Kindest Regards, You Miserable People

LillyPadsJust read your article about Bali..the “Lost Paradise.” 

There is no paradise on earth.  Paradise is a state of mind.

You nitpick every single little thing in this article to the point of sounding like little children who don’t get their spoiled ways.  Too bad you could not enjoy Nyepi, one of the most amazing days of religious significance to the Balinese; a day of total silence with all necessities of life set aside to become introspective.

Apparently, introspection is not part of either of your makeup.  You are spoiled, greedy, egocentric people who will never find happiness as long as you put every small thing under your lopsided microscope.

Kindest regard you miserable people.


Hi Ron,

Thank you for taking the time to write and to express your opinion. We appreciate it.

We, too, feel badly that we had a difficult experience in Bali. We did not come with a bad attitude. Our plans were to stay 2 months, but we only stayed 2 weeks because of what we encountered. I understand that sometimes travel presents challenges and that’s part of the adventure. Billy and I were disappointed that we were not able to shake out of the negative circumstances that met us in Bali because we pride ourselves in our flexibility.

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

I do believe that it was just “one of those things.” On the other hand, Bali seems to be dealing with some growing pains and it is our hope that they can come up to meet the demand.

When we came to Bali we did not want to stay in a gated community or resort and be insulated. We wanted to be part of the community and stay closer to the people. We were frustrated to find old cockroaches in the bathroom drains and cobwebs on the furniture in Ubud. The lack of cleanliness in general was also disturbing – and we do a lot of world travel to make a fair comparison.

Perhaps we’ll give Bali another chance and if we do, we hope to find the paradise that so many people speak about. But it could just be that Bali is not for us. We are happy that you and Bali suit each other and that your experience matches your expectations.

Wishing you all the best, and thanks again for taking the time to write.


Akaisha and Billy Kaderli


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Watching Real Beauty

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

LaverneI was sitting in a diner, enjoying my solitude and absorbed in thoughts of my father. It was the anniversary of his death and I was missing him.    

From the corner of my eye I noticed a magnificent looking couple in a nearby booth. The woman was incredibly beautiful with large, dark, seductive eyes, thick black hair pulled sleekly into a French knot, and an airbrushed complexion. Her movements were fluid. She was poised and composed and appeared to be detached from her surroundings. I watched as she sipped her coffee and I realized that hers were the looks I’d always wanted.

The man was gorgeous. I stared shamelessly and smiled as I allowed my fantasies to ramble. His skin was tanned, he had rugged features with a strong cleft chin and clear blue eyes. The cut of his expensive three piece suit accentuated his broad chest and shoulders.

He was reading a newspaper. She was drinking coffee. They never spoke.

I heard myself sigh and tried to pull my thoughts back to where they had been before they’d been so pleasantly invaded. It was difficult. I was drawn to the two of them and their robot-like movements — turning his pages, lifting her cup. No speaking. No smiling. No communicating.

Dream, dream, dream

My thoughts were further interrupted when the hostess escorted another couple to a booth diagonally in front of mine. They appeared to be frequent patrons of the diner because they joked familiarly with the waitress, who asked if they wanted their “usual.”

The man was in his mid-sixties. His hair was steel grey and he wore baggy shorts that slung low on his hips, inviting his belly to hang over. He wore a horizontally striped polo shirt and a red billed cap. Black dress shoes and short black socks accentuated his thin, white, bowed legs.

The woman, about fifty five, had short frizzy brown hair with long grey roots. She wore plaid Bermuda shorts, a sleeveless polka dot over-blouse, white sandals with white anklets, and carried a small white patent leather handbag. She had no forearms. Finger-like appendages hung from her elbows.

I tried hard to ignore her deformity but found myself sneaking peeks at her reflection in the window alongside me. Distance made their conversation inaudible to me, but their perpetual dialogue, laughter and playful animation revealed the warmth and the depth of their feelings for each other.

I stalled by reordering cups of tea. I was intrigued by the contrast in the appearance and behavior of the two couples.

The beautiful people slid across their booth seats, stood and prepared to leave. I observed that the woman was tall and willowy. The man appeared to be about 6’5″ and, in my humble opinion, was a perfect specimen of manhood. The woman walked in front of the man, past the cashier and out the door. He paid the check and followed. They never spoke or so much as acknowledged each other’s presence. They were perfectly sculpted pieces of cold marble.

Loosen your grip on routine

I was on my third cup of tea by now and feeling uncomfortable about lingering any longer when the second couple stood and prepared to leave. When he reached the woman’s side of the table, the man leaned over and whispered something into her ear, causing her to visibly blush and giggle. They embraced. I hid behind my menu and softly cried.

They were walking towards the cashier when the man suddenly turned and came back to his booth. He reached across the seat on which he’d been sitting and came up with his red cap.

My eyes were still moist as I managed a smile and said, “Good thing you remembered it now, instead of after you were on the road.”

