Are you Confused? Good!

Contrary to what you have been told, confusion can be a positive state of mind.

Sometimes, discombobulating events or circumstances can show us the places in our lives where we are outgrowing the old and calling for the new.

Believe it or not, confusion can lead to good things


Just as in my previous post where I spoke about the Benefits of Fear, in this one I want to let you in on a valuable secret: Confusion about something can sometimes be a good thing.

When we know the parameters of what to expect in our relationships, job, or health, we seem to breeze through life without anxiety, and we like that! Most of us would prefer the feeling of certainty and the comfort it brings rather than the disconcerting feelings that come with chaos.

Except Life isn’t always so easy.

Confusion can show us an open door

Just as pain or fear can motivate us to make a change, confusion lets us know where there might be an open door or window to new opportunities. Turning a routine on its head is upsetting, but think of it as clearing the cobwebs out. Dust flies but the result is something newer and brighter.


Ok, so let’s say you are thinking about retiring but you cannot afford your current housing situation as well as having a second house in your chosen retirement location. The entire situation has you uneasy because perhaps you don’t really want to sell your place anyway, and besides, the current market for housing has been sludgy.


What to do about Home Sweet Home?

Pair of what?

What you might require is a paradigm shift. Those are fancy words for “considering your options.”

Take a piece of paper and on the left hand side write the word “Housing.” Draw a line down the center and on the right side of the line begin to brainstorm anything possible to solve your situation. Move your mind from the “problem set” and walk into the “solution set.”

Even if an idea seems a repeat, or seems obvious or might even be something you don’t care for, don’t stop listing. Keep the momentum going until you run out of steam.

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Sample Solutions

Doing a house exchange

House sitting in a new location

Renting your house out while you travel

Rent just a room in your home for the extra income

If you have a bi-level, rent out one level to cover expenses

Consider becoming snowbirds as an option

Renting in the new location instead of buying

Listing viable options to your dilemmas

The above possibilities are just starters. What else can you think of?

Perhaps you want to retire or even semi-retire, but you don’t feel that you have sufficient funds. Get out the piece of paper again with the word “Money” on the left side, and Options on the right.

Sell your dog

Have a lemonade stand

Part time work

Teach English as a second language

Make money from a hobby

Pare down to one vehicle

Try ride sharing

Consider non-financial exchanges for services given or received

New combinations can reveal your solutions

Write as many outlandish or common sense ideas that you can come up with and keep that list growing.

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The next step

Now, on a separate sheet of paper take any of your possible solutions and list all the reasons why it could work. You might already have resistance to some of your responses – so go ahead and write those down too, but on a different piece of paper and place that sheet aside. Here on the solution page, you are trying to build up the reasons why your possibilities could actually be implemented.

Play devil’s advocate

If you have a spouse or a good friend whom you can trust, take turns playing devil’s advocate for why these are good ideas. We can all find reasons why something won’t work. You want to find ways to substantiate why your ideas can be feasible.

Clear that mental dust away.

Bring order out of seeming chaos

At the end of this exercise you should have a list of viable alternatives to your previous conundrum and you won’t view your circumstances in the same light. Sometimes it might take a combination of these options to have a workable solution, but at least now, you are not grabbing at air. You have solid choices. Going through new doors is scary, but it’s the way to create the life you want.

As long as your confusion continues, proceed with the above exercise to generate ideas. Welcome confusion as holding a key to a future that you create yourself and which better matches your needs and wants of today.

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Traveling with a Stay-at-Home Spouse

Hi There,

I’m planning to visit Australia next year to visit my cousin on the Gold Coast.

I’m a 60+ lady traveling with a lady friend, my hubby is a stay-at-home type……………..

Any advice….



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Hi Julie,

Thanks for taking the time to write.

I was unclear as to what your question “really” was.

1) Advice on how to travel without your husband?

2) Advice on how to find great travel partners or affordable ways to travel?

3) Advice on how to “get” your husband interested in traveling?

4) Advice on how to travel in your retirement and not feel guilty, keep in touch with your husband while you are on the road, and more?

In Chapter 10 of our book, Your Retirement Dream IS Possible, we discuss this very topic in great detail. Many couples want to fulfill their dreams in retirement and sometimes these dreams differ from what their spouse has in mind. I believe you will find this chapter to be very helpful.

You might also take a look at our Traveling Singles Page. Here you will find adventure groups, women’s groups, global and educational tours, information on solo traveling, packing lists and such.

You might also take a look at our Travel Housing Options Page. Here you will find links to hostels, furnished apartments, how to make connections worldwide through Couch Surfing, how to find a place to be a roommate in a location which you might want to visit, links to home exchange, house sitting opportunities, Workampers, vacation rentals and more.

