Articles Related to Retire to salinas

My favorite part of Salinas is Chipipe, close to the naval base. It draws a quieter crowd and, because it's at the end of the beach areas, sees less traffic than elsewhere in Salinas. The beaches are wider and nicer than anywhere else in town, and just a couple of blocks in from the beach is a pleasant downtown area with fine old homes and lower property prices. 

Salinas is famous for sport fishing and holds a number of world records for sailfish, tuna, and black marlin. The year's best weather starts in November, with sunny skies and pleasant temperatures. February through April, this weather gives way to sunny mornings with showers in the afternoons, still quite pleasant. April through November, it's often cool, dry, and overcast. If you burn easily, you might like it; if you crave sunshine, you won't.

But Salinas benefits from the school schedule in Cuenca. The kids are out of school in Cuenca in June and July, and that's when a lot of families go on vacation. So there's a demand for vacation rentals during the time of year with the least-pleasant weather.

This is good news for North American investors, who can escape their winter to enjoy Salinas' best weather and also enjoy local rental demand during the off season.

Bottom line, what makes Salinas such an appealing property-purchase location is the low cost. Here are examples of properties currently on the market:

  • A two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in an older, well-maintained building near the beach, with 100 square meters of living space. The unit has a kitchen with new cabinets, a living-dining area with built-in seating, a laundry room, and a bonus room that could serve as a maid's quarters, an office, or a third bedroom. The unit is a walk-up on the third floor. The asking price is just US$40,000.
  • Another condo is less than 2 years old and located in a complex with direct beach access in a residential area of Salinas, just a short drive from the malecón entertainment zone. (In this part of Latin America, the malecón is the beachfront road or often a boardwalk.) The complex has a gym, pools, social area, sauna, and 24-hour guard. The living area is 70 square meters and includes two bedrooms, two baths, laundry, Internet, and DirecTV. The complex has parking, a pool, and a social area. This property is on offer for US$90,000 furnished.
  • Located in a quiet beachside community about 10 miles north of Salinas, with tranquil beaches and within easy driving distance to entertainment and amenities, is a 117-square-meter condo with three bedrooms, three baths, a kitchen, a living-dining area, and a large terrace with a Jacuzzi. From its hilltop location, this condo offers panoramic ocean views. The complex has parking, a pool, and a social area. Furnishings are included in the list price of US$125,000.
  • A large, 300-square-meter condo with two master suites is located on the 10th floor of a well-located building on the malecón of Salinas and has amazing views. There are three large bedrooms, three baths, a huge living room and dining room, and an oversized terrace. The views from the terrace are incredible due to the high floor location. The owner says you can see north up the coast to Manta (87 miles away) on a clear day. The beach is right across the street, and stores, bars, restaurants, and pharmacies are also right outside. The asking price is US$150,000.
  • With ocean views from the center of the beach district is a four-bedroom, four-bath oceanfront condo with a large balcony. With 160 square meters of living area, this condo comes fully furnished and move-in ready for the asking price of just US$115,000.


I recommend Salinas as your best coastal choice in Ecuador if you're interested in a place where you could live part time and rent your place out when you're not there. You'd enjoy great weather during the North American winter and rental traffic during North America's summer. 

And, again, you can position yourself here right now for as little as US$40,000.

Lee Harrison

Editor's Note: Lee Harrison, our Overseas Property Alert editor, will be revealing all of his current top global property investing recommendations at our 2015 Global Property Summit.

Registration for this once-a-year event will open within the next 24 hours.Go here now (this is your last chance) to get your name on the pre-registration list to enjoy VIP attendee status and perks

Continue reading: Funding Your Retirement With Cash Flow From Rental Property Investments Overseas

 

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Mike took off his pants and stood before the crowd in his sleeveless T-shirt and shorts.

"Now I'm ready to go to the beach," he said as everyone in the room laughed. He had our attention.

beachfront property in ecuador

"I've been living in Ecuador for more than eight years," Mike continued, "and I've hosted a lot of other American expats and retirees shopping for a place to live in this country. What I've found is that, for many of them, Ecuador's coast is more rugged and more rustic than they're prepared for. I want to say that from the start. Ecuador is a developing country. It has a long and amazingly beautiful coastline, but the beaches and beach towns along it are, likewise, developing. This isn't Panama or Costa Rica. There are no five-star resorts along this coast.

