Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Cheapest Places to Retire in the U.S. for 2012

One of my closest friend's recently introduced me to a new book he discovered - the name speaks for itself, 'The Cheapest Places to Retire in the U.S. 2012 Edition'. The cool thing about this book is that a great deal of research went into it. So, it's not just another one of those subjective lists someone has put together to promote their particular community instead it's a fact based directory.

The author is Thomas Corley who is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Financial Planner.He runs a company called the Rich Habits Institute which is dedicated to helping people and organizations achieve financial freedom. He's accumulated literally thousands of hours of research into the many different locations around the United States that he found to be the cheapest places to live and retire. It's no lie to Tom has "crunched" a lot of numbers to come up with this list. In fact, he and his team have analyzed over 3,000 cities, towns and communities across the U.S. to come up with his Top 100 list. He looked at ten key relevant factors and then applied a proprietary scoring formula to each factor to determine which communities ranked highest as the best of the cheapest places to retire in the U.S.  The following factors were identified and used to create the directory:

Ten Key Retirement Factors -

  1. Lowest Housing Costs
  2. Lowest Property Tax 
  3. Lowest Sales Tax 
  4. Best Climate 
  5. Lowest Crime Rate 
  6. Lowest Income Tax 
  7. Closest to Major or Regional Metropolitan Areas 
  8. Closest to Hospitals 
  9. Closest to Airports 
  10. Closest to Beaches or Coastlines

If you look around on the Internet you'll see a lot of lists that claim to give you the top 10 or 100 but what sets this directory apart is the hard analytical data and the volume of work done to come up with an objective measure of 'cheap living'. Not only that but this list of the 100 cheapest places to retire is substantially different from the others based on the criteria that was used.

Now I keep referring to this as a list or directory but make no mistake it's not just a one page list of the top 100. Tom has gone a lot further to provide a full page of detailed analysis for each and every place on the list. You can get the highlights from his snap-shot 'The Good and The Bad' bullet points and you can dive in with detailed stats on the key retirement factors as well as a good narrative.

By now I hope you agree this sounds like a great resource to help you uncover a good place to retire on a limited budget.  But just to be sure we've worked with Tom to come up with a free 'Sneak Preview' of his book. This will give you a good idea of the content of the big book - how it is laid out and how valuable it could be to you if you are looking for that perfect spot to retire on a limited budget. To get the Free Mini-Book - just fill in the form below and we will send it directory to your e-mail box.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Living in California

Is California the Best Place to Live in the U.S.?

With its prime location nestled next to the Pacific Ocean coupled with mountain ranges all around and some pretty nice weather year round it is no surprise that many are living in Southern California. Since California joined the union people have exclaimed the virtues of California and called it the best place to live in the United States.

Living in Southern California

There are many benefits to the living in the southern half of this state. Job opportunities abound here. If you are in the Entertainment field, there are a wealth of studios and production companies to work for, but Southern California has job opportunities outside of the stereotypical 'movie business'. Yes, Southern Cal has a wide variety of professions to choose from - from accounting to advertising, to working with technology or opening your own business or restaurant, choices and opportunities abound abound.

Southern California is a hubbub of recreational activities. With the moderate temperature of the ocean water activities such as surfing, diving, and parasailing are at your fingertips. If you prefer grounded movement, there are bike trails and hiking trails all over the regions. If you like roller coasters and water parks, Southern California has several zoos, aquariums and theme parks to choose from.

Living in Northern California

Living in Northern California can be an amazing experience too, although it is significantly more expensive than it's southern counterpart. Like Southern California, Northern California has a range of job opportunities, including great advertising companies, educational positions and various technology fields. There are mountains to hike and some great city trekking to be done in cities like San Francisco. The weather is more moderate here, and the rainfall and fog are significant, but they go great with a nice cup of coffee from some outstanding coffee shops and restaurants up North. As an added bonus a trip to the woods and to the neighboring state of Oregon are not far away either.

The Cheapest Places to Live in California

Most people are surprised to learn that there are inexpensive places to live in California, but it's important to note that these places are often in hotter parts of the state.

The cheapest places to live in California include:

California City, with a population of about 15,000 it is located in Northern Antelope Valley and has affordable homes in the $200,000 range and low rents for apartments too.

