In 1999, I traveled to Fiji. For me, living in the mountains of North Carolina, it was a long journey but some of my friends thought I was heading to Mt. Fuji, Japan.
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.
As I was there on a trip with a group of travel agents, I had no input as to where we went, so I soldiered on, admiring one resort after another until they blended a bit.
Then, about seven days into the trip the magic happened. We arrived on Fiji’s Suncoast and I was in love. In front of us, each less than a mile away, were three gorgeous, green islands. In between were coral reefs, sand bars just beneath the surface and the best snorkeling anywhere in the world. This was the Fiji I had traveled half the world to see.
I simply couldn’t get it out of my head when I got home. In 2001, I returned to pick out a lot—at an amazing price. My mom, always the pragmatist, asked why I didn’t buy a place in Florida. Fiji was actually cheaper than a run of the mill apartment inland in the Sunshine State. Part of why I fell in love with Fiji was because it was so wildly independent.
I have a view of three different islands, my neighbors are eclectic—Kiwis, Aussies, Brits—and I also make almost $60,000 in a year from this vacation rental. My dream is paying off.
So, my best advice to you is to find a place you love. Figure out all the reasons why you love it.
If there’s something that’s a bit off, even if it’s just the fact that it’s too expensive, I’d back off. Don’t push it. It’s like a relationship—you want a really good fit. You’re not likely to find perfect and some can use that as an excuse to never realize their dream of owning a home overseas. So, keep it realistic. Some places are good for a visit. Some places are meant for a lifetime.
Look at the world with fresh eyes open for that special bargain. Find a place you love, then buy that same experience, or even a better one, and profit from other travelers who love it as much as you do. Just like I did.
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