See the World on 10k Annual Income?

Hi Bill and Akaisha,

I enjoy reading your articles. But when you keep talking about portfolios, it seems it doesn’t reflect for the very poor. How can I have medical coverage and see the world, with an income of 10k yearly. I’m 53, and keep dreaming of these wonderful places, also, I’m single. Thanks so much for your time and dedication.


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Hi Asha,

Thanks for taking the time to write, we appreciate it.

That is a challenge to be able to “see the world” on $10,000 a year income. We know people who are living overseas on that amount but they do not do that much travel, or if they do travel it’s with local transport and not all that often.

The largest expenses that you would have to concern yourself with is housing, transport and food. If you can find a decent place to rent for about $200-$300 a month (which is doable in Thailand, Mexico, Guatemala etc.) that leaves about $500-$600 for other things. Food is generally cheap in the aforementioned countries so you could find yourself with several hundred a month to put towards travel — so long as you don’t find yourself spending this “extra” money on dental care or other medical needs.

To have adequate access to medical, you would probably have to live overseas and pay out of pocket. This would probably work until or unless you had contracted some chronic health condition which would require medications or frequent and regular visits to the doctor.

Medical care is generally more affordable overseas with doctor’s visits and medications at lower cost. Even paying for help around the house or with shopping and cleaning is affordable, but you would be wise to set aside some money for an emergency fund should you need it.

And don’t forget the expense of renewing your visa. This will often entail traveling outside the country to get stamped out and then get stamped back in every so many months. You might try applying for a retirement visa or a permanent visa, but often there will be financial requirements that you might not meet. In this case, you will need to continue to renew your tourist visa.

We know a man who does some “slow travel” and he lives on $12k a year and seems to be able to manage that fairly well. It’s definitely doable and not impossible. If you are self-disciplined, then it is probable that you will be able to manage some travel on your $10k a year.

Take a look at our Relocation Page and find some Expat forums where you will be able to find out what the local expenses are in any location.

We wish you the best of luck. Do your research and you are apt to find some doors opening to you.

All the best,


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Q&A with a Reader: Working Overseas While Retired

Hello I am interested in going to one of your suggested retirement locations. I don’t have enough money to simply not work. I am interested in part time or seasonal work possibly in the hotel or concession business. I haven’t read any articles of places one would have a good chance of doing some part time work. How does Panama look as far as that is concerned?



Not sure you can retire? Get answers here

Hi Tom,

Thank you for taking the time to write, we appreciate it.

We don’t know anything about Panama personally, as we have never been there. However, I can suggest that you go to our Relocation page and contact some of the Expat Forums listed there. People on the forums, who actually live in these locations, will respond to your questions and perhaps help you set up. There is a forum especially for living in Panama listed on this page.

Also, you might take a look at our Retirement Jobs Page and see if any of these job situations might work for you. There are part time, seasonal, dream jobs, adventure jobs, working from home jobs and more

Good luck to you. A little research on these pages should pay off for you.


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Starving for Time to Ourselves

I am Matt from NY.

Tough and stressful in Queens , NY – between the time we spend commuting, working, etc. and things we have to do each and every day of our life, most people don`t have but 1 or 2 hrs a day to themselves.


Hi Matt,

Great to hear from you!

Your description of life in NY with a full work schedule is exactly what motivated us to save our money, invest wisely, cut our expenses and retire early. We had every creature comfort but we were starving for time to ourselves.

We encourage you to reassess your current situation and look to where you want to go in your future. We believe that if we can do it, anyone can.

Take a look at our Retirement Issues Page as well as our Digital Book Store. Both our books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement, A Common Sense Approach and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible will help you get your life on track for retirement. We give lots of good tools for you to use including a downloadable spreadsheet for tracking your expenses.

We wish you the very best now and in the future.

Feel free to write any time.


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Is House Sitting for Everyone?

Q&A with a Reader

Full Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, so if you click on the link and sign up, we will be compensated.