Hesperia, California, which is a couple of hours from Orange county has a larger population of around 80,000 people and homes that are in the $200,000 to 300,000 range.

To the north of Los Angeles is Bakersfield, California with a growing population of 300,000 and affordable housing.

The most populated of these areas is Lancaster, California with over 500,000 people and lots of schools to accommodate this growing area.

The Best Place to Live in California?

There is some debate to where the best places to live in California are. Some automatically default to Los Angeles and San Francisco due to their popularity. San Diego's name has been emerging, for it is not as populated as the former cities and there are jobs, recreation and good food there too, for a little less on the pocket book. If the best place to live to you is where there is a low crime rate, then cities like Palos Verdes Estates or Saratoga, California may be what you are looking for although living in these spots does come with a higher price tag. Wherever you end up in this great state, I think you will love it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Cheapest Places to Retire by the Beach

When it comes to living in retirement on the cheap we all know the concept is almost completely subjective - that is to say one persons cheap could be completely different than another. Lifestyle factors are the first consideration. For some living in the cold is no big deal. Some retirees may even have problems dealing with heat and exposure to the sun and therefor really want and need to live some where cool and cloudy or at least shady. On the other hand many people and in all likelihood the majority of people would say living by water and specifically near a beach would be wonderful. So, is it possible? Can one find a cheap place to retire by the beach? I think so! Let's have a look at -

The Most Affordable Places for Retirement by the Beach

Choosing the cheapest places to retire is not a task that should be taken lightly. Retiring abroad is the dream of many people who have lived and worked in the same places their whole lives and want to experience something different in their twilight years. In some cases people want to return to a place that they have visited on vacation before, in others they are looking for an adventure. It is always best to conduct serious research into any country before visiting, let alone moving there permanently. For the few who actually get to do it, choosing the right place usually involves selecting based on a list of criteria including personal taste, cost of living, quality of the healthcare available and familiarity with the culture.

Panama is One of the Best Places to Live After Retirement

Panama is one of the more popular places for retirement outside of the USA for several good reasons. The first is the potential for it to be a tax haven for those who meet certain qualifications. Another is the fact that the country has a relatively high standard of living while also being an affordable place to live. Panama also uses the US dollar as its national currency, making things a lot simpler for new residents as they will not have a new currency or new exchange rates to figure out. To make it all even more appealing, Panama has always had strong ties with the US and there is a large community of ex-pat retirees in place there already. Those retiring to Panama can choose between the bustling metropolitan life of Panama City or, for a more rural setting, they may want to venture into the the hills and forests of the county. For many, the selling point is the abundance of beaches and the relaxed atmosphere of the beach towns.


Mexico Has Some of the Best Beaches in the World

Good old Mexico has gotten a bad rap recently due to drug cartel squabbles, but the fact is that those occur mostly in border towns and therefore ex-pats elsewhere in the country should be relatively safe. Apart from being next-door to the USA, Mexico has good food, a plentiful supply of beaches and in the big cities it is possible to find a good standard of living and reasonable healthcare. This is to say nothing of the fact that there are thousands of ex-pats living there already, therefore newcomers will have a community ready and waiting for them to join in.

Retire Cheap

France Has an Excellent Healthcare System

France is well known as a tourist destination. French food, wine, and art are all of a high enough quality that people travel from all corners of the world to partake of them. The French beaches of Canne and St Tropez are also among the more glamorous and well-known Europe. In fact, it could be said that no one can truly consider themselves a world traveler without experiencing a trip to France. Well, France is no longer just for backpacking college kids and the average summer tourist. It is widely considered to be one of the more appealing places in which to retire. Apart from the culture and countryside, France is one of the all-round best places to live in the world and offers a number of benefits including relatively affordable home ownership some of the very best health care available anywhere.

Cheap, Safe, and Friendly: The World's Top Retirement Havens

There are places, the world over, where people are friendly, crime is almost non-existent, health care is excellent, and prices for everything from homes to groceries and doctors' visits could make you think it's 1953 again.

Places where it is possible to reduce your retirement cost of living, perhaps dramatically...while increasing the quality of your life.

We have prepared a series of five Country Retirement Reports that contain complete details on retirement opportunities in some of the world's top retirement havens right now.

