Staying Long Term in Hotels while Traveling

Q&A with a Reader

Thanks for all the information at your website!

I have a question that might be of interest to a lot of your readers.

In the interview you gave to Andy Graham at hobotraveler.com, you made a short comment.  You said that you often stayed at hotels rather than renting houses, condos or apartments.  As I recall, you alluded to staying at hotels as an efficient and inexpensive way to control travel expenses.  I know you also house-sit, but hotels are much more available than house-sitting gigs.

Can you give us any additional information about how to save on expenses by using hotels as your main source of housing?  I have heard many complain that housing is one of the greatest expenses for the retiree traveler who wants to travel long-term. 

This would also be a good topic for a short ebook for the budget-minded retiree:  Affordable Travel:  How to Keep a Roof Over your Head Without Sleeping in a Tent :).

Gary

Hi Gary!

Thanks for writing and for bringing up the topic of housing – both in retirement and while traveling. Yes, it is the largest expenditure in most households. If one can adjust the cost of housing in one’s budget, you can live just about anywhere in the world.

We think your idea about a short ebook on this topic is a good one… funny… I have been thinking of putting together another article on this topic anyway, because actually, more and more options about housing are becoming available all the time. It’s a new day!

Regarding housing expenses/living in hotels while traveling, you might take a look at our Travel Housing Page for some ideas. There are links to hotels, apart hotels, room rentals, snowbirding options and more. If none of these locations work for where you might be traveling, you can always ask a hotel where you are considering to stay, if they have a long term price, or if they offer a discount for longer stays of a week, month, or longer. In our experience, many hotels in Asia and all through Latin America will oblige with a discount. It might not be enough of a discount for you, but on the other hand, we have received incredible deals in this manner. Don’t forget to inquire about a Senior discount, a Third Age discount, a Pensionado discount and so on.

When you  are negotiating a deal, realize that when you are paying for long term, (a month or longer) that you might need to pay for your own toiletries and that cleaning might only be once a week instead of daily. You might need to provide your own drinking water.

Room rentals (like a pension in Europe) are available around the world also, and this often gives you access to kitchen facilities which will save you money on a daily basis. This might be where staying in hostels can come in handy as they always have access to kitchen facilities.

No matter where you are, assume you can negotiate. If the hotel only gives you a “skinny” off the nightly price, just find another place.

Sometimes there are deals online when you book. Or you can always arrive in a location and stay a few nights, and then go out and research hotels in person. These might be ones that are not listed online (often prices are higher online so as to compensate the booking agent) and arriving in person will afford you a better deal.

We speak to all of these methods and more in our Travel the World for Less report.

I hope you find this information to be useful to you.

Enjoy your adventures! and feel free to write any time.

Best Regards,

Akaisha

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Can One Live in the US for Under $2,000 a Month?

Q&A with a Reader

Hello Billy,

I quickly read through the Adventurer’s Guide and really like how you wrote that there is no perfect place.   And we must find out what we like most and try that in the country that fits our likes.  I primarily purchased the Guide to find out how one lives in the US for under $2,000.  I did not see any budgets or sample in the US.  I was wondering how I could I find such information?

Thank you for your help,

Bill

Hi Bill,

Thank you for taking the time to write and for your interest in our books.

In answer to your question about living for less than $2,000 a month in the States, I would check out our Relocation Page.  

On this page you will find information about costs of living in other locations around the States and the world. Check out Earth Costs, Expatistan Cost of Living Index, Great Retirement spots with their below-cost-of-living locations, Numbeo, Active Adult Communities, Sperlings Best Places and Top Retirements which also gives great suggestions, with some places being below-cost-of-living locations. All of these are listed on this page.

If you can manage the cost of housing, you can live just about anywhere in the world. This is a huge consideration.

If you decide on living in an Active Adult Community, for instance, if you lease the land instead of purchasing the land, your insurance payments as well as your property taxes are considerably lower. We lived in one in Arizona for years, and it was one of our cheaper locations to live. We shared transport, or walked to grocery stores ourselves early in the morning for exercise.