He grinned  broadly and walked over to me. “See this here pin?” he asked with great pride as he pointed to a small brass heart stuck in his cap. “My wife gave it to me over 40 years ago and I’m never without it.”

I smiled approvingly and he returned to the cashier where he paid his check and walked out with his arm over his woman’s shoulders.

As my eyes followed them to the parking lot, memories of my father trickled back into my mind and I was struck with thoughts of something he had told me when I was a youngster working beside him in his roadside fruit and vegetable stand. “The sweetest fruits are often the ones with blemishes and imperfections.”

I was warmed by thoughts of my father’s words and realized that while the beautiful people had caught my eye, it was the second couple who captured my heart.

Other posts by this author

Hell, Not on the Map, but I Was There

Cellulite: A Rite of Passage

Camping: Not for Sissies

Don’t Count Me Out

Aging, Not All Fun and Games

Challenging My Legacy

Behind Closed Doors

Battle of the Bulge

How the Home Shopping Network Turned Me into a Zebra


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Expanding Your Retirement Horizons

Dan McCarthy is a freelance writer and an occasional guest-blogger who loves playing tennis and having morning runs with his dog.

Expanding Your Retirement Horizons

Retirement shouldn’t be viewed as a descent into inactivity, but rather the move towards a healthier, happier and wealthier lifestyle after years spent dealing with the bustle of working life. It’s time to hang up that office gear and slap on a pair of shorts and sandals, and more and more people are looking to fulfill these retirement fantasies abroad.

Retiring in another country might be the best idea you’ve ever had, and it could lead to happier life for you and your partner. So, let’s check out a few excellent country choices in which you can retire.

Costa Rica

It’s known as one of the original overseas retirement destinations for over 30 years. Here’s why you should consider Costa Rica as your ultimate retirement destination:

It’s easy to become a legal resident. An individual simply needs to earn at least $1000 from a pension or similar source.

Healthcare is brilliant and cheap. You pay a monthly installment and receive free healthcare thereafter. There are no exclusions, so anyone with any kind of pre-existing condition can join. 

Not sure you can retire? Get answers here

Food and living costs are relatively low. Buying meals at a restaurant will cost you very little and shopping at farmer’s markets will keep your fridge full all week. It’s possible to live on less than $2,000 per month.

The culture and history of the country is rich, and the residents are friendly and welcoming. Older individuals are respected a lot more in this culture than they are in many developed countries.


Turkey offers a lot of positives for retirees who want to move abroad. Check out some reasons to retire to Turkey:

The reduced stress levels and easier living in Turkey will lead to lower blood pressure, which is beneficial to your health.

Foreigners are able to get healthcare via health insurance or pay as needed according to their desires. The healthcare facilities are fantastic but more dispersed. Do your research so you end up in an area where healthcare is accessible, such as Istanbul or Ankara.  

The cost of living in Turkey is relatively low and the lira (Turkey’s currency) has been stable in the face of economic breakdown. Having a broker for your funds will help you transfer and use them in the future.

The local markets and restaurants (not the tourist bars) are fresh and cheap. 

The architecture and scenery is flawless in Turkey. Architects like Richard Meier have decorated the landscape with classic and neutral tones which overlook the ocean. The rustic yet sophisticated feel of the country is the perfect match for retirees seeking to explore new horizons.

Compare international retirement destinations, click here


Malaysia is an up and coming retirement zone because it offers a different culture and political and economic stability. Here’s why you should retire there:

The health costs in Malaysia are lower than in most countries and the clinics and hospitals in the main cities are of a very high standard.

The people are friendly and a large number of them speak English, which will make adapting to the area quite easy.

Remittances from abroad aren’t taxed, thus you’ll be able to use more of your funds. The cost of living is also relatively low.

Malaysia is politically and economically stable and the country’s infrastructure is very good: there are ample roads, hospitals and other public facilities.

The My Second Home program offers tax incentives to retirees and families earning at least $3,200 per month.

There are many benefits of living overseas. However, it’s important to research all countries first. Look out for the cost of living, the political climate and the amount of red tape there is to overcome when moving there. Invest in local real estate agents who know the area and who can help you make the most out of your money. A foreign broker will help you manage your funds and explain the ins and outs of taxation in the country you’ve chosen.

These countries top the list of modern foreign retirement destinations, but there are always new gems emerging. Be prepared and do your research, and you’re sure to find the best option for your own retirement.

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Age Related Hearing Loss and Your Quality of Life

Written by Joan McKechnie BSc Hons Audiology & Speech Pathology. Joan consults for UK based

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, over 20% of adults across the US report some degree of hearing loss. The biggest age group to report diminish hearing is the over 65s, in which age related hearing loss is the likely cause. Diminished hearing from the natural process of ageing can be managed successfully so its effect on quality of life is made insignificant.

earHow We Hear

The human inner ear contains tiny receptors that resemble hair cells when viewed closely. These structures capture vibrations in the air that are converted into electrical pulses by the time they reach the brain. The brain then interrupts these pulses into what we perceive as ‘sound’. Damage to the inner ear hair cells can occur due to exposure to excessive noise (noise induced hearing loss, typically prolong exposure to sound over 85dB), or in this case from the natural process of ageing. In medical terms, when hearing loss is attributed to causes within the inner ear, it falls under the definition of sensorineural hearing loss and can be observed in two ears.

