Live and Invest Overseas http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com Our Expertise Unlocks The World Wed, 01 Jul 2015 00:37:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Discover How To Retire Overseas http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/how-to/discover-how-to-retire-overseas.html http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/how-to/discover-how-to-retire-overseas.html#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/?p=11267 Start With A List New York, New York Take out a piece of paper and a pen and sit down in a comfortable chair. Now, write down everything that’s important to you in the context of an overseas retirement haven. Consider all aspects of your life, big and small: The cost of living. How much [...]

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Start With A List

New York, New York

Take out a piece of paper and a pen and sit down in a comfortable chair.

Now, write down everything that’s important to you in the context of an overseas retirement haven. Consider all aspects of your life, big and small:

  • The cost of living. How much money do you have to live on monthly?…
  • The weather. What do you like? Year-round sunshine? Four seasons? Low humidity? Minimal rainfall?…
  • The infrastructure. How important to you are reliable Internet and cable TV?…
  • English-speaking doctors…
  • First World hospital within a half-hour’s drive…
  • International-standard schools… high schools that prepare students for the International Baccalaureate…
  • Surfing… boating… fishing… diving… international-standard golf courses…
  • Educated and English-speaking labor pool…

  • International banks… ATMs on every corner…
  • Aunt Jemima, Betty Crocker, and other name brands you know on the grocery store shelves… and at what cost…
  • The view from your bedroom window… the sounds outside your bedroom window at night…
  • Fellow English-speakers (maybe you want to be among them… maybe you don’t)…
  • Available distractions… restaurants, theater, first-run movies, shopping malls, bridge clubs, tennis teams…
  • Accessibility… how far to the nearest international airport…
  • Restrictions on foreign ownership of property…
  • Taxes—sales tax, property tax, transfer tax, income tax, rental income tax, capital gains tax, import tax for your personal and household goods… where does your income come from and what taxes, therefore, would you be liable for?…
  • Public transportation and how you get around… do you need a car? Can you walk to the newsstand each morning?…
  • Crime (we consider all the places we recommend to you to be safe)…
  • Stability of the government (we’re apolitical as a rule but recognize that, sometimes, hard as we try to coexist peacefully alongside whoever happens to sit in the power chair, politics affects us as we move around and can’t be ignored entirely)…
  • Rate of exchange between the local currency and your own…
  • Rate of local inflation…
  • Cost of an airplane ticket back home…
  • How quick you could get back home if you needed to…
  • Availability and cost of household help, nannies, caretakers, drivers…
  • Ease of forming a company… opening a bank account…
  • Requirements for obtaining foreign residency… visa hurdles… opportunities for eventually obtaining second citizenship…

How do you retire overseas?

That’s how.

At least that’s how you begin. You make a list.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. We’ll help you make your list and then we’ll help you connect the dots between your list of priorities and preferences and the world’s top 21 overseas retirement havens during our Retire Overseas Conference taking place in Orlando Sept. 13–16. Details on the program we’ve put together for this, our biggest event of the year and the only event we’ll hold Stateside, are here.

Continue Reading: Most Affordable Places To Retire Overseas

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More Women Are Retiring To Belize’s Cayo District From the U.S. Northeast http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/retirement-living/more-women-are-retiring-to-belizes-cayo-district-from-the-u-s-northeast.html http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/retirement-living/more-women-are-retiring-to-belizes-cayo-district-from-the-u-s-northeast.html#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 12:30:12 +0000 http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/?p=11143 A Gold Watch Or Culture Shock Cayo, Belize A few years ago, I decided it was time for me to give up the rat race. I had worked many decades in the U.S. Northeast, and the brutally cold winters were beginning to take their toll on me (and my knees). It was time for a [...]

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A Gold Watch Or Culture Shock

Cayo, Belize
A few years ago, I decided it was time for me to give up the rat race. I had worked many decades in the U.S. Northeast, and the brutally cold winters were beginning to take their toll on me (and my knees). It was time for a major change in my life, so I retired. I received a small pension (and no gold watch).

I started thinking about downsizing to an apartment. When I started looking for a one- or two-bedroom apartment in a quiet neighborhood or a retirement community, I was appalled by the rental rates. Everywhere I checked, the total of my modest pension and my Social Security check put my income just over the threshold to qualify for a subsidized break on the rent. Some rents would have taken my entire Social Security check, and these weren’t even the most luxurious developments. I found it to be the same all over the United States. The states with warmer climates were even more expensive.

I wondered what I would do. Then, July 2013, I had an opportunity to travel to Belize with a church group on a mission trip. We visited the Cayo District and stayed in a little village near San Ignacio for a week. It took me a couple of days to get used to the heat and the humidity and the dusty, rocky roads. But it didn’t take long to get used to the exceptionally friendly people and the feeling of peace that pervaded. Wherever we visited, we were invited in and offered something to eat or drink… hospitality extraordinaire.

When I stopped in San Ignacio, the main town in Cayo, I did not feel like a stranger. I realized then that I had found my new home, and I just hoped I could afford to live there. When it was time to leave, I did not want to go. When I landed back in the States, I felt I had left my heart in Belize.

