International Living Magazine Review: More Hype Than Substance?

International Living Magazine Cover

Kudos to International Living's marketing machine. You can't possibly do any research online related to retiring abroad without coming across their main site or an article sourced from them. You see they've hit upon a winning formula. Every year they publish a listing of the top retirement places around the world. This list then becomes a free download if you're willing to exchange your e-mail for it. At the same time, a whole bunch of media outlets, hungry for content, repurpose the list which increases International Living's exposure. It's a simple formula that works.

I was one of those that traded an e-mail address for the list. And from then on I received daily updates from International Living about other great opportunities. Nothing I can complain about after all I did sign up for these updates. I also received offers to become a paying member. These offers became increasingly better (i.e. lower cost) until my curiosity got the better of me and I subscribed. In addition to the printed magazine and an archive of previous issues, I also received access to member-only articles.

Unfortunately, it didn't take too long before the shiny veneer began to wear off of International Living. Every article seemed to be the same rose-colored view of retirement in paradise. Real estate deals abounded, food was cheap, and people were all nice. Ummm… really? How could this possibly be true in so many places around the world?

And every e-mail or article included some pitch for a tell-all expensive ebook, conference, or service. Now I get that people need to make money to pay the bills, but there's also the need to maintain editorial integrity. And unlike the NY Times, I couldn't help feel that the advertisers had far too much influence on the content. How else can you explain the near lack of anything negative?

As my suspicions grew, I started to look into what others had written about International Living. Sure enough, posts emerged describing the exaggerations and, according to some, the lies that International Living propagated including glossing over difficulties in some countries, overstating the cheapness of real estate, and an overall lack of balance in their content.

So after a relatively short period as a member, I decided I would cancel. Guess what? The online customer service form didn't work. I thought at first that it might be down due to maintenance, but it didn't work over the course of several days. Next, I called customer service. I didn't get a human on the other end. Instead, a basic IVR system guided me through the cancellation process. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that International Living is actually just one guy in his basement with a bunch of freelance writers sending stuff in for him to publish.

Not all was bad with IL. There were some articles that were truly useful. For example, the one on moving to a state with no income tax prior to moving abroad to save on state taxes was pretty interesting. Unfortunately, the signal-to-noise ratio was just too low for my liking. The good news it that with enough digging there are plenty of trustworthy sources on the web and I'll be sharing those in other posts.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (40 votes, average: 4.38 out of 5)


  1. Thanks everyone!
    You saved me $49, and likely a lot of future hassle, as well as disappointment! I'll keep the IL email coming for now, but will look for a better source of info.
    Thanks especially to Kanan and those several of you who have lived overseas for sharing your experiences. I have a friend, ESL teacher like me, who will retire to Malaysia, where his wife is from. They are already established there. He encourages me to think about it! Unless I do something remarkable, I won't be able to retire in the US - I'll have to keep on working somehow. Or live a very limited lifestyle . . . no, please, I tell myself! Get motivated and make $$ AND find a place to call home in retirement.

    Good discussion with no flames! Thanks all! And to all, do YOUR research before believing one source! This thread here has several sources - very nice, folks! Very nice!

  2. I joined IL a few years ago. I also joined RETA at the same time. I must be the exception here because I had nothing but good luck with them. I cancelled after a year just by calling them, 5 minutes later I was cancelled. I did the same with RETA. I did actually purchase a condo in Cabo thru RETA and have been happy with the deal I got.

  3. I am so glad I found this thread and read through these posts. It has saved me a lot of money and headaches.

    It is interesting the real people comments and complaints that ring true in this thread. The obvious things are that IL does not report correct facts in their articles, that most of it is pie in the sky when compared to accounts from people who actually have been to those places, and IL has a bad habit of charging credit cards without notice.

    I found this thread because I was researching a link from a different product. IL is partnering with a brand called Great Escapes Publishing. This gig purports to set you up as a travel writer, getting all expense paid trips to visit vacation spots world-wide. All you have to do is write up your impressions. Of course, you need to sign up for the subscription to learn how to do it and get their resources for $29 per month. And to be ever so helpful, they have even more resources you can invest in. Sounds like the same tactics that IL has been using. They are very aggressive in their emails to get you to come on board.

    Thanks to all those who posted in the thread. Your real insights are very helpful.

  4. It has been interesting reading all these comments since I have been working with and writing for International Living for about five years now. Yes, we are scattered around the world and do all live in the countries we write about. I lived in China for six years, Thailand for three years and now Peru for over two years. The facts and costs that I write about are not made up. They are my day-to-day costs and things I see every day. Some of the places we write about are developing countries. Of course, there are going to be problems. But however you cut it, the cost of living is probably going to be less than the U.S. And it's a fact that the U.S. has one of the worst health care systems in the developed world. ( and and

    If you move to these places, live in a gated community and expect to enjoy the same lifestyle you had in the U.S., and eat the same foods, it is probably going to cost the same or more. Imported goods are expensive. We pay $600 per month (utilities included) for our modern, 3-bedroom condo in Huanchaco on the north coast of Peru. We paid $700 a month for our beautiful large condo in Arequipa about a 5-minute walk from the historic center of the city. We could find those prices somewhere in Canada and the US as well but we wouldn't be in a modern condo in a city center or five minutes from the beach.

    It's also interesting that the comments received by the thousands of participants that have attended our conferences are overwhelmingly positive. It's a business. Of course, IL is going to try to sell you stuff! But it is certainly not a scam.

    • Steve,

      As you're the only person on this thread so far to report a positive experience working with and writing for IL, I'd like to know ... how did you get started? My family member who would like to move to Costa Rica has written professionally up till a few years ago. I expect he could write for IL.

