Articles Related to Colombia

 You can learn a lot about a place both from and by its taxi drivers. They're a top source of getting-to-know-a-city information and insights, and they're also a barometer of the mood of a place. In Panama City, taxi drivers are in a hurry. They honk their horns constantly. They weave in and out of traffic, from lane to lane, pushing for constant progress. They can't abide sitting still or even slowing down. They run traffic lights and ignore stop signs. They also tend to be unhelpful, even rude. A Panamanian friend describes them as "among the least appealing people on earth." I can think of a handful of exceptions, but, in general, I'd agree with my friend. 

In Medellin, the taxi drivers, like their city, are gentler and calmer, happy to stop to offer directions or even to chat. In Medellin, you rarely hear the honking of a car horn, not by a taxi driver and not by anyone else either. It's also worth noting that, in Medellin, taxis are not only ever-present, but also always painted yellow and metered, unlike in many of the places where we recommend you spend time. Again, orderly... genteel. 

Medellin is impressively green, with trees, plants, and small gardens everywhere, and remarkably clean. In the central neighborhoods, you see no litter. The metro, a point of pride for the local population, is spotless and like new. At every station and in every train we've ever ridden, I've looked for but have been unable to find even a cigarette butt or piece of gum on the ground. 

Panama is working hard to clean up and green up its capital city. The long stretch of parkland along the bay known as the Cinta Costera has dramatically changed the face of Panama City for the better. Still, while one might describe Medellin as genteel, an appropriate adjective for Panama City might be gritty. 

Walking around Medellin outside the central tourist zone, Lief and I feel like an anomaly. This is less and less true, as Medellin becomes more discovered by expats and retirees. However, in Panama City, Americans are everywhere. We have been part of the landscape in this city for a hundred years. 

From a cost of living perspective, these two cities are generally on par... depending on the relative strength of the Colombian peso. Right now, the U.S. dollar is at a five-year high versus the peso, meaning the cost of living and of buying real estate in this country is cheaper than it's been for a long time. This is a window of buying opportunity. We watch this, looking for opportunities to change dollars into pesos to cover carrying costs for our apartment in Medellin.

In Panama, where US$1 is US$1, this isn't an issue. This means no particular windows of investment opportunity, as we're seeing right now in Colombia. On the other hand, if you intend to retire on an income fixed in dollars, this can be an important plus. 

Both markets offer interesting real estate opportunities. The real estate market in Panama City, after settling post-2008, has begun to appreciate again. Today, you can buy the best this market has to offer for US$1,500 to US$2,200 per square meter. A year from now, this will not be the case. Central Panama City values are going to move up steadily from here for the next few years. 

In Medellin, meantime, you can own in El Poblado, considered the best address in the city, for as little as US$1,000 per square meter right now (resale), thanks to the dollar's surging buying power. In less central, more local neighborhoods, you can buy for less. The real estate market in Medellin reminds me of the market in Panama City when we first began paying attention to it more than a dozen years ago. 

Panama is one of the world's most welcoming countries when it comes to establishing residency. In Panama, the would-be expat, retiree, or entrepreneur has more than a dozen options for how to establish full-time residency, including the "Friends of Panama" visa option, which amounts not only to the most user-friendly, turn-key residency option in the world today but also the most user-friendly, turn-key residency option in the history of residency options. Plus, it can lead to a work permit, which is a big deal. 

Colombia, too, though, offers good foreign residency options, including one for pensioners and another for investors. The minimum investment requirement in each case can be less than for comparable options in Panama, especially, again, right now, as these are Colombian peso costs.

One practical matter that is not as straightforward in Colombia as it is in Panama is opening a bank account. It's difficult to impossible as a foreigner to open a local bank account in Colombia unless you have a personal introduction to the bank. If someone tells you otherwise, they're speaking optimistically. 

The alternative is to open an account with what's called a "fiduciary," the local equivalent of Charles Schwab. Unlike opening a bank account, this is straightforward and a reasonable strategy for dealing with local bills. The downside is that transaction fees can be high. 

