Friday, February 25, 2011

10 Best Places - Cities - to Live Abroad

The Economist Intelligence Unit has just released its latest research of the Best Places to Live Abroad - more specifically the 10 Best Cities to live in. The index is a very helpful resource for those thinking that a move abroad may be in their future. It shows the best places in the world for quality of life, aka The 10 Best Cities.

Like the International Living Quality of Life Index the Economist Intelligence index is based on a variety of data relating to stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. Just like the International Living list it's pretty comprehensive. Not only that but the key considerations are likely the most important factors any potential ex-pat would want to explore when they look around for the best place to live.

Whether you're looking for work abroad, simply want to know where to relocate your family for the best quality of life or discover the best places to retire and live in comfort, this information will come in handy.

Today we're going to tackle part one by simply presenting the list of Top 10 Places to Live Abroad in it's entirety. Then over the next few days I'll follow up with more details on the reason each place was chosen.

Before we get started I just wanted to point out this first part of the list may appear to have a basis towards Canada with three of the top five best places to live - but for good reason. When one thinks of Canada one can't help but acknowledge the quality of life Canadians enjoy. Just to validate the index even more Vancouver was recently honoured, for the second year in a row, with the recognition of being the World's Most Livable City. The other interesting thing to note is that Australia has four cities in this top 10 list. It just confirms, and no one could deny, that Australia and Canada truly are fantastic choices for the pursuit of quality living.

The 10 Best Places to Live Abroad according to The Economist

  1. Vancouver, Canada (Who can forget the 2010 Winter Olympics!)
  2. Melbourne, Australia (Oprah certainly put the Aussies on the map this year!)
  3. Vienna, Austria
  4. Toronto, Canada
  5. Calgary, Canada (more memories of past Olympics Canadian style!)
  6. Helsinki, Finland (and yet another former Olympic venue!)
  7. Sydney, Australia (and more Oprah!)
  8. Perth, Australia
  9. Adelaide, Australia
  10. Auckland, New Zealand
Editors note: As a Canadian I often notice how 'America-centric' the internet can be. Although this article and the indices we have discussed talk about 'The Best Places to Live Abroad' there is an obvious slant or American perspective. Most of these indices are written to an American audience. Perhaps a more accurate way to describe the index would be, "The Best Places to Live Abroad for Americans".

Cedar City - Best Places To Live in the West

Along with Deadwood, South Dakota Cedar City, Utah also made the list as one of American Cowboy's 20 Best Places to Live in the West for 2011. Cedar City was acknowledged for it's "cowboy culture, frontier history, western events and spectacular south west scenery".

This is the fourth annual list of "Best Places to Live in the American West" put out by American Cowboy. The editors 'rounded-up a herd of entries from the western plains to the great Pacific'. The top 20 received the American Cowboy seal of approval as the best places to hang your cowboy hat!

DeAnna Jarnagin, one of the publishers at American Cowboy Mag said, "This year's entries really live up to the ideal of Western places which embody the rugged, free-spirit of the West version of the American Dream. They are places where you experience true cowboy culture, spectacular scenery, a good dose of American history." Not too mention some really good steak!

The major criteria used for the selection included: outdoor appeal, historical significance, regional ranching activity and tourism. The editors also took into consideration population, land price, household price, median age and the quantity of events (Western) taking place in the community throughout the year.

The winners are selected from five regions:
Texas and the Plains
California and Nevada
The Rockies
The Southwest, and
The Northwest.

Bonnie Char, a Cedar City PR Specialist commented, “The article mentions just a few of our fantastic events, including Cedar City Livestock and Heritage Festival and the 50th Anniversary of the Utah Shakespeare Festival. We're thrilled to be recognized this way. This is the kind of publicity that will give a good perspective for vacationers and a glimpse of the unique offerings which are available in our scenic southern Utah.

American Cowboy Magazine is the voice of the new American West, celebrating Western lifestyle, travel, culture and gear with engaging stories and gorgeous photography. The magazine has 100,000 subscribers and 45,000 web fans who opt in for their monthly e-newsletter.

Deadwood Best Place to Live

A few years ago we were living in Boquete, Panama - one of AARP's recommendations as the Best Place to Retire. Just one of the things about this wonderful community in the mountainous Chirqui Highlands town near the border of Costa Rica was the modern conveniences we enjoyed. Who would have thought this small Panamanian town 'in the middle of nowhere' would offer high speed internet, excellent cell service and Direct TV service? Yes, those things made life quite comfortable however, the Direct TV feed was for Latin America so even though we enjoyed a lot of english speaking prime time programs a number of them were dated and some we enjoyed back in America simply weren't available. As a result we developed a bit of a sharing system whereby friends and family would send us video tapes of the latest and greatest HBO releases and we would pass them around. One new show which arrived from our neighbours son in the U.S. was HBO's 'Deadwood'. Once a month we couldn't wait to get our fix of the four latest episodes.

That's the long introduction to my story about a headline which caught my eye,

Deadwood named Best Place to Live

Yes it seems the editors of American Cowboy Magazine have chosen Deadwood from across the west as one of the 20 Best Places to Live in the West. The top 20 places were chosen based on "their authentic cowboy culture and charm; respect for history and heritage; recreational leisure and outdoor activities and having a strong sense of community coupled with a free spirited rugged independence."

The director of the Deadwood Chamber of Commerce, George Milos says it's something people who live their have known all along. It seems the folk of Deadwood are quite proud of their small town hospitality. The town also boast a 'strong school system'.