      • Valentina,

        I had a blog for many years about my numerous motorcycle tours around North America as well as our life for six years in China. I was approached by one of the IL editors who was on an exploratory trip around Asia about five years ago looking for contacts to write about Thailand, where we were then living.

        Despite what people are saying here, IL tends to prefer writers who are actually living the expat life in other countries. Many are retired or semi-retired and write about their day-to-day experiences.

  5. I've been on IL's email list for a few years, but haven't subscribed to/bought anything The marketing does look a bit "bait and switch" to me. However, I have a family member with very limited resources whom I'm trying to help find an expat home, probably in Costa Rica. Has anyone here had a positive experience purchasing one of their conference recordings packages? As long as you really can REACH them to get your $$$ back if not satisfied, it seems low risk.

  6. Yes, I travel all over the world and see places with my own eyes and then make move. Guess my resume after 20 years of traveling--best country in the world is USA--its not perfect, its changing but its cheapest, you know it locally and English widely spoken. Food is not cheap anywhere. Main expense is housing which cost me in Florida for a 2000sq.f. house with 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and movie theater 300$ a month in taxes which I pay once a year on a credit card. Yes, I installed security cameras--so what?
    Guys, stop reading and start traveling and you will understand yourself!!!

  7. I joined International Living and received their publications and information for a few years. I attended two seminars in Las Vegas and Phoenix. I joined RETA, and in 2015 invested in property recommended by Ronan McMahon, as "deals of the decade" in his "Path of Progress". The project is now 9 months past the Dec 2017 due date, and completion is postponed until February 2019, and seriously in doubt. The project is beautiful and we still hope it gets completed!

    I contacted RETA and International Living to request an update on the project and a recommendation "from the experts" on how to deal with the situation. Their response . . . . nothing, no response. I have even been cut off from their emails and communiques even though I am a member of the "Lifetime Society". Not sour grapes, just facts. I am a big boy, and I understand that there is risk involved in these investments. But to be completely deserted by people in whom one puts their faith, trust and savings unethical, bordering on fraudulent (which is probably why I have been cut off).

    My opinion, they want your money and leave you "high and dry" when things don't go according to plan. My advice, read their "general" information but don't waste a lot of money if you are looking into living abroad.

  8. Randy, you would be hard pressed oto go past Penang in Malaysia. It's super cheap (although Penang is double price generally speaking to the rest of Malaysia and about on Par with Kuala Lumpur) It's the best of both worlds. You have big malls with upmarket restaurants, and great medical and dental.
    People are friendly, pretty much everyone speaks English (old Brittish colony) and you won't be targeted as a tourist. There are many expats living there and the weather is warm all year. Also an easy drive to Thailand and Singapore, Penang is famous for its food.
    As an American you w ill get a 90 day visa on arrival.

    You can also get a 10 year visa if you're prepared to put around $50,000 on fixed deposit... google MY2H

  9. I wrote a number of articles for IL and related publications around ten years ago, they stopped paying around the time they moved to Panama so I stopped writing.
    I read Kathleen Ps book, How To Retire Overseas, much of the info is too general, and like the website promotes places without a lot of specific info.
    In general terms, if you're going to be living overseas, look for a place with other expats, you'll need a support system when you get there, few people can make it completely on their own.
    Don't buy a house until you've been around a while. It can take years to sell a house if you don't like it there, if you can sell at all.
    Close to half of all retired US expats end up in Mexico, it's close, easy to check out, and offers a big choice of places to live in. A big plus is a city with an expat library, that's a big social support network built in.
    I've lived in three cities in Mexico, Oaxaca, Guanajuato, and Queretaro, not for everyone but worth a look.

  10. I just completed reading these various comments on this blog and have to agree that IL Magazine's information on many of the countries they "supposedly" cover is embellised to put it politely. I have subscribed to their magazine at a cost of $49.00 per year for about 5 years now and have avoided getting sucked into the barrage of other products and services they constantly try to get me to buy into.

    I do, however, find the articles interesting and informative. But, as many folks have commented, I don't think they provide a really accurate picture of what "it's really like".. Example:We just returned from a trip to Puerto Vallarta Mexico (one of the places they tout as being a wonderful place to move to, cost of living, food, etc.) We wanted to see if it was someplace we felt comfortable in moving to for our retirement.

    It was a shit hole!!! And nothing was cheap. It was basically the same prices as the US. You get away from the "Resort and Hotel" zones and you encounter some of the worst poverty I've seen anywhere in the world.

    I've traveled to Mexico many times as well as Costa Rica and some of the other countries in Latin America and it's basically the same. Corrupt, poor, crappy water, infrastructure and healthcare services. And not that cheap if you want to live in decent area. Maybe, we're just snobs, and everyone has a different perspective on what "works for them".

    But for alot of us that have retired and are living on a fixed income, the United States is just getting too dammed expensive, divisive and "crowded" It's not the same country that we all grew up in 40 and 50 years ago.

    Unfortunately, IL Magazine may not be your best resource to find a place to live. We are now looking at places in Europe, i.e. Portugal, Spain, etc.. and have pretty much given up on Mexico, Central and South America.

    Also, on a Final Note there's a little company called Monsanto that has targeted the majority of Central and South America as "ground zero" and are committing mass Ecocide by spraying their toxic pesticide "Round Up" everywhere they can and forcing many of these countries to use their genetically modified seeds.

    I would be very concerned about the food you're getting in these countries now more than some of these other items.

    And that folks is something you won't hear about in "IL Magazine".