The body is unable to repair the damaged hair cells or regrow new ones therefore the result isn’t deafness but a growing inability to hear certain sounds. As more hair cells diminish in quality or die all together, more sounds come across ambiguous or not heard at all. The rate of hair cells demise varies between individuals, but by the age of 70 years old, 80% of individuals report some degree of hearing impairment.

What Are the Common Signs of Hearing Loss

Because hearing loss is invisible, its effects may be attributed to aloofness, confusion, or personality changes, but the culprit is hearing loss. The symptoms noted below will slowly become more apparent as more inner ear hair cells cease to function correctly.  

             Asking people to repeat their words is becoming more common

             In group settings, it is harder to focus on one voice

             Face to face, often you think people are mumbling to you

             Others complain about the volume of your TV, Radio and other sound devices

             When using the telephone, the voice on the other side of the line isn’t loud enough

hearing-test (2)Managing Hearing Loss

It is imperative to manage hearing loss, not only because of quality of life, but because of possible health complication. In certain cases individuals with unmanaged hearing loss would rather avoid social engagement rather than try to keep up. When participating in a conversation, such individuals have to spend tremendous resources and focus trying to hear the other party, having to ask others to repeat their words, having to guess what was said and sometimes feeling embarrassed to admit lack of hearing.  After some time and as hearing loss worsens, it may seem ‘easier’ to simply avoid conversation and social interactions. To bystanders, friends and even family it may seem as a personality change, though it is often due to lack of hearing that led to social withdrawl rather than personality changes. Certain studies have also drawn a link between living in a muted world and the progression of dementia.

As with any medical concern the first step is to attend a diagnostic check, in this case a hearing test. The test will outline the extent of any hearing loss and its precise cause. Although this article talks about natural ageing as the main culprit, other causes some even temporary due to certain medications may result in hearing impairment and must be investigated by an audiologist. The most common means to help manage the conditions are digital hearing aids. These are small devices that work on the basis of external sound amplification, so the remaining inner ear hair cells capture amplified sounds. Hearing aids prices will depend on the style (in the ear discreet vs. behind the ear), features for example Bluetooth connectivity and brand.

Other solutions are comprised of daily aids adapted for hearing impaired, most common are hard of hearing phones, hard of hearing alerting aids and even hearing aids to enjoy your TV.

If you have any hearing related concerns, visit your family doctor for a basic test or local hearing audiologist.

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Should I Move My Retirement Funds to Mexico?

Do you know where to look into moving retirement funds to Mexico upon having citizenship??


Dream, dream, dream

Hi Daniel,

It is our opinion that moving all of your retirement funds to a Mexican bank would be putting you at a currency risk. We would suggest that you keep your money in the US and access it through ATMs. Having a working bank account in Mexico with some of your holdings there would prove to be practical but putting all of your money in Mexico could expose you to risk that you would not need.

I would suggest becoming familiar with some Expat forums and see what others do in your circumstances. You can find this information on our Newsletters and Forums Page. Forums are free to join.

Good luck!



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Are You Afraid to Retire?

Thank you for your web site, at 53 I have 25 times what I need in retirement income. I really think that that is enough, 4 percent withdrawal rate. I am having trouble with severing the ties and just doing it , retiring . I seem to be so institutionalized to work that the fear of retirement is real.

Looking at your web site gives me a peek through the retirement door that freedom can offer.

How can I deal with the fear of stepping over the retirement fence?


Hi Brant,

Thank you for your kind words about our site and for taking the time to write.

Congratulations on your (possible) upcoming retirement!

What you are feeling is perfectly natural. You are considering making a huge lifestyle change, and of course, you don’t know what the future will bring. But at some point, you must take the training wheels off the bicycle and ride on your own.

While you might have enough money to retire, there is an emotional component of retirement that is seldom addressed. This is where you are finding yourself.

That being said, you might try semi-retirement by getting a part time job volunteering or for pay. This could ease yourself into having more free time and will give you a schedule for your days.

Life is an adventure, follow your dreams.

You could make a list of all the things you want to do with your time, all the things you want to learn, places you want to see, and have the excitement of this list pull you forward.

One thing that will surely help you is if you track your spending. In this way you will know in real time how much of your net worth you are consuming. Tracking spending is a great way to bring one confidence in their retirement plan because you always know where you are financially.

Have you already decided what sort of retirement you are seeking? Do you want to keep your home? house sit? exchange your home with another couple and travel? move to a less costly location? Do you have hobbies you want to pursue?

The more you think about what sort of retirement you want and what will fill your days, the easier it is to move forward into your dream.

I hope you will find these suggestions useful. Please keep in touch and let us know how you are doing.