Keeping in touch with loved ones while we travel is easier today than ever. You can download Skype for free and chat online with video from your computer or at an internet cafe. If you chat computer-to-computer, this calling time is free. If you call a landline or cell phone, it is only a few cents per minute. So you will be able to chat with your husband while he is at home where he feels comfortable, and while you are on the road, where you would like to be.

I hope these few suggestions are useful to you. Feel free to write any time.


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Forced Out of Retirement Due to Financial Crisis?

Just read your story about extreme retirement.

How much money do you and your husband still have?

Were you and your husband forced out of retirement because of the financial crisis?

You obviously get paid to sell books on the subject so how are you retired presently ?

I want to know your real net worth so I can do the same.



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Hi Dave,
Thanks for taking the time to write. We enjoy hearing from our Readers.

We explain how and why we retired in 1991 in our first book, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement. We were not “forced” into retirement but rather chose this lifestyle over two decades ago. Since then we have made it through the various market crashes and downturns.

We didn’t write our first book until we had been retired for 15 years, and after that, both the website and the number of books we offer have grown.

The view that “once one leaves the working world they can never, ever, ever make money again” is one that we don’t hold. We consider ourselves to be financially independent, and choose what we want to do with our time. Most of what we do is either volunteer work or something that is a creative challenge to us, like the work we do on our website or in writing books. We are entrepreneurial by nature and it would be absurd for us to pass any opportunities by that looked appealing.

Being financially independent offers one those choices.

“How much is enough” is a personal consideration. There is no “One Financial Number” which would do it for everyone, as each person has different needs, circumstances and dreams. Suffice it to say that we have more money now than we did when we first left the conventional world.

Also please realize that not every transaction is a financial one – there are lots of things that can be bartered for or an agreement can be made. Trading your skills for ones your neighbor has is worthwhile. This has been a mainstay of society since the beginning of time, so that concept is nothing new.

We no longer own a vehicle and when in foreign countries we either us public transport or hire a driver. In the States we hire friends to take us from place to place. House sitting is a means of having a place to stay in many locations around the world and this minimizes your housing costs.

Try looking at your situation creatively to see how you can rearrange what you have to work for you.

I would suggest that you take a look at our Preferred Links Pages and research some choices that are available to you in all the categories of one’s retirement experience.

Track your spending and find out how much you — in particular — need to have to create a reasonable lifestyle and then see what tools and opportunities you have available to you to make that happen.

You might also take a look at our Retirement Issues Page as well and read some of the Interviews we have done with others who have made the leap. You will find that each story is different and that no one size fits all.

Hope this gives you some insight into your questions.

Take care and feel free to write any time.


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An Apple a Day Doesn’t Work

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. 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.

I’m tired of doctor’s offices. I’m fed up with driving there, sitting there and filling out forms that take longer to do than the duration of any of my illnesses.

Once upon a time a visit to the doctor meant answering a handful of questions: Name, Address, Why are you here?, How long have you had these symptoms? Today, the time spent at a doctor’s office rules out time for doing anything else. The day is shot.

The other day the receptionist handed me seven sheets to fill out while I waited for the doctor to grace me with his presence. Two of the sheets only needed my signature. One gave me the option of allowing others to know my medical background. Why would anyone want to know my medical background? She had her appendix removed in 1947? We can’t hire her; she’s defective.

Doctors want too many forms filled out!

On the other sheet I listed people to contact in case of my death. I was there because of an annoying toenail fungus. Dying never entered my mind. Now I wondered if I should worry.

Because there’s never room to list all seventeen of my surgeries, seven medications, and seven allergies I opened my wallet, withdrew my prepared list and handed it to the receptionist to copy for her records.

Forty five minutes later the doctor, who obviously believed his time was more valuable than mine, was ready to see me. But I wasn’t ready for him. I still faced two sheets of questions, so he had me bring the papers with me. Of course there was no way I could continue filling them out and fight off the nurse who was trying to weigh me. I saw no reason to humiliate myself on the scale. I had stood on my scale that morning, naked. I didn’t like the numbers then. Why would I like them better when I was fully dressed? And besides, what did weight have to do with a nail fungus?

My husband, Mighty Marc, is able to fill out medical forms in under five minutes. At the Dermatologists office the nurse asked him if he had any allergies.


Then she asked, “What medications are you on?”


She looked up from her desk. “You’re in your seventies and you’re not on any medications? Do you have any idea how unusual that is? You’re so fortunate.”

“It’s not really luck,” he said. “When I married my wife four years ago, we agreed she would do medications, and I would do yard work. We’ve both upheld our ends of the bargain.”

