Best Retirement Buy On The Med
“Lost in the largest covered bazaar in the world, I am surprisingly relaxed,” writes Correspondent Eoin Basset in his firsthand report from Turkey featured in this month’s issue of the Overseas Retirement Letter.
“It’s only to be expected, though, I guess, after the vigorous massage I enjoyed at a local hamam. The bathhouse is a Turkish specialty. Soaking up the steam while strolling among the inlaid woodwork and delicately painted ceramics is an experience to relish.
“In the market’s tiny workshops, craftsmen are bent over precious metals, fashioning jewelry just as their grandfathers once did. Carpet-sellers sip tea from flower-lipped glasses. Down the hill, in the city’s biggest spice market, the air is heavy with the aromas of heaped spices, the flavors of two continents.
“The briny smell of the sea pervades the air–Istanbul is a maritime city–and the Muslim call to prayer carries out overhead on a cool sea breeze. In front of me is the fabled Golden Horn, the deep-water inlet of legend, and, spanning it, Galata Bridge, its parapet bristling with the fishing rods of locals out to hook a light lunch.
“At one of the restaurants tucked into the base of the bridge, I stop to order a cold beer and watch as dozens of commuter ferries–many of them converted steam ships from a bygone age–bounce back and forth over the narrow stretch of water dividing the modern neighborhoods of Beyoglu and Galata from the historic center.
“Istanbul is a microcosm of modern Turkey–and Turkey has it all. A vast country, it stretches from the turquoise and azure waters of the Aegean and Mediterranean seas–where you’ll find most expats–across towering pine-covered mountains, on to the rolling plains that mark the beginning of the great Eurasian Steppe, then on over lush green mountains to the Black Sea coast, legendary home of the Amazons.
“Often overlooked in favor of more established Mediterranean destinations, Turkey offers a vast array of choice and bundles of potential for anybody willing to do a little homework and leg work. The country is immense, but, thankfully, you can focus your interest on four regions in particular: the Aegean coast, the Mediterranean coast, Istanbul, and Cappadocia.
“Many of the villages and port towns of the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts are already home to expats. Why? Warm seas, sunshine, and an affordable lifestyle aside, entire classical cities wait to be discovered among magnificent pine forests and olive groves–if you fancy a break from the beach, that is.
“Along thousands of miles of coastline, you can find sleek resorts and modern medical facilities, just yards from the monumental remains of ancient Greece and Rome. It’s a country where the modern and the traditional are juxtaposed, at once familiar and excitingly different–and very affordable.
“Though not the capital, Istanbul is the country’s beating heart. Here the palace of the Ottoman sultans rises above its pleasure gardens; beneath it, the Aya Sofia, grand statement of Byzantine architecture, attracts tourists from all over the world. For a thousand years the largest enclosed space in the world, it is choc-a-block with mottled marble and marvelous mosaics.
“Istanbul offers the best of any European city–from lattes to the latest Hollywood releases (in English)–but with a superior nightlife. You really can watch the world go by beneath a skyline of minarets and modern office blocks as ships from all over the globe trundle up and down the Bosphorus, the narrow straits that divide Europe from Asia.
“For something completely different, an increasing number of expats are opting for a new life in the lunar landscape of Cappadocia, where the earliest Christians once took shelter in mysterious underground cities and renovated cave houses complete a fairytale landscape that must be seen to be believed.
“Property in Turkey–even in the most desirable Mediterranean resorts–remains affordable. It’s priced well below the cost of comparable buys in more established retirement destinations along the Med. Sun, sea, and sand in Spain? No problem if you have US$225,000, say, for a two-bedroom apartment in Malaga. Prices in Turkey can be less than half that, even in the most popular coastal spots.
“Take a two-bed apartment in Fethiye, center of the Turkish Riviera, for example. Situated a short walk from one of the country’s top beaches, it’s going for US$100,000. That’s the norm.”
P.S. If you’re an Overseas Retirement Letter subscriber, you received Eoin’s full report on living the expat life in Turkey earlier this week. If you’re not, get on board here now for access this complete guide featuring full cost-of-living cost-of-real-estate details, as well as dozens of photos of this beautiful and ancient land.
“What about golf course properties in Panama? Can’t seem to find much on this.”
— Kathy L., United States
Panama Letter Editor Rebecca Tyre replies: “Panama is just now beginning to take an interest in golf. Five years ago, when I arrived here, there were just a couple of courses in the entire country. That has changed. Today, Panama offers many beautiful golf courses.
“If you’re looking for golf course real estate, here’s what I would recommend:
“First, Coronado. The course here is 18 holes, par 72, and 7,092 yards and was designed by Tom and George Fazio. It’s part of the Coronado Resort Complex, which includes an equestrian center and a beach club. Coronado, just an hour outside Panama City, boasts the biggest selection of golf course real estate in the country. You can choose from condominiums, townhouses, building lots, or detached houses.
“The Decameron Resort in the small beachfront town of Farallon, about an hour-and-a-half outside Panama City, sells townhouses directly on the Mantaraya golf course. This course was designed by Randall Thompson and is also 18 holes, par 72, and 7,087 yards. Located within Panama’s most popular all-inclusive resort, this is one of the busiest courses in the country.
“The Vista Mar Golf Resort in San Carlos, just over an hour from Panama City, is a par-72, 7,273-yard course designed by award-winner J. Michael Poellot and situated atop a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Vista Mar sells apartments and houses on the property.
“Tucan Golf and Country Club is just 20 minutes outside Panama City and has great views of the Pacific Ocean and the Panama City skyline. Designed by Jeffrey Myers, the course is par 72 and 6,618 yards. Tucan sits on the site of the former Horoko golf course, used by the U.S. military when they were stationed here. It has been completely remodeled and is one of the most picturesque courses in the country. Available real estate on the property includes apartments, townhouses, and single-family homes.
“If you prefer mountain weather, Valle Escondido in Boquete, Chiriqui province, may be more interesting to you. The course has nine holes and a nice clubhouse. Property options on-site include apart-hotels, condominiums, townhouses, houses, and building sites.
“In addition, a few new golf courses with residences are in the planning and development stages now.”