Your Own Home Overseas - International Real Estate
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You've done the dreaming… We've done the research. And Your Own Home Overseas is a completely free e-letter where you’ll find everything we know about making your overseas dream home a reality.
We know a good location and, more importantly, good value, when we see it. And with decades of on-the-ground experience, we know our way around the best spots under the sun for buying your dream home right now.
Whether you’re interested in investment real estate, a second home in the sun, or your dream property for a full-time life overseas, Your Own Home Overseas is where you’ll find the inside track.
You’ll hear regularly from real estate guru Ronan McMahon (from Pathfinder International, International Living’s preferred real estate advertiser), who travels the world in search of the best off-market deals. You’ll also hear from a panel of International Living’s in-country editors and correspondents dishing out everything they know, revealing the latest great-value properties they have found as they scout the globe.
In your mind’s eye picture brilliant white-sand beaches on your doorstep, just a few hours flight-time from the U.S., where you’ll find property at a fraction of the cost back home…how about a great deal on a sun-drenched, white-washed house with a shady courtyard in the Mediterranean…or a luxurious retreat nestled in the lush valleys of Central America…
We’re constantly uncovering the most desirable and affordable real estate on earth…that’s why we publish Your Own Home Overseas—to share these opportunities with you.
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This special report covers the 10 things you must know before buying property overseas as well as pointing you to some of the best places in the world to buy real estate…and it’s yours free when you sign up for Your Own Home Overseas e-letter below.
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Over four continents, dozens and dozens of countries, and hundreds of scouting trips, I’ve learned one thing: A last-minute change of plan or a chance meeting, often leads me to the best opportunities. When you put yourself out there, the pot of gold you find often isn’t the one you set out for…but it’s still gold…
Every time you turn around, another travel piece appears about Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. Mainstream travel writers, it seems, are just now discovering what we’ve known for years…that the city is a worthy destination that blends new and old in alluring ways. It doesn’t hurt that Quito is one of the world’s most affordable cities, where you can still take a taxi anywhere in town for $1 to $5 and find a menú del día…usually a four-course meal of soup, salad, meat/rice/vegetables, dessert, and beverage…for $1.50 to $2.50.
I’m not lost. More like slightly astray. I don’t know how, but the main road from Tralee vanished a few miles back. The map shows I’m on the longer route to Listowel, a market town with a fascinating literary heritage and an annual Writers Festival. And it passes through some villages that weren’t on today’s travel plan.
Own your own four-bedroom B&B in the middle of one of the most beautiful spots in Ecuador. At 8,000 feet, you’re surrounded by mountains. And the climate is ideal year-round—no need for heat or air conditioning—and there’s a large open patio and summer kitchen. The colonial town of Cotacachi, known for its leatherwork, is just 10 minutes away. Otavalo (pictured), a larger town famous for its Saturday open-air market filled with indigenous handicrafts, is just five minutes down the road. The country’s capital, Quito, is just a two-hour drive.
On a recent visit to Belize’s Cayo District, near the border with Guatemala, I found something interesting happening… It wasn’t the low prices—I expected those. The Cayo has long been popular with expats for its low cost of living, and it lived up to its reputation. In and around the town of San Ignacio, where most expats live, I saw a number of small homes renting for $400 to $600 a month…
In Lakeland counties and villages along Ireland’s longest river—the Shannon—numerous properties are now selling for under $150,000. The starting figure for cottages with a small piece of land is down to the $67,000 level. With the euro tail-spinning, Ireland now looks temptingly affordable for buyers with dollars. A year ago, a 100,000 euro property would have cost $145,000. At today’s exchange rate, it’s $128,000.
Brazil’s economy is on the up. Particularly in the Northeast, along miles of white-sand beach. Charming beach towns dot the coast around Fortaleza city. Of these, Cumbuco is my favorite. And you could have recently bagged a lot in Cumbuco, in a gated community just back from the beach, for $30,500.
Tourism is a relatively new industry in Santa Fe, near the Continental Divide in Panama’s Veraguas province. And even now, those who find their way here are definitely not birds of a feather. “The people who come first are interesting and eccentric,” says Janet Hitchens. She should know—she was one of the first expats to settle in tiny Santa Fe.
Colombia’s middle class is on the upswing. The rich are getting even richer. And we can profit by buying the type of apartment these people want to live in. Prices today reflect Colombia’s past. Not her present or future potential. You can net an 8% yield from a rental here. And you are buying so cheap that, as this middle class grows, values will increase.
These days Caye Caulker, a five-mile-long island off Belize’s Caribbean coast, has the laid-back, beach-bum vibe that brought expats to nearby Ambergris Caye 20 years ago. The streets on Caye Caulker are still packed sand. Most people get around by bicycle. And for those who come here, life is all about the water. Small-town, island beach life isn’t for everyone. But if it’s for you…
With dawn breaking on the Mekong River, my speed boat slows to dock. There’s a touch of James Bond to my arrival. The Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, is an exotic place: a city of temples and old colonial buildings, where you can sip martinis in the Foreign Correspondents Club or wander through bustling markets.
Famous for its artisanal leather goods, the colonial town of Cotacachi (pictured) features open-air markets and small mom-and-pop stores. For other amenities Ecuador’s capital, Quito, is only two hours away by car or bus. Here you’ll find a three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo, one of six in a secure building. There are great mountain views and at 8,000 feet, there is no heat or humidity. It’s cool in the evenings.
The Old City was once the entire walled city of Montevideo, Uruguay when it was founded in 1730. Today the walls are gone, but the original plazas and much of the period architecture remains. This is Montevideo’s main cultural center and financial district.
It’s quick and easy to get here—just over two hours from Miami and less than four from New York. It’s got warm, sunny beach weather and stunning secluded beaches. It’s a no-news, no-shoes kind of place. This is a small Caribbean island…but you won’t get island fever; it’s packed with things to do.
On Ecuador’s best stretch of coast sandy coves and verdant hills showcase jaw-dropping views. Prices have stayed low here because it was difficult to get to. But a new highway means that this has changed. Members of Real Estate Trend Alert can buy a lot in the best-in-class project in this area, with a manageable down payment and monthly payments of $470.
Fortaleza, with a population of 3 million people and a glimmering boardwalk, is the capital of Brazil’s Northeastern province of Ceara. Thanks to miles and miles of Brazil’s best beaches, this is Brazil’s biggest domestic tourism destination. This area has outgrown the rest of Brazil over the past 15 years. Now government policy calls for the creation of a mega manufacturing and export hub just outside Fortaleza.
Not only is it the finest section of Pacific coast in Ecuador…it’s the finest anywhere. This is a place of explosive colors and contrasts, forests and coves, exotic butterflies and monkeys. Fishing villages and little surf towns dot the coast. Fishermen bring their fresh bounty ashore and sell it from their boats. Pioneer surfers catch waves and enjoy a cold beer at sundown.
Forty minutes ago, I picked the best of the catch from the fisherman’s boat. It will make a tasty brunch for the business meeting I’m about to have. The main item on the agenda is land around here that you can buy for $470 a month.
Fifteen years ago Colombia was almost a failed state. Leftist revolutionaries controlled big tracts of jungle. There were battles with the army and paramilitaries. Drug cartels ran many of the big cities. It was one of the last places on earth you would think of investing in real estate. However, these days that’s exactly what I’m doing. And here’s why… Even before April of this year…
Picture a tear drop, emerald green and surrounded by myriad blues. That’s what the exotic island of Sri Lanka looks like on a map. Up close it’s even more beautiful, fringed with golden sand beaches, home to lush tropical forests, tea plantations, and mist-enchanted hill country. This is the place to see elephants and leopards in the wild, stand in the shade of the world’s oldest living trees at the old royal capital, surf, dive, fish, and explore thousand-year-old temples and magnificent colonial cities. And it’s undiscovered.
As I laze beside the infinity pool of my apartment, sipping a cool drink, it’s hard to imagine why I didn’t make the move to Malaysia, and the island of Penang, sooner. Property, health care, and the cost of living are generally a quarter of what you would pay in the U.S. The weather is great, the beaches are perfect, and there’s a lot to do. I’m not surprised an increasing number of expats are buying property here.
It’s six o’clock in the morning and I am standing at the water’s edge, a pilgrim at the ancient temple complex of Angkor Wat. Like millions of others who have ventured to this same spot in the 900 years it has been a worthy destination—I’m waiting for the sun to rise. I’m waiting in the quiet of the dawn for that moment when the outline of the five stony-gray towers comes into focus and the ancient temple begins to glow.
Ao Nang beach on mainland Thailand is known for its white sands, crystal-clear blue waters, and the limestone cliffs that rise majestically from the sea. There, 83 different islands sit just offshore in the bay. You can hire a local boat to explore, find a deserted beach, or go rock climbing or sea kayaking at nearby Railay Beach.
Today, Argentina is back in a bind. There is a strong possibility of another crack-up within the next year. And then we’ll have the same opportunity we had a decade ago. The signs are all there. The streets of Buenos Aires have recently seen the return of the backstreet currency exchange.
Most of us dream of owning a beach property—where we can ride out the cold winters back home, enjoy beach living year-round, or even as a bolthole for a few weeks at a time. The good news is that, in some places, your dream beach home costs a lot less than you might think. Take a look at these three locations where you can relive the endless summer days of childhood.
In Spain banks have foreclosed on, or control, hundreds of thousands of completed unsold condos and homes. This is the type of scenario that could throw off some very interesting opportunities. As you know Europe is in crisis. But let me back up and take a look at Spain. Home ownership in Spain (now over 80%) is encouraged through policy and a range of tax breaks. Municipalities were encouraged via windfall payments to designate land for development.
New homes, new cars, new televisions and refrigerators. Rising incomes and renewed optimism. Those are the trappings of a growing middle-class. It happened in the U.S. in the 1950’s. It happened in Brazil over the past decade (particularly in the Northeast since 2007.) And it’s happening somewhere else in Latin America right now. That’s a big deal if you’re looking for a real estate market…
Turquoise waters wash empty white-sand beach. Palm trees sway and rustle in the breeze. These sands haven’t been manicured or manufactured. They sit the way nature sculpted them… littered with coconuts. A hammock in the shade is for afternoon dozing. Friends gather for cold drinks at sunset at one of the brightly painted buildings that cluster on one part of the beach.
Southern France isn’t only a dream-turned-reality for seriously wealthy buyers. Not if you target lesser-known locations. The problem—if problem is the word—is that there is a tremendous amount of south. Without months to spare, uncovering it all is impossible. But here’s one solution.
Endings should be spectacular. And this one doesn’t disappoint. With the day signing off in a crimson sunset, I’ve driven to Slea Head on Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula. National Geographic Traveler once called the Dingle Peninsula “the most beautiful place on earth.”
“Gentrified” Casco, if you can call it that, is a small place…10 or 11 streets long, intersected by Avenue A, Central Avenue, and Avenue B. Yet there’s so much going on. Panama’s artists gravitate here…and there are galleries, shops, handicraft stalls, chic little cafes and bars, and more.
If you’re looking for a beach home and you’re on a tight budget, one country should top your shortlist: Ecuador. Ecuador’s coast is a sleeping giant. For years foreign buyers ignored it as a second-home destination. When it came to buying a place in the sun, they focused on better-known (and more expensive) beach destinations. That lack of foreign buyers is why beach homes in Ecuador remain affordable.
Greece faces a great crisis today and its real estate is about to get dirt cheap. The country is in a classic “blood in the streets” situation…one that looks so hopeless that the public believes only a fool would want to buy real estate in the shadow of Athen’s Acropolis or on one of the country’s stunning Aegean islands. The story to this crisis goes back a few years.
Just over a decade ago Argentina spectacularly unraveled with the biggest default in history—$100 billion. Dollar deposits were converted to pesos. Then, overnight, the peg of one-to-one with the dollar was broken. The unpegged currency immediately devalued. Savings were wiped out. Banks were set alight and locals took to the streets in protest.
Roman arenas and triumphal arches suggest Italy. Bullﬁghts and paella sound remarkably like Spain. But they’re as much a part of France’s sunny south as lavender ﬁelds and bouillabaisse. So, too, are village houses for $100,000 to $187,500. Southern France isn’t only a dream-turned-reality for seriously wealthy buyers. Not if you target lesser-known locations.
Your perfect oceanfront retreat is just a ﬁve-minute boat ride from one of the world’s premier diving destinations, the Belize Barrier Reef. It’s on Ambergris Caye, with the Caribbean spread out before you. Diving spots nearby include the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, known for its formations of elkhorn, brain, and staghorn corals. The coral is 20 to 40 feet tall, providing the perfect habitat for reef sharks, yellowtail snapper, lobster, grouper, sea turtles, and many other species.
Right now, doom and gloom in Europe runs deep. But there is a story not being told…one of opportunity borne of this crisis. A story of places where you could own your own piece of the Old World…for less than half the price of a budget family sedan. In Greece and beyond—prices are falling like a rock. And for anybody who ever mused about a European retreat, that’s the silver lining.
Picasso’s Night Fishing at Antibes doesn’t resemble any fishing activity I’ve ever seen. But it’s fun seeing reproductions of art works displayed where they were painted. All along the French Riviera and into the Provencal back country of hill towns, vineyards and flower fields, I kept coming across spots on the region’s Painters’ Trail.
Provence in France. Saying its name evokes memories of sun-drenched hills, starry nights, and the scent of sea-salted rosemary and thyme. Birds sing in olive groves, bees drone in vineyards, flowers spill from terracotta pots. In villages with crinkly-tiled roofs, lizards scurry into niches just as their lizard ancestors did in the Middle Ages.
There’s a special place on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast where bright, thick, green jungle canopy rolls down to a stretch of sandy beaches and rocky points. It’s truly stunning. While prices in places you’ll see in glossy magazines soared…prices here stayed low. It was difficult to get to. But a new smoothly paved coastal highway has changed that. And it’s nicer here.