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WELCOME TO THE SNOWS OF BARILOCHE
“Clews’ Views” is a regular column appearing in the Caribbean Property Magazine e-zine, written by Carter Clews. The column offers his best take on “best buys” throughout Latin America for “middle-income type” people. Clews’s articles we have covered in the Offshore Digest so far this year are:
As the title indicates, Clews uncharacteristically sets his sites on a location whose defining characteristic is its winter attractions. In fact Clews himself mentions: “[I]f someone had told me a year ago that I would be urging my readers to ‘Ski South America,’ I would have thought they had been ‘smoking Colombian.’” But for those who like to ski, Clews recommends that you consider the option of playing (but not working) in Argentina.
Here, towering, snow-covered peaks beckon veteran and beginning skiers alike to take to the trails and lose themselves in a sparkling “Winter Wonderland.” Crystal-clear lakes invite the intrepid to shed their garments and inhibitions and explore the depths of their frigid waters. And, wood-frame chateaus pepper the slopes, their warming fires welcoming the weary to an evening respite.
In the tiny, picturesque town snuggled at the feet of the snow-capped mountains, well-traveled tourists bedecked in the latest downhill attire sip from oversized mugs of rich, steaming coffee in a quaint cottage shoppe. And from the anteroom drift the aromas of world-famous chocolates freshly conched, tempered, and cooled.
Welcome to the Switzerland at its best – aka: San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina.
Now, normally, as regular Clews’ Views readers know, I am urging you to pack up your troubles in your old back pack and set forth for a Caribbean hideaway where the sun never sets on “the good life at a great price.” So, if someone had told me a year ago that I would be urging my readers to “Ski South America,” I would have thought they had been “smoking Colombian.”
Then, I walked out the door of my home in Fairfax, Virginia, early this morning to encounter the 5th straight day of freezing rain. I thought about the fact that the Weather Channel is predicting one of the coldest winters on record (Al Gore notwithstanding). And it occurred to me that if I am going to be freezing my gluteus maximus off for the next several months, why in the heck do I want to do it on flat land where the only snow is soon covered with road salt?
If I am going to be cold, I want snow I can sled down and ski on. I want snow that stays white all winter long and invites me to walk hand in hand with the one I love in a powdery paradise. I want snow like Bing, Danny, and Irving Berlin had – as in:I’ll soon be there with snow
I’ll wash my hair with snow
And with a spade of snow
I’ll build a man that’s made of snow
I’d love to stay up with you but I recommend a little shuteye
Go to sleep
Of snow, snow, snow, snow, snow
And, frankly, that ain’t going to happen in drizzly Fairfax, Virginia. Nor, I realized, is it likely to happen in Chichicastenango, Guatemala; in Corozal, Belize; on beautiful Roatan Island, Honduras – or at any of the other Latin American locales to which I have urged you to join me in sojourning.
So, what is a guy to do whose commitment to his readers is to uncover dreamlike destinations well below the Rio Grande? Well, believe it or not, go south, old boy! South, all the way down through Colombia, across Brazil, and through Bolivia to the Patagonia region of Argentina.
Go south, in fact, all the way down to the bustling village (pop. 130,000) of San Carlos de Bariloche, more commonly known simply as Bariloche. It was settled in or around 1895 by a roving band of Austrians, Germans, Slovenes, Chileans and Italians. It still maintains a distinctly European flavor.
And it has rightly earned the remarkable moniker: “The Snow Capital of Latin America.”
Bariloche, Argentina, is cradled in the foothills of three majestic mountains – Tronador, Cerro Catedral (more about that magical mountain in a moment), and Cerro Lopez. It is surrounded by four pristine lakes: Nahuel Huapi, Gutiérrez Lake, Moreno Lake and Mascardi Lake. The views from every angle can only be described as “breathtaking.” And the pace of life is just what you would expect from a land where one’s greatest exertion is climbing up into a ski lift.
But, before we delve further into “the good life on the great ice,” in Bariloche, let us step back for a second and take a quick look at the country that houses the city. After all, Clews’ Views is all about places where you not only want to visit, but also might want to live. So, I like you to know what you are getting into, top to bottom.
The fact is, Argentina, beautiful and bountiful though it may be, could be an operational definition of “economic chaos.” It seems that no sooner has the country begun recovering from one economic crisis than it is plunged into yet another. Ad infinitum. Ad nausea.
The reason for that unfortunate state of affairs is that, quite simply, somewhere, somehow, at some time in the distant past continuing into the present, the Argentinean politicians got it into their heads that the best way to produce prosperity was to let the gods of government control the economy. The result is a country with 15% unemployment, a 9% inflation rate – and sky-high taxes on anything and everything that makes an honest buck.
Yet, the country is, indeed, exquisitely beautiful, the weather is a sun-worshiper’s (or snowbird’s) dream come true, and prices are about 1/3 of what they are in the United States. So here is my advice: whether you intend to thrill to the rhythm of Buenos Aires; bask on the beaches of San Clemente del Tuyu; or ski the slopes of Cerro Catedral; play – don’t work – in Argentina.
That said; let us get back to the San Carlos de Barloche. It is here you will find some of South America’s most cosmopolite people, some of Argentina’s most gracious living, and some of the world’s finest skiing.
As I mentioned Barloche was settled in the late 19th Century and actually lay largely dormant until some 30 to 40 years later. With the arrival of the railroad in 1934, Argentina’s Directorate of National Parks seems to have discovered the area’s tourist potential. Hence, a number of uniquely appealing public works projects were initiated, including a museum, the city hall, and the civic center housing the community’s library and theatre.
Fortunately, the Directorate had the foresight to realize that the surrounding snow-covered slopes could eventually mean world-class skiing, so the entire center of the city was built to resemble a picturesque Swiss alpine town. And, it still does today, making tourism San Carlos de Barloche’s chief economic activity.
It should be noted, however, that it is not only the snow-covered slopes that attract tourists to Bariloche. The ski season lasts from June through October, when the snowfall is at its peak and the temperatures hover from below freezing to just above. But the tourists continue to come all year round.
That is because during the summer, Barilochi’s white sand beaches beckon sun worshipers to enjoy the leisure of lakeside life – along with some exceptionally hearty souls who do not mind plunging into the chill lake waters, which never rise much about 14°C. Add to this world-class freshwater fishing and hiking the verdant mountain trails, and Barilochi is a year-round wilderness wonderland.
Still and all, it is the snows of Bariloche to which the tourists most famously flock. They come from across Central and South America, from Europe (yes, even Switzerland), and from throughout the United States and Canada. And with good reason: Literally on the doorstep of San Carlos de Barochle – just 20 kilometers from town center – is what many skiing aficionados consider the most captivating downhill destinations in the Western Hemisphere: Cerro Catedral.
Reaching 2,388 meters above sea level, Cerro Catedral features 200 hectares of skiing area, with 70 ski runs spread out over 97 kilometers, for skiers at all skill levels. Its varied slopes provide the opportunity for all types of skiing – from Alpine to freestyle, and even off-piste for the stout of heart.
At the apex of Cerro Catedral, skiers find a variety of shops and cafes in which to have lunch or partake of their favorite beverages. And from each, one can admire the majestic Tronador glacier, gaze out at the serene expanse of Nahuel Huapi Lake, peer longingly at Victoria Island, and admire the surrounding mountain peaks piercing the sky-blue heavens.
Cerro Catedral has two major slopes suitable for skiing: Robles Catedral and Alta Patagonia. Together, they offer about a dozen different runs of varying degrees of difficulty.
For example, for beginners, there is Punta Princesa. It’s a relatively easy run, offering a wide variety of surfaces, from flat and level to medium-steep. It has a well-groomed bunny slope. And it even offers some minor moguls, or bumps, for those who want to get a little daring. The powder is soft and the base is adequate.
For highly experienced experts – and only highly experienced experts only – I would recommend Carlitos. This may well be the most difficult run on the mount. As one Cerro Catedral guide warns, “It is an iced-over steep run with high bumps. The wooded stream running on its left side increases its difficulty.” In short, Carlitos is for “epic” skiers only.
But, whether you are a beginning skier, a seasoned veteran, a polished pro – or just a simple lover of the outdoor life and the “marsh mellow world in the winter” – there is one extra special aspect of the entire Bariloche/Cerro Catedral experience you will not want to miss. And you may, in fact, return to enjoy it time and time again.
Held each year for one full week in August, it is called the “National Snow Festival.” And it celebrates the powdery crystals with a gala pomp and pageantry that is, perhaps unseen anywhere else on the face of the earth.
Here is how Ripio Turismo describes the alluring event; since I cannot do any better, I will just quote them verbatim:
“Before sunset, the National Snow Festival is officially inaugurated with a sky demonstration by the Ski Instructors Association on the slopes of Cerro Catedral. The Argentine Ski Champion, followed by the best skiers, descends with the National Flag to be hoisted at the mast at the foot of the Catedral.
