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Malta is a safe place to put your real estate dollars. During the last six years of economic crisis this stable and peaceful haven was left untouched. That comes as no surprise to the international business community that knows this Mediterranean island nation well. For the past five centuries, Malta has managed to negotiate its way out of troubles that have crushed empires.
As a wise man once said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first few steps, and that’s particularly true when it comes to making the move overseas. Those first steps are all about learning: learning what you want out of your move, learning what you really need to do to get there, learning what your courses of action should be, and learning where the edges of error lay.
Colombia has been on my radar for some time. For big oil and banking, the action is in Bogotá. But it’s getting expensive there and the city is already bursting. I prefer to focus my efforts in this part of world in Medellín, and in the El Poblado area in particular.
The old notion that “when America sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold” is fading. U.S. businesses and consumers no longer rule the globe. And for smart investors everywhere, the message is clear: For solid profits, you must put some wealth to work in markets beyond U.S. borders.
In 1994, billionaire entrepreneur Bill Gates spent $30.8 million on 18 pieces of paper. His purchases weren’t paintings or artwork—at least, not in the traditional sense. They were manuscripts, handwritten 500 years ago by artist, inventor, and genius Leonardo da Vinci. Bill Gates wanted to own the Codex Leicester because he wanted a tangible connection to one of his heroes—and he’s not alone.
The Tulum area, at the southern edge of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, has the finest, white-sand beaches on my beat. Turquoise waters lap on soft sand while breezes rustle through palm trees. This is a great place to spend time—a place I like to vacation. It’s jet-set chic here.
The best beaches in Mexico are just 70 minutes down the coast from Cancun. Some are still deserted, dotted only with coconut palm trees and curious iguanas. Seabirds duck and dive overhead. It’s a place of utter beauty and tranquility—azure blue water and total silence except for the roar of the surf. But it’s not just about white-sand beaches here.
Close on a decade ago I first stood on the white sands at Tulum, Mexico. Playa del Carmen was my base for this trip, and I saw first-hand what was happening. Playa was taking off—as were its real estate values. Ninety minutes down the coast (before the road improvements) Tulum was a secluded piece of paradise. It was an empty beach—there wasn’t a single soul. I drove down a potholed, rutted, sand road with a friend.
The global economic crisis popped Spain’s real estate bubble. That’s why today you could buy a spacious condo in a high-end community on one of the nicest stretches of the Costa del Sol with monthly payments from $483. That’s a low sticker price. And, this is a stunning place to visit and spend time. You have dramatic views along the coast. Long winding sandy beaches you can walk for miles. Quirky Gibraltar.
For 15 years, real estate prices in Spain soared. Then in 2007 demand slowed. By the time the worldwide economic crisis rolled through Spain and Europe, the real estate bubble had well and truly popped.
In Chinese script, the character for crisis is actually a construct of two symbols: one for danger and the other for opportunity. The danger is what everybody sees; the opportunity is not quite as obvious, but it’s always lurking somewhere. Late last year I visited Cyprus to search through the rubble of a crisis—one of the most significant financial meltdowns in recent history.
Can a person make money out of bits of old paper, or are they simply too “ephemeral?” The word ephemera means “something of no lasting significance.” In collecting, however, ephemera is the buzzword for all things interesting made of paper. And for collectors, ephemera have lasting significance, indeed.
Cancun wasn’t always packed with high-rise condos and tourist accommodation. In fact, in 1970, it had just three inhabitants. (Yes, you read that right.) Then, in 1974, Fonatur (Mexico’s tourism development authority) kicked off a master plan to bring tourism to this sandy spit of land. They built the infrastructure and provided the incentives necessary to attract hotelier tourists—and it worked.
I’ve never seen a stretch of the Caribbean more beautiful than the Riviera Maya. Standing on the warm, clean, coral-sanded beach, turquoise water laps at your feet. Behind you, palm trees sway and rustle in gentle breezes. Dive into that water and you can explore the world’s second-longest coral reef. Or step back from the beach and take in untamed jungle, ancient forest cities, and mythical cenotes—underground, swimmable caverns revered as sacred places by the Maya people.
