Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Living in Costa Rica as an American

In a previous post we explored the idea of Living in Belize as an American. Today we would like to move a little further down the coast and examine Living in Costa Rica as an American.

Costa Rica Expats

Some people freak out at the idea of loving to a Latin American country but it really doesn’t have to be something to stress about. For decades Costa Rica has continued to be one country that is a very popular choice for retirement primarily due to its cheap cost in living. It's true this is one of the Cheapest Places for Americans to Live Abroad. Of course it doesn't hurt that it is also one of the most beautiful places in the world to visits or to live. The country is covered in wonderful beaches and its weather is one that rivals for the best vacation destination. Many people assume that with such great advantages to retire there or even to move there and become Costa Rica expats for one’s own pleasure would cost a fortune. Fortunately, this is not the case.

Moving to Costa Rica

To Retire abroad in a place like Latin America certainly has its benefits, but its important to be realistic and realize not everything is going to go smooth on its own. As an American moving abroad, there is a lot of research and planning that needs to be involved when immigrating to this new country. Located in Central America, this country is lavished with tropical beaches and prides itself on natural tourism, not the artificial kind. It's still listed as a developing country but Costa Rica has all the amenities needed for a balanced quality of life living but without the excesses and over development that is seen in developed power countries like the United States.

Costa Rica Tips

Many services and items that are common back in the U.S. are even cheaper in Costa Rica, including phone services, daily living expenses and television to name a few. The only thing that one might consider as expensive is the cost of an automobile. Despite this small speed bump, Costa Rica is ranked every year as one of the best places to live in the Caribbean. Making up for the sheer natural beauty and warm ways of living with the locals makes this is an ideal place to settle down. Moving to this country is the first decision, all the other great advanatages just add up. There's no doubt why so many people have satisfied their Costa Rica fantasies!

Top London Restaurants 2010

London always ranks as one of the Best Places to Visit in the World. But, once you've arrived finding the best places to eat always becomes a concern so we'll start by discussing the top London Restaurants from 2010. Indian food is always a can't miss in London so be sure to check out Amaya Bar & Grill which won two prestigious awards in the same year, The Tio Pepe ITV for Best Restaurant and Best New Restaurant. It's also one of the few Indian restaurants to be a Michelin star restaurant. Be sure to try the spinach and fig appetizer! Also be sure to go to Oxo Tower for some upscale classic British cuisine with gorgeous views.

Cheap Restaurants in London

Dining on a budget doesn't have to be a drag, there are lots of delicious cheap restaurants in London to chose from. Get a romantic French three course meal for about £15, don't miss the fresh, tasty mussels or the to die for duck. La Porchetta Pollo Bar offers Old World Italian flare at a low price and be sure to try the amazing pizza or the yummy three cheese pasta.

Top London Hotels

Now that you know what to eat, you need to know where the top London hotels are. The Hoxton hotel is a moderately priced hotel near Covent Gardens in a safe neighborhood with crisp and clean rooms and for a splurge, stay at the Dorchester in Piccadilly which offers the best afternoon tea and luxe accommodations.

Best Places in London

Be sure to go to Harrod's to drool over everything from tea selections to high end fashion. A trip on the London Eye can't be missed to get a gorgeous panoramic view of the city with optional champagne. And a trip to London would be incomplete without a visit to the pub. The best would definitely be Holly Bush serving up pints and high end pub fare that's sure to please the pickiest palate.

Hope that gives you a good idea of where the best places in London are to visit!

What to Do When You Retire

Life After Retirement

Today our Guest Author Hugo takes a quick look at Life after Retirement and cautions us about not taking it seriously enough. He also shares some ideas around How to Retire, When to Retire and What to do in retirement. Enjoy!

Although you're certainly meant to relax when you retire, you're not exactly designed to just stop and go to sleep. In retirement it's important to realize that you don't want to let relaxation get the better of you. Far too many retirees have been down that road and didn't like the outcome. Sure, after your long years of labour you do need to and deserve to relax. But not at the expensive of your health or your potential. You still have a lot of game left in you and you need to take advantage of your ability to still get around and contribute. It starts by thinking now - putting together your own Personal Retirement Plan. In a nut shell that is how to retire!

What to Do in Retirement

The first thing to dismiss is the worry about getting in poor health. If you focus on that it is sure to happen and yet the simplest way to make sure that doesn't happen is to avoid being inactive in your retirement. It doesn't take long for ailments to settle in simply because you are letting your body stagnate. The key is, 'Use it or lose it!' It's no excuse to think just because you are now in your golden years that you need to slow down. The key is to find a form of activity that you like to do. When you discover activities where the people around you are pleasant and enjoying themselves you'll love every minute of it, guaranteed!

