The Economic Collapse Has Meant A Return To The Real Ireland

Money And The Irish

June 3, 2014, Dublin, Ireland: The economic and real estate collapses in 2008 have helped make Ireland a much more affordable, pleasant, welcoming place to live.

"Money doesn't suit Irish people..."
--Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

The American dream of Ireland is all about thatched-roofed cottages, low stone walls, green pastures with white sheep, and pubs with peat fires.

That was the Ireland that received us when we arrived on the scene as transplanted Americans years ago, pre-Celtic Tiger. We invested in an old stone country house to restore, bought a pony for our daughter to learn to ride, cultivated gardens, drank tea, and huddled around the Stanley stove in the kitchen for warmth on rainy evenings.

Then came the boom. From our front-row seats, we watched as it chipped away at the Ireland of our American fantasies. From 1997 to 2007, this little green isle was awash with cash. The Irish had more money than ever in their history and more money than they knew what to do with. They built housing estates and fast-food franchises, bought posh townhouses and fancy cars...

"I bought a two-bedroom house in Dublin for 8 million quid one day," funny Irishman Tommy Tiernan explains. "Why? Because it was going to cost me 20 million quid the next day."

As the cash flowed, the scene changed. The average Irishman no longer wanted to tend bar in a pub or run his family home as a B&B. The average Irishman had more ambitious plans and schemes. This was ok, as immigrants from Eastern Europe and Africa were arriving on the scene to replace the working Irish. By the time we left Waterford, not a pub or a restaurant in town was staffed by Irish. Poles and Romanians took your order at the Burger King and served your carvery at Reginald's Tower.


Juan Carlos Varela Elected New President Of Panama

What Do We Think Of The New Guy In Panama?

June 2, 2014
Panama City, Panama

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Last month, Panama elected a new president but not the guy everyone expected.

Until a few weeks before the May 4 vote, most of us in Panama assumed that current President Ricardo Martinelli's guy, Jose Domingo Arias, would take it. But, as the election neared, friends began to suggest that the outcome was no longer so predictable. People were concerned that Martinelli and his party (which Jose Domingo also represented) were amassing too much power. Consolidated power makes people in this part of the world nervous.

So, indeed, on May 4, it was not Jose Domingo but Juan Carlos Varela who walked away with the vote. In the month since, every Panamanian I've spoken with has told me that he (or she) is happy with the way things played out.

"I didn't vote for Varela," one friend told me, "but I'm fine with him. Really, I was just voting against Arias. Anyone other than Martinelli's guy was ok by me."

Our point of view is that of the foreign investor and businessperson, not that of the Panamanian, of course. From where we sit, we have no beef with Martinelli. His policies, perspective, and practices were pro-business and pro-foreign investment. He invested heavily in infrastructure, from the expansion of Panama City's Tocumen International Airport to the construction of a new airport nearer the Pacific beaches...from completely remaking the road systems in Panama City and building the first line of the capital's new metro to expanding and improving the road from Panama City to Colon...and on and on.

Martinelli also instituted the new "Specific Countries" visa, which has made it much easier for us to hire the staff we've needed to grow our business these past few years.

I've written often of the downsides of living day-to-day amidst infrastructure work on such a colossal scale. The noise, congestion, traffic jams, dust, dirt, and flying concrete have been inescapable and sometimes overwhelming these past five years of Martinelli's reign. We've had to remind ourselves often of the big-picture agenda the man was chasing. When he took office, Panama City's infrastructure was head and shoulders above that of any other city in Central America...but it was not up to supporting the mega-growth this town was positioned for and continues to enjoy. (Panama's economy has grown by an average of 8% per year for the past 6 years.)


Setting up an import export business abroad

11 Ways To Fund Your New Life Overseas

June 1, 2014, Panama City, Panama: Make money in retirement by setting up an import/export business abroad.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Years ago, when I had a satellite office in Quito, Ecuador, I flew into town for a visit one day to find the place full of stuff. Couldn't make my way through the room without moving boxes and baskets out of the way.

Embroidered table linens...colorful pashminas...carved wooden santos...musical instruments...handmade rocking chairs...silver bracelets...alpaca sweaters and shawls...tagua Christmas ornaments...leather duffle bags...

We'd been discussing the idea of launching a small import/export business, and the office was overflowing with the initial stock.

Our office manager at the time sold out that inventory (in some cases for four, five, or six times our cost), but then we moved on from the idea—not because we didn't think it viable but because other projects distracted us.


Property Purchase Process In Ecuador

Don’t Be The Last Guy Buying In Ecuador

May 30, 2014, Galapagos, Ecuador: When buying property in Ecuador, make sure the registered price is as close as possible to the actual sales price.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Years ago I bought a lot in a small development on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos. This wasn't a commonplace real estate purchase. Only 3% of the land in the Galapagos can be owned privately. The rest is national park or preserve. And that 3% that can be owned by individuals comes with restrictions. I had to partner with a local Galapagan (that the developer found for me).

I'm in the process now of selling that lot, and the process is reminding me of some of the quirks associated with buying property in Ecuador.

When I bought my Galapagos lot, others I knew were buying into the same development. One other buyer wrote to ask about the price listed in the title document she had been sent to sign. Lots were selling for US$11,000, but the title in this case was being registered with a price of US$500. The buyer was concerned something was wrong with the deal.

No, nothing was wrong. Big differences between sales prices and title registration prices are the norm in Ecuador. Transfer and capital gains taxes are based on the registered price. Therefore, for decades, sellers have under-recorded sales prices; they register prices as low as they can get away with, as evidenced by the registered price of US$500 for a US$11,000 piece of land.


Ecuador’s National Healthcare Plan Available To Foreign Retirees

Expat Retiree Healthcare In Ecuador For US$70 Per Month

May 29, 2014, Cuenca, Ecuador: Ecuador has removed the age and pre-existing condition restrictions for those applying for membership, including foreign retirees.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

The Ecuadorian government has made a decision that is very good news for would-be retirees overseas and one more reason Ecuador is one of the best places in the world to think about settling in for retirement. This country s national health care plan, managed by the country's Social Security administration, has removed age and pre-existing medical condition restrictions for those who want to join the system voluntarily. "Voluntary" membership is open to all citizens and legal residents at a cost of just US$70 a month.

Under the old rules, those over the age of 60 were not eligible for membership at all, and those with pre-existing medical conditions were either excluded or required to pay higher monthly fees.

The changes are intended primarily to benefit and will have the biggest impact for the hundreds of thousands of Ecuadorians who have worked overseas, primarily in the United States and Spain, and who have not paid into the country's Social Security program. However, these changes are also very big and very good news for anyone considering retiring to this country.

The new health system provides full medical coverage, including doctors' visits with no co-pays or deductibles, dental care, and free or discounted prescription medicine. In case of emergency, members can go to any hospital in the country, and the government will pick up all expenses. Although most routine medical services are provided at Social Security hospitals and clinics, it is also possible to receive treatment at hundreds of private health care facilities under contract with the government. Many private pharmacies also have agreements with the government.


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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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