My first retirement plan—10 years before I moved to Ecuador—was to spend winters in Arizona and summers living on our 44-foot boat in the Chesapeake Bay. We planned to spend part of the season docked in the small town of Charlestown, Maryland, and the rest of the time cruising up and down the Continue reading
Why The Languedoc Has Changed Its Name But Not Its Attraction To Property Buyers
It can change names as many times as it likes, but the wine producing Languedoc area of southern France remains one of my favorite places in the world. More and more people are getting to know its wines, but property prices don’t appear to be reflecting the area’s growing appeal.
The Languedoc region is sometimes referred to as “The Other South of France” because it is not neighboring Provence or the Côte d’Azur, but it is geographically the most southern part of France, with Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur to the east, the old Midi-Pyrénées to the west, the Auvergne to the north, and Spain to the south.
Historically Languedoc was a province of France, it’s only in recent times that Roussillon was added, turning the area into a region. The original Languedoc has a fascinating history and even its own language, Occitan, which is similar to Catalán, from just over the border in Spain.
It’s from “Occitan” that the region’s new name is derived. At the beginning of this year, Languedoc-Roussillon was merged with the neighboring Midi-Pyrénées region, and Continue reading
Quick Fix European Residency On A Mediterranean Island—Part II
If Europe is on your list of places to explore, but you are worried you won’t be able to afford it, a visit to Crete just might make you change your mind. Though not quite as inexpensive as parts of Southeast Asia and Latin America, Crete’s cost of living is not that far off those Southern Hemisphere options. The other notable benefit that comes with a life on Crete, with the purchase of 250,000 euros of property, is a residency visa—more on that in a moment.
In last week’s Overseas Property Alert, I introduced you to the city of Chania on the northern coast of western Crete. This week we continue our exploration of the northern coastline with a look at the Akrotiri Peninsula, a head-shaped outcrop of land to the northeast of Chania.
Crete is the largest of all the Greek islands at 260 km long and between 20 km and 60 km wide—big enough and high enough in places to have a long range of snow-topped mountains, a well-developed tourism industry, four major cities, two international airports, a cruise ship port, a well-organized bus service, a NATO base (once a U.S. Air Force base), an international school, and all the usual mod-cons of a Westernized country.
Recession Hit And Down-Trodden?
Greece’s shaky economy may make you wonder if it’s a place that should be on your radar. Continue reading
Quick Fix European Residency On A Mediterranean Island—Part I
Its history dates back 4,000 years, its beaches are superb, the Mediterranean water is crystal clear, the healthy Mediterranean Diet originates here, and the sun shines for 300 days a year. This is the island of Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, a little bigger than the State of Delaware.
Crete is divided into four so-called ‘regional units’: Chania (pronounced and sometimes written “Hania”), Rethymo, Heraklion (sometimes called Iraklio), and Lasithi.
Over the next two weeks Overseas Property Alert visits Chania, with a spotlight on Chania City this week and the Akrotiri Peninsula next week.
Apart from the sun, sea, history, and food, there are two overseas living issues that make Crete particularly interesting: The cost of living is low and there is an Continue reading
Alicante: The Essence Of Spain
If Spain isn’t on your list of possible retirement destinations, you really should pay it a visit. While it isn’t as cheap as Southeast Asia or parts of Latin America, the cost of living is quite reasonable, and Spain today is a modern, developed country—nothing Third World about it. You might just be pleasantly surprised, as I was.
This week, we continue our exploration of Spain’s Mediterranean coast, heading southward from Valencia to lovely little Alicante. There is a small but solid expat community there, built around a core of Brits. (Brits are pretty much everywhere, I notice.)
Madrid, with 3.2 million inhabitants, is Spain’s largest city. Barcelona is about half the size of Madrid. Valencia is about half of Barcelona, and Alicante about half of Valencia, with fewer than 350,000 in the city proper. But with each step down in size, I didn’t notice that anything was lost. Rather, the essence of Spain just seemed to become more distilled.
Alicante, also known as Alacant in Valencian, sits on the Costa Blanca of Spain. Although its roots are ancient, today Alicante is a modern city, with a bustling centro filled with chic designer shops and department stores, equally chic people, a harbor crowded with envy-arousing yachts, and a sleek tram/light-rail system.
And yet, Alicante still retains the feel of Old Spain. Most businesses observe the afternoon siesta. Friends who meet by chance on the sidewalk stop to Continue reading
Exploring Valencia, Spain
Spain has long been a popular destination for casual visitors and retirees alike. A convivial culture, generally agreeable climate, reasonable cost of living, and superb food are just a few of the reasons for Spain’s perpetual popularity.