As soon as I got home, I went online and checked out everything I could about the cost of living in Belize. I even contacted expats from all over the world who had already made the move there. From what I could see and was told, it would be very possible for me to afford to live in Cayo. Even my knees were smiling.

One- and two-bedroom unfurnished rentals, often with fenced-in yards, were advertised at BZ$400 to BZ$800 (US$200 to US$400) a month, either in town or in less populated areas. None stayed on the market long. Other options for US$1,000 or more per month included modern conveniences on nice lots.

A year later, in September 2014, I was at the airport again on my way to Belize, this time with a one-way ticket and two suitcases. I was fortunate to find a great house near town in Punta Gorda available for rent for US$300 a month. That’s where I stayed until I found my permanent home.

After I closed out all of my affairs and terminated all utilities in the States, I had rid myself of 10 bills associated with my living expenses. I was so excited to finally have some discretionary income. I used the next few months in Punta Gorda to put some money aside and take my time checking out the rest of Belize. Everything I had read and heard was true. I could rent an apartment for US$400 a month. There are plenty of options in that price range in plenty of towns around Belize that I visited—some of them beachfront, right on the Caribbean coast.

After several months of scouting, I decided on coastal Corozal town, partly because it is only 9 miles from Mexico, where there are plenty of Americanized shopping outlets and even a movie theater. I headed up to this northern part of the country to finally find a house of my own. I hired a guide to show me around over five days. I saw everything on the market, from the beautiful retirement community of Consejo Shores (a few miles out of town) to properties in and just outside of the bustling little town.

Within 24 hours, I found exactly what I was looking for, and the price was everything I had hoped. The lovely one-bedroom, fully furnished apartment was situated on a resort property and access to the swimming pool was included. For US$700 per month (including utilities), I have my dream house in Corozal, just a few meters from the beach. My total monthly expenses will be less than my Social Security check—which, even when combined with my pension, couldn’t have supported me anywhere in the United States.

Now, my pension check is my own. I used my first one to buy my own gold retirement watch. For my birthday this year, I treated myself to a handmade sundial watch. I figured I’d need one as I will be spending a whole lot more time in the sun these days.

This is the end of this story but the beginning of a new, exciting, and affordable life.

Brenda Zallito

Continue Reading: International Schooling Options In Panama City And Elsewhere In Central America

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International Schooling Options In Panama City And Elsewhere In Central America http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/mailbag/international-schooling-options-in-panama-city-and-elsewhere-in-central-america.html http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/mailbag/international-schooling-options-in-panama-city-and-elsewhere-in-central-america.html#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 12:00:23 +0000 http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/?p=11144 “Kathleen, my family is interested in moving to Central America, but we have two children ages 8 and 10. We would like to continue their education in all-English schools. From our investigation, all of the English-speaking private schools in Central America are very, very expensive. “Do you have any suggestions to a family that wants [...]

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“Kathleen, my family is interested in moving to Central America, but we have two children ages 8 and 10. We would like to continue their education in all-English schools. From our investigation, all of the English-speaking private schools in Central America are very, very expensive.

“Do you have any suggestions to a family that wants to relocate on a limited budget but still wants their kids to go to all-English U.S.-type schools? Which country in Central America has the most affordable U.S. private schools?”

–Ali J., United States

We’ve found international-standard schools here in Panama City, where we’ve been sending our son to school for the past seven years, to be both excellent and a bargain compared with private schools in the States.

Another thing we like about the schooling options in Panama City is that they include not only U.S. and other English-language schools but also a French school, where our son attends.

Continue Reading: More Women Are Retiring To Belize’s Cayo District From the U.S. Northeast

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Help Finding Where To Retire Overseas http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/how-to/help-finding-where-to-retire-overseas.html http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/how-to/help-finding-where-to-retire-overseas.html#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 12:00:37 +0000 http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/?p=11109 24 Retire Overseas FAQs Panama City, Panama Our editors are all out right now pulling together the program for this year’s Retire Overseas Conference, taking place in Orlando, Florida, Sept. 13–16. One objective of this program is to provide answers to the most frequently asked retire-overseas questions… including: 1. If I move overseas, could I [...]

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24 Retire Overseas FAQs

Panama City, Panama

Our editors are all out right now pulling together the program for this year’s Retire Overseas Conference, taking place in Orlando, Florida, Sept. 13–16.

One objective of this program is to provide answers to the most frequently asked retire-overseas questions… including:

1. If I move overseas, could I ever return home?

Yes, of course. Living overseas, even full-time, even as a legal resident of another country, affects your ability to spend time in your home country not at all. You’re still an American (or Canadian or British or Australian, etc.) citizen, after all. You can come and go as you please.

2. Living overseas, would I lose my original citizenship?

Again, no, your residency status abroad has no effect on your citizenship.

Remember: Residency and citizenship are two different things. If you’re a U.S. citizen, the only way to lose your U.S. citizenship is to renounce it formally. This is a serious step that you can’t take accidentally.

