Saturday, December 7, 2019

Best Places to Live

According to a list made by the HSBC Expatriate Financial Services Group, Mexico is among the list of countries that have the best living conditions, including economic, social, and political factors.
Mexico ranks above developed countries such as the United States, Japan, and/or the United Kingdom.
This Ranking takes into account physical and mental well-being, in addition to the quality of life, political aspects, and also the ease of settling in the country for foreigners and, thus, the opening of the country in general.
In the first three places, Switzerland, Singapore, and Canada, according to the 2019 list, in the 2018 list, Switzerland was in eighth place, Singapore was first and Canada number four.
Mexico ranks in 21st place, being above the United States, which is in 23rd place.
China is in 27th place, and Japan is number 30.

Friday, December 6, 2019

On Becoming a Permanent Tourist, a Perpetual Traveler, and a Prior Taxpayer

I have written about alternatives to living in Mexico with the question If not here, Where?

Doug Casey’s Note: I’ve been emphasizing the importance of making the world your oyster for many years. Most people—and this is especially true of North Americans—tend to stay pretty much where they were born. Acting like medieval serfs or even vegetables rooted to where they were planted. Neither is a good strategy for a person. Certainly not today.

You want to broaden your horizons and keep your options open. Like Gert Mulder.

Gert is a former bank director who’s opened offices all over South America, even though he’s Dutch. He’s become a friend I enjoy spending time with when I’m in Punta Del Este. I don’t even hold it against him that he’s an MBA and a Ph.D. in Finance. It adds weight to his recommendation about being a perpetual traveler (PT)...

Even though he’s been in a wheelchair for the last decade from mild muscular dystrophy, he’s very active and has six children.

He’s an example of putting into practice the theory about being an international man. And is surprisingly typical of the type of person you can meet in Punta or in Argentina just across the Plate River.

By Dr. Gert Jan Mulder

It hung up with a European politician with whom I have been friends for many years. He has been extremely successful in a very short period of time and may even run the risk of becoming prime minister at some point, yet he surprises me at regular intervals when he speculates that he may have to emigrate from Europe one day soon.

This reminds me of a meeting I just had yesterday with an Argentine acquaintance. He mentioned a businessman and close friend in Argentina who has been very successful in the brokerage business but feels he’s in a trap because the Argentine Peronists have won the elections and this will undoubtedly bring that country back to a darker period. Argentina is very likely to close down its economy further, heading for yet another default and increasing government regulations. Even before the new president is to assume office, restrictions have been set that individuals cannot buy more than $200 a month in US currency.

A point to make with both the politician and the Argentine businessman—and so many others, actually millions of others—is that they do not make contingency plans. Most people wait until their problems become imminent before making alternative plans of where to live, which second or third passport to have, or what to do with their business, their family, and ultimately their savings. Being a former banker, hundreds of people have asked me in the past what to do with their savings. The more money they had, the bigger their problems became, resulting in sleepless nights and never-ending analysis of their circumstances. My favorite answer has always been to spend it.

The world has not become an easier place in recent decades, and everything points towards this process of accelerating complexity and uncertainties. The urgency to have proper alternatives for each individual becomes more and more apparent. The bad news is that nothing is certain, and disastrous events do occur.

One day I was talking to a very wealthy and very nice, warm person, when he told me, all of a sudden and out of the blue, that I was a "PT". This abbreviation, PT, can mean a lot of things but usually refers to someone who is a perpetual traveler. These people are always on the move and are truly global citizens, no longer belonging to a certain place that most of us call home. Some also use the abbreviation PT to refer to a prior taxpayer.

The advice that people should take to heart in this ever-changing global village is to prepare alternatives: alternative places to reside, alternative places to stock savings, alternative travel documents, alternative places to register one’s business, and alternative places to find a roof over one’s head. Also to be aware of the fact that property, real estate as well as land, cannot be moved from one place to the other. These things can get you stuck.

So, let’s say you find yourself living in the United States or somewhere in Europe, mostly in one of those member states of the EUSSR, where your prospects to a free and happy life are becoming dimmer and dimmer. This brings the question, "If I have to leave, where do I go?"

This is a tough one, which Doug Casey and I answered a long time ago. These decisions are never easy and are always very personal. Doug and I just happened to end up in Uruguay, South America, a little country tucked away between Brazil and Argentina. Doug calls it "a small, relatively insignificant backward socialist country".

