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The top 4 international property investment markets

The top 4 international property investment markets

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The top 4 international property investment markets

If you’re looking to invest in offshore real estate – that is, markets outside of North America – there are four key markets you should look at first.

Lief Simon, international real estate investor and co-founder of Live and Invest Overseas, says he’s all in on overseas markets. And he has shortlisted four countries to help build your investment portfolio and personal freedom plan.

Why? International property stands out more than ever among investment options because it is both a hard asset and one of the best opportunities for generating cash flow while building real, long-term, even legacy wealth.

What makes these countries star performers? He says they are the world’s best options for diversifying across markets, currencies and asset types for both value appreciation and cash flow of up to 17 per cent per year that can continue for decades. In some cases, you can invest with as little as US$35,000.

1. Panama

Rental apartments and agricultural opportunities are the two key target areas here. Panama City, where resale transactions have slowed, is and will continue to be a buyers’ market in the short term. This year is a chance to buy on a dip, because, long term, Simon remains very bullish on the Panama City rentals market.

Yields continue to be strong, though not as strong as they were a couple of years ago, primarily because rents have softened.

Argentine, Colombian, and Venezuelan buyers have helped to keep the Panama City market stable and growing over the last dozen years, while other markets in this region have struggled or even collapsed.

Today, North Americans and Europeans continue to invest, but it’s Panama’s new relationship with China Simon predicts will fuel this economy through its next stage of growth. Chinese are arriving in Panama in volume and bringing lots of investment capital with them, just like they did in Vancouver in the 1990s. He foresees spikes in property values to new levels.

The second big opportunity for making money from real estate in Panama in 2019 is productive land. This country’s interior is a fertile breadbasket. Individual investors can even participate in organic plantations for turnkey agro-profits.

2. Brazil

Brazil is a large country with many different property markets, some more interesting than others.

“I recommend focusing on the Fortaleza area,” Simon says. “This coastal region is a top destination among Brazilian tourists. Rentals targeting the local holiday market can earn better than eight per cent net yield reliably.”

The Brazilian real remains stable against the U.S. dollar (at around 4.09 reais to US$1) and has been historically weak relative to the rate of 1.6 reais to the dollar of a decade ago.

Good yields and a weak currency make this country a very strong buy.

3. Thailand

Thailand appeals primarily for its agriculture, but it also deserves attention for its strong economy and expanding tourism industry.

The challenge in Thailand is that restrictions are placed on how foreigners can own property. Foreigners are able to own land only on leasehold.

A foreigner can hold freehold title to the construction on the land, but, unless the house is portable, you might not take comfort from that. Foreigners are also permitted to own condos freehold as long as they don’t own more than 49 per cent of the total area of the condo building. For this reason, the condo market is where most foreign investors focus their attention. A condo is also cheaper and easier to manage as a rental than an individual property.

Bangkok was the number-one visited city in the world in 2017 and last year received more visitors than London or Paris. Again, that’s worth the attention of would-be property investors, says Simon.

4. Portugal

Property markets in Portugal have been on the move since 2015. Some neighborhoods in Lisbon, for example, are now priced beyond what Simon believes is reasonable for an investment property. Other areas of this city, however, continue to offer good value and opportunity, especially if you’re up for a renovation project.

In this, the fourth quarter of 2019, Simon recommends focusing on the lesser-visited areas along the country’s Algarve coast and the Porto region north of Lisbon. And in Portugal, it’s possible for a non-resident to obtain a mortgage for the purchase of a property.


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Travel : Thailand

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Travel : Thailand

By Kate Robertson

Enjoy it like a local

With a long-standing tourist industry, Thailand is often described as a magical place to visit. It is the number one destination in southeast Asia, and attracts millions of visitors each year. Combined with a population of more than 68 million, the multitude of people may seem daunting, but there are lots of places you can visit to avoid the crowds.