Wishing you every good thing,

Akaisha and Billy

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Teaching Abroad, could it be your ticket to permanent life of travel?

Guest post by Suzanne O’Rourke from Itchy Nomads

I have to admit, I had a huge advantage in life, spending much of my youth growing up in foreign countries.  I had no hand in making this happen.  I just have to be grateful that my parents took the leap. I did seize the opportunity for personal growth that led to an awareness of different ways to live. The possibilities are endless if only we allow ourselves to be open to things that are different and unfamiliar.

Having grown up in both the International School System and the American School system in Asia I had wanted to try my hand at teaching in this foreign school system as an adult. My experience in these schools had been fantastic.  Learning was challenging, immersive and invigorating.  It was also academically strenuous, setting a standard for lifelong learning for which I will forever be grateful.

Recently we had the joy of reconnecting with old friends and colleagues, Caz and Alan Mussell in Oro Valley, Arizona.  We had met during a year in which John and I lived and taught at Colegio Americano in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. 

We had long admired this couple because they are a shining example of two Itchy Nomads that set off on individual paths, not knowing the outcome or really the destination, and met and built a life teaching in more than 8 countries between them.  During their tenure they raised two children to become happy and very interesting adults while nurturing and changing the lives of endless children and their families in a ripple effect globally that is immeasurable.

Reduce your cost of living. Pay less for medical care. Find better weather. Create a healthier way of life.

While we enjoyed a delicious meal of Thai Curry and brown rice Alan said, “Our lifestyle is the best kept secret there is.”  He was speaking about a career built around teaching in the International Schools.

What did he mean by “the Best Kept Secret?” Well we want to share it with you.  Do with it what you will but John and I have experienced it first hand and numerous friends of ours continue to live it. Those who have lived this lifestyle but have gone on to do other things, look back and comment that their years of Teaching Abroad were some of their happiest and most vibrant years of their lives.

That is the Secret; go teach in a foreign country. 

You can teach English as Second Language or you can teach other subjects in one of the many International Schools.  The benefits are monetary, experiential and emotional.

We will let them share their experience directly through this interview.

We are proud to introduce you to Caz and Alan Mussel.  Alan is originally from Oregon in the U.S. and Caz is from North Eastern England.

01Alan-&-studentSUZANNE:  Did either of you think when you started this career that it would last so long and take you to so many countries? 

ALAN: Not really.  I just found that I liked teaching.

CAZ:  My family still wonders where the “travel bug” came from.  From the age of about 15 I wanted to travel the world but I realized that I would have to work overseas to be able to do that.  In those days it seemed that for women, there were two occupations which would allow me to fulfill my dreams. Those occupations were Nursing and Teaching.  I hated the sight of blood and my Uncle, whom I admired, was a Teacher so it was easy for me to choose.

SUZANNE:  What drew you to teaching abroad and were your expectations realistic? 

ALAN:  My Peace Corps experience was so important in those formative years that I re-enrolled for another term in Kenya, with similar positive results.

CAZ: I went overseas to teach with an open mind, no expectations and with excitement to what I may experience.

SUZANNE:  What did you both teach? 

ALAN: I was first trained as a teacher under the US Peace Corps program and was sent to the Ivory Coast to teach science and mathematics in French. I have also taught Music on the side at different times. I had two years of college French, but the Peace Corp tested me for language competency and put me through an intensive French language program before I left.

CAZ:  I taught Math and Sciences at the Middle School and High School Level. I also taught Computer Studies in the Computer Labs.

SUZANNE:  What countries have you taught in and for how long?

Allen-North-PakistanALAN: I have taught in Ivory Coast (2 years), Kenya (10 years), Turkey (2 years), California (1 year), Oregon (5 years), Pakistan (3 years), Philippines (3 years) and Mexico (2 years).

CAZ:  Jamaica (2 years), Kenya (8 1/2 years), Pakistan (3 years), The Philippines (3 years) and Mexico (5 years).

SUZANNE: Did you have a favorite country? 

ALAN: I found something of value in each country I taught.

CAZ: No. I did not realize that I would stay away from England that long.  But I loved moving to a new country, starting a new job.  I was always eager to meet new people, explore the country and the culture. I enjoyed every country in which I taught because there were so many different things to experience. The most interesting was Pakistan because their culture was totally different with little of the western world influence. Also, the Pakistani students were special.

SUZANNE:  Was it hard to get these teaching jobs?  What credentials or skills did you have or need?

ALAN: I was first trained by the Peace Corps, got my credential, and then earned my Masters in Education.

CAZ:  One needed a teaching certificate and degree plus 2 years teaching experience.  Not difficult to find a job if you were prepared to go anywhere. 

SUZANNE:  Just a comment here from my experience, I only had an Emergency Credential which I got by substitute teaching in California.  To earn this I had to first have a College Degree, and pass a State Test called the CBEST. This was adequate to get me a Teaching position with the understanding that I would continue on with my credential process. Others we have met have only a TOEFL or ESL Certification for Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

SUZANNE: Did you need to know a foreign language?

