The Best Places to Buy Real Estate When You Retire Overseas

Whether you are looking for a home on the coast, on an island or in a colonial city, these three countries have the best value real estate. If your dream home includes a pool, a big back yard in which to swing from a hammock in the sun, a place close to the beach where you can snorkel, relax with a good book or watch the sunset…rest assured, you can have it—because your real estate dollar stretches further overseas. You can buy a superior property in a better location for the same amount or less than you would spend on a home in the U.S.

In these three countries not only is the cost of desirable real estate lower, but holding costs and property taxes are lower, too. International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2014 has ranked these countries the best for real estate overseas.

Ecuador Has Great Value Property

For the fifth year in a row, Ecuador has ranked number one for great value property. Ecuador has fantastic colonial cities, coastal beach towns and beautiful mountain villages to choose from.

Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, lies in the Central Valley between the Andean Mountain’s eastern and western ridges. It is the administrative heart of Ecuador and home to one of two international airports. It has a rich history and many areas of the city retain their old colonial charm. There are also modern neighborhoods of expensive, well-maintained homes and condos, as well as a wealth of restaurants, bars, museums, and churches.

Here, you can buy a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in the city’s best neighborhoods for $150,000.

Cuenca is Ecuador’s third largest city and the colonial heart of the southern Andes. It has become the number one destination for foreign residents in Ecuador due to its culture, low crime rate and “middle class” feel.

Known as “the most walkable city in Latin America”, Cuenca sits in the fertile Paucarbamba Valley, where four small rivers converge. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this cosmopolitan city offers a vibrant, colonial downtown, a rich cultural heritage, and all the modern amenities you would expect in a large city. If you want a colonial home, a comfy redbrick condo with mountain views or your own farm, for a fraction of what you’d pay back home, then Cuenca is worth checking out.

Here, a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom condo was recently selling for $140,000. It has a living and dining room, big open kitchen with space for a breakfast area and a large laundry. Great views of Cuenca can be seen from the terrace and it comes with one parking space and one storage unit.

Salinas is Ecuador’s largest coastal resort and offers one of the country’s best real estate investment markets and most popular upscale beach lifestyle. It is located in the south along the coast toward the Santa Elena Peninsula.

Salinas offers high-rise condominiums, a world-class yacht club, chic discos, and fancy restaurants. The surf is often full of swimmers, jet skiers, surfers…and the sport fishing here is outstanding.

On the malecón, in the heart of Salinas, a three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo with wall-to-wall windows overlooking the ocean can be had for $155,000.

If rural living is more your style, the village of Paute in the Yunguilla Valley is a 45-minute drive from Cuenca. The Yunguilla Valley, southwest of Cuenca, is often compared to the better known Vilcabamba Valley because of its weather, elevation, and natural beauty. Paute is a quaint village with a warmer climate that is becoming a “bedroom community” for expats.

Just 10 minutes from town, a three-bedroom, one-bathroom home on a half-acre lot with mature fruit trees, tons of flowering shrubs, and a large barbecue area borders a stream. It’s offered fully furnished for just $89,000.

Ecuador has an established expat community and is a firm favorite with IL readers.

Nicaragua Has a Real Estate Location for Everyone

Tying for first place is Nicaragua, boasting a dramatic Pacific coastline; and volcanoes and freshwater lakes that dot the hilly inland. Not as well established as Ecuador, Nicaragua has some great real estate bargains.

Set on Lake Nicaragua, Granada, is a showcase for Nicaraguan tourism and expat life. Narrow streets, red tile roofs and centuries-old homes painted a different brilliant hue are commonplace here. This colonial city offers visitors and expats a taste of days gone by.

Steeped in Spanish colonial charm, Granada was the first European city on mainland America. Today one of its charms is its tranquility. You won’t live life by the clock, instead you’ll enjoy life to the full.

In Granada, located only a few blocks from La Calzada and Parque central, a 2,100-square-foot, three-bedroom remodeled colonial home has an asking price of $159,000. The home has a balcony off the master bedroom with a view of Mombacho Volcano.

San Juan del Sur, in the Pacific Southwest, has successfully secured its title as the tourism capital of Nicaragua’s entire Pacific Coast. With a reputation for night life, San Juan del Sur has become a place to get your party on in paradise.

Arguably Nicaragua’s favorite beach town, San Juan del Sur sits on a spectacular half-moon sandy bay and has a charm and laid-back lifestyle all its own. It is best known as a surfing hotspot but you can also swim or simply relax on the beach. And what better way to end the day than watching the sun sink into the mighty Pacific. Life here can be as easy going or adventuresome as you desire.

Here, a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 2,000-square-foot home was recently selling for $190,000. The property has sweeping views into Nacascolo bay. The home also comes with air conditioning, a balcony and a patio.

Filled with colonial architecture, León, is the country’s second largest city. As the country’s premier university town, the center pulsates with student energy. It is very much an authentic Nicaraguan city.

Once serving the country’s political, military, cultural and religious needs, now it is the intellectual capital of Nicaragua. It’s less preserved than Granada but has a more lived in feel. There are less renovated colonials here and that means a lot of potential.

In León, a newly constructed four-bedroom, three-bathroom home with a balcony and volcano view was recently on sale for $150,000.

Malaysia is Our Top Asia Pick

Located in Southeast Asia and coming third for great value real estate is Malaysia, a former British colony.

A 50-minute flight from the capital of Kuala Lumpur, the island of Penang is also accessible by a road bridge from the mainland. It is a lush mountainous island oozing with history and heritage. Blending old and new, modern high-rises encircle streets packed with mansions, shop-houses and Chinese clan houses.

Penang delivers 110 square miles of tropical treasures. It lies anchored on the Spice Route, just off Malaysia’s west coast. George Town is Penang’s main settlement and is one of Asia’s most likeable cities.

In Penang, a 1,200-square-foot fully furnished apartment was recently selling for $208,000. The apartment comprises of three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The facility also offers a barbecue area, playground, sauna and 24-hour security. This property is on a high floor, is a well maintained unit and comes fully furnished. It has a sea view with many amenities like schools and restaurants near-by.

Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia’s capital and a medical center of excellence. It has a large expat community with many associations and groups to help you get settled. Its airports, highways, and user-friendly monorail are more modern than those in many western cities.

Here, a one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 743-square-foot apartment was recently selling for $201,000. The apartment is fully furnished and facilities include a swimming pool, a squash court and covered parking. It is close to many schools. The building comes with 24-hour security, Jacuzzi and sauna.

In International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2014, the best retirement havens from around the world are ranked over various categories. But remember we only rank the best places in the world so even those at the bottom of the table are still excellent havens.

When ranking the countries for the real estate category, we take into account the price per square meter, rent per square meter and the value of the property. The value of the property takes into account the area in which it is situated and where expats typically want to live. We poll our experts and expats themselves who scout all their adopted countries on your behalf.

For the full article on this year’s Annual Global Retirement Index, see here.

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