“After sunset some two hundred skiers, from different ski schools, ski down the slope with flaming torches. The slopes are alight with various patterns as the skiers follow runs down the mountain and then the spectacular firework display lights up the whole hill side.”
And, remember, that is only on Day 1. In the ensuing days, as the Festival gains momentum, you will be treated to the National Snow Queen Contest (to choose the queen who will represent Bariloche throughout the world), the Axemans Contest, the Waiters Race, and the Pullover Contest (where hundreds of colorful hand-knit pullovers are put on parade, and winners are chosen from a variety of categories)
Throughout all of this, the streets of Bariloche are packed with colorful exhibits hosted by the area’s Argentine, European, and Latin American communities featuring their traditional cuisine served by townspeople in their native dress. And, on virtually every corner, the melodic sounds of local, national and international musical performances fill the air.
So, there you have it: San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina – the most beautiful Swiss alpine town in all of Latin America. Move over Bing, Danny, and Irving Berlin. The price of the good life on the great ice just became affordable for us all!
HOW TO BLOW YOUR $150,000 BUDGET ON DREAM HOMES ABROAD
Escape From America Magazine carried a series starting this month and carrying through to January on actual “bargain” real estate for sale around the world. The purchase price constraint started at US$150,000 for the first article, then $100k, $75k, and $50k for fourth and last in the series. We have conveniently combined all four articles in this Offshore Digest issue. Bargains in Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe and Australia were sought ... and found. Specifics on the properties are lacking – EfA wants you to go to them for those. Fair enough. The teaser descriptions hopefully give one a decent preview of what is available, as of late 2009, by price and region.
The author, Susan Beverley, is a writer and editor for EfA and for Expat Daily News – the expat news blog for EscapeArtist.com. She traveled extensively before becoming an expat herself. She has lived in South America for the last five years.
This is the first of a 4-part series detailing international real estate around the globe that we have found at bargain basement prices. Next week we will be listing properties in the $100,000 budget range. The week after those priced at $75,000 and the final week properties that are selling for an amazing $50,000 or less!
Our criteria was to find properties that are ready to move in to, or require little in the way of renovation to make them habitable. We have not included lots and only listed timeshare or fractional ownership where we thought it was a particularly good deal.
Read on ...
Never has there been more incentive to realize what is for many people, a long held dream of living abroad. The economy back home is hardly inspiring, the jobs market is lackluster, the cost of living is not cheap and yet the quality of life is far from adequate for many people. If you share these thoughts and feelings and you would really like to explore your options elsewhere in the world, we have taken a trip around the world’s real estate markets with a theoretical $150,000 budget to see what you could exchange your current home and lifestyle for in some fabulous settings overseas.
Whether you dream of learning a foreign language and perhaps moving to live in Europe in France or maybe Italy, we have homes that might suit you. If on the other hand you are just interested in securing a holiday home for your family that you can use whilst you are still in full time employment back home, we have found some real gems in Chile or Mexico perhaps. And for those who are maybe more adventurous, who fancy a challenge of turning a real estate wreck into a dream property for profit, we have got investment ideas aplenty.
If you have a dream of escaping overseas – even if it is just a dream that gets you through a hard working week rather than one you ever plan on making come to fruition – here for your delectation are some real estate samples for a budget of just $150,000.
Note: property details including prices are based on those listed by the vendors and agents cited, and exchange rates are based on those on the 5th of November 2009.
Stunning Homes in Asia for $150,000
Did you know that Asia is home to among the highest paid expats in the world according to the latest findings from a global survey of expatriates by HSBC International Bank? Now that is a reason to consider relocating to the likes of Singapore, China, India or Malaysia! Or a reason to consider Thailand as an alternative is the wealth of tourism based demand that there is in this nation. If you are looking for an investment property abroad, Thailand is an exceptional choice – what is more, if you would prefer to move abroad you could potentially start your own tourism facing business if you relocated to Thailand.
There is a development of condominiums that might be perfect, it is located on a hillside with fabulous sea views overlooking the gentle waters of the Andaman Sea at Kata Bay. The development consists of 150 units in total, comprising 48 cozy one-bed studios and 102 two-bed apartments. Apartment sizes range from 55 to 105 square meters and they have all been designed to be functional and modern, featuring elegant modern bathrooms and ample sized balconies. The open plan living and kitchen area is tastefully furnished, whilst floor to ceiling sliding doors afford the best possible views to the sea beyond.
On-site there is a well-equipped fitness centre, communal pool and pool bar as well as a holistic spa. There is shuttle transportation provided free of charge between the residence, the beach and the nearby shopping centre. The complete condominium project is designed with the comfort, safety and wellbeing of the whole family in mind and offers 24 hour on-site security. A professional and experienced property management company will provide administration and management services to the residences so it could not actually be easier if you wanted to invest your money into this development and let it out for profit from the tourism market. Prices range from $84,842 to $352,536 so you could certainly find something for your $150,000 budget.
Elsewhere in Asia there is a stunning, brand new villa for sale in Denpasar which is near Bali in Indonesia. The property is on the market for $134,103 – or, if you are willing to stretch your budget to $162,415 you can have the property with an additional piece on land on which will be constructed a swimming pool. The house has beautiful marble floors and consists of 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a spacious living room with open kitchen, balcony and terrace. The views from the property are unobstructed across rice terraces – a beautiful home a million miles away from your current life!
What Will $150,000 Buy Your in Africa?
Your property dollars can stretch a very long way in Africa, but you have to decide which stunning nation you want to live in. If you fancy the exotic appeal of Morocco for example, you can purchase an apartment at the Paradise Golf and Beach Resort in Tangier. 1 bed, 1 bathroom properties start from $126,471 and for that you will buy yourself a fantastic holiday home in year round sunshine on a four star development. The development features swimming pools, landscaped gardens, onsite cafes, bars, restaurants and even a supermarket. Your property will be within a gated and secure community that also features a 4 star hotel, with a water sports centre. Finally, an 18 hole golf course is to be integrated into the development and it is literally walking distance to stunning beaches.
If you would like a similar quality development but in an alternative location, what about a beachfront apartment for sale on the Red Sea Riviera in Egypt? The development is called Cape Citadel and it comprises of fully furnished studios, apartments, chalets and semi-detached villas and unfurnished detached villas. Each property enjoys a sea view and the development is on the shores of one the world’s best diving areas. The development’s location is further enhanced by its dramatic backdrop of rock-faced mountains that guard the interior Nile Valley from the sea. In terms of the features of this 5-Star Resort, they consist of a private beach, a 28 berth marina and the residents of all properties have unrestricted access to the amenities at the onsite Citadel Azur Hotel which include restaurants, bars as well as a range of entertainment and wellness facilities. Prices start from $150,000 ...
If you perhaps prefer a permanent home in Africa, what about South Africa where $128,672 of your budget will buy you a spacious, detached 3 bedroom family home in Aston Bay on the Eastern Cape. This house is immaculate, modern, it has 2 garages, landscaped gardens and is in an elevated position with great views over the surrounding environment. This is an incredibly well priced property in a great location in South Africa.
Bargain Hunting in North America on $150,000
For $142,419 you could purchase your family a retreat in Quebec, Canada. There is a stunning and spacious modern cabin style home for sale on the edge of beautiful woodland in Tadoussac. The property’s location is described as being close to the sea, the forest, a golf course, Saguenay fjord, sea mammals, dunes and beautiful beaches. The property itself is gorgeous and ready to move in to. It was built in 1993 then extended in 1996 and has fabulous cathedral roofing. There is a dining room, fitted kitchen, living room with large windows, bathroom, shower and toilet, and on the 1st floor there are 4 bedrooms, 2 walk in closets, a balcony and a bathroom. The basement has been converted into useable space and the property has extensive wooden decks, fruit trees and outbuildings. A perfect home from home or hideaway retreat!
If you prefer a warmer setting then head south to Mexico instead and perhaps choose an apartment at the Tulum White residential estate which consists of 16 villas and 12 apartments featuring floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking 30,000 square feet of spectacularly landscaped tropical gardens. These feature waterfalls, local flora and a communal swimming pool that provides a welcome respite from the intense heat of the Yucatan Peninsula sun. This development is just minutes from one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and apartments start from $115,000.
Getting More for Your $150,000 in South America
If you head further south still, you will find you can get even more bang for your real estate buck. In southern Chile you can buy the most stunning property relatively close to downtown Puerto Varas. This extremely modern looking home features 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and has galleried bedrooms with circular windows. The bedrooms also overlook the stunning sitting room that has massive picture glass windows and a ceiling that reaches up to the full height of the home. Featuring masses of bare timber, this stunning home really has to be seen to be believed, and it is only on the market for a mere $143,609!