I’m not a hypochondriac. Every sickness, ache, pain and disease I have is real – at least to me. I’m concerned that when I write on my income tax return that I’ve traveled 2,500 miles to and from doctors this year, a red flag will be raised and I’ll be audited.

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My last problem started with pressure and pain in my lower left abdomen. I tried ignoring it but when I no longer could, I visited my Internist.

“We’ve got to stop meeting like this,” I instructed him.


“Because I’m sick and tired of seeing doctors,” I answered.

“Truthfully, I’m fed up with seeing patients,” he quipped.

He pressed and palpated and decided I probably had diverticulitis, an irritated colon; a common condition in older people, but not to be ignored. He sent me for a CAT Scan, which wasn’t conclusive, so he put me on an antibiotic for five days. When that didn’t help he suggested I see my gynecologist.


What am I doing here?

Once home I did some online research. By the time I arrived at my gynecologist’s office I was hyperventilating, sweating and in a state of panic. I even took a Valium, which I’d not done since before my last surgery seven years earlier.

The gynecologist walked in and found me sitting on the edge of the examining table.

“Sit down,” I instructed her. “I have some bad news.”

Her brows furrowed. “What kind of bad news?”

“I don’t want to upset you, but I have ovarian cancer.”

“WHAT? How do you know that?”

“I read it on the internet.”

“Lie down and assume the position,” she commanded.

My ovaries have gone to heaven

Within seconds of her physical assault she began to laugh out loud.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Honey, your ovaries have dried, died and gone to Ovary Heaven.”

“Really? And that’s a good thing?”

“Unless you want more children,” she said. “I suggest you see your gastroenterologist and have either an Ultrasound or another CAT scan. I feel certain it’s diverticulitis.”

I hugged her and cried tears of relief. Then I left her office with prescriptions for an Ultrasound, an MRI, a Bone Density test, and a Mammogram. It was then it occurred to me I’m not going to die from a common disease. I’m going to die from radiation poisoning.

For information on leading edge medical approaches or preventative care, click here.

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Cost of Living in Chapala, Mexico

Can you please tell me when the prices etc. were updated in your Adventurer’s Guide to Chapala Living? I would love to buy another one if it has been updated recently.

Thank you.


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Hi Gwen,

Thank you for taking the time to write and ask us your questions.

The Chapala Guide was written in January of 2010. The link to the prices in Chapala was last updated June of 2010.

We have no book that is more recent than this one, but I do want to share a little story with you to give you some insight about the Cost of Living here at Lakeside.

Our book is about Chapala — living in Chapala, renting in Chapala, shopping in Chapala, eating in Chapala and so on.

Sometimes people who live Lakeside who live in one of the various neighborhoods outside of Chapala, own a car and don’t take public transport, have several dogs (some have as many as 8 and more), have their maids and gardeners come 3-5 times a week instead of once weekly, and — very importantly — shop in the “Gringo stores” for food will contest our figures of what it costs to live in this area.

I just recently (2 days ago) went to one of these “Gringo stores” to do some food shopping. The prices were high, the quality of produce wasn’t as good, there was a good selection of North of the Border brands of foods with the matching high prices, and all the meats and fish were cellophaned instead of having a butcher cut it to order.

To their credit, beer, wine and hard spirits were very good prices.

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Not only was I disoriented in trying to find things, there was less of a personal touch and I didn’t like the looks of the meat and fish.

I purchased some items and went to check out. My total was 550 Pesos – which, ok was only about $42 — but my 550 Pesos did not include any meat, cheese or fresh roasted chicken. Nor did it include the $7 pint of ice cream that was offered in the freezer section. I could have gotten more of what I wanted and needed, fresher, better, and with more social contact had I purchased in Chapala.

Sure it’s convenient to park one’s car and do a one stop shop and go home instead of walking place to place with bags in one’s hand. Women from North of the Border don’t generally like to do their shopping this way, and so they consistently and continuously pay more for everything. Everything. All the time.

It adds up. Prices in general for everything are higher in Ajijic than in Chapala. People say to me: “It’s only a dollar or it’s only a little bit more etc. etc.” but it makes a difference.

They eat at Gringo restaurants, shop in Gringo stores, buy Gringo brands, drive everywhere and rent from Gringos with the matching Gringo price. They pay their maids 450 Pesos or more a week (plus their gardener), every single week (which equals to about half the amount of rent we pay) and just can’t figure out why they are always over budget.

Correspondingly, they can’t figure out how Billy and I find amazingly good lamb, excellent tenderloins, outstanding local cheeses, fresh yogurt, tasty chorizo, and sweet fruits, etc. and live so well on the cheap. They spend their time trying to find parking spaces for their cars, curse the traffic, refuse to walk anywhere, won’t be seen DEAD with a day pack to carry anything, and the only Mexicans they know are their maids and gardeners.