Cathie-Vidal-teaching-in-PuALAN:  I needed French in the Ivory Coast and was trained to speak Swahili for Kenya, which I used subsequently. In Mexico, I taught myself Spanish… I love languages and have found them invaluable in understanding the culture wherever I am. I learned bits of Turkish and Urdu also.

CAZ: The local schools in which I taught in Jamaica and Kenya, the language of instruction was English. In the International schools the classes were all in English except the language classes.

Suzanne:  When I taught in Mexico, I team taught with a Mexican teacher. We taught 3rd and 4th grades. Half the day I taught the 3rd graders Geography, World History, Science and English Language in English. Meanwhile my Mexican counterpart taught Math, Spanish, Mexican History and Cultural Studies in Spanish.  In the afternoon we flipped the grades and I taught subjects in English to the 4th graders.  I learned a lot of Spanish that year, but it was not a requirement of my employment. It was more of a benefit to me.

SUZANNE: What Skills were most in demand? 

ALAN: Desire to communicate with students and their families.

SUZANNE:  Math, Sciences, Foreign Language like French, and Computer Skills.  John taught Computer Graphics and Physics in Summer School while I taught High School Earth Science.

SUZANNE:  What challenges did you have to overcome to make this lifestyle work?

ALAN:  It seemed to come naturally. There were illnesses, but no more than would have been expected in the US.

CAZ:  I had to adjust to being away from family. I had to discover the cultural differences especially those which may have been offensive to the local people. New people generally are euphoric when they first arrive but then a slump can occur after about 3 months when they realize the differences between their old and new life. Some find it hard to adjust. At each school one has to adjust to the way it is run while coping with unpacking, adapting to new environment and having no friends for support at first.

SUZANNE:  Using your 20×20 vision, was raising your children in this manner a positive experience for you and them? 

ALAN: They considered their years abroad immensely valuable.

Suzanne-with-her-masked-kidSUZANNE:  The International and American Schools I attended had some wonderful travel programs and foreign exchange opportunities that were amazing.  With my 20 x 20 vision, growing up in these schools provided an intimacy with the expat community, my local instructors and the school as a whole that I’ve never experienced in domestic schools. It spoiled me for less involved community lifestyle.

SUZANNE:  What did you like most about the lifestyle?

ALAN: Immersion in a foreign culture.

CAZ:  Just experiencing another way of life, new food, new places, dress and having one’s life enriched by all of this. Being in a certain part of the world allows you to visit other countries nearby.

SUZANNE: How did you find the teaching jobs in each country, and did you have your pick, or was it difficult to get the ones you wanted?

ALAN: After the Peace Corps years, I attended some of the many hiring conferences, but because of my fields, found no difficulty in getting jobs.

CAZ: The first 2 jobs, Kenya and Jamaica were found in the “Times Educational Supplement” which advertises jobs overseas. I chose to apply for these jobs.

Later the positions in the “International Schools” were found through attending Recruiting Fairs which are held all over the World. Attendees interview with many schools of their choice and then choose the one they want from the offers they are given. One did not always get the school which was top of their list. I found these jobs through International Schools Services (ISS) and Quality Schools International organizations.

SUZANNE:  Was it a benefit that they could hire both of you as a couple? 

ALAN: Definitely.

 CAZ: It is a definite advantage to be a teaching couple. The school is getting 2 for the price of 1 nearly as they would have to pay fares, provide accommodation, medical etc. for families whether one or both are teaching.  Some schools like Pakistan, Karachi American School will only hire teaching couples. For Alan and me, we had a little disadvantage as we both taught High School Math’s. In those days it was the male who was offered AP and IB classes.

SUZANNE: What was the hardest part of this lifestyle?

ALAN:  Nothing.

CAZ: I never felt there was any hardship. The Schools always had a support system in place to help if one needed it.

SUZANNE: Can you please tell us about the Benefits you typically received and the type of employment packages you could expect to be offered? 

ALAN: Usually accommodation, sometimes a vehicle, often a paid round-trip yearly to home, tax-free income, and medical.

Suzanne: Typically a housing allowance, summers off with the ability to travel extensively, round trip airfare back home at least every other year. A real bonus is the ability to earn about $97,000 US tax free per person and often a low cost of living depending on the country you are in. If you re-sign for another year there is a typically a sign in bonus. If you have children they usually get the benefit of this free private school education. Round trip airfare is included as long as you stay for the length of your contract.

SUZANNE:  What resources would you recommend someone tap into if they are interested teaching abroad?

CAZ:  I would recommend going to the Recruiting Conferences in the States or Abroad as then you can interview with many schools at one time. Also you can meet people from these schools.

ALAN: Check out the job fairs, ISS catalogue, etc. and see what schools require of their teachers.

SUZANNE: If you know anyone that has taught at an International School and you have the credentials to teach, ask for an introduction and letter of referral.  Administrators love to hire people who are referred by others with whom they have worked before.