And yet it does bring with it an attractive laundry list of positive features: generally speaking and with the exception of a few months of winter, a mild climate; a country that is nearly empty with less than 20 people per square kilometer; a tax system that is based on the territorial principle, meaning that you pay taxes only on income that is generated in Uruguay; relatively stable political, economic, and social conditions; a population that is predominantly of European origin, namely Spanish and Italian; and people that seem to have struck a good balance between work and pleasure, although the latter qualification depends entirely on taste and personal judgment. Some may find them on average to lack ambition and discipline.

For us, libertarians, freedom and especially personal freedom is the highest value we try to achieve, and by doing so I personally fail to see how people can manage their lives, with all the controls and all the limitations in so-called first-world countries. Every sign seems to suggest that people in these countries are about to lose whatever is left of their personal freedom at an alarming rate.

So, if freedom is dear to you, stop hesitating and start thinking about moving out of your first-world country if you can and focusing on the alternatives and advantages of so-called third-world countries. Chances are that you will be able to manage your life, preserving what is most dear to you—personal freedom—by relocating to a place on this planet that is not about to turn into George Orwell’s nightmare, 1984.

And while considering this, please do remember the suggestions on how to become a PT.

Editor's Note: The world is facing a severe crisis on multiple fronts.

Gold is just about the only place to be. Gold tends to do well during periods of turmoil—for both wealth preservation and speculative gains.

That's precisely why legendary speculator Doug Casey’s colleague just released an urgent video.

It reveals how it will all play out, and how you can set yourself up for big profits with a lesser-known way to invest in gold. It's one of Doug's favorite ways to invest in gold. Click here to watch it now.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Lazaro Cardenas Revolution, Part I


By Daniel Nardini
Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryWhen Mexico became an independent country in 1821, one of two things that had eluded the country for a long time was stability and providing a stake, an outlet for the people in the future of their country. Mexico had stable government during brief periods of its history after independence, and one of the reasons why the Mexican Revolution occurred was due to the fact that the ordinary people did not have any stake, any representation in the government that ruled them. The revolution had produced one important thing, the Constitution of 1917 that at least had provided a blueprint for the rights and a legal framework for how the country should govern itself. This document provided a chance for all future administrations to run the country in a more stable manner.
Like any constitutional process, it takes the will and ability of those people put into office to try and make that constitutional process work. After the Mexican Revolution, former Mexican General Alvaro Obregon had given Mexico social and political stability, but little else. Although president from 1920 to 1924, he pushed a change in the Constitution to give him a second term. Before he could take up a second term he was assassinated by Jose de Leon Toral. Obregon was succeeded by another former Mexican general named Plutarco Elias Calles, who ruled as president from 1924 until for all due purposes 1934. Callas was more a dictator than a president. The most notable thing under his presidency was the founding of the Institutional Revolutionary Party—the institution that would govern Mexico from 1929 until the election of 2000. His handpicked successor was yet another general from the revolution named Lazaro Cardenas.
Cardenas at first seemed more like a puppet for Callas. While Cardenas was the actual president, Callas ruled the country from his “retirement.” However, Cardenas proved to be truly independent of Callas, and made sure that Callas stayed in retirement and no longer interfered in the government after 1935. From there, Cardenas worked hard to improve the condition of the country. He had an extensive road network built, and he constructed more public schools than had ever been done since the end of the Mexican Revolution. He nationalized the oil industry and put it under the government corporation Pemex so that the government had a more reliable source of revenue. Just as important, Cardenas broke up the large land estates that belonged either to the Catholic Church or to the powerful landowners and gave the land to small farmers. He helped encourage the building of labor unions in return for the unions providing workers’ support for his government, and Cardenas also contributed government funds for large-scale industrialization throughout the country. This, in turn, drove unemployment down and helped to build Mexico’s middle class.

The article is from the Lawndale News 

Saturday, September 7, 2019

The Orchid Market

According to Pocket field guide of the most common orchids in Mexico.
Mexico - Orchids | Rainforest Publications (1-888538-15-1) "Orchids are one of the largest families of plants in the world, with about 30.000 species. Mexico has around 1250 species of orchids, with an estimated 40% being endemic. This makes Mexican orchid flora one of the richest in Central and Latin America.

The Orchid Market is here in San Miguel NOW and is being sponsored by the Orchid Growers of San Miguel, a group of people whose love of orchids has brought them together not as a formal club but as a fun, social group with one common denominator: everyone’s personal love of orchids. The Orchid Market will have 20+ vendors from all over México who will be selling orchids, orchid supplies, succulents, and cacti. Admission to the Orchid Market is free.

f you’re looking for answers as to why orchids are so intriguing and why there are more groups dedicated to growing and studying orchids than any other plant variety in the world, you definitely need to come to San Miguel’s fifth Orchid Market on Saturday and Sunday, September 7 and 8, from 10am–5pm on both days, inside the Instituto Allende.

