Continue reading: Fees And Minimum Balances With Offshore Banks
Now that work has been completed, and, today, Santa Marta is a different place. The rejuvenated downtown features an attractive seafront park, as well as small cafes, bars, coffee shops, boutique hotels, excellent seafood restaurants, and even a cruise-ship port. The long-rumored 256-slip marina is completed and operational, and tasteful condo projects have sprouted up around the area. As you might guess, all these improvements have pushed up property prices; however, the current strength of the U.S. dollar rolls back the clock a few years. The Santa Marta metro area extends 13 miles from Taganga in the north to the airport in the south. This stretch of Caribbean coast is home to an impressive diversity of beachside destinations: Santa Marta city proper contains the original historic center and the cruise-ship port. This is the area that has benefited most from the recent investment in restoration. Santa Marta also includes a number of inland neighborhoods, including Bavaria, that would be great for full-time living away from any tourist traffic. If you're willing to be a block off the beach, you could own in Santa Marta's refurbished downtown for less than US$100,000. Taganga is a small village surrounded by tall mountains and situated on an expansive, deep-blue bay. The beach is long and unspoiled and bordered by a new boardwalk. Taganga's bay is great for diving and snorkeling. This is not the cheapest neighborhood in Santa Marta, but it's certainly affordable. Here you could own an ocean-view condo for less than US$100,000. El Rodadero lies about 10 minutes south of Santa Marta. Historically, this was the main draw in the area, as people sought to avoid the once-seedy historic center. The beaches are far longer, wider, and better-kept than Santa Marta's, creating a giant crescent-shaped shoreline that's several miles long. El Rodadero offers a small-town feel that you won't find in the city. This is unpretentious Caribbean with a friendly, laidback feel. It's also a very safe neighborhood. Santa Marta's southern sector consists of neighborhoods Rodadero Sur, Playa Salguero, Pozos Colorados, and Bello Horizonte. It lies south of Santa Marta and El Rodadero but before the airport. These areas feature quiet, well-tended, and more-exclusive beaches than in Santa Marta or El Rodadero. This southern sector is the current direction of expansion for the region, where most of the new construction is taking place. The condo projects here are generally higher end, bigger, better finished, and offering more and nicer amenities than elsewhere. The southern sector is also long on natural beauty. Bello Horizonte has the widest beach in the area, and most of the beaches along this stretch are frequented only by neighboring residents. There's little to no tourism, making this a quiet, peaceful choice. Perhaps the most affordable choice in Santa Marta is El Prado, where a two-bedroom third-floor penthouse was recently offered for 95 million Colombian pesos. At the current rate of exchange, that's about US$46,000. Kathleen Peddicord Editor's Note: Colombia is one of the 11 markets of current opportunity that will be featured during our second annual Global Property Summit, taking place in Cancun, Mexico, in March 2015. In addition, we'll be using our 2015 Global Property Summit as a forum to introduce three new markets of opportunity that we've been tracking and vetting, markets that you've probably not yet considered but should. We'll be opening registration for this, the only property event on next year's calendar, within the next 10 days. Meantime, go here now to get your name on the Hot List for special discounts and VIP perks.
Continue reading: Joel Nagel On Offshore Structures And Banking In Belize
May 23, 2014
"Kathleen, your daily posting about options for retiring overseas and what to expect are wonderful and full of helpful tips. "I am sure this has been addressed in the past, but I am wondering about what is currently the safest and most hassle-free route to drive from Texas or Arizona to Belize?" --Ralph P., United States A ferry service from Tampa, Florida, to Merida, Mexico, has been on the drawing board for years. The latest projected launch date for this service is October 2014. I wouldn't hold my breath, but that would be the safest way to drive from Texas (or Arizona) to Belize. That could work out to be an extended route (I haven't compared mileage between the two options), but it would keep you from driving through what has become a dangerous part of Mexico (Monterrey and Veracruz). A friend from Belize who is in the logistics business and who drives from Belize to the United States and back a couple of times a year recommends against driving down with a moving truck full of household goods. You'd be an easy target. Certainly, if you don't speak Spanish, I'd wait for the ferry...if it ever comes.
So it goes. Some places are in up cycles while others are declining. What's the point? The point is that we, as non-ranting global citizens, have the opportunity to move ourselves and our capital to where we believe we and it will best benefit.
Where might that be in 2013? Here's my personal New Year's agenda...
For real estate, I'm looking at Ireland, where we intend to buy a "second home" that could be rented out. Prices in Emerald Isle have fallen significantly since the Celtic Tiger bubble burst so dramatically. We want to take advantage of the opportunity this presents, which is one reason we're planning a 2013 Live and Invest in Europe event in Dublin, Ireland. This will serve as a good vantage point for an all-Europe conference, but it will also give Kathleen and me a chance to spend some time on the ground in Ireland, shopping for property (and reconnecting with old friends in this part of the world).
In this case, I'm not buying with any expectation of capital appreciation anytime soon. That'd be unrealistic for the next 5 to 10 years at least; however, rental yields in this country have regressed back to the mean and are in the 5% to 8% range (they were in the range of 1% to 2% when I lived in Ireland).
This year I also want to make a farmland purchase. For this, I'm looking to Uruguay, which I see as the obvious choice for a big private farm. This country hasn't yet restricted foreign ownership of farmland, as Brazil and Argentina have. You can buy smaller farms in Belize, Panama, and elsewhere, but in Uruguay you can find large tracts of land that can be leased to a farmer if you're not up for becoming a farmer yourself.
I don't trade currencies. I see this as too risky an investment strategy for the individual investor. I buy and sell whatever currencies I need for real estate purchases; that's as invested in currency as I get. In that context, in 2013, I'm planning to take advantage of any currency dips to move money into euro for my purchase in Ireland and into Colombian pesos, as I also intend to buy another apartment in Medellin, this one to use as a rental (no personal use agenda this time, dear wife).
Banking continues to be a complicated mess, especially for us Americans. Just this morning, one reader reported that HSBC in Panama is closing accounts of Americans in the wake of their Justice Department fine last week. I have someone looking into whether that is accurate or not. Either way, HSBC has been slapped hard by several governments, and you can expect them and other banks to focus ever-more aggressively on their know your client rules. They'll also continue asking ever-more questions about every wire transfer you make. I've come to expect this as a regular part of my day.
As banks worldwide continue to try to figure out how to be compliant with the rules being handed down by the IRS in this FATCA era, you can expect all this to get much more complicated and restrictive before it finally shakes out. My advice for right now and through 2013 is to open accounts where you can when you can and to do whatever you have to do to keep any current accounts open. Banks will continue to increase their fees as their compliance costs go up, but, unless you're certain that you won't ever need an account in the future, I say it's worth paying the higher fees. You never know, at this point, which accounts are going to be unceremoniously closed or when. The more options the better.
Next year's travel agenda includes at least two new destinations for me. The Philippines is a hot spot among American retirees, particularly military retirees, thanks primarily to the low cost of living and the abundance of English spoken. A few years ago, I invested in a small real estate development project in this country. It's time finally to go check it out in person.
Peru is close to my base in Panama, but with so many other opportunities in the region, I haven't made it to the country yet. 2013 is the year, as a friend who's undertaken a small development project in Lima assures me that a trip to that city is well worth the investment of time. That's my plan.
The United States may be facing a fiscal cliff, but 2013 is going to be a year of opportunity nevertheless.
Unless, of course, the world does end today. Did the Mayans simply run out of room on their stone calendar or did they really predict the world would end on Dec. 21? Friends are in Belize as I write enjoying the End Of The World parties regardless.
Lief SimonContinue Reading:
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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.
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