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.


Find answers to all your retirement questions, click here

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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

Posted in Guest Blog Posts, Health, Heart Song, Indigenous Life, Volunteering, Women's Work | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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 

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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

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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.

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Stem Cell Therapy – The Future of Curing Disease and Restoring Youth

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 stem cell regenerative therapies visit her website

A body’s natural healing state

Your body is in a constant state of renewal. As you read this article, with every breath you take, the stem cells inside your body are renewing and regenerating themselves every second. These seemingly miraculous cells have the ability to transform themselves into brand new healthy cells to replace the sick or worn out cells in your muscles, organs, tissues, brain, glands, joints and bones – virtually any cell in your body. Many scientific studies now indicate that increasing the number of circulating adult stem cells in your body is probably the single most important thing you can do to maintain optimal health.

Adult stem cells are released from your bone marrow into the bloodstream. Then they go searching for tissues and organs in distress. For example, if the heart sends out a cry for help, the travelling stem cells exit the bloodstream, migrate to the heart, multiply, and become brand new healthy heart muscle cells, to replace the sick or worn out cells.

Sixtino I Medical Building, Guatemala City

As we age, healing slows down

Sick children recover quickly, right? That’s because their bone marrow releases stem cells more efficiently.  When we are young, there are niches of stem cells in all our organs that migrate to areas of injury, inflammation or malignancy to assist in replacement and repair. Injured tissue can be repaired by tapping the body’s stem cell reserves.

As we age, bone marrow produces fewer stem cells which decrease the ability to regenerate. Fewer and fewer stem cells are released into the bloodstream, so your body becomes more susceptible to injury and breakdown.  When these stem cells become so reduced in number, they often fail to repair the aging diseased organ. This leads to chronic disease and further aging with declining immune function.

To learn more about the benefits of medical tourism, or to find international dentists, hospitals or clinics, click here

Chronic disease and stem cell therapies

Chronic diseases set in when we are older because our smaller components start to break down. The origins of these diseases can be traced to deficiencies at the cellular level. For example, the beta cells in the pancreas become less effective and secrete less insulin, a condition that triggers diabetes. And, when the nerve cells become weak they will begin to harbor Parkinson’s disease.

Qualified and trained medical personnel are available to you

In Guatemala, stem cell therapies are being used to successfully treat:

Auto-immune Diseases: Cerebral Palsy, Critical Limb Ischemia, Diabetes Mellitis, Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, Thyroid Disorders, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis

Chronic Degenerative Diseases: Cerebral Palsy, Cirrhosis of the liver, Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Pulmonary disease, Kidney Failure, ALS, Down Syndrome, Parkinson disease, Stroke and Heart Disease, as well as Spinal Injuries.

Imagine if we could increase the level of stem cells in our bodies to stave off the effect of aging as it applies to both degenerative disease and esthetic appearance.

Dr. Byron Sanchez

Experienced and skilled staff

Dr. Byron Sanchez, medical director of the Medi-Center Stem Cell Research Clinic, is an oncologist and hematologist in Guatemala City with 15 years of experience in stem cell research and transplantation. The highly-skilled medical team at Medi-Center offers stem cell transplantation therapy to their patients with the same degree of success as any other country in the world, from the United States to South Korea, but at a fraction of the price.

Simple procedure

Dr. Sanchez explains the process: Stem cells are derived from the patient’s own bone marrow or umbilical cord.  Blood, fat and skin are also excellent sources of stem cells.  In adults, these cells are rare, isolated at a rate of about one in one thousand. Immunological reconstitution is done by isolating the patient’s natural killer cells, T cytotoxic cells. They are extracted in a painless procedure, isolated, stimulated, and processed in the laboratory.  The new, multi-potent cells are restored to the patient intravenously, in a method much like chelation therapy or dialysis.

With just a few days of treatment and observation, our patients in Guatemala now have the opportunity to live better and longer without resorting to dangerous drugs or invasive surgical techniques.

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Follow up

According to Dr Sanchez, patients are placed on a longevity diet and an exercise program that can be done at home.  They are given nutritional supplements to support and enhance neurological function and nourish existing cells. Quite often, medium to ultra-high does of vitamins and natural supplements will enhance the efficiency of the newly restored stem cells.

Hope International, Guatemala City

As an anti-aging property, stem cell regenerative therapies are increasingly used in cosmetic formulations. They work to slow down the aging process of the skin, and the supporting muscles, to restore not only a youthful appearance, but the vitality and functionality of the organs as well.