Akaisha, thank you for responding, I’m very surprised that you said that if one “was serious you could schedule your whole year with house sitting opportunities“, and that at some point you can “just about call your own shots”.

It surprises me because you’d think everyone would want to do this, and that there would be tons of people chasing a smaller number of jobs.



Do not let Fear make your decisions for you. Risk has a price and so does security.

Hi Mark,

I understand what you are saying, but I think it’s just like anything — first of all, House sitting is not for everyone. Secondly, the location of the gigs and the dates themselves change making this somewhat of a moving target. And just because a person sat in Greece one year, perhaps they want to sit in England another year. And don’t forget about visas and the amount of days one is allowed into any one region. These things can complicate arranging sits.

Also, some sits are for short periods like a long weekend, over the Christmas Holidays or just for a week or two vacation. Some sits involve pet caring or even working a Bed and Breakfast or hotel on an island. One may want to run a hotel once but not again. There are lots of variables. 

That being said, international house sitting is a relatively new concept and is just coming into the mainstream.

We do know of people who do house sitting full time, living in hotels or apartments in between gigs. We also know of people who only stay in one area and sit for the same people year after year until things change again. Some house sits are listed on the internet and other house sits are by word of mouth only – so there are lots of opportunities to choose from.

Good luck – I think there is plenty of room for you if you want to try this approach to housing and travel.


Posted in All Things Financial, Housing, Q & A From our Readers, Travel Tips and Insight | Leave a comment

Men and Women Throughout History

Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004 and you can find her columns on the Huffington Post. Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns.

LaverneMichael G. Conner, Clinical and Medical Psychologist, writes that men are built for physical confrontation, and their skulls are usually thicker than a woman’s. This, of course, comes as no surprise to women. What I didn’t know was men’s skulls are thick because they are “attracted to reckless behavior,”which explains their interest in slaying dragons, battling alligators, and any excuse for a slugfest. Dr. Conner says that “women have four times as many brain cells as men. While men rely on their left brain to solve one problem, one step at a time, women can more easily access both sides of their brain and focus on more than one problem at a time,” which often drives men to distraction.

Throughout centuries men have protected and provided for their families. In caveman days they gathered firewood, invented tools, killed wild animals, and spent excessive time butting heads with dinosaurs; a sport well suited for thick skulls. The little women stayed home, created murals on cave walls, sported rabbit skin originals, prepared tasty bison recipes, gave birth on dirt floors, and did their best to stay one step ahead of diaper-free toddlers.

In the 1800’s men left their families for months and drove cattle across long dangerous trails through mountains and valleys in harsh weather. Women stayed behind with the children. Their only responsibilities were to scrounge for food, and fight off wolves and Indians, from the comfort of their homes.

Not sure you can retire? Get answers here

In the early 1900’s men did their best to cocoon women from the harsh realities of the world. They seemed to know, instinctively, that women were best suited for domestic work. But obstinate, unappreciative women bucked and defied men’s good intentions and insisted on battling for equality.

Men are often guarded when meeting other men. They intuitively know how much is safe to divulge. They discuss generic topics such as sports, politics, and the hot chick at the end of the bar. They mention the world-wide cruise they’re planning (even if they’re not), and the new Benz they’re thinking about buying (even though they’re not).

A woman will usually jump in and lead with her mouth. Within five minutes of meeting another women she’ll offer the name and number of her plastic surgeon and her shrink. She’ll reveal that her husband had an affair, her son has learning disabilities, and her teenage daughter is promiscuous. She’ll delight in discussing anything and everything about sex.

Up until the late 1970’s men’s and women’s roles were fairly well defined. Men grappled with difficult undertakings such as wars, unemployment, taxes, and finding affordable World Series tickets. Women dealt with daily menu selections, Big Bird and Ernie, diaper changes, and perfecting faux smiles that hid their true feelings.

Recent years show the line between male and female roles is becoming blurred. Men are taking a more active part in homemaking and child rearing, and women are thriving in the business world.

