Vila Velha, Brasil

Vila Velha, Brazil: Top Beach Real Estate Without Rio’s Price Tag

Vila Velha: “Little Rio”

My walk finished, I plop down in a chair at Talismã, my favorite kiosk. The waiter looks at me and raises an eyebrow in question. I nod and mouth, “Coco.”I hear him behind me, hacking the top off a chilled coconut with a machete, and in seconds it’s on the table before me. Slipping a straw in, I take my first sip and can’t help but let out an audible, “Aaaah.”I’m feeling good. I’ve just finished a 45-minute walk, and it’s only 7:30 a.m. But I’m not the only person out getting exercise this morning. There is a steady stream of walkers, joggers, and cyclists, with a few Rollerbladers thrown in for good measure. As I watch the procession, Speedo Man powerwalks past, wearing his trademark black Speedo, white tennies, and nothing else.

I can’t help but smile. It’s good to be back in Vila Velha. This is, after all, where my love affair with Brazil began, way back in 1993. On that first trip, I fell in love with the friendly people and the incredible natural beauty. All these years later, after a new currency, a few new administrations, an economic boom and a subsequent bust, I see that Vila Velha hasn’t changed all that much.

And that pleases me deeply.

Odds are you’ve never heard of Vila Velha, although it’s not far up the coast from Rio—and, in many ways, Vila Velha is reminiscent of the Marvelous City. There is, for example, the broad expanse of beach, watched over by the majestic morros (cones of granite), as in Rio. And the capixabas, as the locals are known, are also a smiling, active people, much like their carioca cousins. I’ve been comparing Vila Velha to Rio for years, and Continue reading

Santa Marta: A Hidden Gem On Colombia’s Caribbean Coast

Santa Marta: Colombia’s Calmer Caribbean Alternative

Cartagena continues to boost its profile as a prime travel and investment destination, and it’s not hard to see why. The city is teeming with culture and liveliness, and boasts a wide range of features—from the outstanding cuisine and tropical climate to a bustling city center and bohemian neighborhoods—that make it both dynamic and livable… a true Caribbean marvel.

But for those seeking more refuge and relaxation, there’s another coastal Colombian city less than 200 miles away. It’s cheaper, more geographically diverse, and less worse-for-wear by international tourists than the “heroic” Cartagena…

That city is Santa Marta.

Colombia’s First Colonial City, On the Rise

If this is the first time you’ve heard of Santa Marta, you’re probably not alone. But for Colombians, it is hardly a secret. Santa Marta, Colombia’s oldest colonial city (in fact, one of the oldest cities in all of South America), was founded by the Spanish in 1525. The city was also the Continue reading

sandy beach

Modern Condos Right on the Beach Starting at $109,000

Plus: “You’re An Ignorant, Anti-Oil-Sands Know-It-All!”

Puerto Peñasco, Mexico

US$1=16.8 Mexican pesos

Dear Overseas Property Alert Reader,
Expats and second-home owners here are enjoying miles of wide, sandy beaches… warm, crystal-clear waters… and one of the most convenient and hassle-free experiences you’ll find outside the United States.

I’m spending the week in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, known to English-speakers as Rocky Point. At the top of the Sea of Cortez, we’re just 62 miles from the U.S. border.

The fine sandy beach in this part of town is 4.5 miles long, and almost 200 yards wide in places at low tide. The waters here are clear, completely calm, and the most swimmable I’ve ever seen, with a very gradual, fine-sand bottom. The water temperature today is 86 degrees (30 Celsius).

And since they boast 362 days of annual sunshine in this area, there’s little chance that your stay will be spoiled by bad weather.

Best of all, two-bedroom condos on this beach start at just US$109,000.

Getting here, I didn’t need a permit for my American-registered car. And because I drove straight through the border without stopping, I suppose that—in a practical sense—the length of my stay here is limitless, since there’s no record of my entry into Mexico. (Unless of course a Mexican immigration official is reading this newsletter.)

Puerto Peñasco remained an unknown fishing outpost until the 1920s when Arizonan John Stone opened a hotel and casino targeting Americans who wanted to escape prohibition.

The town is known as Puerto Peñasco in Spanish and Continue reading

Affordable Beachfront Property In Nicaragua

Affordable Beachfront Property In Nicaragua

Plus: The Best Picks For Living In Costa Rica

Aug 11, 2015
Granada, Nicaragua

Properties in this report trade in U.S. dollars

Dear Overseas Property Alert Reader,

Nicaragua is one of my favorite countries in the Americas. I own a property in Granada, and have spent considerable time throughout the country. The time I spent was not just on writing assignments or to attend events. It’s one of the few countries where I’ve actually spent my own money just to enjoy and explore what it has to offer.

A lot of that exploration time was spent looking at properties on Nicaragua’s dramatic Pacific coastline. Stretching for more than 200 miles from its northernmost tip to its border with Costa Rica in the south.

This coast offers majestic cliffs… wide, white sandy beaches… beautiful black-sand beaches… and small hidden coves surrounded by lush jungle.

There are no cities to speak of on Nicaragua’s coast. Instead you’ll find small fishing villages, a few friendly towns, and lots of open space.

Some of the towns are old Nicaraguan resort destinations. These are alongside large, modern, planned communities, undertaken by (mostly) North American developers. The best of these planned communities are thriving… while others have failed. They tell a story of inept or corrupt Continue reading

Some Of Brazil’s Best Property Buys Are At The End Of This Bridge

Plus: Maceió…Are You Stupid?

US$1=R$2.24 Brazilian reais

Dear Overseas Property Alert reader,

The Brazilian city of Natal is marked by its miles-long crescent beach, protected by a giant dune that shelters it from the onshore winds. The adjacent waters are calm, clear, warm, and fairly shallow.