At the Stem Cell Center of Guatemala in zone 10, Dra. Marielos Sequeira, a medical intern, describes an additional method to enhance the efficacy of the Stem Cell Transplantation: Patients are placed in the hyperbaric chamber and breathe 100 percent oxygen while exposed to elevated ambient pressures. In this new application of an older, established technology, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is helping to resolve a growing number of difficult, complicated or otherwise hopeless medical conditions.

In all cases, success rates depend on the patient’s age, lifestyle, genetic composition and metabolism.

The future

Biotechnology is the medicine of the future, coupling our biology (organic bodies and minds) with the extraordinary technological advances that are being proven and accepted by mainstream physicians more and more every day.  The most exciting therapeutic possibility of stem cell transplantation is that it enhances the body’s own natural inclination is to heal itself, effectively reversing the effects of disease and aging. We now have the opportunity to live longer, healthier, happier – feeling “good as new.”

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Americans Too Busy to Notice a Medical Solution?

One of our Readers shared this compelling insight on Americans’ desire to remain distracted – even in the face of solving a medical conundrum.

I am fed up with American culture too… here’s the latest, which you’ll enjoy.

Last night I went out to eat by myself, sat at the restaurant bar.   The bar area was fairly crowded and looking around, I saw everyone playing with their mobile phones.  Even those seated at tables together were still alone with their phones.   This drives me crazy.

Preoccupation with cell phones?

A man, also dining alone, sat down next to me at the bar. He looked to be about 30.  Before he could reach for his phone, I said hello and we struck up a conversation. He said he was a doctor, working in the cardiology unit at a well-known local private hospital.

Ah, I told him, so maybe you can answer the medical question nobody’s been able to help me with.  What’s that, he asks?  I explain that I have all my medical needs attended to in Thailand, which he finds bizarre.  He is quite surprised when I tell him the medical facilities are world class.  “I thought it was pretty much third world over there,” he says.  No, it’s world class in many respects, I tell him.

For information on private, national and international insurance, click here

I proceed to explain that during a routine physical, it was discovered I have this heart condition called WPW Syndrome.  He says, “That’s a life threatening condition.  Have you had it taken care of?”  Well that brings me to my question.  In Thailand, they can tell me exactly what the surgical procedure will cost, but here I can’t get any hospital to give me even a rough estimate.

Tinkering with a ticker

So, that’s my question. If I wanted to have the surgery done at your hospital, what would it cost?  He admits he doesn’t rightly know… but why am I concerned – surely my insurance will cover most of the cost.

That’s my problem, I tell him, I don’t have insurance.  He says, “don’t you qualify for Medicare?”

(No, you little twerp… I’m not that old.  I don’t tell him that, but that’s what I’m thinking.)  I just say Medicare isn’t an option. I have to pay out of pocket.

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He says, “Well, if you pay out of pocket… Let’s see, you will need a hospital room for about 4 or 5 days, the anesthesiologist, the surgeon …” and he ticks off a few other items before conceding it’d likely cost north of $100,000.

Affordable world class treatment available in Thailand

That, I tell him, is the problem.  I can get the surgery done for a fraction of that in Thailand.

He says,  “I wouldn’t trust my heart to a surgeon in Thailand, I can tell you that.  What you should do is go to the emergency room at the county public hospital, complain of chest pains and they’ll admit you to their cardiology unit.  Then tell them you have WPW Syndrome. That’ll get their attention and you’ll be in the public-supported system.”

OK, thanks for the advice.

I mentioned this to a friend who had to go the public route at the public hospital for emergency surgery last summer and he strongly advised against doing that.  As he put it, “Going to County will give you a heart attack. You’re far better off in Thailand.”

At least he gets it… from personal experience.  Most Americans don’t get it at all.  They’re too busy being busy and playing with their phones.

Douglas Upshaw

For access to a health library or to learn more about nutrition, prevention of disease and wellness, click here.

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Vacationing with a Stranger

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 studied the travel brochures, saved my money, planned my itinerary, made all the  necessary reservations and put together a fabulous wardrobe. I was psyched.

I would be taking a well deserved vacation with that special someone; not just anyone,  but someone whose habits I knew, and whose likes and dislikes I shared.

Or so I thought.

The fact that we didn’t have much in common never seemed to matter. For instance I was 58, nearly ten years older than he; something he gloated about regularly. And while he found small talk difficult, I could easily give a spontaneous full scale lecture on something as unremarkable as nose hairs. Our one common interest was flea markets – hardly something on which to build a relationship, but apparently we had.