"That said," Mike continued, "there is one town that I'd recommend if you're looking for minimal culture shock, one spot that is more developed than the others.

"I'm talking about Samborondon, near Guayaquil.

"Now, Guayaquil reminds me of Mississippi. Muddy and flat. Hot and humid. I wouldn't recommend Guayaquil for anyone.

"However, not too far away is, again, what I'd say is one of this country's most beautiful and most comfortable waterfront lifestyle choices. It's not on the ocean but on the river. Still, I'd say that Samborondon is Ecuador's best-kept secret.

"Farther north along the coast is Salinas. This is 'the' vacation beach town in Ecuador. I call it 'Little Miami Without The Crime.' No drive-by shootings here.

"On the other hand, as I said, there are no five-star resorts here either. Well, there's one hotel that calls itself five star, but that's a stretch. Really, all the hotels in Salinas are mom-and-pop kinds of places. Salinas can get crowded, and it's also among the most expensive coastal options in this country at this point.

"Ayunque, on the other hand, 30 minutes north of Salinas, is a sleepy spot. Historically, this has been one of Ecuador's poor man's beaches, where the locals come for getaways and US$2.50 lunches.

"I enjoy Ayunque. I visit when I can for the lobster. But this is another typical Ecuadorean beach--that is, it's rustic, basic.

"Continuing up the coast you come to Mangaralto. This is a community being developed especially for expats and foreign retirees. This is going to be a place to enjoy a more developed standard of living, with infrastructure and amenities. A quarter-acre lot on the beach here is US$100,000.

"Now, that may not seem super cheap, but you have to remember how to process this. First, a quarter-acre beachfront lot is a very big beachfront lot.

"Second, while you may read in some places about US$10,000 beachfront lots in this country, the truth is that those don't really exist anymore. You can still find very cheap beachfront lots, but anything super cheap is going to be remote, off on its own, with no services, no infrastructure, and no amenities. You'd have to provide your own electricity, your own water, and your own sewage system. That's not for everyone. And the costs of bringing in those services yourself will make that cheap lot much less cheap.

"Continuing north along the coast, you come to Montanita. This is Key West from 20 years ago with a bit of New Orleans thrown in, the most eclectic, most bohemian beach spot in this country. Historically, this has been a surfer's beach, but today Montanita is attracting all kinds of folks looking to have a good time. This is a party town. Don't come here for peace and quiet.

"Olon, just next door, is a completely different experience. This is a tranquil 8-mile-long beach perfect for families and swimming.

"Then comes La Entrada, which is the northernmost beach spot along the stretch of this country's coast that I'd recommend. Why? Because this stretch of Ecuador's coast has less humidity and less bugs than farther north, where it's more tropical. Also, the sunsets along this part of the coast are killer.

"On the other hand, this part of the coast has an off season. Six months of the year, roughly June through November, this long stretch of coastline becomes seriously grey. It's overcast and rainy for days, even weeks at a time. Most real estate agents who take you shopping in this part of the country won't admit this. But it's an important thing to understand.

"The season is different down in Playas, closer to Guayaquil. So what I did, when I realized all this," Mike explained to the crowd, "was to buy a second little beach house. Now I spend half the year up north, near Salinas, and half the year down south, and I have year-round sunshine.

"One really interesting thing about this is that, while June through November is the off season in these beach towns in terms of weather, it's the peak season for the locals, because their kids are out of school. June, July, and August, therefore, are great rental months. If you had a beach house in this part of the country, you could rent it out those months while you were elsewhere enjoying the sunshine."

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Mike gave two presentations today--the first this virtual tour of Ecuador's top beach towns, the second sharing the details of his own experience living, raising a family, and starting a business in this country (I'll share more on this later).

Meantime, we recorded both of Mike's talks, just as we're recording every presentation over the three days of this week's event. The audio-recordings will be bundled with all the PowerPoint and other materials from every speaker (Mike's PowerPoint today included a series of great Ecuador beach photos) to create our all-new Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference Kit.

While the conference continues, you can order a copy of this one-of-a-kind and comprehensive Ecuador resource at a special pre-release rate that is a full 50% off the retail price. Click here for details on the Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference Kit.