“San Miguel Orchid Market”
Sat–Sun, Sep 7–8, 10am–5pm
Ancha de San Antonio 32
Inside the Instituto, almost to Cardo
Admission free

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Gold in Mexican Pesos

In 2011 Gold in U.S, Dollars hit a high of $1,900. The high gold price in Mexican Pesos was MXN24,000. Here in 2019 gold finally, broke through a ceiling of $1,360 that had been in place for six years. It currently trades at $1,529. 

The gold price in Mexican Pesos has moved to MXN30,499. The MXN peso was 13.50 to the dollar in 2011, and now is 20.06 to the dollar.

Tom Dyson at Bonner & Partners said in a recent email. "but there are 56 countries left on the planet where the gold price is NOT yet at an all-time high. Many of them have pegged currencies to the dollar.

The U.S. is one of those countries. We would need another 23% rise in the price of gold to reach a new high.

What does that mean to me, Mike?

If you are moving to Mexico, it seems logical to convert some of your pesos to gold. We moved here in the first quarter of 2015. Gold was MXN18,000; today at MXN30,499. Converting dollars to Pesos would have given us a big loss.

More about the implications to come.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Marilyn Murray Willison: How to Live Large in International Retirement - Part 2

In my previous column, I introduced “Positive Aging” readers to International Living Magazine and its Annual Global Retirement Index, which evaluates the best places for American retirees to relocate overseas. Last week, we highlighted Columbia, Portugal, Peru, Thailand and Spain.
Do you remember the July 3 column I wrote about Dan Buettner’s book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest? He had researched and identified specific places on the globe where people tend to enjoy enhanced longevity thanks to diet and lifestyle.
Well, this week, we’re going to take a look at the places International Living considers to be the top five retirement destinations, which actually seem to be clustered near a geographical Blue Zone that is not all that distant from the good old USA.
5: MALAYSIA. There are four UNESCO World Heritage Sites here, along with many stunning islands, beautiful beaches and unspoiled rainforests. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to really discover the country 600 years ago. Then came the Dutch, and then the English. The multicultural flavor makes it a unique place to retire, and the excellent low-cost health care can’t be beat.
4: ECUADOR. This country has been in the magazine’s index for several years. The great weather, the excellent, affordable health care and the availability of affordable real estate all contribute to its high score. Additionally, people over the age of 65 often get discounts on flights that originate in Ecuador, as well as 50 percent off movies, sporting events, public transport and utilities. Plus, if you purchase a property, you have the option of a free landline.
3: MEXICO. Thousands of older Americans have chosen to retire in Mexico during the past few decades, and it is easy to see why. Thanks to the weak peso, expats can live comfortably on about $1,200 a month. There are first-rate hospitals throughout the country, and it’s not hard to find someone who speaks English. Residents over the age of 60 receive an INAPAM card, which offers discounts on everything from groceries to restaurants to both local and airline travel. There is a wide variety of climates and cultural environments from which to choose. And life in Mexico has never been more affordable for Americans.
2: COSTA RICA. This has been a desired retirement spot for Americans for the past three to four decades. As long as you receive at least $1,000 per month from Social Security, disability, pension or some other source, you meet the income requirement for residence. According to the magazine’s Latin American editor, rents start at $400 a month for fully furnished condos or houses in nice areas. The health-care situation is both affordable and highly rated, and the country offers a variety of climates — from mountainous to sunny beaches — to meet your preference.
1: PANAMA. There is a wide variety of nationalities already settled in Panama, so if you move there, you’ll never have to feel like an outsider. As with Ecuador, “pensionados,” or retirees, get discounts on everything from health care to hotels to restaurants to travel. The country has beautiful geography, affordable health care and excellent infrastructure. According to International Living, it offers the most benefits of a Central or South American retirement destination.
— Marilyn Murray Willison is a columnist, motivational speaker and journalist, and author of The Self-Empowered Woman blog and the award-winning memoir One Woman, Four Decades, Eight WishesClick here to contact her, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Friday, August 16, 2019

In Defense of the Hard-Shell Taco

In Defense of the Hard-Shell Taco:

