A 50-something woman in New York hired a financial advisor to help her answer a common question–she wanted to know when she would be able to retire. He carefully analysed her income and expenses, and came up with a precise answer: Never.
At Least not in New York, where she had a mortgage and sky-high living costs. Luckily, she had a plan B.
Since she had family in Mexico, she asked when she could retire south of the border. This time his answer was quicker: Tomorrow. She started packing.
It’s impossible to generalize about the prices, bu for anywhere from $10,000 (for 10 acres in Argentina) to $500,000 (water-front home in Panama) you can find property that most people would never be able to afford in the lower 48. Prices are already climbing–Costa Rica is getting expensive.
A couple of rules before you make the leap:
- Get a calendar and write an imaginary schedule for every day for an entire month of retirement. You can’t spend all your time golfing and reading books. (This is an excellent exercise for anyone planning retirement.)
- Spend a lot of time at your potential destination. Rent an apartment for a two-week vacation. Talk to expats and ask about the downsides.
- If you get serious and start a property hunt, try to use a big global agency that has a local franchise, such as Sotheby’s or Coldwell Banker. They have a reputation to uphold, they are used to dealing with Americans, and they can hook you up with other professionals you will nee, such as lawyers, to help cut through any red tape.
- If you buy property and plan to simply hold on to it for years or decades until retirement, hire a caretaker. Even if it’s just vacant land, a squatter could settle down there and you might lose your rights to the property. Safer yet: Buy into a development that caters to expats.
A small but growing number of retirees–estimated at more than 500,000–are tapping their inner F. Scott Fitzgerald and heading overseas. The greenback goes a lot farther in Central and South America and in Eastern Europe, especially when it comes to real estate. Consider Some alternatives:
Activity Wishful Thinking Brilliant Alternative
Skiing the Alps Switzerland Romania
Visiting Wineries Loire Valley Mendoza, Argentina
Gazing at the Sea Santa Barbara, CA Nicaragua or Panama
This excerpt from “Worth It … Not Worth It?” was reprinted with permission from Business Plus/Grand Central Publishing.
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