7 Surprising Ways Retirement Will Change Your Life

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By Tom Sightings | US News

You can plan for it, dream about it and try to visualize it, but there’s no way to tell for sure what retirement will be like for you until after you’ve actually pulled the trigger and left the job. As you contemplate this major life change, remember to prepare for these potential retirement surprises.

The luxury of time. Initially, many retirees keep on doing what they’ve always been doing, except they don’t go to work. There’s more time for shopping, doing home repairs, seeing friends and playing golf. But after a while it begins to sink in: Time is a precious resource. People begin to reflect on their lives, start to say no to activities they really don’t want to do and consciously focus on the important, more purposeful things in their lives.


The need to re-establish some structure. Eventually the fantasy of never again having to punch a time clock or rush to the commuter train gives way to the reality that most people actually like structure in their days. Most retirees develop some sort of new schedule for themselves, whether it’s twice-a-week volunteer work, a semester-long evening class, a regular golf or tennis game with a group of friends or even a part-time paying job.

A search for fulfillment. Work often gives meaning to your life. Some retirees experience a kind of post-work crisis as they search for a new purpose that will give them a sense of fulfillment. Most retirees find the answer in helping other people in one way or another. They may volunteer to help kids with their homework, serve meals to elderly widows and widowers, coach a sports team or help raise their grandchildren.

What happened to my friends? Many retirees are surprised to find that their relationship with old work colleagues fades away as their interests begin to diverge. Other friends may die or move away. However, new friends come along with new activities. And many retirees reconnect with old school pals or long-neglected family members.

Who am I married to? Many couples are surprised to discover new sides to their spouse – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Couples often have to redefine their relationship after retirement, remembering why they fell in love with each other in the first place, and realizing that they don’t have to share every interest or spend every minute of the day together.

I don’t need this old house anymore. Some people expect to stay in the family home forever, dreaming of the grandkids coming over to spend hours in the basement looking at old family photos. But the reality is, the grandkids are probably not that interested. The aging house may also need a lot more maintenance than you initially thought. Some retirees find that living in a condo complex or renting an apartment where someone else takes care of maintenance and repairs makes life easier.


Where does the money go? Many retirees are surprised to discover that their money goes a lot further than they thought. Some areas have tax breaks for retirees. Commuting costs are gone, and maybe you don’t need a second car anymore. And now that the kids are on their own, you no longer have to spend so much money on them. Many retirees find that they have extra money to travel, donate to charities, join sports clubs and go to the theater. But be careful. Keep some money in reserve for medical bills, because one common thread among retirees is that health care costs increase as you age.

The biggest surprise of all. Many people wonder why they didn’t retire sooner, because retirement turns out to be even better than they thought it would be.

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4 Questions You Must Ask Yourself Before Retiring To Lake Chapala

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By Michaela | Retire in Lake Chapala

Retirement and the encroachment of old age means you need to view life differently. It takes planning in finances and health. How do you want to live the rest of your life? Where is the best place for you to spend your remaining years? Is expatriating to Mexico right for you, and, more specifically, is Lake Chapala the right spot for you to call home?

Use these questions to help you decide if a place will really work for your retirement, now, and in the future:

  1. Who will look after me in my old age?

  2. Is there good medical care nearby?

  3. How safe is it?

  4. How will I get around if I can’t drive?

After all, if this is to be your best and last move, it is important to take the time to learn where is the best retirement destination for you.

Who will look after me in my old age?

Ah…old age. We all hope to avoid it but the fact is that most people, and yes that could well be you, will need some assistance in their final years. Since the majority of us do not want to burden our children with our disabilities we need to consider care homes as an option. Fortunately, Lake Chapala has a variety of great elder care facilities available featuring different levels of care with pricing that is about a third of the cost of the U.S. and Canada.

Are there property managers, legal aid services, concierge services, home nursing, etc?

Fortunately, Lake Chapala has all of these and more. Live-in nursing care, live-in home care, home doctors visits, concierge services for whatever you require, and legal representation after you die,

Is there good medical care nearby?

Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city is only 1 hour away and has many top notch and modern facilities with doctors trained in the U.S. and Europe.

An idyllic Mexican puebla in the mountains or by the seashore may become too remote when you start to suffer from age related problems, or your home may become too hard to maintain after you’ve had a heart attack,

So, make things easier for your kids and for yourself and be realistic when you make a move abroad. Adult children who are holding down jobs and rearing children will be severely burdened if they must travel long distances to help elderly loved ones.

Also with age comes more frequent medical tests. Specific visits to oncologists, cardiologists, etc, can be a tremendous burden to yourself and your spouse when you live far away from good sized city.

So give proper consideration to the needs of tomorrow as well as the needs of today when you consider where to live in Mexico.

How Safe Is This Place?

There has been much media and U.S. Government warnings about living in Mexico but the fact remains that Mexico is a very large county and crime rates vary dramatically from area to area and even within cities. Is the Lake Chapala area ridden with crime? I would be lying to you if I told you that there was none but most people who make the move here will tell you that they feel safer here than back in the their home country, including myself. If you stay out of the drug trade and go about your normal business, you would be very unlikely to encounter any crimes against your person. If you don’t believe me than go to the web boards in the area and pose your questions and when visiting, ask every person their opinion on how safe it is to live there. Everyone will have a different experience and provide you with a different opinion but overall you should arrive at a consensus of how safe the area is and what precautions you need to take. Then, when you are getting serious to make the move, visit the neighborhoods that appeal to you and speak with the neighbors.

How will I get around if I can’t drive?

At some point in your elder years you will have to face the fact that you may be forced to hang up the keys. So what about public transportation and the availability of drivers for your medical appointments, shopping, and dining out?

Lake Chapala has has a good public transportation in the form of frequent bus service along the Carretera. When that becomes too difficult to navigate due to the walk to and from the bus route, there are many taxis, Uber, as well as private drivers and driving services and all at low cost.

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Easiest Countries To Retire In

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In this article, I will look at the easiest countries to retire in. If you’re looking to move out of the United States, here are your best options for retirement and an easy path to residency. This is everything you need ti start your quest for the best and easiest country to retire in… the one that’s right for you.

What is certain is that living in the United States and Europe has become increasingly expensive. Just compare house prices 10 years from now and today. Seems that everything is going up except for salaries and the return on your retirement account.

You probably have worked all of your life waiting for the day of your retirement. The day in which you can stop worrying about money and just relax. With the way things are going in the United States this day seems to be getting further and further out.

For this reason many Americans have chosen to take their savings and retire in another country. Countries where one dollar can buy 3 to 10 times more than in the United States. Countries that want you and your dollars. That is to say, pick a country for retirement where you and your money are treated best.

Fyi… you can take your retirement or IRA offshore and out of the United States. While this post is in the easiest countries to retire in, here’s one on moving your IRA abroad: Ready to take your IRA offshore?

With all of that said, here are the easiest countries to retire in:


Panama City is one of the most “international” cities in the world with a very diverse population including a huge community of American retirees. This country also has the easiest immigration programs for expats from “friendly nations” such as the United States.

Invest $22,000 in Panama’s reforestation program and get permanent residency. Then, after 5 years of residency, you can apply for citizenship. For more on the friendly nations reforestation visa, see: Best Panama Residency by Investment Program

Panama is also one of the only countries in the world where you can gain residency using your retirement account. For more on this, see: How to get Residency in Panama Using Your IRA


Apart from the proximity of Mexico to the United States, there are a number of reasons to consider Mexico as a place to retire. Many American retirees have established communities in many cities across Mexico that offer affordable real estate in incredible locations, including Lago de Chapala, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Puerto Vallarta, San Miguel de Allende, Tijuana- Rosarito, and Ensenada.

It is possible to retire with $ 800 a month in Mexico if you are willing to live modestly in a small apartment, eat simple meals at home, and give up some amenities. Alternatively, you can easily spend $10,000  a month being in a large exclusive beach community and taking full advantage of the countless fine dining, and leisure opportunities.