Is the idea of moving abroad for a cheap place to live in retirement just not your cup of tea? If you're goal is to live in retirement in the U.S. there are plenty of cheap places to live and many are on the beach. Check out the post below for a free report on the cheapest places to retire in the U.S. and a review of the new comprehensive directory by the Rich Habits Institute.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Are There Cheap Places To Live In Florida That Are Safe?

Are there cheap places to live in Florida that are safe? This is a big question for anyone that is thinking about relocating to that state. It is especially important to people who want to retire to Florida and are on a limited budget. It definitely is possible to find affordable housing when using a bit of research and planning. Florida is divided among its geographic regions. Here is a look into cheap and safe places to live in Florida.

Cheap Places To Live In Florida

In the recent past, Florida has suffered from devastating storms that raised insurance and property taxes to a high rate. However, as more and more people are found to enter foreclosures, this state has an abundance of housing deals. Southern Florida is one of the most expensive areas in the state and the weather is very unpredictable and brings a strong risk of hurricanes. On the other hand, cities like Tampa and Orlando, in the central region of the state, are much better choices. Even though the real estate in this section can get costly, older areas have more affordable pricing. The northern area of central Florida has an endless number of inexpensive houses, low taxes, and cheap land improvement. North Florida, including the city of Jacksonville, is a safe area of the state that has a lot of cheap housing options as well.

Cheapest Places To Live

One of the cheapest places to live in Florida is one of the many mobile home parks. For retired couples, there are adult only communities that bring good opportunities to meet other people. Rent is low and prices on mobile homes are relatively cheap. Activities like swimming and tennis are ways to get involved in the neighborhood. Many times, mobile home communities have planned evening get togethers.

Best Places To Live In Florida

Florida is well known for its warm and sunny temperatures. It has a low crime rate and is a perfect environment for sports like golf and activities like fishing. Tampa is a city on Florida's west coast and is a mecca for tourists because of the beaches and commercial dealings. There is a large amount of condos that line this area as well. Miami lies on the east coast of South Florida. It has the nickname "The Gateway To The Americas" because it is a hub for media, fashion, music, and entertainment. Tallahassee, the state capital, houses many educational and job opportunities. It is evident that anyone searching for a safe and inexpensive city to live in should consider Florida. There are many towns that have affordable real estate all long the large coastline. The temperature, natural beauty, entertainment, and other opportunities makes Florida one of the best places to live.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Best Places to Live in Florida for Families

Where are the Best Places to Live in Florida for Families?

Florida is no longer a place just for the rich or retired; it has become a place for the common family to live due to the increase in job availability and wonderful climate, along with various other factors. However, when people think of Florida they don't typically think of it as a family-friendly place to live. It's true there are some parts of Florida that are unpleasant, or possibly even dangerous. That is why it is vital to choose your new home from safe areas that are known as the best places to live in Florida, to ensure that your family gets to live in a happy, safe location. Finding one of these Florida gems is not too difficult; you just need to know where to look.

The Best Places to Live

Using NeighborhoodScout, Dr. Andrew Schiller has been able to pinpoint the top ten places in Florida to live. He is the creator of the NeighborhoodScout engine, and built it so that families can find the most suitable places to live and raise a family. It takes into consideration the safety from crime, public school quality, number of families currently residing there, number of adults with degrees in the area, number of adults who own their home, and many other factors. This is how it determines the quality of living for families in certain areas, which in turn helps families that are looking for homes in the area find the place they would fit in the best. This tool reveals

The Top Ten Places to Live in Florida

- Windermere, FL

- Boca Raton, FL

- Winter Springs, FL

- Key Biscayne, FL

- Longwood, FL

- Orange Park, FL

- Fort Lauderdale, FL

- Jupiter, FL

- Oviedo, FL

- Naples, FL

Safe Places to Live

Each of the towns listed above have been verified that they are indeed safe for families to live there. Safety is the top concern this program takes into consideration when choosing the best places for families to live, as safety is typically the top concern for families. Families want to know that the place they are moving to is safe for themselves, as well as their children. Child safety is a necessity for any family to even consider living somewhere, so NeighborhoodScout has looked into the crime rate in these areas to make sure that families can feel safe living in these areas.