I was thinking about the television commercial Jets football star, Joe Namath, made back in 1973, where he struck a seductive pose while sporting a pair of Hanes’ pantyhose. He made that commercial in the middle of the sexual revolution. I don’t know how men felt about it but women loved that this handsome, brawny, quarterback had the courage to show his feminine, sensitive, side.

In my fantasy Namath, who had a huge following, could have gotten better mileage out of his celebrity by encouraging men to include pantyhose in their own wardrobes. Maybe, if he had done this, stereotypical male/female roles would have been obliterated by now. But, I suspect, that after enduring the constricted waistbands, and suffocating discomfort of pantyhose, Namath opted to shirk an opportunity to advance the sexual revolution and chose, instead, to return to smashing bodies and banging heads with other football titans. Personally, I think that Joe Namath dropped the ball.

Hey, it’s my fantasy and I’m stickin’ to it.

Other posts by this author

I Don’t See Well Anymore

Giddy Yup

Stop Telling Me I’m Old

Growing Up Dangerously

Watching Real Beauty

Hell, Not on the Map, but I Was There

Cellulite: A Rite of Passage

Camping: Not for Sissies

Don’t Count Me Out

Aging, Not All Fun and Games

Challenging My Legacy

Behind Closed Doors

Battle of the Bulge

How the Home Shopping Network Turned Me into a Zebra

Posted in Guest Blog Posts, Humor | Tagged | Leave a comment

Reducing Fall Risk with Age – What It Is and What to Do About It

Guest post by Thomas C. Davies MD, CCFP, MSHA, and FACHE
Dr. Davies is a Family Doctor with over 30 years practice experience in the US and Canada. For the past 10 years he has provided inpatient hospital medical care to patients aged 65 or older.

Dr Tom DaviesI’m strong on my feet and walk a grassy path to the roadway daily without thinking about it. Having passed age 60 I felt as strong as ever as if the effects of aging would be in the distant future. This day my foot hooked the curb so fast I had no memory of being slung to the asphalt. A bad fall happens that quickly.

I remembered not to get up too quickly which might cause additional injury so I crawled to the curb, sat up and checked myself over. My wrists; hands, knees and face had equally absorbed the impact. There were lots of abrasions but no fractures or broken teeth. As a medical doctor I know falls can be life altering so I began asking myself the tough questions. What are my risks and what should I do about it?

Facts about falling

One out of 3 people over 65 have a significant fall each year. The odds of avoiding this problem are not in our favor. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries and non-fatal for the elderly population. An active lifestyle helps maintain mobility but ironically exposes us to falls like mine.

After a serious fall some people limit their activity which adds to the long term risk. An honest assessment of oneself and making an individual fall prevention plan should help avoid injury. I decided on the spot to make myself a personal fall risk plan.

Do not let Fear make your decisions for you. Risk has a price and so does security.

My fall risk plan

These days I consciously consider my footing and terrain. Uneven ground requires more concentration. I have an eye out for broken pavement, cracked sidewalks, chuckholes, and loose rocks – anything that might challenge my balance or traction. Each morning I choose footwear that should be appropriate for the coming day’s activities.

Speaking of footwear I no longer economize. Ankle support is helpful. The synthetic soles on today’s shoes can be super slippery on wet concrete or tile. Oil resistance is not enough; I test footwear I plan to wear on different surfaces wet and dry.

Other balance challenges

It’s a little humbling to realize our sense of balance declines with time. Potentially risky activities such as climbing ladders, walking on rooftops, even riding bicycles challenge our ability to balance. It’s worth heeding advice from your friends and spouse; they often see dangers we don’t.

With age we’re more prone to serious injury from a fall because of declining bone structure and strength. Many of us are deficient in Vitamin D and Calcium causing progressive bone weakness. A Dexa scan for bone density is an objective way to determine the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis. National guidelines suggest this test for females over 65.

Some age related changes are subtle. Declining balance is a huge problem even when our strength is good. Often this is insidious related to a decline in the brains balance center or blood supply. If balance seems different on looking upwards or during certain activities then some simple tests under professional supervision are advisable.

