Four years ago I visited Nicaragua and didn’t want to leave. So I found a way to stay longer: I bought real estate.
You may think it’s too expensive to buy real estate in your dream destination. Yet you can still beat the land rush if you invest early in up and coming destinations.
Then the next time you think about leaving the beach and going home you’ll simply swap your towel for a hammock on your front porch; a good buy instead of a goodbye.
Here are my top 10 tips to consider when thinking of buying in:
1. You know you love the place but are you alone?
If it has an unusual charm that only you could love then renting the place out to others is never going to be easy. But if you want to live there 365 days a year then perhaps you don’t care. No one said you have to share.
2. What do you need to live?
So you’ve got your surf, you got your board (dude), you’ve got a beach shack café that serves you Cokes and sandwiches between waves. But is that enough? Maybe it is. Or maybe longer term you’re going to want a cinema, Indian food, or peanut butter. Where can you get them?
3. Get Googling
Get the stats my friend. How are tourism trends going? The hot profits are made in the hot spots. Then again, if you want to be on your own, in your isolated personal paradise then head away from the crowds. What you lose in appreciation and rental income you’ll make up for with privacy and tranquility.
4. Read those planning guidelines
If you’re buying in a planned community make sure your vision matches theirs’. You want a charming low density fishing village – they want to sell you a high rise condo. Something has to give. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into – likewise for all properties, first get yourself a copy of the local municipal planning regulations.
5. Work out who your buddies are going to be
Will you be the hippest twenty something in a retirement community or the only old-timer in Surf Town? Get a feel for the local expat community. Can you see yourself as one of them?
6. Learn the language
Yes it’s one of the many beauties of Belize – they speak English. But for most countries you’re going to have to learn the lingo if you want to fit in. Builders, maids, traffic cops and bar tenders will all need to be communicated with. Remember: if you don’t speak-a-the-language you don’t make-a-the-friends.
I once met a Swede who swore all he needed was cereal and surf. Maybe he was right but most of us, who stay in country a little longer, eventually admit we need more. Will you go nuts if you can’t get a hot shower? Will power blackouts make you scream? Will mozzies turn you into a repellent-wielding maniac? Be honest and avoid pain later.
8. Planes, trains and automobiles
Will it cost the earth to get home or are new cheap air flights opening up? If they are then that could also boost property prices. How will you get around when you make the big move? Will the bus feel as charmingly rustic after the 70th time you have a crate of chickens dumped on your knee? Will you want your own wheels?
Skype, email, weblogs, Facebook, photo sharing etc – you can keep up with everyone back home with broadband and a laptop. If you’re unsure about your access to the web, you might want to check the availability and cost of an internet line before you make the switch.
10. Most important of all: give something back
Don’t lock yourself away from the community – be apart of it. Support charities, work with local business, provide employment and take part in everything that you can. Be their favourite gringo.
Many Matador members have taken the plunge and made a home overseas. Richard is firmly settled into his new home in Mompos, Colombia.
Brian recently opened the El Diablo Tranquilo hostel in Punta del Diablo, Uruguay, where he has played host to over a dozen Matador members, including Tim, Huntzig and Tyler.
Christian is co-owner of an sustainability center in the north of Thailand, just across the way from Ryan’s plot of land.
Matador is blossoming with opportunities. Join today!
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