The cafes, restaurants, and nightlife are renowned throughout Europe and Brazil, and right now, the property prices are great by any standard.

Here in Natal, there are three things that should get your attention right now…
aside from this week’s World Cup matches.

There's a new bridge There’s a new bridge, which has now made a beautiful stretch of coast easily accessible to the city. This isn’t your standard fabled bridge—a staple of property developers around the world—but one that’s completed and in service. Broad, sandy beaches that were once more than an hour away are now within 15 minutes’ drive.


They've just finished a new international airport They’ve just finished a new international airport within the past month, which will greatly increase domestic and international passenger and freight capacity. This new airport is just north of town…and connected to the city by the new bridge.


the U.S. dollar is strong now against the Brazilian real Finally, the U.S. dollar is strong now against the Brazilian real, which has rolled the prices back to approximate 2009 levels…giving us all a second chance to get in on some great property deals that are now more affordable.

Natal is the capital of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte—the closest state to Europe—and it’s very popular with vacationers and expats from Europe and the UK.

The world-famous sand dunes and beaches of Genipabu lie to the north—on the other side of the new bridge—while the postcard-perfect beach town Praia da Pipa sits to the south. In between, there are a number of smaller towns and areas popular with tourists and expats. As you tour them, you’ll see that some seem very homey…while others are more touristy.

Natal is billed as one of the sunniest cities in Brazil, with more than 300 days of sunshine per year. Most of the rainfall comes between March and July, with April being the wettest month. The driest months are from August through February. Continue reading

Prelaunch offer with 0% financing on the Riviera Maya

Plus: Can I live here for US$730 per month?

All properties in this article are priced in U.S. dollars.

I’m writing today to tell you about a limited-inventory opportunity that just came onto the market. If you’re interested, you can save up to 25% (as much as US$30,000) as an Overseas Property Alert reader—if you’re among the first 15 cash buyers.

This offer will be sent to readers of Overseas Opportunity Letter next week, but I wanted to extend it to you first, before it went to the general population.

The opportunity is a prelaunch offer for the Los Árboles Cobá project. The project is located on Mexico’s Riviera Maya on the Yucatan Peninsula, south of Cancun.

Los Árboles Cobá is a sustainable, off-the-grid community, which nonetheless offers amenities like high-speed Internet, phones, and satellite TV. The lots are large tracts of old-growth jungle with very low development density—less than 15% of the property.

Note that when I use the term “sustainable, off-the-grid” I’m referring to a property that can function without any connection to public utilities, located in an area with an all-year growing season.

Los Árboles Cobá will appeal to those who enjoy a lifestyle among nature and wildlife, in a home that will function comfortably with no connection to the outside world. It will also appeal to investors looking for an early-in, special offer with resale in mind.

I like the project for four basic reasons:

  • The market in this area is performing well, and has been for several years.
  • The nearby sister project of Los Árboles Tulum was a popular seller, has a number of homes constructed with North Americans in residence, and made money for early buyers.
  • The developer has a solid track record of success for this type of project.
  • The entry point for buyers and investors is low—less than US$37,000.

Let’s take a look at the details. Continue reading

Colonial homes from US$37,000 in a top expat haven Plus: Finding casinos in Latin America

April 29, 2014

Granada, Nicaragua

Property in Nicaragua trades in U.S. dollars

Dear Overseas Property Alert Reader,

Many of us dream of living in a Spanish colonial city…and of owning a Spanish colonial home, with its high ceilings, painted tiles, and a private center courtyard. If you count yourself among this growing number, then you’ll find no better place to buy than Granada, Nicaragua.

In Granada, you’ll not only find one of the best preserved Spanish colonial centers in the Americas, but you’ll also discover colonial-style properties starting at just US$37,000.

Founded in 1524, Granada claims to be the first European city founded in mainland America…so it’s a truly old colonial city rather than a semi-modern lookalike. It’s named after the ancient city of Granada, Spain, and shares some of that city’s Moorish architectural influence.

Granada sits at the north end of Lake Nicaragua, with beaches near town, and a group of small private islands just offshore. It lies just south of the well-known Lake Apoyo, Nicaragua’s largest volcanic crater lake. Continue reading

Look here for sunshine, warm seas, and capital gains

Look here for sunshine, warm seas, and capital gains
Also: “Why aren’t you talking about Costa Rica?”

April 8, 2014
Puerto López, Ecuador

Ecuador’s currency: U.S. dollar

Dear Overseas Property Alert reader,

We sat down to dinner at an open-air restaurant just south of Puerto López, Ecuador. It was a quiet night, with a pleasant ocean breeze coming in from the Pacific. The waves crashed rhythmically against the face of the cliff far below. A thick row of tropical plants separated our table from the adjacent walkway, which worked its way down the cliff to the beach. The waiter had just finished uncorking the wine.

But the peace was shattered as the large head of a wild burro burst through the hedge and positioned itself over the table. She snatched a large mouthful of fresh-cut flowers from the centerpiece, chewed them for a few seconds, and then withdrew her head into the darkness. A few minutes later, she reappeared at the romantically lit swimming pool, where she took a long drink before moving off into the night. It turned out she was a local mascot, and I’m sure we weren’t the first visitors to be surprised like this.

This instance says a lot about the Ecuadorian coast. You can find beautiful beaches all over the world, but you won’t find many with Ecuador’s natural appeal and untamed character.

And the good news today is that there’s a classic “path of progress” investment shaping up in the town of Playas thanks to a major infrastructure upgrade and the coast’s largest development project.

The Ecuadorian coast has always offered a lot…but now we can add a solid investment potential to its list of many benefits. Continue reading