As Mo’ Money Mo’ Houses was thinking about buying property in the US,
I was considering where to invest the flat money that I should receive in a couple of months. My sale will be definitive on Friday, so until now I am not making offers on anything, but my plans have shifted dramatically.
You see, Europe is crazy expensive. And I don’t really have a steady paycheck nor the will to get $1,000,000 in debt to buy a two-bed 700sqft flat in Paris. I have around $100,000 between the flat money and savings that I can invest in real estate.
My options in France were:
The South-East of the country, near the mountains of the countryside of Provence. $100K would buy me a 900sqft house, with LOTS of repairs, structural like roof and isolation, and if I am lucky the property would have a small terrace or a balcony, but surely no garden.
PROS: I have many friends and my godmother leaving nearby, and the fast train takes me back to Paris in three hours. The beach is one hour drive away. Provence has lots of tourists so I could probably rent a room or two in summer.
CONS: Small house, in bad shape, if I fix it gradually, I will live in the middle of the work during three years. Those houses are often three 30sqft split levels, as they are old medieval houses. Not very practical to live in. You basically pay a lot for location.
Get even more remote and go to South-West France, between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, next to the Pyrenees mountains. $100K would buy me 2000Sqft house on a small patch of land that you can call garden and not patio, so much more space and properties in better shape. Like this big house from 1762, with a garden, a brand new roof already and almost 5000sqft.
PROS: Space. In that particular house, I could make six apartments, and rent some short term and other long term. The region is nice, you can ski two hours away, and the food is amazing. Prices are lower so I would still have a little extra to renovate at least my living quarters and have decent housing while I tackle the rest of the work.
CONS: This part of France is really remote and rural. Meaning aging people, the young go to college and only come back to visit once in a while. Dating, making friends and socializing will be seriously compromised. Paris is 7 or 8 hours away, you have to change trains, well, it’s more complicated.
I received this add for a little piece of land by the Petén Itzá lake in Guatemala. I love that country and have already lived there for four years. The land is about 21500 sqft, with 35 meter of beach just for yourself! It costs only $30,000 so there is plenty of money leftover to build a lovely house. AND, there is the option to buy also a big ranch on the other side of the street, for $70K, I could get over 90 acres of land!! The ranch is next to a village so splitting part of it to make small plots for future extension of the village is a possibility, and would offset part of the buying costs.
PROS: Did I mention that it has its own private beach?? Any house like this in Europe would sell for half a million dollars, at the very least! It has a basic little house to live in, while the beautiful, amazing house that I have in my head gets built. The lake is warm year-round, the water is crystal clear, and there are plenty of activities for tourists if I want to start a small guesthouse. The UNESCO World heritage site of Tikal and its splendid Mayan ruins are nearby, as well as many smaller Mayan sites, like Yaxhá, where survivors Guatemala was shot, and the international airport of Flores is a 15 minutes boat ride away. How cool is that, your plane lands, you get on my boat, and in 15 minutes, you are relaxing on my little beach?
On a more down to earth side, I have lived in Guatemala for four years, speak the language fluently, have many friends who could give me a hand in case of a problem, and know my way around their slow administration.
CONS: Guatemala is pretty far from Europe. When I lived there I used to come back every 8 months or so. Tickets are usually around $1,000.
I won’t be able to see my family as often, specially my 2 year-old niece who doesn’t Skype or email like my mum or my close friends.
Some parts of the country can be dangerous, but not particularly this one.
SO…..the winner is…
Well, it should be Guatemala. I think the extra transportation costs are offset by a spring-like year-round weather, the lakeside property, and the much lower cost of the land and future house.
Still waiting until Friday to make a formal offer, when I am sure to get my flat’s money. Fingers crossed!!
Have you ever considered buying property abroad?