In Argentina a similar budget will get you an equally fabulous home but in a far more residential setting. In Tigre in the Northern Suburbs of Buenos Aires almost on the banks of the river you can buy a spectacular Mediterranean style villa, fully furnished for $130,000. The home has 3 bedrooms, it is incredibly light and spacious, it has balconies and terraces, a fabulous garden and comes with its own river pier and moorings. It truly is an incredible family home.
European Properties for Sale for $150,000
In France in the region of Brittany in the North, there is a fabulous project available for those looking to turn their hand to property restoration. You can buy a three bedroom farm house for sale that comes complete with land and many outbuildings such as stables, and turn the whole lot into a large family home, or even a business such as a bed and breakfast. The property is in the village of Plumaugat and the main residence is perfectly habitable as it is, but because there is so much scope for improvement and also further development with the stone outbuildings, this is certainly real estate that someone looking for project would choose. The asking price is $155,499 – but I am sure there is room for negotiation!
If you perhaps prefer a sunnier destination then what about the Calabria region of Italy where for $148,843 you can buy the most charming detached villa property with incredible views across the Gulf of Policastro. Set in the town of San Nicola Arcella, this residence is ideal as a holiday home, a holiday rental property or even a retirement home in Italy. It is in pristine condition, comes with fabulous landscaped gardens and features 3 bedrooms, spacious living areas and plenty of terraced outdoor space. This is a fabulous buy for your budget.
Can You Buy a New Home in Australia for $150,000?
Rather than heading for mainland Australia, why not look to New Zealand where your dollars will buy you much more real estate – in Auckland for example you can purchase a straight investment property. It is a fully managed apartment that is already let so it even comes with guaranteed rental returns. The apartment is a studio with 1 bathroom, it is in a central location and is fully managed as stated. It is on the market for $92,851 – so well under your budget – and what is more, it is a hands off investment opportunity.
If you would like to move to New Zealand then how about a very tidy 3 bedroom character home in Invercargill? In need of modernization, this detached family home is however, very good value for money. On the market at $135,966 the property is in a prime location close to all amenities and employment opportunities, and it comes with a detached garage – that can be used for extra storage – as well as extensive gardens.
Finally, in Australia itself, your $150,000 will not stretch very far at all – but we have managed to find you a small, detached, recently renovated family home in Cummins – which is a town on Eyre Peninsula in South Australia about 50 miles from Port Lincoln. The home is immaculate inside and it has a large back yard that has been completely untouched as yet. You can get your hands on this for $149,819. And that concludes our tour of the world’s real estate market on a budget of just $150,000!
For details on the properties mentioned in this article subscribe to the Expat Daily News Newsletter – check the list titled International Real Estate for Less than $150,000. Subscription is free, it is easy to unsubscribe and we do not spam or sell email addresses to third parties.
Purchase a Dream Home Abroad for $100,000 or Less
[I] part 2 of our 4 part series, we are going to show you what a budget of $100,000 will buy. We looked for homes that were ready to move in to, or needed very little in the way of renovation. Instead of providing the links to the properties featured in this article we are listing them on a separate newsletter which is free and easy to subscribe to. This is so that we can keep you up to date with properties in a price bracket that suits your pocket. Subscription details are given at the end of the article.
Read on ...
Are you dreaming of escape? Would you like to leave your old life behind and go in search of an idyllic lifestyle abroad? Perhaps you are approaching retirement and you would like to find a cheaper cost of living overseas. Do you want to move abroad with your children to live and work in a country where the quality of life is better?
Do you dream of finding a home overseas that you can turn into a vacation retreat? Would you like to cash in on crashing markets in Europe maybe, and bag an investment property abroad? Whatever the reason you are looking for real estate bargains overseas, we have taken on the challenge to see if it is possible to purchase a dream home anywhere abroad for around $100,000 US dollars – read on to see where in the world your real estate dollars can buy you some stunning homes!
Note: property details including prices are based on those listed by the vendors and agents cited, and exchange rates are based on those on the 30th of October 2009.
What Can You Get in Asia for $100,000?
The Philippines is fast becoming a popular new destination for those looking abroad for an affordable home in one of Asia’s paradise locations. With prices for properties in Thailand having shot up, fuelled by tourism demand, properties in the Philippines offer an attractive alternative for those on a budget who want to buy in to a market where there is more potential for long-term growth. Experience International is offering fully furnished studio apartments for sale within the stunning Blue Coral Resort and Spa frontline beach development from $85,864.
These properties are ideal investment properties according to the developer, offering a 21% guaranteed gross income as well as up to 60% non-status financing. The properties are set within an exclusive development that will be run as a managed resort hotel backed by a major tour operator. The resort is situated on the high-end eastern side of Mactan Island, offering visitors tranquillity, beauty and a paradise island effect – yet the apartments are actually within easy reach of Cebu City and its international airport which is the second largest in the Philippines.
Therefore, you can apparently afford an investment property for sale in Asia for $100,000 ...
Alternatively, if you would like to retire to Malaysia and benefit from the Malaysia My Second Home Programme whilst being within reach of popular expatriate employment destination Singapore, there is a stunning condominium for sale at Danga Bay in Johor Bahru. The condo has a sea front location facing Singapore, it is just 2 minutes from the Singapore Causeway and the 2nd Link and offers you 1,038 sq ft. of living space comprising 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a fitted kitchen and built-in wardrobes. It is on a complex with a large swimming pool, a gym, sauna, 24 hours security and is within walking distance to Danga Bay Leisure Complex. The property is for sale by an expat owner for $93,636 and offers an exceptional buy for a professional individual or couple who want to move to the region to live, work or even retire.
Buying Property in Africa for $100,000
If you are looking for a home abroad rather than an investment property such as the one featured above, what about a house on the Garden Route in the Western Cape of South Africa? This is one of the most sought after areas of this stunning and diverse nation because it has arguably the best climate. It boasts the best views, it is very civilised and cultured, home to Cape Town and traditionally one of the safer parts of the country. The property that we have found for sale is on the market for just $83,733 and it comprises of a 3 bed, 2 bath family home situated in a good area close to schools, churches and local amenities. As well as 3 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms, there are 2 living areas and a kitchen with a breakfast nook, a scullery and a laundry room. Set in a neat and mature garden, this property does need modernisation – hence the low asking price – but because it is in such a sought after area, you could do it up, live in it or just pop it back on the market and perhaps realize a profit from your refurbishment efforts?
Looking elsewhere in South Africa, there is a 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom family home on the market in Muckleneuk, Pretoria close to the University of South Africa. It is up for sale at auction which is quite common in South Africa – but the guide price is similar to the Garden Route home. Unlike the former property it is ready to move in to but of course you can still put your own stamp on it after moving in. Both homes are being listed for sale by PrivateProperty.co.za
$100,000 Bargains in North America
If you do not want to move too far from home but fancy spreading your wings across the border to Canada, how about a fractional ownership share in a modern, stylish condo in Mont Tremblant? This is one of Canada’s most exciting winter sports resorts – and it benefits from the fact that it has year round appeal with those who love the great outdoors. For just $92,640 you can buy 13 weeks a year in a property that comprises of 2 bedrooms and 2 bathroom in a development that is just 100 feet from the gondola in Sommet des Neiges at the top of Mont Tremblant resort village.
The condo is on the 5th floor with mountain views, it has a fireplace, a terrace, a parking space and very spacious rooms. Amenities in this prime condo hotel include unbeatable ski-in, ski-out access, a grand lobby with fireplace and lounge areas, a fitness room and concierge service, activity room, library and internet kiosk, private year round personal ski locker, hot tub, sauna, pool, private lounge and kids and teens game rooms complete with pool tables. As world-class golf is also on your doorstep, this is a property that could give you a winter skiing holiday and a summer golf vacation!
Exploring South America’s Real Estate Market on $100,000
If you head south instead of north however, you have far more choice when it comes to spending your $100,000 of prime real estate cash. Starting off in Panama there is a 2 bed, 1 bath apartment for sale for $82,000 in Panama City itself. This apartment is in a building located within walking distance of San Fernando Clinic and hospital, it has shops and restaurants within walking distance and Parque Omar is close by. The condo has a small outdoor terrace, a laundry area off the kitchen, above average finishes for this price tag and affords you great space for full or part-time living – but without the huge price tag!
In Belize you can get an entire house for $92,500 though – so you might prefer this. Located in the Santa Rita Heights area of Corozal Town, this 2 bed, 1 bath family home has a small swimming pool and it is set in a mature and private garden. For sale by the owner, there is the option of limited owner financing, and the property is described as a perfect vacation retreat or a new home from home in Belize. The interior is immaculate and the views are typically tropical.
If you prefer to explore even further afield, what about Argentina? For $102,000 you can buy a 3 bedroom villa in the town of San Rafael in the wine growing region of Mendoza. A popular spot with expatriates from the US and Europe, Mendoza is an exceptionally beautiful part of Argentina. The home being offered for sale includes separate living and dining rooms, a large kitchen, 3 bedrooms, a beautiful and spacious garden with a barbecue area and a two-car garage. The villa is on a 520m2 plot in the town centre meaning that it is ideally located for a family who want to move to this nation and settle in to an already established community.
