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retire-next-year

Table of Contents

Retire Next Year #1 Retire As an English Teacher

Pranburi is a hidden gem two hours south of Bangkok. Phu-Noi, its white-sand beach, runs along Dolphin Bay. (The bay was named for a pod of rare pink river dolphins that call it home.) The beach is free from the hawkers and Jet-Skis found on more popular beaches in Thailand. And from there, you can bike to a national park and take a 20-minute hike through the jungle to explore some spectacular caves. One in particular has a statue of a much-revered Thai king inside a small temple. An opening in the roof of the cave allows sunlight to shine in.

I haven't visited Pranburi. A gentleman named Chris Clancy gave me the description I just gave to you. He's an American who “retired” from the rat race to live in Thailand. It had been a dream of his for years.

“In the evenings,” Chris says, “I like to play a round of golf at the government golf course. It's only 300 baht ($10) for 18 holes. Everyone is so friendly and helpful there. Last time out, I played with three Thai policemen who didn't speak a word of English. It was great fun!

“And if I feel like getting away for the weekend, I simply catch a cheap flight to Thailand's southern islands. Koh Samui or Phuket, the heart of Thailand's tourism industry, are about an hour away.”

Because Asia has some great budget airlines, he can afford to fly to neighboring countries, too. (Pretty much whenever he wants.) So far, he has visited Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, Singapore, and China.

“When you live in Thailand,” he says, “you have an entire continent on your doorstep.

“How is Chris doing this? Not with a million-dollar retirement account but with the income from teaching English part-time.

“The job gives me the time to seek out and enjoy everything this remarkable country has to offer,” he says. “I get three months of vacation each year: March, April, and October.

Like Chris, my friend Madhu N moved from busy Delhi to a small town in the south of India called Coimbatore. She wanted to retire happily with her husband, away from the hustle and bustle of a big Indian metro.

As she explored and took her time setting up home in a new place, she decided to teach English in a nearby primary school. This was the start of her post-retirement career. She could work flexi-hours, stayed connected with the young and continued to impart a skill that she already had, thanks to her Convent education and graduation in English. All she did was a refresher course in English Language Teaching (ELT) online to get her updated on the new teaching methodologies.

For my friend, the association with the students gave her the opportunity to connect with more locals and their families. She was often invited over for tea to their homes, picking up recipes of vada-sambar as she chatted and got acquainted with the local customs. What's more, she could go off for weekends to nearby Kerala and take in the mountains at Munnar.

She managed to do this all because she didn't have to continuously dip into her retirement fund. The money she got from teaching gave her that little extra to indulge in her own small luxuries. But more than anything, her job as a teacher gave her a great sense of belonging to the district and its people. She attended cultural events, took part in festivals and even picked up the language.

English teachers wanted in India

The demand for English is not new to any of us. In a country where a majority of the schools are government run regional language schools, the number of students graduating with poor spoken and written English skills is on the rise. This is truer of tier two and tier three cities than of metros. But metros also have increasing numbers of students who are not proficient in the language for either further education or employability.

As India surges forward, the single factor that pulls many of our students down is their poor command over the English language. Their comprehension suffers and when they go into higher education, they are unable to cope with their studies. And this gets only further enhanced once they enter the workforce and language becomes more technical. It is here that you can play a role. You can look at how to improve the future of these bright minds. And what's more you can earn money while doing it. In India, both public and private school teachers are paid very well. And now with the influx of International Baccalaureate (IB) schools, the demand has only increased and the earnings have been enhanced.

And if money doesn't drive you, how about the opportunity to stay alive? To continue learning, researching and being with young students. Teaching is often more about passion than knowledge, it's about telling a good story, about learning and relearning, and about igniting young minds.

Discover New Countries As You Teach

You might not think of the ability to speak English as a financially valuable skill. But in many countries, it is. And you can make a pretty good living teaching it-even if you have no formal experience. If you're a native English speaker-and you are willing to complete a simple training course-you can get full- or part-time employment all over the world. And that can translate into a very nice retirement lifestyle. Consider the benefits…

You can live practically anywhere. Thousands of Indians are currently teaching English in many parts of Asia like China, the Middle East, and even in Africa. In fact, according to one TEFL website, South Korea and China hire 1,000 English teachers each month.

You can live your “perfect day.” Your schedule can be very flexible-especially if you do one-on-one teaching. (Which is often the most highly paid.) You can work just a few days per week or a few hours per day. This means that you can give yourself as much time as you like to do anything else that interests you. You can live in a city, in the country, in the mountains, or at the seashore. And you don't have to stay in any one place. Because the demand for English teachers is so great, you can go from one exotic location to another, as the spirit moves you.

Am I making this sound too good to be true?

I hope not. Because this is not a pie-in-the-sky idea. As I said, thousands of Indians-young and old -are living this lifestyle right now. And there are not nearly enough of them to meet the demand.

In selecting options for the Retire Next Year series, I have a number of criteria. So I ask myself these questions:

Is this a realistic lifestyle for many of my readers? Or will it work for only a few? Does it have an extra-income component? And will that be worth at least Rs 1000- Rs 2,000 per hour? Is the extra-income component flexible? Can it be done part- or full-time? Does that extra-income component require any special skills or certifications that are difficult to acquire? And finally-and most importantly: Is this something I'd be happy to do myself?

The option we are exploring this month-teaching English overseas-qualifies on all counts. If you are a fluent English speaker, which you are if you are reading this, and are willing to take a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course or two, you can do this.

Sara Beth Baxley, for instance, had no teaching experience. Even so, a school offered her a basic package given to first-year teachers in Hong Kong. This included her flight from home, health insurance, a furnished apartment in the heart of the city, a stress-free job singing with young Chinese children, and many weeks of paid vacations to travel to some of the world's most exotic corners. “It's a 12-month contract,” says Sara Beth. “No strings attached. My background is in Spanish and business, not education. But even I am able to teach English!”

It is certainly possible to make $50 (approx. Rs 3,000) per hour doing this. In some parts of the world (some Arab and Asian countries), you can make much more than that. And the hours can be very flexible. Some teaching jobs are part-time. Some are full-time. A baby boomer couple teaching English in South Korea report that they're actually saving $40,000 (approx. 24 lac rupees) per year!

Their expenses are very low. Housing is included in their deal. Cable, Internet, and utilities are inexpensive. They don't need a car, as they can use public transportation or take a taxi across town for less than $2 (approx. Rs 120). Their health insurance costs them less than $50 each per month. By the way, I have some experience teaching overseas myself. I taught English language and literature in Africa in the mid 1970s. I did it for two years. And those were two of the best years of my life. If I were retired and looking for a way to bring in some extra income, I would happily do it again

A Respected Identity

Often people interested in retiring abroad worry: What will I do when I get there? How will I stay busy?

Well, as an English teacher, you've already got an “identity” in town. A respected one, at that.

It positions you to meet people, make friends fast, discover what the country's culture is really like… and get paid to do it!

Steve Marchant, who's teaching in Quito, Ecuador, describes it this way:

“I can't think of a better way to integrate yourself into local society. For many Quiteños, having a private English tutor is quite a coup. They almost wanted to show me off.

“Suddenly, I had more invites than I could handle. Drinks out with young professionals… visiting school opening days of the children I taught… … weekend barbecues on sunny lawns…

“The end of the last evening class more than once saw me sitting on a sofa downing a beer with a student's family while watching Ecuadorian soccer.”

It's Incredibly Flexible

You may think of teaching English as something done in a classroom with young kids. And that is one option. But there are lots of others. For example, you can work as a private tutor for the children of wealthy families. Or you can work with businesspeople. Businesspeople in foreign countries are eager to improve their English skills. Why? Because English is the international language of commerce. I read one study that said that 80% of all business transactions are conducted in English. I've also heard that more than 1 billion people worldwide are learning English at any given time. You can also get a job with a college or university. Several of my friends are spending their retirement years doing just that. Point is, there's a market-a huge market-for teaching English abroad. It is a very doable way to fund your retirement. You don't have to work full-time. You can earn good money working 10-20 hours per week. Even if you teach in a school, you can limit your workload to a few classes.

What Courses You Can Take

Teaching English is a smart way to retire in your own country or overseas. It can provide you not only with extra income but with a rich and interesting lifestyle. Work is always more rewarding when you feel that what you are doing is meaningful.

Teaching English can give you that sense of purpose while allowing you the time to enjoy the fun, freedom, and adventure of being retired. No Teaching Experience Necessary. Really! As I said, it doesn't matter if you have never taught anything before.

There are many good TEFL programs. And nearly all of them will give you a certificate upon completion. These programs will familiarize you with the theory and the practice of teaching English as a foreign language. They will also provide you with lesson plans and exercises to help you build your confidence.

One program in particular gives you a step-by-step blueprint to show you how you can get an English-teaching career started. It is called Speak English and Get Paid: Your Guide to Teaching English Overseas for Fun and Profit. You can learn more about it or order it here.

Mastermind Winton Churchill and Kary Vannice, an experienced English teacher in Mexico, developed the course. Kary has taught for many years. She has taught elementary and secondary students. She has taught large and small classes and has given private lessons too. The program also gives you advice and insights from other people who are living the dream. For example: Bob Persiko, an American retiree living in Germany, is teaching business English. Bob will tell you how he got the job, despite being “unqualified” to teach.

Steven Johnson will give you the inside scoop on teaching English outside a classroom setting. He'll tell you how to get paying students within three days of arriving in a country… How a friend of his bet that Steven could start an English school by handing out business cards, and he did it! Steven will reveal insider secrets about how to find space to tutor in, free… Where to find groups of paying students in all sorts of unusual places… How to target professionals who need English for work… And lots more…

Here are some other resources for you to consider if you're serious about doing this:

Transitions Abroad allows you to search for teaching jobs by either region or country. The website also features links to programs for ESL training and certification.

i-to-i TEFL is a leading TEFL course provider. It has trained more than 127,000 people in the last 18 years. It offers both classroom and distance learning courses. It also has a job search engine for locating opportunities abroad.

CIEE: the Council on International Educational Exchange helps provide both TEFL training and job placement in seven countries, including an in-country orientation.

You Don't Need Much To Make a Start

In India, a degree in Bachelors in Education (B.Ed) is mandatory for schools and colleges but if you would like to take classes as visiting faculty, all you would need is a graduation degree, a reasonably good command over English, some amount of work experience and a willingness to teach and be amongst a young age group. You may also need to do a refresher course in teaching and particularly English Language Teaching (ELT). These courses can be done online as correspondence courses or you can even attend short courses that some institutes offer. British Council provides the Cambridge Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA) teaching course, an internationally recognised teaching qualification which follows a four-week curriculum designed by the University of Cambridge. CELTA is good for people with little or no previous teaching experience. It includes new ways of teaching language and one can gain an internationally recognised qualification. The course by British Council at their Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi centers.

Another such course is available by American TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Institute's 3 weeks TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course in Kolkata and Kochi. This is an accredited course that can help you pick up work as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher while globetrotting. It imparts a comprehensive training on the skills and techniques required for teaching English abroad.

Symbiosis Centre for Distance Learning offers a diploma course in English Language Teaching to help students develop proficiency in the methods of teaching English. This program trains students to learn different aspects of the English language, from a teacher's point of view.

In addition, several state universities also have courses in ELT. Depending on where you're located in the country, take a look at the courses and see what works best for you in terms of time and need.

If you think you might enjoy living overseas-even moving from one country to another every few years-this is a retirement option you should consider. English teachers are in demand from Ecuador to China… Spain to Mexico… Morocco to Thailand… Costa Rica to Bali. All over the world, there is a demand for people like you who speak English…

Teaching English overseas is fun-and it can give you a sense of purpose. (Something it's hard to get from golfing five days per week.)

Teaching English provides a flexible income that you can tailor to your own needs to fund the life you want. But the greatest benefit of teaching English overseas isn't the fact that it's a fun, flexible, meaningful way to fund your life. It's the richness of the life it hands you. As Kary puts it: The freedom and income that come with teaching overseas are great. But what I really appreciate is the gratitude of my students and the connections I make with them and with other people in the community. I didn't expect that…

The people who choose to teach are amazing people with such passion. And it's a real pleasure to get to know them. I've so enjoyed walking down the street and having my students introduce me to their parents. I love being invited to dinner…

Teaching English, I've had such a bright and vibrant and enriching experience overseas. And it's like that every day…

Best, Mark

*

Editor's Note:

In my professional career, I spent a lot of time living in China. When I spent a few weeks in a small apartment in Shanghai, I would routinely be fed 'ghar ka khana' by my neighbours, the Subramaniams from Bangalore. They had moved to China a year before, with a contract to teach English at a small private school. Neither of them were teachers before, but had chosen this path because they had wanted two things - early retirement, and a chance to experience life in another culture.

This experience was not new to me. In every place that I lived, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, even Portugal, I had met Indians living there who would adopt me. Some ran Indian restaurants, other had businesses, and many were teachers. In fact, when I lived in Phnom Penh, one of my friends came to spend a few months living with me, and she made enough money through three months of teaching to then travel around Asia.

In the box titled 'You Don't Need Much To Make a Start' we have included resources that you can access - there are various options, some online ones, and others are classes. Certification is not always necessary to get English teaching jobs, but it will expand your options, and increase your monetary value as a teacher as well.

I have great respect for the teaching profession, and as a writer, I have faith in the power of good communication. But for me, nothing beats the experience of a new culture, whether it is in my country or another one. If you have spent your whole life living in one place, this is your chance to get out there and explore. And for that, you have a ready skill, and the world is your oyster.

Anisa Virji Managing Editor, Wealth Builders Club

Retire Next Year #2 Turn Your Skills Into Cash With E-Lancing

A club member named P.D. recently wrote me to complain about some advice I'd given. He wrote that he didn't have “lacs of rupees to invest in real estate” and that he'd tried copywriting five years ago but found he wasn't “cut out to sit at a desk and write copy.”

“I need to start making MONEY NOW!! And I thought that was what the Wealth Builders Club was about.” I explained to P.D. that copywriting is only one of many wealth-building programs we provide for club members.

So far, the Extra Income Project has introduced members to copywriting, photography, blogging, and e-book publishing. I will be suggesting other moneymaking ideas (such as import/export and taking your hobby online) in future issues.

But I have a feeling that P.D. might not like any of those, as well. Why? Because he admitted in his letter that he was unemployed, and I didn't sense he was excited about pursuing more income (having it dropped in his lap would have been okay).

In answering his letter, I asked, “Why are you unemployed?

“Why aren't you out there washing windows or sweeping floors? There is no excuse whatsoever for being unemployed. I know the unemployment statistics, but anyone who is not seriously disabled can find some sort of work if they have the desire.

“If I were in your situation, I'd be working 15 hours per day. I'd find something-anything-to provide income now, and in my spare time, I'd research more long-term employment.

“So that's the first thing you must do. Get off your butt and go get a job!”

But the day after writing my letter to P.D., I woke up feeling a little bad. Not that he didn't deserve the tough love, but it's my job to give club members the specific advice they need. It doesn't matter whether they have the ambition and/or work ethic to act upon it. So I wanted to give P.D. something more tangible. I just didn't know what.

E-lancing is Big Business

I got my answer when I received a message recently asking if I'd like to write about e-lancing. (“E-lancing” simply means working as a freelancer through the Web.)

Curious, I did a bit of research into the subject. What I found amazed me.

It turns out e-lancing is already big business. And it's growing. As of the time of this writing, the website Elance.com reports more than 1 lac plus posted jobs in only the last 30 days.

Even more impressive, Elance reports that the total value of work done to date through its site alone is well over $ 1 billion. That's staggering! And Elance isn't even the biggest of this type of website.

It gets better.

According to a study released on Bitrebels.com, the average hourly rate of e-lancers with fewer than five years of experience is between $44.87 (approx. Rs 2,500) and $49.96 (approx. Rs 2,700)! For freelancers with five or more years, that number skyrockets to between $59.15 (approx. Rs 3,200) and $84.55 (approx. Rs 4,600)!

Now, I'm not saying everyone will be able to charge these rates right away. But even if you're making 50-70% of those rates, it's still great money.

This is big business, people!

I haven't been entirely ignorant of this. As a consultant to the publishing industry, I've seen how many of my clients have turned to the Internet to find the researchers, writers, and analysts they need.

And I have friends in the insurance, brokerage, and accounting industries who rely heavily on e-lancers for all sorts of jobs. There's demand for data entry, computer model development, customer service, and more.

I know prestigious architectural firms that use e-lancers to do design work for their hotel and restaurant clients. I also know doctors who use e-lancers to review and write précis on medical journals to help them keep up with developments in their fields.

I know dozens of direct marketers who routinely turn to the Internet to find the copywriters and graphic artists they need.

Yes, it is a big and growing industry.

Actually, I take that back. It's not really an industry at all. It's more like an enormous marketplace, bustling with eager employers searching out people with the skills, availability, and desire to do almost every conceivable kind of job.

Mala's Story

In my research, I came across a story about a Mumbai homemaker named Mala who was able to turn her many hobbies into cash flow. Mala is one of those people with boundless energy. Besides taking care of her family, she helps friends plan weddings and parties and creates handmade greeting cards. She even assists her husband in writing business reports.

One of her friends asked Mala why she did all of these things. Her answer? “Because I like to.” The friend suggested that Mala advertise her services on the Internet. Why not make money doing all of these things she likes to do, anyway?

Mala was skeptical. Especially when she failed to get the first several jobs she applied for. But on either the sixth or seventh try, she landed her first job.

The second came quicker. The third even faster than the second. Since she did great work, her clients kept returning. Before Mala knew it, she had more paid work than she had time.

With all of this demand for her services, Mala gradually increased her fees. Eventually, she was making more money per hour than her husband. And since she loved what she was doing, it wasn't truly “work”!

I thought of P.D. after hearing Mala's story. Here was something that even he could do. And despite being unemployed and feeling lost, he could do it immediately!

What Our Researchers Discovered

I'm really excited to be writing about e-lancing for the next Extra Income opportunity. This is not one opportunity but a thousand opportunities rolled into one.

After my initial research, I saw this was a great idea. And I got the WBC research team on the job.

They read everything they could on the subject. They tracked down leads, interviewed experts, and located several help programs for would-be e-lancers.

Here are some facts they discovered:

Data entry and customer service jobs used to dominate e-lancing. Most people have experience calling what they presume to be a local number only to find themselves talking to someone with an Indian accent. And this is where the opportunity continues to grow for Indians.

First, many of the large companies that were outsourcing to India through large companies because of the low costs, can now do so directly by employing e-lancers from India. Why? The large companies realized that the e-lancers produced better-quality and more cost-efficient work.

Second, the kinds of jobs advertised on an e-lance basis today are rapidly expanding. Data entry and customer service are still very much in demand, but employers are now seeking e-lancers for hundreds of other skills. These include:

Photography Graphic arts Translation Dictation services Marketing analysis Stock analysis Copywriting Property management services

There are far too many types to list them all here. Just visit any number of the e-lance websites and browse for yourself! You're going to be amazed at the volume of opportunities in the most obscure fields or niches.

Consider this: According to Elance.com, the fastest-growing jobs are now in legal services (176%), bookkeeping (75%), and accounting (88%).

Why the growth? In part, books or philosophies like Tim Ferriss' The 4-Hour Work Week have woken up working people to the possibility of making a good income working part-time on the Internet.

Why E-lancing Will Last

So what's going on with this growth? Will it last?

Absolutely. And here's why. The growth of the e-lance marketplace is largely because small businesses have begun to recognize the economics of hiring e-lancers. Many small companies can't afford to hire full-time researchers, writers, marketers, bookkeepers, accountants, programmers, and salespeople.

But they can afford to hire someone part-time to work from home… or possibly a beach. Why? What's the difference? Well, a part-time e-lancer doesn't require the company to pay full-time benefits, such as medical insurance and retirement plans.

Hiring an e-lancer also means the company avoids paying the cost of providing an employee with an office, as well as other on-location, overhead costs. As one expert put it, “Freelance workers give employers the skills they need on a fractional and affordable basis.” Don't miss what this means. E-lancing thrives when economies are bad. It's basically recession-proof, because hiring online is how companies save money when times are tough. This is great news for people like P.D.!

But companies aren't just turning to e-lancers because of cost savings, either. Increasingly, managers are looking online to find top talent.

Gary Swart, CEO of the online marketplace oDesk.com, writes, “Thanks to the growing adoption of online work, businesses can increasingly access talent on an on-demand basis, hiring online contractors from around the world so they can stay nimble and reduce overhead. Businesses are using online workers to extend their existing staff (often with talent they can't find locally) to launch resource- strapped microbusinesses, and even to create companies that are entirely virtual.”

Consider this statistic provided by Swart: “According to 82% of the millennials surveyed, within 10 years, many businesses will be built completely with virtual teams of online workers.” Wow. So where do you find these jobs?

There are countless websites that match employers with e-lancers. Two of the biggest and best we've found are Freelancer.in and Elance.com.

Toward the beginning of this essay, I detailed a few statistics from Elance. Let me revisit those and add to them. It will help show you just how big of an opportunity this is. In the past 30 days, Elance posted more than 1 lac plus new jobs There are 1,947,523 contractors on Elance The value of work done through Elance, to date, is $1,158,002,946 Some companies have paid rates on Elance as high as $150 (Rs. 9000) per hour…

You string together 20 of those hours in a week, and you have an income of $150,000 working half-time! And remember: Elance is just one of these online marketplaces. Hundreds more jobs are added every week on competing sites such as oDesk.com. How to Get Started With E-lancing

So if you're interested in e-lancing, let's talk about the action steps to take to get started. P.D., if you're reading this, here we go: Ask yourself: What skill or talent do I have that I can offer online employers?

A list of Indian sites

WorknHire.com, Freelanceindia.com, Freelancer.in, Instastudio.com, Dreamstarts.in, VentureHire.in, WorkMonk.com, Oncontract.com, Youth4Work.com, GharKamai.com

Get online and visit the following websites: a. Elance.com b. oDesk.com c. Guru.com d. Freelancer.com e. Project4hire.com. Post your services. If you're unclear what service you think you're good at, browse job postings to see if anything sounds like something for you.

Now, I know some of our older readers may not feel as comfortable as our younger ones with all of this. If that describes you, I've taken one more step. I've researched several online programs that help walk you through how to set up your e-lance business.

I don't have time to list them all here, but I've found one I'm really impressed with. It's called “21 Days to Your Global Freelancing Success.” It's a program that caters to those who are retired or near retirement. The program gives you a blueprint on how to take advantage of this opportunity. It takes you by the hand and walks you through the e-lance process, step-by-step. You can check it out here.

I know some of you may not want to dive right into a program. If this is you, I recommend you read the book Make Money Online as a FREELANCER: How to Build an Entire Career as an Online Freelancer. It will help answer questions you may have.

P.D., I hope you're reading this. Because this is my response to “I need to start making MONEY NOW!” E-lancing is an amazing opportunity to turn your skills into cash. Even better, you decide how much time to invest.

Remember, everyone-as I've written before-“You alone are solely and completely responsible for your current financial situation. Before you react defensively, read that sentence again. I didn't say you are the cause of your situation. I said you are responsible for it.”

So be responsible for taking action now! Ask yourself what you could do to make extra money now. Go to the websites. Post your services. Don't wait for the job fairy to drop money in your lap. Make it happen! And let us know how it works for you.

Best, Mark

Retire Next Year #3 Born to Travel. Paid to Write About It

Steenie Harvey describes her way of earning money as “the stuff of dreams… stress-free, romantic, fun.”

After dropping out of high school, Steenie took odd jobs inspecting bolts in a factory, waiting tables in a Chinese restaurant, even tending bar in a strip joint.

But today, she gets paid to visit blue-water beaches, wildlife sanctuaries in Borneo… open-air markets in Paris… Shanghai, Tuscany, the French Riviera, and more.

In a typical year, Steenie will make three or four trips to five or six destinations. Recently, she traveled to China, France, Spain, Portugal, Latvia, and the Bohemia region of the Czech Republic.

She makes her income by writing about the things she sees and does for guidebooks, magazines, newspapers, and websites. They pay her for her stories. Essentially, they pay her to travel.

And since most hotels, resorts, restaurants, and tourism bureaus want her to write favorably about them, they often roll out the red carpet for her stay, providing free meals, concert tickets, tour guides, accommodations, spa treatments, and more (though she admits that she doesn't write favorable reviews about not-so-favorable experiences).

“It's the best job in the world,” she says. “I get paid to sunbathe on white-sand Caribbean beaches, hike through mountain ranges in New Zealand, meditate in Indian ashrams, and tour Rome, Paris, London.”

A Partial Retire Next Year Opportunity

In this Retire Next Year essay, I'm going to introduce you to the wonderful world of travel writing. It's going to be a little different than our other Retire Next Year opportunities. How so? In most Retire Next Year opportunities, we alert you to jobs, careers, or businesses that provide you with enough income to pack up your bags and retire to some exotic location within a year.

The idea is not to make a boatload of cash… that's what our Extra Income series is for. Retire Next Year opportunities are, rather, about things you can do to supplement your income from a pension. And they're opportunities that can free you from where you've lived and worked your whole life.

Travel writing is the perfect hybrid opportunity. It can give you the taste of freedom a few months out of the year to travel when and where you wish, without making a major upheaval by moving to another continent.

It can be full or part-time. It requires no special qualifications or education (remember, Steenie never graduated high school). And it provides the income seeker with an expanding market of possibilities - all without the anchor of an office, a boss, or employees.

Your desk is a table and chair in a nearby coffee shop. The view outside your window a beach, city, or mountain range. Your choice.

The only requirement is that you write about the things you see and do while you're there. It's a skill you need to learn. But it can be taught. And if you learn to do it well, you'll find yourself in high demand. More on this in a minute.

From Bolt Inspector to Traveling Celebrity

Before she was a travel writer, Steenie's life wasn't so exciting. Fifteen years ago, she was working 50 hours per week typing invoices and taking calls from disgruntled customers in the English Midlands. She also answered to a boss she describes as “very grumpy”.

Then her husband lost his job. And they thought, “Why not move away? Try a completely different lifestyle?” So they sold what possessions they had and bought a bargain-priced country cottage in the west of Ireland.

Soon after moving into their new cottage, Steenie found an ancient manual typewriter in the garden shed. The same day, she came across an ad in the Sunday newspaper that said something like “You Too Can Have a Career As a Writer.” It got her thinking.

A Little Affirmation

She decided to bash out a humorous article about her search for a home in Ireland. She wrote about her travails looking for a home for $10,000. She included anecdotes about real estate agents taking her and her husband to see horrible huts with tin roofs and no bathroom facilities.

She wrote about shacks with no front doors, a farmhouse where cows were using the kitchen as a barnyard. Then she finished the story with a description of the cottage that they eventually bought.

It was the first thing she'd ever written since leaving high school. She didn't have a clue about how to present an article. Her effort featured single-spaced typing, thickly whited-out passages covering all of the errors she made, and a dog-eared left corner to hold the pages together.

Despite her lack of knowledge, the property editor of an English daily newspaper called The Independent published it. The paper paid Steenie $180 (about 10,000 rupees)-not a ton of money, but it was very gratifying nonetheless.

Better still, the editor asked Steenie to write a follow-up essay on the kind of homes that were on sale in western Ireland. She told me it was an easy piece to write. “I simply visited local real estate agents and asked what they had for sale.”

She thought, “Surely this is the end of it. How many people could be interested in reading articles about buying Irish cottages?” In fact, she got offers from three more English newspapers: The Guardian, The Daily Express, and London's Evening Standard.

Her Big Break

Then she came across a monthly publication called International Living in the United States. She sent a note to the editor, who wrote back saying that she had been looking for a freelance writer in Ireland. Steenie had just gotten lucky!

Fifteen years later, Steenie is a highly paid, well-respected and well-known travel writer. She's written hundreds of stories for International Living and others- about not only Ireland but also destinations as far-flung as Malaysia and Mexico.

These days, editors of travel magazines actually pay her expenses as she travels the globe reporting on their behalf… The Size of the Market

It may seem hard to believe that you can generate regular extra income writing about your travels. But if you understand how the industry works, it won't seem so odd.

Food for Thought

When you learn the tricks of travel writing, you will have the basic skills you need to write about wine and food. You may not have the knowledge, but that is relatively easy to acquire. The point is that travel writers often find additional work writing restaurant reviews. It's possible to get a gig writing about your eating and drinking experiences in your own locality. First, consider the size of the industry. Around the world, according to the World Tourism Organization, tourism generates $1.2 billion in spending per day. That's per day!

With an industry of that size, the market for travel writers is enormous. Tens of thousands of magazines, newspapers, and newsletters-print and Internet-all over the world are in constant need of new copy.

And that's just the press. Resorts, hotels, travel agencies, tour organizers, and golf resorts worldwide need travel and “destination” writing.

Cities and towns worldwide spend billions on travel and destination copy. (The Bahamas, for example, spends about $70 million on tourism every year.) And then there are the airlines, railroads, and cruise lines and all of the smaller companies related those industries.

The Indian tourism sector is likewise enormous. In 2013 it generated revenue of 107671 crore rupees , growing at an annual rate of 14%.

6.97 million tourists visited India, and over 16 million Indians traveled internationally. If you count domestic tourists (and you should, the number is huge - 1145 million) you will see that there are a lot of people for you to write for.

As you can see, the travel market is huge, the demand is giant, and the need is constant.

Income Potential

Top travel writers make big money. But you shouldn't expect big money if you decide to take up this path. The market, as I've explained, is enormous. But there are a lot of out-of-work writers to compete with.

Still, the growing need for new articles outweighs the competition you're up against, and there's plenty of room for beginners to earn between Rs 2,000 to 20,000 per article, more if you provide good pictures.

Add to that the free experiences you gain by traveling as a travel writer, and you'll quickly see how one trip can turn into a small profit and several thousand rupees worth of free travel.

Here are a few examples from real people, not professional writers, who are doing this now part and full-time…

Rishad M has traveled the world over. He started off doing it purely for the love of travel and saw it as an investment, now he sees it as a profession because he writes and sells pictures from his travels. He has written for Hindustan Times, Jetwings, National Geographic Traveller India edition, Travel & Leisure South Asia edition, to name just a few. He has become such a big name in travel writing that his recently published book is making waves as well.

Another travel writer, Shivya N quit her corporate job and decided to travel the world in 2011. She began writing anywhere and everywhere until she made it big and now she her travel stories have appeared in BBC Travel, National Geographic Traveller, The Times of India and Lonely Planet, among others. She was recently featured on Femina's “35 Under 35” power List of Indian women.

All you need to do is get out and start writing. You already know you can start a blog, to get your writing out there. You can start a website which is another extra income idea I will send out soon. And you can start with photography as well.

Like Taking Pictures?

Open up any magazine, and what do you find yourself looking at first?

That's right. Pictures. Photographs!

There's a simple reason. No matter how compelling and interesting the writing might be… photos help grab a reader's attention.

Now, as a travel writer, you usually won't have to worry about providing photographs for the major publications.

But some publications will pay you handsomely for the right pictures. And when you offer an editor a full package-article with photos-it's often a much more persuasive pitch. Travel writers report feeling that some of their articles wouldn't have been published if they had not had the pictures to illustrate them.

Plus, photos can really up your income. A freelancer I know, David Morgan, traveled all across Asia for six months. He dined with the privy council to the king of Thailand… met the late Mother Teresa… shook hands with the Dalai Lama. He took a weeklong, four-wheel-drive journey across Tibet. He went trout fishing in a pristine mountain stream in Bumburet, a hidden valley in the Hindu Kush. He also got to see secret religious ceremonies that outsiders rarely witness.

The icing on the cake was that he got a profitable book deal on the photos from his trip. Not only did his connections SAVE him money, but he also actually MADE money… over $6,000!

We have explored turning your photos into cash in a previous Extra Income opportunity. Using your writing and photos together can be a great boost.

Fringe Benefits

Travel writing can become a full-time career, as it is for Steenie and Shivya, or something you do on the side-a way to justify a vacation and defray some of the costs.

However you approach it, you are likely to find that nothing beats traveling as a travel writer.

You'll never travel like a typical tourist again. As a travel writer, you get a VIP card that can make all of your future travel adventures amazing, first-class experiences.

In researching this piece, I learned about a tiny hotel on the Caribbean island of Antigua, a barge company in Europe that organizes luxury trips on European canals, and a travel brokerage in the United States with nights spent at fine country inns and hotels-all eager for new writers.

And when you tell people you're a travel writer, you'll discover that they will bend over backward to ensure you enjoy your experience. Nothing's too much trouble.

You'll get access to the VIP entrance… served the best meals… escorted to the most expensive seats… offered a private tour…

I know many travel writers, and they tell me this happens all the time.

And let's not forget how much more interesting this makes you at cocktail parties. “What have you been up to, M?” “Oh, you know, the usual… I was in Keraa last week covering the annual boat race festival. Next month, my wife and I are taking a sailboat cruise around Turkey… You?”

And you don't have to jump in with both feet. Lots of travel writers I know simply do this on their once-a-year vacation. Instead of going to Disney World, they pay a whole lot less and go a whole lot farther-the Greek Isles, Morocco, Singapore, Bali, or Hawaii.

Did I Forget to Say that Travel Writing Can be Romantic?

A very successful travel writer, recently told me this story.

Manisha D was in Spain and landed the best seat in the house for a world- class flamenco show-even though people in line behind her were turned away.

[“Flamenco” is a style of dancing, characteristic of the Andalusian gypsies (in Southern Spain). It is strongly rhythmic and involves vigorous actions, such as clapping the hands and stamping the feet.]

She found herself at the door of a small, very well-respected venue for flamenco.

It's in the basement of a renovated 19th-century mansion. It's not one of the tourist traps where travel agents book busloads of foreigners for a “traditional dinner and a show.”

This is a place where the locals go. Everyone was dressed to the nines. And if you know Spain at all, you know we're talking very elegant and classy.

The evening Manisha was there, it was packed. There was a line out the door. She stood in it. But she figured she'd be lucky if she got a seat, given how small the space was-and how many people were ahead of her. (And how glamorous they all looked!)

Once she got inside and down the stairs, she could see that except for one table upfront near the stage, the only other available seats were at a handful of tables in a back corner. She figured that she could still “soak up the atmosphere” from there-but that she really wouldn't see much. Still… she wanted to stay…

Just one gentleman stood in line in front of Manisha. He was pressing cash into the maitre d's hand. Or trying to, anyway. The maitre d' was having none of it. He just kept saying, “No, I'm sorry sir, but I cannot seat you up there… ”

When it was Manisha's turn to ask for a seat, she quickly explained who she was… and the maitre d' smiled broadly, motioning for her to follow him…

He escorted her right to that table in the front. Right next to the stage. The people behind her in line were clearly wondering who she was.

She's not some well-known celebrity. She's not one of the super-wealthy elite, either.

So how did she break all barriers? She's a school teacher who happens to do travel writing. She was simply on a couple weeks' holiday in Spain with her best friend. (Her friends got to sit up front too.) And she and her friend spent the next couple of hours enjoying drinks and the best seats in the house.

You see, the maitre d' was thrilled at the prospect of her possibly writing about his establishment in an upcoming article. And he treated her accordingly.

This is the kind of thing that can happen if you choose this path.

How to Get Started

I began this essay with the story of Steenie Harvey, who got into the business entirely through her own efforts. She started her travel-writing career from scratch, with no contacts, connections, or blueprint on how to succeed.

It's still possible for you to tackle it on your own, but there is no reason to take on that kind of challenge.

There are several books on Amazon that can teach you about travel writing. Here are a few highly rated books for you to consider:

Lonely Planet Travel Writing Travel Writing: See the World. Sell the Story. Travel Writing 2.0: Earning Money From your Travels in the New Media Landscape.

However, if you're really serious about getting into travel writing, there is one great program to teach you the ropes that's now available and that I can recommend.

This solid program, brought to you by American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI), will teach you what you need to know-from the basics of writing travel copy to how to get your first job. I can attest to the quality of the program because I've read it. You guys already know I trust AWAI for their quality writing courses, and this is one of them. I've also seen the hundreds of unsolicited testimonials AWAI has received from happy customers.

Here are a couple:

“In the end, I made about $1,000 from my magazine and website articles (not including reprints). And I saved about $1,800 in travel expenses and got guided tours. Not at all a bad deal for a lengthy vacation in the warm Arizona sunshine, out of the wet Seattle winter- a vacation I would have gladly paid for.” - Roy S.

“I signed on with an Internet travel magazine, where I don't get paid for the assignments… but I calculate that I've received over $12,000 worth of perks from them.” - Carolyn H.

The Ultimate Travel Writer's Program provides many benefits that you won't find in the books listed above.

To find out more about travel writing and if this is for you, AWAI has put together a detailed special report for Wealth Builders Club members. I will send you this report soon.

If you want to experience the Retire Next Year lifestyle for a few months out of the year without physically relocating to an overseas country (or if you just want an excuse to travel more often this year and do it in a way you never could as a typical tourist), travel writing may just be for you.

Best, Mark

Retire Next Year #4 How to Travel Like a Diplomat: Free Food, Free Excursions, and Free Hotels

When Kathy Scopin turned 40, she signed up for a 13-day bicycle trip across Italy. It was a life-changing experience. Since then, she has traveled to Italy every year. Each trip has been a pleasure, expanding her knowledge of the country.

Traveling to Italy every year may sound expensive. But Kathy doesn't pay a nickel. On the contrary, people pay her!

Kathy's first trip to Italy so impressed her that she decided to create a little business. She wanted to replicate the experience for others. She called it the “My First Trip to Italy” tour.

The first tour she arranged was an 11-day “Italian Sampler.” It took guests to Rome, Florence, and Venice and taught them Italian-specific travel skills (such as cultural sensitivity). Her tour made her guests' experience of Italy far richer than had they gone alone.

“The trip started in Venice and concluded in Rome,” Kathy remembers. “We spent the middle of our journey in a luxurious four-star Tuscan villa high in the Florentine hills.

“There, we enjoyed olive oil tasting… an afternoon cooking with the resort's renowned chef… relaxing by the pool overlooking the stunning, verdant valley below… horseback riding… art, architecture, food, wine. And the pleasures of shopping.”

“It was an amazing experience,” she said. But what was more amazing was that she had all of her expenses paid and came back with several thousand dollars in her pocket.

How to Get Paid to Have Fun

Today, I'd like to talk about a fun and interesting topic: how to get paid to travel.

As you know, our “Retire Next Year” series offers outside-the-box suggestions that could allow you to pack up your bags and retire to some other place within a year.

You'll be able to create additional income from some of these opportunities. But making tons of money isn't the main focus of this series.

More importantly, I offer these ideas because I want to inspire you to consider alternative retirement lifestyles.

Today's idea gives you a unique opportunity to make money, travel, or potentially relocate to your dream destination. And it's one of my favorite ideas because it offers the chance to do something I personally love: travel the world.