In other words, there’s no chance you’d lose your U.S. citizenship without realizing it. Renouncing it requires a formal application and at least one interview with the FBI. Once your application to renounce your citizenship has been approved, you then must appear again before federal authorities to relinquish your blue passport with the eagle on the cover. The United States doesn’t want to lose you as one of its citizens, for, as long as you carry U.S. citizenship, no matter where you roam, you are obliged to report your income and earnings to Uncle Sam.

3. Do I need a passport to retire overseas?

You need a passport to travel anywhere in the world, no matter how long you intend to stay.

4. Do I need to let my home government know that I’m leaving the country?

No. If you’re an American, for example, you can register your presence in your new country with the local U.S. Embassy if you like, but you are not obligated to do so. In my experience, most retirees overseas don’t register.

5. What happens if I die while living in a foreign country?

Someone should inform your country’s local embassy and consulate. The consulate will help organize the repatriation of your remains (if that is your wish). If that is your wish, be sure to include repatriation as part of your international health insurance policy. Shipping remains home can be expensive.

6. What happens if I get arrested in another country?

When in a foreign country—as a tourist, a resident, a retiree, etc.—you are subject to its laws. If you are arrested for breaking one of them, get a local lawyer quick. Your consulate, for example, likely will not be able to help much, other than perhaps to make a local attorney recommendation. My best advice on this point is, don’t get arrested. Know the laws of the country where you’re living and respect them.

7. Do I need any vaccinations?

It depends where you’re going. Some countries require you to have specific vaccinations before you’ll be permitted to enter. The U.S. Center for Disease Control has a good section on its website discussing the question of which vaccinations might be advisable, depending on your current state of health and where in the world you intend to spend time. Take a look.

8. Can I drink the water?

Again, it depends where you’re going. The tap water is potable in France, for example, of course, but it tastes funny because of the chemicals it’s treated with. The tap water is generally not potable in Ireland, but it is in Panama City and other parts of Panama. The easiest strategy (the one I follow) is to drink bottled water everywhere.

9. Is it really safe?

Yes, every country I recommend to you in these dispatches and every country we’ll feature as part of the program for this year’s Retire Overseas Conference is safe. That is not to say no one ever does anything he or she shouldn’t do in any of these places. Nowhere in the world is 100% crime-free. Use your common sense. Lock the front door to your house. Don’t leave the keys in your car. Don’t wear flashy jewelry on the street. But, in all the places I suggest you think about retiring overseas, don’t worry about violent crime either.

10. Are there bugs or snakes?

Yes, there are mosquitoes, gnats, sand flies, cockroaches, and spiders nearly everywhere. You’ll find snakes in the jungle and other rural areas, including, sometimes, venomous ones. It’s easy enough, though, to educate yourself on which varieties of creepy crawlies you might encounter in your new home once you decide where you’re moving. Note that every state in the United States except Hawaii has snakes, too.

11. Are there earthquakes or hurricanes?

Could be. Depends where you’re talking about. Panama, for example, sits outside the hurricane belt, but, down here in the Hub of the Americas, sometimes, the earth does quake.

12. Can I still receive my U.S. Social Security payments?

Yes. If you’re eligible for U.S. Social Security, you can even have your monthly check direct-deposited into your account in some countries. See this link for a list of countries where this is possible.

13. Will Medicare cover me living overseas?

No. No exceptions. As an American abroad, you need to make another plan for covering your medical expenses overseas. I recommend, though, keeping your Medicare as a major medical backup. We’ll address the important topic of health insurance overseas during one of the seven panel-led workshops of this year’s Retire Overseas Conference in Orlando.

14. Will my computer work in another country? My cellphone? My DVD player?

Your laptop computer will work anywhere, as all laptop AC adapters should be dual current, meaning they should work with 110V and 220V electrical systems. You may need a plug adapter to be able to plug your computer cord into the outlet, depending on where you’re going to be spending time. Most of Central and South America uses the U.S.-type plug. In Europe, Asia, and Argentina, you’ll need a plug adapter. You can find adapter sets in shops in most international airports.

Your cellphone may or may not work. First, find out if your current carrier has coverage where you’re traveling. Second, check with your carrier to find out if your account allows roaming in the country where you’re going. Long term, you’ll want a local cellphone.

Every DVD player is programmed to play DVDs from particular zones. Bring your U.S. DVD player with you to Europe, Asia, or South America and try to use it to play local DVDs, and you’ll be disappointed. Won’t work. Unless you have a multizone player in the States, leave it behind and buy a new one in your new country when you arrive. They are easy to find and typically not expensive most places in the world.

15. Can I drive on my home country’s driver’s license?

Yes, typically for the first 30 days to one year that you’re resident in a new country. After this time, most countries require you either to qualify for a local driver’s license or to have your home license validated locally.

16. Do I really need to learn the local language?

No. You could get by most places I recommend in these dispatches speaking English only. I don’t recommend it.