The other downside to Medellin compared with Panama City is that few in Medellin speak English, whereas, in Panama City, it's possible to get by speaking no Spanish. 

In addition, Medellin (again, very unlike Panama) is not a tax haven, and taxes are high. Living here, your tax burden could increase, depending on your nationality, where you hold legal residency, and where your income comes from. The country even imposes a wealth tax (after five years of residency). Note, though, that moving to Colombia with only retirement income should be a tax-neutral event. Colombia, like most countries, doesn't tax foreign retirement income. 

Unlike Panama, Colombia imposes exchange controls. These are manageable if you plan and execute any investment in the country carefully and correctly. But, again, they're not an issue at all in Panama.

Bottom line, here's how I'd break all this down...

Panama City Versus Medellin:

Cost Of Living: It's a tie, more or less, depending on the relative strength of the Colombian peso. Right now, Colombia is notably more affordable for dollar-holders...

Cost Of Real Estate: As much as 60% less expensive in Medellin...

Climate: Way more comfortable in Medellin...

Quality Of Life: This is completely subjective and impossible to pin down. Nevertheless, I'll go out on a limb and say that the overall quality of life is more appealing in Medellin than in Panama City...

Ease Of Residency: Panama is one of the easiest places in the world for a foreigner to establish full-time legal residency, especially if he comes from one of the countries included in the "Friends of Panama" visa program. However, Colombia is also a very straightforward option in this regard and has been working hard these past few years to make the process ever-easier. For sure, the cost of establishing residency is lower in Colombia than in Panama...

Ease Of Banking And Doing Business: Here, Panama wins, with its international banking industry (the exchange-of-information treaty the country signed with the United States in 2010 notwithstanding); its lack of any exchange controls; the absence in this market of any currency exchange risk (as Panama uses the U.S. dollar as its currency); and its greater prevalence of English-language speakers...

Infrastructure And Accessibility: Another tie...

Taxes: Panama is the screaming champion on this score, a true tax haven, while Colombia qualifies as a high-tax jurisdiction, with, for example, a corporate tax rate as high as 33%. Again, though, if you're a retiree making a move with retirement income, you probably don't have to care about this...

Health Care: Top notch on an international scale in both cities... 

Ease Of Settling In: Panama City is a kind of halfway house for expats, a very easy and comfortable first step overseas. Medellin is more an emerging expat destination, though it is more discovered and therefore easier to navigate as an expat or foreign retiree all the time. Bottom line, though, Colombia is more challenging in this regard unless you speak Spanish...

Which city might be better for you? 

I couldn't say. As I remind you often, it depends on your personal circumstances, your priorities, and your preferences. What is your current situation and what kind of experience are you looking for? 

I can tell you that we've decided not to try to choose but, instead, have worked over the past few years to incorporate Medellin into our long-term retire-overseas plan. As a friend in Medellin, another expat who also divides his time between that city and Panama City, put it recently: "Do business in Panama City but live in Medellin. That's the ticket..." 

Lief and I would agree. 

Kathleen Peddicord

Editor's Note: We opened registration for our 2015 Live and Invest in Colombia Conference last week. As of this writing, 8 VIP attendee places remain available. Register now to enjoy special discounts and VIP perks.

Full details of the program we've conceived for this timely event are here

You can reach our conference team with your questions by phone toll-free from the United States at 1-888-627-8834 or by email here.