I've already talked to you about travel writing as an opportunity to recoup expenses or just make some money. Today's topic allows you to travel in serious luxury without creating even a small dent in your pocket.

Think about the destinations you'd like to see: Paris, London, Rome… Thailand, South Africa, Brazil…

Or think about your passions: golf, cooking, hiking, spirituality, gardening, bird watching, writing, art, yoga, wines, etc.

Now combine the two fantasies into one amazing dream:

Hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro? Practicing yoga in Thailand? Taking cooking classes in Tuscany? Hiking to Machu Picchu? Golfing in Scotland and Ireland? Cruising through the Greek Isles on a sailboat?

Whatever it is that lights you up, you can design it, enjoy it, and even get paid for it.

Welcome to the world of being a freelance tour guide. Here, you can create any experience you want and then have other people pay you to enjoy it.

You can easily design and lead one to four tours per year… maybe more. And you can make anywhere from 2-7 lac rupees per vacation. It's not huge money, but it's a nice little bonus after getting all of your expenses paid.

If you like the idea of other people funding your travels, doing what interests you, and earning money, too… you should consider starting your own tour business.

Do You Have What It Takes?

What does it take to be a successful tour operator? I asked Cynthia Morris, the author of Leading Tours for Fun and Profit. She identified the following traits:

You must love to travel

You must enjoy sharing your knowledge with others

You don't mind being in charge sometimes

You enjoy being around like-minded people

You are an organized worker

You might not know this, but I have been in the travel business for more than 30 years. It was never a full-time job, yet I've owned several travel, tour, and seminar businesses. These include Opportunity Travel, which operates out of Delray Beach, Fla., my hometown.

What I've learned about the travel business isn't a great deal. But I have learned a few key facts.

You won't earn much if your only services are booking airfare and hotels. The real money comes from arranging specialized tours.

The reason is simple: If you are booking conventional travel packages, your customers are going to be cost conscious. They will be comparing your prices with dozens of other similar packages.

Thank you for all of the material and wonderful advice. Club member DC But when you design a unique trip, an adventure-one that has few or no competitors-you can charge more or less as much as you want. But to do this, you must give your customers a great value.

At Opportunity Travel, for example, we pay the bills with conventional travel bookings. But we make our profits by designing specialized tours for people who are interested in living, investing, and buying property overseas.

Because we are providing our customers with unique experiences, it would be nearly impossible for them to do this on their own. As a result, we enjoy gross profits of $1,000 or more per person. Specialized tours are where the profits lie.

Starting Small

Like everything else we recommend at the Wealth Builders Club, we wouldn't want you to jump into this business without a parachute. We base the suggestions that follow on taking a slow and careful start. We want you to avoid costly mistakes.

For example, your vacation plans today are likely based on what you can afford. And that may be limited. You could begin by planning one tour per year. Instead of paying, say, 2 lac rupees for a mediocre one-week vacation at Disney World, you could have an amazing vacation in Europe, China, or Africa. Even better, you come back with an extra 2-7 lac rupees in your pocket.

That's not a bad way to start a second stream of income.

A friend of mine, Hamida, a professor of cultural studies at the New School in New York goes home to India every summer to visit her family. After India and before she returns to New York she takes an all-expense paid trip. Last year was a cultural tour of Scotland. This year it was a cultural tour of Turkey. She'll enjoy two long vacations, earn a few lac rupees, and get to talk about the cultures she loves so much already.

Here's how it works: Say your passion is photography and you've always wanted to see the great pyramids of Egypt. You do some research and design a travel itinerary.

It will take you to the Pyramid of Khufu at Giza, with stops to see the Sphinx and the other amazing desert destinations. You research hotels and land transportation and decide on an itinerary-the one that is perfect for you.

Then you lock down the prices-everything included. Assume it comes to 1.5 lac rupees. You add Rs 15,000 (10%) for overages and a profit margin of, say, Rs 85,000 for yourself. So the total sum you charge each person comes to 2.5 lac rupees.

You contact a group of like-minded friends and family members. And then you run a few ads on the Internet. Five signups will give you an extra 4.25 lac rupees. That would cover your costs. Another five will put 4.25 lac rupees of pure profit in your pocket. If you get 15 people -which is about all you'd want-you'd have a free trip, plus 8.5 lac rupees in cash.

BP is a friend who got into this business several years ago. She wanted to do something related to travel in Europe. She had a passion for gourmet food, great wine, and shopping. First class all the way.

So that's the type of tours she designed: first-class visits to small, European cities for affluent women. Her first trip was a success-and it consisted entirely of her friends! (I would have gone, but I didn't fit the gender.)

Of course, it's not quite as easy as I've just made this sound. To be successful, you have to have that spirit of adventure to put together a tour. You would have to research well, double-check your facts, get all agreements in writing, stay organized, and then have a working checklist to make sure everything on the tour goes smoothly.

In addition, to make the most profit, you need to know where to advertise without spending all of your money. How to negotiate reduced-priced hotel rooms for you and your guests, and the best ways to add value to your tours so you can price them competitively and still make a profit.

A few years ago, Cynthia put all of this advice into an inexpensive guide that's been helping people plan trips from Paris to the Philippines and turn them into a profit

A Small Critique

Note: My one complaint, if there is one, is in the bookkeeping section. Clearly, Cynthia is an artist and travel lover… not a businesswoman

If you're already experienced in business building and familiar with budgets, you should just skip this chapter. If you're not, Cynthia does a great job of laying everything out for the complete novice. Today, the American Writers & Artists Inc. Travel Group publishes her program. And it's got everything you need.

I reviewed it for this essay. It is comprehensive, thorough, and easy to follow. Cynthia covers topics such as what it takes to turn a profit, what sort of skills and attitudes you need, what contacts and information sources you need to get started, and how to choose destinations and plan trips.

She also covers pricing, marketing, and bookkeeping.

Here are some highlights I noticed going through her program:

Flavor: Location and pricing are important, but the most important thing is deciding on the “flavour” of your trip. Is it fancy? Gourmet? Adventurous? Surprising?

Lodging: Comfort is key. It should have the right flavour, but the comfort of your guests is critical. Nobody wants to be uncomfortable when they retire after a day of adventure. What kind of flavour will your trip have? What sort of lodging might be appropriate?

Pricing: This is an essential aspect of a successful tour. To determine this, look to the flavour of the tour. This will help guide the buying decisions you have to make. Plan a rough itinerary. Get a general idea of costs. Remember that costs are always relative to the time of year. Estimate conservatively because of currency fluctuations and unexpected expenses

Marketing: At first, focus close to home-relatives, neighbours, friends, family, and people you know from church, school, etc. These people are your best leads. Invite them and tell them to invite their friends, family, and neighbours.

Creating Delight: Ask how you can exceed your customers' expectations. Cynthia creates a travel kit, including a book that customers can use to write notes and draw pictures, hold on to metro tickets, mints, soaps, etc.

Another story before I tell you more about Cynthia's program:

Himanshu S is an exceptional photographer and father of two kids. He conducts photo safaris every year in India and abroad. These trips are planned well in advance and he markets them through Facebook and e-mailers. He does enough research on the place and chooses exotic still feasible destinations for beginners in photography.

Through his trips, he imparts photography training as well as takes the participants on a tour to a completely new place. They click away in South African forests, discover a new civilisation, eat new foods and make great friends. All this while he makes money and enjoys his passions of photography and travel.

Sample Itinerary: Women Writers of Paris Tour with Cynthia Morris

This version of the itinerary is a draft to give you an idea of the layout of our days. The itinerary may change; you can expect a final version when you arrive. We may need to change our plans at the last minute, so please keep that in mind.

Monday, September 4th Acclimating By 3:00 Arrival and check in at the hotel 4:00 Luxembourg Garden Stroll-introductions and week overview (meet in hotel lobby) 6:00 Cocktails at Les Deux Magots 7:30 Dinner at Bouillon Racine

Tuesday September 5th The Left Bank 8:00 Breakfast at the hotel 9:00 Women of the Left Bank (meet in hotel lobby). Buy picnic supplies at the rue de Buci market 1:30 Picnic lunch together in Luxembourg Gardens Afternoon-free time Dinner on your own

Wednesday September 6th The Marais 8:00 Breakfast at the hotel 9:00 Marais/Bookstores of Paris (meet in hotel lobby) 12:30 Lunch at Falafel d'As-optional 2:00 Cafe writing and reading-optional 4:00 Free time 7:00 Clydette's Cocktail Party

Thursday September 7th The Latin Quarter 8:00 Breakfast at the hotel 9:30 Latin Quarter (meet in hotel lobby) 1:00 Lunch at the Mosquee tearoom 3:00 Afternoon free-you may wish to take the baths-the hammam at the Mosquee 6:30 Pont des Arts picnic-optional

Friday September 8th Artists and Writer's Museums 8:00 Breakfast at the hotel 9:00 Museum visits in Nouvelle Athènes neighborhood with Heather Stimmler-Hall (meet in hotel lobby) Gustave Moreau, Musee de la Vie Romantique 2:00 Lunch at Musee Jacquemart Andree 4:00 Free time 6:00 Vernissage-optional openings at galleries in the neighborhood Dinner on your own

Saturday September 9th Make Your Own Paris 8:00 Breakfast at the hotel 9:00 Morning free 2:00 Free or optional time/consultation time with Cynthia 4:30 Wine tasting (meet in hotel lobby) 8:00 Dinner together

Sunday September 10th Carpe Diem! 9:00 Pastry Indulgence at Laduree 10:30 Père Lachaise 12:30 Cafe together to write and read-optional 1:30 Lunch on your own optional time/consultation time with Cynthia 7:00 Dinner together 10:00 Bateaux Mouche boat ride on Seine

Monday September 11th 8:00 Breakfast at the hotel, closing the week Au Revoir!

But What About Competing Tours?

You may wonder how you can compete with local guides and pre-packaged tours that offer deep discounts, but you really don't need to worry about these things.

We live in a wonderful day and age in which global travel is more accessible than ever. People want to see the world. They're travelling.

Did you know Egypt gets about 14 million tourists every year? Venice gets about 20 million, and Paris 42 million.

“But those are popular destinations,” you might say. “I want to go somewhere off the beaten path.” Here's a little secret: If you want to see it, other people want to see it too.

You see, there's a market for every destination. If you find it interesting, someone else will. It's just human nature. Now, this doesn't answer why someone would choose you over a local tour guide (I'll get to that), but I just want you first to understand that people want to go to your destination- regardless of where it is.

Now, the first-and main-reason someone will pick you over the local tour guide is because you're not just selling a location. You're selling an experience.

Most people won't fly to Paris, hoping they find a local tour guide who will lead them on a biking tour of the French countryside, where they'll sleep in quaint bed and breakfasts every night, visiting wineries and local cheese shops by day, learning about the French Romantic poets of the 1800s by night.

That experience is sold before the trip even begins.

I appreciate all of the education that the WBC staff sends out. You have a fantastic product. Don't ever change it. Club member DM Remember, your tour is unique. You're not just booking airfare and a hotel. You're offering an experience. A theme. Most tour guides make money based on the quantity of customers. Pack as many tourists on the camels as you can…

That won't be you. You will offer a well- thought-out, creative trip, filled with interesting destinations and activities. You will offer a completely original experience.

Second, travel often involves the unknown. Travellers have a tendency to be nervous about the unknown. Since you'll mostly be marketing to people in your hometown or country, this will give people the chance to meet you. Shake your hand. This takes away the fear. Knowing the tour guide before even stepping foot on the plane is a great comfort.

Third, many tourists are hesitant to use a local tour guide for fear of being taken advantage of or ripped off. We've all heard nightmare stories. Choosing you offers an additional layer of security. Someone they'll feel much safer with.

And at the end of the day, remember: You're looking for only about 15 people. That's all. It's not as though you need to find thousands of customers.

You can do this. If you make your trip interesting enough, you may even turn down some people.

How to Get Started

Like almost everything else these days, you can start by going to the library or searching the Internet. This is likely to be a long and sometimes discouraging task. So much of the information out there is dated, incomplete, or downright wrong.

You can, if you want a more comprehensive idea, sign up for Cynthia's tour program with a money-back guarantee. You can do that here.

As with all of the programs we recommend in the Wealth Builders Club, you will get a special discount for being a member.

In fact, because of our club's buying power, we've negotiated the lowest price on this program ever. Cynthia will never offer it for a cheaper price to any other group. And as a reminder, we aren't being compensated one dime for this recommendation.

Here's a brief list of what you will learn from Cynthia's program:

How to price the tour so the cost is reasonable yet profitable

How to keep track of all the numbers for expenses and income

How to handle money internationally: currency conversion, international banking and more… it's a lot easier than it sounds

How to spread the news about your tour fast, efficiently, and inexpensively (in fact, a lot of the best-producing publicity sources are absolutely free!)

How to fill up your tour without “selling” it. Find out how you can easily enroll both strangers and people in your personal network- folks who share your interests

How to get creative when you write and distribute promotional materials to promote your niche tour

How to stay organized and juggle all the details-without breaking a sweat

How to leave your home and business running smoothly while you're on tour… do this right, and they'll hardly know you're gone

To sum it up, how to make each tour a stellar success.

I hope you're beginning to see just how possible this is. And how rewarding it could be. You can do this. And you can make money doing it.

I want your retirement to be as rich and meaningful as possible. Let your mind run wild. What's your fantasy? Let your dream trip serve as the blueprint for your tour, then make it happen.

Best, Mark

Retire Next Year #5 How to Make Rs 25,000 Each Week From Your Own Shangri-La

“It's far too much fun to call work,” Tom Courtier told the reporter from International Living magazine. He was talking about the Retire Next Year strategy we will discuss today.

Shortly after I moved into my current home in Delray Beach, a crazy woman rented the cottage next to us. One of the many things she liked to do was to sit in her driveway and honk the horn every time one of my dogs barked.

Of course, when the dogs heard the horn they barked more. There were days - and I'm not making this up - when she battled my dogs, honking versus barking, for six hours at a stretch.

There were other things she did that were rather upsetting. Like painting “These people are assholes” on the side of our house. I did my best to appeal to her reason. Finding none, I did the next best thing. I called her landlord and made him a deal he couldn't refuse.

In return for giving me a 10-year lease when hers came due several months later, I agreed to be responsible for all repairs and upkeep and to put $100,000 into renovating his cottage. Now you might think spending $100,000 in renovations is just as crazy as honking your horn at barking dogs for six hours, but I had a secret plan.

My plan was to turn this rather ramshackle cottage into a B&B (bed & breakfast), and then to rent it out to people on a weekly basis. Since it had three bedrooms and two porches looking onto the ocean, I figured I could easily get $2,500 a week for it during the season.

In fact, I was able to get $2,750 a week, and I was able to do that for an average of 25 weeks a year. If you add that up, you will see that my income over 10 years was above $650,000.

If you subtract my costs (the $100,000 in renovations, $270,000 in rent, about $50,000 in maintenance and another $30,000 in general expenses), you will see that I made a profit of something like $200,000.

Plus, I achieved my main goal (getting rid of a crazy neighbour). I also had the use of the cottage for 27 weeks a year.

It was a good deal.

On top of that, I met lots of pleasant and interesting people who rented the cottage from me year after year. And when the 10 years was up, I exercised an option to buy the cottage and eventually made it the south wing of my current house.

This left me with a skeptically positive feeling about B&Bs. And so when someone at Wealth Builders Club suggested this as a topic, I looked into it. My research reduced my skepticism. So it is with relatively un-skeptical positivity that I present this Retire Next Year strategy: running your very own “retirement” B&B overseas.

And if you don't want to go that far, start a homestay right where you are. These are becoming extremely popular in India. With tourists and travellers getting a complete immersion in the culture of the state and its people.

Is This an Option for You?

Opening a B&B is not for everyone. But it does meet the requirements of a Retire Next Year occupation. For one thing, it is something you can do in a year. It also works best if your B&B is somewhere you'd like to retire - a tropical seaside, for example, or a mountain retreat.

Another advantage is that it doesn't require any specialized skill or experience. There are basically three aspects to this business: selling rooms, managing the property, and hosting the guests.

Selling the rooms, as I'll explain in a bit, is much easier than you might expect. Managing the property in most overseas destinations is cheap and easy thanks to the availability of inexpensive labour. And hosting the guests is something you can do - if you enjoy it - or something you can delegate to someone else.

Take retired art dealer Frank Stegmeier, who was recently featured in International Living's Incomes Abroad. In 1998, Frank bought 100 acres of Panamanian land for $17,000. He built a few cottages for friends to stay in when they visited. But as time passed, he decided to rent them out for extra cash.

It didn't take long for a small business to blossom. El Rio Encantado is now an in-demand art lovers' retreat.

Frank's “office” is a tropical oasis, with lush gardens, hot springs, a river, and a waterfall. His customers are appreciative guests escaping the hustle and bustle of their busy lives.

Sound a little better than your daily grind? And a B&B is simple and easy to run. It's not a Marriott, and people don't expect it to be. As Frank explains:

“Around here, the Wi­Fi may go out… or there may be a brief power outage from a storm, and there might be an ant or two in the kitchen. People go to B&Bs to get away, and most understand that they are there to relax, not check emails every 40 minutes.”

Frank's fee: $70 a night in the rainy season and $110 during holidays. This allows him to entice guests with low prices while making enough to live comfortably.

My friends were recently travelling in India and stayed in a lovely homestay in the Wayanad district of Kerala. The couple who ran it had bought a small plot of land and some coffee plantations, and left their hectic lives in Chennai to live in the rustic peace of their birthplace in Kerala.

They built a series of cottages and treehouses scattered around their main house, and now host people from around the world. They also have art retreats where they support artists from around the country to come paint from their treehouse studio. They're here also for the experience, they say. They love meeting people from around the world, their lives are full of interesting conversations, and they can do what they hearts' desire.

The best part of running their B&B? They still have time to enjoy life off the property. They are minutes away from a national park, and a few miles from the city. And even with all the things that they can do away from their little hotel, they never miss a sunset happy hour with guests.

All of this with a modest marketing platform. Advertising can be done through websites like TripAdvisor and VRBO. Get a few guests to write good reviews and the B&B sells itself. Zoe Courtier of Geckoes Lodge in Costa Rica comments:

“It gives us great pleasure to read reviews on TripAdvisor. We hope to exceed our guests' expectations-and that we have to date keeps us motivated to keep improving the barefoot­ luxury experience here at Geckoes.” In India, you can register your homestay properties on websites like: Homestays, CheersBye, MyIndianStay, HeritageStay, TripAdvisor, Booking.com and the recently launched world-renowned AirBnb. Frank Stegmeier has a simple website where customers can see rates, photos, and room availability. Starting a website is easier than ever. Sites like WordPress and Squarespace make it fun, cheap, and simple.

So what do you need to know to get started?

How to Fund Your B&B

As you can see, opening a B&B is not rocket science. But the idea does present an obstacle: a significant one-time investment. In some parts of the world, you can buy a place with half a dozen cottages for 30 lac rupees. In other parts of the world, you might have to spend 10 times that amount.

This may seem like a lot, but you can make a good deal more than that in rental fees. And if you live on location, as he did, your profits are paying for the cost and maintenance of your home.

In the case of a homestay all you need to do is spruce up the rooms you plan to let out and equip them with a few amenities that the guests may need. You can add a TV and DVD player, a small fridge, hot water kettle and internet. You will incur a maximum expense of Rs. 50,000/-. But recovering this cost will be easy. Because if you charge between Rs 3000-5000 per night, you've covered up your expenses in ten nights of bookings.

Choosing the Right Location

The biggest mistake that B&B entrepreneurs make is choosing the wrong location. If you've never been in this business, you might assume that you can convert just about anything into a B&B. And many people have lost money by making this assumption.

The success of your B&B will depend on your ability to sell it. And your ability to sell it will depend primarily on its location. What you want is a popular (and preferably growing in popularity) destination where you would like to live.

We will talk more about the process of choosing a destination in my upcoming essay on opening up a beach bar that I will send you soon.. In India homestays are currently popular in places like Goa, Kerala and Rajasthan. But if you look on TripAdvisor and VRBO you will see that people around the country are beginning to host guests.

Once you've determined where you want to locate your B&B, you should spend several weeks (or months) there getting to know the area in detail. You need to feel comfortable with the personality of the local people, the weather, the available activities, and with the local government.

What you don't want to do is visit a place for few days, fall in love with it, and start investing money immediately.

High­End, Low­End, or Hostel: Matching the Right B&B With Your Target Market

Another important decision is the type of B&B you want to run. As with location, you have to let the market guide you.

Deepa at Santacruz, Mumbai, has a daughter studying abroad and hence one room free in her home. Her house being close to Mumbai's domestic airport, she decided to let it out and registered it on AirBnb. Deepa provides her guests with a clean spacious room, warm interiors, a cozy library and hot Indian breakfast options.

Being a dog owner, all she insists is that the guests reasonably love animals. Additionally, she provides them with suggestions on ordering in and even places to shop at.

Travelers who stay with her want two things - to not pay the exorbitant Mumbai hotel prices, and to make a connection with a local so as to experience the city better. Several have stayed at her home and found it an extremely convenient location with comfortable amenities. Deepa's small home is today a good option for many travellers in the city. She may have started small but she is earning an income, just by marketing her home.

Deepa is a perfect example of one of the most important rules of running a business-be flexible. Do not begin with a rigid concept of your B&B.

Making the Numbers Work: How to Profit From Your B&B

The economics of running a B&B are pretty simple. You have the fixed costs of the property, including upkeep, maintenance, insurance, a mortgage, etc. You have the variable costs of preparing and cleaning rooms. You have the cost of marketing. And you have your revenues.

Before considering a B&B, create a simple business plan (four pages should be enough) that outlines the primary tasks involved, their costs, and when you will do them. You should also create a projected cash flow statement, showing what revenues you expect in years one, two, and three. Then compare these revenues against your projected expenses.

Figuring your expenses is easy if you are familiar with the location you're interested in. Figuring your revenues is also easy. Simply look at similar options in the area and make whatever adjustments you feel are justified. Just be conservative.

Creating a Marketing Plan on the Cheap

One of the most remarkable experiences with my B&B was how easy it was to sell.

Normally, selling a product is the most challenging part of a business venture. But all I did was pay someone $250 to set up a simple website named “Beach Cottage in Palm Beach.”

Almost as soon as the website went live, we began receiving inquiries. And by the end of the first season, we had sold 15 weeks. About half of those people wanted to come back the next year. That made hitting my goal of 20 weeks easy. By the third year, we had way more bookings than we needed.

If you've selected the right location, finding guests won't be a problem. Your potential customers will be people that already want to be in your corner of paradise.

They will be online searching that location. Their searches will be specific, so your website will almost certainly appear on their first page of search results. (This is a big benefit. You don't need to be an SEO expert to attract these people.)

Of course, your website will have to look good. It will have to have great photos that show the local amenities in their best light. And it will have to signal to people that your B&B will be friendly and comfortable.

Here are a few tips:

Use a website creator like Squarespace or WordPress. They have great templates that produce very professional results. They charge a nominal monthly fee (Squarespace is approx. Rs 500 a month) to maintain the website.

The name of your website should reflect the name of your B&B.

Become familiar with review sites such as VRBO.com and TripAdvisor.

Encourage guests to write reviews. If you run a good B&B, some of your best advertising will come from good reviews.

Purchase a Turnkey Operation and Have the Heavy Lifting Done for You

Perhaps the easiest way to enter the B&B market is to buy an existing business.

A turnkey operation gives you a B&B without the startup hassles. In many cases, the B&B will have the proper permits, an existing marketing platform, and a client list.

Buying an established B&B, however, does not remove the need for due diligence. You still want to visit the area and research the B&B's competition in the market. You also want to find out why the owners are selling. It could be that they do not want to manage a B&B anymore. Or it could be that the property is falling apart.

Perform a thorough investigation and make sure the B&B is profitable and in good shape.

In India, the haveli or heritage stay properties are often up for sale as the past owners no longer want to maintain them. These are good options to look at as they are both saleable for their heritage appeal and comfortably furnished. All you need to do is invest a little time and money and you will see it convert into a flourishing business.

How to Get Started

If you are looking for additional information to capitalize on this opportunity, we have assembled some great resources.

To get you moving in the right direction, we've found several good books.

How to Open a Financially Successful Bed & Breakfast or Small Hotel

The Bread Is In The Bed: How to make (more) money as a B&B or Guest House Keeper

Running a Bed & Breakfast for Dummies

If, after reading one or two of these books, you are motivated and want to take it to the next level, you should consider making a more substantial commitment of time to educate yourself.

But of all the programs we researched, one of the best is from The Bed & Breakfast Institute. This program is expensive at its retail price of $1,099, but it is a very comprehensive course in starting, managing, and profiting from B&Bs.

We've negotiated a great deal on this program to get you the cheapest pricing available. And as with all programs we recommend, we don't make a dime doing so.

Club members can access this program for the discounted rate of $899 here.

If you have any ideas or suggestions that can help fellow Club members, please let us know at wbc@commonsenseliving.co.in. We will post member suggestions in future Anisa's Updates.

Best, Mark

*

Editor's Note:

When I started travelling as a student I discovered homestays as a way to get affordable accommodation. But I also discovered that everywhere I chose to stay in a homestay or bed and breakfast I also had the added advantage of a wonderful host family, who helped me while I was there, gave me a real flavour of the place where I was, and often became good friends.

In India I've stayed in homestays in Kerala, Goa, and my favourite was Ajmer where we stayed with a cousin of the Rajah in his home which he was renting out because his children were away at university. Websites such as VRBO have made the idea of hosting international guests easy, desirable and profitable for everyone,

India has become a hot tourist destination with a growing demand for comfortable homestays and B&Bs. It's a market that is still nascent and largely untapped. So get creative, find interesting properties in and around the country, start your own dream business and make some extra income.

It's an ideal way to retire - all you need are a few tips on hospitality, innovative breakfast menus and some ideas on home improvement (which we will send you in a Living Rich report soon). To top it all, you will always have company, and you may meet some nice people!

To your new adventure,

Anisa Virji Managing Editor, Wealth Builders Club *

Retire Next Year #6 How to Make Extra Income As an Art Dealer in Paradise

After first retiring at the age of 39, I spent 18 months pursuing my “passions,” as they say. My passions at that time included writing short stories. But for all my efforts (and some modest success-12 stories published, two prizes), my total earnings from my short stories were less than $1,500.

I didn't expect this to be much of a moneymaker. But I did think I could generate a good income by pursuing another one of my passions-owning an art gallery. So I made a deal with a guy I'd been buying art from. I bought a half-interest in his business.

My dream was that I would spend a few hours a day in the gallery, writing short stories and having pleasant conversations with the art lovers who would drop in to browse. And they would buy things from me simply because I had so many good things for them to buy.

The reality of the art business is very different. Like any other business, it demands knowledge and skill and persistence and, in some cases, a good deal of capital. But for an art business to generate six-figure profits (as my partner's gallery had been doing), you also have to work hard and sell hard. This is what persuaded me to get out of that business six months after I got into it.

Now, you may be wondering why I am bothering you with this story. “If Mark got into it and out of it in six months,” you might be thinking, “why would he be talking about it here?”

The answer is that, despite my initially discouraging but illuminating experience, I opened my own art gallery in Delray Beach, Fla., 20 years later… on my own terms. And I now believe that this can be a very nice way to generate extra income during retirement.

Because I am writing this for our Retire Next Year series, I'm going to limit myself to how you might go about making an income with an art gallery in a retirement paradise overseas, where the living is good and inexpensive.

If you don't wish to relocate to a new country altogether, options closer to home can also be considered. You can look at a small town close to the city you're living in or better still a location in the same city that is affordable and accessible.

With art being sold online as well. Starting a website may not be a bad idea too.

We will be talking about a small business that can be run on a part-time basis to generate hundreds or thousands, but not tens of thousands, of rupees per month.

When I opened my own gallery, my expectations were more realistic than they were when I had bought into someone else's 20 years earlier. And this time, I knew that I did not want to actually run the business. Nor did I want to spend much time there. I would hire someone to manage it. My job would be to buy the art-because that is what I most enjoyed.

The business was launched when I met Suzanne Snider, a woman who shared my interest in Latin American art. She told me that her goal was to run her own gallery, specializing in that kind of art. So I hired her.

My idea was for her to work part-time helping me develop and document my personal collection and then to gradually build a solid, profitable business. I figured it would take us about 10 years.

We are in our fifth or sixth year now, and the business is progressing well. But what we are doing-although smarter than what I was doing my first time-is still not what I'm going to be recommending to you. Because selling museum-quality fine art in North America requires a multimillion-dollar investment. But you can do the same thing in other places for a fraction of that.

In fact, I've recently concluded a contract to open a second gallery at Rancho Santana, the luxury resort community in Nicaragua that my partners at Agora and I developed.

That gallery-in the new hotel we built there-will feature some of the more expensive pieces from my collection. We will also be selling high-quality but much less expensive work by local artists.

I enjoy your newsletters and advice immensely! Thank you for offering this service; it's greatly appreciated. Subscribers B and A. I feel pretty confident that we can get this business going relatively cheaply and have it profitable in less than a year.

So what follows is a blueprint for establishing your own art business in a retirement paradise of your own choosing. It is based on what I'm doing, and it should work for you.

Let's begin by going over the requirements for a Retire Next Year income opportunity.

First, it must be located in a place where you can live comfortably and inexpensively. What you want is a place that attracts not only retirees but also tourists. They will likely be your best customers.

Second, it must be easy to learn. The art business, as I said, is like any other business in terms of knowledge and skills. The more you have, the better. But if you follow the suggestions I'll be making, your learning curve will be short.

Third, it must be inexpensive to launch. The art business I'm starting in Nicaragua will require a significant investment because we'll be selling a lot of museum-quality art. But you don't have to do that.

In fact, I'd recommend you don't. You'll do much better buying local art super- cheap and selling it at a big markup. I'll tell you how that's done, too.

Fourth, it must be something you can do on a part-time basis. This is a big benefit of today's income opportunity. The buying side of the art business, however important, doesn't take a lot of time. Being at the gallery during shopping hours is a must. But any reasonably bright and cheerful local person can be trained to do that.

Finally, it must be something that you really enjoy-something you'd be happy to do even if the income were modest. If you are still reading, I'm assuming you are with me on this point.

Let's talk about how this would work.

Location, Location, Location

The trick is to establish your art gallery near a place where tourists go to luxuriate in the sunshine.

The Top 10 Retirement Havens of the Year Every year, International Living compiles a list of the best places in the world to retire. Each of these destinations is desirable in its own way, but they all offer something increasingly hard to come by: a good quality of life for a reasonable price.

As a result, they draw retirees from all over the world. They also draw lots of tourists. And that makes every one of them a potential retirement haven for you, as well as a good place to take advantage of today's Retire Next Year income opportunity.

For 2013, International Living's list includes:

Ecuador Panama Malaysia Mexico Costa Rica Uruguay Colombia Spain Thailand Malta

In India, if you're from the metros, you could look at moving to smaller cities or towns that have a vibrant tourist economy and are also rich in culture and art. Some of them are listed below:

Jaipur Udaipur Agra Goa Pune Pondicherry Mysore Coimbatore Chandigarh Amritsar

Ideally, you want to be a stone's throw from a resort or town that gets truckloads of travellers.

The way I just put it makes it sound horrible, I know. But these places are popular for a reason. They are generally warm, beautiful, and friendly. In other words, they are generally the types of places where you would like to retire.

You won't likely be living next door to your gallery, because prices will be too high. You'll be living a mile or two away, where it will be quieter and more suitable to a tranquil life. But your business needs to be as close to the tourist traffic as possible.

The Traffic

There's an interesting thing I've noticed about popular travel destinations: They are riddled with art galleries. Why is this? I don't really know. But there is something in the vacationer's mentality that says, “It's time to buy art.” (I started my own art collecting habit on a visit to Palm Springs.)

Maybe you're thinking, “Why would I start a business someplace where there is so much competition?” The answer is that in the retail business, you always want to be surrounded by the competition. You never want to be the only art gallery in town. In another essay on business, I'll go into detail on why. For now, just trust me on this.

The more traffic that passes by your gallery, the more people will wander in. And if you follow a few of the tips I'm going to give you, you'll be able to take advantage of these window shoppers.

The Kind of Art Gallery You Want

There are all sorts of art galleries. Upscale fine-art galleries, semi-expensive commercial galleries, and junk shops. I have an upscale fine-art gallery. But that's not what you want. It requires millions in start-up money, and it takes a long time to make it work. Your objective should be a semi-expensive commercial gallery.

Upscale fine-art galleries sell museum-quality art for big bucks. They survive on a handful of very well-heeled customers. They have to specialize in a particular kind of art that art connoisseurs like to buy. They must know how to buy it right. And they must know their art inside and out.

Junk shops sell consigned crap and amateur artists. You can make money in this business but not a lot. To succeed, you have to be a real hack. I have nothing but admiration for people who make a living this way, but it's not for Retire Next Year.

Semi-expensive commercial galleries have the best of both worlds. They sell art that is appealing to new and semi-educated collectors. Some of this art is actually good. And some of it simply looks good to the untrained eye. All of it is cheap to buy if you know what you are doing.

Semi-expensive commercial gallery owners need only a modest amount of knowledge to sell their wares. They buy their art cheaply and mark it up like crazy-300-1,000%. This is the market you want to be in.

Levels and Prices

You will be buying local art. By local, I mean art created in the town/city/country where you set up shop.

This works in your favour when you are located in an inexpensive city, because most of the local artists will be working for cheap.

There are three levels of artists in every country.

At the top, you have the artists whose works hang in national and international museums. Their art will understandably be the most expensive. But if you are in small cities and countries such as Nepal or Sri Lanka, you will still be able to pick up museum-quality pieces for just a few thousand rupees. You want a handful of these to show people in the know that you deal in “fine art.”

Next are the artists who have gained some recognition but are not yet at the highest level. Some of their pieces will be in museums, but most will be in the better art galleries in the big cities. You will be able to pick up their work for as little as Rs 30,000 and as much as Rs 3 lac. Stay in the Rs 30,000 - 1 lac range.

Then there are the beginners-graduates of art schools who have yet to find good dealers to promote them. These people will sell you great pieces for just a few thousands of rupees. This art will be your stock in trade.

The idea is to sell the top-level art at 150% of what you paid for it. And to sell the next level at 200-300%. The third-level stuff you can mark up as much as you want.

One way to keep the cost of your inventory down is to buy a fair number of watercolours, gouaches (opaque watercolours), and drawings. All other things being equal, oil paintings are the most expensive, followed by watercolours and gouaches, and then drawings.

Having a variety of pieces other than oil paintings will give your gallery a diversity that your customers will appreciate.

One final note: Size matters. The bigger the piece, the more expensive. So vary the sizes that you carry. Not just because it will give you a greater range in terms of price, but because smaller pieces can fit into hallways and bathrooms. Art collectors-once they get hooked-like to fill up every available nook and cranny.

Capital Requirements

Stocking my gallery in Delray Beach was, as I said, a multimillion-dollar investment. But you can put together a very solid start-up inventory of local artists for as little as Rs 5-15 lac.

The major cost will be for the gallery space itself. Buying a building in the right location might cost a couple of crore rupees or more. But I am not buying a building for my gallery in Nicaragua, and I wouldn't advise you to buy property, either.

Renting is the way to go. For budgetary purposes, figure on renting the space for two years. That should be enough time to know whether your business is profitable.

I was able to get a good deal on space in the new hotel at Rancho Santana. I got the good rate not because I happen to be an owner of the hotel (though it didn't hurt), but because the person running it recognized that having a nice gallery in the retail section would “class up the place,” as it were.

In fact, he proposed that rather than charge us a flat fee, he'd take a cut of our profits. If you are good at negotiating and find the right landlord, you might get the same deal. The rental spaces in India differ from city to city as they do in different countries. Your best is to cap the cost of renting a retail space of, say, 1,000-1,500 square feet at a maximum of Rs 50,000 - 1 lac per month.

The other cost to consider is a salary for one or two employees. You will want someone affable who speaks English. You can estimate this person's salary at at Rs 10,000 per month.

As you can see, the capital requirements for this income opportunity are in the range of Rs 325-40 lac over a period of two years. I'll let you know what I end up spending on the gallery in Nicaragua when we get it up and running next year.

The First Impression

One of the most remarkable experiences with my B&B was how easy it was to sell.

Portrait of Mr. K “Portrait of Mr. K” by Karel Appel If you have the right location, you will have window shoppers. So the first and most important thing you must do is put a few really good pieces in your window. By really good, I don't mean the kind of pieces that would excite an art critic. I mean pieces that make people stop and stare.

If you aren't an art aficionado, you probably have no idea what I mean by that. What I mean is that the work should look both “arty” and also pretty. As someone who has been looking at and collecting art for many, many years, I find this one to be beautiful:

But if you put paintings like this in your window, you'll scare people away. This piece is pretty, but it doesn't look like serious art:

And if it doesn't look serious, buyers who have a modest exposure to art will expect to pay hundreds, rather than thousands, of dollars for it.

The right balance is a blend of arty and pretty. A good way to achieve that is to feature semi-representational pieces. By “semi-representational,” I mean that the pieces should show something pleasant that the average person can recognize.

It could be human figures. It could be a landscape or cityscape. It could be a still life. But it shouldn't be too realistic. People in a tourist frame of mind like art with feeling-a feeling that matches their exuberance that comes from not being at work.

Here are three examples of art that is both pretty and arty-at least to me:

These examples come from my own stock. They are actually pretty good, painted by Central American artists who have formal training and genuine talent. But they also have what art brokers refer to as “eye appeal.” In common parlance, they are pleasing to look at.

You will be able to buy this sort of art from local artists.

This representational piece by an Indian artist, for example, is listed for sale online at Rs 30,000.

This representational piece by an Indian artist A painting listed on IndianArtCollectors.com

Now, here's a clever trick that the most successful art galleries in the world use: Beneath the pieces by a featured artist in your window, you will be placing an art book about that very artist. Passersby will be impressed that there is a book already published about him.

“He must be somebody,” they will think. They won't know, and won't ask, who published the book. If they do, the answer will be you.

But getting people into the gallery is only the first step. When they enter, they must be overwhelmed by a variety of paintings, drawings, and sculptures-all semi-representational but in different styles. (Some, for example, may be mildly impressionistic. Some may be mildly expressionistic. And some may be mildly cubist.)

It may seem hard to believe, but you will have no trouble finding such variety in the local market. Fledgling artists always imitate the major modern trends. Spend three or four days touring the art shops, and you will see what I mean.

Buying Wholesale

You can buy a few key pieces at retail prices, just to establish the “quality” of your gallery. But to make money, you will have to buy most of your art wholesale. Buying at wholesale for midlevel art means buying at half of retail. (You can't do that with museum-quality art, but you aren't going to be selling that.)