In August I visited a new luxury beachfront apartment building on the Costa del Sol’s new Golden Mile. Within eight days earlier this year, 122 apartments in the building sold. The fire-sale pricing was that good: $347,209 for an apartment. Seven months later, these apartments were listing for $528,396 each.
For any careful investor it’s important to understand not just the current trend but rather where we’re headed. As such, keep an eye toward the future for the growth leaders of tomorrow. Since 2007, emerging markets have been outspending American consumers. Take a look at the charts here to see how the international growth/redistribution of current consumption trends will change the landscape of international business.
A great view usually translates into a premium price tag. But you can afford a home with stunning vistas if know the right place to look. For example, I know of one Pacific coast town where a beachfront condo with Californian-style ocean views and a similar lifestyle will only set you back $119,000. You’d need at least three times that to get close to the beach in California.
I found Rebekah Opuni sitting on the tailgate of a truck with her younger sister. The air conditioner inside her small boutique hadn’t been installed yet and indoors without A/C isn’t always the coolest place to relax in Accra, Ghana…in midafternoon…in midsummer…just five degrees north of the equator.
William H. Gross is a familiar figure in the investment world. He is author of several books on investing, cofounder of PIMCO and manager of the world’s largest bond fund, over $280 billion. He is often referred to as “The Bond King.” Less well known is the fact that he is also a stamp collector.
In medieval Europe, keeping an eye out for and guarding against invasion—a frequent occurrence in those days—was no easy feat. But one of a nobleman’s greatest defensive weapons was a castle perched on a rocky hilltop near an important mountain pass. The location itself—surrounded by steep cliff—offered protection.
Malaysia is on the rise. The middle class is growing, disposable income is increasing, and it is one of the easiest places in the world for a foreigner to set up business—ranked 12th of 185 by the World Bank. In my experience of observing start-ups here in Malaysia, franchising is a very feasible business opportunity in this economy. English is widely spoken among the population of more than 28 million—70% of which is urban based. This offers a good consumer base to potential franchisees considering locating here.
The number of U.S. taxpayers renouncing their American citizenship or permanent-resident status is accelerating. For many, the benefits of U.S. citizenship no longer outweigh the costs. Whether you are a high-net-worth individual or a young entrepreneur with a lifetime of earnings ahead of you, renouncing your U.S. citizenship is the only way to end your U.S. tax obligations.
I have a confession to make. I’m a romantic. Whenever I travel, I look for a hotel or hostel in an old colonial home. When I wake up in the morning, I throw open the shutters or step out onto the balcony imagining I’ve been transported back in time. But there are folks who get to do that every day. And you can, too.
The white-washed town of Istán clings to the slopes of the Sierra de las Nieves (Mountains of the Snows). It’s a truly hidden place—yet stunningly and conveniently positioned. I’ve visited plenty of charming hill towns and villages in Spain, France, and Italy where real estate is cheap. But the downside has always been remoteness. Istán is different.
The morning rush hour spreads through the central business district of Popayán, Colombia. But the rush of activity isn’t the relatively few cars and motorbikes slipping through the narrow lanes of this well-preserved colonial city. It’s the armada of street vendors for whom these lanes serve as a showroom floor.
You’ll find one of the most stunning areas on my beat on the southern edge of Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Its white-sand beaches, ancient ruins, white-bottomed lagoons, nature preserves, caves and cenotes (underwater caves) make it stand out—so much so that vacationers and expats are increasingly flocking here. But despite its growing popularity, there is still a window of opportunity on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.
Today, I want to tell you about a part of Costa Rica that is still a secret to most of the outside world. This place is called the forgotten coast because it is the least discovered and most unexplored region in Costa Rica. For years, tourists have flocked to the country’s Pacific coast and business has gravitated to the capital city, San Jose. Most people overlooked Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. For the handful who traveled there, they found first-class beaches, verdant jungle canopies and undervalued real estate. It’s easy to reach too… You can get here in less than two hours from San Jose on a new, modern highway.