Also, you can think about the idea of going car free, living in a walkable city or town, or cutting back from owning several vehicles to only owning one. (links to these options are also on our Relocation Page.) Weigh the choice of cutting back on transportation costs by walking, bicycling, sharing rides to the grocery with a friend, and other ideas. This will cut back on another huge expense in anyone’s household… the cost of transportation.

If you decide to stay in the States for your retirement, you will need to figure out how you will cover health care costs. If you are on medicare, this could be a solution, or if you choose to move overseas, costs for medical care are often much cheaper.

I don’t know whether or not you track spending at this point in your path to retirement, but if you do, you can find out where your money is going and make different decisions if necessary. As you know in the book you purchased, we recommend tracking spending and getting an average Cost of Spending per Day so you know what you are managing. And, as in the book, we mention that the highest categories of spending are housing, transportation, taxes and food/entertainment.

I hope you find this information to be useful to you. Please check out the above pages, and certainly, if you have further questions, feel free to write.

We are always happy to answer.

Best Regards,

Akaisha

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Selecting Travel Destinations and Restaurants for your Trip

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Helping Others Make Sense of Retirement Planning

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Election Year Woes: Has Obamacare Impacted the Nursing Profession?

By Carol Trehearn

Ever since back in those early days when President Obama made a huge push for the Affordable Care legislation there has been a great deal of controversy as the nation split into two camps. On the one side there were those who, like President Obama, felt that every man, woman and child has a right to healthcare and on the other side there are those who believe that healthcare shouldn’t be a social program.

The most vocal critics said that Obamacare wouldn’t be financially feasible and that it would put the country in even greater debt than it was already in. Several years in, five to be exact, the debate is still raging. What will this do during an election year and will Obamacare have anything to do with the decisions voters must make come the first week in November?

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A Look at the Plus Side of the Issue

On the plus side, all Americans now have the right to affordable healthcare and those who can’t afford health insurance are being covered by federal funds. Now everyone has a right to care no matter what their gender is and whether or not they can afford to pay for it. The government is subsidizing those who don’t have the financial means to pay the even higher cost of insurance.

It had been the hope that having health insurance would keep the indigent out of ER, thus freeing doctors and nurses to deal with life and death emergencies, whilst those suffering from such things as colds and flus would go to their primary physician.

What Critics Are Saying

If it had been the hope that the workload in the nations ERs would lighten up, those hopes were not realized. It is unclear why but Emergency Rooms are still as busy as ever, if not busier. With a shortage of doctors, more patients are being seen by nurse practitioners with a masters of science in nursing and physician’s assistants who can also prescribe medications and do many of the tasks M.D.s and D.O.s can do.

This is the ‘proof’ critics need to blame Obamacare and it’s all about money. Doctors are now making less money due to strict cost control established by Medicare and Medicaid and so they are leaving the profession by the droves. Old doctors are simply retiring and with the allure of a high paying job no longer realistic, fewer young men and women are seeking to become doctors.

The Impact on Nursing

With a shortage of doctors, more and more nurses are seeking a master of science in nursing which does give them a higher income but does not speak to the nation’s need for more doctors. As a result, there are those who are pushing for a requirement that nurses go even further, getting their doctorate in the nursing sciences field. Doctors and insurance companies are just not making the money they once had and this is significantly impacting the type and amount of services consumers are getting.

In other words, nurses have had to step up to the plate, going further in their education than they ever thought they would need to although you won’t hear complaints from them.

Only Time (and the Voters!) Will Tell

Based on the fact that Obamacare is still a partisan issue, how much weight the Affordable Care Act holds in the eyes of the voters may impact the outcome of the November election. Those who see a financial drain are likely to vote Republican but those benefiting from the ACA will most likely vote Democrat.