There are four ways to do this.

You can strike up a relationship with art galleries in the area and persuade them to give you wholesale prices. Some will, and some won't. In talking to them, try to find out their sources. Some of them will be buying directly from the artists, and some of them will be buying from wholesale dealers.

You can try to get deals in which the artists give the art to you-for free-on consignment. Dealers will sometimes do this. Artists… well, artists are usually starving. They are used to making consignment deals.

You can buy art from collectors. This is a great way to get good art cheaply because many collectors suddenly find themselves in need of cash and are willing to sell a group of paintings at below auction prices to save the time, hassle, and commissions.

You can buy art directly from the artists. This is by far the most enjoyable way to procure art, and it can sometimes be very inexpensive. When you are new to the market, you will discover the local artists by browsing art galleries and talking to the owners about the artists you like.

Find out if the gallery “represents” the artist. If it does not, you are free to go to the artist and strike up a deal.

When you talk to an artist, it's important to tell him how great you think his art is and how much marketing power you intend to put behind his work. If the artist is represented by a gallery or dealer, it would be a mistake to contact him directly.

It would probably violate his deal with the gallery/dealer. Even if he agrees, you will make an enemy of the gallery/dealer. And you don't want to do that.

But don't worry too much about making your own deals in the beginning. Almost as soon as you open up shop, you'll be visited by local artists begging you to sell their stuff. But never buy art simply because you can buy it cheaply.

Always buy the best-quality art you can get your hands on. That is what will sell best, and selling is what it is all about.

The Selling Technique

When the browser comes in, you will not approach him aggressively. Nor will you leave him alone. Instead, you will politely ask him if he'd like something to drink. And by that, you mean anything-water, coffee, or booze.

If you are lucky enough to have a drinker, your chances are great. Coffee drinkers are not bad. Water drinkers… well, you can't kick them out.

If they accept nothing, you can either ignore them or hammer them. The results from my experience are about the same.

Mark, I want to thank you for the positive approach and the strategies you and your team provide for us subscribers. Honestly, my message to you is: Thanks for keeping me motivated! Subscriber TK. The people who accept your kind offer of something to drink will feel the need to reciprocate. They will do so by asking you a few questions about the art. When they do, you must be astonished at their good taste.

You must tell them they clearly have a good eye for art. And then you can answer their questions, explaining why the pieces they are asking about are so special.

After they have identified a particular artist or type of art that they like, you must invite them into the back room to show them some “special pieces” that, for whatever reason, you don't have on display. If they show an interest in any one of them, compliment them again on their taste.

At this point, they will almost certainly ask you about the price. Don't give it to them directly. This is a mistake that amateurs often make. Instead, inform them that you sold a very similar piece last month or last year for a higher price (or that a similar piece was sold by another broker or auction house at a higher price) but, for whatever reason, you can give it to them at Rs. .

They will think about that and browse some more. Then they will return to the piece they liked and ask you if you can do any better. You will tell them that this is really the rock-bottom price, but you can take an extra 10% or 20% off only because you are going to consider them to be “in the trade.”

They will be very happy with this.

A Few More Ideas for Making a Commercial Gallery Work

If you have been networking in the arts for a while, consider an eponymous name for your gallery.

Offer fee-based services such as consulting, appraisals, and research.

Produce giclées (digital reproductions on canvas or paper) of your best paintings. They cost about Rs. 500-1000 apiece to print and can sell easily for several thousand. But make sure your customers understand that owning a giclée is like owning a travel poster, rather than taking the trip.

If you have the space, set up a corner with framing samples and offer framing. There's a nice profit in framing, and you can find someone local to do the work.

Have art supplies for sale.

Set up an easel and chairs in one area so your customers can sit and see each piece by itself. And having a big tabletop for putting together pieces the customer is interested in helps make bigger sales.

Sponsor competitions for emerging artists.

Rent out your space for events.

Have a rental program for businesses to lease art.

Keep your branding consistent and have your publicity sources convenient, along with good photos and information about your artists.

This Is Just the Beginning

If you follow this process, you will gradually have dozens and dozens of customers. If you never contact them again, you can be sure you will never hear from them again.

But if you follow up each sale with a personal note-and then send them emails with good photos and information about your wares every month or so for the rest of their lives-you will turn that one sale into a half-dozen or even 100.

This is how you develop a real business. Because the real business is not retail. I don't like retail businesses. A real business is brokering art to devoted art collectors. After buying one work, they will want to buy another. If they don't buy it from you, they will buy it from someone else.

Additional Resources to Check Out

Start Your Own Art Gallery / How to Start & Manage a Successful Art Gallery, 6th ed., by Douglas Whitman: Extensive information about business plans, marketing aspects, and economic considerations. Not much creativity, just the details.

How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery, by Edward Winkleman: The most informative resource for me. It has an interesting section on the history of art dealing. The branding, physical space, and publicity ideas are excellent and comprehensive

FabJob Guide to Become an Art Gallery Owner, by Brenna Pearce and Mitchell Warren: General advice about the art business. The best part of this book is that it lists great website resources for every aspect.

The Intrepid Art Collector: The Beginner's Guide to Finding, Buying, and Appreciating Art on a Budget, by Lisa Hunter: Divided into two major sections. What to buy and how to buy it. Good, concise advice, explained simply.

Best, Mark

*

Editor's Note:

India is a haven for art and culture. Each state abounds in its own styles and schools of art. One sees several new and emerging artists dot the Indian art scene as well. And they all need patronage and exposure to diverse markets.

Now, with the Internet in India exploding it offers a whole new avenue for an online art market, and for connection between artists and buyers. IndianArtCollectors for instance is one such thriving model of an online art gallery. They have opened up a path where the opportunity is endless.

If a new gallery owner, whether physical or virtual, works smart and uses Mark's ideas, not only will he make a lot of money but earn a lot of respect in society too. Art has always held a great deal of prestige and is a mark of fine taste in all societies, and this Retire Next Year essay demystifies it making it accessible to everyone. So get ready to make some extra money and earn the reputation of being a trusted art connoisseur!

To your new adventure,

Anisa Virji Managing Editor, Wealth Builders Club *

Retire Next Year #7: The Retail Lifestyle: Another Fantasy of Mine That Can Be Yours

In 2002, Rob and Joanne Miller Birce, Canadian media executives, spent a few weeks vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. They fell in love with the place - the spicy food, the colorful architecture, the temperate climate, and the warm people.

They had that feeling one often gets when vacationing in a tropical paradise: “Why can't we have this lifestyle all year round?”

When you come back from such a vacation, that thought usually disappears. But the Birces returned home in the middle of an especially cold Calgary winter. “This is crazy,” they thought. “We could be living in Mexico for a fraction of what it costs us here.” They did a few calculations and came to the conclusion that they could retire immediately. And they could finance their retirement with passive income they already had.

But they wanted a cushion… just in case. So they decided to start some sort of business when they got to Mexico.

Since they were not Wealth Builders Club members at that time, they didn't know about the many income options available to them. The ideas they had were all retail businesses. They looked into a dozen of them, including restaurants, bars, travel agencies, and dive shops.

Had they been Wealth Builders Club members (or had they read any of my books on wealth building), they would have known what I think about retail businesses: I don't like them.

But I'm glad they didn't know that. Because they ended up doing something that I've always fantasized about doing myself.

They decided to open a bookstore.

Joanne had found an ad on the Internet for a bookstore in Puerto Morelos. The idea of buying it immediately entranced them. Joanne researched the area. It sounded great. So she contacted the owners, a retired couple. They had a very encouraging conversation. Several phone calls later, they had a deal.

“We were so excited!” Joanne says.

They packed up their belongings, along with 5,500 used books, and drove all the way from Calgary to Puerto Morelos. The town was just as Joanne's research had indicated: tranquil and picturesque, located beside the Caribbean Sea.

Combining the existing inventory with the books they had brought, the store was now stocked with everything from “beach reads” to the classics, to books on local culture and art.

The Birces did some decorating to make the store feel like theirs. They wanted it to be a place where people felt comfortable sitting and reading and chatting, as well as browsing and buying books.

I have been quietly doing several of the things you are suggesting to increase my income and save more money. Thank you SO much for all you do! Subscriber TP. It worked. “Our days in the store are spent socializing - exchanging travel stories, great reads, and where to eat, sleep, and play,” Joanne says.

Puerto Morelos is a seasonal city, so the store is seasonal too. The Birces close from May to October and drive back to Calgary. The trip is long but fun, Joanne says. And though they enjoy revisiting their old lives, each year it gets harder to leave their little bookstore on the beach. One day, she says, they may stay in Puerto Morelos all year round.

As I said, I don't like retail businesses. They are laborious, ball-and-chain enterprises that make only a modest amount of income. Yes, you can get rich in retail. But the barriers are very high, and the odds are against you.

But starting a business to get rich and starting a business to make extra retirement income are two different doggies. In retirement, you want your extra income to come from something you love doing. And if passive income covers your basic needs (as was the case for the Birces), you might be very happy making just a few thousand extra rupees per month.

The Birce's bookstore is not a ball and chain. They can shut it down during the off-season, or they can hire a local person for $200 per month to run it without them. Most importantly, the bookstore enriches their lives.

The Birces are book lovers in every sense. They love reading books. They love looking at books. They love talking about books. And they love to buy and sell them. A bookstore is not a cash machine. But it is a low-stress, life-enriching way to make extra income.

I found out about the Birces through International Living, one of our trusted partners in the Retire Next Year program. I asked the folks at IL if they knew of other people who have done the same thing. They told me about Kat and Bruce Bennett from Seattle.

Their story is similar to the Birces'. They had vacationed in Mexico several times and fantasized about retiring there. One day, Kat met two women who had a bookstore in La Paz, on the Sea of Cortez. She mentioned to them that she had managed bookstores in the past, and, a year later, she began working for them.

When the owners were ready to sell in 2009, Kat and Bruce jumped at the chance and bought it. They knew the store wasn't going to make them rich. But they figured it could make enough money to pay their bills, with enough left over to buy groceries and enjoy dinners out.

“It hasn't been a get-rich-quick scheme,” says Kat. “But we make ends meet and enjoy a lifestyle in paradise. And we love our store.”

The Bennetts live in downtown La Paz, within walking distance of their bookstore and the malecon - the boardwalk on the beach. They rent their one-bedroom apartment for $300 per month. That includes propane (used for the stove and water heater), off-street parking, water, garbage collection, and Internet. Electricity is an additional $10 per month. We can have a delicious breakfast at a nice restaurant with an ocean view for about $3.50. It includes coffee, fresh-squeezed juice, two eggs, bacon, potatoes, beans, and tortillas,” beams Bruce. “It's enormous.”

Running a business in a foreign country has its challenges. The culture is different. The laws are different. But the biggest challenge the Bennetts faced was getting merchandise from their home country to their store.

“We cannot control or predict how long it will take to go through customs,” says Kat. “It could take a month or more. So if we have a run on a title, we are simply out of that title until we get another shipment.”

Kat's best advice to would-be expat entrepreneurs: “Remember the reasons why you wanted to live in a foreign country. And then appreciate that country's bureaucratic and social framework for what it is. Have patience and keep your sense of humor, and it will all work out.”

And if you don't want to change countries or cities, you can use these ideas to start something exactly where you are. For instance, you can now start a book library online, you don't even need that much space, just a small godown or an extra room in your home should suffice to stock your inventory. You can also dip into your own collection of books.

That's exactly what sites like Indiareads and Bookmeabook do.

The idea is to focus on what you have and see how you can monetize your hobbies and existing assets.

What Are Some Options for Your Retail Store?

A bookstore may not be your idea of the perfect way to earn retirement income. But if you are drawn to the idea of a retail business, there are plenty of other options.

For example, in 2008, Eric and Stephanie Slater left the chilly winters of Chicago to open a bakery - Pan de Vida - in Nicaragua. “We spent nine months travelling through Central America,” Eric says. “And during that entire time we never found any good bread.”

They chose to settle in San Juan del Sur, a seaside city they had fallen in love with on their trip. They liked it for its growth potential and for what Eric dubs its “small-town, big attitude.”

Instead of buying a store, they rented one. To save on renovation costs, they traded services and bartered baked goods.

In the early months, Eric says, they did just about everything wrong. (Stephanie recalls that time as an “adventure.”) Things started picking up when they let go of their original ideas and responded to the tastes of their customers. (Most of them turned out to be Nicaraguans.)

Two years after opening, Pan de Vida is a local favorite. Their customer base includes middle- and upper-class Nicaraguans and expats, as well as restaurants and resorts and tourists.

There is now talk of expanding to Managua, where demand for Pan de Vida's high-quality bread and pastries has spread through word of mouth.

The Slaters, by the way, are not the only foreigners running a bakery in Nicaragua. Just about a mile from my house in Rancho Santana, another couple has a shop that we like as well as Pan de Vida-and it is more convenient for us.

In India, Irani bakeries are still run by the first generation, showing that age really is not a determinant while running your own enterprise. If you've heard about Kayani Bakery in Pune city, you'll know that the owners work fixed hours, bake fixed amounts, earn exactly how much they need and still have a nice and relaxed lifestyle. And to top it all, their Shrewsbury biscuits have nation-wide recall. No visitor to Pune will leave without a packet of those to take back home.

How About Running a Laid­Back Coffee Shop?

Rob Thomas, a former commodities broker from Houston, retired to San Juan del Sur with his wife Kelly and opened a coffee shop. Again, he got the idea while on vacation. Here was a city with an expat community that was growing fast. Plenty of demand for a place that served a good cup of coffee… but he couldn't seem to find one.

The start-up process for the Thomases was pretty simple. They formed a local corporation (certified by a local notary), registered their business with the public registry, the tax office, and finally the municipal government. (A local lawyer helped them do all of this.)

They opened seven years ago, and most of their employees have been with them since nearly the beginning. (They started with one employee.) And they have no qualms about leaving town for weeks at a time, leaving the shop in the hands of their manager.

You can't get a fresher cup of coffee in San Juan del Sur, the Thomases say. They have made sure of that by buying an interest in a local finca, or farm, where the coffee beans are organically grown. They have an electric coffee roaster now. But in the early days, they brought the “green” beans in and roasted them in a traditional clay pot, or comal, over an open fire.

“It was the best way to learn,” says Rob. “Just you, the coffee, and the flame. You can smell it. You can see it.”

Besides a more relaxed lifestyle, Rob says they live on much less in Nicaragua. They were spending around $5,000 per month back in the States. They were eating out a lot and paying for two cars and a house. In Nicaragua, their total monthly living expenses come to about $1,500 per month.

Needless to say, Rob and Kelly have no regrets about making the move to Nicaragua and opening their business. “I'm very happy with our decision,” he says with a smile.

Goa, Alibaug, Pondicherry and several other small cities along the coast of India have loads of small, often seasonal cafes and restaurants. Couples looking to retire move to these places from Mumbai or Bangalore to settle down and run these charming little places. The food served here is mostly cooked up by the owners themselves and they enjoy peaceful lives, chatting with travelers and living away from the hustle and bustle of cities.

Become a Specialty Chocolatier

When Paul and Jeanne Johnson agreed to house-sit for a friend on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast four years ago, they didn't know it would be the start of a new business.

The business: Caribeans Coffee and Chocolate.

The Johnsons owned a coffee shop that had become a local institution. They were inspired to expand into chocolate when they discovered cocoa plants on their friend's property. Turns out it had been an old cocoa plantation.

“I've always been a chocolate lover,” says Paul. “But I knew nothing of how it was made. It was as much about restoring the plantation as it was about making money.”

They already had the roasting equipment for their coffee beans, so there wasn't a lot of initial investment needed. It cost them just $500 (for a few small pieces of equipment and the cost of labor) to produce their first small batch. They eventually invested in two large chocolate-making machines for a total of $17,000. They are now close to breaking even on that investment.

Chocolate represents half of Caribeans' business. It provides the Johnsons with a comfortable living and pays for four employees. As a food business, the Ministerio de Salud (Health Ministry) had to certify their operation.

They also had to register with the government to pay income taxes. And they have to contribute to Costa Rica's public health system and to worker's compensation. An accountant helps with all this, but Jeanne does much of the administrative work.

They produce about 100 pounds of chocolate per week. They sell 70% of it at their shop or a local farmers' market. It's also available online at caribeanscr.com.

Their goal, say Paul and Jeanne, is to make southern Costa Rica a destination for chocolate lovers.

In India, if you visit hill stations like Munnar and Coorg in the south or Darjeeling and Simla up north, you'll notice umpteen small shops with the board 'Homemade Chocolates'. This local cottage industry can in fact be very easy to start and lucrative too.

You needn't buy plantations and take on the hassle of managing them, all you need to do is procure the ingredients from locals who are already producing them and simply focus on the making, packaging and marketing of the chocolates.

Most locals don't even invest in heavy chocolate making machinery, they run it in a small way, using home appliances and chocolate moulds that they buy from nearby cities, just like the many housewives in cities who have flourishing chocolate businesses.

In 2003 in Mumbai itself, Mayuri Samant, who was about 55 years old at the time, decided to start a business selling chocolate-covered dates with her sister. And thus was born Ambrosia.

They buy dates from a local importer and create delicious little concoctions covering them in chocolates and filling them with nuts. A business that started in a small 2000 square foot hole-in-the-wall is now run out of a large 5000 square foot workshop where the dates are prepared, packaged and branded. They started selling their wares and receiving orders at exhibitions only, and have now grown to sell through major gourmet supermarkets such as Godrej Nature's Basket.

Selling through exhibitions is a great avenue in India - as you can receive orders during Diwali and wedding seasons, and have some down-time during off-season. Additionally, you don't have large overheads as you don't have to rent or maintain a retail outlet.

Anne Simmons and Erin Andrews opened the Cotton Tree Chocolate Factory in Belize in 2008. They were closely involved in the business the first year. But since they don't live in Belize full-time, they hired an on-site manager and have left the day-to-day operations in her hands.

Within just a few months, they outgrew the tiny space they started with and moved to their current location in central Punta Gorda. They began turning a profit after only two years. And though they're reluctant to give exact figures, they say an expat couple could live very well on the profits from this business.

In addition to free factory tours (with samples), Cotton Tree has a gift shop featuring chocolate-themed products (such as chocolate soap and cocoa bean jewelry). Local artisans and small companies that have sprung up in the wake of the company's success create the products.

A Cheese Lover Who Wants to Live on a Farm

In Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, film director Mansoor Khan has started a cheesemaking farmstay called Acres Wild. He believes in an eco-friendly and self-sustaining lifestyle and that's the experience he gives his farmstay residents too.

Although the farm is now open only to residents, he used to conduct day tours of the cheesemaking factory and samplings of the various cheeses. While on his farm, he personally takes his visitors on a tour, showing them his imported Swiss cows and natural eco-friendly ponds.

Mansoor Khan hasn't looked back to city life. In addition to his film investments, his farm and new lifestyle are sufficient for him… he's close to nature and he's doing what he loves.

But if cheese is not your thing, take up another hobby that you can convert into a business. Shalan Dere featured in an article titled Working after retirement: Here are careers options for seniors citizens did a course in pottery from JJ School of Arts in Mumbai in her early 60s. She is now earning approx. Rs 15,000 - 20,000 and sells her clay masterpieces under the brand name, The Potter's Place.

Give Tours and Take Pictures in Picturesque Panama

Richard Brady runs Santa Catalina Boat Tours (santacatalinaboattours.com) on the Pacific Coast of Panama. Catering to small groups, he offers tours to Coiba National Park (a marine reserve), as well as custom multiday tours. These can include hiking, snorkeling, fishing, surfing, bird watching, or just relaxing on a deserted beach.

The Florida native moved to Santa Catalina with his wife and four daughters in 1998, after spending several vacations there. He started Santa Catalina Boat Tours as a way to “fund an early retirement.”

“This is my primary bread and butter,” he says. “Surf photography pays the beer tab.”

That's not to say Richard's lifestyle is exactly laid back. In the busy season, he puts in 50-70 hours per week. But he points out that his is not a year-round business. “From September to November,” he says, “we often work zero hours.” This gives him and his family plenty of time to relax and enjoy the sun, the sand, and the water.

Mr. Gopi N had worked in the travel and tourism industry his entire life. But towards his later years, sick of the rigidity of a corporate job with a large travel company, he decided to reduce his hours and strike out on his own.

He is now a travel consultant, tailoring packages for professionals, corporate and travel agencies. Traveling freely across the world, and working as much or as little as he pleases in his peaceful office in Bangalore.

How About Teaching Customers to Fish and Dive?

Bob Grimes and his wife Olga built the Pedasi Sports Club (pedasisportsclub.biz) on the Pacific coast of Panama over several years. They started with modest plans for a two-story building, with a hotel on the ground floor and living quarters above. As the business grew, so did the resort.

They offer a wide range of water activities, including scuba diving, snorkeling trips, fishing charters, and whale watching tours. And though many tourist - reliant businesses in the area slow down from May through December, fishing is actually better in Pedasi at that time. So their business is good year-round.

Right now, ill health is forcing Bob to sell the business. He's asking $1.4 million and is being picky about the new owner. “I want someone who will make sure the business does good, and does good for the community,” Bob says. “It becomes part of your life.”

If building a sports club is too much of work, how about starting a small yoga studio right in your home? In India, many yoga experts are making a good living from conducting yoga classes right in their homes.

Better still, start a small meditation center at home or in a rented space. Collect a bunch of people and along with yoga teach them chants or affirmations that you've used successfully to calm your own mind; throw in a few life lessons and you would have started a movement.

If not yoga or meditation, look at any other activity, you feel you can teach. Most cricket and sport coaches are well in their 50s and 60s. So there's no reason why you can't teach something and make some extra income.

Can You See Yourself Running an Art Lovers' Nature Retreat?

Retired Seattle art dealer Frank Stegmeier carved out his place in paradise in northern Panama. He started El Rio Encantado (The Enchanted River) Nature Preserve (rioencantado.com) as a place for his friends and fellow art collectors to enjoy the rich Panama biodiversity. As expenses mounted, he decided to turn it into a small business.

The property (which he purchased in 1998 for just $17,000) includes natural hot springs, a cascading waterfall, and lush tropical landscaping. He has three cabins that he rents out, charging $70-110 per night.

Frank is in the enviable position of not needing to work full-time. The cabin rentals are a way to “defray expenses.”

“Since I have other income,” he says, “I have never looked at nor needed this business as a way to survive.”

Art camps are plenty in India too. All you need to do is decide a topic for the camp, identify some artists who can teach and bring together some art aficionados. They can either learn more about the various art forms or they can even dabble with their own paint and brushes.

Maybe Teach Local Culinary Techniques

When Cora Kent retired to Boquete, Panama, with her husband David, their home was perfect for entertaining. Friends especially enjoyed sitting in the kitchen to watch Cora cook. She had always been interested in gourmet cuisine and enjoyed sharing her expertise.

“Afterward everyone would ask for recipes,” she says. “Friends would say, teach me how to make this or that… how to fry chicken or bake salmon.”

Mark, I always find your open, honest, and direct insights well informed and insightful. Thank you. Subscriber JE. Cora taught what she knew. Then she started inviting local expats, many of them experienced chefs and bakers, to teach what they knew, too.

“We kept getting requests for classes,” she says, “and people kept offering to teach.” The result: the Boquete Gourmet cooking school. Cora later branched out into doing culinary “events,” a food column for the local newspaper, and a blog (boquetegourmet.com).

For Cora, it's all about having fun and spending her time doing something she loves. The small income she makes is just the icing on the cake.

Just like the late Tarla Dalal in India – a homemaker who became a household name with her wide range of culinary delights. Tarla Dalal was a pioneer of the recipe book trend in India. Till the last years of her life too, Tarla Dalal was actively conducting cooking workshops and making food videos.

Culinary events are happening all over India, either in malls or in homes or in restaurants. Identify your best dishes, standardize the recipe and get ready to teach them to a bunch of willing learners.

You can even start a homemade tiffin service which is the need of the hour in many households and offices in the country. Most women already in the business are running this service from their homes and getting enough regular income from their culinary skills.

All you need to do is identify the demand in your neighbourhood, hire some extra help and create daily menus. Once you put the word out, you'll be surprised by the business you get.

Have We Inspired You?

If you are interested in starting a retail business in retirement, the above stories should give you both inspiration and some sense of what your challenges will be.

Stay tuned for the next in the series.

Best, Mark

Add More to Your Golden Years: Top 10 Career Ideas for Retirement - Part 1

You've taken a break from your career, you're enjoying the time to yourself but you still feel you can do more. Don't fret. There are now several career opportunities available for retirees. And you can choose one that suits your lifestyle. You can decide just how many hours you want to work and for whom as well. Moreover, these ideas allow you the flexibility to still spend time at home gardening or doing any other hobby that you were looking forward to while at that full-time job. Better still… you can now even convert that hobby into a money-making business.

Mark Ford's essays in the Retire Next Year series have covered a wide range of simple and doable retirement options, some that don't need very big investments as well. And many of the essays gave you a detailed account of how to go about the suggested ideas. You can revisit some of the essays here.

In this two-part report, we round up our top 10 career opportunities during retirement. This list is not an arbitrary one, it has been developed after carefully researching what retirees across India have been most frequently dabbling in. It's also a list of options that we see you being able to monetize quickly and with minimum effort. Most of these opportunities already find resonance and demand in the market.

And yes, they have successfully helped retirees gain that much needed extra income for a better life in their golden years. Here goes…

Start Writing: Do you have a flair for writing. No? Don't worry. Do you have a story to tell or better still lots of acquired knowledge in your area of expertise? Well, then it's time you get started on writing. The internet is a storehouse of information and in the future it will need a lot more good content to keep its current and future users engaged. Starting a blog maybe a good option and our WBC report Blogging Basics for Beginners will show you just that.

You can even try your hand freelancing for local newspapers and magazines on topics of your interest. You will find contact details of writers and editors in the newspapers or magazines itself, you can write to them, share samples of your previous work and ask them how you can contribute. And this is applicable for online websites also. Most content sites need a continuous stream of information to keep their readers engaged and they are willing to outsource this function too. Here is one place where your age and experience can definitely work as an advantage - you will have plenty of stories to tell and a storehouse of knowledge from all the work experience you've had.

An article online says: You do not have to become a professional writer to be a good writer. All that is required of you is innovation and ability to encourage, educate and excite people in your stories.

And when you feel more confident about your writing skills, put together a book. This could be a collection of your essays, your memoirs or even fiction. The internet provides easy avenues for self-publishing and digital e-books.

Vijay Laxman Kher, 69, started his career working in the accounts and treasury department of Maharashtra. During his tenure with the government, while working in different departments, he kept honing his skills as a writer. He focused on his written communication skills internally and externally. Post retirement, he finally had the courage to follow his heart and become a full-time writer. He had some experience writing plays, short stories and poems in his college days. He revived this passion and today keeps himself busy writing short stories, plays and radio scripts for All India Radio's Ratnagiri radio station. On busy days, he spends almost eight hours a day working on his scripts.

Teach what you know: The benefits of teaching are many. You stay in touch with the subject of your interest, you are connected to the youth and you keep pushing yourself to be a more engaging and innovative tutor. In short, your mind is constantly ticking. And as science has proved, an active mind will age much more slowly.

Teaching can be done through several avenues. You can look up neighbouring colleges and schools and see which areas you can fill. You can be the occasional guest lecturer or you can teach on a more regular basis. Teaching is a flexible career with plenty of opportunities to learn and grow while it also gives you ample spare time in the day as colleges and schools start and shut at regular hours. Giving tuitions from your home or a rented space is another option.

Take for instance, Sudhakar Bagawde, once he was done working in an industrial unit, he responded to his calling to be an educationist at the young age of 45. Sudhakar started his teaching in a small rented room on the ground floor of a building in Thane. He simply installed 30 chairs and tables and a board and got started. With a doctorate in radioactive chemistry from Bhaba Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai, math and science were his subjects of choice. He now tutors almost 70 students from classes 8-11 and he claims his biggest reward is being among the teens and picking up their slang and colloquialisms… it keeps him alive and up to date with today's youth.

And if you don't want to invest in infrastructure or even leave your home, the internet gives you a host of ways to teach from exactly where you are. All you need is a computer, web camera and good internet connectivity. Coaching online can be done through Skype where you can see and speak to your student. You can even create content and conduct courses by interacting with your students on email. If you would rather just volunteer your services, websites like Evidyaloka.org and GrannyCloud are online teaching platforms that help you connect with students in India and abroad.

Consult for companies: At the age of 66, BD Narang makes Rs 8-10 lac as a management consultant enabling companies to restructure and grow. It was only less than ten years ago that he retired from his job as CMD of the Oriental Bank of Commerce. Before he started out as a consultant, he did extensive reading on equities, but most of his knowledge as a consultant was gained on the job.

Consulting can prove to be one of the most lucrative career options post retirement. Many organisations need the talent and energy of the young to be matched by the wisdom and experience of the old. And that's where retired consultants come into play. What's more as a consultant, you will be away from the day-to-day management of the company, giving you more free hours for other activities like your evening walks.

Websites like ExpertEase provide a platform for senior professionals to connect with the industry and respond to their needs. Here, organisations seek out individuals for work, mentoring or volunteering opportunities. Professionals with backgrounds in accounting, engineering and marketing to technology, communication, media and administration, for small and medium-sized enterprises, can contribute through such platforms.

Bangalore-based Prabhakar Banerjee with experience in the textile industry found many assignments to consult textiles houses and garment houses through ExpertEase.

Convert your hobby into a business: Was there something you would have rather done than sit at your desk during those years when you had to worry about the security of your full-time job or the business that you were running? Maybe photography, sewing, gardening, pottery or art? Then now is the best time to start. Choose a hobby that you've always loved, refresh your skills in it, add a little marketing acumen and get ready to build your own enterprise.

Several retirees have banked on that one hobby to not only keep them occupied and gain more life experiences but also to increase their bank balance. At 63, Asis Kumar Sanyal, based out of Kolkata, is a successful freelance photographer. In his 31 years as a banker, Asis had never left the country, but today, he has visited more than seven countries for photography forums and assignments. All it took were a few workshops in photography to help him get started.

Professor Abdul Nayeem Khan, 70, a professor of Hindi literature and retired principal, had once taken a course in fine arts and handicrafts to teach to his students in college. Little did he know that it would open up an avenue for a second career later in life. Nayeem took a keen interest in wood sculpture and created a small workshop for it. Through trial and error, he experimented with everything from sculpted pegs used for tying cattle to toys for newborn babies. In recent years, Khan has also participated in sculpture shows in Mumbai and Delhi galleries, some of which have had very successful sales.

Exploring hobbies that you can make into careers is essentially about converting something you're passionate about into something that is saleable. While art need not have utility value, most of the other products you create should focus on that aspect as well as it will then create a greater demand. The trick is to create the right mix between what sells and what you like to do.

Play a part in the travel industry: With the constant influx of travelers into the country, the travel industry is definitely a growing one that is open to innovation and new services. One of the most popular demands is that for homestays and service apartments. If you have a spare room or apartment, you can consider this option for an extra stream of income. And with websites like Airbnb starting in India, this business has become easier to implement and market.

To start your own BnB or Bed&Breakfast, you need to spruce up the spare rooms that you want to let-out with amenities like a TV, Wifi and a mini-refrigerator; ensure you have a good breakfast menu and be as hospitable as you can. If your home is in a good location that has easy access to restaurants, shops and local transport services, be sure your home will always be full of guests from across the country and world. In these years of your life, which could otherwise be lonely, you may just find yourself surrounded by people and tales from all over.

And if you like to travel yourself, you could also design customized tours to places that you know well and take along a group of people with you. Educational and theme tours are a growing niche today with more and more players entering the industry.

Major General (retd) Harwant Krishan, 61, conducts eco-tours and adventure camps in Solan, Himachal Pradesh. His background in the army got him well-accustomed to nature and he felt he wanted to help civilians enjoy nature in the same way that he had. Krishan, like most army men, had spent a lot of time in the outdoors and he refused to stay indoors during retirement. So after partnering with the government and putting in a chunk of his own savings, Krishan started an eco-friendly campsite in Pine Hills that conducts treks, nature trails and forest walks, as it sensitises people in preserving the environment. He lives on the campsite most of the year to ensure its maintenance and also gives employment to locals to help with the running of his business.

The possibilities of what you can do during retirement are endless. And of course, one report is definitely not sufficient to chronicle the opportunities available. In our next report, we'll give five more new ideas to explore. Till next time…

Resources: http://www.mytopbusinessideas.com/rural-small-towns/ http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-06-20/news/29679980_1_grey-hair-retirement-rat-race http://www.harmonyindia.org/hportal/VirtualPageView.jsp?page_id=1835 http://www.seniorexperts.org/ http://businesstoday.intoday.in/story/choose-your-hobby-as-work-after-retirement-to-continue-earning/1/18847.html http://business.mapsofindia.com/business-ideas/for-retired-people.html http://www.newretirement.com/Services/Working_In_Retirement_Best_Jobs.aspx

Add More to Your Golden Years: Top 10 Career Ideas for Retirement - Part 2

In the last report, we promised you five more retirement work opportunities. In the same spirit, these ideas too are fast gaining traction among retirees; they are good money-making avenues and will reflect your best skills and talents.

So here goes…

Become a culinary expert: If you've always loved your pots and pans, there's no better time than retirement to start a business with your passion for cooking. From baking to catering for parties or starting a tiffin service, to running your own small café or conducting cooking classes and writing recipe books, the possibilities in the business of food are many.

After quitting her long-held job with a chemical company, Dolly Fatehi, 70, was getting restless doing nothing at home. And since everyone had always enjoyed her cooking, she took up a friend's suggestion seriously and started her own catering service. A stroke of good luck brought her in contact with food critic Rashmi Uday Singh who sampled her food and gave it a rave review, following which the stream of orders hasn't stopped. Today, Dolly has her hands full from 6.30am to 7.30pm, works out of two kitchens and makes enough profit from her catering services. To top it all, she revels in the aromas of herbs and spices and rejoices in messages from satisfied clients.

Rita Saldanha, 74, has many talents, she is a famous soprano singer in Chennai, a social worker, cook and baker. Before Rita retired, she worked as a librarian for 30 years. After retirement, she rekindled her childhood passion for baking and now supplies cakes, biscuits, puddings, pies, marshmallows and macaroons to local supermarkets, church groups, parties and women's organisations. But what makes her activity more meaningful is that after deducting the cost of making, she donates the rest of the proceeds to charity. Rita is using her talent not just to keep herself occupied, but also for the betterment of society.

So put on your baking gloves, buy that extra kitchen equipment, source the freshest ingredients and whip up lip-smacking delights that you'll always be remembered for. Better still archive your delicious recipes, or those from your mother and grandmother, and share them online or sell them as books.

Get into the wellness industry: The industry for beauty, fitness and well-being is only growing. With the increasing stress in people's daily lives, everyone can do with a few hours of yoga, meditation and even homemade remedies that nourish the body and soul. So if you're an expert in some form of fitness or if you have beauty and health secrets that you can share with the world, see how you can convert them into a money-making venture.

Just like Dr Sharlene Benjers, 57, did when she opened Dr Benjer's Health and Beauty Spa in Pune more than six years ago. A homeopathic doctor by profession, Dr Benjers had to take a break in her career due to a health condition. But once she recovered, she wanted to do something with all her knowledge and time. So she further researched on herbal remedies and medicines and decided to find cures for stress-related hair and skin problems that people face in their everyday lives. She started off by treating patients with her own homemade creams and lotions and now runs a clinic with services like homeopathic health and beauty care, spa therapies, beauty salon services, and healing through tarot.

Other than beauty, the world of fitness also has a lot of takers. You can be a fitness trainer or a yoga instructor. This allows you flexi hours, not much investment and keeps you fit too.

Manohar Joglekar, 71, was a proponent of yoga since a long time, having learned from the greats like B K S Iyengar and Swamy Yogananda. After retirement, word got out that he was good in yoga, and this gave him added confidence to start his own classes. He now conducts camps for corporates and has also traveled to Muscat for a yoga workshop.

Meditation and healing are also gaining importance in this age. And if you are educated in any form of alternative therapies or if you believe you can help people de-stress by conducting meditation classes, bring together a bunch of people, design short courses with motivational stories, add some mantra chanting, allow the participants to share their own stories and interact with each other. You will be amazed by the number of people who get peace from such classes, often also called satsangs.

Market products online/offline: If you have the gift of the gab or if you've always been able to promote yourself and your work well, marketing products from home maybe a good option for you. Affiliate marketing is essentially that. It means selling other's products through your own network, online or offline. People who market often work on a commission basis and even take a retainership at times, this covers their basic phone bills, internet and travel expenses.

TRK Murthi, in his late 80s, continues to sell ads for two media houses, Afternoon Despatch and Courier and Corporate India. With diverse experience in the ad world and PR industry, Murthi had built a good network but could not get a full-time job post 75. Thus he started marketing media space on his own and now keeps himself gainfully occupied even in his golden years.

VK Anand, currently in his late 60s, had retired from the airforce at the young age of 41. He was neither a graduate nor was he making a lot of money after retiring. But he made it his mission to do something post retirement, he completed his graduation, did an MBA and today sells insurance products and mutual funds, making approx. Rs 2 lac per month.

Marketing may need a lot of persuasion. It may need hours of convincing people about the benefits of the products you're selling. Sometimes, it also requires you to actively run around town and meet with people. But if you feel you don't have the physical energy to execute it, you can consider marketing online through websites. If you have a product to sell, you can put up ads on other websites that have enough traffic and give the host website a certain percentage. Or, jump on the social network bandwagon and create awareness about your products through them. Being social, online or offline, helps you push your sales better.

Produce something fresh and healthy: The whole world is talking about the benefits of eating organically-grown food, free of pesticides and chemical fertilisers. And they are paying big bucks for it too. If, in your retirement, you move away from the busy city life, to a place that gives you ample opportunity to grow your own vegetables, fruits and spices, this may just be a good extra income opportunity for you.

In Common Sense Living, we featured a Wealth Builders Club member Asif (name changed) who bought a cow simply to provide fresh milk to his family. With some knowledge of dairy farming from his days of learning Ayurvedic medicine, Asif was well-armed to look after his cow. His neighbours heard about the freshness of the milk and asked him to sell it to them too. Before he knew it, he was also making and selling ghee. He now owns 14 cows, almost runs a mini-dairy and makes enough money for retirement.

Starting a poultry business, dabbling in chilli pepper farming, tea gardening, coffee bean farming and a vegetable garden farm are other avenues of growing produce in semi-urban and rural areas. Before starting out, it helps to gain a little knowledge on what grows well in which areas, what kind of soil and sunlight you need and what is the amount of space and investment you will need to make for farming equipment, maintenance etc. You can start out small, trying out one or two varieties of the produce, and then go on to growing more. These can then be marketed to local groceries, shops and neighbours.

