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Buying Property Abroad in Retirement – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

By Margaret Manning November 12, 2015 Managing Money

Many women in the Sixty and Me community dream of buying property abroad. Perhaps you imagine spending the best decades of your life on a vineyard in the south of Italy. Or, maybe you would prefer to own a small apartment in a high-rise building in Panama City.

Regardless of your preferences, the realities of owning property in another country are likely to be quite different from your expectations – both positively and negatively.

Part of the problem is that most people don’t have a lot of experience buying property abroad before they buy their retirement home. This leaves them open to costly mistakes. Fortunately, there are people, like Live and Invest Overseas founder, Kathleen Peddicord, who built their careers around helping people to find the perfect overseas property.

In our latest interview, I ask Kathleen to give us the truth about owning property abroad. We discuss the good, the bad and the ugly, when it comes to owning property in another country. I hope that her advice helps you to find your dream property, while avoiding many of the common problems that buyers experience. Enjoy the show!

The Good

Kathleen explains that one of the major benefits of buying property abroad is that it gives you the opportunity to reinvent your life. Many women in our community are recovering from a divorce or the loss of a spouse. Almost all of us are looking for a sense of purpose to carry us through the coming decades. Moving to a new country can be a catalyst for positive change.

Will it solve all of your problems? Of course not! But, it will give you a chance to have a fresh start.

While not always the care, owning property overseas can be an excellent investment. Unlike in the United States and the United Kingdom, where property prices are already through the roof, there are still bargains to be found in other countries. A word of caution – buying a property overseas can be a legal nightmare if you don’t do your homework. Always research how the local real estate market works and get help from a reputable lawyer before signing any papers.

One final positive aspect of owning a property in another country is that it can give you a strong rental income while you are away. In your home country, it might be difficult to rent your home for short periods. This is usually not a problem in countries where tourism is firmly established. In our interview, Kathleen provides tons of practical examples for maximizing your rental income.

If you want to have a positive experience with buying a home in another country, here are some specific tips from Katherine:

  • Always spend significant time in your target country before buying a property
  • Learn a bit about the culture and language to make sure it’s a good fit for you
  • Really think about your lifestyle and whether the target country is a good match
  • Every property should make you happy or make you money
  • Get professional help with all of the details

The Bad

Kathleen rightly points out that property is unlike any other investment class. When you buy a stock, it’s easy to be emotionally detached. Property is personal. Simply being aware of this fact can help you to avoid costly mistakes.

Buying property in another country is also challenging from a legal and logistical perspective. In the best case scenario, you will have to deal with emotional sellers, mountains of paperwork and stressful negotiations.

In the worst case scenario, you may encounter con artists who will do everything in their power to make you part with your hard-earned money. Katherine’s advice? Don’t negotiate if you don’t speak the language and make sure that you have professional help before you sign any documents.

Even maintaining and protecting your overseas property can be challenging. If you are not living in the house, you will almost certainly need a management company to help you rent it out. In some countries, you may need to hire someone local to stay in the property to protect it from vandals or thieves. All this sounds more dramatic than it actually is.

With a bit of planning, you can make sure that your property is safe. But, don’t assume that things work the same was as they do in your home country.

The Ugly

Each country has its own idiosyncrasies and potential problems. Some countries experience severe weather. Others suffer from political instability or a shifting legal system. So, when it comes to “the ugly” side of buying property overseas, it’s difficult to put together a definitive list.

Kathleen says that the best way to avoid potential problems is to do your homework. Sites like Live and Invest Overseas have a wealth of information to help you make good decisions. There is also no substitute for living in a country for several months and getting an idea for how things work “on the ground.”

I hope that you enjoy my conversation with Kathleen. Please take a few minutes to watch the video. Then, join the conversation at the end of this article.

Have you ever thought about buying property abroad? What was the best thing about your experience? What was the worst thing about buying an overseas home? Please join the conversation.

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at margaret@sixtyandme.com

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