When November rolls around, it will be interesting to watch the exit polls to see just what an impact, if any, Obamacare had on the decisions voters made. The one fact is clear however and that is the shortage of doctors said to be the result of the ACA has led to more nurses furthering their careers and that’s a very, very good thing.

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Alleviate dry mouth and throat while using CPAP device

Marijoyce Perona

If you’re currently using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) nasal pillow or a nasal mask and your mouth or throat is drying out, then you’re most likely breathing from your mouth. It is a normal occurrence for people who use CPAP therapy since they’re not used to air blowing into the throat to hold it open.

Dry mouth is sometimes worsened for people who wear a nasal CPAP mask, especially if the jaw drops open during sleep. This contributes to a lesser efficient therapy because of leakage while causing dry mouth. Thankfully, there are a couple of simple solutions to help prevent this problem.

Use a Chinstrap. The simplest solution is to wear a snoring chin strap that quickly and comfortably holds the jaw in place. For most people, chin straps completely stop the escaping air, or dramatically reduces it. This means little or no dry mouth as well as reduced snoring.

Install a Humidifier. The second solution is to use a humidifier on the CPAP machine. Take note that newer models already include one like the ResMed AirSense 10. If yours don’t have one pre-installed, then you can either attach one or put a standalone unit near your bed. Humidification is vital when dealing with symptoms of dry mouth because it supplies both warm and room temperature air. This helps the nasal passages to stay hydrated.

Get a Full face mask. This covers the entire nose and mouth area. Using a full-sized mask could seem confining or even claustrophobic, but there isn’t any single solution here since no single mask is right for everyone. The solution here is doing an experimentation to find the right CPAP mask which best meets your need for efficacy and comfort.

Choose the right size. In relation with the above, the size of your CPAP may be what’s causing the issue. Work closely with your doctor or CPAP supplier to ensure that you have a mask that suits your needs and fits you. Everyone has different shaped faces, so the right style and size mask for someone else may not work for you.

Drink plenty of water. This may be obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many people don’t follow this simple advice. Dry mouth and throat while using CPAP is worsened by dehydration. The general rule is to drink eight 8 oz. glasses of water daily. If you drink a lot of coffee or other caffeinated beverages, or sweat a lot during the day, then make sure to rehydrate to avoid dry mouth and throat.

Allow yourself time to adjust. When people are diagnosed with sleep apnea and start CPAP therapy, there is normally a period of adjustment. With any change in a person’s routine, understanding what changes need to be made and adapting to those unique changes will provide a baseline for recovery or improvement. In most cases, you will automatically adapt to CPAP.

That’s it! Simply follow the recommendations above to alleviate your dry mouth and throat while using CPAP. With time and patience, this device will positively affect your quality of sleep, and thus your life and health. The treatment will be worth it!

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The Secret is Out

Guest post by by Marcia Casar Friedman of Aging is a Full Time Job

Have you ever wondered about the instruments used to measure the aging process?  What does aging mean?  Is it a tag for a numerical age group called Old?

When I pondered that question, my mind automatically went to physical changes which might or might not affect me as I navigated life as a silver sage (aka senior).  Much has been written about the wear and tear on the body and how our past activities will affect the aging process.  The vast unknown of heredity, environment, emotional changes and medical treatments led me to wonder if I could ever find satisfying answers to my questions about aging.

Then I went to my favorite question “Why?” to look for answers.  It took five years of writing questions and answers, researching and writing articles and authoring five manuscripts, for me to accept aging as a process that starts at birth.  Realistically, it starts at conception.  From that point forward we are always making changes and always aging.  Each stage of development paves the way for the next stage.  We start as a fetus and newborn, then move on to infant, toddler, child, puberty, adolescence and so on.  So why did I get stuck lamenting about aging as a description pertaining to old people?

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No doubt the articles I read and the television shows I watched, confirmed aging as a term used to discuss the body breaking down due to aging.