Other western U.S. towns which made the list of Best Places to Live included:
Red Lodge, Montana
Chico, California
Flagstaff, Arizona and
Amarillo, Texas

Deadwood is located in South Dakota.


Source: The Daily Republic Mitchell, South Dakota

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Best U.S. Cities for Retirees 2011

The Best Cities For Retirees in 2011 – When you're thinking about retirement you might just be like a lot of other retirees who are considering moving. It's not a simple task as there are a number of things you want to take into consideration. We've touched on this many times in this blog - no list will ever be complete enough for everyone. That's because each of us has different needs, wants and values when it comes to what we believe to be the Best Place to Retire. For some being surrounded by nature and awe inspiring vistas may be #1 for others find a vibrant city with plenty to see and do is the winner.

Often I write about countries and places from a bigger perspective but today I thought we would have a look at city living and specifically the Best Cities for Retirement in 2011.

Best Cities For Retirees

This idea hit me when I was reading my news feed this morning and saw an article and list on RandomForest.com which listed the Best Cities for Retirees in the United States. Along with the list was a great little article about the top things to consider when searching for the Best Place to Retire. The author made this comment which I loved. He said,

"Retirees aren't going some place to die, they're going some place to live!"

I love that! It really helps one get focused on what will be most important for this next transition in life. So often we get caught up in worry about cost of living. Many retirees seem obsessed with finding the Cheapest Places to Live but there's so much more to life and living than money. Here are a few things which are top of the list to consider when looking at the Best Cities for Retirees -

#1 Safety – Everyone wants to feel safe especially at two key times in your life - when you have children and when you are getting older. No one wants to retire to a place where they are in fear or constantly on edge. That's a sure way to get to the next transition (death) even faster!

#2 Best Health Care – When we were in our youth we took risks under the assumption we would live forever. But let's face it even if you've taken good care of yourself there are still a number of little things that pop up as we get older. We need access to health care that is responsive, intelligent, and competent.

#3 Best Environment (Weather) – I currently live in the west and can’t imagine the idea of shovelling snow. My retirement property is in Panama and there's a good reason I chose that place. If you're looking to retire in a big city you want it to be in a place that's sunny and bright with a relatively low level of precipitation. Why? Because you want to stay active and have fun! What do you want to do when you're not working - go golfing, hiking, play tennis, swim? What hobbies do you and will you enjoy most?

#4 Friendships - With time on your hands the last thing you want to discover is that you've landed in 'snobs-ville'. You've worked your whole life and sometimes you probably had to put up with nasty people. Now that you're retired you can chose who you associate with and where you want to live. Being with like minded people who want to have fun and enjoy each others company is a high priority. The last place you want to find yourself is in one of the most miserable cities in America.

So, which U.S. cities rank highest on these criteria? Here are the top ten best cities to live in USA -

10 Best U.S. Cities For Retirees

1. Asheville, NC
2. Sarasota, FL
3. Prescott, AZ
4. Paris, TN
5. Austin, TX
6. Green Valley, AZ
7. Winston-Salem, NC
8. Beaufort, SC
9. San Diego, CA
10. Ft. Myers, FL

In a future discussion we'll have a look at the Best States to Live in both from the perspective of the retiree as well as the working person.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Best Place in the World to Retire Young

Wondering where the best place is to retire young? How young you might ask? How about retiring at just 19 years of age?

Nineteen?! You ask, incredulously.

Well it's a god idea to spell it out and clarify that youthful age. And the truth is there actually is a place in the world where you can retire that young. That country is Panama.

Each year, International Living Magazine publishes it's Global Retirement Index. They search the world for the best places to retire, live, work, and invest. And for five years in a row, Panama took 1st place, hands down over all the other countries. It’s no big surprise to us, because because we've lived there and we know of no other country that has such a generous program for attract retirees and pensioners regardless of what country they come from. It's called the Pensionado Program and it's loaded with perks and benefits but something you may not know is that it's possible to qualify for Panama pensionado program at any age of majority. That means a nineteen year old can apply and receive the pensioners visa and all the benefits that go along with it.

You see Panama has a different way of looking at retirement.

When it comes to business and finance Panama has always been an innovative country. When they observed the baby boomers starting to retire and scope out alterative locations to do so they realized that "retirement" was being redefined. That a new generation of retirees had very little in common with the retirees of 50 years ago. That's why in Panama, retirement isn’t based on age, it’s based whether you can afford to retire. Whether you have enough earnings to Retire Young.

If anyone can demonstrate that they have a 'pension' or long term paid benefit that earns them a minimum of $500 per month, they can qualify. The only age caveat is that you are a legal adult - that you have reached 'the age of majority' meaning 19 years old.

So, if you can prove you have $500 a month coming in for the rest of your life and a few more easy requirements, like no criminal record, then you qualify for the generous package of 'Pensionado' benefits, including: 50% off hotel room stays; 30% off public transport including airfare; 20% off doctors visits; and a whole lot more.

Panama is safe. It's has a very stable democracy. It's people arre extremely friendly.  Plus Panama boasts one of the best health care systems and modern infrastructures in all of Central America. If you take just a little time to learn about Panama, you will soon find it just keeps looking better and better. Panama is also known for it's pristine nature where the country’s wildlife is abundant. That’s a big reason the Smithsonian’s Tropical Research Center is located in Barrio Colorado, Panama.