Many people are actually quite afraid of retirement because they believe getting old means becoming redundant. But that couldn't be further from the truth. You can beat those false mindsets and beliefs if you accept that those thoughts can creep in from time to time and to make a plan against them. There are numerous strategies to beat the retirement blues and one of the most simple is to just do something about it. Really, if something is not working get up, mover and do anything else. After all,  anything else is a whole lot better than doing nothing at all.

Here's just one simple way to insure your retirement plan is a memorable one - begin writing about your life. You don't have to have lived a crazy life to know that it has value. The next generation love to read about the past and they love to read about your unique personal history. Another way to make sure you remain vital in retirement is to join a proactive club where you can find something to contribute.

How to Retire

Here are a few final suggestions on making the most of your retirement - I suggest you make a list of different things you enjoy doing now and things you would like to continue to do even after you retire. Keep that list close at hand and be sure to review it from time to time. If you discover there arre things on your list that you have stopped doing or haven't done in a while be sure to make those a priority and fit them back into your retirement lifestyle. My final suggestion is to take some time and make a project out of researching the Best Places to Retire and places you want to visit while you are still active and mobile.  Even if you never get to the Best Places to Visit in the World just the act of learning about them will be a rich reward in itself.

Editors Note: Be sure to check out this Special Report of 44 Things you Must Know before you Relocate, Retire or Invest Offshore -

44 Things You Must Know Before You Relocate, Retire, Or Invest Offshore

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Best Places to Live Cheaply

It seems the prices of food and gas are rising daily and yet most peoples earnings have been at a stand still for years now. That leaves a lot of people looking for the best places to live cheaply. That is places where the dollar will stretch and last as long as possible. In this blog we continually review places to live all of the world. We spend a lot of time looking for the cheapest places to live and we also occasionally put money a side and consider things that add up to give the Best Places for Quality of Life.

In your personal quest to discover the best place for you to live cheaply we thought these resources may come in handy. Check them out and please leave us a comment if you find these helpful in finding the perfect place for you and your family.

The International Salary Calculator

One of the first places you may want to consider having a look as you scour the globe to find the most affordable place to live is to determine exactly how far your salary will take you in the a new city or country. Sure, moving means your salary will likely change but it's good to know ahead of time how much you need to earn to cover your living expenses in your chosen new location. The best place we've found to get started is:

Salary.com.  This a terrific financial site that will give you a lot of details. This is  U.S. based information so you can discover the salary range for your chosen career for specific areas in the United States The site also gives you additional information like education requirements and usual benefits, and it'll even estimate your pay check.

International Salary Calculator: For U.S. Citizens considering International Jobs PayScale.com is a great tool for broadening your search to other countries. Their dbase s still more based on US data than anywhere else but they are expanding and collecting data form other countries. SalaryExpert.com is another tool for finding out what your profession makes in another country. It has a large selection of city information for most parts of the developed world.

Cost of Moving Calculator

Sperling.com has one of the best cost of living calculators online. It takes into account where you live now and allows you to compare to where you want to live. You can alos compare your current salary and how much you will need to earn in your new location to maintain your current lifestyle.  CNN Money also has a similar calculator tool but it doesn't offer nearly the depth of detail that Sperling does. Another problem is that CNN tends to be US-Centric so their tools and information are generally limited to the United States.

Where are the Most Affordable Places to Live?

Every now and then Business Week will have some good articles on the most affordable housing  in the US. One such article noted Minot, Fort Worth and Tulsa, Ok all making the list. However, that information is a bit dated as it was originally published in 2006. Still, BW is a great resource for current information on the best places to live and its a good place to start your research. For the past few years  the economic downturn has impacted the housing market the most and it continues to have an affect on most of the country. This has certainly made real estate more affordable for those who still have a job and can afford to buy.

Another study titled 'Eight Cheapest Places to Live' is also from BusinessWeek and it gives a good list of the cheapest places to live in America including info and stats on crime and other factors to consider before moving. Making this list are: Austin,Tx;  Boise, Id;  Minneapolis, Mn and Olympia, WA.

Kiplinger.com is another site for great articles on how far your real estate purchasing dollar will go. It focused on home prices between $300,000 to $1 million. Kiplinger ranked Fort Smith one of the cheapest and also gives us a way to see which areas of the country are offering the best values in Real Estate. And lets face it who doesn't enjoy the fantasy of seeing just how far a million bucks will go!