Here, however, hard-shelled tacos filled with lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheese has become a standard weeknight meal and — for better and worse — the face of Mexican food in the country.
The history of the dish may surprise some though. While Glen Bell and his Taco Bell franchise often gets credit for its nationwide popularity, the true origins are completely Mexican. Los Angeles Times food writer Gustavo Arellano wrote about the history in his book Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. The hard-shell dish that inspired Taco Bell’s legacy was originally found at Mitla Cafe, a restaurant in San Bernardino, California. The restaurant was opened in 1937 by Lucia Rodriguez, who crafted the popular taco recipe using available ingredients to make something familiar to the food she grew up within Tepatitlan, Mexico, yet completely new at the same time. Unlike today’s global market, actual Mexican ingredients were difficult to get during this time period, even at border towns. Unable to find things like cilantro and spices, the community adapted using ingredients like lettuce and shredded cheese. The beef taco seems basic, but it was born out of trying to make the best out of the situation at hand. Not inauthentic, but actually completely honest in that it was the best that could be done with what was available to the community at the time.
Glen Bell, who happened to own a hamburger and hot dog stand across the street at the time, walked across the road to eat at Mitla Cafe daily. He became enamored not only by the tacos but also their popularity in the community.
Arellano describes Bell’s fascination in Taco USA:
“[Bell would] return to his stand to sell food, but spend late nights after closing time trying to decipher the rival restaurant’s tacos, so popular that they opened a walk-up window next to the kitchen, so the lines ran faster.”
The technique for creating the iconic U-shaped tortillas at Mitla daily is daunting: fresh corn tortillas are folded into a pan of oil and pressed down gently with a ladle until fried and fully shaped. Bell, eager to find a way to replicate this, not only developed his own recipe but also fastened a wire basket that could fry six U-shaped tortillas at a time. Despite some early successes here and there with Mexican restaurants during the 1950s, it would take over a decade of ups and downs before Bell finally found his stride and launched the first Taco Bell in a Los Angeles suburb. Today the chain has more than 7,000 restaurants worldwide rakes in annual earnings of nearly $11 billion (according to the Orange County Business Journal). Though hard-shell beef tacos are the most well-known, the idea of crispy tacos goes back somewhat further in American history. Tacos dorados, a general term for any kind of fried taco (but typically filled first and fried together) was a popular item among Mexicans in Southern California as far back as the 1910s. (According to Arellano, “When a customer [at Mitla Cafe] asks for a hard-shelled taco with ground beef, the order is repeated in Spanish — taco dorado con carne molida”). 
Taquitos, the rolled up tacos often filled simply with beans or ground meat, is a popular version of the deep fried taco that’s become so common it’s a staple in the frozen goods section of most grocery stores. Other variations of dorados covered in different sauces and toppings span the Southwestern U.S.
Here in Columbia, nothing exemplifies the love of the hard-shell more than the famous Taco Tuesdays at The Whig. The simple pleasure of lettuce, tomato, and cheese over the well-seasoned ground beef or black beans is hard to beat. For years, locals have constantly flocked to the ubiquitous dive bar for cheap, nostalgic tacos. Similar tacos can be found at many places, including taquerias like Moctezuma’s Mexican Restaurant, which quietly serves generously stuffed beef tacos on their lunch and dinner special plates. 
There’s no better display of hard-shell taco evolution though than down Percival Road at Tacos Nayarit. Using a Chipotle-style setup where you pick from traditional Mexican taqueria fillings, Tacos Nayarit lets you choose from the classic corn tortilla, flour tortilla or hard-shell dorados These aren’t premade hard shells from the store either, but rather yellow corn tortillas that they fry in an actual slotted basket built for shaping tortillas into the iconic U-shape. The fry takes less than a couple of minutes, yielding beautiful golden receptacles ready to be filled.
The tacos are then dressed any way you want. Carnitas with grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, and cheese? Marinated chicken with corn relish and guacamole salsa? The options are plentiful and fit perfectly snug in the warm, fresh fried hard shells. There’s something odd at first when you eat one of these at Tacos Nayarit. Unlike The Whig, which just bursts with American nostalgia, this plays with everything you know about a taco. Layers of crispiness, from the hard-shell to the lettuce to the bits of carnita or al pastor, give the food a fresh perspective. Is it traditional? No. But the spirit is still there in the flavors and feeling. And it’s delicious.

Vinícius Caricatte

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Reasons Canadians Are Retiring To Mexico

From Canuck Abroad, “With more people reaching retirement age, many of the so-called “baby boomer” generations are looking south for their retirement homes. More and more Canadians (and U.S) retirees are seriously considering a move to Mexico. In fact, it is a big topic right now. A number of locations like Ajijic, San Miguel de Allende, Cuernavaca, and Chapala are bursting with expats—and these numbers are on the rise in more exotic Mexican locales.”