If you remember your geography then you know Panama also has two long coasts - one on the Pacific and the other on the Atlantic - Caribbean. There you can discover adventures that are off the beaten trail or as Panama likes to say, 'The Path less Traveled'. In Panama you’ll find rain forests, white, golden and black sand beaches; in addition to everything you could possibly desire in a tropical paradise like: snorkeling, the world's best big game fishing, sailing, hiking… and much more. Panama also has territories inhabited by the seven indigenous peoples of Panama where you can safely explore and learn about cultures past.

Yes, if you're one of those fortunate souls who is ready to retire early and enjoy an exotic lifestyle you can do it in Panama!

Biggest Places in the World

Africa stands out as the second most populous place on earth and second biggest place in the world - close to Asia. It is surrounded by Mediterranean Sea on the northern section, while Red Sea and the Suez Canal on the northeast, Atlantic Ocean is the king on the west part and Indian Ocean on southeast. Regardless that it features plentiful natural resources, Africa continues to be the weakest and also the most suppressed place in the world due to its perilous viruses and ailments such as malaria and HIV, corrupt police officers, unsuccessful metropolitan planning, substantial amounts of illiteracy as well as recurring ferocious tribal and military conflict. Nevertheless, Africa is established in the a matter of natural beauty and exotic wonder fruit, African Mango.

The particular weather within Africa differs from tropical to subarctic when on its peaks. Whereas the northern part is primarily arid, their southern and center regions possess rainforest and savanna plains . Deforestation is having a negative outcome in Africa, more so here than anywhere else in the world, based on the U.N. Environment Program. Some sources says that deforestation has already destroyed up to 90% of the primary jungles within the western part of Africa.

The River Nile is also one of the longest rivers in the world. It is situated in Ethiopia. Going from the Blue Nile, acknowledged in the region as Abbay, runs to meet the white Nile in Khartoum to make a truly great river that promises life towards the Africans. However the Sof Omar is another Big Place as the most stunning and one of the largest underground caves in the world. Created through the Wabi River while it altered its course within the far off past and developed another new channel on limestone foothills, the Sof Omar underground cave is surely a one of a kind and magnificent with its breathtaking beauty.

One more remaining member of the Seven Wonders of the world, let us not forget the Great Pyramids of Giza, certainly on everyones list of great tourist attractions. Add in some wildlife theme parks including Eight World Heritage Sites as well as Kruger Park. Gorgeous original panoramas, an excellent structure and also a steady environment is the reason why South Africa is definitely an enchanted destination.

The Southern region of Africa is one of the most unique and enchanting places in the world. Diverse blends of persons, surroundings, history; and culture provide the visiter with an excellent and extraordinary experience. Nevertheless, South Africa is essentially a variety of first and third world cultures, not to mention the best possible and least congested shorelines on this planet.

Editors note: In previous posts we've discussed the reality of Africa presenting some of the Cheapest Places to Live in the World however this kind of cheap living is at a cost - lower standards and quality of life. Yes, it may be cheap but it wouldn't make any of our 'best places' lists!


About our Guest Author: Sherwin Youngs says, "When you are there, do not forget to bring something to read like affiliate marketing books or historical books. As the song says, This time for Africa! (by young artist like Avril Lavigne)

Cheapest Restaurants in Dublin

There are excellent restaurants in Dublin but some of them are very expensive. If you're on a budget you can get really fine food for less at the Cheaper Restaurants in Dublin. Fortunately you can find them throughout the city.

Whether your preference is fish and chips, Chinese, Italian, Indian or Thai cuisine you there are numerous reasonably priced restaurants all over Dublin.

My favourite fish and chip place in the city is Beshoffs in O'Connell Street. This traditional fish and chips restaurant is almost 100 years old and is noted for the freshness of their fish and the quality of the chips. Fish is selected from the quayside (in Howth) and there can be up to 20 different varieties, depending on the day's catch. Cod, haddock, prawns and scallops are among the favourites. Although they specialize in fish, they also serve chicken, burgers and sausages as well as a variety of vegetables. But it is the fish that most people come for. Customers have a choice of takeaway or eat in the Edwardian style rooms upstairs.

For a really good value Chinese meal I like to go to Jimmy Chungs. It is located on Eden Quay in the City Centre just off O'Connell Street. There is a wide variety of authentic Chinese dishes including starters, soups, main courses and desserts. The food is presented buffet style and you can eat as much as you want for a fixed price. This is an excellent option if you are staying in any of the city centre accommodations and is especially suited to groups and parties.

Pizzas are an ever popular meal, especially late at night, and there are numerous pizza joints all around the city centre. Most of the well known brands are there and they are tasty enough but my favourite is a less well known place called The Independent Pizza Company. This is located in Drumcondra on the north side of the city. Here you get a very large pizza with a huge variety of toppings. This is the tastiest pizza I have found and it is reasonably priced.

Another very good, if somewhat unusual, choice is the Mongolian BBQ, in Temple Bar. This is another 'eat all you want and come back for more' establishment. Mongolian BBQ is prepared on a large griddle where you select fresh meats and vegetables from a wide choice, along with herbs, spices and sauces, and they are cooked to perfection on the griddle in a few minutes while you wait. You can also have as much rice as you want and you can return to the buffet as many times as you like. I find that, even when you are very hungry you are fully satisfied after the second round. This is a convenient, healthy and fun way to eat out.

Indian restaurants have become very popular in Ireland in the past few years with numerous take away and sit down outlets appearing around the cities and towns. My favourite in the city is Afsana Indian Restaurant in Temple Bar. This place never disappoints because the food is consistently good, they serve generous portions and the prices are reasonable. They do some excellent Tandoori dishes and their pilau rice is perfect.

