International Living is a website that offers an amazing wealth of information, stories, articles, and tips about living... internationally. They have a monthly magazine that is available on-line and through the mail as well as a number of newsletters, both free and by-subscription.
Back in June, I met with IL Editor Eoin (pronounced "Owen") Bassett in a Saigon cafe. I'd read that he'd be in Việt Nam at the same time as I and sent him an email asking if he'd be interested in meeting a soon-to-be ex-pat and writer who was seriously looking to retire in Việt Nam. He said he would.
In the 04 January EXTRA edition of the "International Living free daily email "postcards", Eoin recounted a bit of our conversation and what followed (I added the first two hyperlinks):
"The Crazy House – I first met John P. in a crowded coffee house in District 3 of Ho Chi Minh City. This is old Saigon, where scooter-packed boulevards give way to winding lanes and you'll find pastel-pink churches built by Vietnam's former French colonial masters.
"A former firefighter and a newbie IL reader, John was scouting Vietnam for retirement destinations. I was doing the same thing and we were comparing notes.
"John was staying in District 1, where you'll find most of the city's expats. I had just come from the hill town of Dalat about a 50-minute flight north.
"John had ridden his motorcycle around much of the country. He hadn't spent any time in Dalat though, so I filled him in. With a temperate climate, pine forests, coffee plantations, and silkworm farms, Dalat was where the French colonists escaped the tropical heat and humidity. You can still see their villas and you'll find a mini Eiffel tower in town, along with palatable local wine, made with grapes and mulberries.
"It's also home to a unique spot, 'the Crazy House.' This architectural artwork is the brainchild of the daughter of a former Vietnamese president and attracts tourists from all over:
"Then there's the cost of living. You can rent an apartment in Dalat for around $300, eat out for less than a buck...I reckon a single guy like John could live well on a $1,000 a month, probably less, and that includes a regular weekly massage at one of the hotels, plus travel around the region exploring all it offers.
"John liked what he heard. When we went our separate ways, he seemed determined to visit.
"That was about six months ago. Well, I just heard from him and he tells me: 'I've divested myself of 99% of my worldly possessions and within the next 10 days I will ship my few belongings to Dalat and fly up to meet them. Then, after settling in at Villa Pink House, I'll start the search for a rental property.'
"The Villa Pink House is where I stayed and the owner gives famous tours that are not for the faint of heart. They involve motorcycles and mountain roads, but if you can handle it, the views and visits with locals are unforgettable.
"That might just sum up Vietnam as a retirement destination. If you want an adventure and incredibly low costs, then it should be on your list. It's probably the most interesting place I have ever scouted for International Living. Not always the easiest, but definitely among the most exotic retirement destinations in the world today.
"That's the reason it's a newcomer to this year's Global Retirement Index. And it's also why—in your February issue—I'll be reporting in full on the best destinations in the country. In fact, in your December 2014 issue I already reported on the country's best beach destination where you can rent for as little as $200 a month. Check that story out here."
As you might be able to guess, I am a HUGE fan of IL! Without Eoin's glowing report on Đà Lạt, who knows if I would headed there? Thanks again, Eoin!
If you'd like to get their free daily email postcards, click here and put your email address in the box near the top of the page. Also check out their very reasonable International Living magazine subscription and the monthly Incomes Abroad PDF newsletter. I am a paid subscriber to the latter two publications and find valuable information in every issue.
Let me know what you think... and please look me up when you come to Đà Lạt!