The Top 20 Countries For Investing In Real Estate Today

Our New Survey Names World’s Best-Value Property Markets

Spain’s housing bubble, Greece’s debt crisis, and recession in Portugal resulted in drops in real estate values in those countries that carry on today (though Spain and Portugal are this side of their bottoms).

Meantime, U.S. dollar buyers are benefitting from an uber-strong greenback that buys 90 euro cents as of this writing.

Likewise, this is perhaps the best time in a decade to diversify into Latin American real estate thanks, again, to the strength of the U.S. dollar against key currencies in this region… as well as market developments of note, including fast-expanding middle classes in Panama and Colombia, for example, and growing rental demands in places like Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic.

This is all to say, we are enjoying a Golden Age of real estate investment opportunity across the globe.

Where, specifically, should the property buyer or investor be focusing his attention?

In our just-released Retire Overseas Index, we looked at the current average prices per square meter to purchase in 20 destinations of particular appeal.

These per-square-meter averages are based on the cost to buy a 75- to 100-square-meter, two-bedroom apartment in each market considered. This would be a comfortable size for a second home abroad or a retirement residence and an ideal configuration for a rental property in most cases.

Below, I share an overview of the survey’s findings, region by region. For each market, I indicate the overall Affordability Of Real Estate grade awarded in the Index, as well as the current average per-square-meter price to buy, first in the local currency and then in U.S. dollars at current rates of exchange.

The world’s best-value property markets today? Our market study identifies Cayo, Belize; Medellín, Colombia; Crete, Greece; and Granada, Nicaragua as the lowest-cost choices…

Followed closely by Algarve, Portugal; Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Roatán, Honduras; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Da Nang, Vietnam; Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; Bali, Indonesia; and Pedasí, Panama.

The most expensive markets considered in the survey are Paris, France, and Barcelona, Spain. This is not to say these are not places to think about investing in real estate right now. Values in Paris and Barcelona are several times those in the most affordable markets in our survey. However, more expensive does not necessarily translate to bad investment.

A purchase can be worthwhile because it has the potential to generate a good rental yield, because you believe its value will appreciate for a particular reason over a particular period, or perhaps because you want to be able to spend time in that place.

Cheapest is not best. Still, of course, cost matters.

Here’s how the 20 destinations featured in our survey stack up and compare on this score:

Mexico & The Caribbean

Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic B 96,485 pesos; US$2,100
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico B 30,681 pesos; US$1,600
Roatán, Honduras B 40,989 lempiras; US$1,800
Ambergris Caye, Belize C 5,600 Belize dollars; US$2,800
Playa del Carmen, Mexico C 41,774 pesos; US$2,300


Central America

Cayo, Belize A 2,153 Belize dollars; US$1,076
Granada, Nicaragua A 25,729 cordobas; US$900
Pedasí, Panama B- US$2,170


South America

Medellín, Colombia A 3.6 million pesos; US$1,250
Buenos Aires, Argentina D 45,714 ARS; US$3,250



Crete, Greece A 1,330 euros; US$1,474
Algarve, Portugal B+ 1,500 euros; US$1,668
Ljubljana, Slovenia C 2,250 euros; US$2,357
Valletta, Malta C 2,300 euros; US$2,535
Barcelona, Spain F 4,200 euros; US$4,630
Marais, Paris F 10,000 euros; US$11,118


Chiang Mai, Thailand B 55,000 baht; US$1,567
Da Nang, Vietnam B 36,213,999 dong; US$1,623
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia B 4,391 ringgits; US$1,100
Sanur, Bali, Indonesia B 26,160,000 rupiahs; US$2,000

Lief Simon