2005 - The advent of fast Internet communication and inexpensive air travel
makes it easier to turn any far-flung paradise into a permanent home.
Which places in the world have the most to offer? The perfect place to
live or retire, of course depends on your idea of perfection. Iím taking
a different approach for this article. Instead of giving an overview of
the better-known and increasingly-popular expatriate destinations around
the world (Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Nicaragua, Ecuador, France,
Spain, Portugal, Italy, etc.)
Iíve decided to introduce
you to the below 7 locales you probably donít know much about. All
offer affordability and abundant recreational and cultural opportunities.
Just east of Maine, in the North Atlantic,
Nova Scotiaís pristine coast is slowly becoming a sought-after affordable
getaway. Only two hours from New York or Boston, it feels a world away.
A pleasingly crowd-free province on Canadaís Atlantic Coast, little-known
Nova Scotia could just be the perfect full-or part-time retreat. Halifax,
the capital, has been luring tourists for years. Waterfront cafes, European
architecture, and spectacular seafood keep them coming back.
Nova Scotiaís Cape Breton Island
boasts some of the best scenery in the world, from the picturesque highlands
to the picturesque Bras d'Or Lake (pronounced "bra door"), with the Atlantic
Ocean as a backdrop. In the winter months, the Gulf Stream keeps the climate
milder than most northern U.S. states, with the area receiving more rain
showers than snow storms. Picture the American East Coast a century ago,
and you get a feel of what Nova Scotia is like. Almost an island, it is
best known for its stunning coastline, sleepy seaside towns and friendly
people. The provinceís natural beauty, cheap real estate and low cost of
living make it well worth a look: oceanfront lots start at $10,000, three-bedroom
homes on acreage from $50,000.
lobster dinner with a bottle of good local wine sets you back no more than
a twenty spot. Scenes of the Hollywood blockbuster Titanic were shot in
Nova Scotia, and celebrities including Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore and Billy
Joel maintain summer homes here.
Almost everyone has had dreams of living
a laid-back, stress-free life on a tropical island. One by one, the Caribbean
islands were discovered and eventually became sadly over-developed, terribly
over-crowded, and ridiculously over-priced. Unfortunately, due to mass
tourism, most places in the Caribbean have become little more than artificial,
tropical Disneylands with luxury hotels and all-inclusive resorts. But
there is one place that still maintains its original charm and natural
beauty. This place is quite inexpensive (by Caribbean standards) and is
virtually unspoiled. Relatively undiscovered, here, you can still find
ocean view lots for as little as $22,000 and have a small cottage built
for prices starting at $25,000. To protect it from the fate of its Caribbean
cousins, I won't reveal the name of this special place just yet. You can
find a link to more information at the end of this article.To protect it
from the fate of its Caribbean cousins, I won't reveal the name of this
special place just yet.
can find a link to more information at the end of this article.
Think Cuba, and vivid images come to
mind: men in Guayabera shirts and Panama hats, tropical breezes and cool
drinks, steamy Latin rhythms and sultry women. It has always been an intriguing
place, steeped in truth and in fiction by the novels of Ernest Hemingway.
Because travel to Cuba is restricted by the U.S. government, relatively
few Americans visit the island each year. While their counterparts from
Europe, Canada and Latin America bask in the warm Cuban sun, most U.S.
citizens can only hope to experience this "pearl" of the Caribbean after
Castro is gone. Of those who do manage to get to Cuba via Mexico or Canada,
few are disappointed. The largest Caribbean island (pop. 11 million), Cuba
is also one of the most beautiful and unspoiled. There are miles of pristine,
underdeveloped beaches, tropical forests teeming with wildlife and some
of the best deep-sea fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling the world has
to offer. And there is Havana, not only the capital of Cuba, but also the
most important city in the Caribbean. With tourism once again thriving,
Havana has regained much of its past allure. Famous old bars, restaurants
and hotels are enjoying a proud comeback, and stunning new places are being
built. As one taxi driver put it, "We have the best cigars, best rum, best
music, and most beautiful women in the world. What more could anyone want?"
Best known for Transylvania, the legendary
home of Count Dracula, Romania is steeped in history, myth and folklore.