What Can Your Get for $100,000 in Europe?
If you would like to see what the dollar can buy in Europe, note that at the moment the dollar is particularly strong against the pound making it even possible to buy a property in the UK with your $100,000.
You might like to opt for a 3 bedroom terraced house for sale in Gainsborough in Lincolnshire for example. Situated in a popular area of the town, you would be close to the town centre and all local amenities. The house features a sitting room, dining room, a fitted kitchen, downstairs bathroom, two bedrooms on the first floor and a third bedroom on the attic floor. The good thing about this home is that it is not in a chain so you do not have to worry that your vendor has to find somewhere else to go and live – meaning you or your tenants could move in straightaway.
If you fancy somewhere a little more exciting in Europe than the UK, what about Italy? In the southern region of Calabria (which is the toe of the boot of Italy!), there is a fully furnished, 2 bedroom apartment for sale in the seaside town of Santa Maria del Cedro. The apartment is on the first floor of a small complex and consists of an entrance hall, open plan living room and kitchen, 2 bedrooms, a bathroom and the best bit is the terrace that has panoramic sea and mountain views. The complex on which this apartment is located has a swimming pool and there is even on site parking available. At just $95,792, this is a property you could move in to tomorrow, let out for profit immediately, or plan your forthcoming holidays in straight away!
How Far Will $100,000 Stretch in Australia?
The final continent to explore with our $100,000 is Australia where you can get a 3 bedroom home in Katanning, a country town in Western Australia, for $95,202. The property needs completely refurbishing mind you, because it is firmly set in the 1970s in terms of the internal décor! Set on a 1,300m2 corner block opposite the town’s recreation centre, this property has 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and it features a lounge with an open fireplace and a large veranda. Because properties this affordable are seldom found in this town, this home offers investment potential. If done up well and presented attractively, it is possible you could re-sell for profit.
However, you can get much better value for money if you take a short plane ride and head to New Zealand. This nation not only offers some of the most fantastic scenery in the world, it has a buoyant tourism market, it has an economy that is continuing to weather the global financial storm well, and the local language is English – making it even easier to buy real estate and even set up home in New Zealand. Our final choice for the $100,000 budget is a newly renovated, very tidy single story detached house, in Castlecliff which is in Manawatu-Wanganui on the North Island. The home is tenanted so you can earn an income from it, or you can serve notice and move into this property that could be your new home from home in New Zealand. On the market for $92,481, this home comprises 2 bedrooms with an option to turn an additional study into a third bedroom. There is also a bathroom and separate toilet, a separate sitting room with a kitchen/diner and there is extensive garaging for 3 cars.
As you can see, your $100,000 will get you an exceptionally fascinating array of homes, investment opportunities and real estate around the globe – proving that you just have to be a savvy buyer if you have a relatively tight budget. Bearing in mind that there is subdued interest in homes for sale globally also stands you in good stead in terms of your negotiating position. Remember, an asking price is just that – a price being asked for. It does not mean it is the final sale price! Be bold, negotiate hard, haggle well and always, always employ qualified, local legal representation to protect your interests when you enter into real estate negotiations abroad.
For details on the properties mentioned in this article subscribe to the Expat Daily News Newsletter – check the list titled International Real Estate for Less than $100,000. Subscription is free, it is easy to unsubscribe and we do not spam or sell email addresses to third parties.
Real Estate Bargains Abroad on a Budget of $75,000
This week, part 3 of our 4 part series, we are going to show you what a budget of $75,000 will buy. We looked for homes that were ready to move in to, or needed very little in the way of renovation. Instead of providing the links to the properties featured in this article we are listing them on a separate newsletter which is free and easy to subscribe to. This is so that we can keep you up to date with properties in a price bracket that suits your pocket. Subscription details are given at the end of the article.
Read on ...
The global financial crisis has left us all strapped for cash: A recent survey complied by HSBC Bank International delved into the lives of expats living in 50 different nations, it revealed that across the board expatriates are facing higher living costs and lower salaries. Having said that, when asked if the recession was a reason to give up their new life abroad, a resounding “no” was returned by 85% of all those expats questioned.
So it seems that even if money is tighter now, those living abroad are still managing to enjoy their new life so much that they will not give it up! If you are also strapped for cash but would still like to escape overseas, what can a limited budget of say $75,000 buy you in the way of a new home from home abroad? We thought we would go on a journey around the globe with just $75,000 in our pocket and see what real estate bargains we could bag for you.
Whether you have a budget in mind for a second home in the sun, you are looking for a good, solid investment in real estate or you just want to escape to a new life overseas, here is what your $75,000 could buy you around the world.
Note: property details including prices are based on those listed by the vendors and agents we consulted, and exchange rates are based on those on the 4th of November 2009.
Real Estate in Asia on a Budget of $75,000
A question often asked is, “is Turkey in Asia or Europe?” and the answer is that it is a Eurasian nation, the vast majority of which is geographically located in Asia. Politically and economically speaking Turkey may be considered more European, but when it comes to bagging a bargain property, who cares whether Turkey is an Asian or a European nation because Turkey simply offers some stunning deals – whether you are looking for a home abroad, a holiday home in the sun or a real estate investment opportunity. The vast majority of tourism activity in Turkey is located in Istanbul or along its massive southern coastline – and it is in stunning locations along this coastline that you will find the best bargain properties for sale.
On the Aegean Coast in the beautiful and highly popular resort town of Altinkum there is a resale apartment for sale that is ready for immediate occupancy. The property has 2 bedrooms, it is being sold fully furnished by the vendor and is close both to the Blue Flag beach and the town’s center. The immaculate apartment is on the market for just $72,710 and is within a small development that has its own communal pool.
More typically Asian than Turkey is perhaps Malaysia, so how about a partially furnished condominium for sale in Kuala Lumpur for $74,541 instead? Located within walking distance of the globally respected International Medical University, this apartment has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, it is spacious and set within a complex that features a cafeteria, club house, covered parking, a gym, jogging track, mini supermarket, a nursery, squash courts, a swimming pool and 24 hour security. Because of its ideal location near the university and also a main train station, this property could be a great buy to let opportunity.
Buying a Home in Africa for $75,000
The continent of Africa offers such a vast choice when it comes to real estate options because it is blessed with so many diverse nations – from Tunisia in the North to Madagasgar in the South, or even the Cape Verde Islands far out west, where would you like to live? How about on Tunisia’s Gold Coast? A brand new development is taking shape close to the exclusive resort of Port El Kantaoui, the Dunes Golf & Spa Resort is a beach side development offering world class onsite facilities from a Thallasso Spa including an indoor swimming pool, Turkish baths, a sauna, gymnasium and beauty & massage treatment rooms, to 24hr security, concierge services, a restaurant, snack bar, supermarket, bank, bakery and a rental management company. Rental income is said to be very high in this region due to the strength of the local, neighbouring and European markets, ensuring that yields can be up to 10% to 14% per year – so a property in this location could be a good investment. 1 bed, 1 bath apartments are being sold off plan from $65,261.
In Cape Verde the market is more established if you want either a rental property or a second home in year round sunshine – studio apartments are available for sale from $50,000 for example. But what about buying a marina berth so that you can moor your yacht when you are sailing the Atlantic Ocean? At Mindelo Marina on the island of San Vicente you can purchase a 15 year lease on a highly sought after berth for up to a 48 foot yacht for just $59,504. The marina is able to host more than 120 boats, up to 30m in length. All the facilities one expects of a state-of-the-art marina are available onsite and there is even a bistro.
Exploring North American Real Estate with just $75,000
Forming the southern tip of North America, Mexico should not be overlooked by those in search of a bargain and who do not want to travel too far from home. In Cancun there is an incredible bargain of a property for sale for bang on the money at $75,000. It is a fully furnished studio apartment billed as having a million dollar view! Right on the beach, this studio is within an older development and yet it is immaculate. You cannot buy property this close to the beach for so little money anymore, so go with the older style development and realise that your $75,000 investment could see you returning up to $100 a night in room rental rates! The property is small as it is a studio apartment, but it is more spacious than a hotel room and its balcony juts straight out over the Caribbean! Onsite there is a pool – although why use that when the Caribbean is probably less walking distance – tennis courts, security and what is more, the development is right within walking distance of all the entertainment action available in downtown Cancun.
South America’s Real Estate Bargains for Sale for $75,000
To beat the Cancun bargain we have had to head a bit further from home – but I think you will agree we have done well! We have found a 5 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with incredible mountain views for sale for just $70,000 on the outskirts of Alajuela in Costa Rica. This property needs a thorough update in terms of its décor – even though it was only constructed in 2002 – but structurally it would appear to be sound, and the vendors assure us that the area the property is located in is quiet and safe. If you are looking to move abroad and live a new life in an exciting new country, this could well be your ideal choice. The property is spacious, it is set within a beautiful part of an astoundingly stunning nation, and it is a bargain at less than our budget of $75,000.