And if you don't want to grow anything yourself, you can look at marketing agricultural products. Just like Hariprasad Trivedi, 81, did. With a background of teaching agriculture in a university in Gujarat, Trivedi decided to use his knowledge to help farmers reduce their hardships. He started his own venture distributing good quality fertilisers and conducting seed quality awareness programs among farmers.

In cities too, people are now growing their own spices and herbs on terraces and in their home gardens. Chillies, basil, tomatoes and aloe vera are commonly grown. These are then used for their own consumption or packaged and sold locally.

Be a counsellor: Stress seems to be the new-age disease. Additionally, parental pressure, peer pressure, societal expectations and consumerism are causing several behavioural disorders in children, teens and adults alike. Herein comes the need for someone patient to hear people out and give them sound and unbiased guidance. One must have immense empathy and some background knowledge before entering this field. It would also help to take short courses in your area of interest before you start.

Dr Yogini Pathak, 70, had studied English and Philosophy and had a background working in municipal schools. After interacting with several students, parents and guiding post-graduate students, she realised she had an interest in parental guidance. Post-retirement, she consults parents at a playschool on the importance of positive parenting and even oversees the school's administration and trains its teachers.

Similarly, retired additional director-general of police VK Kapoor, 68, had considerable experience in people management and conflict management during his time spent in the police and intelligence bureau. Once he retired, he realised that most people face maximum issues due to stress and this led him to start the Institute of Stress Management and Research in his vacant house in Panchkula, Haryana. He employs professionals at the Institute and himself writes and gives talks at different colleges and universities.

If you don't want to travel to a school or start your own institute, you can even consult from home. Life coaches have gained immense popularity in the last decade and they conduct sessions at home or on Skype. They often take online courses with established institutes or individuals before entering this line. So if you're full of positivity and optimism and if you feel you can guide those around you in making their lives better and more stress-free, try your hand at counselling. Your years of experience and wisdom are added assets here.

This brings us to the end of our top 10 ideas for retirement. Of course there are many more ideas and you can choose what you like and give it your own shape and flair. The key is to optimize what you already have, keep investments low and ensure you don't get too stressed in your second career.

We hope the future sees you explore many of these opportunities and helps you start an extra-income stream to brighten your retirement years.

Do write in to us with feedback or share your stories and ideas on WBC Conversations.

Resources: http://www.mytopbusinessideas.com/rural-small-towns/ http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-06-20/news/29679980_1_grey-hair-retirement-rat-race http://www.harmonyindia.org/hportal/VirtualPageView.jsp?page_id=1835 http://www.seniorexperts.org/ http://businesstoday.intoday.in/story/choose-your-hobby-as-work-after-retirement-to-continue-earning/1/18847.html http://business.mapsofindia.com/business-ideas/for-retired-people.html http://www.newretirement.com/Services/Working_In_Retirement_Best_Jobs.aspx

Retire Next Year #8: Live a Dream Retirement by Setting up Your Own Cafe or Bar in Paradise

Millions of middle-aged Indians are living a nightmare. After decades of working and saving, their dreams of comfortable, secure retirements still seem impossible.

Wealth Builders Club readers are in much better shape. But that still may not be enough to finance the retirement you are looking forward to.

It all depends on your retirement number. Your retirement number, I hope you remember, is how much money you need to have saved to retire. It's a function of two things. First, how much cash you will be spending during your retirement (I call this your retirement lifestyle burn rate, or RLBR). Second, how much money you have earmarked right now for retirement. For more on your retirement number and your lifestyle burn rate, see Chapter 8 of the e-book 11 Secrets Every Wealth Builder Must Know.

If you haven't put aside enough money to retire yet, you need to hear this: It is highly unlikely that you can “hit your number” by conventional investing strategies, even if you achieve above- market returns on your stocks and bonds.

Investment performance can make a huge difference when retirement is 30 or 40 years away. But if you plan to retire in fewer than 30 years, you have to take additional, immediate measures.

You must spend less, save more, and develop additional income.

And if your retirement is close-10 years or fewer-then you might want to re-imagine your retirement by opening yourself up to some new and very exciting ideas.

Imagine If You Could Retire Next Year…

In this essay, like the rest in the series, I'm hoping to accomplish several things:

First, I want to prove to you that it is possible to drastically lower your expenses and save more while improving the quality of your life right now.

Second, I want to give you an outside-the-box idea about creating additional income.

Third, I want to inspire you to consider some retirement lifestyles that you may have never considered before.

The great news is that you can enjoy all of these retirement lifestyles on a very ordinary income. And they can be achieved in fewer than 12 months if you start working on them today.

What I'm offering you, in effect, are options you won't find in any other investment newsletter: wonderful, fulfilling retirement options that you can start enjoying as early as next year!

Like the rest of the ideas you have been seeing in this series, this is a realistic possibility that might be the perfect retirement you've been dreaming about all these years.

I'm going to try to give you a picture of what this retirement will feel like. I'll do that by describing the life of someone who is living it right now. I will also identify the key characteristics that make this dream retirement so attractive. I will give you some of the basic numerical data. And I'll mention some of the biggest myths and mistakes people who attempt this kind of retirement fall victim to.

As a Wealth Builders Club member, you will be getting a very substantial report on this opportunity that will detail how to take action, one step at a time. We are still preparing this report, but you should receive it shortly.

Dream Retirement # 1: Owner of a Seaside Bar in a Tropical Paradise

A few miles south of my home in Nicaragua is a small fishing village called Gigante. It is a quaint little town that sits on a bay shouldered by steep cliffs on one side and, on the other, an outcropping of rock islands that resembles a giant's leg.

Ten years ago, it was practically deserted. But now, thanks to Rancho Santana, the entire southwestern coast of Nicaragua is booming. In addition to Rancho Santana (in which I have a financial interest), at least a dozen smaller residential real estate developments have sprung up in the area. And just a few miles south of us, Nicaragua's wealthiest family is building a very large development, the size of Rancho Santana.

What this means is that Gigante is now bubbling with nascent commercial activity. Along the town's main road, which parallels the water, a few dozen little shops, restaurants, and bars have appeared.

One of these places is The Crobar. It is a funky, ramshackle bar that also serves pretty good food. It sits on the beach, so the view is terrific. In addition to food and drink, it offers traveling customers several small rooms to stay in. Above those rooms is a spacious apartment in which the owner lives.

There are many places to eat and drink at The Crobar. You can sit at the bar or in a seating area adjacent to it that offers sports enthusiasts cable TV. You can also dine in a nice little courtyard next to it or in any one of a half-dozen seating areas that are available on a multilevel wooden deck facing the ocean. The chairs and table settings are eclectic. They even have overstuffed sofas and chaise lounges. It's a very pleasant place to have breakfast, lunch, or dinner or simply to lounge on one of the hammocks, reading a book in the in-between hours. For more active entertainment you can rent a kayak or Jet Ski.

How I Came up With This Idea

I was last there about a month ago. I was sitting with my wife K, sipping a tequila-based mojito (I call it a Tequito) and watching the sun set on the horizon. “Life doesn't get any better than this,” I said.

Then it occurred to me: The Crobar was, for the guy who owned it, a retirement dream come true. “This guy- whoever he is-has done it!” I thought. He's escaped the stress of “making it” in the USA and is living like a king in paradise!

Here I was, a wealthy guy with a big house just a few miles away, yet I was jealous of him. My house in Rancho Santana, cheap by U.S. standards, had cost me nearly half-a-million dollars. The owner of The Crobar had a cooler place to live with a built-in stream of income, a never-ending circle of friends, and a view that was every bit as good as mine. And he did all that, I was quite sure, for relatively small financial investment.

If I felt I could be happy living his life, then so perhaps could some of my Wealth Builders Club members.

A Typical Day

Could you be happy with a lifestyle like this?

You wake when you want to and spend a half hour walking on the beach in Goa or any other coastal region in India or the world. On the way back, you buy fresh Ravas or Bombay Duck from your favourite local fish vendor. You give the day's supply of fish to your cook (a local lady) and enjoy breakfast served to you on your private balcony. Afterward, you work on your novel or you paint or do some gardening. Then you take a nap.

You have lunch at your regular table in the corner. Today a boarder who arrived the previous evening joins you: a student from Mumbai. She tells you that she is doing a project, studying about the educational needs of communities in your area. You give her your thoughts.

After lunch, you check on the day's take so far (Rs. 20,000) and talk to the chef to make sure everything is ready for dinner. Then you take another nap.

In the late afternoon, you visit some of your friends. At sunset, you have drinks with the district head. You spend the evening at your reserved seat at the bar, chatting with customers and listening to Hariharan sing ghazals.

Does that sound good?

Thousands Are Retiring Early

This is not some far-fetched fantasy. It is a reality for John, the guy who owns The Crobar, as well as for more than a dozen “hippies” who run restaurants and bars up and down the Pacific coast of Nicaragua.

These people have jettisoned the lives they were living in urban jungles to “retire rich” in a tropical paradise. And they have done it for a fraction of what it would cost to do it in a big city.

In developing this program, I am thinking specifically of the Wealth Builders Club members who don't yet have the wealth they need (and may not be able to acquire it) to enjoy conventional retirements in more expensive locations.

In India too, several retirees are exploring options of how to set up restaurants, bars and homestays in smaller towns closer to home. You needn't relocate to another country altogether. There are a growing number of local and international tourists who would love more options for dining and wining. Indians are getting experimental in their cuisine and choices of destination for travel and this trend could work to your advantage.

The Criteria for Your Perfect Retirement

I've been brainstorming on this since I came back from Nicaragua. And have identified certain guidelines to ensure that the opportunities we present meet your needs. The guidelines we have identified so far are:

The opportunity must be located in some sort of retirement paradise: by the sea, in the mountains, in a quaint town, etc.

It must include not only a great lifestyle but also a way to earn extra income on a part-time basis.

It must be affordable: i.e., club members who want to pursue it should be able to begin with an investment of between Rs. 25-30 lac and an income of no more than Rs. 1 lac per month.

It must be relatively easy and realistic: It can't be something that requires obscure skills or technical knowledge or undue hardship of any kind.

It must be immediately available: Members should be able to make it happen in a year or less.

This is certainly true of the opportunity I'm presenting today. You could relocate to any country or small city of your choice, if you wanted to, in a matter of months. And you could select a place to open up your own seaside bar, restaurant or cafe in another three to six months.

How much would it cost? As you'll see below, it can be done with retirement savings of less than Rs 15-25 lac and an initial recurring income (from your retirement account or pension) of just Rs 1 lac per month.

And that Rs 1 lac is just to get you going. As the bar begins to flow cash, you will be able to bank that Rs 1 lac per month or use it on personal pleasures.

Here is a rough idea of what it would cost you…

The Numbers

Option 1. Buy a lot and build your own funky Crobar. To buy the lot (space): Rs 15-30 lac To build the restaurant/bar/cafe: Rs 20 lac To stock it: Rs 5 lac

Option 2. Rent and renovate an existing structure. To lease the property for two years at Rs 25,000 per month: Rs. 7 lac To fix it up and decorate: Rs 4-5 lac To stock it: Rs 5 lac

Income, Profit, and Loss

You are not going to make a fortune owning a place on the beach like The Crobar. But you can make enough for a happy, financially secure retirement.

Based on the research we've done, my guess is that, after all expenses, the owner of The Crobar is clearing about Rs 80,000 - 1 lac per month. (This does not count whatever money he gets from renting kayaks, Jet Skis, and rooms.)

Rs 80,000 - 1 lac per month per month may seem like very little, but in a small town, it makes you a rich man. And if you have some extra passive income coming in, you'll be swimming in money.

I say that because of the nature of this kind of retirement lifestyle. Living expenses in smaller cities are very low to begin with. On top of that, you would have free food and drink and free use of the “toys.” You won't be working, unless you think that hanging around and talking to nice people is work.

Should You Wish to Undertake This Mission…

If you think you might want to make a dream like this your reality, you need to do several things right now. The first and most important thing is to actually believe you can do it. I know this sounds like just another story you might read in a travel magazine, a passing fantasy that holds your interest only briefly. But it is a reality-and not only for a handful of hippies in my little corner of Nicaragua but for thousands of others in India too.

So believe it.

The next thing you must do (and this will help you believe) is to educate yourself about retiring overseas or in smaller towns. Read stories about people who are doing what you want to do.

The third thing you must do (and you can do this at the same time as you learn about living overseas) is to learn something about being an entrepreneur. (Of course, if you are already an entrepreneur, you can skip this step.) To accomplish that goal, I humbly recommend several of my own books, which you already have: Ready, Fire, Aim and Seven Years to Seven Figures.

And then the fourth thing would be to learn more about this particular type of opportunity. To make that easy, we are working to create a business plan for opening your own bar, restaurant or cafe that we'll deliver free to you as a club member soon.

You can accomplish these first four steps in less than two months. If, after completing them, you are still inspired, the next step would be to travel to your retirement paradise and check it out for yourself.

We Will Make It As Easy As We Possibly Can

The business plan we are providing is a very important part of your due diligence. In it, you will discover not only the steps you must take in detail, but also the most common myths and mistakes that hinder people from achieving this kind of goal.

For example, one of the most common mistakes is to assume that you can open up a profitable bar/restaurant/cafe by catering to a local crowd. In fact, this would be a costly mistake. The reason is simple: Local people simply aren't willing to pay Rs 300-500 for a drink/meal. But tourists are happy to do so. This one simple difference can spell the difference between success and failure.

Our business plan has identified at least a half-dozen such myths and mistakes that you will want to know about before you commit any time and money to this dream lifestyle. So you will definitely want to read that carefully.

I'm Serious About This!

As you know, I make it a habit to put my money where my mouth is. In the case of this particular opportunity, here's what I'm doing. I have placed a few bids on small, seaside properties within a quarter-mile north of Rancho Santana. This is a much, much better location than The Crobar. Because it is better situated, I won't be able to buy these properties for $25,000-35,000. I'll have to pay more. If I can get one at the right price, I'll buy it. If not, I'll take it on a long-term lease. (I've already identified one perfect parcel I can rent for $600 per month!)

I also have identified several people who could run this for me. One of them is a lifelong friend who happens to be living in Nicaragua right now. It will be a great opportunity for him and a solid investment for me, since the cost of running it will be practically nothing. I'll take a 10% return on the capital I invest and split the profits with my friend.

The unexpected bonus, or “glicken,” as I call it, for me will be a little retreat I can walk to when I want a change from the five-star restaurant at Rancho Santana.

As I said, this is just one of a dozen retirement opportunities that we are presenting to Wealth Builders Club members. But all of them-along with the corresponding business plans-will be available free only to you, Wealth Builders Club members. We are hard at work completing the blueprint on how to start a beachside bar/restaurant/cafe in a retirement paradise. We'll send it to you when it's ready.

Oh… one more thing. I will also keep you updated on how my “beachside bar” is progressing. Best,

Best, Mark

Editor's Note

Some of you are probably thinking, yes this is possible, we have friends who run restaurants, bars and hotels in Goa, Mangalore, Dehradun, Darjeelingand Pondicherry. I've definitely spent beach days at shacks in Goa which look exactly like the pictures of the Crobar above.

But Indians don't just leave the country and open restaurants in other countries in their retirement years, do they?

And in my travels and experiences living around the world I have found that, yes, actually they do. As a young Indian who doesn't love to cook I would seek out Indian restaurants wherever I went, and from a Delhi Darbar in the mountainous country of Tajikistan, to a chain of Sher-e-Punjab restaurants in the beautiful Cambodia, I have met Indian families and retired Indian couples who have are living exciting new lives in different parts of the world. And in low season they come home to India and spend a few months with their families. It's the best of both worlds.

And they are not isolated. Indian communities form quickly and easily in other countries. So wherever you go you will always have a set of friends to drink chai in the evenings with and celebrate festivals with. In the more than ten years that I lived in different countries, I never had to celebrate a single Independence Day without a community of my fellow Indians.

So explore retirement paradises in India, there are so many. But also don't close your mind to this second idea of discovering the world. If you have lived in the same place your whole life, carrying the same responsibilities, running the same routines, maybe this can be the chance to see that the world is indeed your oyster, yours to live in and explore, and this plan makes sure that you are not restricted by financial impediments.

To life's adventures,

Anisa Virji Managing Editor, Common Sense Living

Retire Next Year #8a: Your Personal Business Plan to Setting up a Bar or Cafe in Paradise and Living a Dream Retirement

Welcome to the first Business Plan created exclusively for Wealth Builders Club members - your personal plan on how to retire next year by setting up your very own bar or cafe in Paradise.

As luck would have it, Mark came upon an establishment in Nicaragua-no, not a bar in a five-star resort, but rather a “funky, ramshackle bar that also served pretty good food,” and an ah-ha moment occurred.

As you read in the previous essay, Mark realized that life was pretty good for John, the owner of the Crobar… and thus dawned on him the idea that starting your own cafe or bar could very well be the answer to your retirement income opportunity as well.

Insiders' Secrets to Success

Please note: In putting together this report, we interviewed Mark, our own expert and coach; Alec Singer, a restaurant industry expert; and several entrepreneurs who opened “beach” bars of their own.

When we first started this project, Mark had several ideas about the type of information he wanted to share with the Wealth Builders Club members. Information that would help members think totally outside of the box if they really needed to reassess their retirement plans.

He started by identifying some of the criteria that would help to pinpoint realistic locations where someone could live economically, preferably in a tropical paradise, and gain some part-time income by running a bar or cafe. A place where one could stretch his/her retirement fund while “living the dream.”

As a first step in the process, Mark turned to International Living and asked its editors if they had real people doing what he was describing. Was this realistic and doable?

IL came back with a hearty “yes” and proceeded to give us contact information for individuals who were running establishments, big and small, in different countries all over the world.

We interviewed them. Many also sent us additional answers to questions, such as…

What were your biggest challenges? What did you do right? What do you wish you had known ahead of time? What lessons can you share with our readers? Are you making any money?

The answers were heartfelt and genuine. Some stories surprised us. And at the end of the day, during one of our phone calls, Mark realized something.

Many of these stories have uncovered some hard lessons to be learned. The interviewees have actually exposed some insider secrets - secrets that seasoned - and reluctant - entrepreneurs know instinctively. Secrets, if they could be fully teased out and identified, would help our readers with their own learning curve. - Mark

And we began to look for the secrets within the hard lessons, the setbacks, and even some failures.

We identified them. Then Mark referred us to a longtime friend of his, a bar and restaurant owner with more than 35 years experience in the business. Alec Singer, owner of Rick's Cafe near Cleveland, reviewed the secrets we had identified-and added some great-from the trenches-insights.

The secrets, as we state repeatedly, must be used in conjunction with due diligence in all aspects of creating your business plan.

Mark's Basic Premise

An individual can move to a new country or city offering a tropical lifestyle, live economically, and operate a small bar, restaurant or cafe. At the end of the day, he/she will be living in paradise, spending less than he/she would back home, stretching his/her retirement income, and making some additional money working part-time-doing something that is FUN.

Our Expert Panel

Mark Ford

Mark needs no introduction. As a Wealth Builders Club member, you know he is not your typical businessman.

A former Peace Corps volunteer, he never took a class in business, doesn't read the business press, and doesn't like to talk business. He spends his spare time writing poetry, collecting fine art, and practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His neighbours call him a bohemian. But he's also an entrepreneur.

He started his first business when he was 11 years old, and in the 45 years that have elapsed since then, he has started or co-started dozens of successful businesses-public and private… local and international… retail, wholesale, and direct mail.

His entrepreneurial experience is immense, even compared to other successful entrepreneurs. At one time or another, he has run or consulted for multimillion-dollar businesses in a long list of sectors… And yes, even bars and restaurants!

Alec Singer

When you consider the turnover rate for restaurant ownership, the fact that Alec has been in business in the same location for more than 35 years speaks volumes to his knowledge in the industry.

A food and beverage reviewer put it simply. “Restaurants, like multimillion-dollar bridges, have breaking points. Often it comes at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night, 30 minutes past the city's most coveted seating time. Hosts are strategically positioning arrivals; bartenders are hard at work crafting cocktails; servers are simultaneously reciting specials, taking orders, and delivering food; and the kitchen is drowning beneath a sea of ticket tape. How a restaurant performs at precisely this moment speaks directly to its competence.”

And it has been proven, for over three decades, that Alec's management is up to the task. He is working as hard today to make sure his customers get the best food, service, and ambience as they did in 1976 when he opened.

As his longtime friend, Mark has witnessed Alec's perseverance and success. Alec has some useful lessons to share… and if you ever find yourself in the community of Chagrin Falls outside Cleveland, then check out Rick's Cafe for yourself.

Insiders' Secrets

The “Insiders' Secrets” have been given the best test of all. The entrepreneurs who shared their experiences with us reviewed our work. The result? Affirmation that our secrets are worth sharing with you, our readers.

“There is a fine line between secrets of success and formulas for failure.”

Secret #1: Keep it simple. Simple and funky. Profits are in the bar, NOT the restaurant.

Making money is a simple formula: Take in more than you spend. The more fancy you get with the food you offer, the greater your costs will be. Suddenly you need a cook or a chef; you need expensive kitchen equipment; and when the hydro goes out, you lose a lot more than just cold beer. The profit margins on food are slim at best; the profit margins on bar drinks are much higher.

Mark: This is one reason a bar is better than a restaurant: just burgers or pizza, keep it simple. It is easier to find staff and you are not out looking for a chef at a much higher salary.

Alec: You can outfit a beachside or rustic bar much more cheaply than you can a restaurant. You will also have fewer regulations regarding food handling to deal with. A funky bar can be outfitted for a minimal investment, especially if you look for used furniture and equipment and search out auctions.

Also, with a bar, you can track your sales quite easily with a cash register that you can pick up for a few hundred dollars, rather than an expensive computer system needed to track a bigger enterprise.”

Additionally, the bar inside the restaurant is often the most popular spot. People like cozy and casual-so why not give it to them?

Restaurants that are high-end and cater to special occasions have a really tough go.

In many ways, sometimes bar owners and restaurateurs make things more complicated than they needed to be simply because their business models were too broad.

Mark: My advice?

Do NOT go into the restaurant business, go into the bar business.

The secret to making this work is to make it a bar that serves simple food that anyone can make: good burgers, for instance.

A restaurant is a much bigger and more complicated business… with more requirements in terms of skills and less of a profit margin than pouring drinks and taking caps off beer bottles…

Keep it simple, but keep pouring drinks!

Remember the goals you have. After all, this is your retirement!

You can live in paradise, spend less money on essentials, have a little business, keep it slow, have some fun, meet some people… and make some extra money!

At the end of the day, you need to follow Mark's motto: Ready, Fire, Aim.

Secret #2: Target the right customer base. The money is with tourists, not the locals and expats.

Location is more than the right city or town. If the town does not have a steady stream of tourists, you will be fighting an uphill battle to get enough customers to keep you busy.

Restaurateurs repeatedly say that catering to the local community is not the way to earn a steady income.

Who has money to spend Rs. 500 on a drink and a good sandwich? Tourists. Period.

The location you choose and the size of your potential customer base impacts your bottom line. Restaurant and bar owners have often overestimated how many staff they needed and wasted time and money training and paying more people than their restaurant warranted.

Mark: There simply are not enough locals with money to provide you with a decent income stream. This is a business, and you have to follow the money. The path leads to tourists.

When you cater to tourists, you have to be aware of the high and low seasons. There are generally three to four months when weather, including monsoons, shuts down the tourist season. Some try staying open during the slow season only to find that it was a mistake. It is hard to cover your overhead costs while not taking in much-or any-revenue.

Secret #3: If you keep it simple, you can learn what you need to know.

Making your dream a reality is not just about your passion to live and work in a retirement paradise. Passion is great-but don't forget to educate yourself with a basic knowledge of how to run a bar.

Alec: Take a lesson from fast food franchises. They have their costs broken down and analyzed to the smallest detail. They leave nothing to chance. You may not be able to do that in the same way, but a good business plan will at least help you uncover some of the potential cost over runs.

Secret #4: Focus on the right things: merchandising of your cafe/bar and marketing.

Once you have the right location and the right customer base and have learned the basics of running a bar/cafe… focus on merchandising and marketing it.

Eighty percent of your time should be spent here. Creating the right “atmosphere” for customers is paramount. Everything your customer sees and experiences while sitting there creates the uniqueness of your establishment and helps to sell the dream you are creating. After all, if sitting on your bar stool is no different than sitting on a bar stool back home, you are not selling the experience of being on vacation, away from it all, overlooking the water in paradise…

Mark: Merchandising includes the actual look of the bar… the gestalt. When I sit at the Crobar, the entire decor gives you a feeling of discovering some ramshackle place where pirates might congregate. It is an experience. It includes the stuff on the walls, the furniture, the signage, what the employees wear, and the t-shirts they sell.

The look and feel goes hand in hand with your marketing. At the risk of stating the obvious, you have to get customers into the seats.

Mark: Marketing has to be aggressive: happy hour, buy 1-get 1 free deals, whatever it takes!

Secret #5: Keeping and managing staff is simple with a few systems in place.

The topic of staffing came up quite often in the interviews.

Mark: You can find and develop excellent employees if you put in time when you hire staff; fire mediocre employees immediately; and reward your superstars.

Alec: Don't be afraid to let bad employees go. You can nurture a customer for 20 years, but a bad employee can drive them away in a matter of minutes.

When hiring, look for a good work ethic, but it's more than that. You also want to look for trainability. You need people who can adapt to your way of doing things and be willing to learn.

Keeping your staff loyal - and not engaging in theft - can be an issue. Many owners have felt powerless as both food and alcohol stock seemed to “disappear.”

Alec had some good advice: Keeping staff honest can be as simple as an inventory system. In a small establishment like a bar, it is easy to do a quick inventory of food and alcohol at the end of every shift. Everyone knows what is on hand and the inventory is not left to chance or guessing when things “seem to be missing.”

An Old Joke

There is an old joke about a guy who owns a shot and beer place and he is looking to hire a bartender.

He interviews the first candidate and asks all of the normal questions one would ask in an interview. Then he asks the last question which is, “How much do you steal?” The interviewee replies, “forty percent.”

He interviews another and at the end asks the question again, “How much do you steal?” The guy says, “twenty-five percent.”

The third applicant goes through the interview and is asked, “How much do you steal?” He replies, “It depends how business is.”

The bar owner then says, “You're hired.”

Alec: Sadly, there is some truth to that.

I do believe that you could get the right people and the right system in place and a small operation could just require minimal attention.

An incentive system in which you recognize staff for great work will also pay dividends. A financial bonus, in line with the wages and the amount of money you are making, will go a long way to reinforce staff efforts.

Additional observations:

Mark: The bar/cafe must be a place where women can feel comfortable and welcome. There is one common mistake that will cause women to feel less than comfortable. Stacking it with female bartenders and waitresses in skimpy outfits. This may attract men but it won't work for women. To attract women mix attractive men and women on the staff.

Depending on the city/country you choose, staff may not necessarily speak English. This can be a challenge for you to train and supervise them if you do not speak the local language.

Poverty and theft can be connected. Reduce the invitation to steal by buying inexpensive electronics like speakers and locking up liquor when closed. Put good systems in place and keep theft to a minimum.

In some cities/countries, family is more important than anything else to the locals. This has been known to impact a business. If your staff has to attend to a family matter on his way to work, family may supersede his need to be on time!

Secret #6: Know the numbers.

Before you make a decision about moving ahead with your bar or cafe, you must have a sensible plan and a budget. You need to estimate all of the main expenses, such as rent, build-out costs, stock, equipment, personnel costs, a liquor license, utilities, taxes, etc.

Mark: For the sort of properties I'm talking about, you can expect to pay between Rs. 30 - 35,000 per month for rent. If it costs much more than that, you should look for another location.

Building out the bar will cost between Rs. 2-4 lac, depending on what sort of structure is there and how fancy you want to make it. (Hint: Make it fun and funky, not fancy.)

As far as equipment goes, stick to the basics. You want some refrigeration, one or two double sinks (washing and rinsing), a few pouring racks, a drying rack… and that's about it except for a TV or two, if you think it will bring in customers. Used equipment is usually much cheaper than new equipment. If you can get used equipment, do. Equipment like this should cost between Rs 1-2 lac.

You will need one full-time bartender during the day and two people at night. They should cost you approx. Rs. 10-15,000 per month. If you add a cook that will cost you another Rs. 20,000, but I don't recommend that. At least not during the first year. Teach your bartenders how to make paninis, sandwiches and fries. That will be plenty of food to keep hungry drinkers happy.

One more note on personnel costs. It is important to familiarize yourself with local labour laws in terms of minimum wages, taxes, hiring and firing requirements, vacations, etc. Every city/country has unique requirements. You need to follow the rules. So find out what they are before you start hiring.

Liquor license fees change from state to state and from country to country. So consult local government rules, apply for the necessary licences and ensure your legal work is in place.

Utilities-including water, electricity and Internet-should also be accounted for. In India, electricity used for commercial reasons is billed much higher, so you would like to use power saving lighting to reduce your bills. (You do not need air conditioning in casual bars and cafes.)

So the start-up costs should range between Rs 12-15 lac and the monthly operating costs should range between Rs. 80,000 -1 lac per month

As you can see, this is a very low financial threshold - especially when you consider that the business could eventually be giving you an income of 1.5-4 lac per month after expenses.

To be safe, you should have enough capital to take care of a full year's worth of operating expenses. Adding 10% miscellaneous charges to these estimates, that means a capital fund of between Rs. 15-18 lac.

It is very important to keep both your start-up and also your operating expenses as low as possible. Being successful in the retail market (and a bar/cafe is basically a retail business) depends greatly on keeping your expenses to a minimum. Keep that in mind when you figure out the location, build-out, and equipment purchases.

Rent or Own?

One question every bar and/or restaurant owner has to answer is, “Do I rent or buy?” The primary advantage of owning is that the landlord can't jack up the rent once your lease expires and he realizes you are making lots of money.

But buying a property before the business is proven is a big risk too. What if the venture fails due to some unforeseen circumstances? What if you have to sell but there are no buyers?

Mark: My recommendation is to get a lease with an option to buy. This way, your initial cash outlay is much lower and you are free to walk away from the bar when the lease terminates. If the bar does well, then you can execute the buyout clause. A lease with an option to buy gives you the flexibility you need.

Infrastructure Challenges

In some of the states/countries, electricity can be quite expensive. If you have a restaurant, you will need air conditioning and a number of refrigerators and freezers.

If you have a bar or cafe, a few ceiling fans will do the trick! And the bar does not even need walls-just a thatched roof. Also, it is possible to have the company whose beer you stock supply the beer fridge. The company gets advertising, and you get equipment.

The cost and dependability of electricity will definitely impact your bottom line.

Mark: But if you just operate a basic bar, the worst that happens is your beer gets warm!

Or as Alec pointed out, you could tie your marketing to the challenges with electricity and buy a gas generator: If the power in the area is so-so, you can become “the place to go” when the power goes out-the only location in town that always has cold beer!

Additional “Facts of Life” Our Interviewees Learned… and Our Experts Endorsed

If you are tempted to add different offerings to your business, such as fishing trips, jet skis, surf board rentals… be careful. It can be a slippery and expensive slope if you are not careful.

Understand the local politics. Why? Because you need to understand who holds the power when decisions that affect your business are being made.

You do want to be seen as supporting your local community. You will get to know what is important to the community… Supporting its development efforts can certainly be a good PR move.

Alec: The good thing about living in a small town is you know everybody and everybody knows you.

If you run a successful bar and restaurant as Alec does, after 35 years you know a lot about the happy and sad events in the lives of your customers. It is not a surprise to learn he supports community projects. Besides typical support for the local football team, he has gone as far as to close his restaurant to regular customers and open it for a fundraiser to support the medical bills of a long-time patron.

The Blueprint for Success

Our goal for the Retire Next Year series has always been to keep it simple.

The Blueprint for Success will provide you with questions to consider and checklists to follow. We don't want you to leave anything to chance. After all, the whole point is to retire and maintain-if not improve-your economic situation. You might be willing to leave something to chance, but we're not.

Research and Choose a Location

Research the cities/countries you are considering in detail. It is time for you to drill down.

Live in the Location

I think it is important to live in the location you are considering. Observe the locals, the businesses, the expats; sit in the coffee shops and listen to the conversations. This will help you see and feel how local life flows and how fast they move. That speed does determine how many tourists actually come to the island. -Daphne, Honduras Search out websites that have been started by locals themselves. Who knows better than the people who have made the move?

There are also embassies - government offices in charge of foreign relations-in most countries. They will have up- to-date information on visas and immigration rules.

For a move in India, you can check with state tourism boards and other government information sources like websites and chambers of commerce.

Part of your research will be to visit the area you are considering. You may have to take a vacation or two to compare your options and to really see which location will feel like home.

Once you visit, you need to take your tourist hat off and become a short-term resident to really get to know the community.

Live in the area you are considering for six to 12 months ideally, but no less than three months. Understand the culture of the region in which you will be living.

Chances are you will not need a bank loan for your venture, but that does not mean you should not go through the exercise of ensuring you have crossed all of the t's and dotted the i's.

Your bar or cafe is a simple business idea to provide you with both an income and a fun way to become part of the local community.

Your Retire Next Year Due Diligence Checklist

These points are a summary of the secrets from Section 3…

I have “kept it simple.” I have not gotten carried away with the notion of serving gourmet food in a fancy location. My business plan is for a simple bar/cafe. Period.

The location is right. This is somewhere I can see myself living and tourists frequent the area. I also know when the slow season will be.

I have made it a point to educate myself by reading some business books and talking with other business owners.

Once I am set up, I will focus on merchandising and marketing the bar.

I will keep staff to a minimum until I have a good handle on how things are working and see how the money flows-both in and out.

I have studied the numbers and have prepared a detailed budget plan with all projected expenses identified.

I will not buy the property immediately, but rather will take a lease with an option to buy. This will give me time to make sure the business is working the way I envisioned, before owning property.

Some More Research

Once you have a location in mind, there is still more work to be done:

Check out the development plans in the area you are considering. But don't just take the agent's or developer's opinion-go to the town or city officials and find out for sure what changes are on the horizon.

Talk and listen to the locals and other expats.

Study when the tourists visit-and when they don't.

Research the suppliers you will need for beer, alcohol, equipment, food… Ensure that you can get what you need locally, at a reasonable cost.

Step back and look at the infrastructure. How reliable is the Internet service and electricity? What happens to the roads during the rainy season?

Find out what other small businesses are really paying for:

Electricity Water Property maintenance Garbage removal Television, telephone and Internet Gasoline Food and liquor supplies Property taxes Costs of permits and licenses

Financial Plan

Mark has covered the financial information in detail. But do your own analysis based on your actual costs. Knowing what your break even number is will help you identify quickly when you need to make a change. You don't want to look back and say “we did not realize it but we were bleeding money for months.”

Buying Property

A great property deal may be tempting but always practice due diligence. Choose a reputable real estate agent who:

Can provide the names of at least three previous customers as references. Is willing to show you any property you're interested in, provided he/she actually represents the seller. Doesn't object when you mention hiring an attorney.

Never hand over money without first retaining a reputable real estate agent and/or lawyer to review the contract.

Don't buy into grandiose schemes for future development.

Retire Next Year #9: Health and Medical Care in Retirement

In today's essay, we want to discuss the level of medical care you should aim for wherever you choose to live in India or abroad. It's something that should be a great concern for anyone upwards of 45 nowadays. As any setback in your health can put you back by a couple of lac rupees in today's times.

Myths about Health Care in India

Many people believe that India has substandard medical care as compared to the rest of the world. Many tourists are afraid to travel because they fear getting injured or sick here. People who have gotten sick or injured, rush home so they can get, what they believe, is better treatment.

But Indians living in Singapore and Dubai, when they need medical treatment, fly back to India where they can get it done cheaper, faster, and - according to them - better.

There are certain medical problems that Indian hospitals are especially good at treating. In fact, India is increasingly becoming known for its health tourism. And it is almost always significantly cheaper. For instance, a private nurse in Singapore can easily cost 100 Singapore dollars per day but in India an equally qualified nurse might cost just between Rs. 800-1200 for a 12-hour shift, depending on the needs of the patient.

Here are a few examples of what we're talking about…

While visiting Chennai, Rakesh Mehra, a retired IT professional based in San Jose, saw an eye doctor. He liked the doctor and the modern facility so much he decided to have laser surgery there. He estimates he saved up to 50% by having it done in Chennai, instead of back in the States.

A visit to a dentist for an annual check-up is never a pleasant experience. But in India, it is. The staff is friendly, professional, and genuinely happy to see you. Trained with degrees from across the world, dentists today have state-of-the-art clinics with reclining seats, flat-screen TVs and X-ray machines that can get you a diagnosis instantly.

A dental check-up in India can cost between Rs. 1000-1500. If you include a cleaning, it is an additional Rs. 1500. In the U.S. or any other country, you would be paying two-four times more at the minimum.

“Since my husband needed cornea transplants, our first priority in Mumbai was to find a cornea specialist,” says Uma Raheja, a retiree who moved to India recently. “A visit to the specialist costed us Rs. 2,000. Compare that to our visits with an eye doctor in Houston: $200-450. And the appointment takes much longer in Houston.” Uma feels her surgeon in India is equal in skill to the U.S. doctor.

Health care costs are undoubtedly lower in any part of India than in other countries. Despite all the medical scams, India still delivers considerably well on several grounds, like affordable medication and technical know-how.

And the care in private hospitals particularly is considered top-notch. It is more personal than in other countries and doctors also make house calls.

Prevention is Better Than Cure

But what are all the must-haves to ensure you get the right services at the right time… and that you don't lose all your money in your golden years to hospitals?

Here is a quick check-list of what to keep in mind:

Find an insurance plan that works for you

India has many good health insurance policies. And the sooner you get hold of one, the better. If you have started using health insurance prior to the age of 61 years, the hassles of acquiring it are fewer. Several insurance companies organise annual health check-ups, have an auto-renewal facility and sometimes like in the case of Religare Health Insurance also pay for a day-long treatment in a hospital, in addition to their other benefits. But do go through the plans closely with your insurance agent and understand exactly which costs are taken care of and which are not. But do compare plans before you settle for one.

Build a rapport with a local doctor

Earlier, people had family doctors and many still do. But what works well is to find a general practitioner in your neighbourhood who can help you with small issues that don't need a specialist. This way you won't get worried about every cold and fever. GPs are generally cheaper in their fee structure and are very useful in emergencies too. You can also consult them for good surgeons and specialists when needed.

Get regular check-ups

It's a good habit to regularly go for check-ups and recommended blood tests or any other tests that you need if you suffer from any ailments. If smaller issues are taken care of in time, it will prevent any further escalation of the health issue. Many private clinics also conduct free health camps that you can avail of.