Unlike other Eastern European countries with Slavic origins, Romania, whose
name means 'land of the Romans,' absorbed much of the culture, religion,
and language of the Roman Empire. Bordered by the Black Sea (which is being
called ďThe Next RivieraĒ) and the Danube River, with the Transylvanian
Alps and Carpathian Mountains nestled in the center of the country, Romania
has long stretches of seacoast, mountains, forests, medieval villages and
gothic castles galore, giving it all the makings of a fairy-tale setting.
The capital Bucharest, a former communist citadel, has a growing number
of discos, while restaurants at most major hotels double as nightclubs,
there are several Parisian-style cafés, and cheap wines and plum
brandy flow freely everywhere. Due to its wide boulevards, sidewalk cafés,
and Triumphal Arch, Bucharest, was known as the "Paris of the Balkans"
prior to World War II. Today the cityís 19th century neoclassical architecture
and numerous tree-lined streets still maintain its charm. A sizable enclave
of foreigners (Germans, Jews, Turks, Russians, Ukrainians, Serbs, Croats,
and Gypsies) live in Romania. French is the most widely-spoken second language
and English is spoken by many of the younger generation. The real estate
prices are some of the lowest in all Europe (the countryís economic woes
spells opportunity for you).
Asia's best-kept secret for expatriates,
Malaysia has a vibrant mix of foreign and indigenous tribal cultures, creating
a veritable melting pot of peoples, traditions and religions. A sizable
enclave of foreigners (Brits, Americans, Australians, and Canadians) live
full time or maintain holiday homes in Malaysia, and you'll find that just
about everybody speaks English, since its compulsory in local schools.
Not only are three world-class playgrounds (Thailand, Bali, and the Philippines)
all within a few hour's travel from Malaysia, but miles of beaches and
numerous coastal islands add to its tropical appeal. Despite being the
capital of a developing nation, Kuala Lumpur is a modern cosmopolitan city
with clean streets and every modern convenience found in New York or London.
Compared with other major Asian cities (Tokyo, Singapore, and Hong Kong,
for example), Kuala Lumpur is downright cheap. The cost of 2-bedroom rental
apartments begins at around $225 per month and 3-bedroom houses start at
$35,000. Naturally, comparable housing in expatriate communities or the
luxurious homes that date from British colonial period can set you back
Imagine an interesting land of breathtaking
and contrasting scenery: craggy coastlines, golden beaches, lush forests,
snow-capped mountains, bubbling volcanic pools, fish-filled rivers and
glacier-fed lakes, all beneath a brilliant blue sky. New Zealand is accessible,
spread over three relatively small islands with modern and efficient transport,
quiet roads, plenty of flights and two stunningly scenic rail journeys.
Other pluses are friendly, English-speaking people, virtually no crime,
and a trio of rich cultural influences: adventurous Polynesian navigators
(Maori), pioneering European settlers who followed a thousand years later,
and modern Pacific Rim immigrants. The plant and animal life are unmatched,
giving opportunities for close-up experiences with birdlife (including
kiwis), seals, dolphins and whales. Enjoy the chance to explore two of
the richest wine regions on the planet, taste wonderful cuisine, stroll
on sandy beaches. Prefer urban living? Immerse yourself in the culture
of the capital Wellington or the large cities of Auckland or Christchurch.
Many people tend to associate African
countries with wars, famine and political unrest rather than the good life,
but Zanzibar, Tanzania is an exception. Located only a short distance off
the east coast of Africa, exotic Zanzibar has lured explorers, traders
and colonists for centuries. The islandsí powdery white sand beaches, swaying
palm trees and turquoise waters continue to attract European and Asian
tourists. Outside of an unusual mix of black African and Arab cultures,
youíll find the islands teeming with tropical forests, remote villages
and idyllic coastline. Despite flare-ups between residents of Zanzibar
Island and the smaller island of Pemba (due to differing views on unification
with the mainland), Zanzibar is usually quite stable. Cheap real estate
(oceanfront or raw land with fruit trees), mouth-watering seafood, some
of the worldís best scuba diving, and pure tropical bliss make it an attractive
expatriate haven. A few wealthy Europeans and African aristocrats have
already made Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania home. Why not join them?