TODAY.msnbc at msn.com offers up a great little video on the 'Cheapest Places to Rent'. They examine the top cities for living cheap by renting. The cheapest place to live on rent - Wichita, Kansas at just $470 per month for a 600 sq ft place.  In Dayton, Ohio a 500 sq ft home sets you back $570 per month. The video and article also has some interesting details about each city, including some fun facts that might make a move to these smaller cities worth your while. And if you've been searching for a high-end lifestyle at a cheap price they also discuss the top five fancy places to live that have dropped substantially in price. Where lifestyle is your most important criteria and cost secondary you can also explore the Healthiest and Wealthiest countries to live in.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Best Retirement Places and Plans

Using the iffy long term on the Social Security program consistently within the news, people are becoming far more anxious about their retirement accounts. They want to know what the very best retirement programs and places. Really should they remain with their provider sponsored 401K plan; or go for an individual IRA account?

If they select an IRA, really should it be considered a standard account or a Roth account? And, in the event the go for an IRA where ought to they make investments their income? This article will present you together with the facts you'll want to determine which account is greatest for you personally. Then, with the support of the financial counselor, you are going to be able to make the proper option.

Retirement Planning Companies

Let's talk a bit about the retirement programs that are provided by employers. In the distant previous, these were typically pension options. But, currently most firms opt for to offer you 401k options. Both worker contributions and employer matching are put into these accounts. You will discover limits on the quantity that contributed each and every 12 months and all of the cash is put in tax-deferred.

This means that you simply do not pay taxes until the funds is withdrawn. Often, the employer supplies a list of possible investment options after which the worker would make their selection from this list. The listing is produced up of a selection of stocks, bonds and municipal money and typically offers an individual with an 8% price of return each year depending on the option and on the market.

Personal Retirement Accounts

But some folks aren't coated by their employers or they function for on their own so an employer backed 401k isn't an alternative for them. These persons also need to learn about the top retirement strategies out there for them. For people, the option is generally discovered in either a standard IRA account or even a Roth IRA. There are benefits and disadvantages to each of these sorts of account.

Traditional IRA's are out there to men and women within certain revenue recommendations. In 2008, for a married few submitting jointly this would imply up to $108,000 per year. The money put into and also the income earned from the investments is tax deferred. What this indicates is the fact that you do not need to shell out taxes till you get the cash out. However, in the event you withdraw the money just before you are 59 you may shell out an additional 10% tax penalty. One more disadvantage to this type of account is that you have to begin withdrawing a government mandated minimum quantity each 12 months following you achieve the age of 70 and you must quit contributing at that time also.

Guest Post by Luke Manley

You can get the planning for retirement help you need at the authors popular website. There you'll find additional retirement resources and help finding retired mentors.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What US City Should I Live in?

Could Boulder, Colorado really be the Best US City to Live in?

Many people ask themselves the question What US city should I live in? People want to live in a place that is safe, with good jobs, a stable economy, and offering a top quality of life. If one has a family excellent local schools and activities for kids will play a part in deciding on the best place to live. Of course all of these characteristics can be found in Boulder, Colorado, which has topped the list of the best cities to live in for years.

Despite the recession the unemployment rate in Boulder remains lower than the national average, thanks to the University of Colorado campus in the city, federal research labs, and a thriving collection of small businesses. Many of the jobs available in Boulder offer good wages. Home values have also remained stable in Boulder while foreclosures and double digit drops in value have plagued the rest of the nation.

Families with children will feel comfortable placing their kids in the Boulder Public School system; the schools are rated high, and students consistently do well in national standardized tests. Boulder also has many family friendly activities year round; there are many trails for hiking and biking, as well as great skiing in the winter months. Boulder is also very safe, with a very low rate of violent crimes being reported each year.

Residents of Boulder have a high quality of life. A 2009 research study rated the people of Boulder not only one of the healthiest places in America one of the happiest places in the States too. Other accolades that Boulder has received include: America's Foodiest Town, one of the Top 10 Winter Towns, #19 on the list of the Top Destinations in the U.S., and #10 on the list of Top 10 Recovery Cities.

The residents of Boulder work hard, play hard, and enjoy their lives- this results in making Boulder one of the best places to live.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cheapest Place to Live in the US

There are many beautiful places to live in the United States, but with the economy the way it is everyone is looking for the cheapest place to live in the U.S.