As you move South in Mexico, you will find many great lower cost retirement options. My favorite are in San Cristobal de las Casas (south) and San Miguel de Allende (middle). If you want to live like a gringo in a big city like Mexico City (where I’m based), Guadalajara, or Monterrey, it’s going to cost you.

In order to qualify for a retirement visa from Mexico you must prove that you have a monthly income pension fee greater than 2,500 Dlls during the last 6 months. The Social Security letter indicating your pension and the account statements of the last six months where that amount is reflected can be presented.


The applicant must show that he receives a monthly equivalent pension to the amount of six hundred dollars (USD $600.00) granted by the government or a private institution, in a permanent, stable and irrevocable manner. Plus an additional income of U $ A 150 for each member of your family that accompanies you.In addition, you will be allowed to import your household belongings free of taxes, and also a car for personal use for a value of $20,000.

The most popular visa in Nicaragua is the reforestation visa. Invest $35,000 in one of the government approved teak plantations and get residency. Spend 180 days a year in Nica and qualify for citizenship after 5 years.


Portugal has created the Golden Visa, a program perfect for American retirees that grants a temporary residence permit without the need of a prior residence visa. When citizens of any country outside the European Union, personally or through a company make a substantial investment in real estate, artistic or  scientific activity, urban rehabilitation, or create jobs in Portuguese territory for a minimum period of 5 years.

When obtaining the Golden Visa, the retiree and his family can live in Portugal and circulate freely in the 26 countries of the Schengen area with his Portuguese residence card. After 6 years, the investor may apply for Portuguese nationality.


The most unexpected country on this list, Malaysia is a paradise for American retirees who just wishes to get away. The huge community of American Expats already calling Malaysia there home is concrete evidence of the wonders that await you in this Asian country. Living expenses in Malaysia are are about 50% lower than in the United States and you can buy a house for a quarter of what it would cost to in the United States. The fact that Malaysia is not well known among foreign tourists make this country one of the best options for the American Retiree who desires a calm place to spend his remaining years.

I hope you’ve found this article on easy countries to retire in to be helpful. For more information on these and other residency programs, or for assistance on any second passport program, please contact us below by filling out the form, Thank you. We’ll be happy to assist you with a second passport or a second residency.

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Why many Americans and Canadians choose Lake Chapala to retire?


By Yucatan Times

Unless you have a serious aversion to Mexico, Ajijic, on the shores of Mexico’s largest lake, Lake Chapala, is one of the finest places on the planet that you could consider retiring to. True, it’s not the commercial advertisement of a hot bikini clad body sipping a margarita on the beach, but it has enough development, a large expat community and a perfect year around climate to make settling here easy and stress free.

After having traveled to other Central American countries such as Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua searching for a pleasant climate to call home, Ajijic, Mexico has check marked all the boxes on my wish list.

When you look at all the factors of what makes an ideal retirement destination for year around living you find that there is a world of difference between retiring to Lake Chapala verses other retirement destinations such as Boquete, Panama; Cuenca, Equador; Grenada, Nicaragua; or any other country in Central America.

Hands down, Lake Chapala beats the climate options, commerce options, ease of travel to and from USA or Canada, and quality health care options compared to these other destinations. Heck, they even have all the things we love such as Walmart, Costco (Guadalajara), Autozone, etc. Even Amazon.mx!

Lets look at some of the things people look for in a retirement destination:

Likely the #1 reason why so many choose Lake Chapala as their retirement destination is its temperate climate. Lake Chapala has an incredible climate with an average temperature of 72° F (21° C). Rains happen only in the summer and then mostly only at night. How awesome is that?

Cost of Living
The cost of living in Lake Chapala is about 35-50% of what it would cost to live in the U.S. or Canada. Assuming you own your own home, have 2 cars, and eat out/entertain (2-3 times/week), you can expect to pay about $19,000/yr USD per couple. Some even live here well on Social Security at $15,000/year.

