International Real Estate. Why more people are moving abroad and how they are doing it!


International Real Estate and Expatriates are becoming more popular with the Baby Boomers generation and even the GEN X generation. This is due to cost of living. Although maybe not as popular as of yet, the Gen Y’s are also open to the option of living outside their home country. The days of working with the same company 30 years and retiring are almost non-existent. Those who find themselves in their 60’s may just be the last of that breed – at least in the United States of America.

Since the Global down turn and economic crisis became a daily conversation throughout the world, people are now pondering other ways to make a living, have a better quality of life, not be a slave to corporate America or even the corporate world lifestyle, all while making their money go further. The confidence in the middle class model of yesterday has all but disappeared. People are now more worried than ever that they will be considered in the poverty class even after working their whole lives to prepare for their retirements. Statistics show the middle class is becoming a smaller demographic everyday. So they are either sliding into poverty or getting rich. The formula of the past is not getting anyone any richer.

So now people have discovered that they need to go in search of a new retirement formula. And since most of the world is in the same situation, this has somewhat leveled the playing field. Places where people would have never considered retiring before, are now becoming popular destinations. The old model for retirement centered around having all your “toys” paid for and at your disposal is fading away. Remember the bumper sticker?  – “the one with the most toys when they die wins”. Then there is the endless travel that people dream about in their retirements that have become a distant memory. Now it’s the mortgage money or rent, medical bills, and food that are the focal points of retirement success. And instead of the kids moving back in with the parents, the parents are now trying to avoid moving in with the kids.

Neither of these two parts of the dream is available to some who have done all the “right things” in life. Not to mention those people who have been distressed with life and have just done whatever they can throughout their years to live day to day. Now you have people who have had good “stable” jobs in the past afraid that their companies will not honor their retirements in the future, the social security system not being funded to give back what they thought they would be entitled to for their retirement years, and their medical benefits all but disappearing. It is not a secret that even people who are considered healthy only need to experience one health set back to see their many years of hard work be destroyed by the cost of medical services. All this reality is leading to a stressed society who are not only developing a new model for themselves physically, but emotionally and mentally these changes take a toll. This new reality is leading to the need for a holistic approach and not just a physical approach to the new model of retirement.

There is a saying that before the age of 40 you are focused on collecting “things” and after the age of 40 you are focused on collecting “experiences”.  Those who are watching their parents lose their “things” are now more than ever understanding the importance of living life for the experiences. The social conscious among the younger generations is being forced, through what some may consider to be related to post traumatic stress, to wake up abruptly and reconsider what use to be the working formula for a successful retirement. For some this shift in consciousness is traumatic especially for those who have been directly affected over the last several years through job loss or even entire career loss. The definition of stability is being redefined everyday. More than ever people are reminded daily how important living your life in the present has become, as you never really know what tomorrow might bring.

With this in mind, many people are looking to make their dreams happen earlier in life to ensure they get to in fact experience their dreams. Others are reconstructing their lives in total and redefining their definitions of success and quality of life. Quality of life is not taking a back seat anymore to job security, promotions in the workplace, or climbing the corporate ladder. People are finding new ways to achieve their new definitions of success and quality of life. They are now doing this on their personal terms, not copying the “Jones’s” down the street.

It is no longer about finding your way through others. It is about making your way for the purpose of directing the rest of your life on your own terms. Which brings us to how people are expanding their options. For some the answer is international living.

More and more people are investigating living outside their home country. We are not talking about extended vacations. We are talking about picking up their entire lives and moving abroad. This decision is not a fly by night decision and in most cases is centered on economic well being for the entire family.

Whatever the reason for the transition into a new environment, there are steps that one will want to consider in order to transition and relocate successfully. A home investment is considered one of the largest investments that most families will make in their lifetimes. Couple that with moving offshore and it makes even more sense to follow a recipe that will help you protect yourself and your family in the process.