It can be a challenge but there are some common thoughts when it comes to your search. First most people know that the east coast is going to be a little on the expensive side but the west coast is also a little expensive. So, that leaves us with the central parts of America. Yes, it's true the best places to live that are affordable and could even be described as inexpensive are found in the mid-western states. This is where you are going to find the cheapest cities in the United States.

The Cheapest Place to Live?

Well Places like: Omaha, Nebraska; Detroit, Michigan; Indianapolis, Indiana; Cincinnati, Ohio; Pittsburg, PA; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; Cleveland, Ohio; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Houston, Texas. These are some of the cheapest places to live to live in America. The average mortgage in many of this US cities can run from $150,000 and up while the rental properties range from $400 and up for a two bedroom apartment. Now, it is important to note that the average salary may not be nearly as high as other parts of the country but the cost of living is much lower so this factor balances out the whole cost of living factor.

If the rolling hills and the acres and acres of beautiful farm land are appealing than the mid-west and its surrounding areas will be an ideal place for you to live. These areas are rich in culture, technology, and home grown resources. The heartland cities are great culturally and scenically appealing.

The things to think about when looking for the best place to live in America is to look at the salary, the housing costs and the standard of living . These things will help to determine if moving to the Midwest is an option for you. The cost of living is less, the median salary is less, but the lifestyle is very friendly and welcoming, and it is a great place to raise kids. There are several more places within the states mentioned above that are also great to live. The best thing to do is to see what your must haves are and what things you are willing to compromise on.

Editors Update: In November 2011 we explored the best states to live in and presented a series of articles which looked in-depth at each region of the country from coast to coast and from the Canadian Border to Mexico. Be sure to check it out and as always please join the discussion by leaving your comments and opinions about the best and cheapest places to live to in this great nation.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Canada's Best Places to Live Poll Results

The poll is closed and the results are in! Yes, we closed down the poll for the Canada's Best Places to Live as voted on by you. The poll was open for the month of April and here are the results along with a comparison to our original article

MoneySense: Best Places to Live in Canada

Back in early April we presented the MoneySense Best Places to Live in Canada for 2011. The Top Places in Canada were:

#1 Ottawa
#2 Kingston
#3 Burlington
#4 Fredericton
#5 Moncton
#6 Repentigny
#7 Brandon
#8 Victoria
#9 Winnipeg
#10 Lévis

And as you know we threw it all back at you in our Best Places to Live in Canada Poll last month. And here;s what you said -

  1. Victoria, British Columbia - by far the leader with 44% over the total votes
  2. Ottawa, Ontario - with 17% of the votes
  3. Burlington, Ontario and Kingston Ontario - tied with 8% each
  4. St. Albert, Alberta and Winnipeg, Manitoba - tied with 6% each
  5. Edmonton, Alberta - with 4%
  6. Fredericton, New Brunswick - with 2%
  7. Brandon, Manitoba and Repentigny, Quebec got not votes. 

The Best Places to Live for College Graduates

Where to Next College Grad?

The Best Places to Live for College Graduates

Graduation is one of the greatest experiences of a student's life and also one of the scariest. It's the time when students need to decide where to live and what they're going to do with the rest of their lives. Sometimes it's as simple as finding the best place to get a job, getting that job offer and off you go. For others, the place they live can be an even bigger decision than what they plan on doing the rest of their lives. Job prospects are, after all, limited to commuting distance.

Following are some of the best places to live for college graduates.

Ithaca, New York

Graduates of Ithaca, New York often stick around after college because of the low unemployment rate. Also, a number of agencies exist in Ithaca to help recent graduates network and find jobs. Nearby Cayuga Lake offers many outdoor activities during the summer while the city is home to a number of museums to entertain residents during winter months.

Hillsboro, Oregon

This suburb of Portland, Oregon is located only an hour from the beach and the mountains, so outdoor enthusiasts will rejoice. Hillsboro is home to Intel, and there are a number of other tech companies moving in and offering more jobs. Another reason this is one of the best places to live for college graduates is because of the low cost of living and non-existant sales tax, perfect for anyone living off of a starting salary.

Austin, Texas

For those craving big city life and warm weather, Austin is a thriving city full of art, music and culture. Austin Texas offers a number of programs to help entrepreneurs which is why it is the small business capital of the country. A 6.8% unemployment rate also gives graduates a relatively good chance to find a job.

Of course, this list isn't an all-inclusive list, but it should give you a good start on finding the best places to live for young people and college graduates.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Best Places to Visit in the World!