Image source: Martin Iturbide, Quito

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Live in Otavalo Ecuador

The lifestyles on offer are many and dramatically varied. Quito is a big city. Cuenca is a smaller city, more manageable, more welcoming. Otavalo is a small mountain town. Salinas is a beach town. All are interesting and appealing in different ways, for different people. When you are considering where to retire in Ecuador, it depends on what kind of lifestyle you're looking for and, also, important, on your budget. Otavalo is more affordable than Cuenca, which is more affordable than Quito, for example.

"Where's that US$6.50 steak you wrote about the other day, Kathleen?" one attendee here asked me last night. "The steak listed on the hotel's room service menu is US$20!"

The US$6.50 steak dinner I recommended earlier this week is to be had from a small restaurant in the center of the historic district of Cuenca. Right, a room service steak in a five-star hotel in the middle of the business district of Quito is going to cost more.

That was my first recommendation to attendees here in Quito for how to approach the discussions to come over the next three days--remember that Ecuador is many places, many options, many lifestyles, many budgets. You can't try to process it as one choice. It's many.

My second recommendation was to think comparatively.

"Nothing is absolutely true," I pointed out. "So, as you consider options for living, retiring, investing, or starting a business here in Ecuador," I told the conference-goers gathered with us this week, "focus on the comparisons."

There's no such thing, for example, as perfect weather. And what qualifies as ideal weather for me is likely different from what qualifies as ideal weather for you. Maybe ideal weather for you is no rain, ever. Or maybe you want to live with flowers and greenery all around...everything growing...and you understand that, for that to be the case, you're going to have to put up with some rainfall.

When you consider your options for living or retiring overseas, you must address a handful of key issues--weather, yes, and, as well, cost of living, cost of real estate, health care, taxes, infrastructure, etc. And, again, I recommend that you consider all these things comparatively. Is the cost of living in Cuenca higher or lower than in Salinas? Is the quality of the available health care better or worse in Otavalo than in Cuenca? Is Loja more or less accessible than Vilcabamba? Is the per-square-meter cost of real estate in Cotacachi more or less than in Manta? Etc.

Then, to help you layer some perspective over things, draw comparisons between Ecuador and other countries you're considering. Compare the cost of living, of real estate, and of health care...the tax situation...the options for and ease of establishing foreign residency...the accessibility...the opportunities for recreation and culture...etc., between places in Ecuador and places in Colombia, Panama, Belize, Nicaragua, Uruguay, etc.

There is no perfect retirement spot, and no single retirement option is ideal for everyone. Everything is relative...so think relatively.

And, while you're doing that (I offered as my third recommendation to attendees at this week's event in Quito this morning), remember what's most important to you.

Before you begin the work of considering all your good options for living, retiring, and investing overseas, first identify and prioritize what matters to you most. What kind of life do you want? Start there.

"The world is alive with opportunity," I told attendees here in Quito this morning. "That sounds like rhetoric," I admitted, "like so much marketing speak..."

But it's the truth. It's the reality of the world we live in. There's more opportunity all the time.

The problem with so much opportunity is that it demands you make some decisions. You can't do everything at once, and we've each of us got only so many years to do anything at all. So you've got to make choices. Make them based on what you like, what you prefer, what you enjoy.

More on current opportunity in Ecuador tomorrow...

Kathleen PeddicordContinue Reading:

Image source: Annom

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I landed in Guayaquil late at night and went straight to the hotel and to bed. The next morning, stepping into the hotel elevator for the ride down to the restaurant for breakfast, I found myself surrounded by five or six extremely tall and extremely beautiful women. I had to wonder if I was in the right country. Aren't Ecuadoreans descendants of the Incans, I wondered to myself? That is, aren't they all short? Who were these six-foot beauties?

The elevator doors opened into the lobby, and I was greeted by dozens more tall, beautiful women. I wasn't sure what was going on, but I wasn't complaining either.

It turned out that some Miss Latin America pageant was being held in the hotel. Unfortunately, I was leaving after breakfast with my guide and driver to see what the southern coast of Ecuador had to offer. Still, the country had managed to make a nice first impression.

While waiting for my guide, I dragged myself from the lobby and the beauty pageant girls to take a look around Guayaquil. Stepping out onto the sidewalk in front of the hotel, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

That has never happened to me before or since, and I've been places most people wouldn't go without an armed guard. My reaction to Guayaquil was instinctive. I sensed danger, but I didn't have time to figure out what that danger could have been. My driver arrived.

