving in Mexico, I have been able to have a host of dental issues addressed. Cleanings are US$25 each, and visits for other procedures are similarly inexpensive. In total, we spend about US$80 per month on dental costs.

On first arriving in Mérida, we used Über to get around. It is inexpensive and efficient, but limits the ability to explore different areas at will. After six months we purchased a car that would accommodate my smaller harpsichord for transporting to performances.

Gas in Mexico is not cheap, and it is rising quickly. We spend about US$65 per month on gasoline, and maintenance and repairs average out to perhaps US$20 per month. Comprehensive auto insurance costs us US$45 per month.

Miscellaneous expenses would include my monthly haircut at US$6, and new clothing, for which we seldom have need, yet budget US$25 just in case. We opted not to purchase a washer or dryer, as these rust quickly in our humid climate. Laundry facilities are abundant. We use one of a dozen local laundries, chosen because they do not send the clothes out. Ours has machines on site and they wash without perfumed detergents, to which we have allergies. They fold everything and hang the shirts. We pay about US$18 – $20 per month for laundry. We occasionally have shirts ironed at a laundry around the corner for about thirty-cents per shirt.

Being retired, we attend far more concerts and lectures now than we did in the U.S., and we like to go to the cinema occasionally. Tickets are inexpensive, with good seats to a concert no more than US$10 – $15. Our INAPAM cards (Mexico’s discount card for seniors) often get us a discount, and many events are free. We both also read a lot. Books in Mexico are costly, yet our monthly expense for entertainment-related costs is never more than US$120.

Cost of Living in Mérida, Mexico

The final tally? We live on about US$1,725 per month, slightly less than one of our Social Security checks! The other we use for travel and emergencies.

Original Source

Is Puerto Vallarta Safe?

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By Jason Holland | Internatinal Living

With more than 3 million visitors in 2017, Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s most popular beach destinations. The growth of this city on the Bay of Banderas on the Pacific coast has been significant in recent years as far as hotels, condos, resorts, restaurants, shops, and other tourist development, as has the population of residents who’ve come in search of sought-after tourism industry jobs.

The current population is approximately 250,000. And the town’s expat population swells during winter, which is when snowbirds arrive. During Semana Santa (Easter week) and between Christmas and New Year’s Mexicans from all over the country come in great numbers as well.

It’s a far cry from the small fishing village that first drew Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton here for the classic film Night of the Iguana. But it’s still a fun place to be with beautiful beaches, warm weather year-round, and great entertainment.

Crime in Puerto Vallarta

With any city of this size there is crime. But thankfully, Puerto Vallarta continues to be one of the safest and friendliest cities in Mexico for international visitors, national tourists, and expats alike. Part of that is the result of a heavy police and military presence. In short, the government knows that this area brings in a lot of tourist dollars and wants to keep it secure.

Evening strolls along the waterfront malecon, restaurant-hopping in Old Town, and late night bar hopping—no problem, although as you would in any city, you should keep aware of your surroundings and take care not to imbibe too much lest you get lost on the way home.

In general though, few tourists or expats are victims of crime, especially considering how many there are in town. And there is a low level of violent crime.

What you will find here is petty crime…crimes of opportunity. It’s something you see in tourist spots all over the world.

Take care not to leave a purse on a table when you go to the bathroom. Don’t leave valuables on your towel at the beach when you head out for a swim. Be sure to not leave valuables in your car either. And use the safe in your hotel room or get one if you live in a condo or home to store cash, jewelry, passports, and other important items.

Is it Safe to Walk Around Puerto Vallarta?

Is it Safe to Walk Around Puerto Vallarta

One thing I am always cautious of in Puerto Vallarta, and all over Mexico and Latin America, is paying attention while walking around. Sidewalks aren’t always well-maintained, with holes or loose tiles. And construction zones aren’t always well-marked. Plus, some drivers aren’t as conscious of pedestrians as they should be. So I always take extra care when traveling on foot.