In our last post we introduced the Condé Nast Traveler Best in the World! Reader's Choice Awards. This next post in the series represents the Best of the Best - this is the list for the Top 100 Places to Visit in the World. Represented here is a mix of the best Hotels, Resorts and Cruise Lines as voted by the magazines readership. Because each was ranked based on averages and a scale of 1 to 100 this list is in order with 1 being the very top - the pinnacle of success according to the seasoned Condé Nast travelers. Beside each place we have noted their final score (out of 100) and whether it is - Hotel, Resort or Cruise Line. Here are your -

Top 100 Best in the World

  1. FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE - RESORT - Chiang Rai, Thailand - Score: 100
  2. PENINSULA HOUSE - HOTEL - Las Terranas, Dominican Republic - Score: 98.6
  3. LODGE AT KAURI CLIFFS - RESORT - New Zealand - Score: 98.4
  4. MOMBO AND LITTLE MOMBO CAMPS - RESORT - Botswana - Score: 98.4
  6. 21C MUSEUM HOTEL - HOTEL - Louisville, KY USA - Score: 97.7
  8. THE PENINSULA TOKYO - HOTEL - Tokyo - Score: 97.5
  9. The Peninsula Tokyo
  10. SINGITA SABI SAND - RESORT - South Africa - Score: 97.3
  11. IL SAN PIETRO DI POSITANO - HOTEL - Positano, Italy - Score: 97.2
  12. PUDONG SHANGRI-LA - HOTEL - Shanghai - Score: 97.2
  13. KING PACIFIC LODGE - RESORT - British Columbia, Canada - Score: 97
  15. MANDARIN ORIENTAL BANGKOK - HOTEL - Bangkok - Score: 96.8
  16. HOTEL FASANO - HOTEL - São Paulo, Brazil - Score: 96.7
  17. OBEROI VANYAVILAS - RESORT - Rajasthan, Sawai Madhopur, India - Score: 96.5
  18. THE PENINSULA CHICAGO - HOTEL - Chicago, IL USA - Score: 96.4
  20. KIRAWIRA LUXURY TENTED CAMP - RESORT - Tanzania - Score 96.2
  21. MANDARIN ORIENTAL DHARA DEVI - HOTEL - Chiang Mai, Thailand - Score: 96.2
  22. MANDARIN ORIENTAL - HOTEL - Boston, MA USA - Score: 96.1
  23. OBEROI UDAIVILAS - HOTEL - Rajasthan, India - Score: 96.1
  24. AMANDARI - HOTEL - Bali, Ubud, Indonesia - Score: 96
  25. LE FRANSCHHOEK HOTEL & SPA - HOTEL - Franschhoek, South Africa - Score: 96
  26. RESORT AT PELICAN HILL - RESORT - Newport Beach, CA USA - Score: 96
  27. FOUR SEASONS ISTANBUL AT SULTANAHMET - HOTEL - Istanbul, Turkey - Score: 95.9
  28. OBEROI AMARVILAS - HOTEL - Agra, India - Score: 95.9
  29. MILESTONE HOTEL - HOTEL - London, England - Score: 95.8
  30. OBEROI RAJVILAS - HOTEL - Jaipur, Rajasthan, India - Score: 95.8
  31. KESWICK HALL AT MONTICELLO - RESORT - Charlottesville, VA USA - Score: 95.6
  32. SANCTUARY AT KIAWAH ISLAND - GOLF RESORT - Johns Island,SC USA - Score: 95.6
  33. HUKA LODGE - RESORT - North Island, New Zealand - Score: 95.5
  34. THE PENINSULA HONG KONG - HOTEL - Hong Kong - Score: 95.5
  35. HÔTEL DE PARIS - HOTEL - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Score: 95.4
  36. THE PENINSULA BANGKOK - HOTEL - Bangkok, Thailand - Score: 95.4
  37. FOUR SEASONS BALI AT SAYAN - RESORT - Bali, Indonesia - Score: 95.3
  38. FOUR SEASONS CHIANG MAI - RESORT - Chiang Mai, Thailand - Score: 95.3
  39. PERIVOLAS - HOTEL - Santorini, Greece - Score: 95.3
  40. PARK HYATT PALACIO DUHAU - HOTEL - Buenos Aires, Argentina - Score: 95.2
  41. RAFFLES BEIJING - HOTEL - Beijing, CHINA - SCORE: 95.2
  42. FOUR SEASONS HOTEL - HOTEL - GEORGE V PARIS, Paris, France - Score: 95.1
  43. LE SIRENUSE - HOTEL - Positano, Italy - Score: 95.1
  44. AMANPURI, RESORT- Phuket, Thailand - Score: 95
  45. FOUR SEASONS GRESHAM PALACE - HOTEL - Budapest, Hungary - Score: 95
  46. FOUR SEASONS RESORT LANGKAWI - RESORT - Langkawi Island, Malaysia - Score: 95
  47. FOUR SEASONS RESORT MAUI AT WAILEA - RESORT - Maui, Hawaii - Score: 95
  48. THE PENINSULA BEVERLY HILLS - HOTEL - Beverly Hills, CA USA - Score: 95
  49. The Peninsula Beverly Hills
  50. VILLA SAN MICHELE - HOTEL - Fiesole, Tuscany, Italy - Score: 94.9
  51. EMERALD LAKE LODGE - RESORT - Alberta, Canada - Score: 94.7
  52. KENWOOD INN & SPA - RESORT - Sonoma, CA USA - Score: 94.7
  53. THE SAXON - HOTEL - Johannesburg, South Africa - Score: 94.7
  54. BEAU-RIVAGE PALACE - HOTEL - Lausanne, Switzerland - Score: 94.6
  55. INN AT SPANISH BAY - RESORT - Pebble Beach, CA USA - Score: 94.6
  56. PORTMAN RITZ-CARLTON - HOTEL - Shanghai, China - Score: 94.6
  57. RITZ-CARLTON BEIJING, FINANCIAL STREET - HOTEL - Beijing, China - Score: 94.6
  58. AUBERGE DU SOLEIL - HOTEL - Napa Valley, CA USA - Score: 94.5
  59. BURJ AL ARAB - RESORT - Dubai, UAE - Score: 94.5
  60. Burj Al Arab
  61. THE CHANLER AT CLIFF WALK - HOTEL - Newport, RI USA - Score: 94.5
  62. ONE & ONLY PALMILLA - RESORT - Los Cabos, Mexico - Score: 94.5
  63. BOBO HOTEL - HOTEL - Buenos Aires, Argentina - Score: 94.4
  64. CHEWTON GLEN - HOTEL - Hampshire, England - Score: 94.4
  65. FEARRINGTON HOUSE COUNTRY INN - HOTEL - Pittsboro, NC USA - Score: 94.4
  66. FOUR SEASONS HOTEL FIRENZE - HOTEL - Florence, Italy - Score: 94.4
  68. SABI SABI PRIVATE GAME RESERVE - RESORT - South Africa - Score: 94.4
  69. SINGITA LEBOMBO AND SWENI - RESORT - South Africa - Score: 94.4
  70. STEPHANIE INN - HOTEL - Cannon Beach, OR USA - Score: 94.4
  71. TAJ LAKE PALACE - HOTEL - Rajasthan, India - Score: 94.4
  72. JAO CAMP - RESORT - Botswana, Africa - Score: 94.3
  73. ROSEWOOD CRESCENT HOTEL - HOTEL - Dallas, TX USA - Score: 94.2
  74. FOUR SEASONS RESORT HUALALAI - RESORT - Big Island, HA - Score: 94.1
  75. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka'upulehu
  76. RITZ-CARLTON GRAND CAYMAN - RESORT - Cayman Islands - Score: 94.1
  77. HÔTEL LE GERMAIN-DOMINION - HOTEL - Québec City, Canada

