I’m at Fontevraud Abbey in France’s Loire Valley, gazing at the face of a man who left this world over 800 years ago. Fontevraud was the final resting place of Richard the Lionheart—or at least most of him. Arguably the most famous of England’s Plantagenet rulers, the crusader king died in 1199. If his reclining effigy is a true likeness, he was a handsome brute.
If you’re considering a home in the Emerald Isle, now is a great time to buy. After years of price falls and stagnation, the property market is starting to come out of the doldrums. And for North American buyers, the currency exchange rate means that your dollars now go further than they have in a decade.
Imagine a land like something from a fairy tale. Magnificent châteaux have spiky black turrets resembling witches’ hats. Immaculate Renaissance gardens prove that horticulture is indeed an art form. Riverbank towns with timber-framed houses, ancient arched bridges, and openair markets dot the landscape. Vineyards give way to wheat fields studded with scarlet poppies and scarecrows that are far too prettily dressed to be outside scaring crows.
There’s a situation right now worth your attention south of the U.S. in Mexico. Mexico is set to become a developed country in the coming decades. You can benefit most from this economic transformation in the beach city of Playa del Carmen. The strategy? Buy best-in-class real estate, particularly the type of real estate that will appeal to the mobile entrepreneurs and young, new, upper middle-class families that are moving there.
Before the automobile came along, people lived life on a more intimate scale. You shopped at the local butcher, baker, and grocer (whom you knew by name). The café downstairs, or down the street, was your second home, and its patrons your second family. You scheduled your day by how long it took to walk from place to place…and nobody was in a rush, anyway.
When I think of country living in Panama, I think of Volcan in Chiriqui Province. To me, it offers the ideal blend of rural lifestyle in a small-town setting.
Fun and Sun in Panama’s Most Convenient Beach Community
Most folks looking for their dream home have a good idea what they want…a mountain estate with panoramic vistas, or perhaps a country cottage with a colorful garden.
When I fell in love with the Pacific island of Fiji in 1999, my mom, who’s a steady, smart person, implored me to reconsider building a vacation rental in such a distant locale.
With vacation rentals, location is everything. Except for the little luxuries, like upgraded kitchens, a water feature (or three) or a luxurious master suite.
I talk to a lot of people who are considering renting their second home out to vacationers. Some of them already have a home, sitting empty most of the year.
Five years ago I moved to Malaysia. It’s a fun-loving, outdoorsy, and welcoming country. It’s friendly and English speaking—even the road signs are in English, and the roads in Malaysia are some of the best that I have seen anywhere in the world.
Cheerful songbirds greet you as you enjoy a rich Italian coffee on your terrace. The sun rises from the direction of the Adriatic Sea—a mere half-hour drive away.
With high peaks, and stunning mountain scenery, Ecuador’s capital city of Quito is known to some as el ciudad de los cielos (the city of the heavens).
Ireland is about the best place I can think of for genuine hospitality. Folks speak English—which is a big plus—and hopping around Europe from your Emerald Isle retreat is a synch thanks to low-cost airlines. (For example, flights of a couple of hours to France cost from $80.) I’m sure you know the country’s real estate market took a beating during the crisis. It’s picking up, but there are still great-value properties to be uncovered.
Mexico is set to become a developed country in the coming decades. We can benefit most from this economic transformation in the beach city of Playa del Carmen. Playa del Carmen, a veritable boom town today, is already a well-recognized name among tourists. But today it’s becoming something more than just a hot spot for travelers.
Though the evenings come sooner and the cold is beginning to bite, there’s still enough sunlight in an Irish September to enjoy the splendor of the countryside. Summer leaves are fading to shades of brown, amber, and ﬁery orange. On the telegraph wires, swallows gather in preparation for their annual migration to southern Africa. I enjoy all four seasons in Ireland, from the ﬁrst winter snowdrops to the summer strawberries. But it’s days like today, the last vestiges of fading summer warmth before winter arrives in earnest, that you really appreciate walks in the countryside.
In 2009, the global financial and economic crisis steam-rolled through fragile Portugal. In the six years since, I have been closely watching the real estate market in the Algarve (that’s the popular tourist destination at the nation’s foot). I have made four scouting trips here in recent times. Finally, it’s time to make a move.
For millions of folks, golf satisfies something in the soul: hitting that one pure shot…breathing fresh air…and walking an immaculate course…the fast friendships forged on the fairway (and in the clubhouse bar). The game we know today has its origins in Scotland in the 15th century. popularized by British royalty, it soon spread throughout Europe and beyond.
Sipping my locally grown coffee on the sun-drenched balcony of my house in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I sometimes have to pinch myself. It’s a far cry from the numbing cold myself and my wife Nancy endured during our many winters in the interior of British Columbia. Chopping firewood, shoveling snow, and piling on four layers of clothing…I don’t miss any of it.
A cobbled square, an outdoor café, a sky full of stars. Vincent van Gogh’s Café Terrace At Night is laden with the romance of place—I always want to step into the picture and sit at one of the tables…drink a glass or two of wine…join the patrons in idle conversation. Van Gogh painted the picture during his time in Arles—a small city in Provence in the sunny south of France.
Life in and around the town of Pedasi is lived on outdoor terraces. It’s here that you’ll find people sipping their morning coffee, eating breakfast, and swinging or rocking in the shade—hammocks and rocking chairs are a common sight.
Picture yourself retired in Italy…spending your mornings with Italian coffee, fresh-baked bread, bright-colored melons, and a spread of soft mozzarella cheeses, tomatoes so red that you can’t keep your eyes off them, and dark, rich jams—all locally made, of course.