“Why are more expats choosing Mexico as their retirement destination? What is so appealing? Well, the reasons may vary as much as the retirees themselves do. For many, it comes down a desire to experience a new culture or something personal like more freedom or a desire for reinvention. Of course, one cannot ignore the obvious advantage of the weather.”

“Another reason cited by expats is money. The costs of living in Mexico are significantly lower than they are in Canada or the U.S. There are certain expenses or items that may require more money than most retirees are used to paying, but most items are cheaper. (Naturally, this will depend on what level of retirement income you expect.)”

“For those who have limited means but still desire to live in Mexico, the Mexican government has a program that is specifically geared for those over 60 years old that can help with monthly expenses. It is the Instituto Nacionál de las Personas Adultas Mayores or INAPAM program. Since October of 2007, the program has been offered to foreign expats who live either as permanent residents or with FM-2 or FM-3 visas.”

“It is the benefits of this program that may make the top of some Canadian expats’ lists. For instance, there are certain discounts available to seniors. YOu may receive reduced prices on buses, free admissions to museums, and discounts on other cultural events. Additional savings are available on utilities, in various shops, travel, accommodations, and other features.”

“Be advised though since the local administration of the INAPAM program is still trying to catch up with the new regulations concerning the eligibility of foreigners and expats.”

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Surge in Baby Boomers Retiring to Mexico

Sonu Wasu reports at ABC15 Arizona, “It's a different type of "surge" at the border, one that may not be as visible, but it's been happening for the last few years.”

“We are talking about a record number of U.S. citizens who are moving south of the border to retire.”

“This reverse migration trend is very real, and it's booming with more than one million American citizens estimated to be living in Mexico. Cost of living and climate are listed as the top two reasons for this migration. Mexico has a visa for such people, the "residente temporal," which targets people who do not work in Mexico and are economically self-sufficient.”

“Jamie and Paige Lopez are among these ex-pats who sold their home in Arizona and have now re-settled in Rosarito Beach, Mexico, just about 30 miles away from the San Diego border.”

"We live in a gated community. We bought a house that has three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and an ocean view," said Lopez.

“Living on a retirement income, couples who have made this big move know they could never afford this lifestyle here in the United States.”

When you look at the number of baby boomers retiring; the cost of living in the US vs. Mexico; the wonderful weather, and the nearness of family and friends via the airplane, I’ve been surprised more United States citizens haven’t slipped the bonds and come down to Mexico to live and retire.

To read the rest of Wasu’s article, go to ABC15 Arizona.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Pyramid of El Cerrito

Atlas Obscuro features Pyramid of El Cerrito.

Just outside the beautiful city of Querétaro, towering above an arid landscape of scrubland, looms the desolate stone ruins of a pyramid known alternately as El Cerrito and El Pueblito. In ancient times, this site was the religious center of an enigmatic civilization that devoted itself to the fervent worship of an inscrutable and buxom goddess of fertility.

The Chupícuaro civilization and its city center, known today as El Cerrito, arose around 300 BC and was for many centuries contemporaneous with the Teotihuacan civilization. Later in its history, it was conquered and came under the influence of the Toltec empire as a vassal state. This socio-cultural change was reflected in the city’s architecture, and led to the construction of the Toltec pyramid that still dominates the site and the surrounding landscape today.
Interestingly, the main deity worshipped here above all others is believed to have been a powerful mother goddess. Excavations in the area have repeatedly discovered clay statuettes that depict curvaceous female figures believed to represent her. These sculptures were typically found buried in areas where staple crops such as maize, beans, and squash were cultivated. It’s been theorized that these objects may have been annual votive offerings to gain the favors of the goddess and to invoke rain or bountiful harvests, keeping the ever-present threat of catastrophic drought and famine at bay. 
The archeological evidence suggests that the cosmovision of the Chupícuaro civilization venerated the fertility of agriculture and nature, embodied by the image of this enigmatic divinity. Yet not much more is known about the cultural practices or ontologies of this mysterious Mesoamerican civilization, which has often been overshadowed by other Central Mexican cultures such as the Teotihuacanos, Toltecs, and the Aztecs. 
The collapse of El Cerrito and the Chupícuaro appears to have occurred around the same time as the fall of the Toltecs in 1168, and was probably similarly caused by a combination of environmental stressors and the invasions of warlike northern tribes known as the Chichimecas. The absence of archeological evidence after this time period seems to suggest that the practice of worshipping the goddess was suddenly discontinued by the survivors, who perhaps felt angered or that they had been abandoned in their time of need. 
Nevertheless, although El Cerrito was never again to regain its former glory, it is known that the area continued to be inhabited by small tribal communities right up until the time of the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in 1519. Today, the El Cerrito Archaeological Zone is an intriguing and easily overlooked archaeological gem just a short drive from Querétaro. Aside from the ruins, there is an interesting museum displaying artifacts from the Chupícuaro civilization that were discovered at the site.
Know Before You Go
The archaeological site and museum are open from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends. Entrance is free.