But Spain is quite diverse—really more a loosely-knit group of largely autonomous and disparate comunidades more so than a single country. Faced with such diversity, where should you begin your explorations?
One of my favorite cities is Valencia. Although it is Spain’s third largest city, with a population of around 800,000 (double that in the metro area), Valencia feels smaller. It has a more relaxed ambience than either Madrid or Barcelona, and it’s considerably cheaper than those larger cities, as well. But don’t imagine that you have to give up a lot just because Valencia comes with a lower price tag. Not at all.
Valencia lies on the Mediterranean on a stretch known as the Costa del Azahar, or Orange Blossom Coast. It is easily reached either by direct flight, or Continue reading
Costa del Sol, Spain
1 euro equals US$1.11
Spain is currently the third most-visited country in the world, behind only France and the United States, and is expected to break through the 66 million visitor barrier by the end of this year. It’s this sustained tourism performance that’s made Spain an excellent market for the income investor.
These impressive tourism figures are the result of several factors.
The 2008 downturn forced the tourism sector to become more competitive in pricing and also forced it to broaden the marketing message. It’s promoted as more than just a “sun ‘n sand” destination for vitamin D-starved northern Europeans, but also as the location of some of Europe’s oldest cities, dating from the Phoenician and Roman eras (e.g., Cadiz, Seville, Barcelona, Málaga, Valencia, Córdoba).
Spain is also the location of 44 UNESCO World Heritage sites (only Italy and China have more) and the location of some of the best food in the world, with 3 Spanish restaurants currently in the world’s top 10
Living well is very affordable; 2014 figures from Eurostat—the statistical bureau for the E.U.—showed Spain’s food and drink to be below the E.U. average. And the strength of U.S. dollar against the euro is undoubtedly a contributing factor in the 25% plus increase in visitors from the States in July and August, 2015.
And if beaches are your thing, Spain’s beaches and marinas have more Blue Flag ratings than Continue reading
Plus: “Why Should I Get A Visa In Colombia?”
Beautiful, unspoiled beaches, warm weather, and friendly, English-speaking people. New Zealand fits the bill just about perfectly for anyone wanting to escape the harsh North American winter.
And thanks to a dramatic shift in currency exchange rates, U.S. dollar-holders now have 38% more buying power in New Zealand than they had just last year.
The countryside and beaches are amazing, but now and then properties can come with an added bonus: world-class fishing.
Since legendary American angler Zane Grey described the Bay of Islands as “the Angler’s El Dorado” it’s been widely recommended as New Zealand’s top fishing destination. But there are other lesser-known places in Northland where there is good potential for short-term rental of your property when you are not using it.
Capital gain is an added bonus due to steady price rises in the Northland property market throughout 2015. The latest monthly Government House Price Index shows property prices rose 6.1% in the Far North.
Why New Zealand Strikes A Chord With U.S. Buyers
New Zealand has one of the lowest population densities in the world. With about 15 people per square kilometer, it’s roughly half as dense on average as the United States. Its largest city, Auckland, is one of the world’s most livable cities and Continue reading
Aug. 25, 2015
Dear Overseas Property Alert Reader,
As of today, I have 99 pages of reader questions—of which, some 40 are unanswered.
So I’m going to hand this issue over to the readers of Overseas Property Alert. This is a good way to cover a number of topics of interest to readers… topics that may not warrant an entire article on their own.
Plus, it’ll cut down on my backlog of questions…
Hey, what happened?
I am quite surprised that Mr. Harrison has not responded to my email, which I submitted well over a month ago. If I don’t hear back from you, I’ll assume you have no clue on how to respond to my question.
Thank you anyway.
I love guys like this. They sign up for a free e-letter, and then they’re unhappy that they didn’t get a free personal consulting service along with it. I wonder if he writes to the editor of The Economist for Continue reading
April 7, 2015 Algarve, Portugal €1=US$1.08
Dear Overseas Property Alert Reader,
When it comes to sun, sea, and sand, southern Europe offers two attractive options on its warm, southern coastline that are known throughout the world—Portugal’s Algarve and Spain’s Costa del Sol. Each share a similar history of Roman and Moorish patrimony, excellent fresh seafood, and sunny idyllic climates. Owning a property and living in either of these locations would be a dream for almost anyone.
However, the property markets of the two regions differ in both value and affordability, with the Algarve being a better choice for those who want to live in the sunshine.
Let’s take a look at both of these popular regions. Continue reading