So if you are one of those families that are looking into moving into Florida, take a look at these ten towns listed above. These towns are believed to be the best places in Florida for families to live in, proven by statistics.

Monday, February 20, 2012

International Living - Best Places for 2012

The New Year has begun and all of the lists for the best places to live and retire are being updated as I write this post.

With all the Doom and Gloom on CNN one might think the whole world is falling apart but that's the image the media want to continually beat into our brains - it's not reality. While politicians harp on the "post American World' and how even mentioning the phrase is somehow considered unpatriotic, the reality is we are moving into the Post American Era and that's not because the U.S. is some how worse than it is because the rest of the world is finally catching up. And that's a good thing! The Post American World is not about America falling but about the rise of everyone else. Just look around the world - new, modern cities are being built and old ones completely remodeled to American standards. Capital is being invested into adding more entertainment facilities, into improving small towns, into expanding airports, and into making comfortable living that much easier for those who desire to pursue a life abroad. The biggest news that 2012 is bringing to such individuals is that living somewhere far from America is becoming cheaper and easier. More accurately stated, the best places are going out of their way to make life in their area more affordable and more comfortable. Take Panama and their Pensionado Program whereby ex-pats can retire to Panama and enjoy an extensive list of retiree benefits the same as if they were born there.

Buenos Aires, the Paris of South America

In 2012 one place that sets the bar for living internationally is Buenos Aires, "the Paris of South America". The people are friendly, the weather is beautiful and the city is humming - constantly alive with culture, music and entertainment. For those looking to continue life immersed in the hustle and bustle of the world, Buenos Aires is definitely a great place to consider when thinking of moving abroad. The living in this city, as in any other, is pricey as compared to surrounding small towns. However, if one can survive in Boston, New York or Los Angeles then Buenos Aires will be no trouble at all.

Hong Kong - Where East is Become West

Another city on top of the list of most desired places to live abroad in 2012 is Hong Kong. Yes, the culture is dramatically different from that of Western Europe, but almost every there now speaks English and there is a dramatic move towards Westernization throughout Asia. The city is extremely safe for its size, there is constantly something to do and some place to go. Eastern Asia is always a quick flight or boat trip away for exploration.

The Most Affordable Places to Live in Europe

Austria has continually been ranked as one of the best places to set up a new home. This may be because of its clean environment, peaceful living, beautiful nature, and intriguing history and culture. Specifically the capitol city of Austria, Vienna, has been listed as one of the most affordable places to live in Europe with the highest quality of living of any city in the surrounding areas.

Down-Under for the Healthiest Lifestyle

As for as standard of living goes, New Zealand has continually beat out a large number of competitors on the "best place for living abroad" lists. The affordable living and some of the healthiest food supplies of any country on the planet, New Zealand continues to be an inspiration for all other places. Not to mention the record low crime, great school systems and beautiful country side, all of which make the island one of the most desired places to live in the entire world.

Still The Best Place to Retire

For those looking for best places to retire, a look at Panama is certainly warranted. Panama remains one of the most affordable and laid back places to live in retirement, thanks in no small part to the Pensionado Program mentioned above. The area has been deemed the winner of International Living magazine's Annual Global Retirement Index for six years in a row. And this is just one of the many accredited organizations that have listed Panama as the top place to retire. Editors note - be sure to see the post below for a great free video about this year's hottest Top Retirement Destinations.

So, if you're tired of Doom and Gloom - tired of cynical politicians who are concerned with nothing but their own power maybe it's time you considered a new Life Overseas - maybe 2012 is your time for International Living.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Video Reveals World's Top Retirement Havens For 2012

This New Video From Kathleen Peddicord Reveals Why You Don't Have To Worry About Outliving Your Nest Egg...

You can retire in style overseas and live better than you do now...for as little as US$694 a month...

Live well--including a maid, a gardener, a driver--all on a Social Security budget...

Arrange health insurance for US$150 a month or less...some places, you can even enjoy free medical care...

Own your own home in the sun for as little as US$99,000...

and wake up each morning to the sound of the waves on the sand...

or the freshness of clean, mountain air...

In this brand-new video from Kathleen Peddicord, she explains the 10 Best Value Destinations for Living and Investing in the World Today.