SUZANNE:  Many of our readers may think that a career like this is for those just getting started, but my experience has been that this is not the case.  What are your thoughts about who should consider teaching abroad?  Is it just for young teachers, or veteran teachers or can it include being a 2nd act for semi-retired individuals or even retirees? 

ALAN: Many schools prefer younger married candidates as the health risks would be less, but we met teachers abroad of all ages, often with families.

CAZ: Most schools want you to have 2 years teaching experience but after that age does not matter.  Some schools will end your contracts when you reach the age of 64. Two that I know of are the International Schools in Tokyo and Jakarta.

SUZANNE: THANK YOU SO MUCH Caz and Alan for sharing your insights and expertise about this career direction. I can only wonder how many lives you have both influenced through the years and how those students have gone on to make a positive difference in their countries and global community. You should be congratulated for the countless contributions you’ve made to your students’ lives.

 In Summary:

The schools can vary widely in their facilities and amenities.  Alan taught in a rural Peace Corp school that was rustic and dangerous, and he loved it.  In contrast some schools are like elaborate country clubs with swimming pools, beautiful libraries, sports fields and amazing programs. The Alumni associations of the better schools offer Reunions around the world so graduates can stay connected.

Also, if you get hired in-country you will typically earn the Local Wage, as was the case when we were hired in Puerto Vallarta.  Make sure you get hired outside of the country you plan to teach in.  The benefits difference is very significant.

Itchy Nomads, if this lifestyle is of interest, look for a job fair and go get information and possibly do some interviews.  Teaching English as a Second Language can be an easier path to getting a job, but does not typically have the financial benefits that teaching in an International School offers.  

For more information on teaching abroad and jobs in retirement, see our Retirement Jobs page.

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How to Protect Your Retirement from Inflation

Guest post by Cristina Beltran. Cristina is a writer, blogger and online marketing specialist at CompareHero, Malaysias’ leading financial comparison website. Tina is also a freelance writer she worked as an information researcher before she pursued her writing career.

Image 1There was a scene in the TV series “Breaking Bad” where Walter White was sitting in his car, computing the money he’ll need to leave behind for his family. Adjusting for inflation, it was so much for this, so much for that, for a total of $737,00. Even Walter White knew that inflation would eventually eat away at his savings.

What is inflation?

Inflation is the continuous increase in the overall cost of products and services, measured in yearly percentages. This phenomenon lowers the value of money because it decreases the amount of goods or services that you can buy with it.

Here’s another way of looking at it. Let’s say a bag of chips costs $1 this year. Next year, 3% inflation raises the cost to $1.03. If the $100 dollars you had from last year stays at $100 this year, you’ll be able to buy less. Basically, you just lost buying power. In other words, you lost money.

Image 2Economists don’t have a pinpointed explanation for why inflation happens, but two theories are generally accepted. Demand-Pull Inflation happens when demand is higher than supply. On the other hand, Cost-Push Inflation occurs when suppliers increase their prices to maintain profit margins. This happens when the companies’ overhead costs rise.

Rate of inflation

Judging by history, the average rate of inflation is 3.75%, although it varies greatly from year to year and most developed countries have tried to sustain it at 2-3%. At this rate, prices will double every 19 years.

Over the last 30 years, the cost of college has risen by 600%. In 1983, the national average cost of tuition was $4,000 a year; now, it’s over $23,000 a year. After another 30 years, that number will shoot up to over $100,000 annually.

Medical costs have also gone up 600% over the last 3 decades. In the 1980’s, five days in the hospital will cost you $600. Now, you’ll have to shell out an average of $20,000. In another 30 years, that amount will have climbed up to more than half a million dollars.

Real estate prices have gone up 800% over the same period. A house that was built 30 years ago would have cost $70,000 at the time. Today, that same house will set you back $550,000. In the next 3 decades, it might be worth over $4 million.  

Image 3How much money do I need to retire?

A lot of people are asking if a million dollars will be enough to see you through retirement. Let’s do some math and see if that pans out. If you are 25 years old today and are planning to retire at the age of 70, inflation will have brought your million dollars to its knees, by then the equivalent of $190,781. That’s not even close to lavish, and might just be enough to let you get by on a modest income.

Here’s how you can accurately compute for how much you need for retirement. To keep it simple, we’ll calculate in today’s dollars, and then adjust for inflation later.

First of all, decide at which age you want to retire. Let’s say 65 years old.

Choose an amount, in today’s numbers, that you’ll want every year for your retirement. Stay on the conservative side and compute for more than you think you’ll want. If you want to maintain your standards of living today, you may need 80% of that income. Let’s assume that you want $40,000 a year, or just a little over $3,300 a month.

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Evaluate how much you have today in assets. For example, you may have $100,000 in investments and savings.

Next, let’s assume that inflation is at 4%. This means that the rate of return on your investments will be at 6-10%, but let’s assume 6% to be on the safe side.