“There’s no one to practice Spanish with” they say.

Everyone has the right to live as they wish and there are many styles available.

Cost of Living is a personal choice. Just because one lives well on less doesn’t mean they live in a lesser manner.

I hope this gives you some insight into the area, and I encourage you to feel free to write any time.


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Thank you for responding so quickly.

I stay in the Chapala area January and February,  then July and August every year. I went there originally because of your book.  I am unable to retire because of family reasons, however, my life is great – 8 months here and 4 months there works out great.

I was just curious to see if you had any new information.  I do not take a car – buses are easy and walking is great.  I am one of those carrying a bag from store to store…

Thank you for everything including saving my life.  The need to get away is big sometimes, and the Chapala area is perfect for my budget

Will appreciate you forever.


Hi Gwen,


Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words!! They are quite humbling to us and we appreciate you dearly for saying them.

Please do give yourself some credit also because you have the courage to make a change and the personal and emotional flexibility to adapt in a foreign country.

All the best to you and in every way.

Thank you for staying in touch.
Akaisha and Billy

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Eating Cat Food in Retirement?!?!

Hi there, we have followed you both for a number of years. My husband and I have been retired since 2005, ages 58 and 60 now.

We have always enjoyed your writing until we came upon a recent article that stated “getting used to eating cat food” was a possibility. This is unacceptable, no holds barred. There are plenty of food banks and programs that ensure people do not have to eat cat food in their latter years. As it so happens, our Maine Coon’s (a Cat Breed) food is $1.19 for a  3 oz can so a regular can of human generic tuna would be a much cheaper alternative.

I am not understanding where you are going with this type of scare tactics. We have always relied on you for interesting and sound travel advice.

Kim and Glenna

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Hi Kim and Glenna,

Thank you for taking the time to write and for giving me the opportunity to clear up this misunderstanding.

The piece you are referring to is one we wrote called Retirement Plan in Tatters.

It is our rebuttal to Joe Nocera’s “cheerless” piece in which he paints “a rain-drenched, out-in-the-street future” with no positive alternatives.

Joe was so down-in-the-mouth, and held such a depressing point of view, that we just had to refute his position.

In the 3rd paragraph, we say:

“Taking this information as the only premise from which you work out your retirement, you may as well give up. Just chuck the idea of having any appealing options, start on the cat food now and simply get used to it.

Which of course is ridiculous and absurd, and we thought clearly evident to be tongue-in-cheek. “Eating cat food in retirement” has become a fear-based expression that the media has used to rile up the masses.

We — like you — dislike this expression as being “the only alternative” one might have.

The fact that you brought up food banks and other social programs to support the elderly if they are in dire straits only shows how offensive and simply nonsensical this phrase is.

In the rest of our article we emphasize self-reliance as a virtue, how the astronauts in Apollo 13 made mismatched pieces of scrap to work for them in saving their future, and how you can too. We also say how it’s impossible to reach for the stars when your nose is pointed to the shadows and we continue to show how one can fashion a fulfilling retirement by offering you alternatives — places to live on the amount of one’s social security, where excellent affordable medical care is obtainable, and encourage you to consider the possibilities that are right in front of you.

Simplify your life, save money, learn something new, choose a walk-able city, be car free. To learn more, click here

And we end our piece by saying that “there are many workable solutions if you are willing to look.”

I think this was simply a misunderstanding. Perhaps you stopped right at the “eating cat food” and didn’t get further on into the article to see what our points were.

We have always given — and will persist in offering alternatives, possibilities and practical ways to better one’s life. We don’t believe in being boxed in for any reason, and we will continue to emphasize self-reliance and personal creativity for the solutions to any problems one might face.

I hope that my explanation helps you to see what our points were in this piece. I am sorry if we offended you in any way, as it was not our intention. And we most certainly want to congratulate you both on your retirement and hope that it is filled with health and happiness.

Again, thank you for taking the time to write to express your sentiments about our article and we hope you feel free to write anytime.


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Unlocking the “Girl Effect” in Guatemala

Guest post by Travis Ning, Founder of Starfish One by One

For those who follow trends in international development, the term “Girl Effect” is gaining increased footing as a term used in the common language.  Briefly defined, the “Girl Effect” describes the human potential represented by the world’s 600 million adolescent girls.  More and more studies demonstrate the widespread economic, health, and environmental benefits of educating this segment of the world’s population (see this website for some interesting global data on the “Girl Effect”).  Yet in spite of this evidence, only 1% of international aid specifically targets adolescent girls.