Thai restaurants are now becoming more commonplace and we are becoming more accustomed to the cuisine. Dublin has its fair share of Thai restaurants but there is one which stands out. The Thai Orchid is also one of the oldest Thai restaurants in the city and their experience shows in the quality of the food and the variety of authentic Thai dishes. The aroma of lemon grass and coconut which assails your nostrils when you enter assures you that a true taste of Thailand awaits you.

The city of Dublin has all the world renowned fast food outlets and takeaways and it is possible to find the Cheapest Restaurants from almost every nation in the world. There are many good Spanish Restaurants and Tapas Bars, Japanese Sushi restaurants, French, Vietnamese, American, Moroccan, Lebanese and many others throughout the city so there is a taste and price range to suit everyone.

Editors Note: As we examine the Cheapest Places to Live one thing that always comes up top of the list is the cost of food. Not just groceries but the opportunity to eat out cheaply. For those looking for the best places to retire living on a limited or fixed budget is often the case. So, finding the cheapest places to eat can be very important.

About our Guest Author: Sylvester H. Grant says, " Don't forget you can choose Dublin Hotels or Dublin Bed and Breakfast while sampling Dublin's fine food.

Best Places to Visit In New York

A vacation to the Big Apple can be, in a word, overwhelming. There are lots of activities and so many places to see that no matter the amount of time spent in the city, you won't ever leave with the feeling that you have seen everything you desired. Whether you are interested in the big attractions such as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, or merely hitting a few of the amazing night clubs, there are countless things to do in New York City.

The best thing you can do to get the most out of your time in The Big Apple is to plan as much as you are able to in advance. The goal is obviously to identify the Best Places to visit in New York but  don't forget to leave a little space for impromptu actions. You might be thinking about going to some of the famous New York museums one day, but you want to be open to any possibilities you see along the way. You don't want to miss an opportunity simply because you would like to stick to a schedule.

Of all the things to do in New York City, visiting the Statue of Liberty is certainly top of the 'Best Places to Visit' list. This is one of the most famous monuments in the world, and it can be a great way to start a memorable trip to the big city. Another Best Place to visit in New York is Ellis Island where you can experience some of the extraordinary history that took place in this area.

The Empire State Building, though, challenges the Statue as the most popular destination for New York visitors. From the top of the building, you will see a large part of the city, the rivers, Central Park, and up to five different states on a clear day. Millions of people have stopped at this incredible building over the decades, and you will be treated to a unique experience from the lobby all the way up to the 86th floor observatory.



Should you be looking for slightly more cultural things to do in New York City, there are plenty of choices. New York museums, for example, give you a range of things to see and do if you are enthusiastic about history, culture, science, fine art, and contemporary art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim, and the Museum of Modern Art are all very popular selections.

Of course, when you arrive in New York, you'll have a lot of other options for places to visit. If museums and tourist attractions don't keep your interest, there are several amazing dance clubs, bars, and social activities that make the New York nightlife something you will never forget. Whether you are looking for an elegant environment for a tranquil drink to finish your day, or a loud, glowing club where you can dance till the morning comes around, you can find something here.

There are also a lot of things to do in New York if you are a sports fanatic. New York is home to some of the biggest professional sports clubs in the United States, and going to the stadiums and arenas will be an unforgettable experience. New Yorkers are very serious about their sports, and you could easily get caught up with the exhilaration of the event.

Keep in mind that when you plan out your trip to New York, make sure you have accounted for all the sights and activities you want to include, but leave room for the unpredictable. If you spend enough time in New York, you are sure to encounter something you never expected.

Editors note: Although New York does not appear here as one of the Cheapest Places to Live or Best Place to Retire those who live here are passionate about their city. But, for the outsider it could very well fall on one of the most expensive places to live and certainly one of the busiest!


About our Guest Author: Craig Mather - Craig says, "There are a variety things to do in NYC. It's best to buy Empire State building and tickets for the Statue of Liberty to fully experience these attractions. You'll never run out of sightseeing opportunities when you are visiting the Big Apple!"

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Healthiest Country in the World

You may think about moving to this special country for the quality of life - the finest wines - gourmet dining - lasting romance - entertaining culture and conversation - traditions - history more.
But once you are there, you will benefit enormously from the excellent health care system.
Eoin Bassett is the managing editor of International Living, in this guest post he reveals the name of this country, and some very interesting facts and figures that he uncovered during research for the I.L. Quality of Life Index 2011.
The healthiest country in the world is France. That might surprise you about a country that places such an emphasis on delicious food, savory meat dishes, creamy sauces, delicate cakes, sweets and pastries, fine wines and barrel-aged brandy.
But the low cost of health insurance and the superb quality of care means France romps to victory in the health category of International Living's Quality of Life Index 2011.
—Recommended Reading —
Retire Overseas - Discover the world's best places to live or retire - Where you can live well on $30 a day!
  • An exotic beach front getaway for just $35,000... 
  • A romantic pied a terre for less than $60,000...
  • Fine restaurant dining for $7 per person. 
  • Your own maid or gardener for $6 a day.
  • Comprehensive health insurance for $20 per month.

********************

Life expectancy in France averages 84 years for women and 77 for men. In the past 10 years the number of people in France living over the age of 100 has doubled. And the World Health Organization shares our view, naming France number one in their world health report...

But what is day-to-day care really like?

