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5 Simple Steps To Owning Your Own Overseas Paradise

5 Simple Steps To Owning Your Own Overseas Paradise

Admit it. You’ve thought about it. That time you watched a movie that made you want to move to Tuscany and buy a villa. Or maybe it was while you were vacationing in the Caribbean and dreamed about what it would be like to move down and open up a surf shack.

Indeed the idea of buying property overseas is a very attractive proposition. It’s bold. It’s sexy. It’s intriguing. And, unless you have experience navigating international real estate markets, it can be downright scary.

The good news is…it doesn’t have to be.

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Here are five general tips about buying international real estate that will prove it’s a perfectly viable option, even for average people like you and me.

1. Forget (almost) everything you know about real estate.

While the buying process in many countries isn’t completely different from the steps you go through in the U.S., it might as well be. Yeah, there are a few similarities, but it’s important not to make any assumptions based on your North American bias.

Instead, go into the process planning to learn from the experience. Rely on people who know a thing or two about the local market, and you won’t get blindsided when you run into obstacles.

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2. Choose your property wisely.

Picking an actual piece of property to buy is one of the most exciting parts of the international real estate buying process. If you’re starting from scratch, narrow your search down to a specific country. Visit a few cities so you can zero in on exactly where you want to live or invest. Get a good feel for the city’s layout and the best neighborhoods, especially if you’re going to be searching for properties online once you return home.

Then start looking! Since most foreign countries don’t have anything that resembles a Multiple Listing Service (MLS), you will need to use other resources. A local real estate professional in the area can help find properties that might appeal to you. You may also find listings on local realty companies’ websites or on other sites that compile listings from multiple agents.

3. Understand the local real estate market.

Since most foreign countries lack the usual channels (e.g. Zillow, Trulia, etc.) we use to find market comps, it can be incredibly difficult to know what a home is actually worth. Prices can often be all over the board. Sellers may grossly overprice their listings. Deciding what amount to offer can be a real nightmare.

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You could survey hundreds of property listings in the area to better understand what properties like yours are worth. Or, better yet, you can likely find someone else who’s already done that research. Because while reliable resources with information on foreign real estate markets are few and far between, they do exist. You just have to know where to look.

4. Put your own eyes (and boots) on the property before moving forward with a purchase.

Do not…I repeat…DO NOT buy any property that you–not just your realtor–have not seen. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but all it takes is one cleverly executed angle to disguise the fact that your potential dream home sits right next to the city dump or an abandoned construction project.

Sure, there have been people who purchased properties sight unseen and been very satisfied. But, in most cases, buying something you’ve never laid eyes on–especially in a foreign country–is entirely too risky.

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5. Work with local professionals you can trust.

On that note, the best weapon in your arsenal when buying property overseas is the people on the ground in your desired area who know all the things you never wanted to have to learn about international real estate.

So arm yourself with a carefully vetted team of professionals you know you can trust: a lawyer, a realtor, a banker. These folks will be your saving grace when it comes to making offers, interpreting contracts, researching titles, and executing financial transactions.

If you pick the right team, the hardest part of your international real estate buying experience may be learning how to say “Where do I sign?” in the local lingo. Happy house hunting!

Featured photo credit: sharonang via pixabay.com

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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