If you prefer beach living instead, how about considering Brazil as a destination for your real estate dollars? For $69,500 there is a large one-bedroom apartment currently for sale at the Fountains Resort, which is an exclusive development of sea view apartments set on fantastic beachfront land in Praia Das Fontes. The development is set in lush Thai style gardens and the theme of water is well illustrated through the extensive pools and water features that form central focal points throughout the development. The apartment for sale is available off plan with a 33% deposit down and with 24 months over which you have to find the balance. Once completed this property could be your holiday home abroad or it could form part of an investment portfolio for you.
Can You Buy Real Estate in Europe for $75,000?
Europe possibly features some of the most expensive nations when it comes to property – but never fear, your $75,000 will stretch to a property in Portugal for example, or a property in Sweden too. In Portugal you can buy a small village property for $66,780 and renovate it, turning it into a stunning retreat. The house is situated in the Leiria region of Portugal, about 5 miles from the sea. The asking price is apparently negotiable, so bearing in mind that you will have to totally renovate this property to make it home, ensure you put your bargaining hat on if you decide to discuss terms with the vendor.
If you fancy a less touristy destination in Europe then what about Sweden where there is plenty of choice for affordable property, such as a beautiful and totally typical Swedish house with 4 bedrooms that is also on the market for just $66,780? The property comes with plenty of land that you can either have your own horses on or which you can rent out to local farmers for profit. According to the vendor you will be visited regularly by elk and the asking price includes membership for you at the local village sauna!
What is for Sale in Australia for $75,000?
If Sweden is too cold for you then consider Australia – where sunshine is guaranteed practically all year round in many states, particularly in Queensland where we have found a totally unique home for sale. For $75,404 you can buy an alternative style house that consists of a 1964 ex-Melbourne bus as the kitchen, a 1969 ex-Brisbane bus as the lounge, then there is a 16 foot caravan that serves as the adjoining en suite for bedrooms housed in 40 foot and 22 foot caravans. There is an office, further bathrooms and a massive outdoor living area which is shaded with large canopies. There is solar and generator power and apparently there is a lot of fallen iron bark wood for firewood. The property has caves, a fishpond and a courtyard and the owners advise that theirs is a home that has to be seen to be appreciated!
Whether you are thinking of buying an investment property in Portugal or a new home in Costa Rica, a buy to let in Malaysia or a holiday home in Tunisia, it is essential to get good legal advice before you even enter into negotiations to buy real estate. Ensure you understand your rights as a foreign buyer in a given land, and that you fully explore how the buying process should work. Ultimately make sure you have qualified and independent legal representation, and that you tread carefully when it comes to your real estate dollars at home or abroad.
For details on the properties featured in this article subscribe to the Expat Daily News Newsletter – check the list titled International Real Estate for Less than $75,000. Subscription is free, it is easy to unsubscribe and we do not spam or sell email addresses to third parties.
Real Estate Good Buys Overseas for Just $50,000
This week, part 4 of our 4 part series, we are going to show you what $50,000 will buy. We looked for homes that were ready to move in to, or needed very little in the way of renovation. Instead of providing the links to the properties featured in this article we are listing them on a separate newsletter which is free and easy to subscribe to. This is so that we can keep you up to date with properties in a price bracket that suits your pocket. Subscription details are given at the end of the article.
Read on ...
Imagine if you could escape abroad for no more than $50,000 – and if that escape meant you could buy a brand new home overseas and live mortgage free on such a tight budget?
On just $50,000?
Yes, it is possible – if you look long and you look hard and you step off the beaten track you can find almost impossible to imagine bargain real estate around the globe for a very tight budget of just $50,000.
We have been and searched the four corners of the globe for you – and trust us, no matter where in the world you would like to lay your hat and call home – whether that is in Africa, Asia, Europe of even Australia, we have found you some choice homes for sale. Granted, some are more attractive than others – but even where we have failed to find a fully functioning home ready to move in to, we can supply you with a renovation project that you could work to enhance and add value you to.
So, if you fancy selling up everything you have and heading out for an overseas adventure, stick a pin in the map and see if we can match a $50,000 home to your choice of nation abroad ...
Note: property details including prices are based on those listed by the vendors and agents contacted, and exchange rates are based on those on the 22nd of November 2009.
Buying on a Budget of $50,000 in Asia
In beautiful Sri Lanka a prime seaside plot has just come up for sale for bang on $50,000 ... and the best thing about this plot is that it comes to the market complete with an old house already on site. This means that anyone who buys here has a precedent set for the development of a home on this incredibly well located piece of land.
Located on the Kalpitiya peninsula, two and a half hours from Colombo, this property is going to be highly in demand simply because of the stunning nature of the location. You are surrounded by some of the best tourism hotspots, and you will own a seaside plot facing the Bar Reef which has the greatest biodiversity of any coral reef in the waters around India. The plot is one and a half acres in size, it is just north of Kalpitiya town, and this whole area is currently untouched – although this is bound to change in the near future as many plots along the beach have changed hands in the last 6 months.
You could either just buy and land bank, or you could get in now, build a dream home or a tourism facing business, and sit back and let the area around you appreciate in value.
If you fancy one of the fastest emerging markets in Asia instead for your home or investment real estate purchase, have you considered India? In the city of Chandigarh in the region of Mohali there is a new development of apartments coming to the market that you can buy in to from just $44,550. The development we are focused on is due for completion by the end of 2011, it is just 15 minutes away from the local airport and all the apartments have 3 bedrooms, and they are set within a gated community with good school and shopping access in the immediate vicinity.
Chandigarh is renowned internationally for its architecture and urban planning as it is the first planned city in India, and it has the highest per capita income in the entire nation – this could therefore make an exceptionally good investment property with decent rental yields perhaps.
An African Dream for Just $50,000
Those on the hunt for the ultimate bargain in terms of a fabulous holiday home overseas might like to consider an apart-hotel development on the Red Sea in Egypt. Located in the very popular resort of Hurghada, this development has properties for sale from $44,500 – and you can ask $20 a night in terms of room rental income when you are not using the property if you like.
The apartments in the hotel are sold fully furnished and so you can use them or let them out for an income immediately, and on site you have everything from a swimming pool to a gym, a spa to a pool bar and even a restaurant. As the Red Sea Riviera in Egypt has year-round sunshine, this could make for a perfect retreat or even an ideal investment in the sun.
If the thought of buying a property in Africa for you is more akin to owning a home somewhere like Kenya where you can go on safari rather than relax by the Red Sea beaches, then how about a home with a guest house for sale for a negotiable $50,000 in Shanzu, Mombasa in Kenya? The property is Arabic in design, it has high ceilings, is airy and cool – it was fully renovated in 1996 so just needs a little updating, and because it comes with its own separate guest house you could think about running it as a business. The property is set within its own walled compound and there are kennels onsite for guard dogs, it has its own underground well and the grounds in which the property is set are wooded.
Staying Close to Home in North America on $50,000
If you would like to relocate but stay closer to home, what about a 3 bedroom bungalow with garage, basement and large back garden for $39,696 in Trepassey, Newfoundland, Canada? The home offers ocean views from the front and rear, it has been internally decorated relatively recently – although, perhaps not to everyone’s tastes! And according to the current owners, you can watch boats coming into the local harbour while you barbeque in your own back garden, or you can sit on your front porch overlooking Fanny’s Pond and the Atlantic Ocean.
The house is set in a quiet cul de sac and it backs on to green belt land. You can enjoy great fishing, hunting and ATV-ing all year round, plus enjoy snowmobiling in winter. Locally the town is lively and you are only an hour and a half from a major city. Or, for even less you can buy yourself a run down but spacious home in Nova Scotia that is set in an absolutely ideal location. The 3 bedroom house for sale is in Digby on Acacia Valley Road, with homes around it selling well for anything up to $130,000 – and yet this project is on the market for just $21,388, leaving you over half your budget to turn this empty, unloved piece of real estate into a stunning family home.
According to the agent selling the property, Digby is a beautiful and historic town on the Annapolis Basin, with a close-knit community, year-round activities and a bustling summer tourist season. Take the ferry to the mainland or drive into the city of Halifax and either way you are in for some gorgeous scenery!
For those who are looking for a project or perhaps a new home for themselves, there are even bargains to be bagged in America you know. For example, a bank-repossessed house is for sale in Detroit that I defy anyone not to be blown away by. This house has 4 bedrooms, 3 receptions rooms, it is built in the Colonial style, has spacious gardens and according to research, could offer rental yields in the region of 20% simply because it is on the market for just $48,697. However, if such a spacious property is more than you had bargained on and you would maybe worry about the upkeep of such a home – what about an apartment in one of the best areas of Florida for just $49,000 instead? For sale are brand new condominiums in Orlando, close to the theme parks and set within a beautiful development of low-rise apartment buildings.