Go here now to watch Kathleen's free video presentation

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Best Cities To Keep You Young

10 Cities Considered the Best Cities To Keep You Young

I was doing my usual surf around for what other sites had to say about the best places to live recently when I came across an interesting study of cities in the United States where residents manage to stay young in spite of chronological age.

The study invited users to assess their “real age”-- a measurement of how well people handle their true age in years from both a physical and psychological standpoint and developed a survey of 28 million users which ranked a total of 50 cities based on how low the stress of living in those locations impacts residents. The study found that cities which evidenced the lowest rates of reported stress were the “youngest” because their residents took better care of themselves in terms of managing stress, smoking, diet and exercise which in turn reduced the incidence of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes all considered diseases of age and stress.

The Top 10 Youngest Cities

The study website recently announced the results of their survey and here are the top ten youngest cities. Coming out on top in the rankings was -

  • San Francisco, California - that hippie haven form the 60s, San Francisco started the healthy eating movement that has since swept the country. Residents here eat more fruit and vegetables and consume more whole grains than any other city in the United States. The city ranks number one in non smokers and number two in levels of exercise.
  • Salt Lake City, Utah - Aiding the ranking here is the high percentage of Mormon residents--the Mormon religion bans drinking alcohol, coffee and sodas, and discourages smoking. Happy marriages abound here, and residents are found to have an uncommonly optimistic outlook on life, all of which contribute to the second place ranking.
  • San Diego, California - comes in third on the list of youngest cities in the United States. There you find a moderate climate with mild temperate and the most consistent level of sunshine exposure in the U.S. This alone helps place this coastal southern California city at number three. San Diego ranks number one in the U.S. for the resident's level of exercise, boasts fourth place for non-smokers and ranks third in levels of optimism.
  • Minneapolis-St Paul, MN - is fourth youngest when looking at the metro area. Surrounded by rich agricultural bounty, Minneapolis-St Paul boasts first place in the consumption of whole grains which in turn yields the best levels of blood pressure. The city ranks second in stress and bolsters its position by being the best metropolitan area in terms of adequate sleep and healthy levels of vitamin D.
  • The Denver-Boulder Colorado metropolitan area ranks fifth youngest. This rugged mountainous--mile high environment leads the nation in optimism, third best for exercise and second best for levels of healthy blood pressure.
  • Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina - is Sixth. Home to several prominent universities, the area boasts a socially connected and aware populace with great rankings in terms of low blood pressure and cholesterol, optimism, and strong employment.
  • The Seventh youngest city is Boston, Massachusetts. Boston ranks highest among residents covered by health insurance and important and often overlooked factor in overall health maintenance. Residents here also rank high in their consumption of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which in allows Boston to rank second for low blood cholesterol levels.
  • Eighth youngest city is Austin Texas. Prime here is the level of education in this university town which in turn results in better overall understanding of dietary requirements and the need for a healthy lifestyle. Austin residents boast the lowest stress levels in the US and maintain the second place position for optimism.
  • Number nine is something of a surprise as very few would consider the metro Washington, D.C. area to be a geographic location known for low stress. Bolstering the ranking for this city is the high level of employment and the high income those jobs provide, which make health maintenance far easier than in other areas of the country. Money may not buy happiness but it buys access to good health-care.
  • And, the number ten of youngest cities in the U.S. should surprise no one -- with its fabled glorification of the young and glowingly healthy. But Los Angeles California ranks as the tenth youngest city based on “real age” factors such as exercise, eating fruits and veggies, taking aspirin, and not smoking.

Not many of us can pull up stakes and move to one of these cities, but we can make changes to our own lifestyles which reflect those of these top ranked cities. A diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, adequate levels of exercise, not smoking and an optimistic outlook are possible in any geographic location and at any age.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Best Places to Live for 2012

A new year brings many opportunities for new adventure. If your New Year’s resolution involved relocating to a new state (or even country!), we can help. We’ve taken the guesswork out of the situation with our all new list of Best Places to Live in the World.

Best Places to Live in the Middle East

Although the Middle East has earned a reputation filled with strife and struggle, there are several safe and sane places to live in this region. Built on oil profits, Dubai is now has a gross domestic product exceeding $90 billion a year. Dubai also has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the entire world at just over 1%.