If there is some sort of accident, luckily Puerto Vallarta does have quality medical care at local clinics and hospitals, including emergency care.

Puerto Vallarta overall is a safe place, where you can enjoy fun in the sun, if you take a few simple precautions.

Original Source

Answers to Common Questions About Medicare Coverage Outside the U.S.

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By QRoo

Medicare coverage outside the United States is limited

In most situations, Medicare won’t pay for health care or supplies you get outside the U.S.

The term “outside the U.S.” means anywhere other than the 50 states of the U.S., the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Below are some of the exceptions that would allow you to get coverage outside the U.S. under Original Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and/or Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance).

When does Medicare cover health care services in a foreign hospital?

There are 3 situations when Medicare may pay for certain types of health care services you get in a foreign hospital (a hospital outside the U.S.):

  1. You’re in the U.S. when you have a medical emergency, and the foreign hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your illness or injury.
  1. You’re traveling through Canada without unreasonable delay by the most direct route between Alaska and another state when a medical emergency occurs, and the Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your illness or injury. Medicare determines what qualifies as “without unreasonable delay” on a case-by-case basis.
  1. You live in the U.S. and the foreign hospital is closer to your home than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your medical condition, regardless of whether it’s an emergency.

Remember, in these situations, Medicare will pay only for the Medicare-covered services you get in a foreign hospital.

What kind of health care services does Medicare pay for in the 3 situations described above?

Original Medicare covers these services:

  • Part A covers inpatient hospital care (care you get when you’ve been formally admitted with a doctor’s order to the foreign hospital as an inpatient). For more information on understanding your hospital status, visit Medicare.gov/publications to view the publication “Are You a Hospital Inpatient or Outpatient?”
  • Part B covers emergency ambulance and doctor services you get immediately before and during your covered foreign inpatient hospital stay. However, if Medicare doesn’t cover your hospital stay and/or you get ambulance and doctor services outside the hospital after your covered hospital stay ends, Medicare generally won’t pay for these services. For example, Medicare won’t cover return ambulance trips home.
  • Part B covers non-emergency doctor and ambulance services that you get immediately before and during your covered foreign inpatient hospital stay. However, if Medicare doesn’t cover your hospital stay and/or you get doctor services outside the hospital, Medicare generally won’t pay for these services. For example, Medicare won’t cover doctor services you get in Canada after your covered Canadian hospital stay ends.

Remember, Medicare only pays for its share of services covered by Original Medicare. If you only have Part A, Medicare only covers inpatient hospital care.

Does Medicare pay for dialysis treatments when I travel outside the U.S.?

Unless it’s one of the 3 situations described above, Medicare doesn’t cover dialysis when you travel outside the U.S.

Does Medicare pay for prescription drugs outside the U.S.?

Medicare drug plans can’t cover prescription drugs you buy outside the U.S. Call your drug plan for more information.

Will Medicare pay for medically necessary health care services I get on a cruise ship?

Medicare may cover medically necessary health care services you get on a cruise ship in these situations:

  • The doctor is allowed under certain laws to provide medical services on the cruise ship.
  • The ship is in a U.S. port or no more than 6 hours away from a U.S. port when you get the services, regardless of whether it’s an emergency.

Medicare doesn’t cover health care services you get when the ship is more than 6 hours away from a U.S. port.

What do I pay if I get Medicare-covered services outside the U.S.?

Except in the limited situations described above, Medicare doesn’t pay for health care services you get outside the U.S. If your circumstances don’t meet these limited exceptions, you pay the full cost to the health care provider.

If your situation matches one of the exceptions in this fact sheet and Medicare covers the items or services you get, you still pay the coinsurance or copayments and deductibles you would normally pay if you got these same services or supplies inside the U.S.

Although U.S. hospitals must submit claims to Medicare for you, foreign hospitals aren’t required to file Medicare claims. If you’re admitted to a foreign hospital under 1 of the 3 situations described above, and if that hospital doesn’t submit Medicare claims for you, then you must submit an itemized bill to Medicare for your doctor, inpatient, and ambulance services.