If you’re looking for a laid-back destination—but don’t want to be far from First World sophistication—few places fit the bill better than coastal Spain.
Bay after bay (22 in all) of crashing blue surf, craggy cliffs, beautiful rock formations, and pristine virgin beaches surround San Juan del Sur on Nicaragua’s southwest coast.
Imagine living in a sophisticated, seaside resort city with First-World amenities all right at hand. Your condo is comfortable and airy,
The dazzling Caribbean island of Roatán offers much more than spectacular sugarsand beaches and cozy, inviting bays. You’ll also find mountainous terrain lush with vibrant tropical flowers. Head up any of the many hills that form the interior to be awestruck by the surrounding Caribbean Sea, its surface sparkling in the sun, its depths tinged with aquamarine, topaz, and soft green hues.
The news out of Brazil is bad. Really bad. I’m excited. I’m excited because, while the media’s stories imply that the whole nation is a mess, I know that’s not the case. But most people don’t know that. And for you that opens a window of opportunity. You see, Brazil’s media is centered in, and dominated by, Rio and São Paolo. What reaches us as “Brazil news” is essentially just Rio/São Paolo news. And yes, there are troubles in Brazil’s economy, no question. But I’ve been focusing my attention south of Fortaleza in the northeast, and I’ve come across some great opportunities.
In the northwest corner of Spain you ﬁnd a land where the bagpipes, known locally as the gaita, is the preferred instrument, a hallmark of the region’s Celtic heritage. The Galicia province, one of the least-known Celtic nations, is littered with Celtic sites. These include ancient places of worship and stone huts similar to those found in other parts of the Celtic world. Festivals with Celtic origins continue to be celebrated. And the local language, Gallego, even has several words of Celtic origin. Today the region is an autonomous community within modern Spain.
You’ll enjoy some of Mexico’s ﬁnest quality of living for a fraction of what you’d pay in the U.S. or Canada. All told, a couple can comfortably call this paradise home for around $2,500 to $3,000 a month. Simple meals in local restaurants will run you $5 or less. One of my favorites, ﬁsh tacos, can be had for $1.50 each in the no-frills beach restaurants. And in stores, you can expect to pay prices similar to those in the U.S. for imported foods, but fresh produce is a bargain…try a pound of tomatoes for 65 cents or two pounds of fresh fruit like mango for $1. There are big savings on property taxes and healthcare, too. And where else can you enjoy life in a two-bedroom condo a stone’s-throw from the beach, in a premier beach town, for under $700 a month rent?
I’m a cynic. I’ve traveled enough and read enough about travels to firmly doubt most things. Like my grandpa used to say: “Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.” But I’ve seen the light. That is, I’ve seen the rose-hued glow of an Alentejo sky and it really does […]
You step from your dining room onto a large balcony. It’s warm out—short-sleeves only—and the sun is dipping behind forest-clad mountains. Cut-stone steps lead down to your cobbled courtyard and from there your split-level garden. Your orchard’s looking good: Lemon, fig, olive, avocado, and cherry trees laden with fruit. Maybe now’s the time to fire […]
Costa Rica’s northern Pacific is a place where you often might be one of a dozen people on the beach. It’s laidback and on a reasonable scale. Small villages. Quiet resort towns. Manageable. Lots of trees and natural areas. Not crowded. The level of development, though increasing, is still very small. And the attention development […]
Imagine coffee on your terrace as you enjoy spectacular views of lush green mountains and the valley and town below. Parrots glide overhead as the sun sets over the mountain… A lot of living is done outdoors here in the Central Valley region of Costa Rica. A major draw is the comfortable year-round climate. The […]
Picture a kitchen garden, orchards of fruit trees, your own slice of jungle, and stunning lake views… This is the Lake Arenal region, and you can have a dream homestead here with large properties for sale at affordable prices. When it comes to up-and-coming destinations for expat home buyers in Costa Rica, this part of […]
Europe offers rich culture, history, sophistication and—with today’s strong dollar—affordable living as well. The InternationalLiving.com report points to the five best-value countries for a European retirement today.
It’s 10 a.m. in the morning and I’m strolling a nearly-deserted beach. A few people walk their dogs along the boardwalk, or paseo marítimo, while joggers pass them at a steady, even pace. I’m wearing only a light sweater over my sleeveless top, and within an hour I’ll shed it, as temperatures rise to a pleasant mid-70s F. By afternoon, sunbathers will dot this long beach, a few hardy souls even swimming the still-chilly waters of the Guadalquivir River. More will enjoy al fresco meals at the many water-side restaurants, their faces tilting toward the sun as they enjoy freshly-caught seafood and the region’s crisp white wines.
You notice the difference the minute your vehicle starts lumbering up the excellent road that circles the city. You suddenly feel a cool breeze through the window; everything is green and fresh. You’ve left the hot lowlands behind. You feel like you are somewhere else as you pass acres of coffee beans drying out in the sun, trees that you’ve never seen before, mountain vistas at every turn, and horses and cattle on their ranches eyeing you curiously. Miles and miles of thick forest beckon you to explore.
Eleven years ago, I made my first public speech about opportunity in international real estate. The topic? “Nicaragua: The Next Costa Rica?” I argued that indeed it was. The premise of my talk was straightforward. Over time, I predicted, Nicaragua would develop along lines similar to those tourist-friendly Costa Rica has followed.
The glittering, cerulean Mediterranean. Not a bad view every morning as you enjoy coffee and croissants from your terrace. Life is good. Sunny days. Freshcaught seafood. Crashing waves your lullaby every night…or for those drowsy, afternoon, after-lunch siestas. And salt-scented breezes keeping things cool.