Rents run at $500-2500 USD/month with a normal range of $700-$1200 USD for year-long leases that can include some or all of the utilities such as electric, gas, cable, water and trash, gardener and maid. Remember too, there is no need for heat or AC in the home.

Personal services are a quarter of the cost of the US (maid, car driver, personal care, concierge – $2-4/hour). Auto mechanic a quarter to a third of the USA cost. Haircut – $3.00, Car wash – $3.00.


Imagine living in a real Mexican Village complete with plaza/churches/festivals/parades, boating/kayaking on the lake, hiking in the mountains, discovering ancient artifacts (caves, pyramids, petroglyphs), lazing the day away in thermal baths, visiting rustic rural villages/farms, and even enjoying world class shopping, five-star restaurants and the opera in the second largest city of Mexico, Guadalajara. Now this is living your retirement years to the fullest!

There is a huge entertainment schedule weekly with live music every night at some restaurants throughout the village.

A 400-year old village with cobble stone streets and church bells ringing, colorful murals and homes, mountains, Mexico’s largest lake (50 mile long, 12 miles wide), ever blooming flowers, birds galore, butterflies, palm trees, and more.

Health & Health Care
Once you are acclimatized to the altitude, you will notice a significant feeling of well-being and increased vigor.

You’ll eat healthier than ever before with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables from roadside stands and the weekly organic farmers market. You will be amazed at how much easier it is to eat less processed foods while living here as all foods are prepared on a ‘as ordered’ basis with fresh ingredients.

The health clinics in Ajijic are just minutes away with English-speaking doctors ($15/visit) and full service hospitals and specialty centers are located in Guadalajara along with many forms of alternative medicine offerings both in Ajijic and in Guadalajara.

You can walk to most anything from Ajijic and a drive of more than 5 km (3.1 miles) from the main street (Colon Street) seems totally unnecessary.

For those times you desire something special, Guadalajara has other options such as Sam’s Club, Frescos and Costco. You can find anything in Guadalajara, Mexico’s 2nd largest city, that you could find in the USA (theater, opera, a zoo, Home Depot, etc.)

Mexico is huge country with a surface area encompassing more than all of Central America combined so there is more ground to cover for travel options and exploration.

You have access to a lot of climate zones too, from true desert to true jungle with jaguars and crocodiles. You can enjoy semi cold winters and snow, or sweltering, humid summers, or dry searing desert heat all within a couple days drive and depending on the season.

Flying to anywhere in the world is a breeze while living in Ajijic with only a 30 minute drive to the airport. Once there, flights to the U.S. and Canada are frequent and well-priced.

Mexico is bound on either side by the Pacific and Caribbean Oceans, offering the Lake Chapala expat a variety of beach options. In fact, Mexico has 9,330 km (5,800 miles) of coastline! The Pacific Coast village of Cuyatlan is the closest and only 3 hours away, Manzanillo 3.5 hours and the Caribbean can be easily accessed through the Guadalajara airport with direct flights taking you to Cancun, Cozumel and Chetumal.

So what are you waiting for? If you can afford only one move or don’t have time for trial and error, make it Lake Chapala!

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US, Canadian Retirees Can Get Their Pensions in Mexico


By Warren Brander | Tropicasa Realty

One of the benefits of retiring in Mexico is the affordable cost of living, meaning that retirement savings stretch further for a more comfortable lifestyle.

For Americans and Canadians who have retired in Mexico, this includes government pensions, which, assuming you qualify for all benefit requirements in your country of origin, can be received while you are living in Mexico. Here are a few helpful tips about claiming your pension benefits in Mexico that you may not know:

Canadians: If you meet all other qualifying criteria, a Canadian may receive both Old Age Security (OAS) and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or Quebec Pension Plan payments (QPP). Unfortunately, Mexico is not one of the countries to which Canada will deposit pension benefits to local banks, so funds need to be directly deposited to your Canadian bank account and then moved to Mexico.

However, if you are living more than 6 months of the year in Mexico and declare non-residency in Canada, you may be eligible for a tax break. The standard tax rate for non-resident Canadians on pension benefits is 25% but a Canada/Mexico tax treaty reduces that amount to 15% on OAS benefits and CPP and QPP pensions.