P.S. What else this week?
  • The Porte de Clignancourt has been called a "no-go zone" northeast of Paris. Publisher Kathleen Peddicord clarifies that it's still the welcoming shopping neighborhood it's always been:
"Porte de Clignancourt, where we landed unexpectedly that day about six weeks ago, is a busy, crowded neighborhood historically famous for its marché aux puces, the biggest antiques market in the world. More recently, this area at the end of Paris Metro line 4 has become known for other reasons..."
  • Retirement planning expert Paul Terhorst explains how, living or retired anywhere in the world, one way to continue your education is through free massive open online courses:
"So I took these three courses. You can choose from hundreds of others. I took my courses with friends around the world and suggest you do the same. You can exchange emails about what you find exciting, novel, or perplexing. Give it a try. It's free..."
  • Kathleen makes a bold recommendation, one of the surest she's ever made:
"Medellin, Colombia, meets all my criteria for a top retire-overseas choice. This is an emerging champion for retiring, living, investing, and owning a second home overseas. Furthermore, the current exchange rate is handing today's buyers shopping with U.S. dollars a whopping 32% discount off the cost of real estate in this country and 32% off the cost of everything else, too..."
  • Correspondent Lee Harrison looks at Cartagena, Colombia—a top retirement option on the Caribbean:
"As a long-time expat and writer, I've had the chance to visit dozens of the best colonial cities in the Americas. Among Spain's grand cities on our side of the ocean, I'd say that Cartagena is the most beautiful, with a lot to offer the potential expat..."

Plus, From Lief Simon This Week:

When I bought my apartment in Medellin, Colombia, I wrote that I don't try to time currency exchange rates when investing in real estate. I can't predict which way exchange rates are going to move any more reliably than anyone else can, so I don't try. A reader at the time wrote in to say that my position was silly and that he was going to wait to invest in real estate in Colombia until the exchange rate was where he wanted it to be.

Three-and-a-half years later, the rate of exchange between the U.S. dollar and the Colombian peso has moved dramatically in favor of the U.S. dollar-holder. Your U.S. dollars buy about 35% more right now than they did in mid-2011, when I bought my apartment. During that same period, property values in Medellin have increased by at least 35% in peso terms. The guy who was waiting for the currency to move in his favor should feel comfortable buying right now. On the other hand, he's going to pay 35% more in peso terms than I did when I bought. And I've had use of and rental income from my apartment in the meantime.

The guy who could have and who should have bought in 2011 aside, the current exchange rate is an opportunity to buy into what is a solid and appreciating market at what amount to 2011 U.S. dollar values.

The local economic dynamics remain strong. The middle class is expanding. The economy is growing. The government is stable. Perhaps most important for the investor, the 2015 global perception of Colombia is dramatically improved compared with the 2011 global perception... and it continues to improve.

Colombia has launched a tourism marketing campaign focused on showcasing the beauty of the country. Forget our troubled past and take a look at all we've got to offer, Colombia is telling the world. More foreign tourists are visiting... more foreign investors are investing.

The cost of an apartment in Medellin has appreciated 5% to 10% a year for the last four years and longer. Still, property prices in this city have remained a great bargain compared with prices in other major cities throughout Latin America. Since last October, when the U.S. dollar began its move on the Colombian peso, those bargain per-square-meter Colombian peso prices have converted to ever-greater bargains in U.S. dollar terms. Right now, as I've said, property prices when converted to greenbacks are close to 2011 levels.

This is the time to be shopping.

Focus on El Poblado in the heart of the city. Apartments here are most rentable, for this is where tourists and expats migrate, meaning big and diverse rental pools. 

El Poblado is also the high-rent district. Each neighborhood in Medellin is broken down into what are referred to as "strata," numbered from 1 to 6. Strata 6 is the highest level. In strata 6 neighborhoods you find the most expensive properties and the highest levels of services, as well as the highest associated expenses. Property taxes, electricity rates, and other property-related costs increase strata by strata. El Poblado properties are mostly stratas 4 and 5. 

El Poblado is your best bet for a property purchase in Medellin, but it's not the only part of the city that can make sense. Other, more affordable neighborhoods to consider include Laureles (another neighborhood in the city) and Envigado (the suburb just outside the city, on the edge of El Poblado).

Office space, commercial space, and even condo-hotel rooms are other real estate options that can make sense in this market. With the economy remaining reasonably strong (growth of 4.2% in 2014 and projected growth of 4% for 2015), I expect property values to continue their steady appreciation of the past half-dozen years.

