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Ginny Ophof of Rainforerst Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Of course what you'll be most happily surprised by when moving or retiring abroad depends on the country you are moving to, but if it is a developing country, than you will be surprised by how your priorities in life change, which will give you a bigger sense of freedom (example: keeping up with the Joneses and fashion trends are not as important) and you slowly feel yourself becoming more of a Free Spirit and more real. Indeed, this is a pleasant surprise that will make you and your loved ones happier.
 
 
Mike Cobb of ECI Development – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The thing I was most surprised about whenMike Cobb and family – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Living I moved abroad was how much I loved it.  It takes a pioneering spirit to move overseas voluntarily and living overseas gives me a sense of adventure almost every day.
 
There are easy things to mention too.   Having a maid and gardener means no chores ever.  Living overseas has given our family more quality free time to enjoy our time together.
Zach Smith of Anywhere – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Fresh fruit in the Tropics – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe things that you will be most happily surprised about when moving abroad is understanding that there is a lot of ways to organize your daily life. Most of the time, people get into a rhythm that they inherited from their parents, their community, their job, or their coworkers, and all of a sudden when that is gone, there is an opportunity to reinvent your day and organize based on your interests, or on what is happening in this new location in which you’re living. That is a rebirth process that I think people might find refreshing.
 
As an example, once you move abroad, all of a sudden your day might revolve around a morning exercise because it is one of the times where it is cooler outside. So you might find yourself getting up earlier and taking advantage of that cool, fresh air, and really enjoying that time of your day, followed by maybe going to a little market and buying fresh produce. There might also be some volunteer opportunity at a primary school or a local community center, or there might be a language practice activity for a couple of hours.
 
If you live in a tropical zone, the middle of the day is quite hot, especially if you are on the ocean or the beach where there is not elevation. And if that’s the case, you might find yourself taking a nap in the middle of the day and then having the rest of your day organized after the weather cooled off a little bit. Who would have thought that they would decide to take naps for two or three hours a day? That is something that people gets to reinvent when they move abroad. They reinvent how they want to spend their day.
 
I think retirement is all about making choices about how you would want to live your life now that you have some freedom. You have a new cultural backdrop and you have all this time. It is very important to really reflect and experiment with what routine feels good for you.
 
(Picture: fresh fruit in the Tropics.)
Ross of Abroad We Go – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Ross with new friends found in the Andes in Ecuador – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWhen moving or retiring abroad, you’d be most happily surprised by how outgoing, more much more active, and much easier to meet and befriend the local people are. In the US, the people are a little different. 
 
Another thing to look out for when moving or retiring abroad are the different lifestyles in different places. Typically, the lifestyle in most countries that I’ve been to is more active than the lifestyle I had in the US. People who want to retire are always looking for an active and healthy lifestyle, and living overseas provides more of this than they experience in the US. 
 
There are many different cultures, colors and things to absorb in moving and living overseas. If people want to immerse themselves in culture, they’ll be surprised by how many different nuances there are overseas.  
 
(Ross with new friends found in the Andes in Ecuador, pictured.)
John Ohe of Hola Expat Tax Services – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Expats in Antigua, Guatemala – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere are so many things to be happily surprised by when retiring abroad. It really is subject to the individual person. 
 
When you consider moving abroad, you're likely going to pick a place that you feel matches your personality. There's an interesting Facebook thing going around where you can answer a few questions and based on the personality questions you answered, the Facebook quiz picks the country that most closely fits your personality type. 
 
You can choose the country, the city, the kind of town, whether it's "hustle-and-bustle", the beach, or quiet mountain living. When you do the research to move abroad, you're picking a place that you think is going to make you happy. 
 
In my case, I moved to Antigua, Guatemala. It's a nice mix. There's a bunch of expats here and lots of great restaurants. The weather is always between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I've got children with asthma, so the weather and avoidance of cold weather was really an important criterion for me. 
 
You get to choose the kind of speed, climate, activity level, and type of people in the community. This is the number one advantage that I can think of being an expat. 
 
The second happy surprise is that, in most places in the world outside of the US, you're going to have a much more affordable lifestyle. This is a big concern, not only for retirees, but also for younger people who are building businesses and want a longer runway on the money that they have at their disposal to put towards their business while they're saving on living costs. The cost of living differential between the US and wherever you may be living is an important factor. 
 