17. Is there Burger King?

It depends where you’re thinking about retiring. The sorry truth, however, is that, yes, fast food has gone global. You can buy Coca-Cola almost anywhere on earth, and McDonalds, et al., are to be found except in the most remote regions of the planet.

18. Can I get a job?

Probably not. To work in a foreign country, you’ll need a work visa. This is not easily obtained unless you’re sponsored for a job by an international employer and relocated to the country with their help. The one exception to this general rule right now is Panama. This country’s Friendly Nations visa program bundles the possibility of a work permit.

You can, though, many places in the world, start your own business. Easiest is a laptop-based enterprise. Again, we’re including a panel-led workshop on this important topic as part of this year’s program in Orlando.

19. Can I vote in local elections?

No, not as a foreign resident. To vote in government elections, you’d have to become a citizen of the country. Again, remember, residency is not the same as citizenship.

20. Will my credit and debit cards work overseas?

Yes, they should. Before you use them, though, research what fees you’ll be charged. Some credit card companies impose such onerous fees when their cards are used in foreign countries that it can be worth switching to another group before you move.

21. How will my friends and family be able to stay in touch with me?

Email, Skype, etc. The Internet Age has made it possible to retire overseas and still communicate with friends and family on a daily basis.

22. Can I bring my car with me?

Yes. Normally, I don’t recommend it.

23. How much does it cost to move overseas?

How long is a piece of string? If you pack up a couple of suitcases and head on out, your total cost could be as little as the cost of your plane ticket. However, if you want to establish formal residency in a country, you should expect to spend US$1,000 to maybe US$3,000 per family member (between attorney and government fees) for your resident visas, and, if you decide to ship a container-load of your household goods, figure another US$10,000, more or less, depending where you’re moving from and to.

The real cost of your move can be the cost of the research and travel involved if you have a long list of countries you want to check out.

24. Can I continue to vote in my home country elections from overseas? Does my vote count for less?

Yes, you can vote in your home country elections while living overseas. If you’re an American, go here to learn more about how to vote in U.S. elections while residing outside the country.

And, no, your vote doesn’t count for any less. One vote is one vote, no matter where it’s cast.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Lief and I take off this week for two months of travel. For the first four weeks, it’ll be just the two of us. We fly Tuesday from Panama to New York. After a week in New York, it’s on to Algarve, Portugal. From there to Paris, then Frankfurt, then Andorra, and, finally, back to Paris, where we’ll reconnect with the kids and settle in for the rest of the summer.

This is the first time in more than 26 years that I’m roaming sans enfants for more than a few days at a time. Our daughter will be in Panama City helping to hold down the fort, and our son leaves today for four weeks of summer camp.

Eight weeks out of the office and four weeks without children-related responsibilities to help structure our days? What will Lief and I do with ourselves?

We have no idea but can’t wait to find out…

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Property Bargains And Rental Investment Opportunities In Algarve, Portugal http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/how-to/property-bargains-and-rental-investment-opportunities-in-algarve-portugal.html http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/how-to/property-bargains-and-rental-investment-opportunities-in-algarve-portugal.html#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 12:30:11 +0000 http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/?p=11100 This Top Coastal Market Is An Absolute Bargain Algarve, Portugal I’ll be in Portugal in a few weeks for our Live and Invest in Portugal Conference. I’ve booked my ticket to arrive several days early so I can do some shopping. This is a window of opportunity to own in one of the world’s top [...]

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This Top Coastal Market Is An Absolute Bargain

Algarve, Portugal

I’ll be in Portugal in a few weeks for our Live and Invest in Portugal Conference. I’ve booked my ticket to arrive several days early so I can do some shopping. This is a window of opportunity to own in one of the world’s top coastal markets for absolutely bargain prices.

Prices are low for two reasons. First, this market remains down in the wake of its post-2008 collapse. Second, the euro remains weak against the U.S. dollar.

I intend to act. My target is a beachfront rental.

The real estate agent I’m working with has warned me that what I’m looking for—specifically, an apartment in an old stone building in a small town on or near the beach—isn’t easily found. They’ve sent me a half-dozen properties that fit every other criteria on my list but that are all in new apartment complexes.

The experience is reminding me of the search experience my wife and I suffered through when we bought our house in Ireland more than 17 years ago. We gave the real estate agents our criteria; we wanted a big, old, Georgian-style house on some land.

Our first day out, the first agent we worked with took us to see houses he insisted met our criteria, but they were all new-builds, in what the Irish call “estates.” Loads of these estates were being developed at the time, each with 20 to 100 houses. That first agent took us to three different housing estates and showed us, in each, four- and five-bedroom houses. To him, the number of bedrooms qualified the houses as “big.” And, as far as he was concerned, “big” meant the houses fit our description.

My wife refused to get out of the car to tour the final house… which was the same, really, as all the other houses we’d seen. We tried to remain polite as we explained that these houses were fine for what they were, but they were not at all what we were looking for. We wanted big, yes, but, more than that, we wanted old and Georgian. We wanted character.

