I'm addicted to House Hunters International. I used to spend hours watching people pick out their dream homes in exotic locations at a fraction of the cost of living in the States, never realizing that one day I would be one of them.
It's no secret that the coast of Ecuador has some of the lowest-priced coastal properties in the world. Still, cash is king in the real estate market here, and not everyone can take advantage of the bargains to be found.
If I had magic powers, I would clone the little town of Cotacachi, Ecuador, and transport it to wherever you are right now. That way, you could see for yourself what a wonderful place it is to live. It's a quiet, peaceful, and clean little town where kids can still walk home from school and ride their bikes all over town long into the evening hours.
You look out from your terrace over a vast tropical garden. You're surrounded by heliconias and bromeliads in shades of vivid red, bright yellow, orange, and combinations in between, along with orchid blooms. Banana and mango trees are heavy with fruit. It provides the perfect backdrop to a life lived outdoors, thanks to a year-round temperate climate—mid-70s F during the day, cooling off into the 60s F at night.
"I woke up this morning and saw 30 or more horses grazing in the bamboo forest across the street from our home," says Roger Wergin. "How's that for a tranquil retirement view?" Roger and his wife Cyndy feel they made the right decision when they bought a lot and built their three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in a gated community, just a 10-minute walk from the town of Olón, Ecuador
The first two times I visited the town of Santa Marta, on Colombia's Caribbean coast, I was a tourist who just wanted to relax on its superb beaches, eat its amazing, fresh seafood, and soak up its vibrant nightlife. And Santa Marta delivered. This last time I came to check out its real estate...
The Caribbean island of Roatan, about 40 miles off the coast of mainland Honduras, is well and truly on the expat radar. But that doesn't mean there aren't real estate bargains to be had. Prices here dropped during the housing crash of 2008 but have since leveled off. Plus, due to the devaluing of their dollar, Canadians, a major percentage of buyers on the island, haven't been buying in recent years...
Standing in the middle of Arequipa's central Plaza de Armas, it's hard not to be impressed. The magnificent, centuries-old Basilica Cathedral stretches the entire length of one side of the plaza. Behind it in the distance rise the snow-covered volcanic cones of Misti, Pichu Pichu, and Chachani.
Each morning, my alarm goes off at 7 a.m. but sometimes I lay in bed for a bit longer. No reason to rush. No one is in much of a hurry here at the tip of Mexico's most western territory, the Baja Peninsula. I like to start my day by taking a mile-long walk around the gated community my husband, Dan, and I live in. The houses are mostly three-bedroom and almost all provide a spectacular view of the famous arch in the Sea of Cortez.
Flick open my passport and you'll find stamps from countries all over the world. Look a bit closer and there's one country stamp that's in there more than any other...and that's Mexico. I've spent a lot of time scouting real estate in Mexico because of the real estate opportunities it offers. Here are three different destinations in Mexico that are on my radar right now.