Expat Adrian Leeds knows. Enchanted by la bonne vie ("the good life") she moved to Paris 17 years ago and never looked back. "You can call SOS M├ędecins for a home visit by a doctor who arrives within 30 minutes of your call. All for the cost of a normal office visit (about $30). Or, call SAMU to be rushed to the nearest hospital and no one asks to see your proof of medical insurance prior to treatment. And the doctors actually use their knowledge and experience to treat their patients rather than over-prescribing tests because their malpractice liability isn't so great. Drugs are so inexpensive, it's a joke by comparison to the U.S..."
And once you move to France, you may be able to transfer your health care plan to a French provider, or even to one of the many British companies that specialize in providing coverage for individual expatriates. This may prove cheaper: Costs depend on age and medical history, but if you're in good health, monthly premiums average $125.

It's easy to find out more. Subscribe to International Living magazine with this link and we'll deliver a free French Health Care Report instantly, as part of your subscription (as well as the Quality of Life Index 2011). This super-detailed report researched and compiled by our Euro editor Steenie Harvey tells you everything you need to know.
In fact, Steenie is just back from a scouting trip to Corsica, a part of France virtually unknown to most North Americans. Hidden just off the French Riviera, French and Italian vacationers have long enjoyed the silver beaches and azure-blue seas of this affordable haven.
This dramatic, unspoiled and sensual island casts a spell on all who visit. With Italy the nearest landfall, the climate is similar to the Italian Riviera and the summer lasts longer than anywhere else in mainland France.
Steenie says "it's criminal not to lunch outdoors," feasting on wild boar, cannelloni pasta and chestnut beer. When you subscribe to IL magazine, you'll get the current issue (where Steenie pulls back the curtain on this mystery French island) and we'll send you your free French health care report.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Most Miserable Cities In America

A person might ask what would make a city or group of cities show up on a list of the 'most miserable cities in America'. Logic may lead you to a few conclusions. But some deeper thinking will take you further down the path of understanding why these cities fare so poorly and what it means to someone living there.

Yes, we have looked at the Best and Worst Cities in America and we recently took a look at the worst places for foreclosures but generally we try and stay up beat around here. We try and focus the discussion around the Best and Cheapest Places to Live, both in the US and abroad, we often consider the positive aspects of these locations, be they economic, financial or other opportunities but this post looks at things in the different light.

First, what would it take to make most people miserable? Poor weather? That would certainly do it for most. What about poor job opportunities or just a lagging economy, that is certainly high on anyones list these days I am sure. But have you ever considered other things like education, the arts, how about professional sports? And every one's favorite, corruption in politics and government. These are just some of the things that were pointed out in a Forbes article and later parroted in an online post in Yahoo! that helped cities rank well (or poorly) on this most un-prestigious top list.

Depending on a person’s particular interest these and other things lacking or deficient in the over all experience of a city would make it a not so nice place to live. And to make matters even worse these compound on each other. For instance, if you started off your day with weather that was in and of itself discouraging and you add on to that a job that have to work because you can’t find any other or worse, you are unemployed, those two things together would cause you to be more miserable than separate, right? Then at the end of your day you flip on the television and see that the city fathers have absconded another million dollars for themselves or their favorite project. During the news you see crime is up near you and following the news your local sports team loses (again). Then on top of it all, the kids present you with another bad report card.

I am getting depressed just writing about it all. It is no wonder there are certain cities that garner this distinction again and again. It would be a tough battle to win on so many fronts when the municipality has sunk so low to start with. So where does your favorite miserable city rank?

Here is the list Most Miserable Cities In America from Forbes.com:

1. Cleveland, OH
2. Stockton, CA
3. Memphis, TN
4. Detroit, MI
5. Flint, MI
6. Miami, FL
7. St. Louis, MO
8. Buffalo, NY
9. Canton, OH
10. Chicago, IL
11.Modesto, CA
12. Akron, OH
13. Kansas City, MO
14. Rockford, IL
15 Toledo, OH
16. New York, NY
17. Sacramento, CA
18. Youngstown, OH
19. Gary, IN
20. Philadelphia, PA

So there you have it, some of the most miserable cities in the United States but as a parting thought, I want each of you to think of this also. These cities contain some of the happiest, most well adjusted, productive people in the world and out of them have come truly great people. So the lesson that some may draw is that it is not the city or the town where you are from but what you and those around you make of the place. Yes, it might be more enjoyable somewhere else but who is to say that those experiences did not help shape the destiny of the inhabitants. You can make the best of it no matter where you are until and if you decide to move to your best place to live no matter where that may be. And when you are ready you can return to this blog and get all the info you will need.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Best Places to Retire in the World

Each fall I await the Best Places to Retire lists to see what has changed. This past year we learned that Panama was still up at the top of the list in second place. In fact Panama has been up there at the top for more than five years now.

The Best Places in the World to Retire

For 2010 the top spot went to Ecuador. This morning as I was reading more about Ecuador it occurred to me that I already wrote about the top retirement spots in a previous article but I don't believe I went into very much detail about this wonderful little country. We have covered the Retirement in Belize (Retire Belize Program) and in Panama but never Ecuador.

For example, did you know you can enjoy a four-course lunch for just $2? Taxi fare to just about anywhere in Quito, the nations capital runs around a buck? A night in a nice, clean and safe hotel will cost you less than $20? and, this is one for those looking for the Cheapest Places to Retire in the World, a couple can maintain and nice comfortable, quality lifestyle on less than $600 per month? It's true Ecuador is likely one of the least expensive places to live and if you're on a fixed retirement income or you lost a lot of your retirement nest egg to Wall Street, than it may just be the kind of laid back lifestyle you're looking for.

