Investing Fundamentals

Learn the basics on how to invest and purchase property abroad…

Santos: Brazil’s Bustling Island City With Gardens Galore

Aerial view of Santos city, county seat of Baixada Santista, on the coast of Sao Paulo state, Brazil

A Tale of Two Cities, Part 1: Santos

Likely you’ve never heard of Santos. Almost certainly you’ve never heard of her sister city across the estuary, Guarujá. But every Brazilian has.

These cities lie about one hour southeast of the city of São Paulo. Each is situated on a large coastal island, and though each boasts lovely beaches, they are quite different in most other respects. For now, we’ll get to know Santos.

One Of The Best Cities In Brazil—But Don’t Take My Word For It

Santos is a bustling city of about 420,000. It is, in fact, generally conceded to be the busiest port in all of South America, servicing both container and cruise ships.

But Santos isn’t the grimy blue-collar town you might imagine. Around 2010, with the discovery of oil and gas reserves offshore, there was a sudden inrush of white-collar jobs. Also, many of the locals are well-paid professionals who actually work in the city of São Paulo, but who make the commute daily because they prefer to live in Santos.

Santos, in fact, regularly appears on lists of the top cities in Brazil in which to live. In 2016, Santos ranked #6 among the best cities in Brazil as determined by the United Nations, considering factors such as average level of education, life expectancy, and income. Santos was rated in 2021 as the best city in all of Brazil for those 60 and over. In a country where people are given to complaining about the government and services, everyone here speaks highly and proudly of Santos, of its superior services, safety, and high quality of life.

Santos is attractive as well. Nature has blessed her. Here, as in so many cities in southeastern Brazil, morros, those tree-covered cones of granite, so quintessentially Brazilian, nestle along the coastline. Broad beaches are washed by the South Atlantic. The unbroken gardens running along the beach are considered by Guinness to be the largest in the world.

I really like the way Santos organizes its beaches—and I’ve seen plenty here, up and down Brazil’s extensive coastline. The beaches are Brazilian, and yet organized—two words not typically used in conjunction. There are bike lanes, and the calçadão (broad beach sidewalk) for pedestrians. Permanent kiosks serve up seafood and icy-cold beers.

On the weekends, locals and daytrippers throng stalls and pushcarts, which offer everything from handicrafts to churros (wickedly delicious tubes of deep-fried pastry stuffed with chocolate or caramel cream). The beaches are broad, in many stretches a full two city blocks from the calçadão to the water’s edge. You stand surrounded by clutches of beach umbrellas of every color, and the sounds of laughter, volleyball, beach soccer, and, of course, the crash of the waves. Close to the kiosks, the smell of the sea gives way to that of churrasco, Brazilian-style barbecue. Ahhhh…

Paradise? Well, if I’m picky, the sand here has clay in it. It’s grayish in spots and isn’t as sugary soft as over in Guarujá, which we’ll visit soon enough. But there are certainly worse places to hang your hat!

If you tire of the beaches, Santos boasts an aquarium and a number of museums, including ones dedicated to coffee, the navy, fishing, soccer, and one specifically to Pelé, widely regarded as the greatest soccer player of all time, who played most of his career right here. There are botanical gardens and an orchid park housing a small zoo. You can tour the historic district (Santos dates all the way back to 1546) by streetcar. And there are good restaurants everywhere, offering seafood of course, but really almost any type of cuisine you might want.

Santos has generally fine weather, too. While there are four seasons, even in winter (June to August), daily highs often reach 70°F, and lows rarely fall below 55°F. The intermittent gusts from the south are invigorating. Summers are hot, but not oppressively so, and these days most homes have air conditioning.

Aerial view of Santos city, buildings on the waterfront avenue, county seat of Baixada Santista, on the coast of Sao Paulo state, Brazil.
Adobe Stock/Cifotart

Brazil, Only Better

I find myself liking the people here as well. They take pride in their city, and despite the continuing economic crisis in Brazil, the city provides a high level of services, and it is quite evident that the city is well managed, from garbage pickups to bus service to hospitals. You have to give credit to the paulistas for this.

Brazilians universally, if sometimes begrudgingly, acknowledge São Paulo to be the most organized and industrious of all the Brazilian states, and I would have to concur. It doesn’t hurt that Santos is one of the state’s—indeed, the country’s—wealthier cities.

While Santos forges ahead through the economic downturn, there are many apartments currently on the market. Many are second homes or investment properties, and their owners want to unload them. It’s not quite the buyer’s market you’ll find over in Guarujá, but there are definitely deals available.

Getting The Lay Of The Land Around Santos

Santos is located on a large island which it shares with the city of São Vicente—which was the first permanent Portuguese settlement in what would become Brazil.

The most attractive areas lie on the south side of the island, where the beaches are strung along an arc facing the bay and the South Atlantic.

