It was something my grandfather said that made me decide to buy a vacation rental property overseas. A small-town barber, he said that the smartest/luckiest thing he did was to pay cash for a new car…just one month before the 1929 stock market crash.
His money was invested in a hard asset, rather than sitting in a bank that might fail. It was sensible advice, which made me want to start investing in something tangible, like real estate.
After going through stock market crashes and becoming scared of the huge debt the U.S. was piling up, I decided to buy a place outside the U.S. for my own financial security.
My second home in La Barra, Uruguay, near Punta del Este, is now my refuge.
I live in Miami for most of the year, but visit my house in Punta del Este every March for a few weeks—when friends come down to stay—and again, on my own, in November for a couple of weeks.
I look forward to the times I visit each year. March is especially fun for me because that’s when my friends come down. I get to show them Uruguay and all the great things it has to offer.
And in November, I usually travel down to the property to help my property manager prepare the house for the high rental season. That’s a fun trip for me, too, as I get to do what I enjoy: going around to the local stores to buy things for the house—and doing landscaping, pool maintenance, and other work.
I also get to improve my Spanish language skills when I’m there alone in November. The locals are very friendly and always remember me. When I’m out at restaurants and stores, they’ll ask, “When are your friends coming down again?”
Because my vacation home is in a beautiful beachfront community, it’s very popular with South American vacationers, so I lease it during their summer high season, which is from Christmas through February. This generates enough income to pay for the carrying costs of the property for the rest of the year, and even provides for a modest return on my investment.
My South American clients have proven to be a good source of rental revenue. I regularly lease the house to a family from Buenos Aires in January and to a Brazilian family in February. The Argentinian renters have offered to buy the house…but the friends who have visited me there love the place so much that they have “forbidden” me to ever sell!
I plan to retire at my vacation property—or if not in that exact house, then definitely in that community. It gave me the foot-in-the-door I needed to reserve my spot in the place I want to retire to, gave me security, and proved to be a good investment. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.
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