When you visit Ecuador you'll be amazed by the variety of different locations available to live. You can chose from an apartment in a Colonial city, your private piece of paradise on an stretch of unspoiled beach or even a stunning view of a snow capped volcano from your own highland homestead. What ever you're looking for you'll likely find it in Ecuador and what's best is that it's all there at prices unheard of in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Here's a cool real life example - how about a spacious beach front condo for $79,000? Yes, it's true. This particular condo is in the city of Salinas which is a seaside city that is often compared to Miami.Think I'm exagerating?

Check out this photo comparing the two cities -

International Living Postcards

Want to learn more about Ecuador? Find out of it's really the Cheapest Place to retire or at least cheap enough but nice enough too? Be sure to check out this Special Report - Cheap, Safe, and Friendly: The World's Top Retirement Havens. It's jam packed with everything you need to know - not just about the country in general but about how to make your move there.

Tunisia - a Popular Place to Holiday?

It's no secret that the most popular places for tourists are popular because of trends. When famous celebrities are photographed soaking up the sun or sitting on a yacht in a particular place, that area immediately gains a massive leap in popularity and tourists flock to this latest fashionable holiday hot spot. The question is, why? Why do the celebrities go to that particular area? What is it about the area that draws people in to begin with?

There are a diverse range of trendy holiday destinations that are constantly popular with tourists, sometimes because they offer the best of one particular thing and sometimes because they are able to combine a number of different things well. Countries around the Mediterranean Sea have always been popular tourist destinations due to the weather, the landscape and the beautiful sea, and Tunisia is no exception.

Tunisia is the most northerly country in the continent of Africa and sits on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, close to Sicily. With a population of nearly ten and a half million people it is certainly not the most populated of African countries, though it can boast an extremely high relative percentage of coastline, with a total of approximately eight hundred and ten miles. Tunisia is bordered by Libya to the south-east and Algeria, to the west.

With such a massive coastline it is not surprising that Tunisia offers some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean. Although Port el-Kantaoui is the most popular beach in Tunisia, it is actually a tourist complex that was built in 1979 and based on the French town of Port Grimaud. Tunisia is also famous for its clear waters and coral beds making it a perfect venue for scuba diving. Along with Port el-Kantaoui, another great beach to go diving is Monastir situated on the central coast of Tunisia.

Tunisia has also become famous as the location in which a number of extremely high grossing movies have been filmed. The English Patient and Raiders of the Lost Ark were both filmed there, along with two Star Wars films; A New Hope and The Phantom Menace. One specific location for the movie Star Wars: A New Hope, specifically the lead characters childhood home, has now been turned into a hotel where visitors can come to stay in subterranean rooms and eat dinner surrounded by sci-fi props. Whereas the hotel previously mentioned (the Sidi Driss hotel in Matmata) is not that difficult to locate on a map, finding the different locations in which other blockbusters were filmed may prove a little more difficult without a prior internet search and the help of a local guide. Guest post By Mark Walters
Source: Tunisia Holidays

Editors note: When Mark first sent me this article thought twice about posting it due to the unrest and problems currently facing Tunisia as it works to form a stable democracy. But then I thought what's this blog all about? It's about learning and sharing information about places all over the world. Sure it's easy to look at some places that hit the news and discount them completely. We write them off our list and assume we will never ever go there and worse still we paint the entire country or region with the same brush. Just start a conversation about visting Panama or one of the other Latin American to invest in Real Estate and watch the reaction you get - you'll know exactly what I mean. The reaction will likely relate to safety - dictators - and Noriega in particular. Even though that rein is decades old and Latin America now offers some of the Best Places to retire in the World. Anyhow, Tunisia, just like every other country does have some redeeming qualities and a tourist industry. Something I thought well worth sharing.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Superbowl City one of the Best!

Tomorrow the Pittsburgh Steelers meet Green Bay Packers in Arlington Texas, a Dallas suburb, for Super Bowl XLV. It's anticipated this will be a an exciting and close game. Perhaps one of the best Super Bowls ever. Lot's are saying this is truly one of those 'Best of the Best' competitions one could see. But we'll leave that up to the sports critics to decide.

This year the game will take place at at the Cowboy’s Dallas, Texas stadium which is located in Arlington Texas. The Dallas area also happens to be a favorite of CNN's Money program and communities in the area like McKinney and Arlington get top marks and top spots as some of the Best Places to Live in the United States.

Many of the small 'towns' which make up the Dallas area suburbs are known to have low crime rates, reasonably priced homes, and excellent employment opportunities. Arlington is no exception. It has a gem of a downtown, good restaurants, fun boutiques, and interesting galleries. The employment opportunities here continue to be plentiful even during this down economy. There is a nice mix of business in financial services, medical technology, and eco friendly manufacturing. Though many of the small allas area towns have grown over the past decade, you would never suspect it as a drive through these tree filled communities with ponds, parks, and hiking trails makes them look like they have always been this inviting.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cheapest Places to Live in the United States

As we started the year we looked at the Best Places to Live in the World according to International Living's Quality of Life Index. Over the past monthly we've briefly reviewed the Top Places to Live but I realized that I just glanced by our #1 country.