    - Score: 94
  78. PARK HYATT TOKYO - HOTEL - Tokyo, Japan - Score: 94
  79. BAUR AU LAC - HOTEL - Zürich, Switzerland - Score: 93.9
  80. FOUR SEASONS PRAGUE - HOTEL - Prague, Czech Republic - Score: 93.9
  81. HOTEL MURANO - HOTEL - Tacoma, WA USA - Score: 93.8
  82. JADE MOUNTAIN - RESORT - Soufrière , St. Lucia - Score: 93.8
  83. MADIKWE SAFARI LODGES - RESORT - South Africa - Score: 93.8
  84. THE REEFS - RESORT - Southampton, Bermuda - Score: 93.8
  85. THE REGENT BERLIN - HOTEL - Berlin, Germany - Score: 93.8
  86. RITZ-CARLTON - HOTEL - Tokyo, 93.8
  87. NISBET PLANTATION BEACH CLUB - RESORT - St. James, Nevis & St. Kitts - Score: 93.7
  88. AMANGANI - RESORT - Jackson Hole, WY USA - Score: 93.6
  90. SANDIBE OKAVANGO SAFARI LODGE - RESORT - Botswana, Africa - Score: 93.6
  91. THE WAUWINET - HOTEL - Nantucket, MA USA - Score: 93.6
  92. LA RÉSERVE DE BEAULIEU - HOTEL - Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Côte d'Azur, France - Score: 93.5
  93. La Reserve De Beaulieu & Spa, Villefranche-Sur-Mer,
  94. MANDARIN ORIENTAL HONG KONG - HOTEL - Hong Kong - Score: 93.5
  95. MANDARIN ORIENTAL PRAGUE - HOTEL - Prague, Czech Republic - Score: 93.5
  97. SHANGRI-LA HOTEL BANGKOK - HOTEL - Bangkok, Thailand - Score: 93.4
  98. THE SETAI - HOTEL - Miami Beach, FL USA - Score: 93.4
  99. STOWE MOUNTAIN LODGE - RESORT - Stowe, VT USA - Score: 93.4
  100. YACHTS OF SEABOURN - CRUISE - Score:93.4
  101. CASA PALMERO - RESORT - Pebble Beach, CA USA - Score: 93.3
  102. DUMATAU CAMP - RESORT - Botswana, Africa - Score: 93.3
  103. FAIRMONT LE MONTREUX PALACE - HOTEL - Montreux, Switzerland - Score: 93.3
  104. LAPA RIOS ECOLODGE - HOTEL - Puntarenas, Costa Rica - Score: 93.3
  105. CASA SANTO DOMINGO - HOTEL - Guatemala - Score: 93.2
  106. HOTEL MONASTERIO - HOTEL - Cuzco, Peru - Score: 93.2