PHOTO: Cristopher Maubert Salgado - 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Does Medicare Travel Well?

As seniors venture overseas, whether for recreation or new living arrangements, a key question to ask is what benefits travel with them. While Social Security benefits follow Americans to other countries, basic Medicare likely will not, and seniors may need to be prepared for alternate arrangements.

First, while Medicare does cover residents of Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands, except for some rare cases of inpatient hospital services in Canada or Mexico, traditional basic Medicare does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs outside the United States.

These rare cases for inpatient hospital services in Canada or Mexico relate to three possibilities. One is that you live in the U.S. near a foreign hospital and need emergency or non-emergency treatment and the foreign hospital is closer or easier to get to from home than the nearest U.S. hospital. Secondly, if you are in the U.S. when you have a medical emergency and the hospital in Mexico or Canada is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat the emergency, Medicare might cover. Third, if you are crossing through Canada on your way between Alaska and another State and experience an emergency and the Canadian hospital is closer than any hospital in the U.S., there might be coverage.

Since most circumstances do not involve these three exceptions, other alternatives need to be explored.

Examine the plan and get information first before traveling.

First, travelers and Americans living overseas should review their Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plans before leaving home and call to ask if there are questions. Some Medicare Advantage coverage may come with worldwide travel benefits. However, generally speaking, Medicare Advantage plans do not travel well. They might not even cover in other locations in the U.S. outside their territory. Even if it does, you might need to pay first and file a claim. Some Medigap (also referred to as Medicare Supplement) plans might also provide Foreign Travel emergency health care for travel outside the United States. Find out first.

Consider travel insurance.

Medicare recipients who are traveling might also seriously consider buying a short term travel insurance policy to cover health care expenses in other countries. Travel coverage could include evacuations such as when an accident or illness occurs on a cruise ship or in remote or difficult areas with limited access to health care.

One source for information regarding health insurance for traveling and for living abroad is the U.S. Department of State website, Bureau of Consular Affairs at, Insurance/Medical/Health Insurance Overseas. The site also refers to Another, obviously, is your own insurance company or insurance agent.

Answers could be sought for such questions as: What questions should I ask my health insurance company? Can the U.S. government assist me if I become disabled overseas? Where do I find a list of physicians abroad? What insurance information should I carry with me abroad? Where do I find a list of U.S.-based air ambulance/med-evac companies? Or foreign-based air ambulance/med-evac companies? Or U.S.-based travel insurance companies?

For Americans considering moving to other countries, options are limited. If the retiree is moving to a country with strong national health insurance coverage, he or she could explore buying into a plan in the country of destination to receive coverage comparable to other residents. Also, some insurers may offer “expatriate” health insurance plans. All of these plans would need to be investigated to ensure that they handle the needs of the American moving abroad.

On returning to the United States, Medicare enrollees who lived overseas should remember that they are returning to the U.S. Medicare system or Medicare Advantage with all of the usual Medicare rules.

If the American living overseas did not keep up his or her Medicare Part B payments and Medicare Part D while living or traveling in other countries, he or she would be subject to the same rules regarding penalties as Americans who remained at home. So, if there is a likelihood of return, consider paying Medicare B and D premiums while abroad.

In brief, if you are traveling or moving overseas, you should spend some time determining health insurance options. Do not leave home without them.

Janet Colliton, Esq. is a Certified Elder Law Attorney and limits her practice to elder law, retirement and estate planning, Medicaid, Medicare, life care and special needs at 790 East Market St., Suite 250, West Chester, Pa., 19382, 610-436-6674, She is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and, with Jeffrey Jones, CSA, co-founder of Life Transition Services LLC, a service for families with long term care needs. Tune in on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. to radio WCHE 1520, “50+ Planning Ahead,” with Janet Colliton, Colliton Elder Law Associates, and Phil McFadden, Home Instead Senior Care.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Tandy Martin - The Heart of the Silence

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Ben Pietra birthday at his house out in the country. As we were leaving,  Bev and I met a woman who claimed to be a psychic and a Tarot card reader. I am fascinated by all things a little kilter. When our friends get together, we exchange stories about strange occurrences in our lives: ever seen a ghost? ever had an ESP experience? do you see auras? do you know people who can tell you your future?

