South America Expensive…Europe Cheap?
“The declining euro makes Europe good value these days,” writes Overseas Retirement Planning Guru Paul Terhorst. “I’m planning a trip over there later this year. You may want to do the same.
“Vicki and I first moved to Paris in 1998. We could buy euros back then–actually French francs–for about US$.85. Paris seemed cheap, much cheaper than England, for example.
“Then the euro started to climb, reaching a peak of nearly US$1.60 in 2007. Anyone living there was paying nearly double the dollars to get the same amount of euros, the same goods and services. That hurt.
“Now the euro stands at about 1.29. In the first few days of 2011 alone the euro has fallen from 1.34. That’s huge. Traders are betting that the United States will recover sooner and faster than much of Europe, that interest rates in the States will rise sooner than those in Europe. Higher interest rates and a stronger economy mean a stronger dollar.
“Let’s hope the dollar gets back down to parity with the euro, that is, 1 to 1. Then Europe will present very good value, indeed.
“Unfortunately most of the rest of the world continues to get more expensive for those with dollars. Huge flows of dollars into Argentina and Brazil, into Malaysia and Thailand, are driving up local currencies. In a recent study, Sao Paulo, Brazil, came out as the world’s second most expensive city, behind Oslo. Cities in Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile are or soon will be close behind.
“Bangkok came out as second-cheapest in the survey. Still, because of a rising baht, Bangkok costs way more than it did just a few years ago.
“To keep the dollar from falling further, Brazil last week did another round of exchange controls. Thailand, China, and Malaysia intervened in their currency markets. But the world is awash in dollars. Third World countries will have to work hard to protect their currencies from rising further.
“Meanwhile, again, Europe provides good value and opportunity. Consider a trip to the south of France–the Basque country, say–or to the beaches in Spain. You should find costs much lower than just a few years ago.”