Enormous potential/huge gender gap

Anyone who visits Guatemala can see the country’s enormous potential. The flip side of that reality is that Guatemala is a country that is underperforming.  This country has the hemisphere’s worst gender gap.  To be rural, indigenous and female in Guatemala is to be at the bottom of the social and economic spectrum.  The irony is that it is precisely this demographic which is most capable of transforming this nation.  If these young women realize their human potential, Guatemala will too.

But the term “Girl Effect” oversimplifies.  To secure sustained secondary school access and success for a rurally-based, indigenous girl in Guatemala is to confront powerful economic, social, familial and structural obstacles.

Money alone does not overcome these.

Jeronima, the first young woman in her community to attend high school!

The Jeronima Effect, a personal success story

A young woman named Jeronima personifies the “Girl Effect” and the amazing energy that can be unlocked to transform Guatemala.  She lives in the rural village of Buena Vista in Sololá.  Born into a Kachiquel-speaking family of 9 siblings (only 5 of whom survived), neither of Jeronima’s parents ever attended school.

Like many indigenous children, Jeronima started her primary education late at age 9, and only learned to speak Spanish at school.  She stopped her studies again in middle school when her local facility failed to offer the 9th grade due to a lack of demand. When the school finally opened that grade, Jeronima’s family had lost momentum and enthusiasm for her studies.  The “double burden” of girls’ education (increased school-related costs + sacrifice of her being away at school/studying instead of working or doing domestic chores) was just too heavy.

Change your world! Volunteer!

Starfish One by One found Jeronima and provided her with a partial scholarship that secured her access to high school.  But as the first young woman in her community to attend high school, the economic issue was only one of several challenges.

Personal strengthening through opposition

Jeronima had to travel by pickup to the city of Sololá to attend high school, she had to walk through her village in the more modern school uniform (pleated/plaid skirt instead of her indigenous traje) and endure the catcalls of other youths. Her older brothers were adamantly opposed to the idea of her going to school, and her father passed away leaving the family in a precarious financial situation.

Often, it all seemed way too much to endure.

The amazing “Triumphant Little Ants” the group Jeronima is mentoring

The stabilizing platform of human relationships

But she was not alone.  The essence of the Starfish program is human relationships.

Jeronima joined a group of 14 other young women in the Starfish program to create a forma group.  Through weekly meetings facilitated by a Starfish mentor, this group became a powerful source of emotional support for her.

These groups stay together from the 7-12th grade, and become a compelling counter force to all the outside pressures that otherwise derail a young woman’s aspiration for an empowered future.

The critical component of these groups is the mentor, who is a full-time staff person.  Coming from the same region of Guatemala and speaking the indigenous dialect, she is among the less than 1% of Guatemalan indigenous women to reach university.  Most importantly, she is empathetic to each young woman in the group.

Teach, Learn, Give – in your home town or internationally

The mentor walks the 15-member peer group through the Starfish Empowerment Curriculum.  Through this process, Jeronima learned financial literacy, reproductive health, IT skills, and crucial critical thinking and leadership abilities.

Last year, Jeronima put into practice these new skills when she launched a literacy campaign for the mothers in her community.

Jeronima and her women’s literacy group

Going from student to village influence

Jeronima graduated from high school last fall – the first female in her community to ever do so.  She joined the Starfish team as a mentor, and is now walking 15 young women down the very same path she recently blazed.  As mentor, Jeronima is responsible for keeping families both motivated and informed with a constant strengths-based focus.  She is receiving training on how to prevent and treat situations of family violence.  She is also charged with monitoring each of her 15 girls’ progress in school.  On weekends, Jeronima is attending university, majoring in social work.

Jeronima reflects what Starfish is doing for 214 students in Sololá and Suchitepéquez.

This quality-over-quantity approach works: 95% of the students in Starfish are successful in school and graduate.  Through focusing on individuals and their personal ecosystem (family, school, peers), Starfish is unlocking the talents of a generation of positive change-makers in some of Guatemala’s most marginalized villages.  This effectiveness and overall success is attributed largely to the extremely positive partnerships that Starfish shares with other Guatemalan and international organizations that continually enrich the program.  Starfish returns the favor by sharing its success with other organizations through its RIPPLE program.  This program focuses on sharing practice-proven techniques with other like-focused programs.

For more information, contact Starfish One by One

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Cancer Treatment in Guatemala

Guest post by Lori Shea, Owner, Guatemala Medical Travel.  Lori first arrived in Rio Dulce, Guatemala aboard a sailboat in 2005 and had a home and business there for two years. For more information on Cancer therapies visit her website.

An emotional diagnosis – on both sides of the scale

Just say the word…. “Cancer” ….and all sorts of emotions arise. Maybe we remember the sadness and loss of a co-worker or neighbor.  Sometimes the grief strikes closer to home, like my husband, or your sister, or worse, a child. But more and more, we are experiencing another set of emotions regarding cancer treatment today: Hope, bravery, triumph, relief and gratitude.

