The U.S. dollar has been on an upward tear lately after years of decline, making now the best time in more than a decade to purchase real estate in certain destinations overseas.
Trying to predict currency exchange movements to time the purchase of foreign real estate is difficult and risky, and I don't recommend you try it. However, if you've been considering the idea of buying a second home or a place to retire overseas, the current window of opportunity deserves attention. Key markets of particular interest for both retirement and investment are more affordable now than they've been in many years.
Medellin, Colombia. The city of Medellin offers a quality lifestyle that is more European than Latin. This is a first-world setting, with clean, safe and shady streets, fine dining and charming outdoor cafes. Travelers and retirees from around the world are beginning to realize this, yet Medellin's negative stereotype of 30 years ago continues to keep property prices down.
Medellin's heart is El Poblado. The Catay area of El Poblado is heavily wooded and crossed by a rushing stream. This would be an ideal location for retirement living, with services and amenities within easy walking distance. You could purchase a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in this neighborhood for 340 million Colombian pesos.
The dollar is up 40 percent versus the Colombian peso in the past nine months. At the current rate of exchange, that 1,400-square-foot apartment in El Poblado, the best address in the city, can be bought for just $137,000.
Santiago, Chile. Chile is a first-rate venue offering a quality of life that is as good as it gets in Latin America. The country offers modern, first-world infrastructure, a high standard of living, low levels of corruption, a strong economy and business- and entrepreneur-friendly policies.
Chile also offers retirees many and diverse lifestyle options. This country spans 2,650 miles from north to south and boasts an amazing array of climates and geography, from sea resorts and small, oceanside villages to the mountains of the Lake District and the sophisticated scene of capital city Santiago.
Specifically, Santiago's Barrio Italia is a top choice for retirement living, with its shady streets and old homes mixed with upscale restaurants, sidewalk cafes and exclusive boutiques. In this neighborhood, you could buy a two-bedroom, two-bath condo near a metro station connecting you to the entire city for 174 million Chilean pesos.
The dollar has risen 25 percent against the Chilean peso over the past 17 months, meaning that 174 million pesos amounts today to only $283,000.
Barcelona, Spain. Spain has long been one of the world's most sought-after retirement destinations, thanks to its great weather, relatively low cost of living and friendly atmosphere. This country was hit particularly hard by the last recession, and real estate prices have fallen by as much as 50 percent and more in certain regions. This year, the market is turning. A recovery has begun. If you're attracted to the idea of retirement on the Mediterranean Sea, this is your chance.
In fact, Spain offers two reasons to buy now: We're this side of the bottom, and the dollar has climbed about 25 percent against the euro since July 2014, giving the dollar holder additional buying power.
A two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in a good neighborhood of Barcelona with sea views could be yours for 170,000 euros. Thanks to the dollar's current position versus the euro, that's only $180,000.
Maceio, Brazil. Brazil, with its thousands of miles of beautiful beaches, fascinating culture, excellent food and warm, friendly people, has a great deal to offer would-be retirees. If that sounds like an appealing retirement lifestyle to you, take note. Now is your best opportunity in Brazil in years.
Bigger than the continental U.S., Brazil offers a wide range of climates and cultures, from the mountainous wine region in the south with its strong German influence to the country's Reggae capital of São Luis in the north with its strong French and African influences.
Maceio is one of Brazil's most popular beachside cities. It's relatively small by Brazilian state capital standards, but offers everything the retiree could want in the way of city amenities. Just south of Maceio is Barra du São Miguel. In this charming neighborhood, you could buy a two-bedroom, two-bath house of 2,000 square feet with ocean views and a pool for 280,000 Brazilian reals.
The dollar has surged 42 percent versus the real in the past seven months, meaning that today, that 280,000 Brazilian real price tag is only $85,000.
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