I still can't predict the direction of currency markets, including this one. The U.S. dollar could continue to strengthen against the Colombian peso, or it could fall from the current 2,350 back into its general trading range of the last five years (between 1,750 and 2,050). 

Regardless, real estate in Colombia, in particular in Medellin, is a smokin' deal in U.S. dollar terms right now. Take action while you can.

 

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The cost of an apartment in Medellin has appreciated 5% to 10% a year for the last four years and longer. Still, property prices in this city have remained a great bargain compared with prices in other major cities throughout Latin America. Since last October, when the U.S. dollar began its move on the Colombian peso, those bargain per-square-meter Colombian peso prices have converted to ever-greater bargains in U.S. dollar terms. Right now, as I've said, property prices when converted to greenbacks are close to 2011 levels.

This is the time to be shopping.

Focus on El Poblado in the heart of the city. Apartments here are most rentable, for this is where tourists and expats migrate, meaning big and diverse rental pools. 

El Poblado is also the high-rent district. Each neighborhood in Medellin is broken down into what are referred to as "strata," numbered from 1 to 6.Strata 6 is the highest level. In strata 6 neighborhoods you find the most expensive properties and the highest levels of services, as well as the highest associated expenses. Property taxes, electricity rates, and other property-related costs increase strata by strata. El Poblado properties are mostly stratas 4 and 5. 

El Poblado is your best bet for a property purchase in Medellin, but it's not the only part of the city that can make sense. Other, more affordable neighborhoods to consider include Laureles (another neighborhood in the city) and Envigado (the suburb just outside the city, on the edge of El Poblado).

Office space, commercial space, and even condo-hotel rooms are other real estate options that can make sense in this market. With the economy remaining reasonably strong (growth of 4.2% in 2014 and projected growth of 4% for 2015), I expect property values to continue their steady appreciation of the past half-dozen years.

I still can't predict the direction of currency markets, including this one. The U.S. dollar could continue to strengthen against the Colombian peso, or it could fall from the current 2,350 back into its general trading range of the last five years (between 1,750 and 2,050). 

Regardless, real estate in Colombia, in particular in Medellin, is a smokin' deal in U.S. dollar terms right now. Take action while you can.

Lief Simon

Editor's Note: Lief Simon will be hosting our Live and Invest in Colombia Conference taking place in Medellin May 11–13. 

You can register online here now as a VIP attendee. Note that only 10 VIP places remain of this writing.

You can reach our conference team with your questions by phone toll free at 1-888-627-8834 or by email here.

Continue Reading: How To Access Social Security Payments Living Overseas

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The neighborhoods of Cartagena offer diverse lifestyle options for most any budget. The first thing you'll need to decide is whether you want to live in the historic city or at the beach.

If you prefer the colonial city, then your choice is whether to live inside or outside the wall. Within the wall are Centro and San Diego, the colonial sectors that are almost 100% restored and the heart of Cartagena's tourist industry. This area is safe and attractive and also the Cartagena market's most expensive sector. I saw a decent 1,200-square-foot apartment with nice city views selling for US$296,000 at today's exchange rate. I'd say this is the bottom of the market for places where I'd want to live. If you're interested in bigger and better, prices go into the millions in this part of the city.

In the sector known as Getsemaní (outside the wall but still in the historic area), properties become less expensive. When I first traveled to Getsemaní in 2006, it was run-down and dangerous. You had to be careful during the day, and no one with any sense went there at night.

Nonetheless, at the time, I reported this as a potential upcoming area, where a person with US$200,000 to spend could take a gamble on its future rejuvenation... and maybe turn a nice profit. 

Today, even The New York Times travel section is talking about Getsemaní, so its days as an undiscovered bargain are over. It's become trendy, with attractive bars, boutique hotels, and popular night spots. It's also become safer and, of course, more expensive. Still, a single home in this part of the city costs about half what something comparable costs inside the wall.

The most popular beach areas are El Laguito, Bocagrande, and Castillogrande, all within walking distance of each other.