If you got Medicare-covered services on a cruise ship under a situation described in the previous question, the doctor must ordinarily submit the Medicare claim. However, you may also file a claim directly to Medicare in these rare circumstances.

What if I have a Medigap (Medicare Supplement Insurance) policy?

Your Medigap policy may offer additional coverage for health care services or supplies that you get outside the U.S. Standard Medigap plans C, D, F, G, M, and N provide foreign travel emergency health care coverage when you travel outside the U.S. Plans E, H, I, and J are no longer for sale, but if you bought one before June 1, 2010, you may keep it. All of these plans also provide foreign travel emergency health care coverage when you travel outside the U.S.

Medigap plans C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, M, and N pay 80% of the billed charges for certain medically necessary emergency care outside the U.S. after you meet a $250 deductible for the year. These Medigap policies cover foreign travel emergency care if it begins during the first 60 days of your trip, and if Medicare doesn’t otherwise cover the care. Foreign travel emergency coverage with Medigap policies has a lifetime limit of $50,000.

What if I get my health care from another Medicare health plan rather than Original Medicare?

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) or another Medicare health plan, your plan may offer additional coverage for health care services you get outside the U.S. Check with your plan before traveling to see what’s covered.

Can I buy travel insurance to help pay for the cost of health care services?

Yes. Because Medicare has limited coverage of health care services outside the U.S., you can choose to buy a travel insurance policy to get more coverage. An insurance agent or travel agent can give you more information about buying travel insurance. Travel insurance doesn’t necessarily include health coverage, so it’s important to read the conditions or restrictions carefully.

Where can I get more information?

  • Visit Medicare.gov to find out what Medicare covers.
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.

Original Source

Retire In Valladolid

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By International Living

The definitions for a perfect retirement destination are about as varied as recipes for meatloaf in Illinois. We all have our preferences when it comes to how we want to spend our retirement years.

Some want the tropical life of a beach dweller or an island experience where close interaction with the sea is of utmost importance. Others see themselves in a cool, mountain village with cobbled streets, awakened by the crowing of roosters, days spent detouring around burros on narrow lanes, shopping in open-air markets, or hiking community trails.

Others prefer a modern, big-city environment where everything is close together, condensed for walkable convenience. Museums, orchestras, theaters, and opera, all available and affordable along with excellent medical care and limitless shopping.

Then there are those who seek their best compromise. A safe city, large enough to provide good shopping options and modern medical care along with a low cost of living, a comfortable climate, and a great selection of restaurants. It would be absent the deep cultural impact brought about by a burgeoning expat population or the hustle of coastal tourist Meccas. And all that should be melded with art, music, and literature along with sufficient recreational opportunities to make your life a living postcard. Wrap all this up in a visually pleasing package and you have Valladolid, Yucatan.

Valladolid, on Mexico´s Yucatan Peninsula, checks all the necessary boxes for a number of expats who have found it to be the perfect retirement solution. With a population of around 50,000, and comfortable weather throughout the year (temps normally in the 80s but can get into the high 90s for a few days in summer), this colonial city is located in the eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula and is the third largest city in the state of Yucatan.

With its rich history and magnificent colonial-era architecture, Valladolid offers plenty of exposure to indigenous culture in every aspect of daily life. Here, historic Spanish influences and ancient Maya culture exist side-by-side with the modern world, creating a rich, sumptuous experience. Mature local women, wearing traditional attire infuse the city with their vibrant embroidered dresses as they go about their shopping next to younger students carrying backpacks and texting their friends. Here, the ancient Mayan language is heard as often as Spanish.

There are also modern super markets, auto dealerships, movie theaters, and a contemporary, functional infrastructure. A large fleet of taxis means you don’t have to own a car and for those who choose to drive, traffic is usually moderate with few delays.