Now calculate your social security benefits on the SSA website. If you’re 40 years old today and will retire 25 years from now, SSA computes that your monthly retirement benefit is at $1,300. That leaves you with $2,000 that you’ll generate on your own, so you’ll need $500,000. Again, this is all in today’s values.

Projecting 25 years from now, and factoring in inflation, multiply $500,000 by 1.04 (4% inflation) to the 25th power (25 years). Thus:

 $500,000 x 1.0425 = $1,332,900

Using the same formula, the yearly spending you were calculating to be $40,000 will be $106,000 by the time you retire.

The numbers may seem daunting, but you’ll be more than okay with proper planning and prudent decisions. As Walter White would say, it’s doable. Definitely doable.

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How Getting My Finances in Order Enabled Me to Live the Life I Love

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to take early retirement and pursue a life of adventure instead of comfort and possessions. His philosophy is, “Why sip life from a straw when you can drink it from a fire hose?” When he is not traveling, he lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand. You can sign up for his newsletter here, visit his website at or visit him on Facebook.

Bicycling around Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Bicycling around Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Three years ago I was living the classic American Dream. I had a good job, a house in suburbia, a couple of automobiles, a country club membership and myriad of possessions that I had accumulated over the years. I also had busy work days, a 45 mile commute, a sailboat I was too tired to take out and friends I was too busy to see. I was making money, but I was mindlessly spending it as fast as it was coming in — mostly on things I didn’t need and things designed to distract me from how busy and tired I was. It was comfortable in a mind-numbing sort of way, convenient – and hollow. Then one day I realized, I had spent the last 25 years working, not to support myself; I was working for money to service my house, my things and the ability to buy other stuff I didn’t need. Something had to change.

One day, after a particularly awful commute, I came home and instead of turning to my distractions, I decided to reflect and re-prioritize. I finally comprehended that the most rewarding times in my life, the times when I was at my best, were the times I spent traveling to new places, meeting new people and spending time with friends and the people I loved. I realized that for many years I had just been going through the motions, sequestered in a comfortable bubble, while time ticked away. I had unwittingly become, as Henry David Thoreau said, “the tools of my tools.”

Dream, Dream, Dream

Hiking on the Great Wall of China

Hiking on the Great Wall of China

It finally dawned on me that if I only quit feeding all of my earnings into empty consumption, I could build a life I dreamed of. If I could prioritize my finances so that I focused only on what was important, I could take the early retirement that was rapidly approaching, do the things I loved and dreamed of doing and get out of the hamster wheel years earlier than I thought. My problem wasn’t money, my problem was spending and possessions; empty spending on things that ultimately added nothing to my life and the accumulation of “stuff” I had been dragging around with me for over 25 years.

I took control and began to purge the things that were shackling me. The first steps admittedly were hard and my initial steps were tentative. I started examining and discovered that there were some things, things that were not important but I had had become attached to only because I’d had them for so long. Old computers that I was “one day” going to salvage for parts: gone. Appliances that I would “one day” repair: gone. Old clothes, old sporting equipment and broken furniture: gone. Out it all went. Once I got started it began to feel great!

Making friends in Bali, Indonesia

Making friends in Bali, Indonesia

I gave notice at work and the next stage of the cleanout began — getting rid of belongings that were important but holding me back from my dreams. My house went on the market and sold (at a loss). I started shedding furniture and appliances. I arranged to have the utilities turned off and cancelled my memberships. A burden was being lifted and for the first time in my adult life I felt like I, not my spending and possessions, was in control.

Soon, the big day came, I didn’t own a home and I had almost no physical possessions. I expected it to be scary, but in fact it was liberating. I had escaped the bonds that restricted my flexibility and kept me from living the life I had imagined. I was free. Without all the noise and distractions of clutter in my life, I would be able to concentrate on relationships with people instead of things. It would be a simple life committed to living well, instead of accumulating possessions.

Playing with elephants, Thailand

Playing with elephants, Thailand

But, this new found freedom wasn’t going to be very valuable if I didn’t do something with it. Intellectually, I knew I was a citizen of the world, but other than vacations, I hadn’t truly tested my limits and lived far outside of my comfort zone. That had to change.

Destination: clear water and a white sand beach in Mexico. I rented an isolated house on the Caribbean Sea with a beautiful lagoon out front and a world class snorkeling out back. When the isolation of the beach became too much, I packed my things and drove to the mountains of Chiapas. Because I had nothing tying me down, the move was easy. Because I lived carefully within my means, I could afford it.

Fast forward three years. Since becoming a “minimalist” (I didn’t really know what that word meant when I became one) I have jettisoned my car, eliminated more encumbrances and I have moved to Asia. In the mornings, I wake ready to relish the days instead of wishing for more sleep. Afternoons may be filled with hiking, practicing my photography or just sitting by the lake and watching nature. I have even been talked into taking dancing lessons! I feel busier than ever, but from doing things I love – like traveling.

