Brazil, Santos

Santos: Brazil’s Bustling Island City With Gardens Galore

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. This week, we’ll get to know Santos. Next week, we’ll take the ferry across to Guarujá and go exploring there.

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 earlier this year 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 Continue reading

uruguay: Lots of people, energy, and bustle in the summer, and solitude in the winter

Piriápolis: Uruguay’s Most Intriguing Seashore Town For Expats

A Seashore Town Like 1950s America

Piriápolis, is one of Uruguay’s most popular destinations, and has been a high performing property market. It’s a 1950s-style seashore destination, popular with Uruguayans, Argentines, and expats. Increasingly, it’s catching on with Brazilians and Europeans.

Piriápolis was Uruguay’s first seashore resort, founded in 1890; more than 15 years before the founding of world famous Punta del Este. It’s located between Montevideo and Punta del Este, adjacent to the lesser-known Costa del Oro.

Piriápolis seems to be on the ocean, but technically, it’s located on Río de la Plata… the river that separates Uruguay from Buenos Aires. Since the river is 129 miles wide at this point (210 km)—and your visual horizon is only about three miles—it certainly feels like you’re on the Atlantic.

 The bay at Piriápolis, with summertime swimmers

The bay at Piriápolis, with summertime swimmers

Just over an hour from Montevideo, Piriápolis has long been popular for its sandy beaches, calm waters, and attractive seafront.

When I first drove into the town of Piriápolis, it immediately brought back fond childhood memories of summers on the New Jersey shore. The old buildings, seafood restaurants, and people sunbathing or strolling along the boardwalk simply looked like life in the 50s.

With fewer than 9,000 full-time residents in town, Piriápolis never achieved the international fame of Punta del Este, and in fact, its popularity had already been eclipsed by Punta del Este just after the turn of the 20th century.

But that doesn’t mean that Piriápolis is not popular…

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Mazatlán, Mexico

Mazatlán, Mexico: Your New Property In The Path Of Totality

Next Eclipse: Own A Home In The “Path Of Totality”

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t bother traveling to the Path of Totality during the recent 2017 eclipse. It wasn’t worth the travel and traffic jams, on top of the risk of having a cloudy day.

But for the next North American eclipse, I have a ringside seat… I’ll see it from the sun deck on the roof of my apartment in Mazatlán.

That’s because the Path of Totalityfor the eclipse on April 8, 2024 will completely envelop Mazatlán, and nearby Durango.

As you can see below, the path will also cross into Texas and head into the Northeast.

But since the United States will be in its April showers season, there’s a good chance you won’t see anything up there. Continue reading

the rooftops of the colonial style city of cuenca

The Evolution Of Cuenca, Ecuador Into A True Expat Haven

Market Update On Cuenca, Ecuador

I retired to Cuenca in 2001, at the age of 49. I knew no other North Americans there, and no one who spoke English.

Retiring to Ecuador was not a popular idea in 2001. Nine months into the year, I obtained my pensioner’s visa from the New York consulate.

At that time, one restaurant in Cuenca qualified as fine dining.

By 2004, I counted around a dozen expats… and marveled at how popular Cuenca had become.

But in 2015, there were over 8,000 Americans living in Cuenca, according to the local paper El Tiempo, a number that grows to 12,000 when including Canadians and Europeans. These numbers could be high… but everyone will agree that Continue reading

3 Great Overseas Property Opportunities with Financing

Financing available on these three coastal projects

Financing is the first issue that many people ask about when considering buying a property abroad. It opens the door for a lot of buyers.

In fact, in my experience, financing is the single most important factor in a development’s sales. I’ve seen condos “fly off the shelves” when financing is available, while similar projects in the same area languish when it’s not.

Among those who seek financing, I see three Continue reading

view of berlin from an apartment balcony

Berlin: Germany’s Vibrant City Full Of Affordable Real Estate

Investing In Europe’s Economic Powerhouse

Germany doesn’t get nearly enough credit. Its efficient economy is the powerhouse of the Continent, and its standard of living one of the highest in the entire world. Universal health care, free college, respect for individual rights, plenty of jobs, affordable housing—Germany seems to have it figured out.

The city of Berlin is an example of how tearing down walls rather than erecting new ones can spur rapid economic growth. Since tearing down the Berlin Wall that divided the city from the end of World War II until 1989, the city has gone on to become a leader in the borderless EU. And with the United States and U.K. withdrawing from the world stage, Germany is quickly emerging as the leader of the free world.

Cities like London, Paris, and Barcelona receive more than their fair share of attention when it comes to the top spots for urban living in Europe. But Germany’s capital city, Berlin, is a world-class city like no other. And, when comparing Berlin to other world cities, there’s one aspect that makes it especially appealing: Continue reading

bird's eye view of Coronado Beach with beachfront homes and lush trees

4 Top Countries For Low Risk, Dollar-Based Property Buys

Consider These Dollar-Based Property Markets Abroad

My big “currency awakening” came in Uruguay.

I first visited Uruguay in 2004 and fell in love with its First World environment, honest culture, and super infrastructure. And, at an exchange rate of 34 pesos per U.S. dollar, life there was an amazing bargain.

In fact, I finished my first article on Uruguay with the words “…and best of all, it’s cheaper than Continue reading

One Of The Smartest Land Purchases You Can Make

Why These Farms In Uruguay Are Such A Smart Purchase

One of the smartest property buys you can make is a property that serves more than one purpose in your overall financial and lifestyle agenda. And there are few investments that do this more efficiently than the Uruguayan land parcel known as the chacra.

In Uruguay, the chacra is a popular way to invest in land… but it also gets you a few other benefits:

  • It gains you a foothold in one of the best countries for international diversification;
  • It can provide a self-sustaining home that’s off-the-grid;
  • A chacra can give you the presence required for Uruguay’s program for residency and second citizenship;
  • Being a Uruguayan property owner is a natural segue into Uruguay’s financial system, with its multiple-currency and high-interest accounts.

Continue reading

An Urban Setting With Plenty Of Green Space

Cali, Colombia: An Urban Setting With Plenty Of Green Space

Cali: Great Lifestyle, Low Price Tag
My workout over, I wipe my brow and walk over to chat with Sergio.

Sergio comes to Parque El Ingenio almost every day to sell agua de panela—water flavored with brown cane sugar and lime—to the folks who exercise at what I have come to call “The Flintstones Gym.” The equipment here is homemade. Barbells and dumbbells sport blocks of concrete rather than steel plates, but the equipment is well maintained and this is a popular spot in the mornings. The men who come here are serious about working out, but also friendly, and they welcome me with smiles and nods.

Sergio pours me a generous cup of agua de panela, and I fish a sweaty 1,000-peso bill—about 35 cents—from my pocket. I hand it over and we begin another of Continue reading

Colorful two story hose on an island in Las Isletas, Nicaragua

If You Think Owning An Island Is Impossible…Think Again

Own Your Own Private Island Starting At $60K

The idea of buying any property abroad is exciting. But there’s nothing more exotic, romantic, and exciting than the idea of living on your own private island.

In a way, you’ll feel like a pioneer no matter where you purchase abroad. But on an island—especially a private island—that feeling is amplified tenfold.

For hundreds of years, only the super-wealthy entertained the idea of owning a private island. And in most of the world today, owning a tropical island is still prohibitively expensive for most of us.

Yet there’s still one place left in the Americas today where you can own a private tropical island for less than $60,000…

It’s in a small island group known as Las Isletas, near the colonial city of Granada, Continue reading