(Arriving in Guayaquil this trip, I didn't have quite as strong a negative reaction. Still, this isn't a city I'd spend time in, given a choice.)

Back in 1999, my driver and guide took me first west to Salinas, a coastal resort area where the well-to-do from Guayaquil escaped for weekends and holidays. The weekday I was there, the place seemed a dreary ghost town. I could tell, though, that Salinas must get crowds at least sometimes, given the number of restaurants and night clubs shuttered up for the day.

My main objective that trip was to scout real estate investment opportunities. I was hoping to find a great beach where oceanfront property was on offer super cheap. Salinas was cheap, but I wasn't impressed by the beach or the town, so, after lunch, we moved on up the coast.

The coastal road was in bad shape. La Niña (or El Niño, I can't remember which) had hit Ecuador hard, and the rain and ensuing flooding had done a number on the roads and bridges. In some places, temporary bridges had been installed by the U.S. military.

None of that deterred my guide. He drove those roads like he was in a Formula One car in Monte Carlo. Granted, we had a lot of miles to cover, and the guy was making this trip as a favor to a friend of mine.

As we sped up the coast, getting my new friend to stop to take a look at any property we passed along the way was a challenge. Eventually, I persuaded him to take some time in a small town so we could see what might be for sale and get an idea of pricing. He had told me that 10 cents a square meter should be the going rate for beachfront, but that seemed too cheap to me. To put things in perspective, productive land in the mountains at the time was going for 50 cents a meter or more. I wanted to speak with someone actually trying to sell his beachfront property to confirm my driver's estimate.

As it turned out, my guide was in the ball park. Beachfront property along the coast of Ecuador at that time was as dirt cheap as he had represented. Some beachfront property (that is, land directly along the water's edge) we stopped to ask about was being farmed to grow watermelons. Yes, that's right. The land that would be considered the most valuable most anywhere in the world was being used to raise watermelons.

What I came to understand that trip was that the money in Ecuador was in the Andes. No one valued the beach areas because the land wasn't as agriculturally productive. This has changed a bit in the 14 years since, but it's something to bear in mind as you shop for property here.

The watermelon farmer I spoke with on that first visit quoted me (not surprisingly) gringo prices, but even the prices he represented were downright cheap compared with the price of beachfront property anywhere else in the world I was familiar with.

Bidding our watermelon-farming friend "hasta luego," we were back on the washed-out 'highway' heading north.

Next stop was Manta, a large port city where some expats had, even back then, begun to settle. Manta had the shopping and access that expats wanted, whereas the other towns we'd passed along the coast from Salinas were all more rustic and remote.

The big deal in Manta at the time was the rumor that a U.S. naval base was coming to the city. That rumor was driving speculation that real estate prices would boom. The base did come but has since left. Real estate prices have increased in Manta over the last 14 years, but I wouldn't say that this area experienced a boom.

The other big excitement for me while in Manta was the one and only real live police chase of my life.

As we pulled up to a stop light in the center of town, I noticed a taxi cab pulled off to the side of the road just next to us. Two cops got out of the cab and, without a word of introduction or explanation, climbed quickly into the back of our SUV. They started chatting away to my guide in rapid Spanish, and, when the light changed, he took off quickly, with the two cops now in back as our passengers.

My Spanish was much more limited back then, and I wasn't able to follow the conversation. My driver explained that the cops were after some guys who had just robbed a convenience store…and the taxi they had commandeered for the chase had broken down. They wanted my guy to catch up to the robbers and had instructed him to speed his way through traffic.

As we neared the car with the suspects, the cops took off their hats (so as not to be noticed) and drew their pistols. Up to that point, I was enjoying the excitement, but, having grown up around guns and law enforcement friends in the United States, I started to wonder how well trained in gun safety these Ecuadorian cops were. I didn't want us to hit a bump and accidentally get shot in the back of the head.

When we caught up to the suspects, the cops lowered themselves in the back seat and told my guide to pass the suspects' car. Shortly after passing them, we came upon a truck broken down in the right lane of a four-lane road. The head policeman had my guide pull up next to the broken-down truck and stop. The cops hopped out and drew down on the robbers.