Blood pressure may drop with changes in posture. Known as “orthostatic hypotension” this may relate to medications or arterial changes. You may discover this at home but if there is any suspicion it is worth a trip to the doctor. It is treatable and could result in avoiding a fall.

What you can do

Our place is free of scatter matts, floor clutter or unstable furniture. I turn a light on when getting up at night and sit on the bedside for a few seconds to allow my cardiovascular system to adjust. Quality of life is enhanced by managing the risks of aging. I don’t worry about falling but build these precautions into daily activities. It’s like insurance for all those future activities I plan to attend on foot.

Useful Links and Data on Falling

Injury Prevention & Control: Home and Recreational Safety

About 50% of injuries over age 65:

US Preventive Services Taskforce

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I Don’t See Well Anymore

Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004 and you can find her columns on the Huffington Post. Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns.

LaverneDriving down a road my husband often asks me to keep my eyes open for things like highway signs, street names and house numbers. I invariably turn and stare at him.

“How long have you known me?” I ask incredulously. “Do you honestly believe I can see those things? Sure, I can make out objects like mountains and sky scrapers, and elephants, but street signs and house numbers? Are you serious? If you’re counting on my ability to get us to our destination, we could very well end up in China.”

I was sitting in an airline terminal waiting for a plane. Around four seats down from me, seated against the wall, I spotted a woman. One of her shoelaces was untied and dragging on the floor. I know that today kids intentionally leave their laces untied and can actually walk around that way, without falling on their faces. But adults don’t have that ability, and since this woman was definitely beyond teenage years, I signaled to get her attention. When she looked up I said, “Excuse me, I thought you’d like to know that your shoelace is untied?”

Do not let Fear make your decisions for you. Risk has a price and so does security.

She looked down at her feet, then back at me. “I’m not wearing shoelaces,” she answered.

I leaned forward, squinted hard, and discovered that what I had thought was a shoelace was the cord draping from her laptop computer to the wall socket in back of her.

“I’m really sorry,” I said. “I don’t see well anymore.”

Looking out of our living room window my husband called to me and said, “Hurry. Fast. You’ve got to see this beautiful Cardinal perched on the tree branch. He’s magnificent.”

I rushed over to the window, looked out, squinched my eyes and said with disdain, “I’m having difficulty seeing the tree, and you want me to focus on a branch and then hone in on something the size of a kosher pickle? I don’t see it. You know I can’t see that far, so stop showing off.”

I suppose it’s nearing that time when I should consider having my cataracts removed but I’m chicken. Besides, I’ve kind of gotten used to viewing the world through Vaseline covered corneas; I mean it’s not as though I’m really missing anything. I’ve been around over seven decades, and I’ve probably already seen everything worth seeing, right?

I’ve noticed that I don’t hear well anymore, either – without my glasses. I never knew this before but I can read lips. I really can. I didn’t go to special school to study lip reading but there’s no doubt that I have an innate ability to do so. I discovered this phenomenon the other evening while visiting friends. I had accidentally left my glasses in the car and when we all sat around talking, I was unable to understand anyone. I mean, I knew that they were talking because I could hear vocal sounds emanating from their throats but I only understood a fraction of what they were saying. As soon as I put on my glasses, I was able to understand every word.

I have to admit, I’m quite impressed with myself.

Other posts by this author

Giddy Yup

Stop Telling Me I’m Old

Growing Up Dangerously

Watching Real Beauty

Hell, Not on the Map, but I Was There

Cellulite: A Rite of Passage

Camping: Not for Sissies

Don’t Count Me Out

Aging, Not All Fun and Games

Challenging My Legacy

Behind Closed Doors

Battle of the Bulge

How the Home Shopping Network Turned Me into a Zebra

Posted in Guest Blog Posts, Humor, Women's Work | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Becoming a Proud Golden Girl

Guest post by Bonnie Moore

Bonnie Moore 2014It’s called the Golden Girls Lifestyle and it is shared housing for mature adults! This movement has received extensive national media coverage and has been embraced as a major addition to the aging-in-place conversation for the baby boomer population.