Never does Valladolid overwhelm you with big-city energy or lull you with the rhythm of a lullaby. Valladolid rests in the perfection of middle ground; Never too much and rarely too little. And it is a beautiful, easily accessible city, encouraging you to walk up and down the streets and explore the thousands of tiny shops, one after another while absorbing the ancient Maya culture and appreciating the spectacular architecture of the central historic district.

Retire In Valladolid

Retire In Valladolid
©iStock.com/hipokrat

Mexico offers an easily obtainable retirement visa providing for quick, permanent residency for those meeting the simple qualifications. The straight-forward process begins at the Mexican consulate in your home state. There, the consulate officer will verify your income based on the documents you provide, review a nominal number of other documents, and your completed application. After a short interview, if approved, you’ll likely depart with your permanent residency visa affixed to the inside of your passport.

All legal residents over the age of 60 qualify for a discount card from INAPAM (Instituto Nacional para las Personas Adultas Mayores) facilitating discounts on a wide variety of goods and services.

While public buses do run throughout the city, they run a complex route and for expats, the most efficient method of public transportation are the affordable and numerous taxis available throughout the city. Prices are geared toward the local population and are more than reasonable, cheap in fact. Three or four dollars can take you across town.

Several hospitals offer first class medical care at reasonable prices, usually about one third the cost of hospitals north of the border. The San Lucas Medical Center is the newest and most modern hospital, however they do not offer all surgical options but do offer emergency medical care. The Clinica San Juan offers fewer services but is also available. Most seek care at the large general Hospital of Valladolid where all services are available.

Cancun, about two hours away, offers seven major hospitals for those needs that can be scheduled and Merida, also about two hours away (in the opposite direction), offers the finest in medical care at nine hospitals and large clinics.

Expat residents can qualify for Mexico’s health insurance plan called Seguro Popular or the IMSS program. Nearly all medications can be purchased directly from the pharmacy without a prescription (narcotics and strong antibiotics are obvious exceptions) and cost only a fraction of prices north of the border.

Lifestyle in Valladolid

Lifestyle in Valladolid
©iStock.com/CampPhoto

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula has the reputation of being one of Mexico’s safest regions. Living in Valladolid provides easy access to the entire peninsula, including another gorgeous and larger city, Merida. If the beach is what you crave, you can visit the Gulf of Mexico to the north in about an hour and a half or head southeast for two hours to the Riviera MayaCancunPlaya del Carmen, and Tulúm.

On those hot summer days when temperatures climb into the 90s, visit one of the many cenotes in the region. These underground sink holes permeate the area, many accessible to the public for a tiny fee. These natural pools of sparkling clear water are popular with locals and tourists alike and one of the more popular ones (Cenote Zaci) is located in the heart of downtown Valladolid, complete with beautiful landscaping and a good restaurant serving the regional favorites including Lomitos de Valladolid (slow cooked pork in tomato sauce). It is scrumptious!

Valladolid has several niche museums as well as numerous neighborhood parks, each flanked by a traditional colonial church or cathedral. This city provides stunning photo opportunities, given the traditional indigenous attire of many local residents and the magnificent, Spanish colonial architecture. Many of the centuries-old structures were actually constructed out of the pilfered remains of ancient and sacred Maya edifices dating back more than a millennium.

This is a city that can be wandered slowly, discovering interesting small shops and being surprised by the delicious simplicity of street food. Have lunch in a landscaped courtyard garden of a small hotel or find delight in an impromptu street performance.

The food found in Valladolid is authentic to the region and heavily influenced by traditional Maya fare.

Cost of Living in Valladolid

Cost of Living in Valladolid
©iStock.com/Dutodom

Mexico’s reduced cost of living, compared to the U.S. and Canada, is well documented. Property can be purchased for far less than comparisons north of the border. And taxes are silly cheap, often only a few hundred dollars per year. The low cost of living is one of the primary factors why Mexico is home to more U.S. expats than any other country.