Lead a healthy lifestyle

And of course, exercise regularly, go for walks, do light weights in the gym to build your bone density, eat a balanced diet, in moderation and at regular intervals. Get enough hours of sleep, keep your mind alert and remain social to avoid spells of loneliness.

Quality of the Care in India

In the bigger cities in India, you'll find hospitals with state-of-the-art equipment. You'll also find specialists in all fields and physicians with private clinics. Many trained abroad. Generic medicines are widely available and much cheaper than anywhere in the world. So are brand-name medicines.

Hospitals are top quality, and health care providers trained well. Doctors make house calls in some towns and cities, and most speak English.

You'll have no trouble finding a chemist in big cities. The chemists are usually knowledgeable and helpful. You can also get medicines available in the U.S. and Europe often without a prescription.

Outside of the major metropolitan areas, clinics offer basic services. When you need more care, you will need to travel to larger facilities in nearby cities. One disadvantage is the lengthy waiting periods for appointments in most clinics and hospitals. And sometimes the lack of rooms and vacant beds.

Something that we don't discuss conventionally is the use of homeopathic care. India has a booming natural remedy industry. You may dispute the healing powers of homeopathic remedies, but there is no denying that natural herbs, cheap massages, and tons of fresh fruit and vegetables are good for your mind and body.

Chemists in India are plentiful. You'll find pharmacies associated with private clinics, located in or near hospitals, and inside supermarkets.

Brokers (agents) normally sell private health insurance in India-and reasonably priced. These brokers act as middlemen between the customer and the insurer. They are not usually loyal to just one insurance company, so they can quote you a variety of options and rates.

A large percent of international tourists come specifically to take advantage of the country's private medical services, mostly eye surgery and dental care. The reason, of course, is cost.

Private health care costs are about a third of what you'd pay anywhere else in the world. Medicines are also much less expensive. And prescriptions are often unnecessary. Dental work, too, is at a much lower cost than elsewhere.

There are plenty of public hospitals and free clinics in India, and they provide adequate care. But there are some problems. Waiting rooms are crowded. Not all of them accept credit cards. Not all of them will accept your insurance. Not all of them can handle your particular medical needs.

Don't Let Health Care Prevent Your Retirement

Health care is an important part of retirement but one you needn't worry about if you take necessary steps. No matter where you live in India or in the world, ticking off certain checklists always helps in keeping you in good health, both physically and financially.

Health care in India is cheaper and better than most places. It is also more personal, and there are a ton of options. Of course they can confuse you and there are many drawbacks, but start researching on the subject now, so that you can adequately equip yourself for your golden years.

Retire Next Year #10: How to Keep Your Enthusiasm Alive in Retirement

Last week I saw the movies The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I saw the sequel first since it was playing in the cinemas, and I loved it so much that I rushed to get the first part and saw that too.

What really thrilled me about both the movies was the spirit of the people in retirement. They didn't let age, place, health or circumstance stop them from going out and starting a whole new life in a totally different place.

For those of you who haven't seen it, do watch both parts as soon as you can. In the meanwhile, here's a brief synopsis of the movies:

A bunch of British retirees decide to spend their retirement in Jaipur, India, in a hotel that has been launched by a young entrepreneur. The hotelier's dream is to recreate his father's property into a beautiful home for the elderly. A ramshackle property with few amenities, the British occupants are first aghast but then slowly adjust to India and its ways. They decide not just to survive here, but to thrive. Each one of the occupants of the hotel, finds a new purpose or a new love here, which goes into giving their life new meaning and contentment. And while doing this they piece together many of life's truths too.

The movie made retirement look good. And even at my age, I was tempted to check into that hotel. It made me feel hopeful, it made me feel alive, and it reinforced the belief that I could dream at any age and make a go of those dreams too.

And while the movie may be just that, a story well told, it did leave behind a lot of learnings that I felt I should share with you all at the Wealth Builders Club. We've been doing the retirement series for a while now and Mark's been giving great retirement advice and many ideas on earning and living, which are not only doable but can also be quite lucrative and satisfying. Some of those ideas are reflected in the movie too, making you visualize a path to their fulfillment much more clearly.

But more than the ideas, it's the spirit and enthusiasm of the characters that came out very strongly in both the movies. And these positive attitudes are what I'd like to talk about in this essay.

You're never too old to move

You've probably lived in your city enough and taken care of kids and grandkids for as long as you can remember. But if you feel it's now time to explore a new way of living in a completely new city or country, don't hesitate to do so. In fact, several retirement homes and resorts in India are now offering a Marigold Hotel equivalent with all the amenities, health care and retirement learning opportunities at affordable pricing.

What's helping the growth of this trend, is that it is no longer children who are checking their elderly parents into these homes, but retirees who are choosing this option for themselves. They have realised that this opportunity will actually create a healthy distance from their old lives, and give them more avenues to explore a peaceful life with like-minded people. Some of the common names in India are LIC Care Homes, Serene Senior Living, Dignity Lifestyle, Aamkosh Eighty-One, Age Ventures India, Gold Age, and Clover Renaissance Pune.

Most of these are started by builders who are already familiar with the needs of senior citizens. They are present across smaller towns like Coimbatore, Kasauli, Bhubaneshwar, Jaipur, Raigad and also on the outskirts of metro cities. An article on Harmony India talks about how these properties go beyond the basics like laundry, house-keeping, security and doctors to provide various recreation activities as well. It reports that, “Classic Kudumbum in Chennai has an Ayurvedic centre, Ashiana Utsav near Gurgaon has a golf course for seniors, Athashri in Pune has a special pool for hydrotherapy.”

You can sell your skills at any age

One of the best aspects of the movie was how some of the characters financed their own lives by taking up jobs using skills they already had or doing things they enjoyed doing. For example, the actor Judi Dench, the main protagonist in the first film, teaches conversational skills at a call centre. She's British, knows her language well and wants to help others with her experience. Similarly, another character Douglas, becomes a city tour guide, often taking help from a local boy who helps him remember the script. He enjoys knowing more about the city and this gives him one more opportunity to do so.

There will always be something you know at your age that others don't and can benefit from. Many employers are considering the wisdom of age very seriously and once again employing senior citizens in part-time or consultant positions. A recent article in The Economic Times reflects this sentiment where new-age companies like PepsiCo India, state that, “a mix of age groups is important because the company wants to strike a balance between “experienced veterans and fresh blood”.”

Besides that there may be other talents you have that you're waiting to explore. Take for instance, an ex-arts and crafts teacher, Nischinta Gokhale who always had a passion for flowers. She decided to dry up the flowers in her garden and use them to make wall hangings and greeting cards. She has even given her art form a name, Parna Chitra. Her great attention to detail and neatness are reflected in her exhibitions in Mumbai and other parts, where sales have been quite upbeat.

You can learn a new language

Contrary to popular belief, the functional aspects of language can be learned at any age. So if you think you want to move to another city but are afraid because of the language barrier, don't be. You can in fact pick it up easily with a little assistance, and you will actually be less inhibited to speak at your age. Just being among the locals will give you enough exposure to the language. Additionally, you can take some time each day to learn it from a tutor or through online classes.

The benefits of learning the local language are many. One, of course, like you'll see in the movie, you can bargain with local vendors. The others being, an easier assimilation into the culture of the place, being able to make friends faster and getting your work done more efficiently. But the most important reason to learning a new language in your later years is that it keeps the brain more alive and alert. According to an article on Sixty&Me.com, research shows that, ”…learning a second language rewires your brain and may increase the efficiency with which information is transferred from one area to the next.”

While learning the language, a point to keep in mind though is to not sweat the grammar. The idea is to get the message across. So don't worry about the semantics. Instead learn phrases for everyday usage like local greetings, ordering from a menu card, buying veggies at the market or giving your driver directions. A functional knowledge of the language is all you will need to get by.

You can help bridge cultures

You are truly an emissary of the city or country you belong to. And at the age you are at, you have enough knowledge and wisdom to share wherever you go. So, if you're from UK and the ritual of having tea at the right temperature is of utmost importance to you, as it was for Mrs Donnelly in Marigold Hotel,then that's the information you can share.

If you are rich with information on the art and culture or even industry of your city and country, you could probably conduct small workshops in the place you inhabit. Initially you may just have a handful of students, but once word of mouth goes around you'll be the go-to person for all information on the place and its heritage.

You can also involve yourself in NGOs that are eagerly looking for people of all ages to impart their knowledge and skills to the beneficiaries. They especially want volunteers and teachers to give them exposure to different places in the world that the students may never have an opportunity to go to themselves and visit. Your role here will become very important as you will provide new insights and open up a whole new window to the world for those lesser privileged.

You will find the support you seek

A big fear for anyone at any age is to be alone, either in your own city or elsewhere. But like the popular axiom goes: man is a social animal by nature. Everyone is looking for someone to share their lives and stories with. Many in their golden years are actively looking for companionship and even love. And why not, there is no reason why you should be alone when you don't need to.

The movie Marigold Hotel brings this out as one of its central messages. Many silvers at that age are afraid to commit for fear of starting all over again in relationships. They also carry the heavy weight of the memories of their spouses, if they are no more. But this approach is soon changing and many wish to spend the last few years of their lives with someone rather than being alone. They are willing to give love and companionship one more chance. Niche dating websites for seniors like eHarmony and the popular Shaadi.com are also reflecting this trend.

But if romance is not for you, simply become a part of other groups in your city that share your interests. If you're into sports or cigars or books, you'll easily find a group that has similar interests. You can be an active part of this group and get together with them to enjoy some fun times.

Thus there's no reason why retirement should be all dull and dreary, waiting for the god of death Yamraj to come and do the needful. Instead, check into the hotel of your dreams, make new friends, learn new skills, pick up new languages and live a life of good health and cheer.

Retire Next Year #11a: How to Plan for Your Retirement Early

Builders Club India In the last essay, we mentioned you need to plan in advance for your retirement, to

Fight the inflation bug Cover your daily living expenses Cover your medical expenses Deal with uncertainties and emergencies Explore places and take up hobbies during retirement

Despite the aforesaid veracities, through experience we can say that we often hear excuses of putting off retirement planning for another day.

“I have enough time to go before I retire, so why rush?” that's what many say.

This essay makes you recognise how procrastination can be a prime enemy in your quest to pursue a comfortable retired life.

It is vital to recognise that if you plan while you are young, you benefit from something that is not available to all - 'TIME'.

As it is said, “the early bird gets a bigger pie”. Starting late is disadvantageous since it gives you lesser time to grow your retirement kitty. Also, as you grow older, your risk-taking capability decreases and there is even a possibility that you may fall well short of your target.

So here we highlight some advantages of planning your retirement early…

It offers you greater flexibility

Having adequate time grants a degree of flexibility to your retirement plans. It gives you the opportunity to explore various investment options and avenues.

For example, over longer time frames, equities are known to outperform other asset classes like gold, property and bonds. The key here is “longer time frames”. However, over shorter time periods equities can be the most volatile asset class.

Hence if you wish to gainfully utilise the power of equities to build your retirement corpus, making an early start is imperative.

Power of compounding - 'the eighth wonder' - will play its role

The single biggest advantage which can be derived from making an early start is the opportunity to benefit from the power of compounding. To simply put, this is the ability of an asset to generate returns, which are reinvested for generating higher returns. Longer time horizons enhance the compounding benefits.

Let's understand this better with an illustration…

An early bird gets a bigger pie! Ajay Sanjay Amount invested (Rs per month) 10,000 20,000 Tenure of investment (years) 30 20 Returns (% per annum) 8 8 Maturity amount (Rs) 1.50 Crore 1.19 Crore (The above table is for illustration purpose only. The characters in the illustration are fictitious)

Ajay and Sanjay (both 30 years of age), wish to make investments to build a corpus for their retirement. Ajay starts immediately with monthly investment of Rs 10,000 earning a return of 8% p.a, while Sanjay postpones and starts investing after 10 years. But to make up for the lost time, he invests twice the amount i.e. Rs 20,000 each month at 8% p.a. Both of them would like to retire at the age of 60 years, whereby Ajay gets an investment horizon of 30 years, while Sanjay has 20 years until retirement.

At 60 years of age, Ajay will have a retirement corpus of Rs 1.50 crore as compared to Rs 1.19 crore accumulated by Sanjay.

Despite doubling the investment amount, Sanjay fails to match the sum earned by Ajay. This proves that the earlier you start; the longer is the investment tenure you get (30 years vis-a-vis 20 years), which makes all the difference.

The message is clear - by giving your investments sufficient time to grow, you can gain from the power of compounding.

Yet, why do many of us fail to plan for retirement early?

Many of us are unable to set aside the requisite amount of money needed for retirement. We can contribute only a part of it, not all. As a result, we end up postponing our plans.

Another reason for failing to start is that a significant amount of money is often spent on providing for our present lifestyle i.e. shopping and entertainment binges, leaving very little for retirement. While the importance of satisfying present needs cannot be denied, it does make sense to take care of our future as well. We should strive to strike a balance between the two.

Finally, perhaps, making a retirement plan and putting money aside for the same acts as a reminder of the eventuality - retirement. Maybe the thought of growing old and leading a rather sedentary lifestyle brings with it a certain degree of discomfort and discourages some of us from working towards our retirement plan. However such mind-sets need to change. Looking the other way will only worsen the situation. The solution lies in accepting retirement as an eventuality and being adequately prepared for it.

The right course of action is to start off with what you have and make up for the deficit at a later stage. On the other hand, if you decide to simply wait for an 'opportune' time, it might be too late by the time you start. Making an early start is your best bet at being prepared!

Planning for your golden years

Now here is a case study of one of our clients who had recently come to us for planning his finances. He was clear that he didn't want to be dependent on anyone after his retirement. We strongly acknowledged his premise, and thus want you to learn by his example. Let's take his case and see how you can also start planning for your golden years.

Personal Details Name Mr. Abhay (name changed) Age 35 years Retirement Age 55 years Dependents Only Spouse Life Expectancy 85 years Income Rs 1,05,000 per month Expenses Rs 75,000 per month

Abhay a 35-year-old married individual wanted to retire at the age of 55 years. His spouse was the only member of his family dependent on him. He and his spouse were expected to live till 85 years as per their family history. He was earning Rs 1,05,000 per month, while his expenses were Rs 75,000 per month, thus he was left with a monthly surplus of Rs 30,000.

Assets Sr. No. Type of Assets Amount (Rs) 1 Equity Mutual Funds 1,000,000 2 PPF 600,000 3 EPF 500,000 4 Bank FD 1,000,000 5 Gold Mutual Funds 300,000 6 Residential Flat (Self-Occupied) 10,000,000 7 Cash in Bank 600,000 Total 14,000,000 Liabilities Sr. No. Type of Liability Amount (Rs) 1 Home Loan 4,000,000

Abhay's biggest investment was his residential house of Rs 1 crore for which he had an outstanding home loan of Rs 40 lac The Equated Monthly Installment (EMI) of Rs 35,000 per month, is already included in his monthly expenses mentioned above. A small proportion of his total assets was invested in equity via equity Mutual Funds. Some of his investments were in debt via Public Provident Fund (PPF), Employee Provident Fund (EPF) and Bank Fixed Deposit. He and his employer together contributed Rs 4,000 per month in his EPF account. He was also maintaining around 8 months of expenses as contingency reserve in cash in bank.

And what was Abhay's Financial Objective!

He wanted a peaceful retirement without any worry of managing his regular expenses after retirement. And thus, he approached PersonalFN for guidance for building a retirement corpus and the asset allocation he should maintain to achieve the same.

Retirement corpus required by Abhay…

As seen earlier, Abhay's monthly expenses were at Rs 75,000/- (including his EMI of Rs 35,000 per month for home loan). But since his home loan was going to be paid off by his retirement age, his EMI amount (of Rs 35,000) was not required to be taken while planning his retirement. Thus instead of Rs 75,000 as expenses, his expenses in current terms to maintain the same lifestyle post retirement were taken as Rs 40,000 for planning purpose.

He also wanted to make a provision of Rs 1 lac per annum for travel and heath care expenses which was over and above his regular monthly expenses. Assuming inflation of 7% and post retirement return of 8% he required a retirement corpus of Rs 5.84 crores at retirement.

PersonalFN recommended him the following:

Change his Asset Allocation

Since Abhay was just 35 years old and wanted to retire at 55 years, he had a sufficient long time horizon of 20 years. Thus we advised him to invest a dominant portion of his portfolio in equity, which until now was skewed towards debt instruments. This is because, equity as an asset class has the ability to beat inflation over the long-term. On the basis of the above and high monthly surplus, we had recommended him to allocate 70% of his investments in Equity, 20% in Debt and 10% in Gold.

Redeem existing Sector Funds

In his mutual fund portfolio Abhay had some sector funds which were not suitable for his risk appetite. So, we recommended him to sell those and reinvest the redemption proceeds in diversified equity mutual funds. Assuming a return of 15% on equity, his existing investments in equity mutual funds can be expected to give him Rs 1.64 crore at retirement.

Start Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) in diversified equity mutual funds

We recommended Abhay to start a SIP of Rs 21,000 per month in diversified equity mutual funds for 20 years. Assuming a 15% return on equity, his fresh investments in equity mutual funds can be expected to give him Rs 3.18 crore at retirement.

Keep his PPF and EPF account active until retirement

The Public Provident Fund (PPF) account which he opened 5 years ago, still had 10 years to maturity. We advised Abhay to extend this for another 2 block of 5 years i.e. total of 10 years, after original maturity. Abhay was also advised to invest Rs 6,000 per month before 5th day of every month till retirement. His regular investment in PPF account will give him around Rs 63.55 lac at retirement, assuming 8% return on PPF.

Moreover his Employees Provident Fund (EPF) account is expected to give him around Rs 48.35 lac at retirement.

Allocate a portion of his investment portfolio in Gold Mutual Funds

Gold mutual funds are a good way of investing in gold. So we advised Abhay to hold it and invest further Rs 3,000 per month for 20 years. Assuming a return of 7% on Gold, his investments in Gold mutual funds can be expected to give him around Rs 27.83 lac at retirement.

Thus on the basis of the above advice, Abhay is expected to raise a total of around Rs 6.21 crore at retirement as against required retirement corpus of Rs 5.84 crores which would help live a blissful retired life. He is able to achieve his retirement goal comfortably mainly because of proper asset allocation (which he needs to follow) and of course the advantage of starting early. If he would have delayed it by another few years and continued to invest mainly into debt, then it would have been difficult for him to achieve his goal.

We recognise that personal finances may vary from person to person. But we are of the view that it is vital to make a prudent start to your retirement planning, and preferably at the early stages of your economic life cycle, so as to help you lead a comfortable retirement.

After all, you want to live comfortably after having shouldered your responsibilities and enjoy the fruits of your life-long efforts in the second innings of your life.

This article has been authored in partnership with PersonalFN, a Mumbai-based Financial Planning and Mutual Fund research firm known for offering unbiased and honest opinions on investing.

Retire Next Year #11: 5 Top Reasons You Need to Plan for Your Retirement Early

Editor's Note: Living in the now has some disadvantages… we forget to plan for the distant future. We believe retirement is not for us… we have time, energy and a lucrative business or job… and you think, shouldn't that do? Take care of today and tomorrow will take care of itself…

But that philosophy only goes so far. If you begin to put a retirement plan into action right now, you can save yourself distress and anxiety in your golden years. In fact, you may just have enough to pursue everything you dreamed of doing in retirement.

To give you your dream retirement, Wealth Builders Club India has partnered with PersonalFN to tailor-make content for our club members. This content will guide you through the whats, whys and how-tos of investing in retirement. And these will be corroborated with extensive research and case studies that are cornerstones of PersonalFN and WBC's content.

This is the first of a two-part essay. We look forward to hearing your feedback on this new initiative. Do write into wbc@commonsenliving.co.in or feel free to discuss it with other members on our forum, Conversations. “Life is full of uncertainties. Future investment earnings and interest and inflation rates are not known to anybody. However, I can guarantee you one thing… those who put an investment program in place will have a lot more money when they come to retire than those who never get around to it.” - Noel Whittaker

Noel Whittaker is an eminent financial wizard, who is also a bestselling author. What he brings forth is an interesting point that many of us forget to pay attention to while we're busy attending to our daily responsibilities. Sometimes a lot of our lives are spent just thinking about getting through each day. Long-term planning often takes a hit.

We spend most of our youth and middle age pursuing life goals and dreams but seldom worry about retirement years when we may not have enough strength, wealth or health to pursue them with the same fervour. We envision a peaceful and systematic course of life, but sometimes all doesn't go as planned. Economies change, earning capacities take a beating and age too only permits a certain amount of working hours.

Your current goals and dreams like buying your dream home to your dream car, giving your child the best education or dream wedding are all important. But what about your one, unavoidable, key life goal, i.e. your own retirement?

Have you taken a break from the pace of everyday life to spare a thought for your looming tomorrow? Because, whatever kind of retirement you envision for yourself, whether you are ensconced at your comfortable dream home with loved ones or out travelling to exotic and faraway destinations - having adventures that were always on your bucket list - retirement planning is absolutely and completely crucial to shape the retired life that you want.

And planning early can only give you an edge in this area. Because if you plan and save in the years that you're healthy and active, then sitting back and putting up your feet in retirement may actually be a possibility.

To help you start planning for your retirement as early as you can, we will first help you put in perspective why exactly you need to plan well in advance.

So here are 5 reasons why you need to plan for your retirement much earlier than you thought.

To fight the inflation bug

Inflation is the much-dreaded word… at any age. And rightfully so… the inflation bug can eat into your savings and reduce the purchasing power of your hard-earned money… You need to earn more to combat it but eventually, you enjoy much less from the same amount.

Basic expenses only keep increasing - from veggies and clothes to appliances and bigger buys, you may already be feeling the pinch of doling out a higher amount for your necessities. The prices of goods and services have been steadily rising in the last few decades, and will continue to rise until you reach the retirement age.

This means that you will be paying more for everything in the future. From grocery to travel to accommodation, everything will cost more in the next 10-15 years. But if you begin foreseeing the distant future and planning for the long-term, the future may not seem so bleak and expensive.

In fact, a good retirement plan will only help you build a retirement corpus keeping in mind inflation, life expectancy and rate of return. This will ensure you live a comfortable life in retirement.

To cover your daily living expenses

Not many people get pensions or gratuities post retirement. The days of government jobs with fixed amounts coming in during retirement is no longer a reality for many. Even for those who do receive them, the amount is generally not big enough to cover all of their expenses. They often have to find alternate income opportunities or stay in the work force as consultants on a part-time basis.

But life doesn't end at retirement and the daily grind continues. Rent and bills have to be paid, domestic help need salaries and daily expenses need be taken care of like entertainment, transportation and other social activities. You may even want to do some charity in your retirement.

Thus, the absence of a regular monthly income during your retirement years could become a nightmare… but one you can definitely avoid with a little foresight and strategy. Retirement planning will make sure the golden years of your life are just that… golden.

To cover your medical expenses

The umpteen number of tests and doctors' visits can set anyone back at any age. To add to it, the intensity of diseases and their onset at much younger ages, is affecting people's health and wealth in a much bigger way.

As age progresses, the number of health issues and emergencies could increase. And medical expenses bear the potential to create a huge hole in your pocket. Not to mention the medical costs you might have to bear for your spouse or children.

These days, even minor dental treatments can cost you a small fortune. Mediclaim or health insurance policies do not always cover all your medical expenses. In such a scenario, you would be forced to pay for these medical bills from your own pocket. And retirement planning will make sure you are prepared.

To deal with uncertainties and emergencies

If you look at the way the recent earthquake in Nepal destroyed the homes of hundreds in just a few seconds, you know how natural disasters wait for no one. They come when they have to and take what they have to. Life is like that… uncertain and unpredictable, often leaving us unprepared.

Natural disasters, loss of loved ones, financial difficulties can throw us for a financial and emotional toss. For such times, one needs to build a contingency fund to cover you. In times of turbulence and turmoil, it helps to have some funds kept aside to start-over and make sure these situations don't throw you too far off course. These contingency funds will at least ensure you can cope.

In order to deal with life's adverse situations and unexpected circumstances, it thus becomes imperative to do some financial planning early.

To explore places and take up hobbies during your retirement

Now, retirement can be a really fun time. You have all the time to do exactly what you wished you do in those years when you were strapped to your office desk. You can explore hobbies, join an NGO, start a new business may be, or simply travel and explore new places.

But for you to be able to relax in your golden years and do everything you wished to, with a free and easy mind, you need financial resources to be allocated wisely much before retirement.

Therefore to live a blissful retired life from the very beginning, you need to start doing some planning from today. Building a retirement corpus that keeps in mind inflation, life expectancy, rate of return and so on, needs some time and strategy.

In this essay, we've just stated the reasons for planning your retirement well in advance. In the next essay, we will give you tips on how to go about doing this… you will see how exactly early retirement planning can make a quantum difference to the quality of living in your golden years! Stay tuned in…

This article has been authored in partnership with PersonalFN, a Mumbai-based Financial Planning and Mutual Fund research firm known for offering unbiased and honest opinions on investing.

Retire Next Year #12 What To Look Out For In A Health Insurance Policy?

Builders Club India Editor's Note: When we sent you the Retire Next Year essay on Health and Medical Care in Retirement, WBC member VG wrote to say, 'the article on healthcare is a bit disappointing in my personal view as all it states is general stuff which is printed and discussed in general media on a daily basis. One would expect that the members get some specific information like… some specific pointers as to what to look out for in a health insurance policy while considering one at that age.'

So we promised him we would bring him what he wanted, an article on what to look out for in a health insurance policy while considering one… And here it is…

* By PersonalFN and Wealth Builders Club India

Many of us work hard - at least 8 to 10 hours - in office, seated on a chair without much physical activity. And by the time we reach home, we are too exhausted to hit the health club or indulge in any other sport involving physical activity.

That's how life has been; especially in the metros….and has become a routine for many. Commuting long distances to work has become a herculean task, particularly as the infrastructure seems to be coming apart at the seams. You can't even walk down the street without the worry of tripping over uneven footpaths or falling into open manhole covers. But that's how life is - a rat race!

We are all busy in economic activities to make a living and to provide the best lifestyle for our family, so much so that it is sometimes damaging our physical existence. Eating out at restaurants on weekends or sometimes munching on street food during office breaks has become quite common. But in the bargain you may be ignoring your health.

While earning money has become a necessity, living a healthy and peaceful life should not be ignored. To live a healthy life, it is vital that you lead a good life too. Take proper nutrition, eat on time and don't forget to hit the gym or engage in a sport you like to keep yourself moving. Sometimes even taking a break from the hustle-bustle of the city to breathe in some fresh air is essential.

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” - Mahatma Gandhi

As we all know about the popular saying that Health is Wealth. It's very simple, this message. If wealth is lost, something is lost; but when health is lost, everything is lost. Good health is the real wealth - it can keep us happy in body and mind, and away from multiple diseases and health disorders.

But even if we do live healthily, life can be very uncertain. In her early fifties, Divya's mother had never complained of any serious illness beyond the occasional bout of weakness. No one had any reason to suspect that she would wake up one day with a failing heart, but that's what happened. You could be perfectly fine one minute, and very hurt or sick the next.

So, we should take our health seriously and take necessary steps to reduce the impact of any emergency situations.

No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most people need medical care at some point of time. Diabetes, blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, cancer - the list of such lifestyle diseases just seem to get longer and more common these days. It may take just one visit to a hospital to make you realize how helpless you could be if you are diagnosed with an illness and end up hospitalised.

While medical science has advanced, quality hospitals and specialist doctors do come at a high cost, which in many cases may not be affordable even to the rich, forget about average middle class individuals. A simple surgery or a few days of hospitalisation can easily hand you a bill running into lacs of rupees adding more woes to your worries.

Medical expenses related to you or your family members can burn a huge hole in your pockets and have an adverse impact on your personal finances.

As you never know when you or any of your family members may need medical care, having a good health insurance policy is a prudent, affordable way to get medical care when you need it.

However, selecting the right health insurance plan which best fits your requirements is an important decision, not just for you, but also for your family.

While selecting a health insurance plan, keep in mind that health insurance is not a one-size-fits-all product. If your friend or colleague has selected a particular health insurance plan, it may not necessarily be the right one for you as well. The need of a 25-year old healthy individual may vastly differ from the need of a 35-year old individual looking to cover himself and his family. Your health insurance plan must address the needs specific to you and your family.

So here are 8 features you must compare while buying a Health Insurance Plan

Selecting an ideal health insurance plan for your family from the array of plans available today does not have to be very complicated. While some health insurance plans offer really unique features, here are the 8 important aspects you must look into and compare while buying a health insurance plan…

Is there a sub-limit on room rent?

Room rent is one of the major expenses you have to bear if you or a member of your family gets hospitalized. Some insurance companies may cap the maximum amount that they will pay under their health insurance plan. Generally such limit is to the extent of 1% of sum assured and in case of ICU (Intensive Care Unit) the maximum limit is 2% of the sum assured.

But there are many insurance companies which do not have any maximum limit on room rent; hence you should look for such health insurance plans.

Will your pre-existing diseases be covered?

Pre-existing diseases are those which you may already be suffering from before opting to buy a health insurance plan. Insurance companies do not cover these from the first day of your policy. Depending on the seriousness of the disease, your insurance company might impose a waiting period ranging between 2 to 4 years in which they will not be liable for any claim arising on account of your pre-existing disease.

Therefore you should look for health insurance plans which will cover your existing disease(s) and have the least number of years of waiting period.

Is there a co-payment clause?

Co-payment is a clause mentioned in health insurance plans which may ask you as a policyholder to share the hospitalisation cost. Cost sharing is the specified percentage of the admissible claim amount.

Suppose you have a health insurance plan which has a 20% co-payment clause. Now, in case you are hospitalized and your claim amount is Rs 1 lac, then you as an insured would be liable to bear Rs 20,000 (20% of Rs 100,000), while the rest i.e. Rs 80,000 will be settled by the insurance company.

Hence, you should look for health insurance plans which do not have any co-payment clause at any stage of your life, or the smallest co-payment. The co-payment clause is usually witnessed in cases where the age of insured is above 60 years.

Their list of network hospitals

Network hospitals are those which have a direct tie-up with your health insurance company. In case of a claim you can use ‘cashless facility' at these hospitals. Cashless facility means that when you get treatment you don't have to settle the bill amount with the hospital at all, as the insurance company directly settles your bill on your behalf. Hence in such a case, you do not have to file for reimbursement of the claim since the insurance company has already settled the claim.

You should ideally look for health insurance plans which have the maximum number of network hospitals, and more importantly, a maximum number of good network hospitals in your city.

Limit on pre & post hospitalization expenses

Pre-hospitalization expenses are those expenses which are incurred before you are hospitalized while post-hospitalization expenses are those which are incurred after you are hospitalized. Pre-hospitalization expenses are generally covered for a minimum of 30 days while post-hospitalization expenses are generally covered for up to 60 days. But there are some insurance companies which cover pre and post hospitalization expenses for more number of days as well.

You should look out for health insurance plans which cover you for maximum number of days of pre and post hospitalization period.

How much will be the no-claim bonus?

Health insurance claims should only erupt in the year of hospitalization. In the years where you've been in good health, and you don't make any claims, the insurance companies reward you by providing you with a no-claim bonus. This has an effect of either increasing your sum assured in next renewal of the policy, or decreasing your premium. Such a bonus can range anywhere between 10-50% for a claim-free year.

Hence you should look for a policy which provides you highest no claim bonus.

List of exclusions

Once you buy a health insurance plan, you might rest easy thinking that you have covered yourself and your family against any possibility of hospitalization in future. But if you forget to go through the exclusion section of your policy document, you may be in for unpleasant surprises at the time of claim, because everything might not be covered by them.

Hence, before finalizing on any health insurance plan go through the list of its exclusions and select the one which has least number of exclusions and are clearly defined.

How much will be the Premium?

To avail of the insurance cover, you as a policy holder need to pay a premium. The premium amount will depend on factors like your age and health. Among other factors, the premium amount rises in accordance with your age. The premium you need to pay is a vital aspect you should consider while buying a health insurance plan. But mind you, it shouldn't be paramount in your selection process.

Buying a health insurance plan with a very low premium without taking into consideration the aforesaid aspects of the policy may back fire during an emergency. It should not happen that at the time of claim you learn that the insurance company is not liable to reimburse you for the illness for which you were hospitalized since it is not covered under the policy.

You should be well aware of all the features of your policy, or else you may find yourself in a soup with a huge hospital bill to be paid. If you consider and compare the above features while selecting a health insurance plan, you can rest assured that you have made a good choice for your future.

Here is a final check list of points to be considered while buying health insurance:

Check for the ailments/diseases that are excluded

Check the ailments that will not be covered in the initial years of the policy or have waiting period

Check whether expenses arising for treatment due to war, riots or a terrorist attack are covered

Check if cashless hospitalisation is included and also the number of network hospitals where this facility can be availed

Check for the pre & post hospitalisation period

Check sub-limits on room rent and co-payment clause

Enquire about the compensation provided in case of partial or total disability

In case the medical insurance policy is for dependants like parents or a new born baby, check the maximum as well as minimum entry age

Ensure a complete understanding of the benefits accrued, in the event of no claims being raised.

This article has been authored by PersonalFN, a Mumbai based Financial Planning and Mutual Fund research firm known for offering unbiased and honest opinion on investing.

Best Retirement Cities in India: Spotlight on Coimbatore Fabulous Weather, Sweet Water and Gentle People

Editor's Note: A reader wrote to us recently telling us he would love to see a list of the top places to retire to in India. We thought that was a very good idea, so as an extension of our Retire Next Year series we are creating a sub-series, Best Retirement Cities in India.

In each installment of this series we will focus on a city we have identified as one of the best places to retire in India based on several parameters, which include weather, affordability, availability of healthcare, possibility of extra income opportunities, and quality of life, among others.

If you have ever considered moving to a city with sweeter waters, calmer airs and lighter on the wallet, this series will help you envision that perfect retirement.

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You look out of your beautiful two bedroom villa at your lovingly-tended vegetable patch in the backyard. Beyond your garden, green hills roll away as far as your eye can see…

You never thought that, after living crammed in a matchbox in Mumbai, this is where life would bring you… retired, relaxed, surrounded by nature…

You shake yourself out of your reverie as smells of a simple south Indian meal fill your senses… it's time to go meet your friends for dinner… as you do every day.

Ever since we started writing about retirement, we have been spending a lot of time talking to people about their retirement plans, and their retirement realities.

One city that came sharply into focus in our research was Coimbatore, the city we describe in our scenario above. As you read on you will see many undeniable reasons why Coimbatore is one of our favourite contenders for the ‘top retirement city in India' title.

The second largest city in Tamil Nadu, located at the base of the Nilgiris, Coimbatore is known for its pleasant climate and relaxed atmosphere. It is also known as the Manchester of South India due to its growing textile and engineering industry.

It is a popular retirement destination because of its scenic location as well as slower pace of life compared to the metropolitan city - Chennai. The air quality is better, the population smaller, and weather better. Temperatures ranging between 32 °C and 18 °C during the winter months to 36 °C and 23 °C in the summer months, make it pleasant year-round except for the hottest days of summer.

The rolling hills of Coimbatore The rolling hills of Coimbatore Source: Prince Roy / CreativeCommons

Another major draw for the city is its affordability. Renting a property, depending on how fancy, and the neighbourhood, is anywhere from Rs 7,000 for a one BHK to Rs 25,000 for a four BHK. Buying a property could be anywhere between Rs 30-40 lacs for a two BHK to Rs 80-90 lacs for a three BHK.

Coimbatore has become a hotbed for medical facilities. In addition to a reputed government hospital which offers free healthcare, it has several private institutions, and has become known for its medical tourism. So much so, that they have attracted people looking for healthcare from neighbouring districts and states, including Kerala.

The city is well connected by rail, air and road. There is a proposal for a monorail within the city, the airport has flights to every big city in the country as well as some international flights to Singapore and Sharjah, and it is connected by rail to all major Indian cities.The nearest metropolitan cities are Bangalore and Chennai.

There are drawbacks to living here however, a depleting water source and lack of underground waste and sewage infrastructure, for example, but hopefully the entrepreneurial energy of the city will soon bring solutions to these issues as well.

The great weather, relaxed environment, affordability and availability of very good healthcare have all contributed to Coimbatore's popularity with retirement communities and assisted living options.

To get the full story, we caught up with Mr. and Mrs. Subramanian (72 and 62 years old respectively), a wonderful couple who made the plunge a few years ago and after forty years of living in Mumbai, moved to a whole new life in Coimbatore. Read on for our chat with the Subramanians…

Why did you pick Coimbatore as a city to retire to?

She: I was born in Coimbatore and had spent my first 10 years there. I knew the city well and also had enormous fondness for this wonderful city with its fabulous weather, sweet water and gentle people. It has all the facilities of a big city and yet retains its small town charm and innocence.

He: In addition, Coimbatore is just an hour's drive from Kerala which makes it perfect for us as I'm from Kerala and we have plenty of family there, apart from the temples, which we visit every few months.

Why did you decide to move?

He: We were tiring of Mumbai, its foul weather, traffic and expenses too. I would always feel fresher and healthier in Coimbatore or Kerala. We were in Bombay only because all our 3 children were there. Once they left the city to chase their careers, we really saw no reason to continue in Mumbai. We had planned for this shift to Coimbatore and had already purchased a villa in Nana Nani homes retirement community and so the move was pretty easy.

What are the challenges you faced moving here?

She: The only real challenge is to keep myself busy. As you would have guessed, everyone here is old or very old and are not as active as I would have liked. While it's wonderful being in a community with like-minded people or people from the same background as you, I would have preferred a more active lifestyle, while I still have the will and the energy.

I still try and keep myself busy, I translate TV soaps/ programmes from Hindi and English to Tamil. I can still do that thanks to the internet. But, I miss looking after my grandkids. They really kept me on my toes.

He: I couldn't wait to move here. No challenges except convincing her to move, and convincing her that the kids have grown up and can manage by themselves.

How has the experience been so far?

He: I'm loving it. I get to go to a proper south Indian temple every morning, play cards with my mates for 2 hours every day, cycle to the local market not scared some stupid bus driver will knock me down. I enjoy the fact that it costs me less than half of what this cost me in Bombay.

If you have kids, where are they and do you manage to see them often?

Our kids are in Bangalore, Chennai and Dubai. We see them every few months and during vacations, the grandkids come and stay with us for a few weeks at a stretch

Are the climate and location agreeable?

The climate is fabulous except for 2 months of summer when it gets very hot and the electricity is irregular. We have back-up power, but still it's very expensive to run air conditioner on diesel.

Also, the community is 18-20 kilometers away from Coimbatore city and costs Rs 350 for a one-way cab ride, which is very expensive. But then again, housing would not have been so cheap if it were closer to the city. My children keep telling me that the cab ride is not expensive for the distance, I just can't bring myself to spend that nearly 1000 rupees just to go to the city. She doesn't allow me to take the bus.