What about psychological changes which come to the fore with life style adjustments?  Many body weaknesses originate from emotional changes. “Gut wrenching” is a term used when describing extremely sad experiences. “Feeling nauseated” is an expression used when hearing about a gruesome crime. “Butterflies in the stomach” come at times of stress such as preparing for an upcoming presentation.  These types of expressions are used when we feel sad, angry, anxious, or frustrated. They come from chemical and physical responses in the body.

I researched many situations where physical illnesses could be traced to relationship stress and this can happen at any age.

The concept of aging belonging to old people now seems silly, yet hurtful.  We have been brain washed to accept the concept of aging as debilitating, sad, scary, unchangeable and extremely troublesome.  Aging is a diagnosis given to anyone who is no longer considered young. I wonder when society forgot to accept maturing and wisdom as a positive which comes from chronological aging.

The secret is now out in the open.  Aging is a full time job.

Yes, it’s true, the wear and tear on the body and heightened emotions do dictate the path we follow to be the best we can be.  The side roads give us opportunities which we would never be able to understand or appreciate in younger, less experienced days gone by.

Among the perks to entering those phases of life is a unique maturity and huge learning opportunities which provide us with a wonderful wealth of wisdom.

By now you are probably wondering why I say aging is a good thing. Here is a sampling of 10 things I’ve learned:

  1. I earned the right to be me. If I want to type on the computer until 3:00am and sleep until noon the next day, it’s my choice.
  2. I have become kinder and less critical of myself. Hooray! I’ve become my best friend.  I deserve the best out of life.
  3. I rejoice in accepting the truth — life is not perfect. Nothing and no one is ever perfect.
  4. I can’t go back to the past because I was a different person then. I am now the me of today.  I know the past is done and over, it cannot be changed.  My perception of the past can be improved.
  5. The surest way to failure is trying to please everyone. The result is no one is pleased.  In fact, those discontented people will turn on you.
  6. Problems are opportunities. During a crisis the focus is on the predicament. After months and years, it becomes easier to find the opportunities that were created by the problems.
  7. Learning never ends. So much to learn, so little time.  I strive to learn something new every day.
  8. It is true, I know I am sometimes forgetful. It’s frustrating. That proves some of life is just as well forgotten. And … I eventually remember the important things.
  9. I don’t question myself as much anymore. I’ve earned the right to be wrong, sometimes.
  10. Expressing gratitude every day enables me to have a more positive outlook on life and on aging.

Aging has set me free to be the person I was meant to be.  I like being a silver sage!  I don’t want to live forever, so while I’m still here I won’t waste precious time feeling sad about what could have been or obsessing about what will be in the distant future.

Join me on this personal journey of being a silver sage, to be the best you can be today.  Aging is a journey of changes.

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Millennials: Embrace Weird, Retire Early

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Social Security for US Expats and Dual-Citizens

By John Ohe, CFA and IRS Enrolled Agent. John is a partner at Hola Expat (www.holaexpat.com), which specializes in preparing tax returns for U.S. expats.

John Ohe 1

Social Security is a lifelong pension provided by the US government. It can be a critical source of income during one’s retirement years. Most important to note, it is a very attractive investment option for low to modest income earners – what one receives during retirement is far greater than what one contributes. Unfortunately, many US expats do not plan appropriately, and will miss out on this great opportunity.

To qualify for Social Security, one needs to earn 40 credits. In the United States, most people work a job and pay Social Security taxes (automatically taken out of the paycheck). After about ten years of employment, one has acquired the necessary 40 credits.

US expats, however, are often unable to contribute to Social Security. This becomes an issue when one has earned less than the necessary 40 credits. Fortunately, there are ways to contribute to Social Security while working abroad.

Let’s use an example to illustrate:

Jane is 30 years old. She has been living outside the US since she was 25, and does not have any plans to move back to the States. She works for a foreign company. Jane is interested in qualifying for Social Security, so she checks online at SSA.gov. Jane learns that she has earned 10 credits. She needs 30 additional credits.