The agent’s response was that some of the houses we’d seen were old. Some of them had been built more than five years earlier, he assured us.

We expanded our search by meeting with other real estate agents. That’s when we realized that the reason the first agent had shown us the houses he had shown us was because those were the houses his agency had on its books. No multiple listing service was available in Ireland at the time (and still isn’t, though it’s easier today to find a broader range of properties for sale with the help the Internet), and agencies didn’t (and, again, still don’t) cooperate with one another. The only way a buyer could get a real idea of what was available for sale was by meeting with every real estate agent in town.

Needless to say, that’s hardly an efficient strategy. Unfortunately, however, it’s how most of the world’s real estate markets operate.

In Portugal, I’ve found and am working with an agency that does cooperate with other agencies. I’m hoping to be able to get away with less knocking on doors to find what I’m looking for in the Algarve next month. Still, I know I’ll have to do at least some of my own on-the-ground research to find the type of property I’m interested in.

I’ve created a challenge for myself that you can avoid. If you’re in the market for an investment property, with no personal use component to complicate things, you should have an easy time finding good options. This market is easier for the investor-buyer to navigate than many markets thanks to the long expat presence in the area. Most real estate agencies speak English (many are run by British expats), meaning no language barrier, which can be a big hurdle other places.

Your best option if you’re shopping for an investment yield is a one- or two-bedroom apartment. These are plentiful in this well-touristed area. Make your choice based on location and building or property amenities. These are the two most important factors affecting occupancy rate.

You should be able to buy a good rental property for as little as 100,000 euros up to 250,000 euros. I’ve focused on 150,000 to 200,000 euros for my search.

One thing to be aware of is that at least two of the biggest agencies I’ve spoken with want to work only with people looking to spend 500,000 euros or more. This despite the fact that these agencies advertise lower-priced properties on their websites. Those bargain listings are lures to get you into the office.

I’ll have more from the road and details on specific opportunities and current listings for my Marketwatch members.

We’ll be covering Portugal as part of our Retire Overseas Conference in Orlando in September. Whether you’re interested in good investment returns or a coastal lifestyle, Portugal, specifically the Algarve, should be on your radar.

Lief Simon

Continue Reading: Comparing Panama Versus Ecuador

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Comparing Panama Versus Ecuador http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/mailbag/comparing-panama-versus-ecuador.html http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/mailbag/comparing-panama-versus-ecuador.html#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/?p=11101 “Kathleen, I sure hope this gets to you. I remember when you first got my attention so many years ago. “My wife and I have been traveling to Nicaragua since 1978. Yeah, during the war. It was a strange time in Nica. “We try going down there every year since ’78. Our last trip was [...]

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“Kathleen, I sure hope this gets to you. I remember when you first got my attention so many years ago.

“My wife and I have been traveling to Nicaragua since 1978. Yeah, during the war. It was a strange time in Nica.

“We try going down there every year since ’78. Our last trip was in 2013. We stayed three months, this time in the White Towns, specifically Diriamba. We rented a little one-bed, one-bath colonial on a busy street corner. Can you believe US$175 a month! Electric was about US$6 to US$10 per month. Wi-Fi was the most expensive at US$50 per month.

“We were right in the middle of everything. A three-block walk to the San Sebastian Basilica where we attended mass every Sunday morning. Then we would walk three more blocks for lunch at Me Bohia Restaurant. The owners attended the same mass with us every Sunday.

“I just wanted to wish you luck and say that I missed your letters about traveling until I rediscovered you recently.

“My wife and I are planning another trip for three to six months. This time we are looking at either Panama or Ecuador. We think Cuenca. Still looking at Panama. We want to be in the mountains where it’s cool. Being from New Orleans and now living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, literally two blocks off the beach, we want cooler temperatures. This could eliminate Panama. We shall see.

“Thank you, Kathleen, for everything. We hope we see your name on many more reviews.”

–Hubie M., United States

Welcome back as a reader and thanks very much for taking the time to get in touch. I appreciate the feedback and the well wishes.

I, too, am a big fan of Nicaragua. That country has a lot of heart and soul.

Don’t take Panama off your list prematurely. Check out the mountain options first, including Boquete and also, less known, Santa Fé.

Good luck with your search.

Continue Reading: Property Bargains And Rental Investment Opportunities In Algarve, Portugal

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Best 6 Property Investment Markets For 2015 http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/real-estate/best-property-investment-markets-for-2015.html http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/real-estate/best-property-investment-markets-for-2015.html#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 12:30:09 +0000 http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/?p=11069 Mid-Year Review—Where To Make Money In The Next Six Months Panama City, Panama As we come to the end of the first half of 2015, where should you be focusing your attention and investing your money if you’re keen (as you should be) to diversify into foreign property markets? Your biggest opportunities continue to lie [...]

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Mid-Year Review—Where To Make Money In The Next Six Months

Panama City, Panama

As we come to the end of the first half of 2015, where should you be focusing your attention and investing your money if you’re keen (as you should be) to diversify into foreign property markets?