These apartments are quite possibly the ultimate investment property for anyone with $50,000 to spare – what is more, they are in pretty much permanently sunny Florida, so even if you only get a few days holiday a year yourself, you can still enjoy your purchase at any time of the year and rent it out for the rest of the time.
Heading South for Real Estate Bargains in South America with $50,000 in Your Pocket
Brazil is a great place to go on the hunt for well priced and well located property overseas – although a lot of what is for sale tends to be off-plan – which is less than ideal if you want to pack your bags and move tomorrow. However, for someone in such a hurry we have found a two-bedroom house that is a 3-minute walk from a beautiful beach, and it is on the market for just $41,958.
Located in Taiba, which is 60km from Fortaleza and an international airport, the property is spacious and well finished. Taiba is a charming former fishing village with good infrastructure and plenty of shops and restaurants. It is a perfect place for relaxing and it is becoming a very fashionable place to spend the weekends if you are Fortaleza’s wealthy citizens! International tourists are also falling for Taiba’s idyllic peace and charm – and the town’s international food festival is a particular draw.
If you are thinking of moving abroad and you want to start or run your own business, a better bet in South America for your $50,000 could be a vineyard in the Mendoza region of Argentina. Famous as the wine growing capital of the nation, Mendoza is also fast becoming an international tourism hotspot – with a lot of expatriates from around the world now calling this particular part of Argentina home.
For sale for between $36,000 and $48,000 is a private vineyard just south of San Rafael in Mendoza. The real estate offered for sale comprises of the full ownership of just over an acre of fine grapes in full production – with irrigation and net covering against hail damage. The sale price includes full management and administration by a professional staff as well!
The land is in a great location with the airport just 5 minutes down the road, and you have what the owner is dubbing a “residential alternative” – in other words you can construct a property on the land as well. All services such as water and electricity are on the doorstep of the property.
If you buy this you can produce 400 bottles of your own wine, with your own label a year! You also have the chance of getting involved as much or as little as you want in the wine making process. So, for your $50,000 you can have all the joys of owning a vineyard and producing your own wine, but without the hassle – and the sale price is from $36,000 without vines to $48,000 with full production vines.
Property Hunting in Europe on a Tight Budget of $50,000
Europe is not generally considered cheap when it comes to real estate – after all, some of the most expensive cities in the world are in Europe – think London, Paris, Milan ... but is it possible to bag some real estate bargains in this neck of the woods? You bet it is! First up we have an entire apartment block for sale in Germany. Now whilst you may wonder why we are featuring this – as Germany is not a popular place for expats to relocate to – could we just point out that the vast majority of Germans still rent their homes. Therefore, this could just be an exceptional investment opportunity.
The apartment block is in Apolda, a pretty market town 70km west of Leipzig in the Federal State of Thuringia. It comprises of 5 units, 2 of which are already let – with the 3 remaining requiring complete renovation. Bearing in mind that all other apartment blocks in the area have been renovated already, you would certainly be able to add massive value to this property which is on the market for just $40,705.
If you want emerging market value in Europe instead, you can find this in Albania in the form of beachfront apartments in a brand new development that are on the market from $50,547. Situated in Sarande, just 5 minutes walk from the beach, 10 minutes walk from the centre of the town and 15 minutes walk from the harbour, you can buy a studio, one or two bedroom apartment with sea views in a truly emerging nation ... or, you can buy a renovation project in France!
For $47,408 you can purchase a fabulous barn with beautiful countryside views that is just a 10 minute drive away from the charming towns of both Chabanais and Confolens. This barn is also just 5 minutes from the lakate at Roumazieres-Loubert, and only 30 minutes away from the airport at Limoges making it ideally located. It does need complete renovation however, as it is only a shell of a property – but if you want to get your teeth into something, this could be ideal.
Surely There are No Bargains in Australia for $50,000?
So finally we arrive at the very bottom of the world – well, almost! And we reach the Australian real estate marketplace ... where surely there are no bargains for our tight budget of just $50,000? Wrong! Even in Australia, where property has boomed and has not bust like it has in the rest of the world, you can bag a home for the tightest of property budgets. For your consideration is a small family home in Caragabal in New South Wales which is tipped to become a commercial mining town. Okay, so that fact may not thrill you – but looked at in another way, it could mean that any property is a veritable goldmine in investment and rental yield terms!
For sale for just $22,800 is a two bedroom, very basic cottage on a decent plot of land in a friendly township. If you are looking to run away and hide overseas this might be right or you – or if you want to take a punt on the local community being transformed if the local mine becomes commercial, this might be the best bet you put your money on this year! Alternatively, we have found you a house in need of renovation in Gulargambone in New South Wales. The house has 4 bedrooms, it is an hour from Dubbo which is an employment and tourism centre in the region, it is close to all the local amenities such as schools and shopping facilities – and because it is on the market for just $45,761, you could still have over $4,000 in your kitty to make it into a new home from home for you.
To conclude – it is clear that you do not have to break the bank to escape overseas, to find an investment that is potentially better than any pension fund or to find a fun place to frolic in the sun. $50,000 is not much in terms of real estate dollars – and yet, as you can see, if you hunt far and wide and think perhaps a little outside the box, you can find anything from a dream home overseas to an amazing investment opportunity abroad.
For details on the properties featured in this article subscribe to the Expat Daily News Newsletter – check the list titled International Real Estate for Less than $50,000. Subscription is free, it is easy to unsubscribe and we do not spam or sell email addresses to third parties.
INTERNATIONAL TRUSTS AND YOU
David Tanzer’s articles on the philosophy and practicalities of asset protection, “going offshore,” and international legal structuring have been included in these pages several times in the past. Below is an introduction to a favorite legal structure of his, the international trust, that is any trust legally sited outside one’s home jurisdiction.
The five principle benefits of utilizing an international trust are characterized as: (1) the opportunity to make investments that are otherwise off-limits to you, (2) maximum possible legal tax minimization, (3) financial privacy, (4) estate planning, and (5) asset protection. No disagreement on our part with any of those. Different people will priority-weight those differently. On point #5: “As a retired litigation attorney I can tell you first hand that there is a cancer in our society that has gotten grossly out of control. Too often, greedy plaintiffs and zealous lawyers are looking to win the lottery with your hard-earned money. There is no end in sight to our litigation gone crazy society ...”
Following the introduction he goes into the issue of how one manage assets through an international trust. Obviously an important question. Too often people are sold on this or that silver-bullet legal structure without looking ahead to how things are going to operate for – ideally – the rest of their lives. The idea of combining an international trust with a domestic LLC is introduced. Finally Mr. Tanzer readdresses the “Is offshore legal” – having dealt with the question in more depth in a previous article. More material is available on his personal website.
The main point we feel compelled to add to what is a typically good introduction to the arena by Mr. Tanzer is that there are many international structures in addition to trusts. Notwithstanding the “TrustProfessionals.com” domain name of this site, we see trusts as just one international option – and often not the most efficient one at that.
I am often asked what benefits an International Trust can provide for the average individual. Obviously, everyone’s needs and objectives vary, but there are some common themes that run constant for most people. Keep in mind that good planning integrates many different legal tools and techniques, and provides a synergy by using planning tools together.
Here are several things for you to consider in deciding if you can benefit from using an International Trust.
Trusts have been around for the better part of two thousand years under the common law system. International Trusts, designed to protect and preserve family assets, are simply using long established legal planning techniques to accomplish your particular set of objectives. Choosing the best trust laws to protect your assets is critical to reaching your goals.
First, an International Trust provides you an opportunity to diversify your assets and potentially achieve higher investment returns than you might accomplish at home. Due to over-burdensome S.E.C. and IRS rules and regulations, there are more and more financial institutions and investment companies outside of the U.S. that simply refuse to deal with U.S. citizens. Today, more than 2/3 of all available stock and equity opportunities are located outside of the U.S., providing far greater diversification than keeping all of your eggs in one basket with U.S. investments alone. A trust may open those doors for greater yields through proper financial planning.
And with so much financial and economic uncertainty at home there is not a better time than now to start looking outside your backyard for economic security.
Second, an International Trust should aim to provide the maximum possible legal tax minimization allowed by law. Minimizing taxes is neither illegal nor unpatriotic. You have the legal right to use each and every legal tax minimization technique to reduce your taxes. With the top 1% of all taxpayers paying 36% of all taxes, and the top 25% paying 84% of all taxes, there is certainly an overwhelming need to be smart with tax planning.
The trust is tax neutral, but using a trust, along with solid tax planning techniques is, simply good planning and may create some excellent opportunities during the planning process to save on your taxes.
Third, if financial privacy is important to you, then an International Trust can help accomplish this objective as well. A trust organized outside of the U.S. boundaries affords a wonderful opportunity to keep snooping eyes, and potential frivolous claimants, from going after your nest egg.