Statistics are high – is health insurance a protection from expense?

In the United States, one in six people is expected to suffer some form of cancer in their lifetime. With this sobering statistic regularly in the news, you have to wonder how this disease might affect your lifestyle, family relationships, and retirement fund.  Determining the most effective course of treatment is not always a clear choice, as it is the result of extensive testing and careful planning by a team of cooperating specialists. Having insurance is no guarantee that you will be protected from major, life-changing expenses.  Patients with insurance are thinking carefully before agreeing to treatment, because out-of-pocket co-payments for the drugs alone could easily run $15,000 to $30,000 a year.

To find out more about health insurance options, private, national and international, click here.

Quality care in a treatment plan, reasonable cost

Radiotherapy and brachytherapy

In Guatemala, we are proud to offer three Cancer Treatment Centers and top-notch oncologists, each with a separate focus, that are able to work in conjunction as a team, together with the surgeons, to impact the patient’s treatment plan toward a successful recovery.

Dr. Luis Linares

Dr. Luis Linares of Hope Radiotherapy Center has over 25 years of experience performing 25,000 cancer-related procedures.  From university studies in England, to extensive research and work at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and then as medical director of the New Orleans Cancer Center, he has brought his skills and expertise back home to us in Guatemala. Offering radiotherapy and brachytherapy, Hope International opened in 2010 with state-of-the-art cancer treatment technology which surpasses the quality available in 60% of cancer hospitals in the United States.

Radiotherapy involves directing a specialized external beam into the tumor to diminish or destroy it, while brachytherapy is a time-release method of implanting seeds that release radiation in specific daily doses. In both of the non-painful treatments, no surrounding tissue is damaged. At Hope International, eight weeks of radiotherapy treatment, with five sessions per week, costs around $10,000, compared to $50-90k in the U.S.

Dr. Luis M. Zetina Toache


Dr. Luis M. Zetina Toache is a leading figure in Latin America in the field of chemotherapy. As medical director of Oncomedica Cancer Consultants since 2000, Dr. Zetina conducts high-level scientific research on new cancer drugs, here in Guatemala, fully supported by the FDA. He has participated in research protocols on Herceptin, Avastin, Tarceva, Xeloda and other drugs to successfully treat cancer with the latest advances in chemotherapy treatment methods.

Dr. Zetina is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the European Society of Medical Oncology, and of the Chemotherapy Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Dr. Ezra Greenspan of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. We are grateful to have the benefit of his many years of cutting-edge skills and research available to us here, in zone 15, Guatemala City.

Dr. Byron Sanchez

Stem cell therapy

At Medi-Center Guatemala, Dr. Byron Sanchez, a well-published hematologist and oncologist, has been researching the possible benefits of stem cell treatments for his patients. Although success rates vary, we look forward to the day when this exciting biotech application could be the source of reliable long-term positive results.

All of the physicians agree that early detection is the best hope for a cure. Since it is more difficult to treat patients who may have been mishandled or misdiagnosed by other doctors, the most highly skilled cancer specialists agree that the personal situation of each patient must be carefully analyzed before deciding which treatment plan is best for that particular patient.

To find out more about medical tourism, international dentists, hospitals and clinics, click here.

Why go to Guatemala for cancer therapy?

Many foreigners are taking advantage of cancer treatment options available in Guatemala because:

The costs can be five to ten times less expensive than in the United States or Europe.

All International Health Insurance from the United States is accepted in Cancer Hospitals in Guatemala.

Quality medical care available in Guatemala City

No waiting list. Patients can begin treatments as son as they arrive to Guatemala.

Patient advócate. A constant companion is available in their Guatemala Medical Travel agent: a multi-lingual medical facilitator, driver, secretary, nurse, billing agent and personal advisor. Can you get this in the States?

The Human touch. In Guatemala, and all of Latin America, the patient receives the human touch, with respect and compassion that is missing in first world countries.

Superior medical care. Above all, international patients in Guatemala receive superior medical care from highly-skilled doctors and high-tech facilities that are right on par with the best in the world.

Again, early detection is the best hope for a cure – do it now. Colonoscopies, PET scans (nuclear imaging), skin biopsies, 4-dimentional ultrasound and lab testing with the latest diagnostic instrumentation are available now — quick, effective and affordable — through your friends at Guatemala Medical Travel. Working as a team, we can beat the odds and count on experiencing all the pleasures and gratitude that come with living longer and healthier.

To educate yourself on alternative care and leading edge technologies, click here.