Your biggest opportunities continue to lie in markets in crisis, markets benefiting from the strong dollar (and the weak euro), and markets where the middle class is expanding in dramatic ways for particular reasons.

In addition, agriculture remains a key opportunity. If you’ve yet to diversify your portfolio to include some productive land play, you should make this a priority.

Specifically, here are seven property markets that have my full attention right now:

#1: The Dominican Republic

I spent a week in the Dominican Republic earlier this month, scouting property opportunities and hosting our Live and Invest in the Dominican Republic Conference. The DR is one of the most interesting property markets in the world right now. It’s also a dichotomy, offering very different kinds of property investment options. Punta Cana, for example, 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. Las Terrenas, meantime, is a quintessential Caribbean seaside village that’s home to a big community of Euro-expats. Both the tourist and the expat retiree markets in this country are expanding. However, prices remain undervalued across the board, relative to elsewhere in the region.

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 multimillion-dollar properties that are, again, a bargain, compared with the cost of similar properties in other Caribbean markets.

#2: Portugal, Specifically The Algarve

The euro remains way down against the dollar, trading today at about US$1.12.

In Portugal, where they use euros, the property market likewise remains down in the dumps, just beginning to show signs of recovery from its real estate crisis of the last seven years.

Those two factors—a weak euro and a down-and-out property market—mean that ocean-side condos along Portugal’s coast can be a screaming bargain.

With US$200,000, you could buy a two-bedroom apartment of 900 to 1,000 square feet in Portugal’s Algarve region, within walking distance of the beach and close to a golf course. Don’t want to spend that much? No problem. With US$100,000, you could buy a comfortable one-bedroom place, also near the beach.

Europe is on sale thanks to the dramatic drop in the value of the euro against the U.S. dollar. With property prices still trying to recover in many parts of Europe, particularly in Portugal, the time to buy is now.

If you’re in the market for a vacation home on the Continent, a second home in the sun that you could rent out when you’re not using it, the Algarve has an important advantage over the Spanish costas (another region that you might also be considering in this context). In Portugal, the tax on property rental income for nonresidents is 25% of net income. In Spain, it’s 24% of gross income. That’s a big difference.

I’ll be in the Algarve mid-July, to scout for my own account and also to host our Live and Invest in Portugal Conference July 8–10.

#3: 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.

#4: Colombia, Specifically Medellín

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 Medellín, for investment for six years, and I remain bullish. The Medellín 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 2,500 to the U.S. dollar, triggering a window of opportunity to get into this market on a dip.

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

#5: Paraguay, Specifically Asunción

Mid-19th century, Paraguay was a wealthy nation thanks to protectionist dictators who happily exported tea and wood to the outside world but taxed imports heavily, creating a self-sufficient, wealthy, and (unlike neighbors Brazil and Argentina) debt-free country. In fact, at the time, Paraguay was flush enough to pay cash for technology that allowed it to own its railroad. Elsewhere in the region, it was the British who owned and profited from railway operations.

According to locals, that healthy economy inspired an attempt to interfere with Britain’s tea monopoly in Europe, which led to the war of the Triple Alliance in 1864. Other stories about the start of this devastating conflict include that Paraguay was just trying to protect Uruguay’s independence and got tricked into a much larger-scale conflict. Still others say the dictator at the time, Francisco Solano Lopez, was delusional enough to attempt to take over South America. Whatever the reasons for the war, the results were disastrous for Paraguay. By the end of fighting in 1870, the population was decimated and 25% of its territory was lost. Brazil occupied the country for six years.

A century and a half later, Paraguay is back on the path to prosperity. The country has the second lowest per capita GDP in South America, but its economy is growing (at an average rate of 7% per year for the last five years).

In Paraguay earlier this year, I investigated three kinds of property investment opportunities—land and agriculture, restorations in the old colonial center of downtown Asunción, and pre-construction in key Asunción neighborhoods. I was impressed by the potential of all three strategies. This country is at the start of what I predict will be a long growth cycle. More than 70% of the country’s population is younger than 30. As in Istanbul, that young workforce will continue to fuel growth for the next decade at least.

#6: Argentina

A chart of Argentina’s economic activity over the last century could have been used as the blueprint for one of the roller coasters I rode with my kids at Universal Studios in Orlando recently. Up and down, up and down, right now this market is way down, very close to another bottom. The last bottom was 2001. I bought three apartments in Buenos Aires in the wake of that collapse, and I’m watching now to see what I should buy in the wake of the collapse now upon us (I guess I should say the collapse now upon the Argentines).

Don’t let this country’s manic economy scare you off. The big downs are always followed by nice ups. Making money in Argentina is all about timing, and the time again is now.

Argentina will be holding presidential elections in October. My contacts in the country expect things to bottom before current President Cristina Kirchner is replaced. Keep an eye on the gap between the blue market and the Argentine peso’s official exchange rate with the U.S. dollar. When this gap begins to narrow, that’s your cue.