Americans: If you meet all other qualifying criteria, an American can not only receive Social Security benefits while living in Mexico, but the US Government will even directly deposit your monthly benefits into your Mexican bank account. Added bonus for Americans living in Puerto Vallarta? There is a Federal Benefits Unit located in the US Consulate in Guadalajara, so help is just a few hours away, if something goes amiss.

And, if you are a foreigner that has lived in Mexico for 25 years or more, there is even a Mexican Old Age Pension that you may qualify to receive. However, before you get too excited, the current monthly benefit is approximately 500 pesos, so you likely will not want to count on that as your only source of retirement income.

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9 Tech Tips You Should Know Before Retiring Overseas

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By Kathleen Peddicord | US News

Not too many years ago retirees who moved overseas had major challenges when it came to paying bills, receiving mail, managing investments, moving money around and staying in touch with the folks back home. Today, these things are easier to manage than ever before.


When making a move overseas, your goal should be to go as paperless as possible. Organize your administrative life so that you can access everything online, and tell your credit card companies, banks and investment account managers that you want to receive electronic statements only. If you need a paper copy of something, you can print one yourself from your electronic files.

Here’s a checklist for the technologies you need to support your new life overseas:

An email address. This is your first and most important practical step as you begin planning for your overseas adventures. Your email address will be your main point of connection with the life and the world you’re leaving behind “back home,” and it will be the easiest way for you to operate as you begin moving around the globe. Some days, your email address will seem like your lifeline.

A U.S. address. Even after you’ve moved beyond U.S. borders, you may want to keep a U.S. address. This can make it easier to deal with U.S. banks, credit card companies and brokerage firms.

How can you have a U.S. address when you’re not living in the U.S.? Many people use the address of a friend or family member who is still living in the U.S. This works as long as the person is happy to receive mail and forward it to you at regular intervals.

Another option is a private mailbox service such as the UPS Store or Pak Mail. These services offer a real street address, which is important for some transactions. However, some financial institutions won’t allow you to use addresses provided by mailbox services.

Online banking access. If you aren’t already set up for online banking, register as soon as possible. If your current bank doesn’t offer online services, change banks. You will want the ability to pay bills and initiate international wire transfers online. You aren’t going to be able to go into the branch in person to sign wire instructions once you’re off enjoying your new life at the beach in Belize.

The easiest and most cost efficient way to access your money anywhere in the world is through an ATM. However, check the fees you’ll be charged for using an ATM that isn’t part of your bank’s network. Most banks charge a fee for using an out-of-network ATM on top of the fee the ATM machine may charge you. For example, banks in Panama charge around $4 or $5 every time you use an ATM if you’re not a customer of that bank. Some U.S. banks charge an extra or higher fee when you use an ATM outside the country.

Note that many online banks and brokerage firms reimburse these fees, as they don’t have ATMs of their own. Some online banks and brokerage firms also don’t charge you when you use your ATM card outside your home country.


An online brokerage account. Most online brokerage accounts offer digital transactions, but you should confirm that you can initiate international money transfers online. Some financial institutions won’t allow you to make a stock trade from a foreign IP address, and changing your address with your broker to a foreign address is likely to trigger a change in your account status and restrict new stock purchases.

VoIP. VoIP stands for voice over internet protocol, and it’s often the most affordable way to make international phone calls. For example, Skype calls are free between Skype accounts. A call from Skype anywhere in the world to a landline in the U.S., Canada and most of Western Europe can cost as little as 2.1 cents per minute, and you can arrange a virtual phone number for incoming calls using whatever area code you designate.

A mail forwarding service. If you decide to use a private mailbox service, it can double as a mail forwarding service. For example, if you retire in Latin America, you can choose a service out of Miami that gives you a mailing address in Florida. They’ll collect your mail and forward it to their office in the country where you’re residing. You can then either pick up your mail at their office or perhaps have it delivered directly to your residence. You’ll pay a monthly fee for this service, which is usually less than $25, plus postage charges.