To watch an insightful and instructive video on Guatemala Medical Travel with interviews of both Doctors and Patients, Click Here 

Posted in All Things Financial, Guest Blog Posts, Health, Women's Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Retirees Find House Sitting Opens the Door to a New World

Enjoy this Guest Blog Post by Ian White Copyright © 2005,

Jazz up your retirement

Recent press releases highlighting the travels of retiree house sitters are showing that becoming a senior is not a ticket to boredom, or a sedentary lifestyle. Retirees from around the world are finding to be the key that opens the door to unique, authentic and free travel to destinations that they had once only dreamed about.

Unfortunately, many retirees do not have the liberty of spending their retirement egg on pleasure items or excursions, such as traveling. Many individuals and couples who live on a fixed income have found that their funds usually only cover the basics of living. After a lifetime of raising families, running businesses and being everything to everyone, retirees are finding there is a way to travel and experience the world on their terms. is allowing them to connect with home owners who are in need of house sitters. In exchange for a valuable service, retirees are able to enter into new worlds, that would otherwise be closed to them.

First hand accounts

Jim and Thelma McSkimming are retirees from New Zealand. This retired couple has only been with HouseCarers for a year. They report that they would not be able to travel to all the places they dreamed of–if it were not for becoming house sitters. The McSkimmings have found that house sitting is the key that enables them to experience different cultures on a new level.

Jim and Thelma McSkimming report they do not desire to travel as “tourists,” and quick visits to some popular areas do not satisfy them. The McSkimmings truly relish immersing themselves into new areas and they enjoy house sitting. House sitting lets them become mock citizens in various countries and gives them an authentic experience.

Enjoy the peacefulness of lake front homes

The  McSkimmings had five months to allot for house sitting in the UK, and were thrilled when they were able to find five house sits. “We stayed in a beautiful 200 year-old stone cottage, which was previously a flour mill, in South Wales. We minded pigs, geese, miniature Dexter cattle and two adorable Border Collies,” the McSkimmings report. They have also recently had a stay in a Rectory in County Cork, Ireland, where they made friends with an African parrot they were minding. Many house sits involve the care taking of pets. The McSkimmings report that this is a one of the highlights of their stays and it fulfills their love of animals.

The wonderful experience of house sitting is echoed by Brenda Marie Batty. Ms. Batty is a retiree from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Ms. Batty has been a house sitter since 1999. She has visited seven different countries, and reports that her favorite house sits are in Greece, France and Italy. “House sitting gives me the opportunity to travel further afield for a longer period of time–to places I otherwise could not afford to stay in on my retired budget.”

Gorgeous homes available worldwide

Like the McSkimmings, Ms. Batty truly enjoys sinking into the culture and lifestyle of the various areas that she visits. She has found that each country has welcomed her with open arms. On a recent house sit in Greece, she truly felt one with her neighbors. “I even got into white washing steps and walls in Greece . . . I joined in with the island folk who were all in preparation for Easter’s arrival. I really felt like a local then! It was lots of fun, too. I enjoy travel on this level, meeting new people and becoming part of their communities.”

A new “Career”?

House sitters are in high demand around the world. Retirees who register as house sitters are among the first sitters looked at by home owners. Home owners know that life experience cannot be replicated. Home owners have confidence in seniors and trust them to watch over and care for their home, possessions and pets.

Many times senior house sitters are asked to come back for return stays. Ms. Batty has had numerous repeat visits. Chances are great that the McSkimmings will also be asked for a repeat stay–as this is their first year and they are just now getting their feet wet and making acquaintances with home owners. Both the McSkimmings and Ms. Batty report that home owners are warm and welcoming. Friendships are easily forged and many home owners keep up with “their” house sitters year round.

Some house sits are close to world class beaches

Both the McSkimmings and Ms. Batty report that maturity, flexibility and a love for animals are essential to being a good house sitter. However, to make the proper connection with prospective home owners registering with a reputable house sitting site is key. HouseCarers is sitting pretty on top as “the” place to make safe connections. Ms. Batty doesn’t hide her enthusiasm or appreciation of Ian White and “Two thumbs up for HouseCarers!”

How to begin

Becoming a house sitter is a fairly easy process. You can visit on the Internet and for a price that is less than an evening meal out, you can register as a house sitter for an entire year. You will be given 30 full lines to describe yourself. You can list multiple locations where you are available to house sit, along with the dates you are available. You can even use the sample ad that is listed on the site to guide you in writing your personal information.

The information you enter is instantly available to prospective home owners who are seeking out a house sitter. At any time you can go in and update your profile, change your destination areas or dates, and all of it is free of charge. When house sits become available in your chosen areas, you will receive notification via email. You will also be notified when you have messages from prospective homeowners in your chosen areas. Your identity and personal information are kept confidential and it is only revealed to a home owner when you are comfortable.