The United States is the Best Place to Live in 2011

Yes, when we go through he numbers the country with the highest average score over all nine categories was the United States with a total of 86.43 points. Considering the next four countries on the list, New Zealand (2nd), Malta, France and Monaco (5th) all scored very closely - between 75.14 and 75.92 - the U.S. really showed with quite an advantage - more than 10 pts ahead of 2nd place New Zealand. Now we did talk about the reasons for this in an earlier post - the fact the United States is so large and the diversity not just in terms of race, religion and the like but also the literally polar opposite ends of the scale when it comes to income and standard of living. No one can deny he U.S. has some of the wealthiest people and most expensive places to live on the planet while it also has some of the poorest and cheapest places to live too. As for the number well it's also true the U.S. is still the largest economy in the world and it has one huge and exemplary infrastructure system - yes, even with the pot holes in Detroit! It also scores high marks as a diverse and vibrant culture, a place of freedom, safety and a pretty reasonable cost of living. The United States has more miles of paved roads than anywhere else on the planet. It has more airports and airplanes. It's got tens of thousands of Doctors and hospital beds - provided you've got insurance to access them. Yes, looking at the numbers the U.S. has a while lot going for it!

Cheapest Places to Live in the United States

Now just one of the underlying themes for this blog is - Discovering the Cheapest Places to Live. Over the year we have talked about the best states in the U.S. and in other countries that could be considered 'cheap'. Today let's take a closer look - a snap shot if you will - of the most affordable places to live in the United States right now.

#1. Omaha, Nebraska
#2. Buffalo, New York
#3. Detroit, Michigan
#4. Indianapolis, Indiana
#5. Cincinnati, Ohio
#6. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
#7. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
#8. Cleveland, Ohio
#9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
#10. Houston, Texas

Source: Forbes America's Most Affordable Cities

Thursday, February 3, 2011

World's Most Visionary Cities

Something very cool, interesting and thought provoking from Yahoo! Travel - the World's Most 'Visionary' Cities. I have to say I'm putting some of these places top of my list to check out for potential as the Best Cities to Live in!

While many people still get the image of polluted, industrial wasteland whenever the word 'city' is mentioned, visionary architects, engineers and city planners have been busy solving the world's problems. There is some really cool and innovative design and thinking going on around our planet.

When one hears, 'Abu Dhabi' the first thing to come to mind is likely Dubai. Yes, both are located in the United Arab Emirates. One might think of them as states but the are correctly termed 'emirates' - because they are ruled by emirs. Now deserts, and oil probably also come to mind when thinking about this part of the world. Few have heard of Masdar City. But, you likely will. You see Masdar is a modern marvel of design that is being constructed in Abu Dhabi. It's truly a city of the future being built now. The city will come fully online around 2020. Here are a few of the exciting and visionary aspects of this city for the future - it will be completely solar and wind powered; most if not all of it's wastewater will be recycled into soil and natural fertilizer; it will be enclosed to keep out the harsh desert winds, sands and the scorching sun; only electric transportation will be permitted so it will be virtually carbon free.

The stated goal of the designers is "the Highest Quality of Life with the Lowest Environmental Impact".


After thought...

Here's what struct me as somewhat humorous, yes I can be a bit twisted, here we have the largest oil producing area of the world selling their oil to the largest consumers of oil in the world all the while they are taking the profits from those sales to build a city which will consume no oil! Hmmmm, sounds like the makings of another list, 'the smartest or perhaps dumbest people in the world!' Guess it depends on what city you live in!




Source: Yahoo Travel

Cheapest Place to Live in the World

Yesterday we discussed the Cheapest Countries in the World and talked about how important it is to look at a lot more than just the cost of living when it comes to finding a nice place to live.

It's no surprise that some of the most dangerous and poorest countries hit the top of the 'cheapest list' but what is interesting and important to note is that if you scroll down the list just a little you ca find some real gems. Places where the cost of living is very low but also where culture, safety and standards of living are high.

From our cheapest countries list the first one to pop off the page is Paraguay. Paraguay makes the Top 10 Cheapest Places to Live list but it also makes some other lists too. This past year Bolivia, Panama, and Paraguay posted the largest economic improvement according to the 2010-2011 Global Competitiveness Index from the World Economic Forum. Reforms have helped these and other Latin and South American countries weather the global crisis while stimulating their growing economies.

Other countries that make the list of cheapest but have also become favorite hot spots for retiring baby boomers include Uruguay, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Panama. In these countries you can live on a little and you can live very well! Take in leisure pursuits on breathtaking golf courses which have so few players you don't even need to reserve a T-time. Savour gourmet meals in a world class restaurants. After all it will cost you about the same amount you would pay for bottled water and a small appetizer in a in an LA, New York, or London restaurant. In these countries fresh is fresh! Fruits and vegetables you pay way too much for in specialty organic stores in America sell at local markets in these countries for just pennies.

As for the Cheapest Place to Live while maintaining a high Quality of Life - Ecuador wins the spot. It may not be the absolute cheapest place but it certainly closes in the upper ranks. Add in high placements on the Best Places to Retire hit list each year for the past five years running and you've got a winner!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cheapest Countries in the World

Our discussion is typically about the Best Destinations in the world for saving money. Most of the time we're revealing and discussing the Best Countries to Live in and we do that by scouring the new feeds, newsletters, and other resources. The most popular discussions seem to be around the best places to retire but more recently exploring the cheapest places to live or visit has been gaining a lot of interest. It's no wonder really as the last few years have truly brought about a big shift and change in consciousness as it relates to wealth and generally speaking the cost of things. It seems the previous three decades were all about living the high life - 'Greed is Good' became the dominate value and theme of many Americans. But as always the nature, God, Karma, whatever you believe gave us all a reality check. Many people are still resisting and some think the good old days of spend 'til you drop will return but most people are settling into a comfortable reality with the understanding that balance is the key to happiness and success. That balance is all about lifestyle and looking beyond ones borders is now not only possible but truly an option for most free thinking individuals. Yes. We do have a choice. If we want to continue to live in the most expensive place than we may need to put off retirement and work longer. If we choose a simpler life in one of the cheaper countries in the world than retirement can still be a possibility - now. Even if you got whacked by those great guys over on Wall Street!