A driver’s license. Renew your driver’s license just before leaving your home state. You’ll want to use it for renting cars and as a secondary form of ID abroad. Plus, you may not be able to arrange for a local driver’s license in your new country of residence immediately. Sometimes a test or waiting period is required.


A cell phone. The easiest and best option is usually to buy a new phone overseas. Pay-as-you-go phones are cheap and easy to come by in most of the world. You can shop for one in any electronics store. In Panama, for example, you can buy a low-end, but functional pay-as-you-go cell phone for $20 that comes with a voucher for $5 worth of calling credit.

Once you’re more established in your new country, you may want to switch from a pay-as-you-go phone to a cell phone plan. Qualifying for a monthly plan as a foreign resident can be complicated, but it’s worthwhile if you use your phone a lot.

A laptop. This isn’t absolutely necessary. You probably could get by using personal computers in internet cafes. However, a laptop will make it easier to manage your personal communications and finances. Alternatively, once you’re set up in your new residence, you could buy a local desktop computer, but it will likely come with an operating system in the language of the country you’re in and a non-English keyboard.

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A Permanent Vacation in Akumal, Mexico


By Jen Phillips April | International Living

Larisa and Tom Gerace traded the cold and snow of Lakewood, Colorado for the tropical warmth of Akumal on the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico in 2016. For 20 years they’d visited the white-sand beaches of the Riviera Maya on vacation, and as retirement loomed, it seemed a natural fit to move there permanently.

But where? They’d been up and down the coastline over the years and finally settled on the beachside town of Akumal, which means “Place of the Turtle” in Mayan. Located about 90 minutes south of Cancún airport, it’s easily accessible to the U.S. and Canada, yet feels more remote than nearby bustling Playa del Carmen.

And since they’d been to Mexico plenty of times on vacation over the years, life now feels like a permanent vacation for them.

In the mornings, Larisa likes to walk their German Shepherd or take a bike ride, while Tom plays a round of golf on the Robert Trent Jones course that’s part of their luxury development.

As Larisa says, “We were both surprised by how busy we are. There’s never any shortage of activities and it’s easy to meet new people, both Mexicans and expats. We’re never lonely.”

She enjoys snorkeling in Akumal Bay, where you can see sea turtles, stingrays, and colorful fish. Evenings find the pair enjoying a delicious, home-cooked meal while listening to the birdsong from their private rooftop in the jungle.

Larisa also loves cooking and takes a monthly cooking class that specializes in traditional Maya foods. “I love working with the chilies.” She shops like a local too. “I enjoy going to the farmers’ market. I can load up on fresh fruits and veggies for around $10. They have a butcher there too and for around $27, I can fill my freezer with locally sourced chicken, beef, and pork.”

Their two-bedroom condo has a well-appointed kitchen where she enjoys making Chicken Tinga and other Maya delicacies while looking out over the jungle. It’s not unusual to see spider monkeys swing through the trees, and iguanas sunning themselves on rocks.

Average temperatures hover between 75 F and 82 F, so the pleasures of the white-sand beach beckon year-round and there’s always an ocean breeze along the coast. Larisa even volunteers with a dolphin project in nearby Puerto Adventuras, and if it’s history they’re after, they’re just a short distance away from the famed Maya ruins of Tulum and Coba.

When Tom retired from the local power company back in Colorado, he and Larisa considered keeping their house there and being part-time residents in both places…but the more they thought about it, the more they decided to go all-in in Mexico.

They’re glad they did.

“I love the people. This is a beautiful culture and I enjoy learning about their traditions. I also love the ocean and the jungle,” Larisa says.

She has some words of advice for anyone who’s considering moving abroad: “Relax and learn how the culture works. Don’t try to force your expectations on the local area. Things move at a slower pace here. It’s about building relationships, and if you appreciate that, you’ll be fine.

“We’re thriving here. It’s one thing to do life, and another to thrive. We’re definitely thriving.”

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