Hello All...been reading the forums for a couple of days....but can't really find what I'm looking for. I live in Toronto, Canada, and have the opportunity to leave the country for January and February. I'm not really interested in traveling all over the place and sightseeing, I just want to escape the cold! Ideally, a small apartment in a small city close to a beach, grocery store, gym etc., with internet, a/c, fridge and stove....sorta like home minus the snow. Any country would be fine so long as it doesn't cost a fortune. Sure, it's easy to book a hotel in Rio, and eat at restaurants....but spending 6 or 7 thousand for a couple months is out of the question. Any ideas?
Except for Costa Rica, anywhere in central america is cheap and close to the beach. Not to mention, you can bounce around down there really easily.
I don't know why you'd want to leave Toronto. It's a beautifully gray day with the temperature dropping down to 3 degrees today. Sounds wonderful!
Actually, the good news is your situation isn't that unique. You've got a number of options.
The web is your friend. You will be able to find a lot of services that can help you arrange an apartment elsewhere in the world by googling "temporary apartment vacation."
You could do an apartment swap. There are a number of places on the web where you can put your apartment up for swap, and find a place in South or Central America to inhabit for a while. Just google "Apartment Swap" to see the websites.
You could also try and do a homestay, where you stay with a local family. These are often arranged as part of a spanish language course, which would be a cool option - take a course and stay with a family.
As for a place, it depends on your budget, but most of Central and South America is cheaper than Canada. Argentina might be a good location - something in and around Buenos Aires would allow you the "small town" on the beach that you want, while still providing the ability to run into a very metropolotian city for the night life.
I'm going to Costa Rica (hopefully!) in February and I personally think that it would be a great place to just "get away from it all". From the people I've spoken to who've been, it's not that expensive to stay in, although I'm really not sure about apartments. It cost them less than 2000$ (CDN) and that's including flight, and everything else. One thing that is interesting is that you can book hostels for up to 31 days, and they're usually inexpensive in Costa Rica. Also, transportation within the country is really cheap. But I agree with Greg in that Central and South America will likely cost you the least.
Again, I'm going to Argentina for 2 weeks, the last week of January and the first week of February, ish... Throo this site I've managed to book a double room with en-suite facilities in a hostel in Cordoba (Arg's 2nd largest city) for like £6 per night (I think that's about $8-10 USD). And I have a bed in a dorm in a hostel in Buenos Aires for like £2 per night (about $3-4 USD). Each of the hostels advertise that they have their own kitchen that you can use, internet access, etc., etc... The only thing that's expensive about it is the flight... From the UK, it cost me £540 (about $800-1000 USD). Apparently, after reading some of the other posts on these forums, you can survive for between $15-30 USD per day... Not sure if that is inclusive of your bed or not... Also, a 600Km bus ride in Arg will cost around 50 pesos ($15 USD), apparently. And the climate ranges from bloody hot in the north to bloody cold in the south...
Hope this helps...
Thanks for all the replies. Now I have a few more things to think about. I think an apartment rather than a hostel is more my style...like I said, I'm happy to just stay in one spot, in a city close to the beach. Privacy, a secure place to keep my stuff when I go out for the day, ability to plug in my laptop. Still researching, addition ideas welcome.
Look at Panama - the city is only one hour from the Pacific beaches and less than 2 hours from very nice beaches on the Caribbean.
US dollar economy so with the Loonie gaining ground you'll be okay there, costs are similar to Canada for food etc, cheaper for booze. You could probably find a decent 1 bedroom apartment furnished for $300 to $500 a month (I have some friends in Real Estate here so I could ask them to look for you).
Some of these may already have phone (and internet) hooked up.
Tons of stuff to do in and around the city, heaps of nightlife and a single guys paradise for meeting women.
Just had to fly back to BC to get some paperwork sorted and quick visit to the folks, after one morning of scraping frost off the car windshield let alone seeing the snow coming down the mountains - it was back to Panama as quick as I could!!!!