But other facilities like doctors and hospitals are close by and one doesn't have to go off to the city each time, unless one wants to see a specialist.

Have you found it convenient to be here?

Yes. Increasingly, the facilities around our community are improving. We have better retail stores coming up just outside our community. Earlier we had just one courier company servicing us, but now even that had improved. Ola cabs have started coming here too. So yes, it's a lot more convenient than what it was even 3 years ago.

What is the primary language/s spoken there and have you had trouble adjusting?

Tamil. We are comfortable with the language. Hindi and English are also spoken in the city.

How are the medical facilities in Coimbatore?

Coimbatore is well known for its educational and healthcare facilities, which are first rate. Now, we also have basic primary healthcare facilities near our community and don't have to visit the city unless we have to see specialists. We have a GP within our complex and also a couple of physiotherapists visiting us each day. There are also people who will come to our homes to collect blood samples etc.

Is it an affordable city?

It's a very affordable city. Though, real estate prices, especially of retirement homes, is increasing rapidly.

How did you choose this retirement community?

We have had relatives living in several retirement communities in Coimbatore. We were therefore fortunate that we could visit several before we made up our minds. We bought this one, as soon as it was launched and took 18/24 months for them to complete the project. We had seen their work earlier and felt confident booking in this one. It was a great price, prices are now double of when we had bought 5 years ago.

Do you see opportunities to work/ make extra income since moving here?

That is not easy unless you can do something remotely on the internet. The only kind of work that one can do here is to teach kids at the local municipal school and balwadi, which is what some of us here do.

What is the biggest factor in why you decided to move to Coimbatore?

The big reasons: weather, familiarity with the place, several friends and relatives were already here, convenience and how inexpensive everything is.

Do you find yourself happier now that you left big city life behind?

He: Very much.

She: I wish I could spend some more time with my grandkids in Mumbai. For that, I prefer Mumbai to this, maybe.

Would you recommend this city to others who are looking to retire?

He: Absolutely. It's a great concept. One doesn't have to worry about cooking - there is a central kitchen which serves amazing food and every meal is an opportunity to catch up with friends. One doesn't have to worry about maids and cleaning and maintenance. This is a completely managed facility and these things are taken care of. We only pay Rs 3000 per month per person for food and about 3000 per month for house cleaning and maintenance.

The weather is wonderful. Basic, healthcare facilities are next door. There is a club house where we watch movies and play cards. We have a sweet small villa with a green patch where we grow vegetables, which would have been unthinkable in Mumbai. And all of this at a price that is cheaper than just the rent one would pay in a big city like Mumbai or Delhi.

What is your favourite thing about being retired?

I have time for my temples, for my books, meet friends, watch TV and best of all no commute and work stress.

Note: Well, you heard the Subramanians, they've settled into a wonderful new life in a warm new city. What do you think about Coimbatore as a city to live your retired life in? Where would you like to retire and why? Give us your ideas for our list of best Indian cities for retirement by posting your ideas here.

Retire Next Year #9: Health and Medical Care in Retirement

In today's essay, we want to discuss the level of medical care you should aim for wherever you choose to live in India or abroad. It's something that should be a great concern for anyone upwards of 45 nowadays. As any setback in your health can put you back by a couple of lac rupees in today's times.

Myths about Health Care in India

Many people believe that India has substandard medical care as compared to the rest of the world. Many tourists are afraid to travel because they fear getting injured or sick here. People who have gotten sick or injured, rush home so they can get, what they believe, is better treatment.

But Indians living in Singapore and Dubai, when they need medical treatment, fly back to India where they can get it done cheaper, faster, and - according to them - better.

There are certain medical problems that Indian hospitals are especially good at treating. In fact, India is increasingly becoming known for its health tourism. And it is almost always significantly cheaper. For instance, a private nurse in Singapore can easily cost 100 Singapore dollars per day but in India an equally qualified nurse might cost just between Rs. 800-1200 for a 12-hour shift, depending on the needs of the patient.

Here are a few examples of what we're talking about…

While visiting Chennai, Rakesh Mehra, a retired IT professional based in San Jose, saw an eye doctor. He liked the doctor and the modern facility so much he decided to have laser surgery there. He estimates he saved up to 50% by having it done in Chennai, instead of back in the States.

A visit to a dentist for an annual check-up is never a pleasant experience. But in India, it is. The staff is friendly, professional, and genuinely happy to see you. Trained with degrees from across the world, dentists today have state-of-the-art clinics with reclining seats, flat-screen TVs and X-ray machines that can get you a diagnosis instantly.

A dental check-up in India can cost between Rs. 1000-1500. If you include a cleaning, it is an additional Rs. 1500. In the U.S. or any other country, you would be paying two-four times more at the minimum.

“Since my husband needed cornea transplants, our first priority in Mumbai was to find a cornea specialist,” says Uma Raheja, a retiree who moved to India recently. “A visit to the specialist costed us Rs. 2,000. Compare that to our visits with an eye doctor in Houston: $200-450. And the appointment takes much longer in Houston.” Uma feels her surgeon in India is equal in skill to the U.S. doctor.

Health care costs are undoubtedly lower in any part of India than in other countries. Despite all the medical scams, India still delivers considerably well on several grounds, like affordable medication and technical know-how.

And the care in private hospitals particularly is considered top-notch. It is more personal than in other countries and doctors also make house calls.

Prevention is Better Than Cure

But what are all the must-haves to ensure you get the right services at the right time… and that you don't lose all your money in your golden years to hospitals?

Here is a quick check-list of what to keep in mind:

Find an insurance plan that works for you

India has many good health insurance policies. And the sooner you get hold of one, the better. If you have started using health insurance prior to the age of 61 years, the hassles of acquiring it are fewer. Several insurance companies organise annual health check-ups, have an auto-renewal facility and sometimes like in the case of Religare Health Insurance also pay for a day-long treatment in a hospital, in addition to their other benefits. But do go through the plans closely with your insurance agent and understand exactly which costs are taken care of and which are not. But do compare plans before you settle for one.

Build a rapport with a local doctor

Earlier, people had family doctors and many still do. But what works well is to find a general practitioner in your neighbourhood who can help you with small issues that don't need a specialist. This way you won't get worried about every cold and fever. GPs are generally cheaper in their fee structure and are very useful in emergencies too. You can also consult them for good surgeons and specialists when needed.

Get regular check-ups

It's a good habit to regularly go for check-ups and recommended blood tests or any other tests that you need if you suffer from any ailments. If smaller issues are taken care of in time, it will prevent any further escalation of the health issue. Many private clinics also conduct free health camps that you can avail of.

Lead a healthy lifestyle

And of course, exercise regularly, go for walks, do light weights in the gym to build your bone density, eat a balanced diet, in moderation and at regular intervals. Get enough hours of sleep, keep your mind alert and remain social to avoid spells of loneliness.

Quality of the Care in India

In the bigger cities in India, you'll find hospitals with state-of-the-art equipment. You'll also find specialists in all fields and physicians with private clinics. Many trained abroad. Generic medicines are widely available and much cheaper than anywhere in the world. So are brand-name medicines.

Hospitals are top quality, and health care providers trained well. Doctors make house calls in some towns and cities, and most speak English.

You'll have no trouble finding a chemist in big cities. The chemists are usually knowledgeable and helpful. You can also get medicines available in the U.S. and Europe often without a prescription.

Outside of the major metropolitan areas, clinics offer basic services. When you need more care, you will need to travel to larger facilities in nearby cities. One disadvantage is the lengthy waiting periods for appointments in most clinics and hospitals. And sometimes the lack of rooms and vacant beds.

Something that we don't discuss conventionally is the use of homeopathic care. India has a booming natural remedy industry. You may dispute the healing powers of homeopathic remedies, but there is no denying that natural herbs, cheap massages, and tons of fresh fruit and vegetables are good for your mind and body.

Chemists in India are plentiful. You'll find pharmacies associated with private clinics, located in or near hospitals, and inside supermarkets.

Brokers (agents) normally sell private health insurance in India-and reasonably priced. These brokers act as middlemen between the customer and the insurer. They are not usually loyal to just one insurance company, so they can quote you a variety of options and rates.

A large percent of international tourists come specifically to take advantage of the country's private medical services, mostly eye surgery and dental care. The reason, of course, is cost.

Private health care costs are about a third of what you'd pay anywhere else in the world. Medicines are also much less expensive. And prescriptions are often unnecessary. Dental work, too, is at a much lower cost than elsewhere.

There are plenty of public hospitals and free clinics in India, and they provide adequate care. But there are some problems. Waiting rooms are crowded. Not all of them accept credit cards. Not all of them will accept your insurance. Not all of them can handle your particular medical needs.

Don't Let Health Care Prevent Your Retirement

Health care is an important part of retirement but one you needn't worry about if you take necessary steps. No matter where you live in India or in the world, ticking off certain checklists always helps in keeping you in good health, both physically and financially.

Health care in India is cheaper and better than most places. It is also more personal, and there are a ton of options. Of course they can confuse you and there are many drawbacks, but start researching on the subject now, so that you can adequately equip yourself for your golden years.

Best Retirement Cities in India: Dehradun - Not just The Doon

It's a place that is home to the famous Doon School. But we think the place has a lot more to offer to everyone, not just the Doscos (students of the Doon school).

When we asked the Wealth Builders Club members what their dream retirement destination was, Jai said, “My dream destination for retirement would be in a serene locale, full of greenery and no pollution whatsoever somewhere in Tamil Nadu, Kerala or Uttarakhand.”

The capital of the state of Uttarakhand, Dehradun is just such a place. A much sought-after destination for tourists and retirees alike, Dehradun is a place that goes beyond its association with the legendary school; it could very well pass off as a retiree's haven.

This quaint place nicknamed the Doon Valley, is endowed with scenic natural beauty, great weather - most of the time - and a host of industries that retirees could contribute to in their spare time.

This is why Dehradun is number two on our list of retirement destinations.

Dehradun could be ‘the' place for retired intelligent people. Its landscape is dotted by a host of famous educational institutes, publishing services and has recently also attracted many from the Information Technology sector.

Prayers, holidays and other forces of nature

Located on the banks of the Ganga, it is well-connected and in proximity to several destinations such as Rishikesh and Haridwar. For non-religious travel, Mussoorie and Nainital are popular travel destinations close by.

Dehradun has also been home to several defence institutions, thus seeing a large community of retirees from the forces also retiring here. Needless to say, where defence personnel live, you can expect great security and a clean environment… making it even more alluring for senior citizens.

Power, water supply and more

The city is home to the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Indian Industry of Petroleum and several other educational institutions, such as the Doon School, University of Petroleum and Energy and Law College, Dehradun.

For those who like to be close to the youth, learn and give more through education or consulting, this could be an ideal place to do that.

Dehradun is not only home to these power companies but also has unlimited water supply on a regular basis. Infrastructure can play an important role in your years of retirement - in your second phase of life, meant for relaxing and taking time off, the last thing you want to worry about are power cuts and rationing water.

New-age retirement communities

Additionally, the city is making a conscious effort to build the retirement community and make them feel more welcome and secure. A new luxury community called Antara is under construction which promises everything you can imagine you would ever need in that phase of your life - from pursuing your hobbies to joint activities with other retirees.

If you're not interested in a retirement home, housing options range anywhere from Rs. 8,000 - Rs. 30,000 to rent. If you choose to buy a property, apartments and houses go for around Rs. 20 lacs to 1 crore depending on the size and area. To find more retirement home options, check out India Property.

Seasons, rainfall and connectivity

Weather is pleasant most of the year round, besides the winter months, when it's biting cold but still manageable. Being a city that gets plenty of rainfall, one may also witness some dull days of staying indoors.

The risk of landslides is also prevalent, but being close to nature you're bound to feel some of its fury.

The city is well-connected, with daily flights from Delhi to Dehradun and some flights to and from Lucknow. The airport named Jolly Grant airport is located 25 km from the city.

By rail, it is connected to all the major cities in India.

As “small town” as it may seem, Dehradun has several modern features like cinemas and one of India's first indoor ice skating rinks.

But modernisation has not taken away its old-school charm… people are still very much among nature and lead peaceful, quiet lives.

We spoke to Ambika Bandhari who grew up in Dehradun and whose parents now lead a quiet peaceful retirement there. Ambika manages to meet her parents at least once every month.

She believes Dehradun is the place she will retire to when the time is right. Ambika is comfortable seeing her parents grow old in Dehradun and is fairly confident of its amenities. And this first-hand account from her will help you get greater insight on the place.

Here's what she had to say…

Growing up without malls

I was born and brought up in Dehradun. The city has its own charm. It's a well-educated city whose denizens believe in the philosophy of ‘simple living, high thinking'.

My childhood there was amazing and I feel privileged compared to my metropolitan counterparts because even though we didn't have malls and McDonalds, this small town gave us so much more!

Living with nature

We cycled to school, walked to the market, climbed trees in our own orchards, plucked litchis, mangoes and plums from the trees. We saw vegetables grow from tiny seed into big plants, we smelled the fragrance of different types of flowers in different seasons and heard the chirping of birds and squirrels.

Dehradun is a place where you can observe nature very closely and create unforgettable memories.

Retiring in Dehradun

Dehradun is a peaceful town with small-town charm and scenic beauty. There is greenery all around. The small town is also easy to navigate.

Doon Valley, as it's called, is 'heaven on earth'… it's a great place for people to retire. Once you are in the city, you will find yourself in the lap of nature.

Finding facilities easily

Dehradun has big-city amenities like an airport, malls and hospitals. Jolly Grant Hospital, Indresh Hospital and AIIMS in Rishikesh, an hour's distance from Dehradun, are some of the good ones.

In the recent past, medical facilities have improved with the addition of Max Hospital in Rajpur near DIT and Fortis Escort Hospital in Curzon Road.

Coexisting in peace

The gentry here are peaceful and will always lend a helping hand. The retirees largely consist of retired army officers, IAS officers and bankers.

People have houses with small lawns and kitchen gardens. Gardening is one passion of the people of this place.

I would simply describe Dehradun in one word - beautiful - and my parents love it.

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen! Retirement at its finest. We hope this article helped you make a decision. If not, stay tuned, we have more destinations coming soon!

If you want to tell us about your dream destination in India, please join the conversation here.

Best Retirement Cities in India: Nashik - Kumbh Mela, Wine Parks and Booming Real Estate

A place that can successfully accommodate lacs of devotees every 12 years for the mega Hindu festival Kumbh Mela can definitely take care of not only its residents, but also retirees.

What's more, Nashik has an abundance of activities that can keep people of all ages occupied. It's famous for its abundant wineries, vast farms, ancient shrines, upcoming malls and a booming real estate business that is attracting several urban dwellers.

Villas, climate and agriculture

A common factor for retirees when moving, is to ensure that they live close to their children. Its close proximity to Pune and Mumbai makes Nashik an emerging choice for senior citizens from these two cities. Additionally, it has magnificent and affordable villas that make it alluring for those previously living in cramped apartments.

Blogger and photographer, Tarun Chandel, in a blog on Nashik, says:

Beautiful old villas can be seen at regular intervals. The human being in me tells me that I should live a life in such a place. The business analyst in me is telling me that the realty market is going to hot up in this place… Nashik sure has some really beautiful villas with big and spacious living space and even bigger gardens around the place. If you want to live a lavish life at such a villa and have beautiful surroundings you should be in Nashik. You can get a villa for less than what you will pay for an apartment in Mumbai.

Situated in northern Maharashtra, Nashik is known for its pleasant and cool climate and the much-revered Godavari River. The area is covered in black soil – ideal for a thriving agricultural industry.

Backwaters and fields in Nashik Backwaters and fields in Nashik Source: By Virajnene95 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Temperatures range between 35-27o Celsius in summer and 35-14o Celsius in winter. Cool breeze, green fields, and its spiritual, historical and social significance see several tourists flock to Nashik from Mumbai for short getaways.

Legends, temples and visionaries

Nashik abounds in legends. In the Ramayana, Nashik is the place where Lord Rama and Lakshman were exiled for 14 years. It is also the place Lakshman allegedly killed Surpanakha (Ravana's sister) by cutting of her nose. Legend has it that Nashik got its name from the very incident - as “nasika” means nose in Sanskrit.

There is another reason for its popularity - The Godavari river originates from Trimbakeshwar, 28 km away Nashik where one of the 12 jyotirlingas of Shiva is located. Several devout Hindus believe that one will gain instant nirvana after visiting this shrine.

Nashik was also home to many illustrious personalities like Veer Sawarkar, Anant Kanhere, Rev. Tilak, Dadasaheb Potnis, Babubhai Rathi, V.V. Shirwadkar and Vasant Kanetkar to name a few.

Wine, festivals and malls

In recent times, Nashik has also become famous for its vineyards. Popular wine brands like Sula, Grover and Chateau D'Ori are based here and churn out some of India's best wines. They also offer wine tours and have tasting rooms that are frequented by wine connoisseurs from across India.

The Kumbh Mela - considered one of the largest religious gatherings on Earth - takes place every 12 years in Nashik. It is a historic time for the city, as it gets ready to accommodate and assist devotees in the sacred ritual of dipping in the holy waters of the River Godavari.

Nashik is also seeing an influx of property investors, who are moving here to take advantage of the real estate boom. Several developers have plans of starting malls and cineplexes, while the regular investor is seeing it as an opportunity to acquire property both as a second home for investment and for retirement.

Communities, property and housing

As the retired population evolves one sees a growing need for them to live away from home and away from children so as to age in peace and without being a “burden” to their offspring. This has given rise to a whole new breed of retirement communities that bring together senior citizens and provide adequate housing and amenities for their retirement. Several builders in Nashik too, are putting a focus on similar constructions.

Newer and newer developments are emerging on the property market in Nashik. Projects such as Suyojit Covai Senior Living, Aaryavarta and an upcoming project by Vedaanta Senior Living cater particularly to retirees.

However, if you do not wish to invest in a retirement community, there is always the option of buying or renting property at a reasonable rate - rent will cost you around Rs 15,000 to Rs 35,000 depending on the size, and buying a place will set you back by around Rs 13 to 60 lac depending on the size and amenities of the development.

Language, food and cleanliness

The language is predominantly Hindi, Marathi and English. It is fairly easy to communicate with locals and navigate your way around the city. The nearest metropolitan city is Mumbai, which is easily accessible by train or bus.

The city's recent constructions include a mandatory rainwater harvesting system. It is also famous for being a ‘garbage dump free' city where garbage is collected in vehicles known as “ghantagadis” (literal translation - car with a bell). The garbage is then transported to a plant to get processed and turned into compost.

Nashik is also known for its lush green farms, fresh air and food. Being an agricultural place due to the richness of the soil, one will find plenty of fresh grapes, onions, tomatoes, wheat, paddy and sugar.

Additionally, medical facilities include hospitals like Wockhardt, Apollo, Six Sigma Medicare and a government run civil hospital. So if you have any concerns about healthcare, the city has all the provisions for them.

With all this abundance – good climate, lush greenery, blending of the past with the present, spacious living options combined with medical facilities – Nashik then is a wonderful option for those wanting to retire to a peaceful home away from home.

We spoke to two couples who had moved from Gujarat and Mumbai to experience the peace and calm of Nashik in their retirement. Here's what they feel about the place:

Shahs from Mumbai: “It's scenic, peaceful and it offers a good quality of life. We wanted to move away from all the hustling and bustling and retire at a peaceful place. Nashik is well-planned and developed…We converse mostly in Marathi and have had no trouble adjusting as people here are warm and friendly…Nashik is tranquil.”

Patels from Gujarat: “Nashik is pleasant, has a cool climate and picturesque surroundings. It's very green compare to where I was living…I've invested in property because it's growing and also live in the same… I currently live on pension but will soon find an extra income source.

I came here to lead a peaceful life and grow spiritually. We are adjusting to the new relaxed lifestyle post-retirement… It's been good so far - people are friendly. Medical facilities are a call away and transportation is good. I am very happy and at peace with myself. I usually spend time practising yoga, reading spiritual and religious books, watching movies, having a stroll at the nearby park, spending time with young and old groups of friends.”

This was the update from aamchi Nashik, close to home, still far away from all the hustle and bustle of city life. If you want to be ensconced in a quiet place that brings both fresh air and modern amenities, you know exactly where to go.

Watch out for the next place on our retirement list…

Best Retirement Cities in India: Chandigarh - The 'City Beautiful'

All of you living in cities must be visiting a Joggers' Park, a Nana-Nani park or its equivalent near your homes. And you must be often wondering when you will leave this busy urban city life for a quieter and greener place.

For those of you who love your morning walks, laughter club sessions or daily pranayama, Chandigarh is the place for you. It has a multitude of beautiful parks, viz. Leisure Valley, Rajendra Park, Bougainvillea Park, Zakir Rose Garden, Shanti Kunj, Hibiscus Garden, Garden of Fragrance, Botanical Garden, Smriti Upavan, Topiary Garden, Terraced Garden and Rock Garden.

It is also a haven for architectural delights. Designed by Swiss architect Le Corbusier, Chandigarh is the first planned city in India post-independence in 1947. Le Corbusier envisioned it a city that is people-oriented city with wide roads, lakes, gardens and grand buildings. In fact, the central plaza in Sector 17 till today is a “Pedestrian's Paradise” with no vehicular traffic permitted there.

Chandigarh has a distinct charm, beautifully blending modern architecture with the natural environs. Known as The City Beautiful, it is officially a Union Territory and the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana.

le Corbusier le Corbusier Source: By Rhythm kataria (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It is known world-over for its great quality of life and clean and pollution-free air. In fact, Wikipedia says Chandigarh has the third highest forest cover in India and it's the first smoke-free city in the country. The Sukhna Lake adds to its tranquillity, blocking away all noise from the city.

Located in the foothills of the Sivalik range of the Himalayas, the city has an average elevation of around 321 metres. The weather is pleasant most of the year except during the winter when temperatures can go down as low as -1C. degree.

Being the first planned city in India, it has created much intrigue and has a flourishing tourism industry.

But what really sets Chandigarh apart are its citizens who have actively taken it upon themselves to keep Le Corbusier's edict alive - to preserve the citizen-friendly fabric of the city and ensure it's for the well-being of all.

Some citizens have even voiced their sentiments in an article, Why I Love Chandigarh:

I have grown with the city since 1961 and do not feel the need to go anywhere else. I will live here and die here. As I have been among those who are part of the building process of the city, my feelings run very deep. The city is cosmopolitan in nature, it has people from all over country.

- Venod Sharma, former Union Minister

I just cannot stay anywhere else. The environment and the social life are incomparable here. I am a self-confessed Chandigarh lover.

- Manmohan Lal (Mac) Sarin, civil lawyer

Given a chance, I would want to be reborn in Chandigarh. It is the best place in the country… There is unparalleled investment opportunity in Chandigarh for outsiders… The spirit of the city, in terms of its inherent character, is alive. This makes me love it more.

- Manmohan Kohli, owner of Aroma Hotel

Jeena Yahan Marna Yahaan, the famous song of a Raj Kapoor movie, are the lines that best describe my love for Chandigarh. I am obsessed with the city as it has all the advantages of a modern city yet is not ultra-modern like Mumbai…

- Mangla Dogra, gynaecologist

The common thread from all these voices is that Chandigarh is a place loved and cared for by many. The citizens love living there and you may too. Particularly in retirement. When you need peace, space and a spirit of belonging…Chandigarh will give you all of these and more. Here's what you need to know before you decide to relocate…

Rent or buying of property: According to Housing.com, rent is reasonable at around Rs. 20,000 a month for a two bedroom and goes up to about Rs. 1.5 lac a month depending on how fancy a place you want or which area you buy in. Buying a house/apartment in Chandigarh could set you back by about a crore rupees for a 3-4 bedroom apartment. Also, prices depend on the area and square feet. But again, according to Housing.com, the average price of an apartment is anywhere between Rs. 90 lac - 1.5 crore.

Language: You can get by with speaking in Punjabi, Hindi or English. Locals are familiar with all three languages. It's a cosmopolitan city, growing commercially with a rising per capita income and its citizens are only getting smarter and more cosmopolitan.

Ease of transport: It is well-connected internally and to the capital New Delhi. Chandigarh is starting its first metro by 2018. The roads are well-designed and well-maintained. Its rail and bus services are connect to all the major cities and some of the smaller ones as well.

Medical Facilities: Chandigarh has good health care infrastructure with a wide range of government and private hospitals catering to every budget. Major facilities include PGI Chandigarh, Fortis Mohali and IVY hospital.

Local Industries: Being the centre for Panchkula, Mohali and Chandigarh, the city is an active administrative hub. Therefore, the government contributes to a large percentage of the employment in the city. It is also home to several IT companies.

Recreation: Chandigarh was the hometown for several sportspersons and continues to have a strong bent toward games and athletics. Its golf club is also known to have produced some of India's finest golfers.

This was a roundup of Chandigarh – a city where architecture, modernity and tranquillity all come together.

Retire Next Year #13: 5 Reasons to Plan for Retirement and 2 Reasons to START NOW

“Life is full of uncertainties. Future investment earnings and interest and inflation rates are not known to anybody. However, I can guarantee you one thing… Those who put an investment program in place will have a lot more money when they come to retire than those who never get around to it.” -Noel Whittaker

Fight Inflation

The prices of goods and services have been on constant a rise for the last few decades, and they will continue to rise until your retirement. This means you will have to pay more for everything in the future. From groceries to travel to accommodation, it is all going to cost more during your retirement. A comfortable retired life will be impossible without a sound retirement plan that accounts for inflation.

Cover Daily Expenses

We all have daily living expenses. Without a monthly income, meeting these daily expenses during retirement could be a nightmare. Retirement planning aims to prevent nightmare scenarios in your golden years. Even for the lucky few who receive pensions or gratuities post retirement, the amount is generally not enough to cover all expenses.

Cover Medical Expenses

Health problems and emergencies increase as we age. Unexpected medical expenses can be devastating. Even dental treatment can cost a small fortune. Mediclaim and health insurance policies may not cover all your medical expenses, meaning you'll have to pay huge medical bills out of pocket. A sound retirement plan will account not only for your potential medical expenses but also for that of your spouse and children.

Uncertainties and Emergencies

The only certainty in life is uncertainty. Natural disasters, the unexpected loss of a loved one, economic collapse - circumstances can change suddenly.

A sufficient corpus can come to the rescue during times of adversity. It is always prudent to build a contingency fund.

Travel and Hobbies

During retirement, you may want to travel and explore new places or take up hobbies. But enjoying your golden years will require financial resources. You must plan and save for all your retirement travels and hobbies during your working life.

Despite all the reasons, people give all sorts of excuses to put off retirement planning for another day. But by far the most common we hear is…

'I have plenty of time before I retire. What's the rush?'

Youth affords us the most valuable resource of time. Unfortunately, it often takes the wisdom of age to understand this. At PersonalFN, we want everyone to recognise that procrastination is prime enemy of a comfortable retired life. Starting your retirement planning late is disadvantageous because it provides less time to grow your retirement kitty. And as you grow older, you can afford less risk. This means you might not be able to take on the necessary risk to achieve your retirement goals.

Here are two benefits of early retirement planning:

Greater Flexibility

More time means more flexibility. And more flexibility gives you the opportunity to explore various investment options and avenues.

For example, over longer time frames, equities are known to outperform other asset classes such as gold, property, and bonds. The key here is 'longer time frames'. However, over shorter time periods equities can be the most volatile asset class.

If you want to tap into the power of equities to build your retirement corpus, an early start is imperative.

The Power of Compounding

The best reason to start your retirement planning early is to benefit from the power of compounding. This is the ability of an asset to generate returns which are then reinvested to generate even higher returns. Longer time horizons enhance the compounding benefits.

Let's understand this better with an illustration…

Ajay Sanjay Amount invested (Rs per month) 10,000 20,000 Tenure of investment (years) 30 20 Returns (% per annum) 8 8 Maturity amount (Rs) 1.50 Crore 1.19 Crore

Ajay and Sanjay, both 30, want to invest for retirement. Ajay begins immediately with an Rs 10,000 investment earning a return of 8% per annum. Sanjay procrastinates his start for 10 years, but to make up for the lost time, he invests Rs 20,000, also earning 8% per annum.

Now, Ajay and Sanjay both want to retire at age 60. This gives Ajay an investment horizon of 30 years and Sanjay 20.

When they reach retirment, Ajay will have a retirement corpus of Rs 1.50 crore. Compare that to the Rs 1.19 crore in Sanjay's account.

Despite doubling his investment, Sanjay failed to match Ajay's returns. The earlier you start, the more your investments benefit from the power of compounding, which makes all the difference.

A case study

Mr Abhay came to PersonalFN for retirement planning guidance. He told us he does not want to depend on anyone during retirement and just wants a peaceful retirement without worrying about managing his regular expenses.

Mr Abhay is 35 years-old, married, and wants to retire at the age of 55. His only dependent is his spouse. He and his spouse have a life expectancy of 85 as per their family history. He earns Rs 105,000 per month, and his expenses are Rs 75,000 per month, leaving a monthly surplus of Rs 30,000.

Personal Details Name Mr Abhay (name changed) Age 35 years Retirement Age 55 years Dependents Only Spouse Life Expectancy 85 years Income Rs 1,05,000 per month Expenses Rs 75,000 per month

Abhay's biggest investment is his residential house of Rs 1 crore for which he has an outstanding home loan of Rs 40 lac. The equated monthly installment (EMI) of Rs 35,000 per month is included in his monthly expenses. A small portion of his total assets is invested in mutual funds. Some of his investments are in debt via a public provident fund (PPF), employee provident fund (EPF), and bank fixed deposit. He and his employer together contribute Rs 4,000 per month to his EPF account. He maintains around eight months' worth of expenses as contingency reserve in cash in bank.

Assets & Liabilities Assets Sr. No. Type of Assets Amount (Rs) 1 Equity Mutual Funds 1,000,000 2 PPF 600,000 3 EPF 500,000 4 Bank FD 1,000,000 5 Gold Mutual Funds 300,000 6 Residential Flat (Self-Occupied) 10,000,000 7 Cash in Bank 600,000 Total 14,000,000 Liabilities Sr. No. Type of Liability Amount (Rs) 1 Home Loan 4,000,000

Because he will pay off his home loan by his retirement age, instead of the current Rs 75,000, Mr Abhay will need just Rs 40,000 per month to maintain the same lifestyle during retirement. Furthermore, Mr Abhay wants to make a provision of Rs 1 lakh per annum for travel and health care expenses.

Assuming inflation of 7% and post retirement return of 8%, Mr Abhay requires a retirement corpus of Rs 5.84 crores.

PersonalFN recommended him the following:

Change His Asset Allocation

Since Abhay was just 35 and wanted to retire at 55 years, he had a long time horizon of 20 years. Thus, we advised him to invest a dominant portion of his portfolio in equity, which until then, was previously skewed towards debt instruments. As an asset class, equity has the ability to beat inflation over the long term. Considering his circumstances and high monthly surplus, we recommended Mr Abhay allocate 70% of his investments in equity, 20% in debt and 10% in gold.

Redeem Existing Sector Funds

In his mutual fund portfolio, Abhay had some sector funds that were not suitable for his risk appetite. So we recommended he sell them and invest the proceeds in diversified equity mutual funds. Assuming a return of 15% on equity, his existing investments in equity mutual funds can be expected to give him Rs 1.64 crore at retirement.

Start a Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) in Diversified Equity Mutual Funds

We recommended Abhay to start a SIP of Rs 21,000 per month in diversified equity mutual funds for 20 years. Assuming a 15% return on equity, his fresh investments in equity mutual funds can be expected to give him Rs 3.18 crore at retirement.

Keep the PPF and EPF Accounts Active until Retirement

The public provident fund (PPF) account Mr Abhay opened five years 'prior' had 10 years to maturity. We advised him to extend this for two more blocks of five years after original maturity. We further advised him to invest Rs 6,000 per month before the fifth day of every month until retirement. His regular investment in the PPF account will give him around Rs 63.55 lakh at retirement, assuming 8% return on PPF. And his employee provident fund (EPF) account is expected to give him around Rs 48.35 lakh at retirement.

Allocate a Portion of His Portfolio to Gold Mutual Funds:

Gold mutual funds are a good way to invest in gold. We advised Abhay to add Rs 3,000 per month to his current gold mutual fund holding for the next 20 years. Assuming a return of 7% on gold, his investments in gold mutual funds can be expected to give him around Rs 27.83 lakh at retirement.

Based on this advice, Mr Abhay can expect to raise a total Rs 6.21 crore for his retirement (as against the required corpus of Rs 5.84 crore). He will be able to achieve his retirement goals with ease by following a proper asset allocation early. If he had delayed just few a more years and continued to invest mainly into debt, it would have been difficult for him to achieve his goals.

We recognise that personal finances vary greatly from person to person. But we are of the view that it is vital to make a prudent and early start to your retirement planning. You will enjoy the fruits of your efforts in the second innings of your life.

This article has been authored by PersonalFN, a Mumbai-based financial planning and mutual fund research firm known for offering unbiased and honest opinions on investing.

Retire Next Year #14: What It Takes to Retire Comfortably

At the beginning of your career, you had high hopes. A big, beautiful house - bought and paid for. A cottage on the beach.

A vintage car collection. A country club membership.

But things didn't turn out that way. No cottage. No car collection. Only Rs 10 lac in savings, and no equity in your house.

What happened?

For a while, it seemed like everything was moving along nicely. And then… pop! The market bust in the 90's. And then, pop! Pop! Pop! A slew of other unanticipated disasters…

So, here you are. And it sucks.

It may not be your fault. After all, you worked and saved for many years. However, it is your responsibility. If you want a better life, you're going to have to do something about it.

The good news is you can change your financial fate… starting today. And it doesn't matter how little you have or how old you are right now.

You can start enjoying a secure, comfortable life in a matter of weeks… and then experience a steady improvement in everything as time goes on.

The goal is for you to have a debt-free home, cash in the bank, and assets hidden away for safety… plus monthly income to cover your retirement expenses for the rest of your life.

The requirements:

A can-do attitude The ability to devote five to 15 hours per week to creating change.

As I said, things will begin to improve in just a few weeks. And they'll get better as each month passes. A year from now, you'll be in a much better financial situation. Three years from now, you'll be comfortable.

Before the end of the seventh year, you'll have a seven-figure net worth.

This strategy has three parts. I designed it specifically for people who are in financial trouble. That means anyone with less than Rs 25 lac in liquid assets (cash, bonds, and stocks), little or no equity in their homes, and only a government pension to count on after they stop working.

Three things you should do now

Here's what you must commit to doing… starting now.

Rectify your debt. Debt is dangerous for everyone, but it's lethal for the not yet wealthy. We'll talk about this in more detail later. Change the way you spend, save, and invest. It's impossible to become wealthy in fewer than seven years simply by picking better stocks and bonds. You have to spend less, save more and invest smarter. Develop additional income. The amount of money you have to invest is the single most important factor in building wealth. There are many, many ways to increase your income.

I'd like you to think about whether you agree with me on this point: changing your financial situation can't be done just by investing.

If you agree with me, I'd like you to make a commitment to all three parts of my core strategy.

Are you willing to get to work on eliminating your debt? Really? It's going to require some tough decisions. Are you ready to make them?

Are you also willing to change the way you spend, save and invest? It may sound easy, but most people find it difficult to change their spending and saving habits. Are you willing to try?

And finally, are you willing to do what it takes to make more money? This, I'm sure, sounds difficult. It means extra work. And extra responsibility. But it's a necessary part of the overall strategy. So, I must ask you to commit to this as well. Can you do it?

Before you answer, let me be more specific about the kind of changes I'm asking you to make.

Are you willing to spend time considering ideas about developing extra income and personal wealth?

If you have debt problems, are you willing to take the time to contact all your creditors and negotiate new terms?

Are you willing to reduce your spending - maybe even drastically? Are you willing to buy smaller toys? Drive a cheaper car? Live in a less expensive house?

Are you willing to take a serious look at your investments and, if necessary, change your asset allocations?

To earn extra income, are you willing to put in the effort to become a superstar employee? Work more billable hours? Start a side business?

Are you willing to consider investing in rental real estate?

I'm asking these questions because I've discovered there are lots of people out there who want - and need - more money. But few are willing to do anything about it.

They're willing to invest in XYZ stock if they're told it's going to go up 1,000%. But they're not willing to learn why that kind of investing is guaranteed to make them poorer.

They like the idea of having more income… so long as they don't have to put any extra time into creating it.

They're willing to save more - but only a few thousand rupees here and there. They refuse to even consider downsizing to a smaller home.

Hear this: money doesn't flow easily from those who have it to those who don't. It takes more than thinking. It takes time. And it takes work.

It all starts with having an open mind and a willingness to learn.

Retire Next Year #15: Best Retirement Cities In India: Shimla - History, tourism and more

Would you like to wake up to the view of a mountain range, with the orange sun rising slowly in the behind it? Shimla is indeed a place for picture-perfect calm.

Add to it the warm Pahari people, rich Indian history and affordable cost of living, and it becomes the ideal place for your retirement home.

Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh, is undoubtedly the most popular of hill stations. A heavy tourist population ensures this small town is always buzzing with activity. Residents of Delhi and Punjab often flee to this heavenly refuge during their sweltering summers.

It was where the British enjoyed their 'Indian Summers'…

The Bri tish first made it their home for the summers during their Raj in India. It was in 1863 when the Viceroy of India, John Lawrence, described the town as “a very agreeable refuge from the burning plains of Hindoostaun.”

The city grew rapidly from 30 houses in 1830 to over a thousand homes in 1881. This also led to the architecture being mostly influenced by British sensibilities.

Shimla was a recurring favourite of government generals and commanders-in-chief which led to an influx of British officers who came to socialise . The town soon became known for its extravagant balls, parties and gatherings.

From then on, the term 'Indian Summer' was used by the British every time they had a particularly 'sunny' time. They even made a hit TV series named, Indian Summer, set in Shimla, which focused on the decline of the British Raj and the power struggle between the two nations.

It had its historic moments too…

The town is also the place where the historic Shimla Conference took place in 1945 between the then Viceroy and the major political leaders of India. It was here that they agreed on self-rule for India, provided there was separate representation for Muslims. The decision for the partition of India and Pakistan was also taken here.

Another historic and significant landmark for Shimla was the construction of the Kalka-Shimla railway in 1906, which ultimately led to greater accessibility for the region. It came to be viewed as an engineering achievement and in 2008 was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Shimla is also famous for its Mall Road, one of only two in the world, where vehicles are not allowed to ply through the year. This road abounds with buildings of British architecture. During the British Raj only prominent people used the road, but today, locals and tourists alike, walk, shop and eat here, particularly on weekends, when it draw s huge crowds.