It is simply a way of flying under the radar screen. Seeking privacy does not mean you are doing something wrong or have something to hide, it just means that you do not need to share every aspect of your private life with anyone willing to pay a small fee to obtain all of your private financial and personal information.
Fourth, estate planning can, and should, be integrated into a properly drafted International Trust. Providing for the future needs of spouses, children, and others is a part of the planning process. Provisions for maximizing the Federal Estate Tax Exemptions, to reduce the taxable estate, are important. And too, allowing for spendthrift provisions for heirs, or sprinkling inheritances over a term of years, can often be accomplished. This is an opportunity to “speak from the grave.”
Fifth, an International Trust is an excellent tool to obtain a high level of asset protection. As a retired litigation attorney I can tell you first hand that there is a cancer in our society that has gotten grossly out of control. Too often, greedy plaintiffs and zealous lawyers are looking to win the lottery with your hard-earned money. There is no end in sight to our litigation gone crazy society, and any and all steps you can take to reduce your exposure by legitimate asset protection planning provides you an opportunity to control your future. Meeting this goal allows you to plan for successful retirement, leaving behind a legacy for your loved ones, or reaching other legitimate objectives.
Remember, the key is always to act now, before it is too late. But the above is only a starting point.
How Do I Manage Assets Through an International Trust?
Prospective clients frequently ask how an International Trust can be used for managing investments even though asset protection or global diversification might be motivating factors. While every situation is different, there are some basic factors to consider, regardless of where you reside, or the currency in which you invest your money.
Using an International Trust for investment purposes provides a number of financial planning opportunities, one of which is providing you with greater investment diversification in global markets that would not otherwise be available through domestic investments.
When I first review a new client’s personal financial situation, I begin with looking at the big picture. Understanding the asset types, how they are titled, and the value of those assets, is an essential starting point.
Having a clear understanding of what makes a client tick, and why, is critical before recommending options for a solid planning structure.
By way of example, let us say you are middle-aged with various asset types (ever note how “middle age” is a moving target?). You own a home with $275,000 in equity, two real estate investment properties, one with $25,000 equity and the other with $290,000 in equity.
Let us say your personal property (jewelry, art, etc.) is valued at $35,000 and you have $150,000 in tax-deferred savings and another $225,000 in various stocks, bonds, and cash acquired with after tax dollars.
Even if the value of your assets is more or less – or you own a business, a professional practice or other assets – the following concepts are similar.
In this example, most would say you have done well with a current net worth of approximately $1,000,000. Since you still have earning-power years ahead, most likely mortgages and other debts will be paid down, investments over time will grow, and deferred income savings will increase.
Even though changes in the types of investments and values in future years are also certain to occur, for now we have a snapshot of your hypothetical financial situation.
The following are just a few factors to consider when setting up an International Trust. Let’s also say you presently own all investments in your name and seek greater diversification, higher yields and asset protection. If you are a U.S. citizen, trading and investing in your own name limits your opportunities to only 1/3 of the world’s equity and bond investments as you are mostly locked out of global opportunities. This is due to the over-burdening U.S. federal regulations imposed on foreign institutions that often simply refuse to deal directly with U.S. citizen-investors as a result.
Alternatively, if you invested through an International Trust, you could open the doors to investing in quality equities and bonds found throughout the world. You and the trust will still be subject to U.S. taxes and compliances issues, but diversification and greater investment opportunities can be found.
Naturally, you also seek greater asset protection with your real estate investments, home, stocks, bonds, cash, and other personal property in a litigation-gone-mad-society. Since all of the assets are presently in your name personally – most of which took a lifetime to accumulate – one lawsuit could wipe out everything overnight. Using an International Trust can avail you to asset protection that simply is impossible to find at home; however, there are offshore jurisdictions that are second to none for outstanding wealth preservation.
A common misconception is that sufficient insurance will solve any lawsuit concern. But what happens if the claim is excluded from coverage? Or, if a multi-million claim is in excess of liability limits? Worse yet, what happens if the insurance company goes bankrupt and you are left holding the bag? I have witnessed all of these examples occur to unsuspecting good people, time and time again.
It is always a significant risk holding title to assets in your own name. The better approach is to hold title to assets in separate entities owned by an International Trust you create, and then you use and control those entities and the assets therein. Separating title from use and control is an essential part in planning to protect your assets. More on this topic in another newsletter ...
One example is placing title to your home in a single member limited liability company (the LLC would be owned by the trust), which may provide for full tax advantages found in home ownership ... you would be the manager of the LLC, maintaining control with rights of occupancy. This could effectively provide an opportunity for safeguarding the home and $275,000 in equity from the failings of other investments and from personal lawsuits.
Then, stocks, bonds and cash totaling $225,000 could be held in a “Nest Egg” LLC. Since you are the LLC manager, you maintain management and control over the investment decisions. Keeping assets like stocks, bonds and cash separate from riskier assets, like investment real estate, for example, is generally considered safe and conservative planning.
The other personal property totaling $35,000 (the jewelry and art) could also be placed within the Nest Egg LLC, so long as none of the assets had high risk factors. An important question to consider is how to treat the two real estate investment properties. For example, should they both be held in one LLC? Or, should they be separated into two different companies?
Significantly, risky assets like investment real estate (and businesses and professional practices) should always be segregated from other less risky assets.
An argument for each real estate investment to be placed into its own entity is that litigation against the investment with only $25,000 in equity will not expose it to the other real estate investment with $290,000 in equity. A small disadvantage is the cost and additional reporting requirements, which are generally minimal.
Alternatively, you might consider keeping both real estate investments into one LLC for now if the lesser equity investment is a low risk, and then segregate them in the future if risk intensifies, or as equity value increase. Otherwise, two separate LLCs would be a risk-adverse choice.
If instead of real estate investments you own a business or professional practice, a similar analysis to the above applies, with other details to figure into the equation. Keep in mind that certain types of investments could have a negative tax consequence if transferred into an LLC, so care must be taken with the type of assets conveyed.
For example, great caution must be taken before transferring assets considered tax-deferred. Transferring the above $150,000 tax-deferred savings into an entity could, and probably will, trigger negative tax consequences. However, there are some exemptions to this rule, particularly if you are in the process of taking distributions at retirement age.
Sounds like you are complicating life when using an International Trust?
Not really. Once the trust is set up it is generally user friendly. And the peace of mind often found in carefully protecting assets can not be over-emphasized.
I have also repeatedly found that once a client’s structure is properly established, tax advantages are more easily identified and achieved, instead of being overlooked. And too, once you gain more confidence in investing beyond the shores of your homeland, diversification and better yields are more easily realized. An added benefit to using an International Trust for investment is that the trust agreement is a private document. It is not filed in a public domain (like company documents or probated wills, etc.), achieving greater levels of privacy.
As noted above, integrating retirement planning, estate planning and asset protection into an International Trust is generally part of the overall planning process for our clients. Naturally, the terms of the International Trust must be carefully drafted, and the entity formalities must always be satisfied. A plan that is “one-size fits all” should be avoided, since it rarely fits anyone.
And importantly, when your International Trust structure is created, it needs to be flexible enough to allow you to adjust to your objectives as they change over time. Issues of fraudulent conveyances, collateralized assets, control, and other legal topics come into play, but are beyond the scope of discussion today. Still, an International Trust is a relatively uncomplicated and a commonly used planning structure for investment purposes and asset protection. While there are common themes that run between many clients we consult with regularly, everyone is different. Customizing your plan to meet your needs is essential to reaching and maintaining personal objectives.
Always make certain that a qualified, experienced professional can customize a plan to meet your needs. Since planning structures can be ultimately challenged in a courtroom if you are sued, your planner should have courtroom savvy and planning should begin with these skills and objectives in mind.
And careful planning for flexibility should always be considered to allow your structure to adjust to the changes in your investments, the changes in value, and the changes that are certain to occur in your life.
But is Offshore Legal?
First, a definition of “offshore.”
Offshore is anything that is not “onshore” within the boundaries of where you presently live. In other words, anyplace outside your homeland is considered “offshore.” Every country is offshore to every other place. And each jurisdiction has its own ever-changing laws and political aspirations.
With approximately 195 countries worldwide, and over 6 billion people globally, there is a huge world outside the boundaries of where you call home. It is true the world is a varied and different place, and offers much to discover and learn. Maybe this is why moving capital and people offshore is so “foreign” to so many people. It should not be, but I hear the same question repeatedly by those I consider educated and well-reasoned people:
The answer is “yes,” it is perfectly legal to move family and property outside their homeland. And the reasons for going offshore are many. In most cases, even when you continue to live at home, you can legally open up an offshore bank account for increased financial privacy and enhanced asset protection.
Plus, when going offshore you have the opportunity for increased investment protection and diversification from fluctuating currencies, since you have many currency choices rather than limiting yourself to your local currency. You can freely hold US dollars, or euros, Swiss Francs, British Sterling, Japanese yen, or Canadian, Australian or New Zealand dollars, and most other currencies from around the world.