Anyway, we met Tandy Martin on the way out and were immediately fascinated by a Tarot card reading, so we made an appointment to have our cards read for 500 pesos each.

For me, Tandy didn't immediately start with the cards, She wanted to know if there was a question I had for her.

I wanted to know if there was anything holding me back from achieving my goals. She turned over a card and it was a Happiness card. What she told me is subject to my memory and my interpretation of her words. Ok?

What I got was Bev and I made a decision four years ago to pack up and move from Portland, OR to San Miguel de Allende. We are currently building a house and that causes us some stress, but the Happiness card is telling us we are happy and in a great place. Nothing to be worried about.

Tandy dealt out more cards. Soe may consider our conversation filled with "woo woo." She asked me what my soul wanted The answer I came up with was attuned to what was on my mind recently. Generally, am I the same person I was in Portland or have I changed. If I am the same person, what do I need, what does my soul need to be a bigger person.

Sometimes, I don't know the answers whether it is with the novel I've been working on or answers like what does my soul want. 

She said, "Why don't you ask?  Your father is right here over your left shoulder or your grandma Meme, who you were close to. " Both of whom have passed.

It's hard enough to ask for help, but I never considered asking for answers in that way.

I was blessed in meeting Tandy and blessed that she spent so much time with both of us.
Tandy is a writer and currently working on a film. Call her if you want an experience you won't forget and take a look at the trailer for her film:

The Heart of the Silence

When we listen from this heart of silence, we invite healing on the deepest level, welcoming everything just as it is. This is as true in our ordinary relationships as it is in the specialized relationship between therapist and client.

Encourage her to complete this work so the world can benefit.

Tandy's  phone is 703 935-9696

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Pros and Cons of Retiring Abroad

From The Week,

After working as an environmental engineer for nearly 40 years, Ann Kuffner had had enough of corporate politics. She and her husband, Michael Brunette, who owned a contracting business, were overworked and burned out.

"We made good money but worked like dogs. We had little free time for family, friends, or hobbies," says Kuffner, 68, via email from her home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. "Once we figured out that we could retire early due to the low cost of living overseas, we took a risk and went for it."

While still in their 50s, the couple left California and retired to Belize in 2008, where they pursued their passion for scuba diving and other water sports. They decided to relocate to Mexico last year because they wanted more cultural stimulation and Kuffner says the health care in Belize was not adequate for people their age (Brunette is 69).

The couple is among a growing segment of Americans opting to retire abroad. As of April 2019, the Social Security Administration was sending 685,000 payments to beneficiaries overseas — a 40 percent increase over the past 10 years — but that's likely just the tip of the iceberg.

"Most people continue to bank in the U.S. and have their Social Security checks deposited at home, even if they themselves are physically abroad," says Jennifer Stevens, executive director of International Living, a website and publication that advises people on living, working, and retiring overseas.

It's impossible to know exactly how many people retire abroad, but Stevens — who has been at International Living for 23 years — says the numbers are increasing. And not just for Baby Boomers or those who retire completely.

"We're definitely seeing more people retiring part-time abroad, in part, because they want the flexibility, and also because they have older parents they need to attend to," Stevens says. "The other trend we're seeing is people retiring earlier. People are saying, 'I'm not going to wait until I'm 65; I hate my job. My accountant is saying I have to stick it out for another 8 years. No, I don't. I'm just going to retire now and go overseas.'"

In many of the hot retirement spots around the world, the cost of living is substantially lower. Food, housing, and domestic help are often cheaper. Plus, many other countries boast excellent health care at a fraction of the costs found in the U.S., which makes retiring abroad sound awfully appealing. But how is it done? Can you really just pack up and move to a different country?

Looking at a globe and choosing where you want to retire can be overwhelming, particularly if you've not traveled extensively. Stevens recommends making a list of priorities, such as proximity to the U.S., language, and climate. The dollar will buy an extremely high standard of living in southeast Asia, for example, but it's far away and can be scorchingly hot.

"The first order of business is to profile yourself and be really honest about it," Stevens says. "If speaking English is important, if you do not under any circumstances want to learn a new language, that needs to be on your list."