Real estate bubbles send all prices too high. When they pop, they bring everything down with them. Sometimes too far. The same irrational views that drove the prices up help push them down, and for a short time quality properties become very cheap. That’s when you should buy: before the fear subsides and prices go up once again.
“There was a hole there. There was no place to get good bacon and eggs,” says Andrew, who explains that there are many other opportunities in León for quick-thinking entrepreneurs. “There’s still very little here. So anybody who has a big idea— it’ll work.” His investment of $5,000 got things off the ground. And although there were some struggles in the beginning—he had no previous restaurant experience and the local bureaucracy proved tough to navigate until he hired a local accountant—his business has taken off.
At first it just happened by chance, but it was the best thing that ever happened to someone struggling to survive in a foreign land. A $47,000 investment (down payment and closing costs) in the year 2000 to purchase a 750-square-foot apartment in Le Marais, Paris has resulted in the ownership of five properties valued at almost $3.5 million in today’s market. I was living in the apartment as a rental for the first two years, then the owners wanted to sell…but, I simply couldn’t bear to leave it and spent nine months figuring out how to buy it. That was just the beginning.
I purchased my first rental property in the ski resort village of Whistler, BC, Canada, when I was 23-years-old with a very small down payment. At the time, I was working as reservations manager for a property management company so I had first-hand knowledge of the strong returns that could be achieved through rentals. Over the following eight years, I proceeded to buy, renovate, rent short-term, and ultimately sell nine Whistler properties.
When we hear “tutoring job,” we often picture an underpaid, but hardworking person trying to make some side income while finishing their studies. Guess what? We’re wrong. In the U.S., tutoring is a $7-billion-ayear industry, according to the education research company EduVentures. That is more than what all the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip generate on an annual basis. The Daily Telegraph newspaper in the UK recently published an article about “super tutors”, earning up to £1,000 (about $1,600) per hour.
“My maid now eats yogurt,” a contact told me on a visit to Fortaleza, Brazil in 2009. It may seem like a strange thing to notice but it’s a sure mark of how Brazil is changing. Yogurt is a premium product in Brazil—and my contact’s maid was changing her consuming patterns in line with Brazil’s new middle class.
At Real Estate Trend Alert my beat is to find places where real estate is undervalued and where something is set to happen that means values will increase. I call this “the trigger event.” This trigger event could be a fast-growing, new, middle class or new infrastructure projects that will bring improved accessibility.
If, like many Americans, your greatest source of personal wealth is in your IRA, you may be wondering how to best utilize that investment to safeguard it and watch it grow. You’re not alone. Concerns about the stability of the U.S. dollar have generated a greater interest in all manner of offshore investments—foreign real estate in particular.
You’ve heard the economy is slow. You can see it for yourself just walking down main street. But one place you won’t find any sign of it is among the pages of luxury real estate listings. Floods of cheap money are working their way into the luxury real estate market at home and in world cities like London, Melbourne, Hong Kong and New York.
So what would the earliest antique have been? Adam’s discarded fig leaf? A sliver of gopher wood from Noah’s Ark? A stone chip off the tablet on which the Ten Commandments were carved? From cavemen trading mammoth tusks to children squabbling over the sale of Granny’s Meissen dinner service, the acquisition and disposal of ancient (and modern) artefacts has always interested folks.
The U.S. government is at war…with itself. All across America, government institutions have shut down, leaving just a skeleton staff to man the country. The doors of national monuments, including the Statue of Liberty, America’s greatest and best-known symbol of freedom and the American Dream, clanked shut last Monday…leaving the workers at those monuments adrift in a sea of uncertainty.
The breeze is gently swaying the hanging bed, perched over a terraced hill, with views of three islands in the foreground. The South Pacific, an intoxicating mix of jade, turquoise and cobalt, is just a few steps down the stairs. Behind me is the pool with a mosaic, blue starfish in the bottom and lounge chairs—farther back, a three-bedroom, three-bath house…each room with its own view of this unspoiled paradise.
There are communities in many parts of the world where arts and crafts are still made by hand…and markets in other parts of the world ready to pay good money for them. Bringing them together is the perfect way to create an income for yourself while enjoying a life of travel or living overseas at a lower cost than back home.