The southern province of Andalucia, particularly the area around the Costa del Sol, is the epitome of good-value, romantic Spanish living. It has everything: long, sandy beaches perfect for strolling on…romantic, white-washed hill towns cling to the Andalusian hillsides…a sunny climate where snow and even rain are a rarity…and a cost of living so affordable you’ll find it hard to believe you’re in a European country...
Hua Hin has it all…white-sand beaches, outdoor sports, international cuisine, great shopping and welcoming people. My wife, Kirsten, and I recently took a trip there and were truly blown away by this idyllic seaside destination.
Each morning, I begin my day by opening the French window of my studio apartment in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I am greeted by views of towering mountains on the horizon and the golden peak of the famous Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple glittering against the lush green background.
Selfishly, I thought that nobody knew about the beautiful, cultured, artsy Spanish city of Girona and that I could keep it as my secret place. But it's impossible to keep a place like this under wraps. I fell in love with Girona and moved here in 2012. This charming, fun, easy-going city checked all my boxes. I can walk or cycle everywhere through beautiful streets that are full of history. It's full of delicious gastronomy, cheap local markets and regular cultural events to keep me interested. Surrounded by mountains I'm close to nature and if I crave the sea, it's just a 40-minute trip away. Or in three hours, I can be up in the snowy mountains, whizzing down ski slopes. Girona is also well connected by train and air to the rest of the country and Europe.
I’ve walked to Sant Jaume along the narrow streets of the ciutat vella, the old city. At practically every corner, it seems, is a plaza, a medieval building, or a row of elegant, neo-classical facades. This is one of Europe’s largest and best-preserved historic centres; it can take days to explore it all. And after you’ve done that, there are still the many modern neighbourhoods to see, with their shops, museums, concert halls, parks and chic apartment buildings.
It comes down to four things: Practicality, beauty, location and way of life…though not necessarily in that order. Let’s talk practicality for a moment. France is a country that works well.
I’m an avid golfer; I play whenever I get the chance. I’ve played on some of the best courses in the world. And I put the course at Finca Cortesin, Spain, in my list of top courses. And, I’d put the opportunity to own a luxury apartment perched above a winding fairway here at the top of my list of finds in all of Spain. From the second I arrived at Finca Cortesin—35 minutes’ drive from the high-end tourist destination of Marbella—I was charmed.
People come from all over to live in Thailand's mountain city of Chiang Mai. Besides its own sizeable local population—numbering more than 350,000—expats are increasingly coming here. They come from all over—Australia, the U.S. and Europe. Recent estimates put the number of Western expats living in Chiang Mai at around 40,000. But it's not just Westerners who are coming. Asian retirees, particularly from Japan, South Korea and China are retiring to Chiang Mai's relaxing surroundings. And more are coming each year.
There’s an acronym in real estate investment circles. OPM. Other People’s Money. It’s truly an amazing concept to have other people give you money for temporary use of property that you own. Most people start investing with long-term rentals. That’s how I started. In the last 15 years, I’ve accumulated a portfolio of 16 properties. All forms of real estate can be profitable.
In 1999, I travelled to Fiji. I know that it might not be very far or particularly exotic for you, but for me, living in the mountains of North Carolina, it was not only a 20-hour journey but some of my friends thought I was heading to Mt. Fuji, Japan. We’re more familiar with Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean on this side of the globe. After getting there, honestly, I was a bit disillusioned. We stayed at some of the nicest resorts I’ve been anywhere in the world, but the postcard picture I had in my head of what the South Pacific looked like wasn’t matching up with what I was seeing—brown water, brown sand. I was a bit disappointed.