While there are many nice areas here in which to rent or buy, the most desirable bairros (city districts) in my view are Boqueirão, which is centrally located, and Ponta da Praia, to the east, where the estuary empties into the sea. Another bairro to consider is Gonzaga, which includes the central shopping district; it’s convenient to everything, if perhaps a bit noisy. I would avoid the western end of Santos, adjacent São Vicente, as there are two favelas nearby.

Although the beach is undeniably attractive, I suggest also looking at properties one to two blocks inland, for a couple of reasons. The first is that in Santos, buses run along the beach avenue, so unless you get a unit facing away from the beach, you’ll have to contend with traffic noise and also dust if you are on one of the lower floors. And marisia, the salt air, slowly corrodes appliances.

By moving just a couple of blocks away from the beach, you’ll not only avoid these problems, but find cheaper rents, and also lower prices in pharmacies, markets, and restaurants. It’s the same in beach communities everywhere.

It’s a fairly straightforward matter to rent a furnished unit here for 90 days on what is termed a por temporada (for the season) lease. Standard long-term contracts in Brazil are for 30 months, but it is common these days to add a clause which allows the renter out after 12 months with no penalties. Traditionally, property owners have asked for a fiador, or co-signer, for long-term leases, but now most will accept a deposit held in escrow. Surprisingly, many owners actually prefer to rent to foreigners.

Santos has a lot to offer, so it’s not surprising that it’s a bit pricey—by Brazilian standards. But for those with dollars, pounds, or euros, Santos offers the most elusive of beasts: a truly desirable beachside location, at very reasonable prices.

11 High-Risk Property Investments To Avoid

House village lake forrest green grass

Don’t Invest In These Overseas Properties

Buying property overseas is a great way to reliably increase profits over the long term.

It diversifies your portfolio and lowers your investment risk. It can offer a reliable Plan B, too.

But not all types of overseas property are created equal. Some are investment disasters waiting to happen.

Here are 11 types of property you should never buy overseas…

1. Timeshare Or Fractional Ownership

While timeshares aren’t exactly scams, they are one of the worst overseas property investment types out there.

Their reputation is so bad that about a decade ago, the timeshare industry rebranded itself as “fractional ownership,” but the situation remains the same.

The sales pitch is: You buy a share in a property, which entitles you to use that property for a set period of time every year.

It can seem like an appealing idea at first. However, there are many problems involved in these deals:

  1. If you buy two weeks’ use of the property (1/26th of the annual use of the property) you will pay much more than 1/26th of the value of the property. The timeshare developer keeps the extra money.
  2. You can’t stay in your property for free because there are usually exorbitant “cleaning and maintenance fees” to be paid every year. (The timeshare manager keeps most of these.) These fees are often nearly as much as it would cost you to rent the timeshare for the two weeks if you didn’t own it.
  3. You are committed to using the same property at the same time every year, unless you can find someone else with a timeshare in a place you like with whom you can swap your occupancy time.

Timeshares are a lose-lose scenario.

Instead of buying a timeshare, find a property where the down payment costs the same as your timeshare, get bank financing, and …

Comparing Investments In Real Estate: Northern Cyprus Vs. Portugal

Northern Cyprus to the left and Porto, Portugal to the right

Property Investment In Northern Cyprus Vs. Portugal

How do you decide which real estate investment destination is best for you?

Comparing real estate investments in your home country is easy because information on the market is available. You are generally comparing apples to apples.

When comparing real estate markets of countries that are thousands of miles apart, with different economies, cultures, and legal systems, it’s a different scenario.

There isn’t a single number I can pick to show you which country is better. And the investment that is best for you is not necessarily going to be the best for everybody.

I’ll illustrate this by comparing Northern Cyprus’s burgeoning market to Portugal’s more mature property market. Despite appearing similar at first glance, they offer vastly different investment opportunities…

Northern Cyprus

Size: 3,354 square kms
Population: 326,000

Adobe Stock/Vladimir Sazonov

Nestled in the northeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea is the Republic of Cyprus, the third-largest island on the Med. Northern Cyprus is the Turkish Cypriot side of the Republic of Cyprus.

It’s not part of the EU while the Republic of Cyprus is. Despite this, business continues as usual on both sides of the border, and residents and vacationers travel freely across the island.

With long sandy beaches and an ambiance of ancient culture and history, Northern Cyprus is the new lifestyle and investment destination for pioneering investors. It’s also possibly the cheapest place to live in the Western World.

This tiny country has a near-perfect climate, with up to 340 days of sunshine every year and temperatures that rarely rise above …

Things To Consider Buying Property With A Different Currency

Closeup rolled of variety banknote and multi currency around the world

My son is a massive soccer fan. He also lives by numbers.

Every morning, I hand over my phone for 10 minutes so he can check on the latest results and stats from the English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, and more.

The one stat he always tells me—maybe the only early-morning conversation I get from him—is “win probability.”