Live in the Middle East

Best Places to Live in Australia

Australia is an amazing place to live. In the “land down under“, there is no better place to live than Sydney. A 3.8% unemployment rate, relatively low cost of living and plenty of entertainment makes New South Wales in general and Sydney in particular a great place to call home.

Best Places to Live in Africa

South Africa is an incredibly Americanized place to live. Many residents speak English. Although once a den for violence and crimes against citizens, South Africa has recently invested billions of dollars into making the streets safer for all. Education is a priority here and a great emphasis is placed on traditional art and music.

Best Places to Live in Europe

Ah, Europe. The name practically screams affluence, and there is no more affluent place in all of Europe than Switzerland. This beautiful country nestled in the Swiss Alps is as picturesque as it is prosperous. With a stable economy, a mere 1.5% inflation rate and some of the best education in all of Europe, Switzerland is a sure bet.

Best Places to Live in Canada

British Columbia is among the best places to live here. With incredibly low taxes, a great job market and some of the cleanest air in the world, British Columbia clinches a mention. British Columbia is cold, but does have some of the best weather in Canada.

Best Places to Live in UK

London is great, but rural England offers some of the best living around. With quaint cottages, lush, green fields and plenty of opportunities for livestock and agriculture, rural England has a charm all of its own. Yorkshire county boasts low unemployment, a strong emphasis on simple family living and a high priority on educating their youth.

Best Places to Live in Asia

Singapore lies in southeast Asia off the Malay Peninsula. Once a poor, struggling city-state, it has now become a hub of commerce with a healthy market-based economy. The 14th largest exporter in the entire world, Singapore has a triple A credit rating from all three major credit rating agencies. In an effort to increase population rates, Singapore actually encourages foreign immigration.

Best Places to Live in the US

Globetrotting not on your resolution list this year? There are plenty of opportunities for relocation right here in the states. With an incredibly low crime rate per capita, New Hampshire tops our US 2012 list. Rated 46th lowest in the nation for violent crime and 48th in the nation for homicide by weapon, this is an amazingly safe place to live. As of December 2011, the New Hampshire unemployment rate was 5.2%, more than three points below the national average.

Whether your New Year’s resolutions involves relocating across seas or simply across state borders, opportunity is everywhere. Make a leap of faith, spread your wings and fly to a brand new home in 2012!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Best Places to Live in Canada for 2012

In terms of total area, Canada is the world’s second largest country. Colonized by the English and Europeans in 1497, it has long been a great place to call home. Multiculturalism is celebrated here, making Canada home to some of North America's premier locations to live. Join us as we tour several of Canada's Best Places to Live.

Best Places to Live in Eastern Canada

For a culture-rich experience, Quebec is the perfect relocation destination. Located between Ontario to the west and the east coast provinces including: Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Labrador and New Brunswick. Quebec is Canada’s second most populated province. Quebec’s economy accounts for more than 20% of the entire GDP of Canada as a whole. Unemployment is holding fairly steady at 7.4%, more than a full percentage point lower than the neighboring United States. Jobs here are mainly in the service sector and minimum wage stands at $9.65 an hour. Quebec has the third lowest crime rate in all of Canada and is among the best places to live in the country.

Best Places to Live in Central Canada

Ontario is the most populated province in all of Canada, but has the lowest total crime rate. Responsible for more than half of the country’s exports, Ontario’s economy is firmly rooted in manufacturing. Unemployment is on par with US rates at about 8.4%. Minimum wage here is $10.25 per hour, which is the highest rate of all the Canadian provinces. A three bedroom home can be had for $205,000, down nearly 3% from 2006. Toronto is the province’s most populated area, and home prices in the city are among Canada’s highest.

Best Places to Live in Western Canada

British Columbia lies on Canada’s western border and is the best place in western Canada to call home. Minimum wage is a respectable $9.50 an hour. British Columbia is among the most beautiful places in Canada; however, that beauty comes at a premium. The median home price here is more than double that of Ontario as a whole. The climate is the mildest in the entire country, with an average high of 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Compared to Canada’s typical tundra-like atmosphere, the weather alone may be worth the high home prices.