SCUBA Diving in Bali, Indonesia

SCUBA Diving in Bali, Indonesia

The world has become my playground. In just the last year I have hiked the Great Wall of China and SCUBAed in the waters of Bali, Indonesia.  I rode cable cars in San Francisco, camped in Canada and visited friends in the Pacific Northwestern part of the USA. I took a road trip from Los Angeles to Texas. I have bicycled around Angkor Wat in Cambodia, drank tea in Vietnam and slept in a Burmese monastery. I have even fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine by visiting the “Land of the Thunder Dragon,” Bhutan!

People may say I am crazy, but I have to ask: Why, if time is ultimately our most precious asset, do we spend our days mindlessly filling it with unnecessary burdens that detract from our happiness? Lifting those burdens has made me healthier, contented, happier and more prepared to embrace opportunities as they come.

Piggy back rides in Burma

Piggy back rides in Burma

There is liberty that comes from living a life of authenticity, and peace of mind that comes from knowing you are not chained to your things. I now can run toward opportunities instead of ignoring them.  I can stay where I am now forever or be packed and moving again in just a few hours. Today, I am in Thailand living in the foothills of the Himalayas. Tomorrow I could be on a plane moving to the South Pacific. 

I can’t say that living this life is for everyone. I am also the first to acknowledge that, while I have worked hard and planned well, I have also been extraordinarily fortunate to enjoy the fruits of those decisions. My health is the best it has been in 30 years, and my family is independent and supportive. I don’t pretend that this is the right life for anyone but me.

But – one thing I am certain of: We cannot buy our way to happiness.

It has become almost normal for people to jump into circle of endless acquisition without questioning the real purpose. We consume blindly and ignore what truly makes us happy. We base our self-worth on the popular trappings of success and end up with a life spent working and nothing real to show for it. Just being aware of our consumption and curtailing the things that restrict our flexibility would be useful to everyone. For me, cutting through it all meant selling all my belongings and beginning the life of a traveler. What will it mean for you?


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Men vs. Women – The Tiff Moves Ahead to the Retirement Planning Battleground

Guest post by Rick Pendykoski. Rick is the owner of Self Directed Retirement Plans LLC, a retirement planning firm based in Goodyear, AZ. He regularly blogs at MoneyForLunch, SocialMediaToday, NuWireInvestor & his own blog of Self Directed Retirement Plans where he focuses on retirement planning, investment, securing future related topics.

The never ending battle of proving men superior over women, or vice versa, doesn’t seem to be nearing a probable solution any sooner. Although it is a well-established fact that women have proven themselves equal to men in many instances and have given an equal level of competition to men in every probable aspect of life, they still seem to have a distinct disadvantage in comparison to men when it comes to retirement planning.

Women Live Longer

As per a latest research, the average life expectancy of a normal woman, retiring at the age of 65, could be stretched to her 85th birthday, or even longer, provided that all the financial concerns are good and properly paid for through the right retirement planning and investments. Women might be able to outlive their husbands, but this combination of living longer and on their own only adds up to saving more for retirement than what men do.

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Personal vs. Family Needs

Women often think of money as a family thing, rather than a medium for satisfying their personal needs. It is a good thing to put the family first, but not always, especially in the matters of work and retirement. Moreover, though women actively participate in activities to support family finances, they are likely to leave their jobs for raising kids or looking after an elderly family member. This necessarily points out towards fewer work years, less number of promotions and lower earning, as compared to their male counterparts, thereby resulting in insufficient funds to save for retirement.

Men vs WomenLess Social Security Benefits

As compared to men, women tend to receive less social security benefits over a period of time. These benefits are mainly calculated on the basis of highest earnings of an individual with 35 years of service. If a woman doesn’t have this number of years registered in the workbook, the social security administration tends to add zero-earning years to her record. This certainly lowers the figure of average monthly income and definitely results in fewer benefits for the women who haven’t worked for a period of 35 years.

Apart from this, the pension received by women also depends on whether they continue to work or not. Unfortunately, with more and more women leaving the present day workforce to deal with other priorities of life, their pension plans are simply incapable of doing the trick. According to a recent study, women receive only 54% of what men usually get as pension, which kicks them further behind in the race.

Counter Measures

Considering the aforementioned factors, it’s time that women focus on their personal concerns, chalk out the things that are unique to them and formulate a proper plan for their retirement. Not surprisingly, there are certain things, common to both married as well as unmarried women, which can help them build an ideal retirement portfolio for themselves.

             Prioritize retirement plans when working.

             Increase the time-span at work, while drawing highest salary possible.

             Understand the implications of divorce and remarriage on social security benefits.

             Recognize the unique challenges and start saving or investing early.

             Learn more about the existing retirement plans offered by the several companies and the other investment vehicles suitable for retirement planning.

It is certainly a good piece of news that women have better life expectancy than men and they are likely to enjoy more retirement days. However, it is only possible if they take their unique challenges into consideration and start saving more through ideal retirement plans. It is only a matter of time when women would level men in terms of retirement planning and a better post-retirement life.


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