Why Retire In Cuenca?

5 Reasons Cuenca Remains A
Top Retire Overseas Choice

Sept. 17, 2014, Quito, Ecuador: Five reasons that make Cuenca, Ecuador, a top overseas retirement destination.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Cuenca, Ecuador.

You have heard so much about it. The experts recommend Cuenca, Ecuador, as a fabulous choice for living abroad. The country is mentioned time and again on all the short lists of places to ponder, with Cuenca being the customary crown jewel choice both for retirees and anybody at any age just hoping to escape to a fresh start.

It sounds so exciting, but is it right for you?

Here's your opportunity to hear about what Cuenca has to offer from somebody just like you, rather than another seasoned expert.

I still live in the United States, and, like you, I have been doing research trying to decide if I want to move abroad...and, assuming I do, to where?

Ecuador is currently the top contender on my list, so last month I traveled to Cuenca with one of my daughters and her husband for an initial reconnaissance expedition. My husband and other adult children did not join us; we three were the family's boots-on-the-ground scouts. If we liked what we saw, plans would move forward. If not, it would be back to the drawing board. And the verdict?

We loved it!

So what is so great about Ecuador, Cuenca in particular?

Read more...

Granada, Nicaragua, Is One Of The World’s Top Travel And...

Playing Hooky In Granada—This Place Gets Under Your Skin

Sept. 16, 2014, Granada, Nicaragua: Granada, Nicaragua, is returning as a top travel, investment and retirement choice.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

I felt like a schoolgirl playing hooky. We awoke early Friday morning, dressed, ate, and then, instead of heading to the office, we took off for the airport to catch a flight to Managua. Just Lief and me. No kids. No checked luggage. Not even our laptops. We had planned this quick escape weekend to Nicaragua spur of the moment. We needed to do some scouting in advance of our Live and Invest in Nicaragua Conference in November and rationalized that into a romantic weekend for two in one of our favorite countries, a place where we spent a lot of time early on in our marriage but hadn't returned together in years.

Almost immediately upon arrival, it all came back, all the reasons I like this country as much as I do. Nicaragua is naturally and dramatically beautiful, but lots of places are beautiful. What sets Nicaragua apart is its heart. You get the feeling, spending time here, that this country is always trying really hard to pick itself up and carry on...to make things better.

Nicaragua and its people have struggled in ridiculous ways over the past 100-plus years. Pre-1900 Nicaragua was on a track to prosperity. Then a series of events took place that, when you study them now, in hindsight, defy understanding or explanation, leave you shaking your head in despair.

That's the effect Nicaragua's story over the past century has on me anyway.

Not the Nicaraguans, though. Their collective struggles haven't left them bitter or despairing but resilient and resourceful. They are also, I was reminded all weekend, surprisingly when you think about all that they have lived through, big-hearted, friendly, and quick with a smile. Gatekeepers and waitresses, taxi drivers and street vendors, businessmen and bankers...they are all cheerful and pleasant with a sense of humor that helps them, I guess, to keep things in perspective. When we passed one of the many posters around Managua showing President Daniel Ortega promising great things in 2014, I asked our Nicaraguan driver what these billboards were all about. What's going on in 2014, in particular, I wondered.

"Nada," he replied with a chuckle. "It's just propaganda."

Speaking more practically, what's the scene in Nicaragua today?

Read more...

Living, Retiring, And Investing In San Juan Del Sur And Granada...

Nicaragua Is Cheap, Yes, But
It's Also So Much More...

Sept. 15, 2014
Granada, Nicaragua

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

I traveled to Nicaragua this past weekend for the first time since 2006. That's the year, coincidentally, when Daniel Ortega was re-elected this country's president. He's since been elected for a second consecutive term in 2011 and sits as Nicaragua's president today.

It was lack of time that kept me from returning to Nicaragua these past eight years. Just too many other places I had to be. For many, though, Ortega has been the deterrent. He was, after all, the leader of the Sandinistas, the group that ousted the dictator Samoza back in 1979, and the same guy who, then, once in power, confiscated land and redistributed it to the poor. Investors had concerns.