It has all the pluses and minuses of a hilly terrain…

Located in the south-western range of the Himalayas, Shimla is at an average altitude of 7,238 ft above sea level. It spans 9.2 kilometres from east to west and is built on top of seven hills with the highest being Jakhoo Hill.

This area is known for being an Earthquake-prone zone, thereby discouraging any weak construction. There is no nearby water source for the town, the nearest river is the Sutlej, way off the town's centre.

Landslides and environmental depletion due to increasing tourism have raised grave concerns among the Paharis(people of the region). The average climate of the town during the summer is between 19 and 28 degree Celsius. During winter, it goes down to anywhere between -1 and 10 degree Celsius.

But people still enjoy the cold and, of course, the summer which is eagerly awaited… Nature aficionado Vipin Aswal describes the weather of Shimla well on Quora:

We live at an altitude of 2200 m. The place is quite cold during winter. With the advent of winter and snowfall, there come many conundrums like transportation, water supply and of course the cold itself. The mercury dips as low as -7 C. Sometimes, it snows for days continuously…

But despite of all these conundrums, there is euphoria. People, especially apple orchardists, are vehemently waiting for this season. And for tourists it's a bonanza…they go into a frenzy when they see snow…

It is a growing tourism and medical destination…

The economy is largely tourism and government-based. It has been the home of many retired government officials. Due to its scenic environment, it is also holiday destination for people from all over the country and thus tourism-related enterprises are also many.

The locals also dabble in regional handicrafts and apple- growing. Some of the Paharis still have a largely rural lifestyle, engaging in agriculture and livestock for their livelihood.

Shimla boasts four major hospitals - the Indira Gandhi hospital, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital, Kamla Nehru Hospital and Indus Hospital - and a medical college. It is considered the area's medical centre and the government hopes to increase medical tourism in the region.

Additionally, it has renowned educational institutions, viz. several boarding schools which have contributed to the region's popularity.

It is easily accessible and enjoyable…

Hindi is the dominant language and thus anyone from India should not have a problem communicating here. Some Paharis have created their own dialect of it, but you should be able to pick it up soon.

The town's culture can be seen in the many fairs and festivals that take place through the year, especially in summer and winter. Shivratri, the Ice Skating Carnival and the International Folk Festival are some of them.

Transport is either by bus or private vehicles. Locals typically travel by foot as private vehicles are not permitted in certain parts of the town (like The Mall, for example). It is connected by rail and road, currently there are no regular flights into Shimla; and the nearest airport is Chandigarh.

As a contributor to Lonely Planet says,

You have to walk almost everywhere, so Shimla makes you really fit. On the other hand, this can be a pain if you aren't well, or are in a hurry!

He goes on to say, “I can't think of a single thing I dislike about Shimla… I came to this town knowing practically no one. Three years later, I have a small but wonderful circle of friends.

Shimla is a place for the simple and content. It is a no-fuss town that allows you to be who you are and enjoy its environs. A ffordable cost of living and warm Pahari people make it a delightful place to retire in. Not to mention, it has great medical facilities - a key factor for most retirement cities.

If you're exhausted by the busy social life of metros, if you're fit enough to walk around the hilly terrain and if you have a dream to live close to nature, Shimla may just be your retirement destination

Retire Next Year #16: Health Insurance - Make a Resolution for No Medical Bills

'You know all that really matters is that the people you love are happy and healthy. Everything else is just sprinkles on a sundae' -Paul Walker

The quote by the late American actor strikes a chord in the tune of life. After all, why do we work so hard? Why do we leave our families and brave the mad rush of crowded trains and buses and energy-depleting traffic jams?

To balance the mundane routine, we like to spend time with our children, take up a hobby, go on a vacation, etc. But mostly we are caught in the rat race, where the climb to success is determined by how many products you've sold and targets you've achieved. Of course, there is much more to life than excel sheets.

The lifestyle takes a toll on our health. We compromise on nutrition and exercise, pop pills, ignore symptoms and ailments, and carry work home on our laptops.

This brings us to a very important question: Are you taking enough care of your health?

With the new year, many of us resolve to spend less and save more, dedicate more time to family, shape up that tummy, quit smoking, or walk that extra mile to the office instead of taking the bus. Some of you may have even subscribed to newsletters that advocate healthy living.

But more important than making resolutions is following them.

AJ Reb Materi eloquently paints the condition we face today: 'So many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health.'

Healthcare costs are sky rocketing. From medicines to treatments, everything has become expensive. Medical emergencies can suck the family cash flow, throwing them off balance financially and emotionally. We are mentally programmed and culturally conditioned to avoid discussions of death, disability, emergencies, etc. For most of us, our first line of defence against this discussion is to find solace in the thought that 'it won't happen to me'.

This is especially true if we have witnessed a colleague, friend, or relative facing a medical emergency. We conclude that their lifestyle was the root of the problem, and we forget that when a medical emergency does come knocking, it leaves one without an opportunity to think twice.

The best way to survive an emergency is to be prepared for one. You can do this by opting for a suitable health insurance plan - Mediclaim.

Today, it is possible to insure oneself against life threatening diseases through medical insurance riders. Having health insurance can be of great support during financial difficulties and there is no reason why one should not opt for one.

Selecting the ideal health insurance could be a challenge given that there are 28 general insurance companies in India. No doubt, the free insurance aggregators throw out comparisons of various products at a click of a button; however, the result could be daunting.

For a layman, the quickest way to choose the 'right' health insurance is the one with the lowest premium. Cheaper is better, isn't it?

Just imagine you bought a health insurance plan with a very low premium without taking into consideration all the features of the policy. At the time of claim, you learn that the insurance company is not liable to reimburse you as the cause for which you were hospitalised was not covered under the policy. To avoid footing a bill for what you thought was covered, you should be well aware of all the features offered by the policy

The best way to learn about the features of the policy is to read the 'policy wordings' carefully. Every insurer uploads them on their website. If at any point you intend to challenge the rejected claim, the court would resort to the policy wordings only. Make sure you have read the wordings twice.

'Take care of your body. It is the only place you have to live.' - Jim Rohn

Read the fine print and acquaint yourself with the sub limits on room rent, the waiting periods for pre-existing diseases, co-payments, network hospitals for cashless facility, pre and post hospitalisation expenses, exclusions, and the no claim bonus. These parameters differ from company to company and policy to policy. You need to know what you are signing up for.

You might think that buying or renewing such a policy will be a waste if nothing happens to you or your family members. However, by paying premiums and covering yourself adequately, you are insuring yourself against the possibility of any illnesses or accidents at a nominal cost vis-a-vis your health.

We believe the need for insurance usually arises in the later years of life, but emergencies can occur anytime. Hence the best time to opt for a health insurance policy is now. As you age, it is likely that you develop some symptoms that might affect your insurability. However, remember that it is imperative to consider the aforementioned points and suitability of the plan before buying any health insurance policy.'

'Never, never, never trade your health for wealth. You may think you can buy it back, but you can't.' - Billy Cox

Always remember the golden rule of insurance: It is better to be covered and not need it than to need it and not be covered.

To know more about health insurance, please refer to Retire Next Year #12: What To Look Out For In A Health Insurance Policy

Best Retirement Cities of India: Kasauli - Serenity and a Slice of the Himalayas

I've had it all my life, as long as I can remember - a willingness to compete and eagerness to win. Started off as a hard-working man and grew up into a successful manager over time. What occurred to me is that my life has been a book of achievements without a single page of peace. Now, as I see retirement coming, I only want to be in a quiet place and do everything I was too busy for. Suryanarayan, 59

Are you also looking for a piece of peace like Mr Suryanarayan? Would you like to walk on a street lined with tall deodars, Himalayan oaks, huge horse chestnuts, and roses? Or take in the sunrise on a misty morning, with rays tearing through the fog?

Well, this may just be a possibility…as many living in the quaint town of Kasauli are already experiencing. An ideal retirement destination, Kasauli may just be the place for Mr Suryanarayan or anyone looking for a serene retirement.

Location

Located on the Shivalik ranges in the Himalayas, Kasauli is smaller and quieter than Himachal Pradesh's popular hill stations. An hour and a half away from Chandigarh, Kasauli falls under the Solan district and can be accessed by road. The nearest railway station is Kalka (30 kilometres), and the nearest airports are Simla and Chandigarh.

Kasauli has a small population, and you can easily walk the entire town. Monkey Point gives a panoramic view of the plains and serpentine roads that climb up the mountain. Mall Road forms the main marketplace of the town. A spectacular eighteenth-century church stands at the heart of Kasauli and echoes the town's glorious colonial past.

Climate

'Although it remains beautiful in all seasons, Kasauli attracts maximum number of tourists during summertime to beat the heat,' says a Tibetan vendor at Mall Road.

At 2,000 meters above sea level, Kasauli enjoys a favourable climate through the year. Summer temperatures can reach as high as 38 degrees (Celsius). Winters average between six and eight degrees.

'Snowfall is a rare occurrence in Kasauli. Maybe once in four or five years,' says Matthew, a local. 'Overall, it has a pleasant weather - never too hot or too cold.'

Kasauli receives an average rainfall of 1020 millimetres annually.

Infrastructure

As a cantonment for the Indian Army and with an Air Force station, it is well-appointed with perennial electricity and transportation. The town has a military hospital and several medical practitioners. However, a full-fledged private hospital can be sought in Solan, Kalka and Parwanoo, which fall under a proximity of 30 km from Kasauli.

Kasauli is a vintage town and nurtures a sophisticated past.

The Lawrence School near Kasauli, with origins in the eighteenth century, is among the best residential institutes in the country. Renowned personalities like Sanjay Dutt, Omar Abdullah, Saif Ali Khan, Jehangir Wadia, Ness Wadia and Pooja Bedi have been educated here.

You will be surprised to know that the oldest brewery and distillery in Asia is situated in Kasauli. The Kasauli Brewery, founded in 1920 and now known as Mohan Meakin, is the manufacturer of several brands of scotch whiskey, beer, vodka and the popular rum Old Monk.

Recreation

The Kasauli Club was established in 1880 by civilians and service personnel as a large reading and gathering room. During the British Raj it hosted social meetings, tea and dinner dances. After independence, the government tried to sell the club when it saw huge losses but failed to attract buyers. Today, it lies in the Indian Army Premises and is run by the officers.

Nahri Temple, devoted to Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga, is said to be built over a hundred years ago. Renowned for festive celebrations of Dusshera and Shivratri, it is visited by thousands of devotees every year.

Writers' Abode

Kasauli is the birth place of the renowned writer, Ruskin Bond. It was also the home of Padma Vibhushan winning writer late Khushwant Singh and now hosts the Khushwant Singh Literature Festival in October every year. Literary enthusiasts from across India are seen flocking this festival.

Why Kasauli?

Consider this testimony from Mr Sharma:

About six months ago when I attended a wedding in Chandigarh, some relatives propositioned a day's excursion to Kasauli. As we drove past Kalka, the peaks of the Himalayan range welcomed us and we drove uphill. We diverted on Kasauli's road to see much less traffic. The air felt different! And when we reached Kasauli, my lungs were grateful for breathing such air.

It's said that this town seems like it's hiding from the world…I say it's not! It just seems to be telling the world that not every place is noisy yet, not every place is in a hurry and not every place stresses you out. If you want to rejuvenate, Kasauli opens its arms to welcome you.

Living in Kasauli

You can easily find cottages and houses to rent. And premium townships such as DLF Samavana offer lavish villas, apartments, and plots for purchase.

By early 2016, Kasauli will see newly built retirement homes by AAMKOSH providing centrally-heated 1BHK, 2BHK, and studio apartments. Community amenities will include a club house, a swimming pool, physiotherapy, daily need shops, virtual games, a senior-friendly gym, a spa and salon, and indoor games.

Although Kasauli doesn't have many income opportunities, you could work part time with a local firm. People having backgrounds in athletics, vocal and instrumental music, yoga and fitness, foreign languages or other expertise may provide coaching in schools.

Kasauli's pollution-free environment, fresh air, breath-taking sunrises, beautiful sunsets, stunning night skies, phenomenal cedars, and surreal peace will delight you and make your retirement the tranquil one that you always desired.

Best Retirement Cities in India: Puducherry - A Peaceful Town with French Imprints

Retirement may set you free from major responsibilities, but it brings in new goals. Good health and a peaceful living often become top priorities for many retirees. And, Puducherry, a quaint town on the Coromandel Coast, promises you both…

Formerly Pondicherry, and affectionately referred to as 'Pondy', Puducherry is a Union Territory. Unlike most of the cities in India, Puducherry has a laid back and un-rushed air about it. The lifestyle is relaxed and the environment is free from pollution.

Styled by the French

Puducherry's history goes all the way back to the sixteenth century when the Dutch, British, Portugese and French arrived here, and after which the French acquired it in 1674. The East India Company tried to acquire it several times, but the French held onto it until 1954. On November 1, 1954, it became a part of Indian Union.

As it was a French colony for almost 300 years, Puducherry was influenced heavily by French aesthetics and culture.

Reaching here is easy

Puducherry is approximately 155 km away from Chennai connected by the East Coast Road. A relaxed drive from Chennai, should take you to Puducherry in a maximum of three hours. The state corporation offers regular bus services between the two cities.

Also connected to the country's major cities by rail route, Puducherry has direct trains from Mumbai, Howrah, Delhi, Chennai, Pune, Bhubaneshwar, Kanyakumari and Mangalore.

Puducherry can be accessed by flight from Bangalore. If you wish to take a flight from any other town, you need to fly to Chennai.

It takes care of the basics

While the newer part of Puducherry is typically South Indian, the older part's architecture is French in style. It has several public buildings, bungalows, churches, temples and statues that reflect colonial ambience. The streets are neat, quiet and shady.

Puducherry is equipped with advanced healthcare facilities, like general hospitals, private clinics and nursing homes. Prompt medical attention is something you can rely on in any corner of this town.

There are numerous educational institutes offering courses in science, technology, medicine, art and management. This probably accounts for Puducherry's literacy rate, which is 76%, much higher than the Indian literacy rate of 56%.

Another interesting statistic is Puducherry's balanced gender ratio. In 2011 census, Puducherry recorded a population of 675,000 with an equal ratio of males and females.

A city both 'smart' and spiritual

A feather in Puducherry's cap, is that it became the first nominee for the central government's Smart City project. This will give a lot of hope to whoever plans to relocate to this quaint town. In the near future, you may be among the first few to avail of its benefits, not only aiding your lifestyle but also your financial progress, as it could open plenty of opportunities for you.

An experimental township called Auroville is located near Puduicherry. It is meant to be a place where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony. With an aim to realize unity, the community believes in leading a simple life and contributes towards the environment, rural areas and art and culture.

Immersed in culture and natural beauty

For a weekend getaway, look to Chunnambar Beach, or Paradise Beach, that promises crystal clear waters. Located 7 km from the city, the sea is not so deep and suitable for children.

Puducherry preserves several vintage churches built in the eighteenth century. An ancient temple of Thirukaameeswar, devoted to Lord Shiva, is 10 km from the heart of the city.

One of the main places of leisure is Pondicherry Botanical Garden with its six beautiful fountains and a large aquarium of ornamental fishes.

People who practice mindfulness and meditation can find solace in Shri Aurobindo Ashram, a renowned spiritual centre. For culturattis, The Arts and Culture Department and Auroville organize several events on a regular basis.

Just the right kind of climate

The climate is same as the rest of Tamil Nadu's coastline. Summers range from late March to early June during which the temperature often goes beyond 40 degrees Celsius. This is followed by occasional thunderstorms and a highly humid period from July to September.

Puducherry sees an average rainfall of 50 inches during the year. It receives a substantial amount of rainfall between the months of October and December. Winters bring to you a lukewarm weather of 30 degrees and you never feel cold. Thus, an ideal city for those who've been advised to stay in warm places.

Not a strain on the pocket

The cost of living is quite low compared to big Indian cities. The wallet does not lose its weight very soon. - Siva, a Puducherry girl on Quora

Living in Puducherry is fairly affordable. Be sure a lot of your life savings will not go in high rents and in buying property.

You may rent a furnished 1BHK apartment in a good locality for Rs 7,000-8,000 whereas a single room may cost you around Rs 2,000-2,500 per month.

For those seeking a well-facilitated retirement home, townships like Villefranch offer apartments for 25 lakh and independent villas for 50 lakh with basic amenities like indoor games, social club and healthcare.

More amenities and a lavish lifestyle can be sought with premium communities like Serene Senior Living.

Explore the city at an easy pace

Puducherry is clean and well-planned. The roads are wide and bear proper instructions. You can easily explore the entire town without getting lost.

A paradise for gourmet lovers, here you'll find Indian, Chinese, French and exotic Indo-French cuisine. Fast food outlets are present on every second step. But don't get disappointed if you don't find malls or huge shopping avenues. The city though has small and charming boutiques that stock most of what you need.

Being close to the textile hub Tirupur, you'll find an amazing range of garments and textiles that can be designed to suit your sensibilities. Other cottage industries include incense sticks and mats, largely created by recycled materials and by using nature-friendly methods.

Local accents and more

Communicating with the local people might be an issue as Tamil and French are the official languages here. You may also find people speaking Malayalam, Telugu and Bengali. But Hindi is not one of the languages used, so simply stick to English or learn a local language.

When in Puducherry, you could comfortably seek a part-time job or even look at contributing to the various local industries. You'll be surprised but some of the small-scale cottage industries, working on a low capital, are highly profitable.

Part-time teachers, wellness enthusiasts and environmentalists will also find a place in Puducherry.

Thus, Puducherry is an ideal retirement hub if you're looking for healthy and natural environs. The new-age retiree will find plenty to do here as he revels in its colonial charm.

Best Retirement Cities in India: Kurseong - Walk among White Orchids and Green Tea Plantations

It was by accident that we explored Kurseong. Years ago while visiting Darjeeling, I was exhausted by the toy train journey and stepped down on a tiny station to walk around. The serenity in the air caught my senses, and this town, with a strange name, clicked with me like no other place.

After spending four months here post retirement, I felt a spike in my energy levels. I also realised the name isn't strange. In fact, it's beautiful…and comes from a rare flower - 61-year-old Chandra G

It's no surprise that most people haven't heard Kurseong's name. An ideal place for those who want to live away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Retiring here means retaining the air of tranquility and seclusion.

Orchids and tea estates

A tiny, self-sufficient town in Darjeeling district, Kurseong gets its name from the Lepcha term khorsang, which refers to the white orchid found all over the valley.

Surrounded by hills covered with rich, well-maintained tea estates, Kurseong appears before you like a spell from Harry Potter's wand. Eminent personalities such as erstwhile ruler of Nepal Jung Bahadur Rana, social worker Sister Nivedita, and freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose have resided in the town.

An old municipality and a school town

Kurseong Municipality, dating back more than 125 years, is one of the oldest municipalities in the country. The municipality is divided into 20 wards, and each of the wards has its own ward commissioner. The town has a small population of 94,000 and remains mostly at peace. You'll find a district court and a police station in Kurseong.

The town enjoys a perennial supply of water and electricity throughout the year.

Often referred to as 'the school town', it has numerous schools affiliated to ICSE, CBSE, and State Board.

Note that you will find only basic medical facilities and a sub-divisional hospital here. Nursing homes with advanced facilities can be sought in the town of Darjeeling. If you suffer from an ailment that may require urgent medical assistance, refrain from choosing this place.

Vintage trains and a locale for movies

Traveling is easy. And low cost. A vintage train passes through the town and taxis are available too at reasonable cost! - A local resident

At 1,460 meters above sea level, Kurseong is best accessed by Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, started in 1881. In 1999, it became the second rail route to receive the title of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The picturesque route has garnered much attention from Indian filmmakers and can be seen in several films like Aradhana, Parineeta, and Barfi.

Kurseong falls along Hill Cart Road, which connects Siliguri and Darjeeling. You can easily catch an affordable taxi from Siliguri (40 km). If you want to fly in, the nearest airport is at Bagdogra (60 km).

Breathtaking views and rows of books

Retirement brings plenty of time for leisure activities. And Kurseong has a wealth of heartwarming sights and lush tea gardens to keep you active and entertained.

It is home to myriad religious temples, breathtaking sights, and vintage museums. Eagle's Craig, a two-kilometer long trail, provides panoramic views of the Siliguri plains.

And local libraries with extensive collections can be frequented for a minimal fee. Gorkha Public Library has been serving the town's bibliophiles since 1913.

The Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose heritage museum is a treat for history enthusiasts.

Aromatic teas and delicious momos

The local food is influenced by Tibetan style. Don't be surprised if you taste the most exotic momos in Kurseong! Another popular delicacy is chaang, a drink made from fermented millets.

It is noteworthy that after being sold at a record $1,850 per kilogram, Kurseong's Makaibari tea is one of the most expensive teas in the world and the costliest in India. In Kurseong, you can enjoy the delightful aromas of renowned teas like Castleton and Ambotia.

Varied seasons and pleasant weather

Kurseong has pleasant weather. Situated in the Himalayas, it's cool even in May. The temperature stays below 30°C in summer and may drop down to as low as 1°C in January.

Retirees with diseases aggravated by cold weather are advised to relocate during the winter.

Kurseong sees a full-fledged monsoon in July and August. It receives heavy rainfall and will delight those who like dark clouds and overcast skies.

Amid greenery and mountain peaks

Kurseong provided me with the much-needed seclusion and calm. It also helped me achieve a healthy lifestyle…going for walks, overlooking slopes of soothing tea gardens…heavenly! I am surrounded by green hues on all sides…it's exhilarating!

The best part is that the cost of living stays minimal and places like Darjeeling are less than an hour away. - A Singh, retired civil engineer

Retiring to the mountains is anyone's dream. But it's not as easy as it once was, as many of the hill stations today have become commercialised and pricey. But as a relatively unknown retirement destination, Kurseong still provides a peaceful and affordable stay for retirees and tourists alike.

Save on living and earn from home

Rents range from Rs. 7,000 to Rs. 12,000 per month for 1BHK. Properties are comparatively cheaper and a 1BHK apartment could cost you Rs. 15-18 lakh whereas an independent 4BHK bungalow could cost up to Rs. 1 crore.

Kurseong offers part-time jobs and income-generating opportunities as well. For instance, you could do an accounting job from home and earn as much as Rs. 1,000 per day. Education, tourism, and tea estates form the town's economy. Retirees with a background in any of these businesses will find more opportunities here.

In Kurseong, life after retirement will be simple. But the experience of waking every morning to the gleam of snow-capped mountain peaks is priceless.

Best Retirement Cities in India: Jodhpur - Retire Royal

Today, when most of the cities in India are influenced by the West, some have managed to retain their authenticity and culture… Jodhpur is one of them. Located in the heart of colorful and chivalrous Rajasthan, Jodhpur is the 'Blue City' of India.

When I planned a visit to Jodhpur three years back, I was very excited as it was my first trip to Rajasthan and, as each of my friends who went there loved it to core, it was my obvious choice. I wanted to experience the best of Rajasthan and had no intention of overextending my stay, so I settled on the 'Blue City' Jodhpur.

Once I was there, I understood why everyone just adored this city; huge fortresses and palaces with amazing architecture, desert landscape with acres of fine & calming sand, vibrant clothing and jewellery, camels and fairs, big moustaches, colourful bazaars… Rajasthan is full of all these things and Jodhpur is a place where you can live amidst it all to the fullest. - Rahul Cornelius, Writer and Photographer

A small world confined by Thar desert on all sides, Jodhpur isn't a conventional retirement destination. But it'll prove to be a haven for those who want to spend their golden years in a land of heritage and tradition.

The City Royale

Be it streets or markets, houses or temples, wherever you go Jodhpur emits a scent of royalty. It's thoroughly 'Indian'. - Abhishek Gaur, a frequent visitor

As you step down in the city, it greets you with a nostalgic panorama of ancient buildings. They whisper that Jodhpur was never an ordinary place. Silently guarded by the mighty fort of Mehrangarh, Jodhpur is surreally regal. Even Christopher Nolan couldn't remain aloof from its grandeur and shot his movie The Dark Knight Rises here. Mehrangarh Fort stands ostentatiously on a hill and, wherever you live in Jodhpur, most likely you'll see it from your terrace.

The blue hue of the old town deeply signifies that Jodhpur is a royal land of noble people.

A Medieval Town

Jodhpur nurtures a rich history. Founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, it covered a vast area called Marwar that Jodha had conquered. When in Jodhpur, you'll hear a dozen stories as to why the walls of the town were painted blue. In the ancient times, when merchants travelled through the desert, Jodhpur's blue walls appeared cool and attracted them to resort there.

Jodhpur remained a fief under the Mughals until it entered into an alliance with British Raj.

It became a part of India after independence.

What Statistics say!

With a population of 13 million people, Jodhpur is the second largest city in the state of Rajasthan. It is constituted by 52.62 percent males and 47.38 percent females. Jodhpur recorded an impressive literacy rate of 81% in 2011 consensus.

A Blend of Tradition and Modernity

Jodhpur is an abode of medieval architecture. Especially the old town. Here houses are called 'havelis'. The narrow streets still retain a medieval air; four wheelers can hardly pass through. Most houses are made of sandstone. Today, the old town is encircled by new Jodhpur on all sides.

Jodhpur gets water from Indira Gandhi Canal. The local folks say that it suffers from water scarcity at times. Still, the water supply is better than other parts of Rajasthan.

Retirees need not worry about medical assistance while in Jodhpur. The city has good hospitals and medical facilities.

Jodhpur city is governed by Municipal Corporation, which comes under Jodhpur Urban Agglomeration. It lies about 250 kilometres from the border, making it an important base for the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Border Security Force (BSF).

Jodhpur recently became an educational hub with several institutes that provide major in every discipline. A home to reputed institutes such as AIIMS, Indian Institute of Technology, National Law University, and National Institute of Fashion Technology, Jodhpur is also the favorite city of CA aspirants.

Weekend Getaways

If you retire in Jodhpur, you'll never be bored on the weekends. The city is a popular tourist destination and attracts thousands of travellers, particularly foreigners, each year. The prime attractions include Mehrangarh Fort, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jaswant Thada, Ghanta Ghar, and Machiya Safari Park.

The modern part of the city offers malls, cinema halls, cafes, and exclusive showrooms for shopping.

However, if you're a night person, Jodhpur will disappoint you as pubs and restaurants are shut by 10pm.

Easily Accessible from your city

Reaching Jodhpur is a cakewalk. Jodhpur has strong rail, road, and air networks that connect it to almost every part of the country. It is the divisional head of the North Western Railway and has direct trains from Alwar, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Trivandrum, Pune, Kota, Kanpur, Bareilly, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Indore, Bhopal, Dhanbad, Guwahati, etc.

Jodhpur hosts numerous national and state highways. You can directly drive here if you live in any city of Rajasthan or in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Surat, Ujjain, Agra, etc.

Jodhpur Airport is one of the main airports of Rajasthan. It has daily flights from Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. Soon it will host international flights too.

Climate and Economy

You're in the middle of a desert, what do you expect? - Bhati, a local fruit vendor

The climate of Jodhpur is exactly what you'd expect from a desert. The temperature normally lurks in 40s during summer and falls drastically during winter. The nights are always relatively cold.

Jodhpur receives a scanty rainfall during monsoon.

Handicraft industry is the backbone of Jodhpur's economy. Tourism occupies the second spot.

Other items manufactured include textiles, metal utensils, bicycles, and ink. A flourishing cottage industry manufactures carpets, glass bangles, and marbles.

Land of Exotic Food

Located in the core Marwar, Jodhpur lures you with a variety of delectable dishes made with desi ghee.

Daal Bati, the signature food of Rajasthan, can hook you for life. Apart from that, Jodhpur is widely known for its chaat. It's hard but we insist that you don't surrender to taste buds too often and keep the calorie count under control.

Honey Tongued Folks of Jodhpur

Jodhpur to me is like one gigantic joint family in the middle of a desert. - Shobhit, a Jodhpur resident

One of the highlights of Jodhpur is its native residents. Jodhpur is a land of warm and receptive people. Known for their sweet tongue, the people are naturally helpful.

However, if you're moving from a metro or any bigger city, you'll find the society a bit conservative. Gender-based discrimination and caste system is a little evident in the society.

Regardless, Jodhpur is a peaceful town and has an incredibly low crime rate. It's a safe city where the royalty and cosmopolitan folks live in harmony.

Living in Jodhpur

Jodhpur is a slow but calm and a sophisticated city, with not much dynamics involved, lifestyle is still good, people enjoy each other's company over a cup of tea and a platter of namkeen. - Sachin, a Jodhpur resident on Quora

The cost of living in Jodhpur is fairly reasonable. You can rent a 1 BHK house in a decent locality for Rs 6,000 - 10,000 per month.

Jodhpur provides plenty of avenues for income. You can work from home or join the faculty of one of the institutes. As many students migrate to Jodhpur for studies, you can keep paying guests or provide lunch services.

Jodhpur, being one of the most picturesque towns in India, will be a delight to photographers.

The Blue City is warm and welcoming, hot and dusty, modern and medieval, cheerful and colourful, luxurious and royal…

On crimson evenings, when you take a walk in the town…you'll find women in floral ghaghra choli, and men in gaudy turbans smoking hukkah. You'll hear 'khamma ghani' greetings wherever you go. You can take your spouse on a royal date and witness captivating sunsets from Mehrangarh Fort. A retirement in the middle of Thar will be peaceful, royal, and different indeed.

Best Countries for Retirement #1: Panama - A People's Place

Editor's Note: While most people resort to their native abode or a quiet place after retirement, some yearn to experience a different taste of life altogether. They want to explore unseen places, meet new people, build communities, and make their new life an adventure.

Often such people also aim to live overseas. They like to do away with familiar surroundings and social and familial responsibilities and simply experience a new culture with new people… And that's what this series is about.

When Wealth Builders Club India member Hormuzd Madan asked us to 'send us a list of places (in India and abroad) where one can retire well while ticking off the boxes on cost, environment, cultural and sports activities, security, health facilities, etc.' we began bringing you a series on Top Retirement Cities in India.

Now, we are taking a step ahead, to bring to you the best countries to live, and explore, after retirement. Thoroughly researched and testified by people who have lived there, these places aren't just an escape to a new life; they provide the best amenities available for retirees.

* Imagine a retirement destination where you not only get respect but receive discounts on every movie ticket you buy, every flight you take, and every time you visit a hospital. Sounds like a dream, right?

PANAMA: A Retirement Haven

These are just some of the privileges that Panama, a small country in Central America, provides to retirees.

The Isthmus of Panama boasts long stretches of both Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean coastlines. Both coats are home to a total 365 tropical islands - one for every day of the year.

Panama was occupied by numerous indigenous tribes before it entered into a settlement with Spain in the 16th century. This treaty lasted until 1821. Panama then became a part of Gran Colombian and became free in 1903 with support from the US.

Today, Panama is an independent country headed by Juan Carlos Varela, the president.

The capital and largest city is Panama City, which inhabits nearly half of the country's 3.9 million people.

A country making rapid progress Our nomadic editor David Sexton lived in Panama for a year. And so we asked him to tell us exactly what it's like and if it really is a livable and feasible option for retirees. David couldn't agree more. And the first aspect he praised was the country's infrastructure…

The infrastructure is good and getting better. When I lived there, several regional airports were being built, and the first line of the Panama City metro opened. Traffic in the capital is still horrific, but this was the first metro in Central America. It is representative of the country's overall progress.

Panama is experiencing a development and infrastructure boom comparable to what is happening in India or China. But this has disadvantages, too: I often felt that Panama was growing too fast for its own good. Foreigners, land owners, and financial institutions reap most of the benefits while the average Panamanian is left in the dust. Despite economic improvements, education languishes, though there are some good international schools.

Panama desires to be the Singapore of Central America. It can achieve this, but I would prefer to see a more gradual, deliberate approach to growth, rather than the all-out, wild-west activity I witnessed a few years ago there.

Adequate medical care for silvers David adds that retirees who have healthcare as their priority should not worry, as Panama does have world-class facilities. But what a retiree could consider is living closer to the capital…

Panama City has a Johns-Hopkins affiliated hospital that offers world-class care. Regional facilities are acceptable, but if you have a serious condition, you will want to be closer to the capital in case of emergency. A trip to the doctor shouldn't cost more than US$30 (under Rs 2,000) out of pocket.

Panama File-O-Facts Economy: The US Dollar is the national currency of Panama. Commerce, tourism and trading form the backbone of Panama's economy.

One of the most complex and largest engineering projects, the Panama Canal started in 1914, and today it facilitates about 300 million tons of shipping every year.

Climate: Panama is a hot and humid country. The temperature might not exceed 35 degrees but you'll always feel the humidity. The mountainous areas in the country are relatively cooler. Although Panama sees a dramatic monsoon and severe thunderstorms, it is located outside the hurricane belt.

We suggest that you never believe the clear skies of Panama, and always step out with an umbrella.

Delicacies: Rice and corn are the staples of Panamanian cuisine. Fortunately, in Panama City and popular retirement communities, you can find a variety of international offerings, including Indian. Panama has large Italian and Chinese communities, so you can get your pasta and noodle fix easily.

The star of Panamanian cuisine is ceviche, a kind of Latin sushi. If you like seafood, check out the stalls along Panama City's fish market for the freshest ceviche.

Language: While living in any foreign land, it is said that you must learn the local tongue. Same goes for Panama. Though it's feasible to get by with English, especially with the large international retirement community, to ensure flawless communication with the locals, in any corner of the country, you must learn Spanish. Fortunately, there are many good resources available online for learning Spanish. Also, because Spanish shares its roots and its script with English, picking up a basic level of functional Spanish is not difficult for many English speakers.

Plenty of pastimes Panama is a small country where you can easily take weekend trips to the mountains or the Caribbean beaches. Panamanian folks love to party. The local pastime is hanging out with friends and family.

When we asked David about his favourite getaways in Panama, he listed his top-three Panama destinations as:

Santa Catalina in the Pacific Ocean for surfing, diving, snorkeling. It is laid back, quiet and 'off the grid'. Bocas del Toro in the Caribbean, with water taxis, parties, backpackers, intriguing locals, and international retirees. El Valle is an attractive peaceful little town nestled in the crater of an extinct volcano, surrounded by thick forests and mountains.

Easy visas and great deals Often cited as the ideal country to retire by several websites and magazines, Panama opens its arms to you when you need it the most.

Panama offers a pensionado visa to retired people from all over the world. Anyone over 18 years of age, receiving a minimum monthly amount of 1,000 USD (Rs 65,000) as a pension or annuity, is eligible for a pensionado visa. Both spouses can combine their pensions and/or annuities to reach this amount.

The pensionado residents are offered the best programs and facilities by Panama's government. Some of the perks that you'd get as a pensionado resident are:

-50% off entertainment anywhere in the country (movies, theaters, concerts, sporting events)

-30% off bus, boat, and train fares

-25% off airline tickets

-25% off monthly energy bills

-30% to 50% off hotel stays

-15% off hospital bills

Click here, for more details on visa.

A 'Retire to Paradise' Dream It is helpful to learn about the society and local people before you move to Panama. Here's David:

Panamanians are very laid back. What can be done today can always be done tomorrow…or next week…or simply forgotten about…

This is fine if you're sipping a coconut from a hammock in San Blas. But it's frustrating when you're trying to take care of business in Panama City. Patience is a virtue always and everywhere, but particularly in Panama.

No other country in the world is as welcoming to the foreign retiree.

You'll meet many like-minded retirees. Most come from North America, but the whole world, it seems, is represented. The most popular retirement spots are Boquete and Bocas del Toro. These towns are built around the 'retire to paradise' dream, and the services, amenities, facilities, etc cater to it.

Where pensionados are respected As for the income avenues, if you have skills, you will be in demand. It helps if you speak some Spanish. Unfortunately, pensionados aren't allowed to start businesses. But many foreign retirees in Panama do take on part-time work in real estate, or local shops and eateries.

Note that foreign-earned income is not taxed in Panama.

Panama promises you a life of luxury for much less than in developed countries. On the other hand, you could 'go off the grid', to smaller cities instead of the capital, and live on next to nothing.

David lived a comfortable lifestyle in one of the capital city's most desirable neighbourhoods for less than $800 (approximately Rs 55,000) per month. You can live well for less than that in beach towns like Santa Catalina or mountain retreats like El Valle.

Panamanians have a deep cultural respect for their elders, a trait similar to Indians. This respect extends to foreigners as well. If you choose to spend some time living in Panama, expect to be treated well not because your presence supports the local economy but out of genuine affection from its people.

Best Countries for Retirement #2: Cambodia - A Slice of India on a Different Platter

WBC India In recent years, the countries of South East Asia have become immensely popular retirement destinations. Friendly residents, lukewarm weather, and a humble cost of living are some of the perks of retiring in a country like Cambodia.

From the familiar sounds of Sanskrit in the local language - Khmer - to the carvings of the garuda on the walls of the Royal Palace in the capital, Phnom Penh… From the little ganpati statues to the numerous temples scattered across the country - Indian culture reverberates throughout Cambodia.

Cambodia makes for a great place to settle in your golden years, because here you could live a more lavish life than most places, with the same amount of income.

'A great quality of life is incredibly affordable here. I know one US expat who lives on $300 a month,' says Rob, a retiree living in Cambodia.

A sneak peek at Cambo Cambodia is a small country with a population of 15 million. It is governed by its Prime Minister, Hun Sen.

Cambodia has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. While agriculture forms its economic backbone, other rapidly growing sectors are textiles, construction, garments, and tourism.

CSL managing editor Anisa Virji lived and worked in Cambodia for more than a year. Here she shares her experience:

When I first lived in Cambodia, I was constantly surprised at the small numbers of Indian travelers and expats in the country. Not to mention the lack of awareness among Indians at home of Indian influence on Cambodian culture. Indian ideas - religions, art, and language, among others - first made their way to Southeast Asia in the first century AD. And they have trickled down through the centuries, leaving their fragrance in Cambodian culture as it stands today.

A beautiful country You'll witness lush greenery, luminous rice fields that look like lakes in the monsoons, beautiful beaches and islands, and of course, old temples scattered throughout the countryside.

Phnom Penh looks like any medium-sized Indian city, with a population of 1.5 million people. A mostly disorganised city with pleasant bits (especially along the riverside) and some cramped neighbourhoods (around the markets).

Phnom Penh is largely safe, but like any city there is some petty crime like mugging, so don't swing your belongings around recklessly.

Cambodia has a very large and diverse expatriate population including Brits, Americans, Australians, Europeans, Chinese, Koreans, etc. There are a lot of services geared towards them, including international medical services such as SOS.

However, such facilities are expensive. There are cheaper options if you choose not to go with international healthcare providers. If ever you need a major treatment, like surgery, we would recommend you go home for it.

When in Cambodia, speak Khmer! The local language is Khmer. In Phnom Penh you can easily get by with English, especially in the areas dominated by expats.