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Best in the World! Condé Nast

The votes are in and Condé Nast Traveler has released it's Best in the World! Reader's Choice Awards.

I love reading this issue!  It's fantastic because it comes from the readers of Condé Nast Traveler - not some biased PR firm whose job it is to make Best Of list's. In fact Condé Nast got feedback from almost 26,000 people for this years Best in the World. That's a lot of seasoned travelers opinions and that's what I believe makes this one very credible list. While we're on the topic lets talk a little about the 'methodology' they use to create the ranked Best Of lists which cover pretty much every topic a seasoned traveler would want (see below for categories). Each year the magazine requests feedback from a selected sample of their readers through a secure online survey. This year the final tabulation of the 25,916 responses were done by Global Market Institute, Inc. of Boston, MA. Each candidate - hotel, city, airline etc. - was rated on a five point scale  in different categories. The scores are then averaged and summarized to come up with the rank order form highest to lowest. If any particular candidate did not get a minimum number of complete responses they were re,moved form the competition.

So, what did it all add up too?

Best in the World

There are over 1,000 winners in this years Best in the World lists as selected and voted upon by people who are passionate about travel. Over 500 hotels, almost 400 resorts, cities, islands, transportation and more. This truly is the Best of the Best. The first list puts it all together and gives you the Top 100 Hotels, Resorts and Cruises in the World. Things then get broken down into categories beginning with -

The Worlds Best Hotels

There are 530 hotels in this years list from A to Z, literally! The Best Hotels in the World are known for their uncompromising stand on quality and consistency. It's also interesting to note that 80 of the best also made the list for the World's Best new properties.

Top Cities

The best cities in the world don't have to present a sky line of modern high rises or a collection of historic sites to make the list. No the Top 50 Best Hotels in the World include it all. From Medieval Bruges to Carmel by the Sea. These are also presented by location and broken down into sub sets by six continents - Asia, Africa/Middle East, the United States, Europe, The Americas and Oceania.

The Top Resorts in the World

380 of them! are also broken down by continent so you can find the Best of the Best from Africa to Mainland U.S.A. Whether your looking for the Best Beach Resorts or a Desert Spa this list doesn't fail to please or offer an abundance of options.

Top Island Vacations

Did you know there are actually over 3,000 islands you can visit form the South Pacific to the North Atlantic  But which ones are the best? Well Condé Nast readers will enlighten you as to which are the Top 50 Island in the world. This list may present some surprises but one island you won't be surprised to find at the top of the Oceania category is Maui, Hawaii.

Top Cruises - Airlines - and Car Rentals

No list of the Best of the Best for travelers would be complete without covering the Top Transportation. If it's true that 'getting there can be half the fun' than want to be sure to explore the list of the Top 20 Airlines; Top 20 Cruise Lines and the Top 10 Car Rental Companies. The alternative can leave you stewing for days and when days are all you've got on vacation wouldn't It be a crime to waste the first few getting over a lousy trip!