Third is the change of pace. There may be a language and cultural difference. When you move abroad, you're exposed to things that are different, which are intellectually and emotionally stimulating.  
 
(Expats in Antigua, Guatemala, pictured.)
By Edgington – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Cartagena, Colombia – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingSad to say, but for us the biggest surprise was how friendly, open and caring people are in both the countries that we've been expats in. Panama has some of the friendliest and most helpful people in the world, and Colombians are, if anything, even more so. If you're considering becoming an expat, give up the existential fear of other people, other cultures, and you'll feel a lot better, and fit in much faster. There are a lot of unfounded, stereotypical horror stories about hostile native people, and gringo bashing episodes, but the vast majority of them are fabrications, Sure, there are criminals and malcontents everywhere, but in our experience, the rest of the population, in Panama and again in Colombia more than make up for the bad actors.
 
One more thing: If you show a real effort to learn the local language, people tend to be even more friendly and helpful. Go for it.
 
BE Medellin
(Cartagena, Colombia, pictured.)
David Reid – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Talking of a woman of Oaxaca, Mexico, Jet Metier of Best Places in the World to Retire  – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWhat you will be most surprised about after moving abroad will depend on how open-minded you are, and of course as mentioned above, where you will be moving. But if you are open-minded and flexible, and don't put yourself into an expat bubble, you will be surprised how many of your basic assumptions will be called into question.
 
For example, many people tell me that they can't travel for a long time because they cannot imagine life without (then they name certain possessions, habits, conveniences, their present friends and family, their native language, etc., etc.) You will be amazed how many of these things are either there when you thought they wouldn't be, or that you can, indeed, do without, or replace by others. True, many expats never let go, so if all you are moving for is to have the same things but maybe cheaper, then you will be missing out on the greatest rewards of moving.
 
(Jet Metier of Best Places in the World to Retire, talking to a woman from Oaxaca, Mexico, pictured.) 
John Gilbert of PanamaKeys – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The beatiful Gilbert Children, all six  of them, enjoying the beach in Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWhen you’re looking to move abroad, you need to correlate the amenities that the place you’re looking at has with the amenities that you’d like to see every day. For example, if you want it to rain like Seattle, then move to a place where that has rain similar to Seattle. If you want to experience a dry climate like Wyoming, then you would want to move to a place that has a dry climate like Wyoming. If you wanted a place like Kentucky that has four true seasons, you’re going to want to move to a place that experiences four true seasons. 
 
In Panama, we don’t have four true seasons- we have a rainy season and a dry season. That means we experience six months of relatively dry weather, and six months of relatively rainy weather, all of which exist in a temperature of your choosing based on the elevation, because we’re so near the equator here in Panama. 
 
Where I live here in Panama, at 4,600 feet elevation, it’s 74-78 Fahrenheit nearly every day of the year. At night, it’s usually 55 Fahrenheit, although I’ve seen it at 46 Fahrenheit. It’s just perfect for burning a fire on the colder nights. Then you experience an eternal spring every day of your existence, which was attractive to me. 
 
We were happily surprised by how nice the people are here in Panama. As an example, when you’re standing in lines in the United States like in Wal-Mart, people don’t talk to each other anymore. Here in Panama where I’ve got a young family of six children, people are always taking the time to talk to us and ask us where we’re from, and about our children.
 
We do have one child now who was born in Panama and hearing about it just lights Panamanians up that we’ve been here in the country long enough. We’ve been pleasantly surprised with the engagement of the people. People are genuinely interested in you.  
 
(The beautiful Gilbert Children, all six  of them, enjoying the beach in Panama, pictured.)
David Truly of Dr. David Truly Ph. D. – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
David Truly – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingMost people who make the choice of moving or retiring abroad are mostly after the adventure part of it. It is like recreating the third stage of your life. It is the idea of recreating yourself and discovering new ideas and new ways of living and adapting to cultures.
 
A lot of people who have done it successfully find the nuance of freedom when they are outside of the US in the sense of freedom to explore, freedom to look at different things from a different prospective, and to get different prospective from different places where they live.
 
Many people realize that it is not as dramatic of a change as they think and begin to see some of the similarities worldwide that we sometimes forget about just because humans are humans.
 
(David Truly, member of the TallBoys Band, pictured.)
David McKeegan of Greenback Expat Tax Services – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Cafe Nica, Nicaragua – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWhen moving or retiring abroad, every day is an adventure! 
 