It would help if you spoke a little functional Khmer to give directions to tuktuk drivers and bargain in the markets. However, English is not spoken in the interiors of the country and you must know Khmer to get ensconced in those regions.

No winter in Cambodia Cambodia has only two seasons - monsoon and summer. The humid, rainy season extends from May to October, during which the temperature may occasionally fall down to 20 degrees. That's the coldest it gets. November to April is dry and hot.

Cambodia is an ideal place for those who don't like winters, or suffer from a disease aggravated by cold weather.

Content and quiet folks Cambodians are quite reserved towards migrants. They are smiling and quiet, and it is hard to break the ice and get a better look at their lives. But you will surely get to know people in your neighbourhood and be invited to weddings regularly.

From genocide to foreign occupation, many older Cambodians have seen a lot of struggle in their lifetimes. And when you get to know them better, you will learn how these experiences have shaped them.

Land of mystical temples Cambodia is a popular tourist destination. Be assured that you'll never be bored on weekends, and no matter how much you explore, Cambodia will surprise you time and again with another exotic place.

From royal palaces to beaches and forests…the country is filled with delights and diversions. Cambodia has a rich history and treasures hundreds of mystical temples. Some of these are so intricately designed that you'll be spellbound.

Every Indian should see Angkor Wat, the largest temple complex in the world, with its scenes from the Ramayana adorning the walls.

Take note of Cambodia's currency Cambodia is a no-coin, US dollar economy, meaning that US dollars are accepted almost everywhere, but instead of US coins, change is riel notes. Four thousand KHR (Khmer riel) is roughly one US dollar (or approximately Rs 70).

So bring lots of dollars - and make sure they are crisp and new. Merchants are wary of old or creased notes. You can withdraw both USD and KHR from ATMs. Be sure to keep small change (riel notes) to pay for small services such as tuktuk rides or in the local markets.

On visas Cambodia offers a visa-on-arrival to travellers from almost every country, including India. For about US$25 you can get a 30-day tourist visa. For a little more, you can get a 60-day business visa. You can then work with a travel agent or an employer to extend your visa. If you get a job (even part time) or volunteer with an NGO, they will willingly process a visa for you.

Plenty of income avenues If you speak English, it is very easy to find part-time work. Hundreds of private schools all over the country, especially in the capital, are in desperate need of temporary English teachers. Same for affluent Cambodian families.

You can also easily start a restaurant or shop of some sort, as evident by the large numbers of Indian restaurants in Phnom Penh and other major towns of the country. We know a little masala shop in Phnom Penh that smells just like home.

The vast majority of Indians living in Cambodia work in the pharmaceutical sector (the vast majority of pharmaceutical companies in Cambodia are Indian) or in the telecom industry. Many also work in the NGO/development sector.

Life in Cambodia Here's Anisa once again.

Living in Cambodia is cheap. For Rs 20,000 per month, you can get a beautiful house or flat in a nice neighbourhood. My friend used to live with his wife and three daughters in a three-bedroom house, with a front yard and mango trees for about that much. Food is inexpensive too, and you can get anything at one of the markets in Phnom Penh - from furniture to clothes to puppies to art for your walls.

The Indian community in Cambodia is small but tight-knit. From the pastor from Pune, to the family that works with United Nations, you will stumble across fellow countrymen all over the capital city of Phnom Penh. And if you don't see them at the Indian restaurant down the street, you will certainly meet them at the Diwali celebrations hosted by the Indian Ambassador.

Best Retirement Cities in India: Surat - Fun, Food, and Festivities

WBC India A mere mention of the word - Surat - pops an image of diamonds before your eyes. Located in the southern part of Gujarat, Surat is paradise for entrepreneurs and foodies. Ranked as India's best city to live in (ASICS, 2013), Surat is one of the fastest growing towns in the world.

Surat: One Of The Fastest Growing Towns In The World Beyond its rapid pace of growth and modern infrastructure, Surat is a land of warm, energetic, and friendly people. The lifestyle is relaxed compared to metros like Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru. It's a blend of everything you want in retirement: a relaxed life in a clean environment that doesn't compromise on modernity.

In a Nutshell

Once known as Suryapur, Surat is a city of historical significance. In the epic of Mahabharata, Lord Krishna halted here when he travelled from Mathura to Dwarka.

Surat proved to be a gateway for the Portuguese Empire in 1512, followed by the East India Company.

Today, Surat is the second largest city in Gujarat and eighth largest city in India. Home to five million people, the city has a literacy rate of 89%. People residing here are called Suratis, and they're widely known for their business sense.

One of the best cities to live in Surat topped the ASICS' best cities chart in 2013, earning the title 'best city to live in'. It's one of the cleanest and best-maintained cities in India. Every corner of Surat has underground drainage and street lights. It has a computerised water distribution system.

Despite the fact that Surat is a huge city, you will live amid minimal air pollution as 95% of Surat's public transport runs on CNG (compressed natural gas). Pipelined natural gas became a part of the city in the 90s, and it would be available in any part you reside.

Retirees need not worry about medical attention while living here. Surat offers advanced health care facilities of all sorts. Care and Adventist Wockhardt Heart Hospitals are Surat's full-fledged medical centers.

It is projected to be developed as a 'smart city' in near future.

Business in its arteries and veins If Surat were a human body, business would pump through its arteries and veins. The local people possess incredible entrepreneurial skills.

Surat produces textiles and is known as the Silk City of India. Across the length and breadth of the country, you can find Surti cloth material. Surat is a major hub of diamond cutting and polishing. Ninety percent of the world's diamonds are polished here.

Besides these industries, the city's other sectors include oil & gas, petroleum, cement, and paper.

Hot days and breezy nights Surat's weather is like any other city in central or western India. Summers run from March end to June when temperatures lurk between 35 and 40 degree Celsius. Nights are cooler. Monsoon extends from July to September.

Easily accessible You can easily reach Surat by train or road. You can even take a direct flight from Delhi or Mumbai.

Cultural hub Surat is the place to be in if you're fond of Gujarati culture. It reflects in the clothes and lifestyle of the people.

The residents celebrate all festivals with great enthusiasm. But the major highlights are Navaratri and Makar Sakranti. You'll fall in love with Surat after witnessing its enthusiasm for Garba. The kite-flying festival is celebrated with huge excitement on 14 and 15 January.

Khakhra, Dhokla, Fafda A popular Gujarati saying goes, Surat nu jaman ane Kashi nu maran (eat in Surat and die in Kashi).

Surat is a land of mouth-watering food. You easily find delectable Gujarati cuisine, only it is spicier than in the other parts of the state. Dishes like khakhra, fafda, khaman, petis, locho, and ghari are best tasted here.

The popularity of street food shouldn't be ignored. People from all sections of the society indulge in street food.

Moderately high cost of living Living in an all-round city like Surat comes with a price. It is among the costliest cities of Gujarat. However, you'll find the prices low if you're moving from Mumbai or Delhi.

Renting a 1BHK flat would cost between Rs 6,000 and 10,000 a month. Buying one could be anywhere between Rs 10 and 15 lakh.

If you're looking to move into a retirement home, Surat offers good options including a luxurious resort called 2nd Innings.

Earn easily to make ends meet Being in the city of entrepreneurs, you need not worry about finding part-time jobs. From translating to simple typing jobs, from basic accounting to small-scale managing - businesses are always in need of all kinds of workers. If you worked from home for a couple of hours, you could conveniently pay off your monthly bills.

Have a glimmering retirement in Surat Life in Surat is colorful. Here festivals are celebrated to the fullest, and weekends are spent in doing more fun activities than just pubbing or partying.

If you are a teetotaller, living in the 'dry state' of Gujarat will delight you.

Surat has several museums, libraries, botanical gardens, and temples. Dumas Beach, 20 kilometres from the city, is a popular weekend getaway.

Once Surat got completely devastated due to repeated events of flood, but that didn't deter its growth momentum because attitudes can't be changed. At a point of time it faced an epidemic. But now it is consistently being ranked among the cleanest cities of India. - Harsh, a local resident

Surat wasn't destined to be one of the best cities. It's the result of its residents' hard work. They'd be a friendly and supportive company to you.

Make no mistake, in Surat, you will have a retirement as glimmering as diamonds!

Best Countries for Retirement #3: Malaysia - A Happening Retirement Not Too Far From Home

Unless you live in a cave, you must have seen the colourful TV commercials that boast of the breathtaking beauty of Malaysia…and sing of Malaysia as 'Truly Asia'.

Malaysia is indeed a microcosm of Asia. It is home to many ethnicities and cultures and is one of the world's 17 'megadiverse' countries that inhabit the majority of earth's species.

With advanced infrastructure flourishing across the country, and warm people in its heart, including a vast Indian community…Malaysia could be your retirement home, not too far from your Indian home. Malaysia - 'Truly Asia' Malaysia is a kaleidoscopic Southeast Asian country with high mountains, dense forests, serene beaches, and lofty high rises. Divided into 13 states, its capital is Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia has a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society that draws heavily from Indian and Chinese culture. The local folks are called Malays. Here you will find Hindu Malays, Chinese Malays, Thai Malays, Sikh Malays, and of course, Malay Malays.

Islam is the major religion in Malaysia, but the country believes in freedom of religion and is a liberal melting pot of varied cultures and religions.

Malaysia is home to 30 million people.

The native language is Bahasa Malay, and English is an official language. You can easily get by with English in cities like Kuala Lumpur and George Town. However, casual conversations are carried out in Manglish - a combination of Malay and English. Just like we talk in Hinglish (Hindi-English).

Dense and diverse Malaysia is a small but highly biodiverse land, sheltering numerous species of flora and fauna. Two-third of the country is covered with thick forests, some of which are over 100 million years old.

Malaysian weather is monitored by the surrounding ocean and is very humid. Temperatures lurk between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year. Nights are cool. If you like heavy an unexpected monsoon, retiring in East Malaysia would be bliss.

A startup hub It is one of the steadily prospering countries of Asia. The economic record is stunning: Malaysian GDP has grown 6.5% per annum for almost 50 years.

Natural resources are the base of the economy, with science, tourism, medical tourism, and commerce adding to it. The Malaysian currency is the ringgit. One ringgit equals 17 rupees.

Malaysia is emerging as a startup hub. The country supports new businesses and has an impressive startup ecosystem. Retirees may scout and work on business opportunities.

For the last two years, there is a marked increase in investments and interest in the startup ecosystem here, both from government and private sector. - Ahmad Salahuddin, a Malaysian on Quora

One of the most developed countries in Asia It's no exaggeration to say Malaysia is one of the most developed nations in Asia. The overall infrastructure of Malaysia ranks eighth in Asia and 25th in the world. Fresh water is available to more than 95% of the population. And the quality of the telecommunications and electric supply is a bright feather in Malaysia's cap.

So retirees need not worry about basic amenities…and can look forward to smooth driving on Malaysian roads.

However, corruption levels are quite high and freedom of the press is limited, as major newspapers are owned by the government.

On the other hand, foreigners are allowed to own properties, Malaysia imposes no inheritance tax, and no tax on income repatriated from overseas.

Malaysia offers advanced healthcare facilities and is an international medical hub. It attracted over 800,000 healthcare travellers in 2015. While living in Malaysia, you need not worry about health issues. You can learn about medical insurance here.

A foodie fiesta The country is paradise for food aficionados. Malaysian cuisine is as varied as its cultures. Thai, Chinese, Indian, Spanish, Mexican - with local seasoning - and Malay delicacies will hook you for life. Street food is popular in Malaysia - delicious and cheap.

If you're a vegan or crave for Indian food, there are plenty of restaurants to turn to! Some popular ones are Annalakshmi Vegetarian Restaurant, Sri Nirwana Maju, and Saravana Bhawan.

Traveller's haven Malaysia is a charming country that lures travellers from all parts of the world. Be it the Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur (once the tallest towers in the world), the culinary mecca of Penang, the island of Borneo, or the UNESCO world heritage city of Malacca…you will never be short of options for weekend getaways.

Cost of Living Your cost of living will largely depend on the city you retire in. For instance, living in the happening city of Kuala Lumpur might cost you around 3500-4500 ringgits (Rs 60,000 - 75,000) per month. Renting a 1BHK in a decent locality of Kuala Lumpur may cost you 1100-1500 ringgits (Rs 18,000 - 25,000). Food prices are quite reasonable. A plate of street food should cost you $2 (Rs 140).

Kuala Lumpur has a cosmopolitan feel. With expats living from all over the world, the city is vibrant and warm. It is also a nightlife and shopping hub.

Other cities in Malaysia are cheaper…and less populated. Here are the top five cities in Malaysia and their cost of living.

Why we recommend Malaysia Malaysia is one of three countries in Southeast Asia that offer a special retirement visa for expatriates. The Malaysia: My Second Home program, a retirement visa system, has branded Malaysia as a foreign retirement country.

Though Malaysia imposes few guidelines for the retirement visa, the applicant must have a monthly income of US$2300. And married couples must have a combined balance of $50,000 (Rs 35 lakh) in a Malaysian bank account. For single retirees, the amount is $33,000 (Rs 23 lakh).

Malaysia might come at a price, but it offers great value. Constantly ranked among the top retirement havens in the world, Malaysia opens its arms to you…

Best Countries For Retirement #4: Mauritius - A Dream Island

Editor's Note: Our in-house editor Ritika recently returned from Mauritius and couldn't stop raving about what a peaceful and relaxed place it is. As usual, a vacation away from the bustling city of Mumbai made her realise how important it was to consider life, mabe even retirement, away from an urban jungle.


If you dream of retiring to an island that has white sand beaches, turquoise lagoons, and impeccably blue skies…Mauritius is your place. An isolated island in the heart of the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is a blend of beauty, bio-diversity, and cosmopolitan culture.

In a Nutshell The moment you land in Mauritius, your heart and lungs will thank you. A home to a pollution-free environment, it secures a top position in global air quality index. Every second person here is an Indian, thus you never feel away from home.

Let's hear out Ritika's experiences.

In Mauritius, I met many third generation Biharis whose ancestors had moved there to help with sugarcane farming. In fact, I met a lady who recently relocated from Mumbai and started a travel agency… She now feels completely at home and also visits Mumbai often due to the close proximity of Mauritius to India.

An Uninhabited Island Mauritius was an uninhabited island until the Dutch settled here in 1638. They named the island after Prince Maurice van Nassau. However, they abandoned the island in 1710. It was then a French colony for 100 years before the British invaded and occupied it. Mauritius finally gained independence in 1968.

The French influence is seen in everything… From the plantation homes that have chateau-like architecture to the cuisine, dotted with crusty breads and cheese…the French have firmly left their imprints here!

Let's Get the Facts A home to 1.3 million people, Mauritius' capital is Port Louis. It shelters a peaceful and multi-ethnic population, almost half of which is Hindu. It is a democratic country where a government is elected every five years.

The official languages are English and French. Creole is also used on a daily basis. However, don't be surprised if you find people speaking Hindi and Bhojpuri in Mauritius because a huge part of the population is from India…

The Indians we met told us their ancestors had come there almost a hundred years ago… While their ancestors were farmers, the second and third generation had now moved on to more lucrative industries like travel and hospitality. But they still keep their tradition alive and you will get a taste of their fare, with 'sambosas' and 'farathas' available in most places.

A Flourishing Island Mauritius is developing rapidly and it shows in the facts. It ranks first in the Index of African Governance. It is also among the top countries in the Global Peaceful Index. In a survey conducted by Forbes on the best countries for doing business, it was the only African nation among the top 40 economies.

Mauritius' infrastructure is flourishing by the day. Living here, you would not have to worry about basic facilities like water, roads, and electricity; everything is in place.

The best parts of Mauritius are the wide and clean roads, with sugarcane fields on both sides. The island is small and compact and you can get from one end to another at a motorable distance of not more than an hour. But you do face peak traffic and you will need to invest in a car to get around.

Port Louis is studded with advanced healthcare facilities and modern hospitals like Apollo and Fortis.

Mauritius is paradise for the lovers of seafood and multi-cuisine dishes. If you love to indulge in desi street food, then you won't miss it while residing here.

The currency of Mauritius is the Mauritian rupee. And 1 MUR equals 2 INR.

Hot and Humid I was there in May. The days were hot and humid…but as tourists we managed to accomplish a lot in a day. The temperature dropped in the nights, but marginally… Mosquitoes though prevented us from enjoying the cool night air, and we were often trapped indoors.

The climate one finds here is typically tropical. While it is hot and humid from November to March, it is warm and pleasant during the rest of the year. The winter months are July and August when the temperature drops to 16 degrees Celsius… And that's the coolest Mauritius gets.

If you live here, you'd find that the country sees monsoon right in the heart of summer. Mauritius is prone to heavy rainfall in January and February, and witnesses occasional tropical cyclones.

Leisure One of the world's top tourist destinations, Mauritius treasures plethora of attractions for you to fill your weekend.

These include SSR Botanical Garden, Le Morne Cultural Landscape, Black River Gorges National Park, and Crocodile and Giant Tortoises Park and Nature Reserve. The lovely beaches also add to the tranquility and charm.

If you enjoy watersports, then you can go for a multitude of water activities including scuba diving, undersea walking, and snorkeling. If you prefer calm getaways, then you can enjoy boating, fishing, and walking on the white beaches. You will also find many golf courses.

Mauritius has a very pretty Hindu temple, which houses all the Indian gods and a huge statue of Shiva… Another of goddess Durga was being built at the time I was there. The temple was clean, well-maintained, and an attraction for many Indian and foreign nationals.

Mauritius has plenty of activities and it is unlikely you will get bored. I wish I had a few more days there!

Visa Mauritius is paradise and it doesn't come easy. To acquire the non-resident retiree visa, you have to…

Be at least 50 years of age Transfer to your local bank account an amount of $40,000 (Rs 2,700,000 or an equivalent sum in any currency) annually Only married spouse and dependent children under 18 years can accompany you. You can learn more about the retirement visa here.

Living in Mauritius The dream island of Mauritius comes with a price. If you are shifting from India, then you will find the cost of living incredibly steep. But if you have previously lived in the US or European countries like France, Germany, England, etc, Mauritius will seem fairly reasonable.

You can rent a studio apartment or 1 BHK within 6,000 - 13,000 MUR (Rs 12,000 - 25,000).

From a tourist's perspective, Mauritius was expensive. Simple meals came up to INR 400-500 per head. Transportation was also steep, and cabbies quoted unreasonable sums for small distances. But I'm sure residents have it figured out. Anyway, the clean air and the quality of living definitely makes it worth the price!

Working in Mauritius You can pursue part time jobs to help pay your bills. Mauritius' major industry is tourism and thus it offers plenty of avenues to work as a travel guide, travel consultant, etc.

If you wish to work from home, you'll find enough opportunities to work as a content writer, accountant, translator, etc.

Mauritius is ideal for the laidback retiree who wants a peaceful life in island environment. Unlike beaches that otherwise turn into busy spots of nightlife and glitz, Mauritius retains its quaint and quiet appeal.

What's more it's clean air, fresh seafood, and deep connection to India will make you feel healthy, happy, and always at home.

Best Retirement Places in India: Goa - 365 Days of Holiday

WBC When I reached Goa first time, it seemed as if the place was asking me to slow down in life…and breathe. After all, peace matters most! - SK, 27

Located in a serene corner on the western coast, Goa is a dream destination. It defines the laid-back lifestyle. One comes here to savour a relaxed, 'chilled' life. A highly popular tourist destination among the youth, Goa could be a retirement haven as it promises clean air, blue skies, and a simple way of life.

A small place with a small population Only a few places in the country have the privilege of not being called 'over-populated', and Goa is one of them. It is one of the smallest states in India and has the fourth-smallest population. Panjim is the capital city. Madgaon and Vasco da Gama are other big towns. Goa is home to 1.5 million people and has a high literacy rate of 88%. Hindus constitute the largest part of the population followed by Christians and Muslims.

Goa shares its boundaries with Maharashtra on the north and Karnataka on the east and south. To its west lies the Arabian Sea. Enclosed by Western Ghats on most sides, Goa is rich in biodiversity.

A slice of Portugal in the Western Ghats Goa's history goes back thousands of years. Rock art carvings exhibit strong evidence of Paleolithic life.

Goa is a former Portuguese colony, and you can easily see the imprint of Portuguese culture even today.

Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa

3 Hacks for the Young Indian Investor Source: Pixabay

It is a treasure of Baroque architecture - a building style practiced in Europe in the 16th century. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is a fine specimen of Baroque architecture. Goa is home to numerous buildings erected in the Portuguese style. Even some temples - like Mangueshi Mandir - draw influence from the Portuguese architecture.

Three distinct goas Don't be surprised if you see three distinct faces of Goa. One is what the tourists see…the Calangute-Baga-Anjuna stretch in north Goa and Palolem in south Goa. The whole ecosystem here is favourable to tourists - Indian and foreign - who just want to chill.

North Goa seems like a huge country where houses are located at a distance and give a 'remote' feel. If you choose to settle here, the cost of living will be quite high, but at the same time you will find better opportunities for business. Though you will be in the middle of a booming tourism industry, you will have a quiet life.

The second is urban Goa. The cities of Panjim, Vasco da Gama, and Madgaon are developing by the day. Here you can savour modern infrastructure and cosmopolitan life; most facilities will be at your doorstep - daily needs and healthcare.

The third is the rural Goa. Far away from the tourist spots, rural Goa is draped in Konkani culture, and the local folks lead a normal life practicing agriculture, mining, etc.

You will find different kinds of people in different parts of Goa. However, you can easily get by with English and Hindi in any part of the state.

Hot and humid You can be sure of one thing while retiring in Goa: It won't be cool even in January. Situated in the coastal area, Goa witnesses a hot and humid climate for most of the year. The monsoon rains arrive in June and last till September.

In Goan words, the weather is always suitable to grab a pint of beer.

A personal vehicle is recommended Goa is well-connected with the major cities via road, rail, and airways. Many direct trains from Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore can be found on a daily basis. Goa has an international airport and regular flights to Sharjah, Kuwait, Dubai, Muscat, and Doha in the Middle East.

However, local transport is mostly private and offers average service. Local buses operate for limited hours and might affect your mobility. We recommend that you own a private vehicle, especially if you retire in northern Goa.

Seafood haven If you love to indulge in delectable fish, exotic crabs, and other seafood cooked in coconut oil…Goa is your place. It has rich wine culture and its own local beverage called Feni, which is made from the fermentation of the fruit from cashew tree.

The prices of alcohol, particularly beer, are remarkably low. A pint of beer that sells for Rs 120 elsewhere can be bought here for as low as Rs 35.

What is best tasted in Goa? Prawn curry and fish recheado.

Weekend is around? You live in GOA Goa attracts millions of tourists from around the world every year. When in Goa, you need not worry about leisure and recreational activities. Numerous beaches, vintage churches, museums, waterfalls, etc surround you. The Goan Carnival and New Year celebrations are two events you won't want to miss.

Tito's Bar & Cafe and Curlies are popular places to enjoy live music and drinks. Chapora Fort will charm you and make you reminisce Dil Chahta Hai. Dudhsagar, though quite far, is a majestic waterfall best visited in rainy season.

Income avenues Tourism being the main industry, Goa offers a plethora of income avenues to retirees. If you know some foreign languages, you can guide foreign tourists and make good income. You can also host tourists via AirBnb.

Goa lacks good transport facilities. A few of my relatives provide transportation to tourists from one place to another. They sought an untapped market and are now making a good buck. - LM

If you can invest in a small business, then Goa can help you explore your entrepreneurial side. From a transport business to small cafes and lodging, the opportunities are plenty.

Cost of living Living in Goa will definitely seem easy on the pocket if you're shifting from a metro city. It is almost as expensive as Bangalore or Pune. Renting a 1BHK space in Panjim might start from Rs 7,000. As you go north, it might range between Rs 8,000 and 10,000. Owning an independent house in north Goa will cost you a minimum Rs 80 lakh. Other living costs are on par with any 3-tier city.

There is more to Goa than the kaleidoscopic blend of India and Portugal. It is the land of sun, sea, and sand…and inexpensive restaurants too. So date your better half again…and retire young in the most happening state of India.

Best Retirement Cities in India: Port Blair - Simplicity, Serenity, Solitude...

If getting marooned on a beautiful island is your retirement dream, Port Blair is for you. Located in Southern Andaman, Port Blair is a small, beautiful town in the heart of the Bay of Bengal. Its serene beaches, crystal clear waters, and lush forests make you think you are living in foreign land…but Port Blair is more or less a typical Indian town.

The city is the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands - a conglomeration of 570 islands and one of the seven union territories of India. If you wonder whether Port Blair would match your lifestyle and have good retirement facilities, it probably would. It is soon to be developed as a smart city under Prime Minister Modi's ambitious Smart City Project.

An old-world town The first thing you notice about Port Blair is its intriguing history. The neat and quiet town completely retains the 'old-world' charm. You would know this if you witness its colonial relics or many Japanese bunkers.

Not to forget the national Cellular Jail, popularly called 'Kala Paani', erected at the beginning of the 20th century. The British used the infamous prison to exile political prisoners and several freedom fighters. Today, the vintage prison stands as a national memorial monument.

Small, Peaceful, Serene… You can roam around the entire city and come back to the same point in 45 minutes. Being in a small place, almost everyone knows each other. - AS, a local resident.

Port Blair is a cosmopolitan blend of people from different cultures and ethnicities. The community is made up of Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, Malay, and North Indian folks. You can easily get by with Hindi in any part of the city. Hinduism is practiced by majority of people, followed by Christianity and Islam.

The city is mostly a crime free, peaceful place. Being a union territory, Andaman and Nicobar Islands don't witness the politics that comes with a state legislature. Port Blair is the headquarters of Andaman and Nicobar police. It is also the local administrative sub-division (tehsil) of the islands.

You will be intrigued to know that Port Blair is the only place in India where the Indian Armed Forces - the army, the navy, and the air force - are jointly commanded by a single chief.

Connectivity Port Blair is the gateway to Andaman and Nicobar Islands. You will find direct flights from Chennai, Kolkata, New Delhi, Bhubaneshwar, and Vishakhapatnam. But it takes three-four days to reach Port Blair by sea route from Chennai, Kolkata, and Vishakhapatnam.

Weather Port Blair is mostly hot and humid throughout the year. The temperature lingers between mid-twenties and mid-thirties. It drops a bit in January and February, but you never experience any chill in the air.

Rains are notorious in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and only the period from January to March can be called 'dry'. Rains arrive in mid-April and last till December.

Food If you love to indulge in sea food, Port Blair is paradise for you. While living here, you can savour fresh sea food throughout the year. The Andamani fish curry is something to drool over.

In case all you want is a scrumptious plate of vegetarian food, you won't be disappointed as there are a couple of vegetarian restaurants like Annapurna, Icy Spicy, etc. All in all, whatever your taste may be - from North Indian to South Indian cuisine…or even Italian, Chinese, and Thai for that matter - you will find every cuisine here at quite a reasonable rate.

Leisure The islands of Andaman pull thousands of tourists every year. Living in Port Blair, you would be surrounded by impeccably blue waters, beautiful islands, and clear skies. There are enough getaways around Port Blair to make your weekends colourful.

-Ross Island and other islands

Located two kilometres from the city of Port Blair, Ross is a beautiful island where you can find several buildings of yore - museums, churches, bungalows, etc. A weekend trip to this secluded island and you'd find your senses tranquilised.

-Cellular Jail

Now a memorial monument, the cellular jail hymns the struggle of freedom fighters such as Veer Savarkar and Batukeshwar Dutt. A place you must visit for its stories and architecture.

-Adventure Sports

You can find many water adventure sports around Port Blair. If you are an adrenaline junkie, you can easily indulge in activities such as snorkelling, scuba diving, jet-ski, banana boat rides, and more on the islands.

Nightlife in Port Blair won't appeal to you if you love to go pubbing or bar hopping.

Income Avenues Agriculture, trade, and tourism form the backbone of Andaman's economy. The tourism industry offers scope for small businesses like cafes, Airbnb, etc. If you can learn some foreign languages, you can guide international tourists across the islands.

You can also work from home on a part-time basis. Look for some opportunities here.

Living in Port Blair Port Blair recorded a population of one lakh in the 2011 consensus. Living here is as costly as in a two-tier city in any part of the country. You can rent a two BHK apartment for Rs 8,000-10,000.

As for the retirement community, a rich blend of people is here to fraternise with. You can find many communities to blend into. Port Blair has good medical facilities - equipped hospitals, trained medical staff. It has air ambulance facilities too. You need not worry about healthcare while living here.

Port Blair is a beautiful town that was ordained to be aloof from the mainland. It is draped in seclusion and quietude. If gazing stars at night and listening to the faint sound of sea waves is your idea of retirement, don't think again and move to this land of simplicity, serenity, and solitude.

Best Retirement Cities in India: Bhubaneshwar - Retire to the Land of Gods

Located in a corner of India, Bhubaneshwar is seldom thought of as a retirement destination. But it could be the perfect place for you.

Bhubaneshwar is the capital of Odisha and the largest city in the state.

Bhubaneshwar is the confluence of serenity and modernity, you find temples with their pious aura as well as malls and shopping stores at par with major metropolitan cities of our nation. The climate is awesome, relaxing and rejuvenating: neither too cold not too hot. Cool breeze to pacify your soul in evenings and rains that uncover the mesmerizing beauty of nature. - Shikhar, a resident on Quora An ancient town The history of Bhubaneshwar dates back to the first year of the common era and even before that. Often referred to as 'the temple city of India', it preserves numerous temples from the eighth and twelfth centuries that depict ancient hues of Kalinga architecture.

With Puri and Konark, it forms the Swarna Tribhuja - one of eastern India's most visited destinations.

It's a city of paramount religious importance.

And modern at the same time… The modern city of Bhubaneshwar took shape in 1948. It replaced Cuttack one year later as the state. Along with Jamshedpur and Chandigarh, Bhubaneshwar was one of the first planned cities of independent India.

Bhubaneshwar is developing fast. It was declared a Tier-2 city after the consensus of 2011. Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack are cited as 'the twin cities of Odisha' and together they have a population of about two million people.

The town is a big IT and education hub and holds a top position in the government's smart cities list. City residents are likely to witness high-end infrastructure development in the near future.

Bhubaneshwar is well connected with major cities in India by rail and road. Biju Patnaik international Airport is located in the south of Bhubaneshwar. Travel within the city should be easy, as you can easily find online cab services like Ola, Uber, and Jugnoo.

Pleasant climate In Bhubaneshwar, you will mostly experience a pleasant temperature of 27-28 degrees Celsius. However, be ready to face summer at its peak in May when the temperature jumps up to 42 degrees. In January, it cools down to 15.

The city sees heavy rainfall in the month of August.

Recreation While staying in Bhubaneshwar, you don't have to worry about weekend plans. If you're a religious person, you will be spoiled for choice as Bhubaneshwar is said to have hundreds of temples. Some of the famous temples are Lingaraj, Muktesvara, Rajarani, and Ananta Vasudeva.

History buffs can visit the Odisha State Museum.

Rath Yatra is the most important festival in Odisha and Bhubaneshwar. Hundreds of devotees participate in pulling a mammoth cart carrying a thousand deities. The festival attracts lakhs of people every year.

The city treasures rich culture. Adivasi Mela, held in January every year, exhibits art, artefacts, tradition, culture, and music of the tribal folks of Odisha.

A city of opportunities You may be surprised to know that Bhubaneshwar was ranked as the best place to do business in India by the World Bank in 2014.

The economy thrives on tourism, IT, and education. Home to institutes such as AIIMS and IIT, scholars and educators could pursue part time teaching and tutoring while living in Bhubaneshwar.

The city has many other part-time income avenues, which you can find here.

Living in Bhubaneshwar Cost of living in Bhubaneshwar is pretty much same as in any other Tier-2 city in India. You can rent a well-located two-bedroom house for Rs 6,000-Rs 10,000.

If you intend to invest in property, you can check the real estate prices here.

People in Bhubaneshwar are actually really good. Especially I liked their culture and the way they try to inculcate good moral values into their children. The ladies would wake up early in the morning, pluck flowers to offer to their God, clean the house and decorate it with Rangoli outside the door each and every day. The food they prepare is specially very nutritious. No wonder, people in Odisha have such good skin and hair. - Harshita on Quora Living in Bhubaneshwar will expose you to a variety of cuisines. If you're fond of seafood, you will love to be here. The staple food is rice and fish curry known as machcha jhoro. The city is also a paradise for street food lovers. Items such as gupchup and cuttack chaat are popular.

Why Bhubaneshwar? '…the slow pace of the city allowed people to stop and look at beautiful things going in their life and enjoy them. People were not in a rush to get their work done rather they would stop their car on a roadside stand and enjoy a plate of Dahi-bada Aloo Dum or Puchka (Two great delicacies of Odisha).' - Varun, a resident on Quora Being in Bhubaneshwar means being amid spirituality, good people, good food, a slow lifestyle, and peace. Just what people need in the relaxing times of their life. Choose to retire in the land of gods, and colours, and tranquillity.

Retire Next Year #17: Best Retirement Communities in India

When people are in their golden years, all they want is peace and well-being. Free from all kinds of responsibilities and obligations, they look forward to breathing fresh air, indulging in leisure and having some good times. While retiring on a hill station or in a seaside town may bring peace to your senses, it won't fulfil an important aspect of retirement - socialising with like-minded people.

Socialising is critical to the well-being or retired individuals - in fact, studies connect positive social environments to improved quality of life, mental well-being and physical health.

Additionally, you may want to retire where you have ready access to amenities and healthcare facilities, designed for you. It is essential that you choose a retirement destination keeping all these factors in mind.

Therefore, in today's letter, instead of talking about great retirement towns as we usually do, we bring to you four retirement communities…where you will people from all walks of life, impeccable infrastructure, prompt healthcare and other facilities.

Anandam, Kodaikanal Anandam is situated at the foothills of lush green Western Ghats in Kodaikanal - the fresh air there is a blessing for your lungs and overall health. Not only is Kodi a lovely place to live, Anandam has some lovely houses, and has received many accolades and an award for the Best Retirement Development of the World and is also the most awarded Retirement Community in India

I feel Anandam to be the best suitable place for our requirement. I have booked 2 Villas at Anandam. We find the people at Anandam to be very cordial.We have visited the site several times and find it to an ideal place to settle down and it has a beautiful atmosphere. The food and the services are very good. - P R Sheshan, Ex- Joint Secretary ( Govt of India)

An internationally managed organisation, Anandam seems to have mastered the art of creating positive retirement communities.

What's good? At Anandam, you can customise a lifestyle that you want. There are myriad recreational activities especially designed for senior citizens. These include golf, football golf, tennis, croquet, and movie screenings. At night you can indulge in activities like Tambola, Music & Karaoke Nights. It has an advanced infrastructure with ambulance facilities, treated water supply, generators installed for power backup, cafeteria, etc. A tie-up with healthcare centres like Apollo, Sreedhareeyam Eye Hospital, Ayurveda Hospital, etc. ensures safety and medical attention 24×7. Anandam has multiple luxurious villa options viz., 1BHK, 2BHK, 3BHK. While few villas are available on rent, you can reach them for prices and other details here. Anandam also offers a trial stay. You can book it here.

AAMOKSH, Kasauli Spread over acres of land in Kasauli, Aamoksh retirement homes are senior citizens' paradise. Overlooking lush green valleys of the Himalayas, Aamoksh has around 88 apartments and a club for entertainment. It is haven for those who believe in a luxurious assisted living.

I chose Aamoksh because of its vast expanse of land and its openness. The amenities and facilities that Aamoksh offers is a blessing for its residents. - AG

The retirement community believes that retirement homes are not about institutional meals and poky apartments. The contemporary senior citizens believe in energetic lifestyle hence their homes have to have vigour.

What's good? Aamoksh believes in being young at 60. They don't follow deadlines for meals, or a time-bound schedule. You can feel home at Aamoksh. Set in Kasauli, Aamoksh is paradise for those who want to see picturesque views, serene sunsets, and beautiful mountains. Studded with modern amenities like club house, swimming pool, medical and physiotherapy, centrally heated apartments, senior friendly gyms, dining area, restaurants, wifi, etc., Kasauli is about leading a lavish life. Aamoksh offers 88 apartments - 2 BHK, 1BHK, and studio options. To know about how you can stay at Aamoksh, go here. Aamoksh is located in Kasauli - about 50 km from Chandigarh, which happens to be the nearest airport and Kalka being the nearest railway station.

Suvidha Retirement Village, Bangalore Suvidha is a new age retirement village on the outskirts of Bangalore. Spread over an area of 30 acres - including a three acre lake in its heart. Suvidha boasts of landscaped areas with a plantation of over 3000 trees.

If you want to spend your golden years in a countryside that is full-fledged with modern day facilities, Suvidha retirement village is the place to be. It is for those who work hard all their life, and hope to retire to a quiet place to read novels underneath lukewarm sunlight.

What's good? A countryside feel with modern-day lifestyle and healthcare amenities, Suvidha has over 150 cottages amid lush greenery. The retirement village doesn't compromise on facilities. It has peaceful walkways, meditation centre, gymnasium, yoga and massage centre, badminton and table tennis court, unisex salons, etc. It also offers advanced healthcare facilities such as a small operation theatre, a clinic for dressings and first aid, and several equipment for cardiac patients.

Suvidha retirement village believes in eco-friendly lifestyle. They follow an eco-friendly waste management system that takes care of both kitchen and garden waste. They also have an organic kitchen garden, and a community garden space where you can grown your own herbs and vegetables. Suvidha is located approximately 20 kilometres from the heart of Bangalore. Here is how you can make your way to the retirement village from Bangalore. To enquire about cottage bookings, reach them here. You can ask your queries about Suvidha here.

Serene senior living is a chain of retirement communities located in Chennai, Coimbatore, Pondicherry, and Kachipuram. You can choose any location as per your convenience. Their row houses and apartments are an epitome of luxury, comfort, and simplicity.

Serene is one of those very few organisations that realises the difficulties and requirements for senior citizens. - NS Paidan

If you aim to spend your retirement years amid friends and a plush lifestyle, Serene Senior Living is for you.

Soldier What's good? Situated in multiple cities, it gives you a choice to retire where you want. Home of posh and classy retirement homes, Serene gives you a luxurious space to live. Taking care of all the basic needs of senior citizens, Serene Senior Living provides an extraordinary infrastructure that takes care of healthcare, transportation, hygienic food, etc. Other amenities include Wi-Fi services, library, gym, indoor sports, etc. As it is situated in multiple cities, you can visit the website to choose your retirement destination. Serene offers gorgeous row houses, villas, and lavish apartments - you can pick the accommodation as per your convenience and budget.

If you liked hearing about these retirement communities, and would like to learn about more of these in India, let us know by replying to this email.

retire-next-year.txt · Last modified: 2018/06/15 15:58 by 171.60.242.59