So, what's missing from the lists? How about the Best Spas for one. Now I know that's not by accident as the magazine devotes an entire issue to the Best Spas in the World. I'll be sure to review that one as soon as it arrives!

For now click forward as we jump into each of the Best in the World Lists one at a time. Be sure to have your notepad and travel agents number handy as I'm sure by the end of your read you're going to be ready for the trip of a lifetime!

The the way if your looking for the Cheapest Place to find Condé Nast Traveler check out the source link below - I've uncovered one whopper of a deal for you!

Source: Condé Nast Traveler

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Best Places to Retire - Belize Facts

International Living recently posed this question...

is Belize the easiest place to retire?

Well, according to the current issue of International Living magazine, Belize is: English speaking; has a very low cost of living, and on top of that it has no taxes! Oh and did I mention it's in the Caribbean?

In fact Belize is most likely the last place where you can still get find truly affordable Caribbean real estate.

Belize Facts:

Belize is a politically stable Central American country that is quite small and close by. Thats just one fact that makes it easy to consider as part of your retirement investment plan - whether you are interested in escaping winter for a few months each year or wanting a full time retirement get-away.  Where is Belize? Why it's just down the Caribbean Coast south of Mexico and west of  Guatemala.

It’s really very easy to enjoy yourself what with miles of tropical beaches; the second longest barrier reef on the planet; what many consider to be the best diving and snorkeling on earth; lush rain-forests; beautiful mountain retreats; natural preserves; vast rivers; above ground and underwater cave systems, and a plethora of Mayan archeological sites - yes, there's no shortage of things to do in Belize!

The fact that it's one of the most affordable retirement destinations only adds to the benefits.

Belize Real Estate For Sale

How affordable you ask? On Ambergris Caye, one of the numerous islands of Belize, a two bedroom, one bath, 900 sq ft house with air conditioning and close to the main village of San Pedro is for sale at just $135,000. Go 1 1/2 miles south to the village at Royal Palm Villas and you'll discover one bedroom oceanside condos for sale listed at just $149,000. These are new, modern condos with additional features like 24 hour security, a swimming pool, and air-conditioning.

Now if you're new to the whle idea of investing in Caribbean Real Estate or the idea of a Central American Retirement you might be wondering how those prices compare to other Caribbean hot spots like Bermuda where you will pay in excess of $800,000 for an average condo or St. John in the US Virgin Islands where you need to cough up $600,000 for something similar.

Yes, Belize is truly a Caribbean paradise. It was formerly known as "British Honduras" this the English speaking population. And it offers numerous important bonuses for anyone wanting an easy way to retire abroad in 2011.

Your Belize Retirement Calculator

Take a few moments to add up all of these benefits when to choose to retire in Belize and be convinced this truly is the easiest and best place to retire.

  1. As we've already mentioned first and foremost English is the national language. That means living in Belize as an American you will benefit from being able to speak with neighbours, store keepers, realestate agents, drivers, bankers, waiters, well everyone really, in a common language you already understand. And most importantly, when it comes to legal papers, any contract you negotiate, whether its to rent or purchase a home, is written in English too. That translates into one more way to simplify your move and your life.
  2. Next on our list is currency. The Belize dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar at a constant 2 to 1 plus U.S. currency is commonly and readily accepted in Belize. For you that translates into easy currency conversions - no need for any advanced retirement calculator here!
  3. Taxes - the tax situation in Belize is another easy thing to manage. With No taxes on foreign earned income; No capital gains taxes; No corporate taxes; No inheritance taxes - it couldn't be any simpler.
  4. The population of Belize is just over 300,000 people. And we're not talking about the population of their largest city no,   that's the population of the entire country! Belize is just 180 miles long and about 68 miles wide. That translates into one easy retirement lifestyle - easy to find the people, businesses, services and any other resources you may need to get things done.
  5. The Retire Belize Program - not only do they have one of the best Retirement Programs in the Caribbean you don't even need to be retired to sign up for the benefits. Modelled after Panama's famous Pensionado Program, you need to be 45 years or older and prove you have a minimum monthly income of $2,000. That can be from a pension or an annuity, including Social Security. As an added benefit the program allows you to bring all your personal goods into Belize tax free.
Ready to Escape to Belize? Click here to learn more about the possibilities.