He needs to know how it’s looking for his team, Liverpool FC, in their next match. Of course, it’s not enough for him to know this ahead of the game…

As a soccer match is in play, he’ll be checking in on the win probability for as long as it updates—no matter how little time is left to the final whistle… no matter how many goals Liverpool are up.

I understand this kind of number-watching can be comforting. But how important are numbers when everything appears to be going well anyway?

As you approach buying a property overseas, it’s important to ask yourself this…

Especially when it comes to dealing in a foreign currency…

Because that’s where numbers can get really interesting… but also confusing.

You know, of course, that you can gain from your property purchase when there’s a strong currency advantage. But this also has the power to work against you, depending on …

Complete Guide To Buy A Rental Property

Boats in blue waters in Malta with residential buildings on the backgrounds on a sunny afternoon

Checklist For Buying Income-Producing Properties Overseas

Buying a rental property abroad offers a myriad of benefits.

With one transaction you can diversify your market and currency risks, get higher long-term returns on your investment, access undervalued markets, and set yourself on a path of adventure.

Buying your first overseas rental can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be… You don’t need to figure out the entire process by yourself.

I’m here to give you the simple steps you need to take to make an informed decision about whether to buy an income-producing property abroad.

I’ve personally bought and sold real estate in half a dozen countries, and I’ve assisted clients in purchasing and selling hundreds of properties across …

How To Determine When To Cash Out Of Your U.S. Investments

Neighborhood street sunset panorama of modern upper middle class single family houses

You Gotta Know When To Fold ‘Em

Kenny Rogers said it best: The most crucial piece of information in investing is knowing when to cash out of a market.

All U.S. asset classes are currently overinflated.

The bond market just sent us a dire warning about the future of the U.S. economy.

All the economic indicators are flashing red.

One of these warning alarms is accurate over 90% of the time…

Knowing what these alarms are warning of could ensure you don’t take a financial hit like you did in 2008.

By acting now, you can insulate yourself from this impending crisis.

What’s better, you’ll have not one but two opportunities to turn this impending crisis into cash profits.

It’s not a question of “if” or “maybe.” A recession is on the way.

Economic models are famous for their vagueness, but the IYC model has a proven track record of more than 90% accuracy.

This economic model predicts the medium-term likelihood of a recession, and it has predicted every recession since …

Buying Off-Plan Guide: Lock In Big Discounts On Future Retail Prices

Aerial View of Riviera Sao Lourenco Beach in Sao Paulo, Brazil

The Rules For Buying Off-Plan Real Estate

Buying off-plan property has many advantages, but it also has many pitfalls. I bought an off-plan apartment in Leeds, U.K., 20 years ago. It was the third property I ever bought. I naively trusted someone whom I had known for years, and I lost my rear end to his fraudulent promises. Armed with better advice, my fifth property buy was off-plan in Croatia, and I made a killing. Usually my advice is “buy what you see,” but this doesn’t work with off-plan investing. You need to know what you are doing if you are going to purchase a property before it is built. I didn’t the first time, and I learned the hard way. When you select the right property, you can make more from buying off-plan real estate than any other form of real estate transaction.

What Is Buying Off-Plan?

Buying off-plan means buying a property before construction begins. Property developers require bank financing to build their projects, and banks want to know they will be able to

Learn How To Invest Smarter And Let Inflation Pay You

Investing Infation

Make Inflation Pay You

This is the short-term fallout of the current geo-political mess:

  1. Fuel and energy price spikes;
  2. Supply chain disruptions, microchip shortages, and tech stock devaluations;
  3. Food price inflation;
  4. Stock market volatility.

It sounds ominous, but don’t worry. There is a simple way of hedging against these risks. You can make money while you’re doing it, too.

I’m about to let you in on an opportunity that allows you free time for yourself while you’re making all these profits.

Sounds great, right?

Before I give away the secret, let’s take a deeper look at what everyone else will be dealing with over the coming …

You Must Read This Before You Sell Your Rental Property

A small house with a nice green yard for sale.

When To Sell And Reinvest

“When should I sell a rental property?” is a popular question among readers.

For most people, the answer depends on the situation…

Of course, if you need the capital from the property for something like a medical emergency, the answer is easy.

But if you’re looking to reinvest the capital, there’s more to consider.

Taking the pure investment approach and ignoring diversification considerations, you start with the math. You need to …

The Most Important Factors To Consider When Evaluating An Investment

Colorful alleys and streets in Guanajuato city, Mexico

The Dangers Of Gross Yield Offers And The Pitfalls Of Fixed Appreciation Projection

There are a lot of scammers out there.

And not all of them are trying to sell you a bridge.

Some fraudsters bilk unsuspecting investors into handing money over for bogus developments.

But far more common are the legal scams where a seller dupes unseasoned investors by hyping information that doesn’t have any bearing on actual value.

A prime example of this is using gross cash flow to imply future earnings or arbitrarily fixed capital appreciation projections as a reason to pay more for a property than it’s worth.

These flim-flam artists dazzle you with information that looks appealing on the surface in the …