Unfortunately, there was enough room for their tiny car to fit between our SUV and the truck, so they only slowed down, drove through, and then sped off again as the cops continued to fire their .38s at them.

Then the cops hopped back in, and we were on the chase once more. When the robbers turned off into a residential subdivision with dirt roads, my guide had had enough and slowed down enough to "lose" the suspects. After a minute or so of "looking" for them again, the police officers had us take them back to the main road, where they got out. They said they'd hitchhike back to their station.

The experience livened up an otherwise uneventful real estate scouting trip. It also, though, more to a point, highlighted the serious lack of infrastructure in this country at that time. The cops didn't have a vehicle to call their own.

Ecuador was (and is) a poor country. The cost of living was and still is extremely low, as are real estate prices in most regions. That's what has attracted expats and retirees to this country in ever-greater numbers for the last 15 years. They come for the cheap prices, but they stay for the beautiful mountains and the colonial cities, especially Cuenca, where you can, legitimately, enjoy a cosmopolitan life on a very small budget. They stay for the clean air and the great weather (in the mountains; the coastal areas are mostly hot and humid, like coastal areas anywhere in the world).

I've been to Ecuador dozens of times over the past 14 years, but that first visit stands out for all the characters I encountered, from Miss Venezuela, Miss Colombia, and Miss Peru to watermelon farmers on the beach and cops who packed pistols but had to commandeer the vehicles of strangers at random to pursue bad guys.

This visit so far has been extremely dull by comparison. But it's early days still...

Lief SimonContinue Reading:

Image source: Martini

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Expat information

If you're planning to move to a country where we host a conference, I say confidently and without hesitation that the best way to establish the in-country infrastructure you need is to attend that conference. Over nearly 30 years of covering this beat, I've watched and helped tens of thousands of people (no kidding) make this kind of move. Trust me. The most cost-efficient way to arm yourself with all the expat information and resources you need to make a success of whatever move you're planning is to spend three days with us at one of our live events. We'll introduce you to everyone you need to know, and each of these introductions will be based on personal experience and come with our personal endorsement.

The first resource you need is an attorney. Your attorney in the country where you're planning to live or retire is your most important ally, and finding a good local attorney, one who speaks English and who has had experience with expats and foreign retirees, should be your number-one priority once you've figured out where it is you intend to relocate. In Quito, we'll introduce you to two, our two preferred Ecuador attorneys based on years of personal experience in this country.

Next you need a banker and a local bank account. Again, in Ecuador, we'll put you in touch with the two banks we recommend.

You need help understanding and deciding among your residency options. In some countries, your residency application must be made for you by an attorney. Not so in Ecuador. In this country, you can manage the process entirely on your own if you'd like. Our residency experts will show you how.

Wherever in the world you decide you'd like to relaunch your life, you'll also need contacts to help you shop for a home (either to rent or to buy); to help you consider your health insurance options; to show you how to get your mail and set up utilities in your digs; to learn a little of the local lingo if you don't speak it already...

In Quito next month, we'll introduce you to real estate agents you can trust, as well as folks we trust to help you shop insurance (health, homeowners, car, if you need it) and put all the other pieces of your new life into place.

We'll also introduce you to the savviest Ecuador expat you'll find, Lee Harrison, with more than 11 years' experience considering and comparing the top retirement options not only in Ecuador but throughout all Latin America. Lee was one of Ecuador's pioneer expats 11 years ago when he and his wife chose to settle in Cuenca. He'll tell you why he still believes this city is the best choice in the region for the retiree looking to enjoy as comfortable a retirement as possible even on a very modest retirement nest egg.

In Quito next month, you'll also meet Mike Sager, who, like Lee, considered all the diverse lifestyle options Ecuador has to offer before making his move. Mike, though, chose to settle on the country's coast, at Salinas. He'll tell you firsthand about the life of a beachcomber expat in this beautiful place.

You'll meet David Morrill, another pioneer expat in this country, who has not only retired to Ecuador but started a successful business, too.

And you'll meet Jeff Stern, who moved to Ecuador with his wife and two young children in 2007. As Jeff explains, "We sold our house just before The Great Recession, packed up everything, and relocated to Quito."

Jeff and his wife weren't ready for retirement. They were raising a family and looking for business opportunity.