El Laguito is the most bustling of these, a beachside tourist destination with cafes and restaurants that's also popular with expats. The beaches are busy with vendors selling everything imaginable, from tablecloths to cold drinks and cigars. Women prowl the beach with bottles of lotion offering massages to both male and female beachgoers, while the occasional call girl strolls the sands looking for clients. 

The best beach buys are in El Laguito. A 1,400-square-foot, four-bedroom apartment with a nice lake view in this area is going for just US$137,000 at today's exchange rate... while an oceanfront, two-bedroom unit can be had for as little as US$165,000.

Castillogrande is a high-end residential area with quiet, peaceful beaches and few tourists. The tranquil, shady streets are well-kept and lined with attractive homes and high-end apartments. Unlike El Laguito, apartments here tend to be large (over 2,500 square feet) and more appropriate for year-round living.

Bocagrande's character varies between that of El Laguito and Castillogrande. Spanning the short distance between the ocean and the bay, the ocean side of this neighborhood reminds me of a quieter version of El Laguito, while its bay side looks like Castillogrande. 

One thing I don't like about Cartagena in general are the tourist annoyances, the ever-present vendors trying to sell you something, the scamming moneychangers, and, at times, the numbers of tourists themselves. Early-risers can avoid this by doing your exploring before 
9 a.m. Also note that these annoyances are worse in Centro and on the beach at El Laguito... better in San Diego, Getsemaní, the off-beach areas of El Laguito, and the ocean side of Bocagrande... and almost nonexistent on the bay side of Bocagrande and in Castillogrande.

Also, if you don't like typically hot Caribbean weather, then Cartagena wouldn't be a good choice for you.

These things aside, as an expat in Cartagena, you'll have a super selection of lifestyle choices at different price points. You could be a part of living history in Centro or San Diego, immersed in the character of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You could start up a business or restore a home in the upcoming Getsemaní neighborhood. Or you could settle on the nearby beaches, becoming part of exciting, partying El Laguito... the quiet elegance of Castillogrande... or somewhere in between.

Lee Harrison

Editor's Note: Lee Harrison will be on hand to talk about his extensive experiences in Colombia as a traveler, an expat, and an investor throughout our entire Live and Invest in Colombia Conference taking place in Medellin on May 11–13. Lief Simon will join Lee on stage as co-host for this important event, which will also feature experts and expats from across this country, including from Medellin, Cartagena, Bogota, and beyond. 

You can register online here now as a VIP attendee. Note that VIP places are half-sold as of this writing.

You can reach our conference team with your questions by phone toll free at 1-888-627-8834 or by email here.

Continue Reading: One American Couple’s Experience As Recent Retirees In Medellin, Colombia

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A condo that was priced at the Colombian peso equivalent of US$140,000 in July could now be yours for just US$95,200.

Same goes for rents, furniture, dining out, groceries, and on and on.

I don't advocate trying to time currency swings or play exchange rates when making overseas property buys because currencies move in two directions, of course; however, if you have any interest in spending time or money in Colombia, this window of opportunity is too good to miss.

And I strongly suggest that you consider the idea of spending time or money in this country that I'm here to tell you is on track to become one of the world's most sought-after destinations, for both retiring and investing.

Colombia is a solid, stable democracy on the move. The country is on a strong economic footing, showing impressive growth, boasting a powerful industrial base, and enjoying an energy surplus, thanks to its abundant natural resources. In 2012, Standard and Poor's, Moody's, and Fitch all upgraded Colombia to "investment grade" status, most recently citing "prudent economic policies and increased resiliency to internal and external shocks." These ratings opened the door to even greater flows of institutional foreign investment.

Meantime, over the past month, The New York Times has listed Medellín among its Places to Go for 2015 (for the second time), and National Geographic included the country on its Best Trips list for 2015. 

The old Colombia stereotypes are falling away, and this country is beginning to take its place among the world's hottest destinations, just as, about seven years ago, I began predicting it would.