    • Monsanto are an American company based out of St. Louis, Missouri. Pretty sure they have the same genetically modified seeds in the good ole US of A too.

      San Miguel De Allende should have been your first choice in Mexico. Stunning.

      I 100% agree with you on Europe. I bought the Portugal Owners manual from IL and we're viewing properties there in two months :)

    • Thank you so much for your comment! I am feeling the pain of realizing my homeland has changed, and not for the better. Having recently returned to texas after 4 years in Switzerland, I no longer feel proud to be an American. I want to live almost anywhere but here. International Living bombarded me with too-good-to-be-true shiny offers. Thanks for saving me the $17 and sparing me another disappointment

  11. We've been living in Penang, Malaysia for the last 6 years, and we've never had a bad day. People are friendly, but you don't get targeted as a tourist. You have the best of East and West here, everyone speaks English, most of the signage is in English, crime rate is low and it's a multi-cultural society, meaning they all celebrate holidays of the religions of Christian, Bhuddist and Muslim, with very little conflic between the various races.

    Best of all, living here is really cheap, with great restaurants, food courts and street stalls everywhere you look.

    They give you a 90 day visa on entry. It used to be easy to cross to Singapore or Thailand to extend, and return same day, but they are clamping down on this practice. They offer a 10 year visa called "Malaysia, My Second Home" (MM2H)
    Google it if you are interested. It's easy to get if you have a government pension, or can put around $40k on fixed deposit.

  12. Julia and Randy,
    We have been living in Penang, Malaysia for the last six years. It ticks all you boxes and more Randy. The climate is warm all year, the cost of living is oughly about one third of US or Australian pricing, renting is cheap, crime rate is low, no need for medical insurance because doctors and dentists are cheap, the air is clean and people are friendly. It is a multi-cultural society and you won't be targeted as a tourist.As an old British colony, almost everyone speaks English and most signage is also in English. Bahasa Malay is a simple language to learn if you want to, but most expats don't. There is a large expat community. Our apartment is in Miami Green on the north side of the island, overlooking the straights of Malacca.

    There are a lot of Brits living here and Aussies, but not many Americans. They tend not to stray from their own continent for some reason. You can get a 90 day visa on entry, and just leave for a while every three months. You can also apply for a 10 year visa, where you can come and go as you please. It's called "Malaysia My Second Home". google it for more info.

    • Nice post Kanan, I enjoyed reading about your experience, thanks for sharing your experience! I was specifically doing a search on reviews for International Living and your post was very valuable. Thanks!!


    • Thanks! I was considering Mexico but worried that the cost of living is actually much higher than touted by the likes of International Living. I didn't know that English was widely spoken in Malaysia!

    • I'm considering this as one of my options for retirement. Looking forward to going there for a visit within a few years. Any information you have in regards to living there would be helpful but sounds like a great place! Thanks, Kanan!

  13. International Living Magazine changed my life for the better. I sold my house in LA, moved to Tamarindo, bought a property 3 times the size for quarter of the cost.

    They are very marketing heavy but if you enjoy the stories of people who have moved overseas like I do then they're a great company to be a customer of.

  14. INTERNATIONAL LIVING I paid a subscription fee and now have to pay additional fees to actually receive the information I thought I had paid for I hope they will not put their dirty hands into my account to renew the subscription
    How do I cancel this as they refuse to respond to my emails

    • Dear Sir/Madam,

      If you would like to reach out and I can check that your subscription was indeed corrected please visit the customer service area of the website

      Or the number you can call is 1800-681-2402 .

      I look forward to hearing from you.

      Customer Service Manager
      International Living

    • The best way to cancel any subscription etc.. is to contact your credit card company and lodge an complain ( contesting a withdrawal) . Usually credit card companies Like Visa, Master AMEX will credit your card with the argued amount and will follow up with the other party as why the did the withdraw from your card and this will stop (usually ,unless they can prove that they have authority from you to continue. If the withdrawal is from your saving or cheque account contact your bank they should be able to block / stop next withdrawal.

  15. I thought the International Living site was awesome until I started reading some of the articles. One writer suggested that notions of Columbia being a dangerous country were outdated. Columbia is ranked 15th most dangerous country in the world. That is irresponsible and immoral. Another suggested I could make a living as a writer in a developing country writing 12 letters per year at $6000 per letter.

    • lists 4 Ciities in the United States as most dangerous in the World. Only two from Colombia make the list.

  16. Does anybody have CURRENT info on Bali, Indonesia? For what I know, most expats I used to know left Bali because the crime has increased and locals have become supposedly really money hungry and estern food very expensive. - Any positives on Bali these days?

    • My girlfriends brother lived there with his family but it becoming more violent and is a mostly Muslim country they were getting more and more restricted and finally began to feel unsafe and moved back to the states as did her Dad and his wife

    • Hi. I'm in Bali now researching places here for long term rental. Bali is still safe however precautions are necessary. Perhaps rent in a family compound or small guesthouse- like place. I plan on staying 5-6 months a year then returning to Australia for 3 months then living in Thailand for 3 months a year. Rents here are around AUD 300-500 a month for a little one bedroom cottage with no cooking facilities but with air con and perhaps a community pool. Sky's tge limit fir lycury spartnents at 1000 a week. Rents are comparable to Thailand and similar to Malaysia. My needs are basic so nothing luxurious. My friends own here in Candidasa in a resort area and have few complaints. I would rent for a few months in Sanur, Legian or Ubud and see what appeals. Just by walking around the small gangs or lanes I found many signs "for rent" everywhere. I don't EVER ride a motorcycle cycle. Bargain hard re rents. Good luck.