Jeff continues:

"After searching for market opportunities in Ecuador, both on-line and on-the-ground during numerous visits to Quito, we finally hit upon chocolate. I was an aspiring chocolatier and professional cook before we came. Our plan was to be the first high-end producer of sophisticated bonbons and other chocolate products for the local market..."

Nearly six years later, Jeff and his family are still in Ecuador enjoying this great adventure. I'll let Jeff tell you more about it tomorrow...

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Next month's Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference is nearly sold out. In fact, last week, it was sold out. However, Conference Director Lauren Williamson contacted the hotel and managed to arrange for a bigger meeting space. We were able to add 20 seats in the room. Of these, a handful remain available. Details on the Live and Invest in Ecuador are here.

P.S. What else this week?

  • Ecuador Correspondent David Morril writes:

 

Although Rafael Correa has been a controversial figure in his six years as president of Ecuador, most of the country's English-speaking residents will tell you that their lives are better because of him.

Almost certain to be re-elected to a second full term, Correa has pledged to continue the extensive agenda of public welfare and infrastructure projects already under way. These include expansion and reconstruction of the country's highway and bridge system, construction of new hospitals and hiring more doctors to support the country's Social Security health care system, and a top-to-bottom overhaul of public education. In all, spending on public projects has increased 300% since Correa was first elected.

Frequently criticized for his left-leaning politics, opposition to free trade agreements with the U.S. and the EU, and, more recently, his grant of asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Correa says he is working to reverse years of neglect of the country's public services and infrastructure.

He frequently invokes Alexander von Humboldt, the early 19th-century Prussian explorer and naturalist who described Ecuador as a "beggar sitting on a bag of gold." Ecuador must use its resources, he insists, to improve the lives of its citizens. With his background in economics, Correa knows that because those resources, especially oil and gas, are finite, the country needs to build a future based on an educated, healthy, and prosperous citizenry.

The government's public projects, in fact, are funded primarily by oil money. After Correa restructured contracts with oil producers in 2007 and 2008, he dedicated billions of dollars to public works. Other public funds are the result of increased revenues generated by higher levels of tax collection. Although his critics say he is spending too much, Correa points to a healthy national balance sheet that shows a growing GDP and a low level of debt in Ecuador...

  • We report often on the best places in Panama to retire well on little, spots--on the coast, in the highlands, and in Panama City, too--where you can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle on a modest budget, pointing out that, in some parts of this country, it's possible to retire on as little as US$1,000 a month or even less.

 

With that budget, you'd be enjoying a good but simple life, living more like a local than an expat.

On the other hand, at the other extreme, Panama is also a place where you can enjoy what could be described as a luxury lifestyle, the kind of life you could embrace in Manhattan or London, Miami or Dubai. The "penthouse life" you might call it, complete with waterfront two-story penthouses in buildings with saunas, spas, massage rooms, squash courts, and 24-hour concierge doormen and supported by five-star restaurants, trendy bars, and international-brand shopping (Tiffany, Hermes, Cartier, Rolex, etc.) nearby.

We spent four days in Manhattan over Christmas, indulging in that kind of life. We ate at steak houses with white-glove service, stopped for champagne cocktails, shopped Fifth Avenue, and ate US$20 hamburgers for lunch (once). By the end of the four days, Lief and I both were eager to move on. Who could afford to live like that indefinitely? Not us.

At least not us in Manhattan. However, here in Panama, we're realizing, not only is that standard of living available, but it comes at a price that many more of us can absorb.

Specifically, this kind of living is on offer on a little peninsula in the heart of Panama City called Punta Pacifica. On this spit of land, the highest-end of any high-rise towers in this city of high-rise towers have been built, including the infamous Trump Tower. In addition to ultra-modern, ultra-amenity buildings, this area has been developed to include real sidewalks (uncommon in this city), grassy medians (non-existent elsewhere in this city), park areas, and lots of trees and shrubs. As the final few of the towers to be erected here (it's a small area, so only so many buildings are possible) are nearing completion, it's also one of the least congested and quietest spots in the city. Everywhere in Panama City is under construction or renovation in some way, including in Punta Pacifica, but, again, the work in this small region is nearing an end, making Panama unique and accordingly appealing...

  • Paul Terhorst writes:

 

In predicting 2012 last January I said, "I've been investing for 40 years, and I've never seen a tougher call."

So naturally I went ahead and nailed nearly all my predictions.