People across the country are looking for answers because housing cost are too high for retirees. People are lonely when kids grow up and the spouse is no longer around. Many struggle financially. Shared housing seems to be a great answer.

“FIND THE RIGHT PERSON” is at the top of the list when you decide on this adventure. But, who is right for you? How do you know? Start with, “Who am I, and what is important to me?” When you know these answers, you know who you are looking for!

Deal Breakers

Start by considering common issues. Deal-breakers are different for everyone, and you may have some issues that aren’t on this list:

Does she/he smoke? Is it OK with you if the person is an outside smoker?

Will she/he bring a pet? Sometimes pets don’t like to move, and they let you know. Bringing in a new pet is a “two-fer!”

Are there cultural or lifestyle differences that will become too difficult? I encourage diversity, but sometimes you can live next door to someone but not in the same house. For instance, are there significant differences in religious practices, eating habits, hobbies, political interests, working hours, and a bunch of other things that are important for a comfortable living situation? You have to decide what works for you, and then talk about it.

Not sure you can retire? Get answers here

Other considerations

Age Differences. Look for a roommate that is within ten years of your age, and don’t go beyond twenty years on either side. With too much of a difference, you will notice the age nuances and it will frustrate you!

Cleanliness factors. Most women are accustomed to housework and will keep a place in good shape. Some women, however, really need things to be back in their places immediately, every spot wiped off the counter, and the floor swept daily. If this is you, find someone like you. If this is not you, same advice.

Can you get along with her personality? Are you fairly assertive and outgoing? Are you quiet and bookish? How would you assess the personality of a potential roommate? Can you sense an “angry” factor beneath the surface? How would you assess the “honesty factor”?

Interviewing a potential roommate is a lot like a job interview. She will tell you what you want to hear. It is your job to listen below the surface and hear danger signals. Trust your intuition. Selecting a GOOD roommate takes patience, but it can be done. You also learn a great deal about yourself and you learn to develop assertiveness!

Once you identify the factors that are important to you, start advertising and talking to your friends. Print up a flyer and pass it out at your church or community groups, developing a listing on some of the major roommate sites, including Golden Girls Network, and keep talking about it! Don’t be afraid to interview a number of people before making a decision.

Most of all, start developing your written house agreements and a written lease. Even if you decide to rent on a month-to-month basis, you need it in writing. Don’t take anything for granted…get those details down in writing. Be positive and forthright, and decide what is important to you.

About the Author:

Six years ago, Bonnie Moore divorced and was living in a large five-bedroom home that had just been remodeled. She didn’t want to leave her dream home, but she couldn’t afford to stay, so she started looking for roommates and found friends!

People started asking her what it was like to live with a bunch of women, and she went into business helping others achieve financial security and companionship as mature adults. She developed a registry called Golden Girls Network where mature adults can register either as a homeowner or as a housemate and can search other people who have registered and connect for the purpose of becoming roommates.

She also wrote a book called How to Start a Golden Girls Home and teaches a conference call workshop using this book.

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The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing—Why You Can’t Afford Not To Read It

Guest post by Andrew Hallam, author of The Global Expatriate’s Guide to Investing

If you have a financial advisor, odds are high that he or she has a dirty little secret. Most of your investment costs are hidden. And the more you pay in investment fees, the less you make. In fact, investment fees are a bigger drain on many people’s wealth than income taxes. Getting them under control can mean one of two things:

1. Retiring a heck of a lot sooner
2. Enjoying a lot more money in retirement

I wrote The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing to increase your odds of both.

Let me introduce myself. I was financially free at 38. I wrote a bestselling book in 2011 at the age of 41. It’s called Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School. Now my wife and I enjoy an early retirement lifestyle. We’re currently in Lake Chapala, Mexico. That doesn’t mean, however, that we lay around in hammocks drinking margaritas. I enjoy writing, including a finance column for The Globe and Mail.

So let’s get back to that dirty little secret. You probably pay too much money in investment fees. The more you pay, the more your financial advisor earns. Most advisors are keen to boost their salaries and commissions. Their salesmanship, however, gets deducted from your bottom line.