It isn't often that such a strong opening presents itself, and it's even less often that we recognize the opportunity when it's on the table. Over the past three decades, I've been on the ground early, urging readers and friends to get in ahead of the crowd in most every market that has emerged as a top retirement and investment haven. But, to be honest, I haven't always taken my own advice, and I've sometimes missed out. That's why I've moved so fast in Colombia. I didn't want to take a chance on missing what may be my biggest find of all.

The opportunities in Colombia are not limited to Medellin (though the values in this pretty city of flowers and cafes jump off the page). Medellin is just one destination of several that are attracting North American expats to this country.

The historic walled city of Cartagena, on Colombia's Caribbean coast, has been drawing expats for years. Cartagena is Colombia's #1 tourist destination, but it was Colombia's first major expat haven, too, and continues to grow in popularity in this regard.

About 140 miles up the coast from Cartagena is Santa Marta, Colombia's oldest city, offering an amazing array of appealing lifestyles and beautiful beaches, from the newly restored historic center and waterfront to the dancing beat of El Rodadero and from the world-class scuba diving at Taganga to the tranquil beaches of Bello Horizonte.

If you're interested in cooler climes, head up into the mountains, where you find Medellin but also Popayán, a beautifully maintained small-town colonial gem.

Great beaches, great weather, great health care, great culture... Colombia has it all, and, right now, it's all available at a more than 30% discount for dollar-holders. 

How long will this window remain open? Who could say.

Here's what I can tell you: Colombia is worth your attention. Lief and I are invested here. We've made friends here. We visit as often as we can. We're connected for the long term and are behind this country 100%.

It is in that context that we now are planning our fifth Live and Invest in Colombia Conference.

I can't stress strongly enough how great the window of opportunity is right now in this country. Get thee to Colombia, specifically Medellin. We'll meet you there.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Today we officially open registration for our fifth Live and Invest in Colombia Conference taking place May 11–13 in downtown Medellin. 

Register now to take advantage of Early Bird pricing discounts and VIP attendee benefits. You can sign yourself up online here

Or reach our conference department with your questions by phone, toll-free from the United States, at 1-888-627-8834 or by email atColombiaConference@liveandinvestoverseas.com

Continue Reading: Considering Retirement Options In Europe And Uruguay

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What to buy? Apartments in Buenos Aires, some of which qualify as among the most intrinsically valuable in the world, their cycle-to-cycle value street value notwithstanding. Also look at vineyard opportunities. I've just taken advantage of a crisis vineyard offer in Mendoza and am on the lookout for more.

Turkey, Specifically Istanbul

Turkey's property market wasn't hit as hard as others around the world in 2008 and 2009. Values in some districts of Istanbul dropped by maybe 25% at the height of the downturn (about the same as in Panama)...but in just a year-and-a-half prices recovered. That rate of appreciation (10% to 15% per year on average) continued through 2014 and is expected to carry on indefinitely.

Despite these impressive rates of appreciation, Istanbul real estate remains a bargain compared with other global-standard cities. With a starting market price of around US$1,000 a square meter, middle-class housing in the Turkish capital can be an excellent bargain.

What's driving the continuing appreciation in property values? Inflation is one factor; another is the GDP growth rate, which has been 4.5% to 5%. However, the compelling explanation for why property prices have been going up as quickly as they have been is a big and growing local demand.

Half the population of Turkey is younger than 30 years old. The country sees 350,000 weddings a year. All these new couples want places of their own to live. And, thanks to a strong economy and relatively low unemployment, more of these young couples than ever can afford places of their own.

In addition to all the young people needing places to live, half the current housing stock in the country needs to be replaced or renovated. Many of the structures are simply not suitable for living according to current-day standards. People in old buildings need new and better ones...further fueling the construction boom that continues to expand.

With its young population, Turkey is a country of the future. The economy is growing and diversified between Europe and Asia. And it's easier than it's ever been for foreigners to invest here now, especially in real estate.