There are many expats living in and around Valladolid who enjoy a wonderful life on a modest Social Security income of $1,000 to $1,500 per month and are still able to save enough money for a trip to the States once or twice per year. But, as it is everywhere else, your expenses depend on the lifestyle you choose to live and the choices you make.

Here is a sample budget for a couple living in Valladolid:

Expense  U.S. $
 Rent: 1 Bedroom Apartment (Downtown)  $250-$400
 Rent: 3 Bedroom Apartment (Downtown)  $500-$800
 Purchase: 1,500-square-foot condo (Downtown)  $60,000+
 Utilities (Elect, Water, Gas)  $60
 Internet: unlimited high-speed DSL  $24-$30
 Food/Groceries  $250-$350
 Transportation  $75
 Entertainment  $150
 Medical  $100

Valladolid provides a wonderful example of what a stress-free life can be, a place where everything seems…just right. That said, you will need to learn a bit of Spanish to feel comfortable in Valladolid.

Valladolid is served by the large international Airport in Merida, about two hours away.

Original Source

The 3 Easiest Places To Retire Overseas

Resultado de imagen para retire overseas

By Kathleen Peddicord | Forbes

One of the first questions to ask yourself when considering the idea of retiring to another country is: How local do you want to go?

“Going local” means living among and like the locals, shopping where they shop, eating what they eat, and speaking whatever language they speak.

The more local you go the lower your cost of living. At an extreme, truly local living—in Otavalo, Ecuador, for example, or Chiang Mai, Thailand, two of the best choices for this lifestyle right now—can cost as little as $700 or $800 per month.

However, in addition to usually requiring you to learn a new language, retiring local can also land you squarely in the developing world. Life in the developing world is not for everyone.

The opposite of going local is settling in a place where lots of other expats have already retired. These are destinations where the American Dream has effectively been exported and where the day-to-day living can closely resemble what you left behind back home.

It’s like retiring overseas with training wheels. You can enjoy many of the advantages—lower costs of living and of health care, better weather, and a chance to chase adventure at this stage of life, for example—without the hard work that going local can mean.

There’s no right or wrong way to take your retirement beyond U.S. borders. The important thing is to make the move in a way that makes you happy and comfortable.

If you’re tempted by the idea and the benefits of retiring to another country but not up for serious culture shock, here are three destinations to put at the top of your list. These appealing locales, home to some of the world’s biggest and most welcoming expat retirement communities, qualify as the easiest places to retire overseas.

Top Expat Retirement Community #1: Boquete, Panama

A beautiful day in Boquete, PanamaFLICKR/DRONEPICR

Boquete, a small town in Panama’s Chiriquí province, sits at 3,600 feet above sea level and so enjoys a more temperate climate than sea-level Panama.

Boquete is known for its cool temperatures, which average 70 degrees year-round, and its big population of foreign retirees. You won’t have to seek them out. Boquete’s 3,000 North American resident retirees and the many restaurants and shops that have been started both by and to cater to them are ever-present. More English is spoken on the streets of Boquete than Spanish.

The big U.S. expat presence is thanks to an American developer who, in 1999, targeted Boquete as the site of the full-amenity gated community specifically intended for American retirees he wanted to build. That forward-thinking entrepreneur set out to recreate, in these Panamanian highlands, small-town life in America in the 1950s, and he seems to have hit his mark.

The mountains, valleys, rivers, and waterfalls of Boquete are beautiful, but the real attraction of the place is how turn-key a foreign retiree’s life can be here. More than 2,000 other foreign retirees have paved the way and are standing by to answer your questions to do with everything from choosing a place to live and setting up utilities to opening a bank account and finding company on a Sunday afternoon.

A retiree’s life in Boquete is convenient, comfortable, and supported by all the infrastructure you’re accustomed to, including an English-speaking chiropractor and a library stocked with English-language books.

Top Expat Retirement Community #2: San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize

A simple, relaxed, and low-key island getaway.CREATIVE COMMONS