Benefits, benefits, benefits

Becoming a house sitter will save you thousands of dollars on travel and accommodations. By making yourself available to a home owner as a house sitter, you are giving them an invaluable service. Home owners can leave their residence knowing they are leaving it in capable hands. House sitters may be asked to perform routine things such as pet care, gardening, or even scheduling a home repair if the need arises. You may be asked to forward mail, relay phone messages or take a pet to a scheduled vet visit. House sits range in duration. Some may be for a week, while others may be for a month, or more. The requirements are minimal when you compare it to what you receive.

House sitting opens the door up to experiences you could not pay for, even if you had the funds to do so. House sitting is enabling individuals to live in seaside beach homes, English country cottages or castles, ski lodges in the snow capped mountains, and even ranches or farms in the country. Can you think of any other service you could give to someone that would allow you to sample grapes from a working vineyard, pick Dutch tulips, or eat authentic cuisine straight from their native homelands with no monetary investment on your end? This can all be yours, and more, as a house sitter.

Ocean view anyone?

Priceless opportunity for both sides

You simply cannot put a price on the services that a house sitter provides. Home owners are not comfortable leaving their homes empty when they have to travel for an extended time. House sitters are the number one crime deterrent. Criminals can bypass most alarm systems with ease. However, criminals and would be thieves will avoid a home if someone is in residence.

Besides providing the much needed security that a home owner desires, house sitters can also save a home owner much worry over their homes “physical” safety. If a pipe bursts, most home owners would not know until they returned to a deluge of water, and tens of thousands of dollars in repair work. If a fire starts, a home owner could possibly return to find their home a smoking pile of rubble and ashes. By having a house sitter onsite, a home owner can leave knowing that if an emergency arises, there is a sitter onsite who can tackle a burst pipe, call the fire department, or handle a weather emergency.

If you are interested in traveling the world like Jim and Thelma McSkimming or Brenda Marie Batty, you should register with These house sitters have found that retirement doesn’t mean an end to an exciting life. If anything, their senior years are bringing them unique and fulfilling experiences. The McSkimmings and Ms. Batty have found a way to take hold of their dreams and do all the things they have longed to do. With the support of their family they are globe trotting without making a dent in their retirement funds, and they are enjoying every minute of it.

Author Ian White is founder of House Sitting Directory.

Related Articles:

Do House Sitters Really Guarantee “Peace of Mind?” – A Home Owner’s Perspective

Moving from Stuck to a World of Yes!

Traveling? Find Someone to Look after Your Home and Pets Cost-Free

Top 10 Reasons to “Sit” through Retirement

Posted in All Things Financial, Guest Blog Posts, Housing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Is Australia’s Pension Available to Retirees in Thailand?

Read what one of our Readers has to say about her move to Thailand, only to find that after they relocated, their Australian pension plan was not available to her and her husband.


There are only 17 countries that have reciprocal social security agreements with Thailand. Australia is not one of them which is why we are not entitled to our “Aussie” pension if we continue to live here.

Anyone considering retiring in Thailand needs to check if their particular home country is on the list.

Americans, Brits are OK they get their pensions wherever they decide to hang their hats which is a wonderful thing. I know most of your followers would be American but as you have followers far and wide it might be worth mentioning to the general population about this anomaly in the system so everyone knows to suss it out and not get a helluva shock like we did.

Some research beforehand can prevent unpleasant surprises later

Use us as the example of what NOT to do if you like.

We did not check, we just assumed! and got it all wrong because we did not do our research so it’s our fault really. They also need to make sure they are living some place where it is easy for them to go for their 90 day renewal stamps, particularly if they are planning on not having a vehicle in order to save money. Diesel and Petrol are both expensive here now, we do not run our truck unless we are going on a long trip to ChiangRai or Mae Sai.  Retirees will have to go somewhere for their one year retirement visa, at least once a year so they have to allow for that when choosing a place to live.

For more information on relocating overseas, click here.

We still have to go up to Mae Sai for that although we can do our 90 day checks here in Chiangkhong. These are “little things” but they become “big things” if the information is not known. Getting caught out and fined is not a nice experience.

Cheers again. We only have the knowledge now because we made all the silly little mistakes when we first came. You have the power to really help people Akaisha, and they will appreciate this information so much – it will make what you do even more valuable than it already is.

Cheers! M.

 To learn more about the Australia’s International Social Security Agreement Information, click here.  

To read Thai Visa thread on Australian Aged Pension, click here.

To find out more about receiving Centrelink payments and services while outside Australia, click here.

Posted in All Things Financial, Q & A From our Readers, Women's Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment