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In Nicaragua, you’ll find some of the most dramatically beautiful Pacific coastline…anywhere. And in one development I’ve visited, there are five beaches, 2,700 acres and more than two miles of coast.All of those beaches have their own unique character and appeal. Each has different colored sands: white, tan and even pink. Some have flat waters for swimming or waves for surfing.
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.
The small, pretty town of Chantilly is less than 30 minutes from Paris by train, but when you arrive at the station and take a lungful of fresh air, the big city couldn’t feel farther away. Chantilly (pronounced shahn-tee-yee) lies in the Oise department of France, 24 miles north-northeast of Paris. It is both the name of a town of 11,000 people, and of a larger commune that comprises several other towns and villages, bringing the total population to 36,000.
If there were ever two towns that complement one another perfectly, they would be Montañita and Olòn on the coast of Ecuador. About an hour north along the coast from Salinas—one of Ecuador’s best-known and most popular beach destinations—these two beach towns each offer a very different vibe. Montañita is named for the “little hill” that sits at its north end and separates its picture-perfect golden-sand beach from Olòn’s picture-perfect golden-sand beach. It’s less than a five-minute drive from one to the other, and a taxi ride will cost you just $2.
- One Incredible Opportunity on Costa Rica’s Forgotten Coast
Posted on November 28, 2013 by Ronan McMahon
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.
It was New Year’s Eve 2012 and the view outside my window was perfect. In the darkness, I could just make out the rolling Italian hills, dotted with brick houses with terracotta rooftops. A lone bell tower rose from a small, ancient church into the sky. And as the bell tolled midnight, the sky lit up with fireworks from three different directions.
- A Pied-à-Terre in the South of France: $676 a Month
Posted on November 20, 2013 by Barbara Diggs
Think you can’t afford to retire in the South of France? Think again. While it’s true that unless you’re fairly wealthy, you should cross places like Cannes, St. Tropez, and most of the pretty medieval villages of Provence off your list, there are still a number of south of France towns, villages and cities, particularly in the Languedoc-Rousillon region (my favorite), that offer a highly enjoyable lifestyle for a reasonable price.
- 3 Beach Buys on Ecuador’s Pacific Coast—$100,000 or Less
Posted on November 20, 2013 by Margaret Summerfield
A pound of fresh shrimp—$2.50. Someone to cook and clean for you—$20 per day. Property tax of $200-$250 a year on the beach homes below… It’s easy to see why Ecuador tops International Living’s Retirement Index. It’s a top spot for those looking for a comfortable lifestyle that won’t break the bank. And Ecuador rates as one of the best-value destinations on my beat, too. On the country’s unspoiled Pacific coast, in particular, you get a whole lot more for your dollar. And that applies to real estate as well as your cost of living.
It’s hard to believe four years have passed since I moved to Panama. It’s even more incredible to think that I left the U.S. almost nine years ago. I live in David, the capital of Chiriquí Province in the west of the country. I didn’t plan to move here; it was never on my “to do” list. But when my husband, Al, and I first saw the rolling hills and slopes lined with rows of vegetable plants, acres of pineapple and rice fields, coffee plantations and orange groves, I said to myself, “This is it; this is where I want to live.”
- Ocean-Views that Won’t Break the Bank in Southern Costa Rica
Posted on November 18, 2013 by Jason Holland
The southern Pacific coast, officially known as the country’s Southern Zone, is the Costa Rica of postcards and guidebook covers. Palm tree lined, virtually vacant beaches. The wild sea with rocky islands just offshore. Deep, thick jungle surrounds you inland. One of the most biodiverse regions of one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, it’s home to howler monkeys, toucans, and sloths and hundreds of other animals, as well as lush plant life from towering tropical hardwood trees to delicate orchids and sturdy bromeliads sprouting from branches.
There’s a lot to love about Bangkok, one of Southeast Asia’s most exciting and exotic cities. You can get world-class cuisine, enjoy a pulsing nightlife, and access high-quality, affordable medical care. And there’s the superb shopping or the option of a day trip to the beach.
- The Chic Style of Rio with the Charm of Old-World Europe
Posted on November 18, 2013 by John Clites
Seated at a small table shaded by a large yellow umbrella, I sip my beer and savor the mid-afternoon sun of early autumn and the gentle but steady sea breeze. I’m surrounded by possibly the most beautiful collection of people that I’ve seen anywhere in my travels. Fit, confident, and stylishly attired, they hustle past to the last meeting of the week or grab one of the remaining available tables. I could be in Florence. Or Milan, perhaps.
If you’re a die-hard lover of Paris, there’s probably no possible place on earth to live except in a sweet, 19th-century apartment in Montmartre that offers a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. Or among the teeming cafés near the Bastille. Or in the glamorous neighborhoods surrounding the Boulevard Saint-Germain.
- Healthier and Happier—The Appeal of Ecuador’s Sacred Valleys
Posted on November 18, 2013 by Suzan Haskins and Edd Staton
A patchwork quilt of blue-green grass stretches before you, complemented here and there with splashes of fuchsia, lavender, coral, bright yellow… The unmistakable aroma of eucalyptus hitches a ride on a fresh breeze, accented by wood smoke that you can just spy wisping its way out of a red-brick chimney poking from an adobe-walled casita, barely visible on the mountainside far across the way.
- Two Pockets of Opportunity in Europe—Window Now Closing
Posted on November 18, 2013 by Ronan McMahon
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.
Sihanoukville wasn’t on Joe Royle’s list of semi-retirement destinations when he came to Southeast Asia looking for a new life in 2005. In fact, he didn’t even know that Sihanoukville, a beach town of 250,000 some 140 miles southwest of Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, even existed.
- Troglodyte Homes: Around the World…and Underground
Posted on November 18, 2013 by International Living
The accepted story goes that as humankind progressed over the millennia, we abandoned our cave shelters in favor of constructed homes. But plenty of folks still live in dwellings carved out of volcanic rock, into mountains, rocky hillsides, cliffs, or quarries. And they aren’t living a primitive life in caveman-style homes, either (though they are referred to as “troglodyte” homes).
I have a pretty standard morning routine. I’m awakened very early by roosters but stay in bed for a while as the sunrise filters into the bedroom. I start the coffee, open the sliding doors, step out to my deck, and look down into the valley below. I usually see hummingbirds buzzing around my flowers, sometimes a blue-crowned mot-mot. Some mornings one of my neighbors, a farmer, has been up even earlier…
I’ve lived in Thailand with my family for eight years now and there’s something special about this corner of the world. It’s an exotic place—orange-robed monks collect alms at dawn—yet it’s easy to live a comfortable lifestyle, similar to that of the West, but without the headaches and extra expense. We dine out on delicious Thai food, go to the cinema, or, at a moment’s notice, take off for a beach weekend.
- Brazil’s New Middle Class Could Mean Big Opportunity for You
Posted on October 25, 2013 by Ronan McMahon
“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.
You’ve got the options of a cosmopolitan lifestyle in cities like Quito, Cuenca, and Salinas… or a more quiet existence in any number of smaller enclaves where you can garden with a view. And your choices extend to the kind of home you’d like as well—from the convenience of a modern high-rise condo…to the space afforded by a single-family home with a yard…to raw land on which you can build your dream escape.
- You Could Have Doubled Your Investment if You’d Taken My Advice…
Posted on October 23, 2013 by Ronan McMahon
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.
- The Top Three Best Places to Retire Overseas to Buy Real Estate
Posted on October 22, 2013 by Barbara Ross
Buying real estate overseas is different in each country as they all have their own laws and rules to abide by. But once you have an in-country attorney the process should be straightforward. In International Living’s annual Global Retirement Index 2013 we took real estate into consideration when coming up with the best places to retire overseas.
- An Unusual 32-year-old Way to Buy Real Estate Overseas
Posted on October 21, 2013 by Nick Hodges
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.
- The Secrets to Finding a Rental for a Trial Run in Europe
Posted on October 17, 2013 by Valerie Fortney Schneider
You’ve made plans, set tentative dates…you’re almost ready to take off on your three- or six-month European tour…the next step is a roof over your head. But the short-term rentals offered online can be sickeningly expensive. Fully furnished and ready to go they may be, but with prices often multiples of those you’ll find on the ground, there are better ways to look.
I have a pretty standard morning routine. I’m awakened very early by roosters but stay in bed for a while as the sunrise filters into the bedroom. I start the coffee, open the sliding doors, step out to my deck, and look down into the valley below. I usually see hummingbirds buzzing around my flowers, sometimes a blue-crowned mot-mot.
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.
Winter is nigh in North America. Bitter cold, ice storms, flurries, and blizzards are on their way. These are the months spent indoors, staring out at grey skies, pining for spring. But there are places where the sun is shining right now, temperatures are going up, and it’s already beach season.
Cuenca is known for its rich intellectual and artistic traditions that match its colonial architecture. It is famous for its colorful festivals and is one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ecuador. Located on the southern edge of the mountains, Cuenca is Ecuador’s third largest city. Here foreigners have the same rights as citizens to own property…and real estate in Cuenca is a bargain.
- Paris Real Estate: Tips for Buying in the City of Light
Posted on October 8, 2013 by Barbara Diggs
Now is a pretty good time to buy. Thanks to a weak economy and the flight of the wealthy to tax-friendlier countries, housing prices in most parts of Paris were (and continue to be) on their way down for the first time in over a decade. According to a recent Bloomberg news report, Paris prices fell by 2% in the last quarter of 2012 and sales volume is down by 20%. What’s more, prices are likely to fall further over the next year.
Maybe it’s the music. Or the breathtaking landscapes. Or the witty humor and long, effortless conversations. Even without a drop of Irish blood in your veins, it’s easy to fall in love with Ireland’s charms, traditions and strong sense of community. The recession that followed the Celtic Tiger boom hasn’t altered the essentials that make the Emerald Isle special. I’m one of those people who prefer a cooler climate with four distinct seasons.
There’s always room for wealth creation. Despite the world’s economic woes, the number of people with $30 million or more in net assets rose by 5% globally last year. And according to the Frank Knight Wealth Report 2013, over the next 10 years there’ll be a 50% rise in the number of people breaking that barrier.
Real estate prices in Ecuador are low—among the lowest anywhere. That means you can find some of the best bargains in the world. So if you choose this country, you may decide it makes sense to buy a residence.
Cariocas, the laid-back residents of sensuous Rio de Janeiro, welcome 1.5-million vacationers a year. But when it’s time for their own vacations, many of them head to the Região dos Lagos, or “Lakes Region,” also known as the Costa do Sul (Southern Coast).
- Thailand’s Best Expat Havens—Where Modern Comforts and Low Costs Meet
Posted on September 19, 2013 by Heather Van Deest
Thailand is one of the world’s most popular locales for good living abroad. And there are lots of reasons why. For pennies on the dollar you get a year-round tropical climate and access to modern comforts and conveniences, including affordable, high quality medical care.
I know of only a handful of places around the world right now where you can buy a property for $150,000…and have it throw off $1,000 a month in yield right from the start. These are the rental-yield super-stars.
For thousands of years skiing was just a way to travel in winter, carry mail and goods to snowbound towns, or—believe it or not—charge into battle. Then in the mid-19th century the first races took place and before long enthusiastic amateurs had taken up the sport.
France is nice, I guess. Lavender fields and a vast wine country surely hold a certain appeal. But it’s Italy that captures the heart and feels like home. My cousin bought a house in a lovely little village in southern France, but when she comes to Basilicata, Italy she feels a pang of regret. How could she not, with so much home-spun seduction enveloping anyone who sets foot in the region?
Mi dispiace, France. I’m sorry. It’s no contest. Even in your rainy-day Brittany region, you can’t come up with a two-story house that a buyer could move into for 18,000 euro ($24,000). We can. It’s not a doll’s house either—there’s 1,290 square feet of living space.
Prepare to buy in Panama. I first scouted real estate opportunities here nine years ago and since then there has been a lot of changes. The canal is being expanded with a $5.25 billion investment and an investment of $1.9 billion investment in a new city-wide metro. Balboa and Colón were two of Latin America’s busiest ports last year.
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Much more that we expected. Thanks for a great experience! It opened our eyes to a lot of possibilities. I am much more excited, and less anxious, about the thought of moving.