Our man in Ecuador, Mike Sager, writes this morning to say:

“With the economies of the developed world collapsing, an exodus has begun…to the undeveloped world. Americans, Canadians, Brits, especially, but others, too, are looking for options. Options for where to put their money and options for where to spend their time.

“I think of myself as one of the front-runners of this emerging migration. My search for options over the past decade led me to Ecuador, where I’ve been living for the past tree years.

“This country just makes a lot of sense. Geographically, it follows the natural line of migration (from the U.S. to Mexico, through Central America, and then south). Plus, the weather is better than anywhere in Central America. When you think Equator, you probably think hot and humid. But that’s not Ecuador. Ecuador is mild and fresh, even cool in the mountains. Plus, there are no severe weather patterns here, so you’ve no worries about hurricanes.

“Furthermore, Ecuador is not only a nice place to call home, it’s also a good place to be putting your money right now. Property values along parts of this country’s coast have appreciated 100% in the past two years, yet prices for beachfront remain a great buy compared with prices in countries of Central America you may be more familiar with.

“The key, of course, as always, is to buy right.

Salinas, Ecuador, has been called ‘Little Miami, without the crime.’ This crescent of shoreline is this country’s resort-style beach of choice. The tranquil bay, lined with towering condominiums, is home to Ecuador’s best swimming beach and marina, plus, along the malecon (boardwalk), stretching three kilometers along the white-sand beach, restaurants and nightclubs.

“Salinas offers both homes and condominiums with views of the Pacific. You can find a condo on the water today from $45,000 or a private home for $180,000. A friend who has been investing in Salinas for the past two years recently bought a $170,000 home right on the bay with an infinity pool, a Jacuzzi tub, two outside bar areas with a barbecue, and a view to kill for. The home has three bedrooms and four baths, a third-story sunset deck, and a two-story caretaker’s home, and is only five minutes from Salinas’ largest shopping mall.

“The private home market is more limited than the condominium market. If you’re shopping for a condo, in Salinas, you’re spoiled for choice. There are condos of every size and standard of construction, from one-room studios to luxury penthouses overlooking the yacht club. Many sell furnished so they are ready to generate rental income…or to move right in.

“Alamar is Salinas’ newest, grandest, and tallest building on the boardwalk, with three penthouses and a 360-degree view of the city. Four-bedroom (1,700-square-foot) preconstruction units in Alamar sold for US$99,000. That was two-and-a-half years ago. These units are now being delivered…with a current value of $200,000. They should rent for $3,000 per month in high season (December through April).

“Twenty minutes north of Salinas along the Ruta del Sol (think Highway 101 in California…50 years ago) is Punta Blanca. Here you’re at the very start of the investment cycle. Three high-rise condo projects are being sold right now, and six others are scheduled to launch preconstruction sales this year.

“While Salinas may make more sense for the would-be retiree interested in taking up residence in the near term, Punta Blanca makes more investor sense. Frankly, there’s not much land left in Salinas…not much more room for additional construction. But there’s plenty of room in Punta Blanca. The newest condo project here is selling three-bedroom units with ocean views for US$79,000 (and offering financing).

“Recently, I toured a private home in Punta Blanca. It’s more than 5,000 square feet of living area on a 1-acre parcel. It’s got six bedrooms, two kitchens, and a separate suite for guests. From the infinity pool, you had a perfect view of the Pacific sunset each evening. In two minutes, you’re on the white sands of Punta Blanca…where, believe me, you’re not fighting any crowds.

“The house is for sale…but that’s not my point. My point in describing it to you has to do with property taxes. What would you expect your annual property tax bill to be for a place like this?

“Here in Ecuador, you’ll smile as you write the annual check for $500.

“The asking price, by the way, for this mansion by the sea, is US$395,000. If it were perched overlooking the Pacific from the state of California…your tax bill might be US$395,000 a year!

“I own nine homes and lots in this country. My total annual tax commitment for all the properties is less than US$1,000. Up north of the Rio Grande, millions of people are wondering how they’re going to afford their tax bills. It’s just not an issue down here.”

Mike’s happy to tell you more. Reach him here: Ecuador@LiveandInvestOverseas.com.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. The continuing series of financial debacles in the U.S. and elsewhere has left many nearing retirement age in a near panic. How in the world are you ever going to be able to afford to retire?

Maybe your retirement nest egg was the equity in your home…which maybe has shriveled. Maybe your retirement nest egg was your 401(k) or IRA…which is taking such a beating you may be worried it’s nearly down for the count. Pundits are throwing around the word “apocalypse” to describe what’s going on in the States right now…

In the midst of this meltdown, you, like our man in Ecuador Mike Sager, may be desperately seeking options.

Here’s the most important thing you need to know about all this: As soon as you expand your thinking to consider options beyond your own borders…you find the situation is far less desperate than you may have feared. You don’t have to resign yourself to reducing your standard of living during this important phase of your life…to scraping by and making due for the next 20 or 30 or more years while you wait to pack it all in.

You can launch a new phrase of your life altogether…maybe the best one yet.

It’s time to join the Retirement Revolution. More soon.