    • I live in Bali for part of the year and I can tell you that its without a doubt becoming expensive unless you're happy to eat on the street.
      I bought here around 11 years ago and prices have gone up.
      Renting a DECENT home is easy, BUT its 12 months UP-FRONT. Never monthly.
      Expect a minimum of $1000US a month for something decent.
      Its a Hindu island and there are a lot of Muslim families coming in from Java as the work prospects and money are better in Bali.
      Safety: I have never had a problem. The only caveat to this is sadly, drunken tourists. Pathetic.
      Its the old adage: you get what you pay for.

  17. So glad I Googled IL before succumbing to their daily advertising and found this site!

    I would rather join a forum or read a blog of actual expats and/or folks who are contemplating living abroad or have made the move.

    Any suggestions?

    • I used the info from the magazine to go to Ecuador I stayed for several months I loved it everything they wrote about was true, the people are lovely and friendly, food is delicious and cheap as were veggies and fruits! The realtors a lot of them are crooked and are not governed by law and there was no regard for the dogs that were everywhere but in a poor country I do understand why, they cannot afford to feed pets! So we should not judge!

  18. Also, how can I get these free emails to stop?

    • There is an unsubscribe link at the bottom. I just unsubscribed and hope it works.

  19. Well I'm not going. I'm from Minnesota, lived in California over 45 years and now I'm in Arizona.
    Every Country they email me about I check out for my number one concern. Animals. I just put in the Country and dogs and it turns out without fail they they are way behind in knowing about them and they treat their strays like crap.
    It's cheap here too and they love animals here unlike California. I wish it was more liberal but I still love it.

    • The one good thing I've got to say about Uruguay, after living there for about six years, is that they treat there animals well, especially the dogs. They like big dogs, they get plenty of meat as it's cheap and the locals eat a lot of it. The strays always look healthy and well fed. It's illegal for a vet to put an animal down unless it's in a really bad way.
      If you love dogs (as I do), perhaps you could consider going to one of these countries that treat dogs badly and start an animal shelter, and teach the locals to care. I met a German woman in Penang who did just that. She now has 200 acres with 600 dogs that she cares for, all funded with donated money... very inspiring!

      • Hi so how is life in Uraguay I am looking for the right place to retire to?

        • I wouldn't recommend it Jennifer. Everyday in Uruguay is a new challenge. We moved to Malaysia, and are much happier.

          Apart from other various challenges, Uruguay has gone from one of the cheapest to the most expensive countries in Latin America, mainly due to the mandated wage increases of 5% twice per year.

  20. Thanks so much for the information. You've just saved me $900 - the cost of ILF's conference on retiring overseas.

    • Hey Erica,

      Myself and my husband went to the Fast Track Retire Overseas conference in Phoenix last year. It was an unbelievable experience. I got to speak to so many experts who have gone through the entire process of moving overseas. They discussed the issues they encountered, what to expect, how to make friends and to ensure you rent before you decide to buy. That way you're able to decide if you like a neighborhood.

      Before I subscribed to International Living I went to visit a tax account, a lawyer and a real estate broker. Their consultant rates cost me $2300 collectively. The advice I got off vendors at the conference over a coffee was 100% times more helpful because those people actually live there. They had different lawyers from different countries to answer all questions directly.

      I'm moving to Costa Rica in 6 months and before myself and my husband leave we're going to their Atlanta conference to double check we have everything sorted.

      Our reasons for moving is healthcare and cost of living. My husband needs a warmer climate for his asthma.

      • Hello Janet,

        Why do you trust advice from people who were paid to persuade you to move overseas? And why do you think going to another conference presented by the same people is double checking their advice?


        • Sorry for interrupting your and Janet's conversation John but I'm one of their magazine subscribers.

          Yes, I do believe they do a fair bit of marketing (I get some annoying emails from them) but haven't all their writers actually moved overseas so they probably are the right type of people to learn from?

          I'm living in San Miguel De Allende at the moment and I couldn't be happier and I thought the conference was a great starting point.

          Janet, I'd have gone with a cheaper lawyer in the first place :)

  21. I asked the general office a simple question and they said that IL did not know! All I am looking for was previously published summary al state tax rates, special provisions/exemptions on retirement/investment income by State and other key tax/financial features. This info was in an article/seminar about which state to consider in the US from a tax financial fact basis.

    Hoping I can get a better answering.

  22. Don't retire to a place. Retire to the world. Every year, relocate to a place that is cheap THAT YEAR. Buy nothing (or buy used). Live as local as possible. When you decide that you've had enough, move on. There are over a hundred countries. Many, many choices. Even Australia was cheap, in 2000-ish. Britain will be cheap after Brexit.

    Move annually, live locally, and one can still retire very inexpensively overseas.

    My mind lives on the Internet, so my body can live anywhere. Why not live where it's cheap? ;-)

    • Hi Bill

      Great information - I like the way you think - the world is too big & there are many places to experience before I die - wanderlust calls !

      I had a subscription to IL about 20 years ago & enjoyed reading about the places that were initially off my radar. Not being of retirement age back then I would only dream of one day relocating. Now I find there are many places I want to explore so I like your idea of relocating to a new place each year.

    • Brilliant idea!

    • Well I love what you said so that’s what I’ve decided to do I will be a roving express retiree I love traveling I love different cultures and so I will get to enjoy every little bit of it so thanks for that I really appreciate it it’s nice to know there are other people that think like me

  23. IL just deducted $49 from my account without my permission. I needed that money to pay a bill. Now their customer service number is conveniently not working, and I have been on habitual hold for a half hour. Not expecting anyone to answer. This is a scam and I am furious. DON'T DO IT FOLKS!!!

