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5 of the Best Places in the World to Retire

5 of the Best Places in the World to Retire

If you’re settling down and looking for a place to retire, you don’t have to just head down to Florida like everyone else. Retirement can be a big opportunity to try living in a new place and experiencing new cultures, without having to worry about the burdensome question of finding work in a foreign land.

But if you want to use your golden years as an opportunity to explore the world, there are some factors that any retiree should think about before picking a country or city. Access to good healthcare, a low cost of living, and a pristine environment are just a few things to consider. And most importantly of all, any country you pick has to be one where you will have minimal visa issues and can let you return to your home country quickly and easily.

1. Belize

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    DSC_0289 by mcassidy129 via Flickr

    Want to head south but don’t feel very confident in your Spanish skills? Then head to sunny Belize, an English-speaking country that is one of the most welcoming countries for retirees in the world.

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    Belize offers a Qualified Retirement Program which allows foreigners to become full-time residents of Belize providing that they can transfer $2,000 per month in income. It also offers additional incentives such as an exemption from Belizan taxes and import duties. And once you are in Belize, you can see wildlife sanctuaries, the Belize Barrier Reef, or otherwise enjoy life in pleasant Cayo with its mixture of English and Spanish culture.

    There are some downsides. While Belize offers a low cost of living, the catch is that its infrastructure is not that well-developed and the CDC does recommend that travelers to Belize should receive vaccinations for typhoid and Hepatitis A. But overall, Belize offers a new culture and land that is highly welcoming towards foreign retirees.

    2. Canada

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      Maclean Creek Kananaskis Alberta Canada by Thank you for visiting my page via Flickr

      If you don’t want to move too far away, then there is Canada. Canada’s culture is obviously similar to the United States, and it boasts the best infrastructure and healthcare out of this list. Don’t forget that like the United States, Canada is a massive country where you can see a huge variety in cultures and cities.

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      The biggest challenge with moving to Canada will be getting a visa. Canada does not offer a retirement visa, and permanent residency visas are more biased towards those who work. But if you are well-educated and have plenty of savings, then you should still be able to get a visa without significant trouble.

      3. Ireland

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        St. Anne’s Park & Rose Gardens by William Murphy via Flickr

        Given the importance of Irish culture to the United States, it would be little surprise to see that many American retirees are interested in moving back to their ancestral homeland. Ireland has the advantages of both being a European nation while not being as expensive as the major European nations. It combines urbane civilization along with the beauty of the Emerald Isle and a chance to take a short jaunt to London or Paris.

        If your grandparents emigrated from Ireland, then you can become an Irish citizen. Otherwise, you can apply for a “permission to remain” for three months and can then re-apply for longer periods of time. Like Canada, retiring to Ireland likely requires a strong savings account in order to be let in.

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        4. Thailand

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          Khao Lak Bayfront Resort by Kullez via Flickr

          Thailand is probably the biggest challenge on this list. It is a truly exotic culture where you really will need to try and learn the Thai language to get the most out of living in this Southeast Asian nation. The Huffington Post has just a few examples of some of the cultural concepts which you should understand.

          But Thailand is an incredibly cheap country that accepts expatriates from all over the world. If you want to live someplace that may feel more like home, then the city of Chiang Mai is a great location. You can meet both young foreign workers, retirees, and Thais mixed together in a city that offers a unique culture and can give you a new perspective on the world.

          5. Costa Rica

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            Parque Nacional Corcovado-121 by Christian Haugen via Flickr

            This Caribbean island is repeatedly cited by experts as one of the best places in the world to retire, and for good reason. Like Belize, Costa Rica offers a retirement program designed to attract retirees. Even a mere Social Security check can be enough to qualify for permanent residence and a chance to settle down in Costa Rica.

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            In addition to its retirement package, Costa Rica offers a rich natural heritage unmatched by any other country in the world. The country just announced that it produced all of its electricity using renewable sources for 76 straight days, and it has one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean. Costa Rica is more expensive than other countries in the region, but it is still far cheaper than the Western world.

            Costa Rica may no longer be a hidden gem as over 20,000 American expatriates are enjoying life on the island. But that just shows what a fantastic spot it is.

            Featured photo credit: Hector Alejandro via flickr.com

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            Last Updated on March 25, 2020

            How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

            How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

            Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes effectively.

            I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

            One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

            Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

            The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

            And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

            What to Write Down

            Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

            Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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            1. Dates of Events

            Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

            For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

            2. Names of People

            Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

            3. Theories or Frameworks

            Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

            4. Definitions

            Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

            Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

            5. Arguments and Debates

            Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

            This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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            6. Images

            Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

            Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

            7. Other Stuff

            Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

            I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

            8. Your Own Questions

            Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

            3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

            You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

            1. Outlining

            Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

            Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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            For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

            2. Mind-Mapping

            For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

            Here’s the idea:

            In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

            The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

            If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

            You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

            3. The Cornell System

            The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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            About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

            You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

            In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

            You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

            The Bottom Line

            I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

            I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

            More Note-Taking Tips

            Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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