Focus on Istanbul rather than the vacation properties along the coast that many foreigners have been buying. Vacation markets supported by mostly foreign buyers are less liquid than a local market like Istanbul. When you decided to sell your asset in this city, you'd have many different potential buyers to appeal to.

The safest, simplest investment options in the city are pre-construction apartments. Getting in early on a new building means discounted pricing and the expectation of price increases over the two- to three-year construction period.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is an internationally popular all-inclusive resort destination that sees big volumes of tourists every year thanks to its miles of sandy beaches and balmy temperatures. It's also a top Caribbean choice for the would-be foreign property investor. In fact, I like this market more than ever in 2015 for two reasons. First, the island nation is attracting more and more foreigners, both full-time expats and retirees and part-time second-home-at-the-beach owners. Second, property values are a tremendous bargain relative to the rest of the Caribbean.

What could you buy? How about a brand-new, one-bedroom apartment about a five-minute walk from a Caribbean beach for US$100,000 or less that could be rented out for a good and reliable yield. You can also find multi-million-dollar properties that are, again, a bargain, compared with the cost of similar properties in other Caribbean markets.

Punta Cana is the DR's most developed resort area. Puerto Plata, on the north coast, is the most developed area for retirees. Most appealing if you ask me is the Samana Peninsula. Here you have thousands of expats onshore and, in the water off the coast here, thousands of breeding humpback whales. It's a unique spot a little off the beaten path.

Spain

This is the best time in 20 years to be shopping for real estate in Spain…if you know where to look. We are at the start of a 12-month window for buying in the regions of this country that are driven by expat buyers. Prices for properties in locally driven markets remain unstable and may fall further, but the expat markets are firming up. In fact, we may begin to see some appreciation is these areas, as little new construction has been undertaken in the past half-dozen years thanks to the crisis.

Focus on Malaga in the heart of the Costa del Sol. The town center has some charm and a broad appeal. Prices are good, as low as 2,000 euro per square meter, a price point not seen here in many years.

The Costa del Sol of Spain is where I made my first overseas real estate investment, so I have an affinity for this area. Money can be made again now, in the current market. However, you can't buy just anything. You want to focus not only on broadly appealing markets (like Malaga) but also on individual properties with intrinsic value. The crash left banks holding more real estate than they could inventory, and they're working hard to unload as much of the foreclosed property as possible. Much of it is cookie-cutter condos. Don't be tempted. Seek out properties with character.

Whatever you buy, you want to be confident it'll generate an adequate net rental return (at least 5% to 8%). You shouldn't buy in this market for capital appreciation in the near or mid-term. Buy for cash flow and a long-term upside.

Buy as well to take advantage of the strength of the U.S. dollar versus the euro. The euro is at its lowest point against the dollar in two-and-a-half years, dropping a further 2.5% in the last couple of weeks.

Colombia, Specifically Medellin

The U.S. dollar is currently surging not only against the euro but other currencies, too, including the Colombian peso, making this market even more interesting. I've been recommending Colombia, specifically Medellin, for investment for six years, and I remain bullish. The Medellin market has seen good appreciation over the last six-plus years I've been recommending it (as much as 10% per year), and I expect this to continue. Meantime, the peso has fallen out of its five-year band of 1,750 to 2,050 per U.S. dollar to around 2,300 to the U.S. dollar, triggering a window of opportunity to get into this market on a dip.

Colombia's economy is strong, and the middle class continues to grow. The long-term prospects are excellent. Buy both for immediate cash from rental yield and capital appreciation.

Agriculture

Any property portfolio should include some productive land component for important reasons I think you understand as well as I do. I'm actively pursuing agricultural opportunities from timber to certain fruits and vegetables in Colombia, Panama, Belize, Western Europe, and the Dominican Republic. Not all of them will work out, but I'll alert you to the ones that pass muster. This is where I intend to place a significant portion of my available capital in 2015.

Happy profits.

Lief Simon

Continue Reading: Making A Plan To Retire Overseas In 2015

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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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