For information on travel guides with tips, photos and packing lists, click here.

In our day to day living we barely noticed our differences because of the many hours we spend apart at our respective jobs. At the end of each day we’d share animated discussions and  display interest and caring during diner, driving, and visits with friends. These things caused me  to assume that we would travel well together. But, seven days and nights in confined quarters  served to heighten and amplify our dissimilarities.

Suddenly my age was a factor because when I expressed interest in parasailing and  horseback riding he saw fit to remind me that I was too old to venture into activities usually reserved for agile young bodies. That left me profoundly hostile.

And I, already feeling frumpy in my one piece black bathing suit with industrial strength bra and demure pleated skirt designed to conceal rather than reveal, prayed that his head would  unscrew and smash to the ground the next time it rotated to ogle some bikini clad bimbo.

He decided that vacation was the perfect time for deep breathing, chest-pounding jogs on  the beach. My idea of fun on the beach included a blanket, shallow breathing on my back, and  examining the insides of my eyelids.

If you are a single traveler and would like to find a travel companion, click here.

I wanted to drive through the countryside taking shots of local sites. He preferred walking through town, in pursuit of shot glasses for his collection. I looked forward to peaceful sunsets on a quiet pier, fishing for cute little fluke and  flounder. But he dragged me onto a four hour party boat populated with big sweaty men, all focused on capturing gigantic Blues and combative Marlin, while I hung limply over the railing and prayed for death.

He had planned on ending each day with an intimate dinner, a bottle of wine, some dancing, and a little romancing. What I did instead was pass out by 9:00 p.m.

Somehow we managed to survive both the week and the long flight home. In fact, within  five days we even started speaking again.

I’ve learned you can’t presume that just because you know someone they’ll be a great  traveling companion. I look a cruise with my cousin – a sweet, soft-spoken woman I’d known  most of my life – and didn’t sleep for six nights because the sound of her snoring was much like what you’d hear from a front row seat at a NASCAR race. Not to be outmatched, she pointed out that my teeth grinding was no picnic for her, either.

So, before I take steps toward booking any trips, I make sure my prospective traveling buddy and I agree on what’s fun and what’s not, or my dream vacation just might turn into  another nightmare.

For more travel information, click here.

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A Reader Has Insurance Questions

Hi Billy and Akaisha,

I have questions about insurance.

1. Car Insurance – If you have a 2 year old paid off car worth about 20k, would you purchase a high deductible full coverage or just liability insurance for it.

2. Umbrella Insurance – My wife purchased an Umbrella Insurance policy because of our net worth just to protect us if our normal insurance does not cover it (she did that because at the time we owned a business but we never cancelled it). She is in favor of keeping it, I think this maybe overkill but wanted independent advice.

For up-to-date information on retirement, travel and lifestyle, click here.

3. Life Insurance – We both have life insurance but not sure we need it since we are financially independent. Thoughts?

We are retiring early in July, so I am analyzing every single expense to ensure we cut all unnecessary expenses. By the way, thanks to you guys for being such an inspiration to all of us. I put a link on our new website to your site under the Who Inspires Us section.


Hi Steve,

Happy to answer your questions. Bear in mind that each person needs to make these decisions for themselves. Our opinions are just that – our opinions and if you don’t feel comfortable with following our choices, most certainly choose what works best for you.

Car insurance: Insurance prices are regional. It’s one price if you insure your car in Los Angeles and another price if you do so in Kansas or Iowa. Before we became Car Free  we insured our vehicle for liability only.

Umbrella insurance: This is a difficult question to answer for someone else. It all depends on your lifestyle and your net worth. We say do whatever your risk tolerance and comfort allows you to do. We don’t spend a lot of time in the States where being sued is more of an issue. Other locations in the world do not emphasize being reimbursed for a decision that might have unintended consequences.

Life insurance: Normally, in a case of being financially independent, we would say life insurance isn’t as necessary. In case of a death, the surviving spouse would receive the assets. In case both of you would unexpectedly die at the same time, your children would receive your assets. However, in reading your blog, we see that you have two young college age boys who could still be living at home. In this case you might carry life insurance until they are able to live more independently.

Read about successful retirees and captivating characters. Click here!

Congratulations on your early retirement! Thank you for your kind words, and we feel honored that you have mentioned us as people who have inspired you. We wish you all the very best!

Please do keep in touch.


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