If Jane earns a modest income from the foreign company, she may want to report her income as self-employment on her US tax return (certain requirements apply). Jane would not owe any income taxes on her tax return, if properly prepared. However, she would owe self-employment (SE) tax, which is how she would earn Social Security credits. SE tax is roughly 15% of the reported income.

Alternatively, Jane could start a small business (on the side). Any profits from that business could be reported as self-employment income. She would pay the 15% SE tax, and earn credits.

How quickly can one earn credits?

A person can earn a maximum of 4 credits per year. For 2016, one needs to report at least $5,040 in income to earn 4 credits ($1,260 per credit). Therefore, one would pay approximately $770 in SE tax to acquire the 4 credits.

To summarize:

Social Security can be an important source of income during one’s retirement years. It is a very attractive investment option for low to modest income earners. One needs 40 credits to qualify for Social Security. Find out how many credits you have earned.

For more information on Social Security and other tax-related issues, visit us at: holaexpat.com.

Other posts by this author:

2016 Key Tax Changes

U.S. Expats – College Planning

FATCA – Practical Guide

Free Money from the IRS – Child Tax Credit

Buying and Selling Real Estate (Foreign or Domestic) from a Tax Perspective

U.S. Expat Taxes – An Introduction

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Peace Corps After 50

Reprinted with permission from David Jarmul. Read the original post here

Before Champa and I joined the Peace Corps at the age of 63, people asked us how we’d feel to be surrounded by volunteers younger than our two sons.

Well, many of our fellow volunteers are indeed in their 20s, and most of them are smart, enthusiastic and fun to be around. Yet Champa and I are hardly outliers. Fourteen of the 58 people in our training group — nearly one in four — are 50 or older.

PeaceCorps1

Worldwide, Americans over age 50 comprise about 7 percent of the nearly 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers now serving in 63 countries around the world. With its better medical facilities and programs in fields such as business development that attract people with lots of real-world experience, Moldova attracts higher numbers.

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Whatever their reasons for choosing Moldova, the older volunteers here are impressive. They’ve worked as professors, attorneys, IT managers, nonprofit leaders, teachers, city administrators and management consultants. They come from across the country, including two other older volunteers from North Carolina. They are single, widowed, divorced or, as with us and one other older couple, married and serving together. Like the volunteers here generally, they are also diverse, reflecting the country we represent.

PeaceCorps2

We differ from our younger counterparts in some ways. Learning a new language may be tougher for us, although many of us are doing fine in our Romanian classes. We may run slower in a group soccer game, if we participate at all. When several younger friends went to get tattoos recently, they knew better than to invite me along. They also may party harder and make surprising cultural references. When I was in the Peace Corps office the other day, a Carole King song started playing and the young woman next to me said, “Hey, it’s that song from the Gilmore Girls!”

On the other hand, they’re usually polite when we make our own references to people and events from before they were born, so it tends to even out.

In Moldova and other Peace Corps countries, there are advantages to being an older volunteer. Many of these countries show great respect towards older people. Similarly, having children and grandchildren has provided Champa and me with an instant bond with older members of our new communities. Our experience enhances our credibility in our workplaces as well; my future colleagues have already checked me out online. Older volunteers can share their hobbies, too, as Champa hopes to do with art and gardening.

Peace Corps has a special website for older Americans interested in becoming volunteers. The site reviews the application process, which is competitive and includes an extensive medical clearance process.

One of my reasons for writing this blog, and this post in particular, is to encourage older readers to consider the Peace Corps or some other new challenge for themselves. It’s not as strange or exotic as they might think and shouldn’t just be dismissed with “Oh, I could never do that at my age.”

Obviously, many people have family obligations, medical problems and other constraints that make Peace Corps unrealistic. Nonetheless, it’s a proven program through which more than 220,000 Americans of all ages have served their country and the world — and had a great adventure in the process.

Personally, I’m already wondering what it will be like in two years to be back in America and surrounded by friends who are mostly older than the ones I’ve made here.

For more information on Volunteering, click here.

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