    • Hey Julia,

      Same thing happened to me. They deducted $49 out of my account but it was my own fault. I got 5 free issues and was auto billed for a year subscription on the 6th issue. I complained and got a most of my money back. They charged me for 2 issues which was fair enough.

      Contact them here - The guy Niall was very helpful.

      I've since gone back and signed up again though cause I really enjoyed the content haha.

  24. Just from the standpoint of the publication - it is a horrible magazine. After reading it for just a few months, it is obvious that the articles are all written by just a handful of people - probably all sitting in a shabby office in suburbia, USA. Every article has the same tone, everything is rosy and cheap. The magazine is just a front to sell their expensive retirement seminars and other publications. And apparently those are just a steppingstone to their real-estate connections. Save your money and your time - there is plenty of information on the internet but take all information with a grain of salt.

    • I disagree they handle their business fairly and I gleaned good advice I actually followed it and had an awesome experience!

  25. Dear All,
    Thanks for saving my small nest egg. Really I am grateful to you all for the wonderful feedback on IL. I was about to subscribe. Now I will unsubscribe from their regular bait emails.

  26. We were sucked in by International Living way back in 2007. We discovered that their main product is Real Estate. They joint venture with developers, organize a seminar in that country and take you on a real estate tour to sell you over priced properties... not the cheap ones they advertise in the promotional material.

    The information they offered on Uruguay was outdated and incorrect, and cost us dearly

  27. I am really getting ready to GO, somewhere, soon. Probably within a year or two. Any positive or factual information would be more than appreciated. Any and all links would be awesome. Mom of three grown children, 24, 22. 18. Recently divorced after 26+ years of marriage. I just want to live my life beautifully.
    Too bad my ex turned out to be such a downer. Brand new life, excited for new adventures and relationships. 48 going on 18! Thanks for all the info.

    • Let me know if you get any useful information on retirement abroad! I'm 61 and divorced with kids 21 & 25. Dying to explore the world and protect my modest investments!

      • I am heading to Belize in February for 3 weeks - part pleasure and part looking at real estate and/or rentals.

        I am so tired of the snow and the cold and want to see if living abroad is the way to go.

        I am divorced as well with children 20 and 25 and I am exploring the world!

        • I visited Belize 2 years ago with the same intention. Stayed on Ambergris Caye. Beautiful place... especially the north half of the island. However, was too remote for me... about a 90 minute boat ride from Belize City, where I wouldn't consider living as it's mostly impoverished — although the people were very friendly. The only meat we could find outside the restaurants was frozen. Would probably be expensive and inconvenient to get the things we're accustomed to in the states.

      • Hi Sally, I've just got back from New Zealand what an amazing country stunning beauty friendly people, fresh air,and not overcrowded the food is great in this mad crazy world we live in today we are all looking for an escape I would say look no further,go for a holiday you won't be disappointed in particular the South Island,I found a Beautiful City called Nelson,where the cost of living is not cheap but compatible with Australia John

        • They have a problem with stray dogs along with every country. Except United States.

    • I'm getting ready to do the same. My son wants me to move abroad but I'm single and nervous about it. I glance through the IL stuff just to open myself to different ideas. I wouldn't attend a conference unless I get solid recommendations. It sounds like they're mixed. Health care and crime is my biggest concern, naturally. I'd like to talk to more people who are doing it. Would this be a good place to start u think?

  28. We too, bought a subscription to IL when it was on sale. Reading it every month has helped clarify 1. that we want to go somewhere other than the states; 2. that we want to keep our paid-for home here; 3. that we want to rent, not buy, and 4. narrowed down the places we want to VISIT while deciding exactly where to live. Since we've made the decision NOT to buy property, much what we read is useless to us. But we know that, and so we haven't been sucked into the hype these companies (IL and LAIO) try to push.

    • They're not just about real estate, they do have a publication for real estate buyers though. International Living have been really great to us on their insider forums. We want to know a question, they've gone out and found it for us. Even their free 'Ask the Experts' area was an unbelievable resource for me and my husband.

      This is the question they answered for my husband.

      I will say that sometimes we ask too many questions and sometimes we get a reply with a link to an article about the topic but at least they point me us in the right direction.

  29. It sad to say but the information offered by International Living is often out of date and over exaggerated. The concept of providing international information is wonderful, if only the articles were true. The bottom line is they want to sell you something even if inaccurate. I purchased a condo in Salinas Ecuador and I have been travelling to Ecuador for 5 years. Some of the information is much older than 5 years. IL needs to step up their game and be real so people can make a informed decision.

    • So Brian, are you happy with your condo in Equador?

  30. Thanks for the warning everyone. I was thinking about accepting their introductory offer of a $4.95 book, but to be on the safe side I've now decided against it and unsubscribed from the free reports I was being bombarded with since first visiting their site.

    I have noted too that reports (postcards) from expat Aussies living overseas all seem to have either been edited or written by the same person (s) - well articulated and with lots of enticing descriptive wording. Makes you wonder!!

  31. I'm not surprised at all about this. Four years ago, my wife and I considered retirement in Ecuador after reading an International Living article saying a couple could live comfortably, including rent for a nice condo, utilities, groceries, a full time maid and great health insurance and healthcare, for $600 a month. Two years ago, they were saying $1,800 a month, not including healthcare or servants. The more we looked, the clearer it became that it was all as phony as a three dollar bill.

    • Well I was there last year one bedroom furnished condos were $250 per month so it s true you can live very cheaply I think you misunderstood what you read sorry!

