When The Time Is Right?
A couple of years ago at a conference in Panama, I met a gentleman, an American from Tennessee, who explained that he had been researching real estate investment opportunities in the Dominican Republic for two years.
“I’m convinced the DR is a market I want to invest in right now,” he told me, “but I’m just not sure what to buy.”
“Have you invested in real estate outside the States elsewhere?” I asked.
“Well, before I started looking closely at the Dominican Republic, I researched the market in Costa Rica for four years.”
“What did you end up buying there?”
“Oh, I never bought anything. After four years of looking, prices had risen so high that I figured it no longer made sense to invest.”
“Ah, well, that happens,” I offered.
The truth is, it happens a lot.
I have business associates who follow a strategy they refer to as, “Ready, fire, aim.” I think it works for investing, too…and for life.
That is to say, as friend and 20-year retiree (since the age of 35) Paul Terhorst puts it, “You can plan to retire overseas…or you can retire overseas and then make some plans.”
Whether you’re looking to invest in real estate in a new market or to start a new life somewhere exotic and exciting, sure, you want to carry out your due diligence. But realize that, all the while you’re researching, the market is moving.
And your life is passing.
That gentleman from Tennessee I met in Panama was so worried that another, better opportunity might come along that he could never bring himself to carry through with any one particular chance.
He was a smart guy. And an experienced investor. He’d done well for himself buying long-term rentals in his home town. He felt comfortable with that market. And perhaps that was the great hindrance to his plans for diversification abroad. Because he understood his home market in Tennessee so well, he was frighteningly aware of how much he didn’t understand the markets in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and beyond.
He kept researching and investigating and scouting, trying to identify the right time to invest and the best thing to buy.
There is no “right” time, and there is no “best” buy.
After more than six years in Ireland and four years in Paris, we’re preparing for a third international move, this one to Panama City. Over the weekend, someone asked, “Why Panama? Why now?”
I think she was looking for a clear-cut response that would have made the case for why right now is the “right” time to take up foreign residence in the Panamanian capital. And I fear I likely disappointed her.
Panama makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons, but is it the best place for me or you or anyone thinking about spending time or money right now? Who could answer that question? Not me.
I can only tell you, as I told the woman I chatted with over the weekend, why we’re going to Panama this summer:
Because it’s a better place to do business than France.
For me, right now, that’s a reason. I’m building a publishing business (I appreciate having you along for the ride, by the way), and my husband is building a real estate consulting business. We like France, and we’ve been happy in Paris, but we’re not stupid. And, frankly, I think you’d have to be at least a bit daft to try to indulge entrepreneurial inclinations in this country.
Why did I settle in Waterford, Ireland, more than a decade ago? I was relocating myself and the business I was running at the time to Ireland because the parent company wanted a presence in the EU. But why Waterford specifically?
Because my then brand-new husband was considering investing in a real estate development just outside that city. That project didn’t pan out, but, meantime, the choice had been made and Waterford became our home.
Why did we begin spending time in Paris four years ago? Because our daughter suggested it.
Paul Terhorst took early retirement and began his overseas adventures 20 years ago because the accounting firm he was working for decided to pull him out of Argentina. He and his wife had grown to like Buenos Aires, where Paul’s firm had assigned him a couple of years earlier. When his superiors told him the BA posting was over, he told them his retirement had begun.
Another friend also took early retirement, about five years ago, when the engineering firm he was working for was bought out by a larger one. He saw the corporate restructuring as a chance for a bigger change. Instead of moving up the company ladder, he moved down south, to Cuenca, Ecuador.
Sometimes life takes you by the collar and pulls you along. Sometimes it waits for you to create your own momentum.
I say again, there is no best opportunity and there is no right time.
So here’s what you do: You do something right now.
If your life’s circumstances aren’t conspiring to pull you in the direction of new horizons, get yourself up to start chasing them.
“But…but…but,” you may be thinking.
What’s holding you back? You’re worried you can’t afford it? I’ve shown you that you could retire and live well in Cuenca, Ecuador, on as little as $660 per month…or in Atlantida or Salto, Uruguay, on as little as $1,038 per month.
Worried it’ll be a lot of hassle and work? You’re right. It will be. It’s easier to stay put and to do nothing. But where would that leave you at the end of the day? What stories would you have to tell? What adventures to remember?
Don’t like the idea of moving far from your children or grandchildren? Don’t. Try Panama or Mexico. A new life in either of these countries would put you no farther from your loved ones than would a move to Oregon, say, or southern California. You (and they) could even drive to Mexico for visits.
Generally scared to death? What are you afraid of? That your new life won’t work out as you hope and expect? So what? You could always return home.
Or move on. Again, there’s no “right” place, and trying different places on for size is part of the fun.
Maybe it is the fun.
On the other hand, maybe you’re not worried your living and investing overseas plans might fail. Maybe you’re worried they’ll succeed.
Where would that leave you?
I can’t imagine.
But you can.
P.S. If the gentleman from Tennessee had bought almost anything in the Dominican Republic during the two years he researched that market-back land without a view, even-today it’d be worth at least double what he’d paid for it.
P.P.S. After more than 10 years living and working in Waterford, Ireland, we discovered her anew this month. We were like tourists in Jackson’s home town. More below.
P.P.S. Lief was out the door early yesterday morning for Cancun, Mexico, where he’ll be for the next two weeks for back-to-back conferences, including his own Global Real Estate Profits Summit June 2-3. If you’re not signed up yet, here’s your last chance to avail of Lief’s two-for-one offer for Live and Invest Overseas readers.