We have been abroad since 2002 and have lived in a number of different countries and I think by far our favorite part is the exploring! Finding the best coffee shop or the best restaurant, what new and exciting things are in the grocery store, etc. The “everyday” isn’t the same everywhere and that makes living abroad really interesting. 
 
(Coffee at Artesanos Cafe and Bar in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, pictured.)
Neil Flemming – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
House over the water in Bocas del Toro, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe things you would be most happily surprised by when moving or retiring abroad might depend on what country you ended up in. I’m from Ireland. I’ve lived in different countries and every country has its own idiosyncrasies.
 
For example, in Panama, I love the weather, not when it’s raining, but most of the time. In Germany, I love Christmas, which they call “Weihnachten.”  They do a wonderful Christmas in Germany, and I also the summer there, as well as all the seasons.
 
I love London because of the nightlife. I like to eat out. London’s just a fabulous place to shop generally, except that it’s extremely expensive.  Visiting London is like having a complete change. “Change is as good as a rest,” as they say. From time to time, you need to go recharge the batteries.
 
(House over the water in Bocas del Toro, Panama, pictured.)
Kristin Wilson of Orbis Relocation – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Kristin Wilson and local Nicaraguan kids – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingLiving entirely abroad is something I never heard anybody say that they regret. It's just a life changing experience, and a completely different perspective of the world than vacationing in different countries.
 
US citizen going abroad tend to realize how much better life can be, compared to what we're used to and what the norm is for American life. We are taught that America is the greatest country in the world. It is not necessarily true that America has the greatest in everything, as you would believe by looking at the numbers and the data. This becomes apparent when you're actually living in a different country. You start to realize that there's a more optimal work - life balance. Things overseas many times don't go at the fast pace that they do in America. Living abroad is a good opportunity to slow down and enjoy life without being in a rat race and around that type of energy.
 
It doesn't matter where you go. If you go to Switzerland or Nicaragua or Mexico, or any other country, you'll find differences with America. A lot of these differences are positive.  Not all of them, but overall I think it's definitely a positive change and the good thing about going abroad is that you can always come back if you want. You can go for a few years or a few months. You can go back and forth from the US. You don't have to stay in any one place forever.
 
I used to work in real estate, but I have moved to just rentals, and most of the relocation I do are semi-temporary. They can be anywhere from a few months to a few years. I honestly think that is the best way to go these days.
 
(Pictured: Kristin Wilson and local Nicaraguan kids.)
Jennifer Moloney Jones of The Visitor – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
surprise living retiring abroad El Rey supermarket will soon open a branch in Casco Viejo – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingFor me personally, I was surprised by how friendly people are and how much help and suggestions they give. I constantly encountered someone who would say, “Oh, try this,” or to go to a particular store if I’m looking for a particular item. I was surprised at how friendly they were because I think they have also experienced or at least they have an idea of how relocating is, and they just want you to feel comfortable.
 
I was also surprised at the different pace of life. What is important changes sometimes when you move abroad. Having the latest in fashion is no longer the most important thing for me anymore, whereas before I left London, that was the most important thing. I love being able to go to the beach at the drop of a hat and being able to organize a barbecue next weekend because it is going to be sunny without having to worry about these other things.
 
It is nice to live in a country where family is the first priority. It is very easy to make friends and spend time with them. You might go out once or twice a week maybe in the UK, but here in Panama, there is something going on every night and you can always attend it if you want to. All these things and many others made me happy when I moved here to Panama.
Robert Adams of Retirement Wave – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
If you are flexible and adaptable and come with a smile on your face, you’ll discover that it’s much easier to move abroad than you expected.  It’s all about how you get along with people. If you’re friendly, you’re looking for help and you make your best effort, people here in Panama are like people pretty much everywhere and they certainly will help you out. It can be a pleasant surprise. The locals can often work around the language problem and it’s usually not as bad a situation as people moving or retiring abroad expected it would be.
 
What people are happily surprised by when moving overseas also depends on fears they bring with them. Some of them are frightened and they think where they’re going to a society that is somehow primitive or backward and they discover very quickly that these societies are quite modern, much more so than they expect, certainly more so than let’s say 20 or 30 years ago.  Many of us still have images in our head 20 or 30 years ago of what life was like overseas. It’s changed. It has changed a lot.
 