  32. In the 90's I bought into IL's puffery about Roatan, Honduras. Came to found out the island was overhyped and a couple of crooked developers were very busy there. The people scowled at you for the most part, the dogs and cats were mistreated, it was full of realtors from Texas, there were machete robberies on the beach, and the natural environment was getting pretty trashed. I'm sure it was a good investment, and it was an interesting place (rather "third world" back then, and that was just fine) but it was not the paradise described by IL. The Bay Islands must have the worst sand flies on the planet. A friend was hauled off to jail (because a local didn't like him) and there were several murders and lots of robberies. However, good coconut bread and banana pancakes; shrimp & rice, Salva Vida beer, snorkeling and diving...but I digress. I think the key is, if you have money, the world's your oyster and you may select the best parts of it; if you don't, the statements about how great everything always is and how cheap--well--they're not true. Nothing's inexpensive anymore and poor people are toast. Fearing for the planet--don't believe the hype about Paradise.

  33. The cost of Health Care Insurance is astronomical.

    They fail to mention this and do not provide any information on Health Care Insurance.

  34. Retired MD expat traveler published in Mexico/SA IL is mostly revenue driven real estate investors many scammers. Be very careful always involve an attorney(abogado). In Costa Rica there are squatters laws you can lose 100% to ANYONE who camps on your property for 6 months. Best to travel locally in an area you like ALWAYS lease before you buy.

  35. Hi there,you mentioned realliable sources,,, Please send me the info.
    Thanks BillBill

    • Yes, where are these reliable sources. It seems no matter what you research you will get opposing opinions, just like some of the ones in here. Who knows what to believe? I was going to start out by moving to Florida and then spanning out with research from there. I did meet someone at my local Job Lot recently, who just came from Puerto Ricco, before the storm, and said he loved it there. Even in here and on other sites there can be people who are set up to reply to criticism, they are actually people who work for the magazine, or other publications. Why does it all have to be so difficult...where can we find reliable information?

  36. I have a subscription and I read and hear so much about Panama City. So I went last week and stayed in Panama City for a full week.

    Folks, please listen to me. Their economy is a complete house of cards that is built on money laundering. Skyscraper after skyscraper are practically empty. Read up on the numerous reports of shoddy construction. The landlords don't care whether you rent or not because that is not the purpose of the skyscrapers. Same thing with the malls. Albrook mall is just one of four malls and it has over 700(!) stores. Houston Galleria has 352 stores. It's impossible for the people of the country, much less the city, to support that many retail stores.

    By trade I am a criminal defense attorney. I can smell a money laundering business without seeing the books. It's common sense.

    Don't listen to the hype on Panama City. One day the winds will shift and so much of this economy is going to shambles because it's not real. Yes, there is quite a bit of commerce, but nowhere near enough to support the kind of buildings and stores and casinos that you see everywhere.

    The people of International Living should be ashamed for promoting this city. As people learn more from the Panama Papers, you will learn what I am saying is true.

    Do your due diligence on any country, but I would caution anyone to be very careful in investing in Panama.

    • Hi David, Thank you for your good advise. Panama is where, I read, Putin and Jackie Chan plus other celebs were caught in a money laundering scheme that was aired on Chanel 7 in Los Angeles, CA. I was married to a criminal layer until he passes (early for his age). It is hard to stay balanced in crim law but I am certainly grateful to know you are also keep keeping your ears and eyes open for the public. And, I was listening. JBS

    • Thank you for your truthful article. It was extremely helpful. I would like your opinion on other Expat locations.

      Thank you.

      Kindest Regards,


  37. I have had ITl for 2yrs now and have been fortunate not to be scamed
    Or cheated out of money . I have order books and cancelled and recevied
    My refund with 5 businesses days.

    I'm reading all there piece's on Costa Rica & Panama . I hope what I read
    Is true.

    • not true at all on Costa Rica. We traveled there early 2016 very third world, terrible roads. If you want to live in a gated community cut off from the locals then maybe you would like it

  38. Thank you everyone for your comments. I too was almost pulled in. People need a clearinghouse identifying internet thieves. How easy would that be? I I feel I am an intelligent person. And yet I have been suckered a number of times. Why do credit card companies even process charges made by these crooks? I would be very open to a policy whereby I am giving notice if a certain company is on the list. I guess it falls on the old adage, buyer beware.

    • Interesting to note that this international marketing of retirement destinations is so prolific worldwide. It's the same here in Australia where ILM does exactly the same saturation marketing via an already existing on-line financial advisory newsletter that is always claiming that "...the end of the world is nigh". In Australia, we do have a federal government service and website that is trying to do something about scams. This is the link:

      Obviously very Australian specific but most of these scammers are internationally present and located only God Knows Where.

  39. Once I subscribed, I was bombarded with "pay me, pay me, pay me" for more of this, and that, and this service, and that program, and this seminar, etc etc etc...

    To confirm the OPs comments, check out on any of the places on articles they send by email. I have found that the information IL provides is rather (very) suspect ... "I live for $1500 a month in a 2 bedroom condo" .... etc ... I suppose anyone can find a $500 2 bedroom dump to rent.

    Thanks for this www site ... I did call the number in the first reply and have cancelled my membership. I must say, the telephone people were very nice and advised of the amount that would be returned to my credit card. Lets see if that actually happens :-)

  40. Feeling mighty stupid as I've just paid the $17 and then moments later decided to look up reviews. I thought I did already but it was for one of their sub-publications and didn't find anything bad.
    Of course the first thing I find is complaints about scams. Damn I feel stupid for letting them snow me I into thinking this had value.
    I will call my credit card company and request that they block any further charges from this company if that is possible.