Open up to new possibilities abroad

If you asked Warren Buffett how to invest, he would tell you to invest in low cost index funds. These are cheap products. They put more money in your pockets. But they line your advisor’s pockets with less. Economic Nobel Prize winners William F. Sharpe, Paul Samuelson, Daniel Kahneman, Merton Miller and Robert Merton all agree. Harvard’s endowment fund manager, Jack Meyer, says “The investment business is a giant scam. It deletes billions of dollars every year in transaction costs and fees…You should simply hold index funds.” Yale University’s endowment fund manager, David Swensen, says the U.S. government should stop the mutual fund industry’s exploitation of individual investors.

In the eyes of most financial advisors, these financial wizards are total party poopers. My book shows you how to hire the right kind of financial advisor. This person would build you a portfolio of low cost index funds. It also shows how to build such portfolios on your own.

Let’s assume you’re 40 years old. You invest $10,000 into a low cost index fund. If the markets average 8 percent, your money would grow to roughly $81,573 after 30 years. Investors paying 2 percent more in annual fees would likely earn just $48,268. Those north of 50 may wonder why this matters to them. It does. And it matters a lot. Most 50 year olds, for example, hope to live happy healthy lives into their 80s. If you’re living off your investments, you won’t be spending it all at once. You’ll be selling part of your money each year, while the remainder (you hope!) continues to grow. This is how you can combat the rising costs of living.

I wrote The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing for an expatriate audience. But if you’re residing in your home country, you’ll still find it useful. It’s the only book in the world that shows exactly how to invest, regardless of where you live, and regardless of nationality. It’s also the only book showing you how to build low cost portfolios of index funds using three different cutting edge strategies. One of them, you’ll find, has been remarkably stable. It has averaged slightly more than 9 percent a year since 1971. Its worst year was 1981. It dropped just 4.1 percent. During the crash of 2008, it lost less than 1 percent.

Yeah, I’m gushing about this book. But I know you’ll find it helpful.

Best of all, it gets that dirty little secret out.

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Questions on Retirement Facilities Overseas

I was looking at the QA section of your website. I didn’t look at every link. But, at some point do you discuss the inevitable outcome that eventually you won’t be able to travel any more at a certain age. Do you have any plans? Will you return to America permanently? Or will you choose one place overseas? Do you have concerns about having to stay in a retirement facility overseas?

Was there any country you’d label as your “favorite?”

Hi Marsha,

Thanks for taking the time to write. You have a great question!

Billy and I still debate returning to the States full time. Once we turn 65 we will have medicare, but the expenses of long term care are just off the charts. Other countries who serve the expat population are aware of this and are building long term facilities to fill the need. You can read about a couple of them here:

Continuous Care options
Alicia’s Convalescent Complex
Care Facilities in Mexico

Also, it should be noted that general care — whether it’s medical or just care around the home like gardeners and maids, someone to do the shopping and cooking, is far more affordable overseas than it is in the States. So if it gets to the point where one must have assistance in one’s own home, this would be more affordable than in the States as well.

As I say, other countries see the writing on the wall and are offering services to Expats now for these purposes. These facilities and array of services will only grow to cover the increasing needs of the population. Chances are, we will take advantage of these when the time comes.

In terms of do we have any concerns about staying in a facility overseas – no more than having to stay or receive them in the States. There are always areas where one must watch so we aren’t taken advantage of – whether it be cleanliness, good service, or money fraud – but one would need to watch that anywhere they stay. We take the attitude of staying open to having the best options present themselves when the time is needed.

Not sure you can retire? Get answers here

As far as having a favorite country — we do not. Each country has their pros and cons, depending on what one is looking for. Sometimes stunning natural beauty is accompanied by less infrastructure, sometimes an easy-to-get-to-place has more traffic. Weather-wise, we prefer a springtime climate – not too hot, not too cold, not too humid. It’s always a give and take.

I hope this answers your question and do feel free to write again any time.

Wishing you the best,

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