Next, do your research. Look at published lists of retirement destinations and match them to your priorities. Go online, but be mindful of the sources you use. A country's tourism site is naturally going to give a slanted view. Stevens recommends joining expat Facebook groups, where you'll get honest information and can ask questions.

You'll also want to visit the U.S. State Department's website, which has information on the legal logistics of retiring abroad. Each country has its own visa requirements, which can be found through their embassy or consulate's website. Some countries have a special visa to encourage foreigners to settle. For example, Malaysia's My Second Home Program offers 10-year visas for individuals over 50 who have at least $84,000 in liquid savings and a monthly offshore income of $2,400.

When you've narrowed your choices down, hop on a plane.

"Go and check out the places that are on your short list, but don't just go for a week," Stevens says. "Go for a month or two or three and see if you like living there. You may be surprised that the place that intellectually checks all your boxes, doesn't speak to your heart." She adds that one inexpensive way to explore is through house-sitting.
When Chip Stites, 72, and his wife Shonna Kelso, 59, decided to retire overseas, they visited three of the nine countries on their short-list, and settled on Italy in 2015.

"We have other connections to Spain and France but we loved Italy" writes Stites from his home in Reiti, about 90 minutes outside Rome. "The pace of life here, the Italian love of living, a different way of thinking, and living in a culture that is more than 3,000 years old is incredibly appealing to us."

Stites, who spent 40 years as a certified financial planner, notes that there are downsides to such a dramatic move. As much as he loves Italy, he says dealing with the bureaucracy is tough, and that he had to learn new ways to do basic functions like making a phone call and drying clothes without a dryer.

"Retiring overseas isn't for everybody," cautions Stevens. "No place is America-light. If you are looking for a place that's just like where you live now, only cheaper, you're not going to find that and retiring overseas may not be for you."

For those with an adventurous spirit (and kids and grandkids who don't mind traveling), however, retiring abroad can be transformative.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019


Terry , L. Turrel tells a story on her blog Retirement Before the Age of 59, about getting sick on a recent trip to Puerto Vallarta. It started as a simple, fun weekend getaway to Puerto Vallarta. It didn’t end that way.

“Jon and I were only going to spend two nights in Puerto Vallarta, go out to dinner both nights, go to the beach for a couple of hours, and go to Kelly’s Pour Favor Saloon and Cookhouse to listen to music Saturday night. We never made it to anything fun before I became very sick.”

“Nothing, contagious. Just my GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder) that acts up once or twice a year. Normally, I take one of my metoclopramide (Reglan) tablets that I carry in my purse and ten or fifteen minutes later, I’m fine. Not this time.”

She made several mistakes:

First Mistake: I hadn’t brought my promethazine suppositories with me to Puerto Vallarta. They were sitting in the refrigerator at home, safe from melting at room temperature. I hadn’t needed to use one for over six years. Why would I need one for a quick weekend to PV?

Second Mistake: We didn’t know that “Urgent Care” in México means Emergency Room at a hospital. We just wanted a walk-in clinic to give me some medication and maybe  IV fluids. CMQ wanted to admit me to the hospital with full services. Not really what we had in mind.

Third Mistake: The clerk asked if we had medical insurance that covered my care in the hospital.
“No, we don’t. We have chosen to pay for our health care out of pocket and, so far, that has not been a problem.”
The clerk informed us that we would need to pay 50,000 pesos ($2500US) before I could be admitted to the hospital and receive health care. He said the cost might end up being less or might be more than that amount, but we needed to pay 50,000 pesos up front!
“What? We didn’t have that much money with us!”
The clerk asked if we had a credit card to pay the 50,000 pesos.
“No. We had left our debit and credit cards at home, expecting that our 10,000 pesos would be more than enough for our weekend trip.”
Jon complained. The doctor confirmed that this was hospital policy, that most hospitals require this. 

Fourth Mistake: I took one look at the dirty white walls in the Red Cross waiting room that probably hadn’t been painted in ten years, and the wooden backless bench seats set six inches off the ground that looked like they could double as gurneys, and I told Jon that I hoped the examination rooms were cleaner than this. He spoke Spanish to a Mexican woman in scrubs with a scowl on her face and her arms crossed. She said there was no doctor until 7:00. I told Jon I didn’t want to be there. We walked out with relief.

Fifth Lesson Learned: Don’t assume pharmacies in México will stock the prescription medication you use or even a therapeutic equivalent. Bring your medications with you.

Check out her NEW RELEASE, "Life in Mexico: Never a Dull Moment" available on Amazon worldwide. This is the #4 eBook in the "Healthy Living in Mexico” series.