    • Hi

      You can try International Living magazine, as our guarantee is you reserve the right to cancel for a pro-rated refund at any time.

      Here are the details to contact us if you wish to cancel - you can call us Toll Free on 1800-681-2402 or Local/INTL on 443-353-4232. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8am to 8pm. [link removed by Infolific Staff]

      We look forward to hearing from you

      Kind regards,
      Customer Services International Living

    • Hi David, Years ago I subscribed to the rag. It was interesting and informative, in concept. (with not a grain, but a cup of salt) It gave me the seed to grow the thought of retiring overseas. In March we traveled to Panama and found things very welcoming. We did not stay in Panama City. Panama was not as cheap as I read, but it does have a lot going for it.

      Do your own research, the closer you get to the source the more accurate/less biased the information.

  41. About 3 weeks ago I received an email from International Living (IL) offering information about Ecuador, a country I've visited and am considering visiting again. I ordered their service offered using my credit card, which enabled me to access information on Ecuador on the IL Website.

    This was supposedly a "special" deal for just $7.00. I figured that even if I did not use it...well, it's not much of a loss...and if I did use it I might get a sense of the value of IL services are without a major cash outlay.

    A week later my credit card was charged an additional $140.00 for something else from IL. When I phoned IL to ask them to explain and remove this charge, they refused to explain it and just said I should have read the fine print in their offer. I told them that I have not yet accessed their computer to obtain any information, but they do not care.

    My credit card bill arrived a few days ago and I noticed the $147 in charges from IL. I phoned my credit card company to try to get them to help me get my money back, since I never even accessed IL's computers for the Ecuador data, nor any other services from IL. My credit card company said that in cases such as this, it is unlikely that customers will get their money back. Since then, I noticed a website called pissedconsumer that details many similar horror stories about IL.

    What I think IL is is a small group of people spread among about 10 to 20 countries. As Marios suggests, they write similar boilerplate articles about each country, touting the cheap housing and food, friendly natives, great weather, etc. Every place gets a glowing review, with few if any downsides. IL have ties to a few major real estate developers, which they will gladly steer you toward if you care to take one of their field trips. They have enough useful information to hook some suckers like me, but eventually you realize they are scam artists.

    • Sorry to hear about your situation Todd. It's unfortunate that IL is able to get away with such things. It would've been nice to hear that your credit card company reversed the charges. Of course, a reputable company would refund your money so the fact that IL won't speaks volumes.

  42. IL is a joke for the amount of money it cost to attend a seminar I could be traveling to these so-called retirement countries... If you do your research you can find a great place to retire on your own

  43. Its a sweet sweet dream really. Just take a vacation first and then you'll know.

    Most folks bail out when grandkids arrive or a health issue does.

    Find a place in the states....

    • I think you're right that most people bail. I think an extended vacation (say 3 months) is needed to get any sort of idea about how things are really going to be. A quick 2 week visit and you'll still be in the "honeymoon" phase where everything seems great.

  44. It pays to do your research. I almost got sucked in. You know the old saying, "if it sounds to good to be true".

    • Have you given up entirely on the idea or are you just setting realistic expectations? I'm in the second camp myself.

  45. I too got sucked in and subscribed to their magazine but when I informed them I no longer wanted any of there magazine or subscription services I still got charges for Ecuador Insider debited to my credit card. This resulted in me needing to cancel my card and as I was living overseas and travelling it cost A$100 to get a new cards and the inconvenience of having to change my new card details with all my honest service providers.

    I have now reported their actions to my bank as fraud. When you try to unsubscribe you can only use their forms which don't leave you with a copy of your email request. Cunning, sneaky bastards.

    I have been travelling through South America for nearly 2 years now and confirm a lot of what they say is bullshit!!!! :-) Don't subscribe is my advice.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. It's always good to hear that others have experienced the same thing. Too bad about the charges though. Too bad also that IL hasn't chosen the path of providing real information. It's not like most of us would be dissuaded by honest, but useful information!

      • Is there a company out there that is legitmate to do the job that International Living claims they can do, but really can't do? I would be very interested in. Is there such an animal that exist out there other than International Living? Please Respond. Thank you, Marguerite Zeman,

    • Thank you for your input. I almost bite.

      • I have been reading this magazine for about five years and I believe in it I did take a six month trip to Ecuador and I absolutely loved it if I wanted to live cheaply I could on 500 a month but I spent a little bit more and I had a wonderful life I was able to eat out every night lunches for $1.99 for a five course lunch I rented a penthouse for 500 a month and I still only spend about 200 for all expenses for the whole month because everything was included in the rent power Internet and cable! So stop listening to people that have misunderstood! While I was there I found a lovely apartment furnished $250 a month including everything my bill if I wanted to live frugally would’ve been 400 a month. They don’t take care of the stray dogs but they take excellent care of their families which is different in the US People don’t take care of their families but take great care of the dogs

        You should have to consider the cost of living is cheap over there because it’s a poor country in poor countries people cannot afford to feed stray dogs!

        The best thing to do is go for a couple of months and judge for yourself!

  46. Many years ago (1970's) when I was preparing to get my feet wet in Paris(as a tourist), I studied everything I could get my hands on, including a subscription to IL, then about a 2 sheet staples and folded edition. I couldn't figure out the one-color ink cycle. The publisher then was William Peddicord.

    Although I eventually dived in by going to visit my dear friend Arlene who lived mostly in Paris as well as in NJ -- who taught me the best of all things (how to use the Metro comfortably) -- receiving and reading IL made me feel I was ready, whether I was or not, or at least could manage.

    I need to visit my other home and review the mags to see if they were really relevant to my research or just that I knew so little that they seemed informed and informing.