Buddha and prangs, Ayutthaya

Vibrant Bangkok

Even in the bustling city of Bangkok, consider visiting lesser-known temples, instead of the Grand Palace or Wat Pho (where the 46 metre long reclining Buddha lies) to stave off throngs of tourists. Take a tuk-tuk (three-wheeled motorcycle taxi) to Wat Ratchabophit or Wat Suthat to see impressive gold-leafed Buddhas, magnificent wall murals, pagodas and sweeping ceramic tiled roofs.

Intricate mosaics on temples.

At nearby Talad Trok Mo morning market, mingle with the locals and stroll the narrow alleyways where vendors are set up in front of crumbling shops. Here you can browse the fresh produce, meats and fascinating (often unrecognizable) food items. Take the time to watch flower vendors skillfully weave jasmine into beautiful, aromatic Thai garlands, which are worn on the wrist or hung over the rear view mirror in taxis for good luck. This is a good place to try some traditional street food like pad prik khing (a red curry with meat and long beans), or khanom buang (sweet Thai crepes).

Bangkok’s main river, Chao Phraya, connects with a maze of centuries-old canals. Hop aboard one of the local water taxis (traditional long-tailed boats) for a charming cruise down Bangkok Noi Canal, where you will see traditional stilted shacks mingled with beautiful temples, factories and upscale homes. Ask the driver to stop in front of the temple to feed the catfish, where women sell bags of stale bread (the catfish are protected here). If you’re lucky you’ll spot large monitor lizards sunning themselves on shore.

Natural Chiang Mai

Nestled amidst forested mountains, Thailand’s northern capital has a more rural, laid back feel. There are plenty of temples to see, but it’s also a great place to get in touch with Thailand’s natural side. Within a short jaunt from the city, you’ll experience lush green countryside, rainforest eco-reserves and Patara – an ethical elephant farm and rescue facility. At Patara, you will be assigned your own elephant for the day, and taught how to bathe, feed and ride it, as a keeper would.

Patara Elephant Farm & Sanctuary.

Bordered by Myanmar and Laos, not only is the climate cooler in Chaing Mai, but the food is less spicy on the tongue than in other parts of Thailand. An example of this is their most popular street food khao soi – a Burmese-influenced, rich noodle soup with seasonings and chunks of meat, topped with crispy noodles.

Thai massage is available everywhere and is very affordable. Indulge in a luxurious treatment at CHI – the spa at Shangri-La Hotel. Your masseuse will lead you down small pathways, over bridges and alongside ponds to your own private hut where you will be pampered, starting off with a salt foot scrub in rose-petal water.

Karsts around Krabi.

Krabi Island Hopping

With more than 100 islands nearby, the beach resort town of Krabi, located on the Andaman coastline, is the perfect place for island hopping. Here, the vivid turquoise ocean is dotted with dramatic karsts (limestone formations rising out of the water) and blanketed with emerald green foliage. It’s hard to capture a pictorial reference, even in your imagination.

Floating restaurant, Ban Ko Klang.

A 10-minute boat ride through the mangroves will take you to Ban Ko Klang island, which is a predominately Muslim fishing community. Local initiatives here include the farming of a special sang yod rice (violet/reddish in colour) and batik-making to help to sustain the local economy. Without cars on the island, you’ll have to rely on a tuk-tuk for a tour of the tiny villages, where you’re likely to see water buffalos and goats grazing in expansive fields along the way. Take note of the song birds that hang in cages outside of each home – the more birds, the higher the family status. Before you leave, make sure you enjoy a fresh fish lunch in the peaceful ambiance of one of the rustic floating restaurants.


Founded in 1350, Ayutthaya was once the capital of Thailand before it was attacked and burned by the Burmese army in 1767. A guided bicycle tour is a great way to visit the many archaeological ruins of Buddhist monasteries and prangs (reliquary towers), which point to how majestic this city once was. After the ride, reward yourself with a bag of sai mai (threads of sweet, colourful cotton candy), which are sold everywhere on the streets.

Although Thailand is smaller in size than the the province of Alberta, there are so many amazing things to see and do, you’ll be planning your return trip before you even arrive home.

Photography, Kate Robertson


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