Some issues to consider when investigating moving off shore: 

  1. Understand what your budget is – The immediate budget for the move and the budget that you live on indefinitely.  This is a factor that exists no matter where you move and will greatly assist in your research to find just the right location for you and your family.
  2. Once you have determined your budget, then use your budget to start researching areas that you may be interested in living. For example – if you do not like tropical weather, then do not move to that type of environment. Even though your budget might go along way in countries that have a tropical environment, you will be miserable. Remember we are talking about marrying budget and quality of life.
  3. Make a list of the activities you enjoy. The goal is to have those activities be at your disposal in the place you decide to relocate. For example if you like a lot of infrastructure, then you will not be happy in a developing country. Now if you like a lot of infrastructure and would like to help that country achieve more, then you might find it rewarding to bring your skills to a country that can use them. It all depends on your perspective.
  4. Now you have your budget and your activities, so align those with a few countries that are similar in your desires.
  5. Look for countries that have programs to attract expatriates. Understand that some of these programs limit what you can own and do so read and understand the fine print on all the programs.
  6. Some countries offer the Expatriate a retirement program with incentives. Although the incentives are enticing, make sure you understand what the trade-offs are for accepting those incentives. Some countries will let you retire on their program and live in their country, but not let you become a full citizen with all rights of the locals. You may want a second passport and not be able to achieve it on that countries retirement program.
  7. Are you bringing children with you and do you need a school or will you home school?
  8. Are you bringing pets? What does that country require and is there a quarantine requirement for your pets?
  9. Do you have any special medical issues that require specialized medicines or treatments? Do you have International Medical Insurance in case of a catastrophic issue?
  10. Can you speak the language of the country that interests you? How will you go to the bank, the doctor, get directions if you cannot communicate effectively? These simple things we take for granted sometimes in our home countries.
  11. Are you planning on working in your new country? What wages can you expect in that country? Are there jobs in that country? Do you have a particular skill set that if you were to establish your own business would be seen as value added in that country? Are you allowed to own a business in that country as an expatriate or while on their retirement program if you should chose that route? What are the requirements for starting a business in the country of interests?
  12. What are the tax requirements of the country? Are you planning on owning a home in the country of choice? Are you prepared to pay cash for that home?

When relocating to a foreign country, there are a lot of details to understand and execute on.

What you should not expect…..

  1. Do not expect a real estate agent in a foreign country to answer all these questions for you because you are interested in one of their listings? Relocation consulting is one of the most important steps in the process of discovery for your new life and it is very time consuming. Not all agents have this skill set nor do they have the extended resource team to support your needs holistically.
  2. Do not expect a real estate agent in a foreign country that has a listing you are interested in represent you in the real estate transaction. After all the reason you are speaking to that real estate agent is because you liked a listing upon which that agent represents that seller. You sought out that agent to ask questions about a property. So the expectation is that they will answer those questions in hopes that you will desire to purchase the property.
  3. Do not expect the country you are interested in to have laws that protect the purchaser or seller in a real estate transaction. Some foreign countries do not have laws that regulate the agents or ethics used in a real estate transaction. Now they will have standard operating procedures about how to transfer property and what types of property ownership are available to locals and expats, but not necessarily consumer protection laws. So it is buyer be aware in International Real Estate.

What you should do to protect yourself when moving abroad……

  1. Seek out a qualified professional that can help you with both real estate and relocation. This person is a INTERNATIONAL BUYERS AGENT
  2. Enter into an agreement with this Buyers Agent that protects your confidentiality and the confidentiality of the Buyers Agent. This is how you get the good, bad, and the ugly information.
  3. Expect to pay a fee for this information. This person is a professional.
  4. Understand that a Buyers Agent represents you in the process of an International Real Estate Transaction. Depending on your personal situation, there may be times when your Buyers Agent has to engage other real estate agents to meet your goals. However your Buyers Agent will always represent your interest in the process of meeting your goals. Remember that your Buyers Agent is your go to person. They are the only people who have committed to help you in the process. It is everyone else’s job in that same process to “sell” you.

In summary, there are many reasons that people move internationally. We have covered only a few. There are many things to consider when moving abroad too. Moving abroad is a very personal experience and is based on your personal situation. There are not “one-size fit all” answers to international relocation. It is important that you work with a professional who is educated, experienced, and committed to you and your goals for international real estate and relocation.

Rainforest Realty is a team of professionals – Certified International Property Specialist – and International REALTORS®. The story of how Belize Rainforest Realty was born, established and continues to evolve today, has its foundation in international relocation, living in Belize and Real Estate in Belize. Rainforest Realty is the Buyers Agency that you need assisting you in formulating your relocation strategies. You can read more about the Buyers Agent program here :INTERNATIONAL BUYERS AGENT

Rainforest Realty can help you with Belize and Beyond.