#1 Strategy For Retiring On The Continent

#1 Retirement Overseas Strategy

Somebody should tell the French. They don’t seem to realize that the world is ending.

All along the Boulevard St. Germain, where we walked last night, the cafés and the restaurants were full to overflowing. Not an empty table anywhere. The café-goers and diners chatted and laughed, enjoying their wine and the chilly autumn evening.

At 8 p.m. on a Saturday, shops and galleries remained open, and passers-by wandered in and out, for closer looks at the original artwork and the designer dresses. Not everyone was window-shopping.

We couldn’t bring ourselves to buy, though. Even with the currently stronger dollar, we felt guilty somehow at the thought right now of euro-indulgences. So we satisfied ourselves simply to be mingling among the well-dressed and seemingly well-heeled of central Paris.

Then we carried back a few groceries and prepared a quiet dinner at home and remembered that, in fact, some of the best experiences of this city cost not a centime.

Europe doesn’t seem like a bargain destination these days, but one of your fellow readers, who I met standing in the check-in line in Tocumen airport last week, told me two secrets he’s discovered for organizing what amounts to an extended sojourn on the Continent…on a very reasonable budget:

“My wife and I are headed to Italy for a month…or maybe three,” he explained. “We’re not sure yet, but we may stay on through Christmas and the New Year. We got this great deal on a car. When we began research for the trip, we couldn’t believe the rates being quoted for car rentals in Italy. So we decided to look into leasing a car instead of renting one. We found this great program with Peugeot. You can lease a brand-new French car, in France, tax-free. You have to lease for at least 17 days, and the longer you keep the car, the lower the rates.

“It’s technically a French lease, but you can take delivery of the car many places throughout Europe, including Italy. For us, it’s working out to a fraction the cost of the rentals we looked at. We have the option to extend, and, again, the longer we extend, the better the rates.”

I googled the program and found details here on this EuropeShoppe website.

Your fellow reader went on the other morning at Tocumen to tell me more about his bargain Euro-travel plans:

Hotels in Europe are hurting right now. There’s lots of availability. A friend mentioned this to us and gave us the idea to go online at Priceline to try to bid for hotel nights in top hotels.

“We wanted to stay three nights in Rome and were planning to stay in a mid-level hotel. Then we went to Priceline, found a really impressive four-star hotel a block from the Vatican, and put in a bid of US$100 a night. And we got the rooms!

“We never could afford this hotel at normal rates, but, this way, we get to treat ourselves.

Here’s one purchase in this part of the world that makes more sense right now than ever. I mentioned it to you last week: the French leaseback. Buy an apartment in France through this program, and you’re not only investing in your eventual retirement pied-a-terre, but you’re also guaranteeing yourself a reliable annual yield. The amount of the yield depends on the leaseback property you buy. Typical yields today are in the range of 3% to 4%. And, right now, a yield of even 3% to 4%, if you can count on it, sounds pretty appealing to me.

Furthermore, you can finance your leaseback buy. Plus, when you buy, the value-added tax (VAT) is rebated, meaning you save 19.6% off the list price. This is a long-term play, as you must commit to lease your property back to the rental management group for nine years. However, in the current climate, locking in nine years of guaranteed yields doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, does it? And, again, at the end of the nine years, you walk away with your own retirement home in France.

There are even leasebacks in Paris…and, looking out my window at the Paris street scene below this morning, I can’t imagine a nicer place to retire.

Plus, frankly, you’ve got to do something with your money, right?

Right now, real property is the thing. Property with intrinsic value (like beachfront) that will hold up over the long term and ride out market ups and downs…or a place where you’d like to spend time (like a little apartment here in Paris).

I told you this week about the two best beachfront plays I know of right now, one for the investor, the second for the would-be retiree dreaming of retirement by the sea:

First, on the west coast of Panama’s Azuero Peninsula, which Lief Simon, my husband, as well as the most seasoned global real estate investor I know, has pinpointed as the Next Big Thing…the locale of the next boom in this country that has been enjoying a series of booms over the past decade. Panama has legs to carry it through the current world financial meltdowns. And its Pacific coast hides some of the most dramatically beautiful beachfront anywhere. This is a straight-up investment play with the potential for a big upside.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. How do you get started with this living and investing overseas stuff? If you’re just beginning to consider these ideas and opportunities, here’s a game plan:

Step #1: Get out a piece of paper and a pen and make a list of everything that’s important to you. Write down your preferences and your priorities. Consider all aspects of your life, big and small.

Step #2: Make another list, a shorter one, of the countries that, right now, might support your agenda. If you could live or retire anywhere, where should you go? Here are the 20 places to consider today.

Step #3 in this How To Find Your Own Personal Retirement Haven Overseas process? Get on a plane. Once you’ve identified a handful of countries that might qualify, you’ve got to go to see them for yourself. A place can make great sense on paper but just not feel right. You can’t spreadsheet your way to a new life in paradise. Start with a spreadsheet, but make your final determination with your gut.


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