Best Places to Live in Northern Canada

Northern Canada is a cold place to call home. The Yukon territory, Canada’s northwestern-most point, was most famously occupied by the hale and hearty gold miners of the 19th century. Unemployment is 3.7% and most jobs are in mining, manufacturing and agricultural pursuits. The housing market in the Yukon has been all over the board in recent years. As it stands now, a three bedroom home can be bought for just under $125,000. Famous for its natural beauty and recreational opportunities, the Yukon territory is a great place for the outdoor enthusiast.

The Best Canadian Cities to Live in

Some of the best Canadian cities to live in include Quebec City, Quebec; Toronto, Ontario; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Whitehorse, Yukon. All of these cities have great cultural and entertainment opportunities as well as thriving economies.

Canada has no shortage of great places to live. The cold weather is not a deterrent for the enthusiastic citizens of our neighbor to the north. With one of the highest standards of living in the world, a country-funded medical program and wonderful foreign relations, Canada ranks high on our list of amazing places to live.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Best Places to Live In Maryland

The Top 100 places to live in America

Each year Money magazine conducts a survey of the top 100 places to live in America. Many states can’t even crack the list—more than half fail to place even one city within their boundaries in the top 100.  In 2011 Maryland had the distinction of finding three of its cities on this enviable list.

The Best Places to Live

The survey ranks “best places to live” on a number of criteria.  Chief among these is levels of stress experienced by residents—which may be linked to crime rates and availability of good jobs; also important area availability of good schools, and access to the amenities and benefits of being near a larger city or major metropolitan area without having to live in the midst of the metro areas congestion, crime and high costs of living. Other factors cited in the survey include economic strength, good climate and recreational opportunities.

Three Maryland Cities that make the List

Montgomery Village

Clocking in at #40 on the list of top 100 places to live is Montgomery Village, Maryland.  Situated near Baltimore but classified as a suburb of Gaithersburg, this large, planned community lies in the middle of an unincorporated section of Montgomery County.  The population is approximately 40,000 and is considered a fairly affluent area—a reputation bolstered by its location near the Maryland “technology corridor with its high paying technical jobs.  The Montgomery Village schools are well regarded and low stress living is enhanced by the planned nature of the community, with no fewer than six law enforcement agencies servicing the area, crime is low.  Housing prices are high—as might be expected from a prime location between Baltimore and Washington D.C.


Eldersburg, in Carroll County is ranked as the 67th best place to live in the US by the survey.  Eldersburg claims a population of just over 31,000.  Eldersburg’s close proximity to Washington D.C. makes it a popular “bedroom” community for professionals, federal and contract workers who commute to the nation’s capital daily.  Once a thriving farming region, recent decades have seen a steady influx of families moving into the area and yet the rural appeal of the town is maintained by its small size and its location nestled in scenic, rolling hills.  Public schools in Eldersburg  are ranked as among the best in the state; housing prices—again due to the proximity to the very high cost District of Columbia are higher than average, but the economic health of the area is excellent, which supports the higher real estate costs.


The third Maryland community in the top 100 is Crofton, which comes in at number 82.  Crofton, situated in Anne Arundel County started its existence in 1965 as planned, gated community equidistance from both Washington D.C. and Baltimore (20 miles to each).  With a population of only slightly over 20,000, Crofton is situated around a scenic 3.5-mile scenic loop that includes two elementary schools, the town hall, and a country club and which is famous for its jogging, cycling and walking opportunities.  Crime is low and the schools are among the best in the state.  Housing prices however are reported as being “significantly” higher than the statewide average.

While one man’s paradise can be another’s purgatory, the criteria cited by Money magazine’s survey identify the most important factors that go into making a particular location among the “best places to live in the United States.  Not everyone can move to these oases of domestic tranquility, but for those relocating due to job or schooling reasons to Maryland’s Baltimore-D.C. area, these three cities rank among the best places to live in Maryland.

Two Of The World's Cheapest Places To Retire Overseas

This New Year we will be investing some time and space in for direct comparisons of the world's top retirement and living locations to help you determine your best options for living a comfortable lifestyle.

Today our Guest author will compare and contrast two of the hottest - cheapest and best places to live right now!

Kathleen writes --

I got an e mail from Correspondent Lee Harrison, who offered to compare two of his favorite cities, from our 2012 list of world's best and cheapest retirement hot spots: Cuenca, Ecuador, and Granada, Nicaragua.

Lee is a big fan of both cities and highly recommends both but, for different reasons.