    I do recall thinking that there was a good deal(or a bit too much) of advertising about the seminars and such even then. But there were also adverts that read more legitimately. (ITN is the best source for all data.) It seemed that the more general articles provided useful data although at a certain point there was a change when I posited that William died or retired and Kathleen (and the redoubtable Leif) took over. Then followed the morphing into more touting of opportunities in .... some Paris, not the UK, not Europe ... but eventually totally South/Central America in which I had no interest. Seminar after seminar followed broadsheet after broadsheet recommending seminars.

    In the end over the years since, a lot of Paris Real Estate was visited. In the 1990's I didn't buy as I didn't realize the advice I was getting from my new banking executive husband was based more in his own conservative position than in the needed boldness of finding and tying down a property, as is my business in the US.

    A fortune could have been made in buying ca. 1994 and selling when the market exploded. (The pressure of those from the Middle East snapping up every likely unit probably drove the prices to a point where as one of my French friends said, "But, of course, it is what all my friends must pay.)

    I doubt --although still watching the SeLoger's -- that the kind of place --not gussied up to an extreme extent -- that I really want 7ième or limite 15ième will ever, even in the current extreme "chute" of the prices, reach the price level I am willing to pay. Even the 7th floor 9MC chambres de bonne, not even two joined together, are still priced above 100,000E. As much as I might hope that my health and stamina might still be up to visiting, that is not my price point for what be provided. So I haven't lost but I haven't gained but it seems there must be a profit motive in publishing IL and IL&I.

    • What resource are you referring to as ITN?

  47. You are so right on this. At first I was really excited. Looking at lots of places to retire but they all seemed the same. Cheap real estate, cheap or no taxes, cheap food and friendly. I went to Ambergris Caye in Belize where all of the numbers they gave me were wrong. Taxi 3 times the amount quoted, food expensive (just like the states), real estate just like the states but the people were friendly. For a snorkeler I would need to own a boat to even really snorkel. On to Honduras. Expensive also. Forgot to tell you it rains a lot and everything in your house molds. People not friend, real estate high and lots of loops to jump thru etc. etc. If you have any real genuine articles, please let me know.


  48. I was intrigued with the several daily expat reviews and some had useful information on a given country. After the offers for the magazine got more and more attractive, I subscribed to a short trial subscription. It may be coincidence, but soon after, the daily blogs started 'shilling' for paid investment sevices :-(. I am already beseged with to much of this kind of investment hype and accordingly dropped the daily free blogs. I have yet to receive my first magazine, but based on others reviews, now anticipate being dissapointed...

    • What ended up working for me is taking the list of countries that IL mentions and then seeking out blogs from those that have made the move to those countries of interest. For example, some good blogs from folks that have moved to Ecuador include EddSaid and Ecuador George. Even those that are trying to make money via affiliate links are still providing valuable advice that is based on actual experience.

  49. Thanks I was just about the pull the trigger on a subscription ;) I looked around Costa Rica, but that ship has sailed from the $values I encountered looking at townhouses in Tamarindo.

  50. You mentioned that you were going to post regarding trustworthy sources for working or retiring overseas. Could you send me the links to your articles.
    Thanks so much!

    • Terri, I have been travelling extensively for the last 12 years.
      Choosing a country to retire to depends a lot on what you are looking for
      eg - cheap living
      - access to modern medicine
      - access to consumer items
      - not to be targeted as a foreigner
      - require residence visa or passport
      - access to western food
      - permitted to drive
      - able to buy property
      - religious preferences
      - attitude to women
      - centrally located in the world
      - access to cheap airfairs
      - proximity to your home country, or other Western country
      - level of integrity of locals
      - friendliness of loals
      - access to alcohol and tobacco
      - cheap alcohol (Number 1 concern for many expats)
      - Ease of obtaining entry visas
      - Not too hot or too cold
      - Beach living
      - Rural or jungle living

      The list goes on

      I suggest you write your own list of your ideal country and what exactly you are looking for, and your budget. The rest should be easy, I (or someone else here) may be able to help

      • Maybe you can help. I'm 62 in good health and looking to retire on social security and a small 401K. Also I must have a couple of meds. So I'm looking for a warm or hot location, cheap rental -house or apartment, reasonably safe and able to get medication. Also I only speak English but willing to learn another language. Any recommendations? There is so much confusing information on the internet.

        • Hi Randy, I’m in the same boat. I want to retire somewhere warm on a very modest income. I’m leaning heavily on Mexico. Cost of living is much cheaper than the US and lots of benefits. Close proximity to the US too.

        • Hi Randy and Julia. I'm fairly new to all this and have only recently started searching/gathering info for a year-round warm weather climate place for my wife and I to retire in. I need the warmth if only because I'm just sick-n-tired of the cold winters in NY. and the costly heating oil prices to pay monthly. My wife likes it cooler so I may wind up going by myself-:) Have no meds to be concerned with, just my nutritionals from the company I'm affiliated with. They don't ship out of the states yet. I'm on a small pension and SS but believe these will not be around within the next 5 years as the economy is slowly but surely nearing its death. A "Reset" is in the near future, I believe.

          IL's post cards have given me various places to consider, that I'd not have thought of before. I'm glad I stopped here because I was about to subscribe to their 6 month sub plan. Thanks to everyone that shared their issues with IL. I don't need to deal with crap like that. I was starting to believe what I was reading in their post cards although it did sound a bit repetitive and hype-y. The info. we need could probably be found on youtube or in a book store...maybe Amazon or elsewhere ( hurry though 'cause Amazon is just about everywhere-:)

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