Home Free ~ Bloom Where You’re Planted

It’s been a month since we packed up the old SUV and drove off into the future.

So far.  So good.

We definitely planned an easy take-off by staying on the west coast through the winter.  And when we see the nightly weather reports, we are very glad we decided to play it safe and not make a long cross country drive right now. We’re in no hurry. We’re old. And as it turns out, much more cautious than we used to be. We’re still in training and figuring out this new lifestyle one day at a time.

Even though we are back in Portland for a few weeks and know our way around the New Seasons market and where the best restaurants are, it is definitely not “home” as we knew it.  What we’re learning to do is put down very tiny roots wherever we are.

It sounds easy…and sometimes it is.

Other times, not so much.

Each new place we land, things feel slightly different. Some crazy people put their silverware in the wrong drawer. The recycle has to be dragged down the street to the corner. In the rain. The TV remote is new and we’re too un-techy to get anything beyond basic cable. The bed is kinda hard and I need my memory foam. Nobody can find the broom. Blah, blah, blah. We allow ourselves a momentary WHINE. Then we look at each other and laugh. Because it is NOT our house and therefore NOT our problem. As long as we have silverware, who cares what drawer its in? It’s time to roll up our sleeves, let ourselves settle in and figure out how to make it all good. Change your attitude. Change your reality. Or something like that.

It turns out that once we’re done sorting through everything that is different, there is much that is the same and most of the time, it all works just like we want it to.

We unpack our bags and begin to work out a routine. I set up my office. Les looks for a local gym. We get the lay of the land. And most important of all, we open up our own box of small comforts that will make this house our new (temporary) home. There is magic in this box! We each have our beloved coffee and tea mugs. I have a both red and a white wine glass. Hubs has three of his favorite knives. I have my mini whisk, my cheese spreader and the world’s best veggie peeler. You get the point. There is even flashlight and a deck of cards in case the TV doesn’t work at all. And, yes, I have my holy crap tiara as well.  It’s the little things that make us feel like we’re home.

Home on the road

Home on the road


Wherever home is.

Here’s where home will be for the next several months – Southwest Portland in a lovely large house with a sweet 18 year old kitty. Downtown Portland in the trendy Pearl District in a high rise condo with a new kitty we’ve yet to meet. A custom built log home in the woods on Whidbey Island in Washington with two lap-loving doggies. And finally, a small house in beautiful Ashland, OR with brother and sister kitties will take us through March.  Not too shabby for a couple of old beginners! And the good news is that we are learning how to put down very tiny roots at each stop we make.  Bloom where you’re planted are our new words to live by.

A comfy couch, a warm blanket and a kitty.  Feels like home!

A comfy couch, a warm blanket and a kitty. Feels like home!

We’re counting our blessings! One home, one pet, one new location at a time.

See you on the road.


Nancy, Les and Tika our kitty of the moment.

If you need house sitters or know someone who might, please check us out at www.theglobalhousesittingpros.com




Top Places to Retire ~ 2014

 Where ya gonna go?  What ya gonna do when you get there?  And, bottom line… how  ya gonna pay for it?

No work, no money, no worries.

No work, no money, no worries.

Those are the questions a whole bunch of retirees and soon-to-be retirees are asking.   These days, options for retirement are growing as rapidly as the number of boomers crossing the employment finish line.

Just when you need it, here’s a little information, food for thought and a few links to click through to help you explore some of this year’s top retirement havens.

Every year the team at International Living, Kathleen Peddicord of Live and Invest Overseas publish their lists of the top places to retire outside of the United States.   Creating these lists requires a fair amount of boots on the ground research and data analysis.  In the case of International Living, they publish what they call a Global Retirement Index where they measure eight categories:  cost of living, real estate, infrastructure, climate, real estate, special retirement benefits, ease of integration, infrastructure, and entertainment and amenities.  While they do look at hard numbers like annual rainfall and senior discounts, the cost of utilities and housing, what they provide is mainly a “qualitative” assessment.   A lot of this information comes directly from people who have their boots on the ground or their flip-flops in the sand.  Then IL analyzes the data and creates a ranking based on a point system with 100 being somewhere close to perfect.   From this they determine the top countries.  Bear in mind, that they are generally looking at a few specific towns, cities and regions within those countries.   While Ecuador (2013’s winner) ranks high as a country, most people live in or near a few specific locations like Cuenca, Cotacochi, Quito or the coast.  A few brave souls are blazing trails and leaving the relative safety and comfort of the cities and setting up camp in small towns, but they are giving up some of the ranking benefits of reliable internet, readily available good healthcare, etc. that many retirees feel is essential.  These types of reports generally cater to the moderately adventurous newbie and provide a great place to start.

International Living’s Top Ten Retirement Destinations for 2014 are… (drum roll please)

1.  Panama – which ranked 100 in special benefits and 91.2 overall

2.  Ecuador – which ranked 99 in special benefits, 100 in climate and 91.1 overall

3. Malaysia – No 100’s here but was rated 88.5 overall and a 95 health rating.

4.  Costa Rica –  Still suffers from infrastructure problems (75) and climate (77).  Rated 86.8 overall indicating lots of people like the security and pura vida lifestyle.

5.  Spain –  This one surprised me, but they ranked in the 90’s for real estate, health, infrastructure and entertainment/amenities.  Perhaps these offset the exchange rate.  Overall – 85.8

Others in the Top Ten?  Colombia – 84.2, Mexico – 84.2, Malta – 84.1, Uruguay – 83.7 and Thailand at 83.5.

According to US News who published Kathleen Peddicord’s list of 2014 top cities/countries, the winners are ~

1.  Coronado, Panama

2.  Languedoc, France

3.  Ambergris Caye, Belize

4.  Cuenca, Ecuador

5.  Chiang Mai, Thailand

6.  Puerto Vallerta, Mexico

7.  Granada, Nicaragua

8.  Medellin, Columbia

If, like hubs and I, you are looking for a quality retirement lifestyle where your retirement budget stretches farther, perhaps some these places are worth a look and maybe a visit.  I’ll be doing more research and reporting back with details so stay tuned.

See you on the road!


P.S.  If you are currently living or have lived in any of these locations, I’d love to hear from you.   Nothing beats actual experience.  Thanks!