Here's what Lee has to say -

"Comparing different retirement or investment destinations head to head is not only necessary, but fun and interesting. It's the key to narrowing down your preferences among all of the world's choices for the best place to live. Both seasoned overseas buyers and novices will benefit from this exercise.

When I looked over our recently published top picks for 2012, two cities jumped out at me immediately from the Super Cheap category: Cuenca, Ecuador, and Granada, Nicaragua.

I lived in Cuenca for years, own property in Granada, and have been to both of these cities in the past year. Throughout my visits to each, I couldn't help but draw comparisons. These cities line up naturally with one another, so, when comparing them, it's easiest to begin by looking at their similarities.

Both Cuenca and Granada are beautiful and authentic Spanish colonial cities, founded in the 1500s. In both cases the cost of living is about as low as you'll find anywhere. You can get by frugally on less than US$1,000 per month or live a comfortable lifestyle by North American standards for around US$1,500 a month or so.

Real estate in both cities is well under the magic US$1,000 per sq meter (around $93 US per sq ft), putting both these cities in 'bargain basement' territory. Transaction costs in both are low, as well.

Both cities are in Third World countries, with all of the attendant institutional inefficiencies, corruption, and less than perfect infrastructure maintenance. But they also have low levels of government intrusion, low taxes, and few rules and regulations.

Both Cuenca and Granada are home to sizeable, thriving expat communities with many North Americans. There are far more expats in Cuenca than in smaller Granada, but I'd guess that the ratio of expats to locals is about the same in both places.

Access to the United States is not bad from either city. Cuenca has a convenient international airport right in town, but virtually all flights to the United States connect through Quito or Guayaquil. Both these cities offer good connections to U.S. hubs, and flight time to Miami is just under four hours.

Granada is served by the Managua airport, about one hour away, which also has good U.S. connections. Flight time from Managua to Miami is about two hours.

Finally, residency is easy to establish in both countries, with low income and investment requirements.

But that's where the similarities end.

Cuenca is a large city of more than 400,000 people; more than four times the size of Granada. So Cuenca has the edge for big-city amenities, like theater, nightlife, and restaurants. It also has a new, upscale shopping mall and lots of modern health care facilities.

Granada, by comparison, has more of a small-town, close-knit feel, where everyone seems to know everyone.

Cuenca is located high in the Andes, at 8,200 feet above sea level (2,500 meters). So it offers spring-like weather, with highs rarely above the mid-70s and little seasonal variation. In five years of living in Cuenca, I can recall seeing 90° only once...and that spike broke a long-standing record. Granada, on the other hand, is warm all the time, with highs in the 80s to low 90s year-round.

Granada is on the shores of one of the world's largest lakes, meaning swimming and boating opportunities close at hand. You can even purchase your own private lake island. Nicaragua's Pacific beaches are less than two hours away.

In Cuenca, the nearest beaches are almost three hours away, in Machala, and the nearest nice beach is over four hours away in Playas or Salinas.

Shopping for real estate is a pleasure in both Cuenca and Granada, with lots of terrific homes available at reasonable prices. However, in my experience, each has its strengths when it comes to real estate.

Granada is best for its amazing inventory of low-cost Spanish colonial homes. Their center courtyards are typically open-air and often contain swimming pools, something very unusual in Latin America. Also, the colonials in Granada tend to be fairly small, so they're great for one or two people, or a small family. To me, there's no better place to shop for this type of property.

Cuenca has colonials, too, but they tend to be larger and expensive. Many are old homes for large families, 700 square meters or more...a lot for a retired single or couple to take on. On the other hand, Cuenca excels with its newer construction, offering a huge selection of modern condos at reasonable prices. So you can enjoy the Old World character of the historic center but live in a modern house or condo in First World comfort as near as a few blocks away.

Comparing Cuenca and Granada, there's really no winner, as is the case with many city-pairs. The key is to understand your own priorities.

I'd favor Granada to enjoy a traditional Spanish colonial home, in a smaller town with warm weather. I'd head to Cuenca for big-city amenities, cool, spring-like weather, and hundreds of modern housing choices.

Either way, you're enjoying one of the finest colonial cities that Spanish America has to offer."

Kathleen Peddicord, editor Live and Invest Overseas