This is true just about everywhere where people go to retire.  For example, electronics and modern communication are going be very similar. The differences will be the standard ones, like the language. There are very few societies where you feel threatened by the local people. Where this happens are not countries retirees go – North Korea, Somalia, and places like that; not the most popular places for English-speaking expats to go. Otherwise, none of these issues are a serious problem. 
Terry Bradford of Origen Real Estate Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Terry Bradford at subway in Panama City, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWe were mostly surprised by the amount of discounts afforded to the people who retire in Panama. Almost anywhere you go, there is a special line for jubilado pensionados (retirees). My husband went to the bank the other day and the line was a mile long. He went to the guard and mentioned that he was a jubilado. The guard asked him to go inside right up on the jubilado line. There was no one in front of him, so he got assisted right away.
 
They really roll out the red carpet for people who are retiring here in Panama. The following are just some of the discounts a jubilado pensionado can get in Panama:
  • Eating out in restaurants - 25%
  • Airfare - 25%
  • Doctor's fees - 20%
  • Medication/prescriptions - 10%
  • Hospital fees - 15%
  • Hotel - 50% during the weekdays and 30% on weekends
  • If you sell a home here in Panama - 50% off on your closing costs
  • Bus, boat, train, or any other transportation around the country - 30%
  • Dental and eye exams - 15%
Other Latin American countries do not offer these discounts, which is why people like to go to Panama.
 
The surprise is never ending in this country of rich history and lush beauty. There are so many places to go. There are so many islands. You can go deep-sea fishing or scuba diving on the Caribbean side, which is only about an hour away from Panama City by car.
 
The transportation system is quite amazing. We tried the new subway system when it was just opened, and it was so quiet and so smooth (pictured above). Going down into the subway system is beautiful; it is made of white marble. The subway system of Panama is four times as wide as the New York subway system. The fare is US $35 cents one way and $75 cents if it is a round trip.
 
We were also very impressed of the good signage on the new highways that are being built. So when you are going outside of Panama City, you will see a lot of highways that have recently been redone.
ROSALIND MCCOY of PANAMA SIGNATURE REALTY – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
You will definitely sense some sort of freedom, away from some people you don´t want to be around, more time to manage in your own way, or even time to pick up a new hobby, say golfing.
Every day may be a learning day for you on many different things.  New home, new environment, new friend, new system, new language may certainly add some sort of excitement to your daily living.
Catherine Burdine of American Insurance for Expats – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Although it is difficult to narrow down all of the things you may be happily surprised about when moving or retiring abroad, I will pick one that has made the most difference in my life:  The feeling of rebirth and waking up!
 
 
JB Seligman of BUENA VISTA REALTY located in BOCAS DEL TORO, PANAMA – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE 10 HOUR WORK DAY? TIME TO SLOW DOWN A BIT.
YOU WILL GET TO THE POINT THAT IF YOU MANAGE TO DO 2 THINGS  THAT ARE ON YOUR DAILY LIST OF 6....YOU HAVE HAD A FULL DAY, AFTER THAT THEN IT'S TIME TO CELEBRATE WITH A COLD ONE!.. YOU WILL FIND OUT NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY, IF IT INVOLVES DEALING WITH GOVERNMENT OR JUST PEOPLE IN GENERAL IT'S GOING TO TAKE MORE TIME THAN YOU THINK. DON'T FEEL BAD,FEEL GLAD! YOUR STRESS LEVEL WILL GO DOWN IN TIME AS YOU ACCLIMATE TO YOUR NEW SURROUNDINGS AND LEARN YOUR HOST COUNTRY'S CUSTOMS. AT THE END OF THE DAY IT'S A GREAT FEELING KNOWING THAT YOU LEARNED SOMETHING NEW. JUST GOES TO SHOW YOU,YOU CAN TEACH A OLD DOG NEW TRICKS!
Allen Rosen – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Move to Panama and you will discover that:
 
It is not necessary to be frantically busy 18 hours a day. There are places like Panama where people learn to slow down, relax and smell the roses. You can still be a valuable human being even if you no longer get 400 phone calls and email messages a day. Slow down! Enjoy life!
 
That new BMW? You don't need it. And no one here cares, anyway. Buy an old SUV with 4 wheel drive and spend the money you save on trips around this beautiful country. 
 
Sunshine is good for the soul. Panama has lots of it. Places like London, Vancouver
and Portland don't. Leave your miserable weather behind and come to Panama, where there is always lots of sun (except in October).

 

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