Earthquakes, Big Profits, and Travel…

Last week I asked for your overseas investing stories…and boy did you deliver.

There were some real doozies in the mix. I enjoyed reading them.

Today, I want to give you a taste of what your fellow readers are up to with this story from Marshall.

Earthquakes, six-figure gains, and lots of travel—he has had quite a real estate investment adventure…

Read his story below…

And remember, if you have an overseas investment story of your own, please send it to [email protected].

For now, here’s Marshall:

I’m 67, single, and a retired businessman with investments and/or homes in the Catskill Mountains, New York; the southern coast of the U.K.; and coastal Manabi, Ecuador.

I am a long-time reader of International Living and it’s various subsidiaries and connected media. (Hard sometimes to tell where one starts and the other begins.)

Based on content provided by these sources, I began my search. I followed the traditional advice and rented homes in places that interested me. As I hate the winter, it also gave me a chance to escape to warmer climes.

Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic; San Miguel del Allende, Mexico; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Montevideo, Uruguay; Hua Hin, Thailand; and Bahia de Caraques, Ecuador.

Each place had me for a winter.

I ended up buying an oceanfront lot in Jama, Ecuador that was part of a development called Coco Beach and built a modest house there. The developer did not create anything close to the infrastructure he promised, and the original eight to 10 house builders found it difficult to cooperate. On anything. Lots of gossip. Little privacy.

Before my house was even furnished, a woman from Quito offered to buy it. I told her I wasn’t interested, but she kept raising her offer, and eventually I accepted it. The transaction earned me $140,000.

I found another house down the Ecuadorian coast, several minutes closer to the major shopping areas, in an area called Briceno. It had been started but abandoned before completion, and like my other house in Jama, was directly on the beach, steps from the water.

I was able to buy that house and complete it for less than the $140,000 profit I made on the first house, so on some level….it was free.

A couple of years later an earthquake destroyed my first house and took the debris into the Pacific. My house in Briceno suffered a few cracks, but eventually housed almost 20 expats from Bahia who had nowhere to go.

I now spend most of the year in my house in the Catskill Mountains of New York and the winters at my beach house in Briceno. Along the way, I got into a transaction in the U.K. where I lent money to a hotel chain at generous interests and 150% return of principal in five years. The kicker on that deal is that it included two weeks of personal use per year, and I enjoyed that feature before the virus.

Because my New York house is only a couple of hours drive from Manhattan, and real estate values have gone crazy during the virus, a broker offered to rent my NY house for a stupid amount of money. So…I decided to take it and spend July and August in Ecuador. I used some of the money from the NY rental to build a swimming pool at my house in Ecuador too.

When we finished the work, the architects built a charming rooftop apartment with the best view in the house, and that apartment is rented regularly using and other sites. There are tenants there as I type.

My real estate adventures have been full of curves and unexpected events, but financially, have worked out very well.

So far. We will see what the exit strategies for these assets eventually provides.


Ronan says: Congrats on the big gains in Jama, Marshall!

There’s nothing sweeter than traveling the world for fun and profit. I’ve been doing it for decades and I’ll never tire of exploring and scouting.

And like Marshall, when buying a place for personal use, I think it’s a great idea to rent for a period in that locale before buying.

For instance, before buying my base on Portugal’s Silver Coast, I booked an Airbnb for the first week of my five-week scouting trip. I wanted to get a proper feel for it before I made any commitment to buy. Staying in an Airbnb also served as a way to assess the rental market there first-hand.

When I’m buying for financial returns it’s all about the money. But still, spending time in the area is a big help in making that assessment…

In RETA, my team and I do this on your behalf. And we already have a full season of travel plans, including Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding coastline, Panama City and the Pacific Riviera, Portugal’s hill towns, Italy’s ancient cities and overlooked hinterlands, as well as the Balkans and its incredible Mediterranean coast.

Again, if you have your own investing adventure to share, please drop us a note at [email protected].

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