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Senior Member
Posts: 2,354
Reply with quote  #1 
I was recently reading a book How to Retire Overseas by Kathleen Pedicord.

She has had interesting life----having lived in Ireland, France and Panama.

But the observation that she made that I found the most interesting involved her original experience in buying a property in Ireland.  What she found was that:

1. Overseas (with the exception of Mexico, Buenos Aires, US territories and a few other countries), there is no such thing a multiple listing system.  I really don't know what kind of real estate records exist from country to country---but apparently this can be a serious challenge.  Which means if you want to find all the properties on the market, you are obliged to hunt down every agent in town (as she was when she bought a house in Waterford, Ireland)----although there do appear to be websites that list some of the properties.  In some countries, you will need to hire a local attorney (a custom which New York and a few other states still observe to some extent).  I have doubts about whether European countries are necessarily this disorganized, but I understand the warning that you can't assume there will be a setup similar to the United States.
2. In many countries, there is no special licensing for being an agent----anyone can be an agent.  In her experience, this meant that there is always the possibility that your "agent" is not bona fide.
3. In many of these foreign countries, agent's don't cooperate with one another---the concept is foreign to their market since (apparently) the listing agent is used to pocketing the whole commission.   If agent's don't cooperate, then it's every man for himself, etc.---not conducive to a marketplace with transparency.
4. Also, there may or may not be title insurance.  (Or if there is title insurance----you might be forced to resort to Mexican courts---where it's a race who pays the judge more.)
5. In countries like Mexico, you have to factor into the situation the corruption factor---and the fact that you can't buy within 100 kilometers of a border or 50 kilometers from the coastline (except with serious restrictions)---and the title situation may be dicey too.
6. Trying to finance purchases outside the US----you will quickly discover that the US is very unusually generous in financing properties----and since you are a foreigner, you may not be qualified to use the foreign financing, in any case.
7. The problem with going overseas is that there may be no accurate way to predict all of the expenses, etc.
8. Probably, the safest place to invest would be to buy in a city that would be popular on airbnb (so you wouldn't have trouble renting it out or trading it for another desireable city)----although I would wager that alot of these type of cities have simply appreciated beyond belief.  So, there lies the dilemma.

Anyone have any experiences to share in this regard?  In a way, the fact that there is a "Wild West" situation may mean there is more opportunities to be found there than in the US where all sales are recorded faithfully.   There is a theory that is applied to the Dow Jones called market efficiency----which basically means that where you have a free and open financial market like Wall Street----you have to assume that the smartest traders will have figured out all the angles.  But if you have a closed market----that may be a different story.  Although the stories I have seen lead me to believe that overseas is every bit as inflated as the US---maybe even moreso.

Has anyone tried this?

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Senior Member
Posts: 1,038
Reply with quote  #2 
This is kind of a buzzkill.  I had dreams of drinking margaritas on my back patio overlooking the ocean on my beachfront property.  If you have previously lived in a country or have family and friends who live there, you can probably get an accurate picture.  Otherwise, you don't know what you don't know.  I only think of leaving the high tax, liberal benefits state of California every week.  It would be prudent to rent for a year or so in your dream location, in case it doesn't work out as expected. Then you should have a fair idea of reality.  1st class hospitals can't be taken for granted.  In some parts of the world labor is cheap but American conveniences are expensive.  It costs just as much to live like an American anywhere in the world as it does in America.  If you can "go native" it might be significantly cheaper than America.  I have in-laws in Ireland.  It is very Socialist, but can be a great deal if you are an artist or other tax favored occupations.  France is also highly regulated.  I think August is a national holiday and they have lifetime employment.  Good luck firing a dishwasher.  Use as low risk an approach as possible if you decide to retire overseas.  Don't just go all in.  
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