Talking Real Estate Overseas

Margarita Madness

Nov. 9, 2014, Panama City, Panama: When shopping for real estate overseas you will fall in love many times and feel overwhelmed by the beauty of each paradise. This is why it is important to make decisions with a clear, sober mind after taking a step back and analyzing your options.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

You want to be sober when considering property purchase options in a foreign land. Certainly, you want your wits about you when it comes time to sign on the dotted line. The trouble is, in the lands of mañanas and fiestas, the rum flows and so do the promises. The key to success navigating overseas, especially in developing world real estate markets, is avoiding the liquor and turning a deaf ear to the assurances.

Here's how this will go. You'll arrive in the country where you're dreaming of launching your new life. In the terminal of the airport, the lobby of your hotel, and the restaurant down the street where you go for lunch, you'll be approached by friendly fellows with houses and beachfront lots to sell. Every taxi driver, every bar owner, every shopkeeper will have a piece of property for sale or a brother or a cousin in the real estate business. You won't have to seek out agents or developers to help you find your new home. They'll find you.

Once, years ago, in Granada, Nicaragua, I was early for a lunch meeting with a friend and decided to sit on a stool at the bar of the restaurant while I waited for my friend to arrive. Two minutes later, a fellow gringo sat down beside me.

"Hello," he offered. "Have you just gotten into town?"

"Yes," I replied.

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How To Choose A Rental Investment Property Overseas

Four Things To Know Before Investing In Rental Property Overseas

Nov. 7, 2014, Paris, France: The key to a successful rental investment overseas is the rental manager.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

You aren't buying real estate in most of the world today for capital appreciation. It's possible in select markets, but you should think of it as the gravy. In today's global climate, you're buying for yield, for cash flow, meaning two kinds of property investments are of greatest interest right now—rental properties and dividend-producing agricultural plays.

When shopping for a rental investment overseas, target markets with tourist track records. In Paris this week, I'm reminded that this city is a top example, for it is a destination that will attract visitors even when times are tough. As long as there is money in the world, people will come to Paris to spend it.

Second, before making any rental investment, have an idea in mind of who your end-buyer would be. This helps you to put the acquisition into perspective. The French leaseback, for example, is a great hassle-free rental investment in one of the world's top tourist destinations. But it's an investment. You aren't going to live in a leaseback unit (no more than maybe several weeks a year)...and neither is anyone else. So your buyer, when you're ready to exit, will have to be another investor.

On one hand, this limits your potential universe for selling on. On the other, investors are always going to be looking for ways to own French rental units.

Meantime, an apartment in Paris (or Buenos Aires, Medellin, Panama City, or Istanbul, to name some of my favorite current markets for this kind of investment) could, theoretically, eventually be resold to another investor...or to an end-user, someone interested in residing in the city.

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Property And Lifestyle Opportunities In Santa Marta On Colombia...

A Top Caribbean Retirement Choice You've Probably Never Considered

Nov. 6, 2014, Cartagena, Colombia: Santa Marta is our top pick for investment and lifestyle opportunity on the Caribbean coast of Colombia.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Cartagena is Colombia's number-one draw for foreign tourists. However, just 150 miles up the Caribbean coast is Santa Marta, a much lesser-known destination that offers sandy beaches, calm waters, excellent diving, an upbeat and energetic culture, and one of the best Caribbean lifestyle options you'll find anywhere in the region.

Cartagena is a great place to visit, but it's Santa Marta where you might want to think about settling in for retirement.

Santa Marta doesn't have Cartagena's impressive collection of colonial structures, but neither does it have that city's prices or tourism annoyances. If you're shopping for a retirement in the Caribbean, Santa Marta is an option you've likely not considered but that could be ideal. And with the current resurgence of the U.S. dollar versus the Colombian peso, prices in Santa Marta are better than ever. You could own your own Caribbean seaside apartment for less than US$50,000.

Columbus visited Santa Marta on his second voyage to this part of the world in 1499. It was officially founded as a city in 1525, making it the oldest in Colombia. It was here that one of Columbus' crewmen documented the wealth and riches of the local indigenous people, giving rise to the myth of El Dorado, the fabled city of gold.

It's always warm in Santa Marta, with highs hovering in the high-80s to low-90s year-round. The rainy season lasts from May to November, turning the surrounding mountains a lush green. It's much drier the rest of the year.

As recently as three or four years ago, Santa Marta could have been described as a "work in progress." The formerly seedy downtown was undergoing a rebirth that included the restoration of the town's colonial homes, parks, and churches.

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Buying Real Estate In Retirement

Rent-Free Retirement

Nov. 5, 2014, Paris, France: 10 questions to ask when shopping for real estate for retirement overseas...

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Buying real estate overseas is fundamentally about diversification. This is true whether you buy for investment or for retirement and argues in favor of buying for retirement rather than renting. Buying your new retirement residence overseas means moving money out of the United States and putting it into another market and, potentially, another currency.

Moving all your money out of the States and into a new retirement residence overseas doesn't alone bring you the diversification you should be seeking right now. However, using some of your capital to purchase a retirement residence in the place where you want to live and putting other of your capital to work in another market (that perhaps uses a different currency) gets you not only diversification but also what amounts to a rent-free retirement.

Another advantage of buying your retirement residence overseas rather than renting it is that it helps you to "take the plunge." It allows you to move your life forward, unequivocally, embracing the new adventure. Many who rent before they buy do so to be able to maintain a property back home, "just in case." While this can be sensible, it's also an anchor, a drag. It can divide your attention and keep you looking backward instead of ahead to your new life. Keeping one foot on the pier and the other on the departing boat can land you in the drink. You may remain only partially committed, which will be a handicap.

The bottom line for the retiree-buyer, is to follow your instincts, not only with regards to what to buy overseas but also when answering the question, should you buy at all? You know yourself, your motivations and preferences, and how well you've researched your chosen destination. You know your level of commitment, your level of readiness, and your tolerance for risk.

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Touring Chateaux In Northern France

On The Road Around Paris

Nov. 4, 2014, Paris, France: France is lousy with chateaux, from small and cozy to big and all-business.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

An old friend always says: "Leave your worries where you board the plane."

So the deadlines, the off-schedule projects, the new ideas we just haven't been able to carve out time to pursue...they're all in Panama City.

I'm in Paris, where, thanks to the effects of jet lag, which seem to expand with my age, I couldn't remember my worries even if I wanted to. I'm floating through the day in a haze, cheerful but a little disoriented.

Lief is our resident navigator, but he's back home in Panama City, trying to make progress on some of those off-schedule projects. I'm traveling alone with our two children, who have assured me they'll handle everything. We're motoring around France just outside Paris according to a preset itinerary with meetings scheduled in a half-dozen different places related to two big agendas. First is a chateau hunt; we're shopping for a venue for our daughter's wedding next summer. Second is a meeting, which we had this morning, with the admissions director for the school from which Jackson hopes to graduate in two-and-a-half years.

Kaitlin is driving; Jackson is manning the GPS.

I've been relegated to the backseat of our rented Peugeot, instructed to sit back, enjoy the passing scenery, and keep my comments to myself. I'm trying to avoid acknowledging the "Driving Miss Daisy" inferences.

"Do you know this guy?" Jackson asks Kaitlin as he's programming our next destination into the GPS, referring to the song that's just started playing on the radio.

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Read more here.

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