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

Plus: Agriculture, Specifically Turnkey Plantations

Any diversified 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 (with a focus on organic production) in Colombia, Panama, Belize, Western Europe, and the Dominican Republic. Not all of the offers I’m investigating 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 through the end of this year and longer term.

Happy profits.

Lief Simon

P.S. I’ve invited my top on-the-ground contacts in each of these countries to join my wife Kathleen Peddicord and me in Orlando in September for our biggest event of the year. Every country I’m recommending for property investment will be represented on the program of our Retire Overseas Conference this year, along with 14 others.

Early Bird and other discounts remain in effect for a limited time. Details are here.

Continue Reading: Lief Simon And Kathleen Peddicord Discuss The Vision And Development Plan For Los Islotes, Azuero Sunset Coast, Panama

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Lief Simon And Kathleen Peddicord Discuss The Vision And Development Plan For Los Islotes, Azuero Sunset Coast, Panama http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/mailbag/lief-simon-and-kathleen-peddicord-discuss-the-vision-and-development-plan-for-los-islotes-azuero-sunset-coast-panama.html http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/mailbag/lief-simon-and-kathleen-peddicord-discuss-the-vision-and-development-plan-for-los-islotes-azuero-sunset-coast-panama.html#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 12:00:13 +0000 http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/?p=11070 TODAY Lief Simon and Kathleen Peddicord took a few minutes yesterday to record their vision and plans for development at their Los Islotes property on Panama’s Azuero Sunset Coast. You can listen in here. MAILBAG “Kathleen, I love your website and all you are doing for expats. I hope you can help me. “I am [...]

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TODAY

Lief Simon and Kathleen Peddicord took a few minutes yesterday to record their vision and plans for development at their Los Islotes property on Panama’s Azuero Sunset Coast.

You can listen in here.

MAILBAG

“Kathleen, I love your website and all you are doing for expats. I hope you can help me.

“I am a U.S. citizen thinking of obtaining residency abroad, most likely in the Philippines. I will be living off dividends and capital gains from my U.S. investments as well doing some work in the United States via Internet. Hence, all my income (passive and active) will be from the United States. I will access the incomes through U.S. accounts. My questions are:

“First, will the Philippines tax my U.S. dividends and capital gains once I have an SRRV visa?

“Second, will the Philippines tax my active income from Internet based work once I have an SRVV visa?

“Third, are there expat-friendly (nondeveloped) countries that don’t tax either as long as both incomes are derived from the United States?”

–Dany G., United States

The Philippines taxes residents on worldwide income, meaning that, were you to become a resident, both your passive and active income would be taxed in that country—though you would get U.S. tax credits for tax paid in the Philippines.

Active income you earned, even though paid from the United States, would qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) as long as the work were done outside the United States and you qualified for the FEIE.

The best choice in Asia from a tax point of view is Malaysia, which taxes income earned in Malaysia only. Singapore taxes in the same way but is a more expensive place to spend time.

Continue Reading: Best Property Investment Markets For 2015

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Managing A Rental Property Overseas http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/how-to/managing-a-rental-property-overseas.html http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/how-to/managing-a-rental-property-overseas.html#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 12:30:57 +0000 http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/?p=11047 5 Keys To Success With A Rental Property Overseas Panama City, Panama A rental property overseas is one of the best types of real estate investments you can make today. Every diversified property portfolio should have some money in foreign rental properties. Retirees and expats should be looking at this kind of purchase, as well, [...]

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5 Keys To Success With A Rental Property Overseas

Panama City, Panama

A rental property overseas is one of the best types of real estate investments you can make today. Every diversified property portfolio should have some money in foreign rental properties. Retirees and expats should be looking at this kind of purchase, as well, as a rental property can double as a retirement or second home in the overseas destination where you want to spend time. Rental income can cover carrying costs, sometimes even a mortgage, meaning your escape hatch overseas can come at low or even no cost.

What kinds of returns can you expect? Some claims may sound exaggerated.

In fact, however, good returns are achievable in quite a few markets. But the truth is that they don’t come easily. To make a respectable rental return, you’ll need more than your checkbook and wishing it so.

I own three rental properties overseas. In my experience managing them, I’ve found a few critical factors that make the difference between good returns and weak or nonexistent ones.

I’ll speak to these in a minute. First, let’s take a look at why you should consider operating a rental in a foreign country.

Benefits Of Managing A Rental Abroad

Here are four things that I find to be key advantages.

1. Your property abroad is a hard asset. Less than 10% of the money that exists is physical currency. The rest of the money supply is just a concept—an idea—with no intrinsic value. It can disappear or diminish in value, and you’ve got nothing to show for it. On the other hand, hard assets always have intrinsic value, so they are a safer long-term store of wealth.

2. Income-producing properties are today’s most reliable performers. There are impressive short-term gains to be made when buying and selling if you’re in the right place at the right time, and, overall, income-producing properties are now outperforming other real estate plays, especially when you consider that the income property is also usually gaining in value in addition to producing an income.