Last month we dedicated to a review of some of the Leading Countries for Quality of Life as ranked by International Living Magazine. Over the next few months we will continue to lok more in depth at many of these countries - we'll explore the cheapest places to live within each country and, one of my favorites, we'll continue to explore the best places to retire. Today I'd just like to get back to that idea of economy - aka cheap living for just a moment. Let's a have a quick look at some of the -

Cheapest Countries in the World

Now, just like all of other other explorations the idea of looking simply at who is cheapest can be misleading and in all likelihood very little value for thise interested in choosing, shall we say a more frugal existence. For example, a couple of the cheapest countries in the world are, Gambia and Iraq. Gambia is a little known African country where the highlights of your cheaper lifestyle may include catching malaria or meeting roving bandits.  Now Iraq may be the cheapest place to live in the world, it's certainly well known to most people and your dollar or whatever currency you carry will go far there, but it too may not be exactly what you're looking for. Of course I use these examples not to offend or be sarcastic but just to highlight the importance of examining things from different angles - collect data and evaluating lifestyle preferences to establish the best places to live - for you.

When searching for the best places to retire it's more about balancing cost of living with quality of life.
As I examined I.L's Quality of Life Index and looked particularly at the Cost of Living category it's not hard to find some pretty nice places to consider especially if your goal is retirement in a cheaper place. And there are a number of places that offer beauty, safety and culture, where you can live very well for under $1,500 per month.



Learn more about International Living Magazine <= Click here

I know, I know you probably came to this article because you really wanted to know what the Cheapest Countries in the World really are and I'm not going to disappoint - I just hope you look at this list in a new light, considering all of the other things that make for a quality life.

The Top 10 Cheapest Countries in the World

1. Iraq
2. Afghanistan
3. Nauru
4. Turkmenistan
5. Bhutan
6. Tuvalu
7. Bolivia
8. Mayotte
9. Paraguay
10. Kiribati

Groundhog Day 2011 Prediction

Well it's official Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow right on schedule this early morning to make his annual prediction. The outcome - Phil did not see his shadow! That means he's staying out and we can all look forward to an early spring.

This year marks the 125 th time the Ground Hog Day event has been held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Since 1887 Phil has seen his shadow 98 times so today also marks just 16 times he hasn't. And for those math students who are scratching there heads and wondering about those missing years - the gap is because record keeping wasn't so important in those early years when the tradition first began.

Across the border in Wiarton, Ontario. Wiarton Willie also agreed. Under overcast skies Willie felt no threat so he stayed out of his burrow too concluding spring would arrive early.

Source: Punxsutawney Phil Predicts An Early Spring

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Best Places for Retirement

Zack O'Malley Greenburg at Forbes.com wrote a piece which was featured on Yahoo News this morning about the Best Places for retirement in America.

While Zack reminded everyone of the exorbitant cost of homes in N.Y. and L.A. he also reminded readers that there are some excellent bargains in Real Estate available in many parts of the country. That's good news for many retiring baby boomers who lost a big chunk of their savings to Wall Street. Zack featured Oklahoma City as one of his fav spots for bargain retirement homes. In fact it's his top pick due to low cost of living, stable house prices and very reasonable real estate prices. Moving to Oklahoma could very well become a part of many retirees Personal Retirement Plans.

Memphis, TN comes in second while Raleigh, NC is third, Charlotte, NC fourth and Indianapolis, Ind. fifth. Tucson and Phoenix are also in the top ten list of the best places to retire and in those to cities it would be easy to find the cheapest time to go to Vegas since it is within a days car ride away and some would find that a very attractive plus in a retirement city.
Source: Yahoo! Real Estate

Ground Hog Day 2011

Tomorrow, February 2 is Ground Hog Day. I always wondered if this was just a local tradition here in North America, if it was known elsewhere and what the origins of this funny little event were. I guess watching the old movie of the same name staring Bill Murray (aside which was filmed in lovely Niagara on the Lake, Ontario) is what really got me thinking about this.

Anyhow , this post obviously has nothing to do with the Cheapest Places to Live or the Best Places to Retire but I felt like blogging about it anyways!

Groundhog Day is a tradition thats seems to take place just in the U.S. and Canada these day. It's folklore that observes the Ground Hog on the morning of February 2nd to see what he does. It goes that if the day is cloudy when pokes his head from his burrow, then he will coem out. This act signifies the end of winter and an early spring. On the other hand if it's sunny then the 'Ground Hog will see its own shadow', which will scare it back into the burrow. This act signifies a longer winter - that winter weather will stick around for six more weeks.

The traditions surrounding this departure and distraction from the long dark winter has grown to include different celebrations. Typically early breakfast morning festivals are held to observe the groundhog coming out of his burrow. The celebration in Pennsylvania at Grundsow Lodges is a well known Ground Hog Day event in the United States where townsfolk celebrate with a breakfast feast, speeches, and entertainment. The largest Groundhog Day celebration is in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Here the Ground Hog himself is called Punxsutawney Phil. In Canada Wiarton, Ontario is home for Wiarton Willy.

This tradition actually started as a Pennsylvania German custom in the 18th century and had its origins in ancient European. Then weather lore would have it that a badger or sacred bear rather than a groundhog was the bearer of good or bad news.

Well, tomorrow we will check in to see what Willy and Phil have to say about this so far extreme and long winter!