Then came the global downturn that started in 2008. In its wake, both investors and tourists were even thinner on the ground in this country.

Seeing the volume of traffic in Granada this weekend, I think it's safe to say that the tourists have returned full force. A new (well, new to me) pedestrian street lined with restaurants extends now from Granada's main square toward Lake Nicaragua and was crowded with people every time I passed. Many new hotels have opened in this city in the last eight years. However, more important, the hotels I remember from 2006 are still there. They survived the downturn.

I don't think this little colonial city has seen as much activity as it is seeing right now at any other time during its almost 500-year history. Based on my conversations over the three days, it's not only tourists who are feeling comfortable enough to give Nicaragua another chance. It's investors, too.

Everyone I met with—expats, business owners, and those in the real estate industry—assured me that the market is returning. Sales are being made at greater rates than at any time since 2008. After almost eight years in office this time, Ortega hasn't made a move against anybody's property. As the book I'm reading on Nicaragua's history over the last 100 years puts it, today's Ortega is not 1970s Ortega. Ortega today is the capitalist version of a Sandinista, with an appreciation of the importance of personal property rights.

Read more...

Being American Overseas

Do I Feel More Or Less American Living Overseas?

Sept. 14, 2014, Panama City, Panama: How does living overseas affect one’s “American-ness”

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

At our Retire Overseas Conference in Nashville last month, an attendee asked:

"Do you feel more or less American as an American overseas?"

I've been living outside the States for 17 years, and, to answer the question of the gentleman in the audience in Nashville a few weeks ago, I've never felt more like an American than I do today.

Living in the States (I lived in Baltimore, Maryland, for my first 35 years), we Americans take being American for granted. Every year since I left Baltimore, I've been more aware of my American-ness.

Thinking superficially, this is easy to understand. We lived in Ireland for seven years, long enough to acquire Irish passports even. But we're not Irish...not really.

We were in Paris for four years, and both our children think of that city as home. It's where our blended family bonded, where Jackson started school, and from where Kaitlin left our nest to start college. We still have the apartment where we four lived together. In storage there are plastic tubs containing old school report cards and gifts the kids made for me for Mother's Days. We love Paris and look forward to returning, but we're surely not French.

Read more...

Lief Simon Details The Most And Least Successful Property...

Lief Simon's True Confessions—"My Biggest Losers"

Sept. 12, 2014, Panama City, Panama: Lief Simon has invested in real estate in more than 20 countries over more than 20 years, making nearly three-dozen purchases in total. Here are his biggest winners and losers.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

A reader wrote in last week to tell me she was done with international real estate investing. She's invested in four opportunities I've written about over the last 10 years, and none of them has played out as expected. She wasn't upset, just matter of fact, writing to let me know that she's going to stick with U.S. real estate going forward, as that's something she feels she understands better.

Can't argue with that logic.

This very reasonable lady lost everything on one direct-developer investment she made. I invested in that deal, as well, so we were able to commiserate. The developer, as it turns out in hindsight, was in over his head. He didn't have enough experience or local knowledge to understand the complications he would encounter, and so these complications weren't factored into his business plan or projections. Bottom line, he wasn't properly capitalized and went belly up.

I've lost money on a few direct-developer investments. Others have played out well. I consider an investment of the kind I'm talking about, one where you're getting in on the ground floor right there with the developer, comparable to investing in a start-up company pre-IPO. You have the potential for big reward, but the risks are great, as well. (My pre-IPO investments have a higher loss rate than my direct-developer real estate investments, for whatever that's worth.)

You can minimize your risk with a direct-developer investment by asking for land as collateral—though that's not always what it's cracked up to be. Right now I'm invested in three direct-developer deals where the development isn't moving forward but I have property as collateral. The truth is, though, should the developments be forever (as opposed to temporarily) stalled, the land I hold as collateral in each case isn't worth much. What would I do with these little islands of property unless or until the planned developments they were meant to be part of play out?

Read more...

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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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