And owning alternative currencies or other global investments can be held right at home, or offshore. International investments make sense because they are in tune with the deepest aspects of reality. Nations and borders are “illusions” defined by contemporary local political agendas. Too frequently those agendas are the flavor of the month determined by the political party in control at the moment.
Economics and human nature pass beyond these artificial barriers ... as they should. We call our global actions free trade, but they are more.
International investments, global living and multinational trade are nature’s expression of how people should be ... human beings trading with one another, not Americans, Canadians, Chinese, Australians, British and so forth using past ideals to separate themselves.
If you are thinking of going offshore – your person or your property – you are not only “legally” in the right, you are a lot wiser individual if you take advantage of global opportunities. Your right to go offshore is one of the most fundamental requirements of freedom ... and you do not need a law to give you that right!
Over the long run, nations, politics and borders are illusions, and social and political change is inevitable. It is important to recognize the changes happening before us right now so we can learn to adapt to borders controls and regulatory regimes that interfere with the free movement of people and capital.
And unfortunately, the future appears even more restrictive as more draconian laws and tighter controls are constantly being implemented interfering with the basic right of free movement of persons and property.
What is important is that you recognize in advance the pitfalls and traps before going “offshore” to avoid bureaucratic nightmares.
Want to learn more?
Offshore Living & Investing, and the new 2nd edition How to Legally Protect Your Assets, are two good books to get started. I admit I am biased as I authored the books, but see for yourself by looking through the table of contents found under the Past Articles link at DavidTanzer.com.
Avoiding lawsuits, identifying the best and worst jurisdictions for offshore trusts, international banking, wealth preservation and privacy, living offshore with tax free income, border and currency controls and trends, dual citizenship and second passports, new global tax burdens, denouncing U.S. citizenship, avoiding common asset protection problems, and much, much more, are just a few of the topics I cover in more detail in our free newsletters.
Green Venture Fund Raises $1 Billion
A Silicon Valley investor with a penchant for green technology raised $1 billion for a new venture fund. His vision: Science experiments and clean technologies to lower earth’s carbon footprint.
Vinod Khosla, the California businessman who has spent hundreds of millions of his own money on clean-tech deals, said Khosla Ventures will fund start-ups that focus on clean energy, sustainability and information technology. It will make investments of up to $15 million from its main $800 million fund and offer seed money to the tune of $2 million to early-stage ideas from its smaller $275 million fund.
“It is really geared toward science experiments,” said Khosla, the founder of Sun Microsystems. “The goal there is very much to take risks that nobody else will take.” In trying economic times, it is certainly a lofty goal. The National Venture Capital Association said Khosla’s fund has amassed more capital than any other venture capital firm since 2007. It is also the largest first-time fund since 1999.
And because of shrinking returns, investors have been favoring small funds and staying away from bigger, riskier deals with alternative energy companies. Venture capitalists put $513 million into 83 clean-tech companies in the first half of 2009, down from $2 billion into 139 companies last year, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
But it is just the latest endeavor for Khosla, a prominent entrepreneur from India who dreamt of starting his own technology company when he was 16 and first heard about Intel starting up. At age 20, Khosla tried – unsuccessfully – to start a soymilk company geared toward customers in India who lacked refrigerators. But by the time he earned a business degree at Stanford University in 1980, he was well on his way. He started Sun Microsystems in 1982 and later joined top venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
In 2004, Khosla left the firm to spend more time with his children and to take on “science experiments,” including “social impact” ventures. In the five years since, he has invested more than $400 million of his own money into companies that reduce dependence on coal and oil or increase energy efficiency.
One of his investments is a company that is working on compressor-free air conditioners, while another, Calera, makes “green cement for a blue planet” by taking the carbon dioxide from burning coal, driving it through water, converting it to carbonate and producing cement.
For Khosla, it is “really about reinventing the infrastructure of society, which is the only way we will get the carbon footprint down,” he said. “We are not afraid to fail.”
Cheap Energy for Your Beach House in Nicaragua
Rancho Santana in southwest Nicaragua is my home. I left the rat race in California and moved here four years ago with my wife and our two young daughters. We can walk from our house to the beach. What a front yard! I still pinch myself as I look out at the ocean while enjoying my morning coffee.
We rarely turn on the air conditioning. A fresh and constant breeze keeps temperatures comfortable. You see, strong trade winds blow from the Caribbean to the Pacific (east to west) with nothing in the way to slow them down ... no large mountain ranges or vast plains. Lake Nicaragua dominates the geography allowing these winds to blow uninterrupted out to the Pacific Ocean. The result: a constant and refreshing breeze.
The winds here have another potential benefit. At Rancho Santana we are only 50 miles from the border with Costa Rica. In terms of wind energy, we live smack in what is called the “red zone.” This means excellent conditions for the generation of wind energy. Down the road and just outside Rivas, 40 turbines have been commissioned and are pumping energy into the grid. At Rancho Santana we would like to be energy independent. We would also like to help the local community by improving the availability of energy.
We recently had an expert ... a guy by the name of Jim Ryan ... do a study on the feasibility of generating wind energy at the ranch. Jim is based across the border in Costa Rica and is the President of ASI Power and Telemetry, S.A. He says that the location of Rancho Santana is perfect for wind-driven power generation, especially some mountains ridges on the property.
We have the potential to generate more clean energy than our 3,000-acre community could ever use. Better still, with so much land and such low densities, no resident would even find their views encroached upon.
Nicaragua has abundant sources of renewable energies: Wind, solar, hydro and geothermal. The government has ambitious plans to grow this sector. They want and need more domestic energy sources. The problem today is these projects are capital intensive. The government is looking for private sector partners to invest. These are thin on the ground as global capital markets have contracted.
We will look to do our own thing. We will fund our energy source and help out our neighbors along the way. With our own energy and food source (the Pacific ocean), the world can huff and puff. We will still be enjoying our piece of paradise. The news stations will be turned off. But that will be our choice!
Canadians in Mexico – What’s the Draw?
If you are a Canadian in Mexico, you already know the powerful draw of Mexico’s miles of sandy beaches and dozens of cozy mountain villages, especially during the Canadian winter.
Who in their right mind would drag out the tire chains and fire up the snow blower when they could be swinging in a hammock with a cool drink, basking in the sun while the waves lap on the shore?
Beginning each fall, the annual migration of Canadian snowbirds begins. And in increasing numbers, the vans and truck campers and fifth-wheels are passing right through the southern U.S. to destinations in sunny Mexico. Not only is Mexico cheaper than the U.S., but Canadians in Mexico also get a big dose of interesting culture to boot.
They light in different places ... west coast towns like Ensenada, Puerto Vallarta, and Mazatlan. East coast hot spots like Progresso, Puerto Aventuras, Majajual, and Chetumal. Throughout the central highlands in mountain towns like Ajijic, San Miguel de Allende, and Queretaro.
And it is not just the travel-trailer set that makes the journey – thousands of Canadian snowbirds own their own beach and mountain property. Real estate prices in Mexico can be ridiculously cheap compared to comparable prices up north. And in the case of beach properties and scenic mountain condos, rental income is possible year-around thanks to Mexico’s warm climate.
The beauty, expansiveness, and variety of Canada is undeniable. And the low price, warmth, and fun of Mexico is unrivaled.
Canadians in Mexico have the best of both worlds ... half the year up north, and half in the sunny south. And a growing number of people in the U.S. are getting the picture, too.
Also read “For Canadian Expats, its Hard to Beat Yucatan” and “Favorite Haunts of Overseas Canadians”.
Ecuador Bypasses 2,000 Drug Patents to Provide Needed Medicines
In a move to combat what some view as a monopoly by pharmaceutical companies, Ecuador declared last week that it would bypass more than 2,000 drug patents to begin local production of needed medicines at affordable prices.
A consortium of 14 drug companies including Bayer, Pfizer, and GSK have accepted the decision in a statement made through a Washington pharmaceutical association, saying “We accept the democratic decision ... to legally implement this extraordinary measure. No legal right is superior to the requirements of public health.”
The move to bypass drug patents comes as a recent report showed that foreign firms control more than 80% of the Ecuadoran pharmaceutical market, causing Ecuador authorities to claim that a virtual monopoly on some brands of drugs led to skyrocketing drug prices. In one instance, the cost of an antiviral drug made by a major pharmaceutical company dropped from $350 per dose to $60 per dose when manufactured locally.
“High costs, insufficient production and a lack of research have contributed to the fact that millions of people do not enjoy equitable access to medicines in developing countries such as Ecuador,” said Andres Ycaza, president of Ecuador’s Intellectual Property Institute.
Placing public health needs above the economic interests of private companies is becoming common government practice throughout much of Latin America, one factor that makes health care much cheaper than comparable care in the U.S.
This cost difference contributes to a rising number of U.S. citizens moving abroad part – or full-time to lower medical expenses without sacrificing quality of care.
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