3. An overseas rental property also gives you an international footprint. This provides you with another level of portfolio diversity and possibly currency diversity. Often, it can provide you with residency in the country where it’s located.

4. It’s a lot more fun that Fidelity. Granted, you can buy dividend stocks or mutual funds to generate income and manage them from your computer at home. But, in my experience, managing a property abroad not only produces a better return than I’m getting from paper financial assets, but it also provides a great travel and cultural experience.

After all, managing a property abroad is more than investing… it’s a lifestyle. And it’s one you’ll never find from your desk at home.

These Critical Factors Will Increase Your Return

Following are the variables I’ve found to be important to maximizing returns:

1. Know your client. In my experience, rentals that target a specific clientele will outperform those that don’t.

My favorite rental client is a long-term business traveler or executive, which brings two criteria to the forefront. First, you need a property where business travelers want to be, in a city’s business or commercial center. And you have to outfit it for the business traveler, with quality finishings and services, like a good desk and workspace, a good printer, and fast Internet.

Other types of rentals you might consider are vacation rentals or long-term, unfurnished rentals. I have a friend who does well with vacation rentals in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and Coronado, Panama. Another friend is making good returns on unfurnished rentals in Cuenca, Ecuador. Each market has its own niche.

2. Pick the right location. We’ve all heard the old real estate adage saying that the three most important things when buying a property are location, location, location. But it’s 100% true; if you botch this one, nothing else matters.

The right location depends on knowing your client, but, once you know where the client wants to be, the location’s fine points make or break you.

I have a rental apartment in Medellín that’s located about a four-minute walk from the sought-after Parque Lleras and a two-minute walk from the sought-after Golden Mile. It’s walkable to everything, from the supermarket, to dozens of restaurants, to the gym. My occupancy is close to 100% even though the apartment is much larger than the ideal rental and the building has few amenities. The location trumps everything.

3. Don’t buy more property than you need. It’s easy to confuse the ideal second home with the ideal rental property. And the first way this manifests itself is when you buy too large.

The smallest rental is the best rental, if it meets your clients’ needs. It keeps your purchase outlay low and thus increases your return.

4. Find a good property manager. I like to say that a good property manager makes the difference between a hassle-free income and a stressful nightmare.

In fact, even with the best of properties, your property manager can make the difference between a good performer and a dog.

I’ve written in the past on finding a good property manager. Follow the link to learn more about finding a good property manager for your overseas rental.

5. Be exacting with the furnishings and photos. The manager who operates two of my properties pointed out something that I should have known all along: No matter how awesome your property is, it’s no better than how it looks on the manager’s website.

That’s because almost 100% of the clients choose a property based on the website photos. If your pictures don’t sell the property, it doesn’t get booked.

I recommend furnishing a rental with quality furniture that conveys an uncrowded, neat, spacious, and up-to-date look. Don’t go overboard hanging things on the walls and forget the knick-knacks and other clutter.

Again, though, tailor your furnishings to your target client.

Once that’s done, have the property professionally photographed, preferably by someone who has experience with real estate photography. I was skeptical of this step at first, believing that my photos were pretty good. But I became a believer when I saw the pro’s photos.

Give Yourself Every Possible Advantage When Setting Up Your Rental

Even in a good market, good returns are not a given. The people who get the best returns are those who go that extra mile to give themselves an advantage over the next guy.

Lee Harrison

Editor’s Note: You can meet Overseas Property Alert Editor Lee Harrison in person to ask him your global property investing questions Sept. 13–16 in Orlando, Florida, when he will join Kathleen Peddicord and Lief Simon on stage to help host this year’s Retire Overseas Conference.

This event is filling faster than any in our history. The Early Bird and other discounts remain available. Go here now to reserve your place in the room.

Continue Reading: Best Tropical Beach Choices With Children

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Best Tropical Beach Choices With Children http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/mailbag/best-tropical-beach-choices-with-children.html http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/mailbag/best-tropical-beach-choices-with-children.html#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 12:00:59 +0000 http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/?p=11048 “Kathleen, I live in Hout Bay, a beautiful seaside village in Cape Town, South Africa. We have a beautiful house with an uninterrupted view over the sea and two children ages 12 and 13. English is our home language. My husband has an adventure company in Cape Town. “I don’t know, however, how long this [...]

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“Kathleen, I live in Hout Bay, a beautiful seaside village in Cape Town, South Africa. We have a beautiful house with an uninterrupted view over the sea and two children ages 12 and 13. English is our home language. My husband has an adventure company in Cape Town.

“I don’t know, however, how long this idyllic lifestyle will last. Crime is spiraling out of control, our government has gone mad, and our economy and currency are plummeting. I want Plan B in place and would love your personal, off-the-record opinion on best value, most lovely tropical beach or adventure destination.”

–Alison B., South Africa

Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic, could be a good choice for you… or perhaps the City Beaches area of Panama. Both offer tropical beach adventure plus good international schooling options.

This is the kind of thinking and dot-connecting we’ll do together in person over the four days of this year’s Retire Overseas Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Continue Reading; Managing A Rental Property Overseas

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