I said the stock market would go up, and it sure did go up. We had a terrific year. In the United States, the S&P 500 climbed 13%, the NASDAQ a whopping 16%. International markets did nearly as well. Dividends largely cover inflation these days, so those numbers amount to real returns. Since the stock-market bottom in March 2009, the NASDAQ has climbed almost 140%.

I said energy costs would rise. During the year, the oil price shot up, then fell sharply, then nearly recovered by year-end.

I predicted a tough time for Europe but that the euro would survive. I went out on a limb on this one; most observers predicted the euro would disappear or that some countries would leave the eurozone. Instead European leaders bought euro bonds without limit, avoiding a crisis.

I predicted Obama would win the election, and that Congress would remain gridlocked. In the event, the House stuck with Republicans and the Senate with Democrats.

Finally, I saw a grim economy with slow growth. The U.S. economy grew by only 2% for the year, almost costing Obama the election.

Looking forward to 2013 I find market trends to be a much easier call...

  • If you could retire anywhere in the world, where would you go?

 

As we find ourselves at the start of a brand-new year, that's a question worth asking yourself, because we also find ourselves in a time when it's not only possible but easier than you might ever imagine to launch the retirement adventure of your fondest day dreams almost anywhere on earth that appeals to you.

Last week, I provided five suggestions for the world's top retirement havens for 2013. Now, here are five more beautiful, welcoming, and affordable places for expats to consider this New Year...

PLUS--From resident global real estate investing expert Lief Simon:

Assuming the seven countries still to vote grant approval, Croatia is finally set for entry into the EU. The admission of a new country to the union must be ok'd unanimously by all member countries, creating lots of opportunity for political dealing. Slovenia, for example, wants Croatia to drop a lawsuit demanding that Slovenia make good on €172 million in deposits lost by Croatia when a Slovenian bank went bust.

Croatia is a beautiful country with an energetic population, but right now it's also an economic mess. Over the past eight years or so, the country has worked tremendously hard to improve its infrastructure and to put its ducks in a row for EU ascension. At long last, the effort is nearing the intended payoff. If the vote goes as hoped (and expected), Croatia will enter the EU on July 1 of this year.

When I first visited Croatia in 2004, the country was expecting to be accepted into the EU by 2006. Then the date was pushed to 2009. Now it seems imminent but anti-climactic. Romania and Bulgaria managed to jump ahead of Croatia, entering the EU in January 2007. They were considered more important politically.

Back in 2004, when EU entry was anticipated for 2006, the country's real estate market (which is priced in euro) saw big activity and big gains. Of course, it was a different world back then. This was coincidentally also the height of the global real estate boom. Everyone in Western Europe was interested in owning in Croatia...including me. We bought a shell of a stone farmhouse built in the early 1800s. It's still waiting to be renovated. We last visited it about a year ago, and I was very happy to find, when we did, that my enthusiasm, both for Croatia and for the spot where we decided to buy (on the side of a mountain in Istria), were as great as ever. This is a place where I can imagine settling in happily and long term.

Croatia still has many challenges to address, including reducing corruption and lowering its unemployment rate, which sits around 20%. But the potential is there, a lot of it, both for tourism and as a retirement destination.

As in all markets worldwide, real estate values in Croatia have fallen since the 2006/2007 highs. However, as the mortgage market in this country was very limited, it hasn't experienced anything like the collapses that Ireland and Spain have been suffering through. Tourism is the shining star of the economy and continues to expand. Bottom line, I expect real estate prices to remain steady, especially in the key tourist destinations. Buying a small apartment or house to put up for short-term rental might net you a reasonable 5% to 6% return.

Thinking longer term, this country, once it has finally entered in to the EU, likely will have to streamline its residency permit process, which right now isn't easy to navigate. This will help the country to develop as a retirement option, especially among the Brits and West Europeans, who are always in the market for coastal sunshine. This is one asset Croatia has in abundance. Indeed, anyone looking for a sunny, mild coastal destination would do well to consider this country, which is very competitive in terms of both pricing and amenities on offer. With a long coastline and more than a thousand islands to explore, it's a boaters' playground.

If you had to choose among the distressed countries of southern Europe--Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Croatia--for a place to park some money in real estate, I'd say that Croatia offers the best short-term yield potential and long-term upside. Focus on the tourist regions.

 

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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.

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