Top 10 Places To Buy Property Abroad

5bd08041383c6cedeabc17f6edc460f77820249a60528da1afcacf4a5dc955ab research the best place to buy holiday homes, beachfront property, coastal and investment property. We take account the top places to retire abroad looking at the cost of living, prices of property and healthcare

You will find links to further reading to expand your search for the best overseas property destination.

Our top ten places are

1. Costa Rica

Costa Rica, a popular, safe, low-stress place for tourists and U.S. expats, jumped from No. 4 to No. 1 in this year’s International Living Annual Global Retirement Index. The economy is growing, the thermal springs are bubbling and the beaches are enticing.

How to buy property in Costa Rica

If you are thinking of buying land in Costa Rica for the views, make sure the view cannot be taken away by new construction or neighbours who let trees grow too high. If possible, have your attorney constitute a view easement on the neighbouring properties to avoid having your view blocked. More research at buying land in Costa Rica 

Can foreigners buy real estate in Costa Rica?
Unlike some of the other countries, foreigners have the same rights when purchasing land in Costa Rica as locals do. You can own a property outright in your own name or in the name of your corporation. You do not need a local partner, except in cases of beachfront concession property, where special rules apply.

Common questions about buying in Costa Rica

Q. How much does it cost to buy a home in Costa Rica?

In Santa Ana, a 3-bedroom single family home currently costs about US$212,000, according to the well-respected In Ojochal, a similar property might cost around US$265,000. In Tamarindo, 3-bedroom houses are priced at US$375,ooo.

Q. How much are real estate taxes in Costa Rica?

Property taxes in Costa Rica are ridiculously low. You will pay 0.25% property tax on the value appraised and registered by the city, which is always a lot lower than the real value. A $200,000 property might be registered by the city for $50K and will, therefore, pay $125/annually.


International Living says health care is “good to excellent.” Private health care typically costs a quarter to half of what it does in the U.S. If you have a residence visa, you can get Mexico’s public health care for a few hundred dollars a year. That public healthcare is free if you’re over 60 and a legal resident.

Mexican Law: Property Ownership

Mexican Law provides for private ownership of land by foreigners, and its law is very specific about the way in which land rights should be transferred from seller to buyer, and also what type of lands are not eligible for public ownership. A Notary Public (see below) will guide you through the details of these, but generally:

Property may be purchased and owned outright for residential use by foreign nationals outside of the 100km restricted land border zone, or outside of the 50km coastal zone;

Inside of the restricted border/coastal zones, foreign nationals may own land through a fidecomiso (a trust) which is set up through a bank and provides for ownership of the land and property in all but name.

The Mexican Constitution previously banned foreign nationals from owning property that was within the restricted border zones. This old law was intended to protect Mexican soil from foreign invasion. Learn more at Buying Sellking Real Estate in Mexico

3. Panama 


An expat favourite because of its proximity to the United States, sunny Panama scored well in this year’s International Living rankings for many reasons. Chief among them: the country’s famed benefits and discounts for retirees and its ease of obtaining residency. Panama Property 

What are the Property prices like in Panama?

The worldwide economic downturn has not affected property prices in Panama very much and the influx of foreign investors in the country has managed to keep the situation fairly steady. It is possible to purchase a property off plan at a very reasonable price and usually with a good discount. As there are many developments taking place across the country these bargains can be found in most places. However, when the properties are finished, there is not often much negotiating that can be done. Most sellers are happy to hold on to a property until there is a purchaser who is willing to pay the asking price. With the increased investment in Panama, it is expected that property prices will increase by around 6% each year.

Great advice can be found at ExpatFocus Panama Buying Property

4. Ecuador 


A family of four can live on about $1,200 a month, not including rent. A semi-furnished one-bedroom apartment in the colonial city of Cuenca goes for about $200 a month. Search real estate listings in Ecuador

Buying Property in Ecuador

Anyone in the world can freely buy property in Ecuador. You can arrive in the country, and buy real estate the very same day using only your passport as identification. This is not just a policy of the current administration that can easily be changed – the Ecuador constitution guarantees the right to buy and hold the property for everyone, citizens and foreigners alike. In fact, once you are in the country with a valid visa, the Ecuador Constitution guarantees that you have the same legal rights as Ecuadorian citizens, with the exception that you can not vote!

Additionally, there are no restrictions on owning beachfront property as there is in some other countries. There has never been a case of the government “seizing” foreign-owned real estate (and to be fair, even in other countries (i.e. Mexico) the problems have mostly been the result of buying property that the seller did not have the right to sell – a proper title search, or buying title insurance, mitigates this risk). Some great tips on buying property in Ecuador by

5. Malaysia


Malaysia scored best of the 24 countries ranked in the Entertainment and Amenities category. A special favourite of locals: street food. Malaysia Property 

6. Colombia


Colombia scores high for health care, too. The World Health Organization ranked it No. 22 out of 191 for the quality of care, ahead of the United States and Canada.

There are a couple important points to remember when buying real estate in Colombia as a foreigner. The Colombian marketplace is not over-leveraged. Deals are done in cash and there is no substantial discount for paying in cash if any. In most real estate transactions, you will see between a 3% to 8% discount in the negotiation. If you are looking for repossessions, in many cases these deals are controlled by a small group of people and, while not impossible to obtain, is very difficult to cut into this circle.

There is no Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in Colombia. So, if you are buying or renting this can make it difficult to find all the properties available in the cities in Colombia. And real estate agents may not know about a perfect property for you that is available for sale or rent. Not having a MLS can also make it challenging to find comps and understand market prices.Colombia Facebook Page

7. Portugal


International Living names Portugal “Europe’s Best Retirement Haven” and competitor Live and Invest Overseas is a fan too, just dubbing Lisbon, Portugal its No. 1 place to live in the world.

How difficult is the property purchase process in Portugal?

There are no restrictions on foreign property ownership.

The process of property purchase in Portugal is quite straightforward. Once a buyer has found a suitable property the next thing to do is to hire the services of a lawyer who will guide and assist the buyer through the process.

Property Transfer Tax

Property transfer tax is levied at varying rates, depending on the property classification. The tax base is the selling price of the property or current market value of the property, whichever is higher.

Property transfer tax is levied at a flat rate of 6.5% for urban properties, and 5% for agricultural properties. The tax rate is from 0% to 6% if the property will be used as the buyer´s residence. However, if the property buyer resides in a low-tax jurisdiction place, then the applicable rate is 10%.

Health care is remarkably affordable, though there can be some bureaucratic red tape. See: Portugal Buying Guide At Global Property Guide Portuguese Property 

8. Nicaragua


Expats tend to favour Granada and San Juan del Sur, where locals speak some English, though knowing Spanish can be helpful.

9. Spain


The other European country in International Living’s Top 10 (neighbouring Portugal is No. 7), laidback Spain is growing increasingly popular among U.S. expats. Its cost of living is one of the lowest in Europe and the living itself is very much First World, especially in cities such as Madrid and Barcelona. As a property buyer in Spain you now have a wealth of bargain properties to choose from in virtually every property sector, from luxury villas and townhouses through to beachside apartments, commercial properties and fincas in the countryside. Sellers are desperate and you can negotiate hard before buying a property that, even in these hard times, will prove to be a sound long-term investment – as well as a pleasure to live in! Interesting guide at  How to Buy Property Safely in Spain

Spanish homes for sale by owner

view our latest property listings from Spain

10. Peru


International Living’s Peru Correspondent Steve LePoidevin says Peru is “not in the top countries when it comes to public health care,” although there is “a large network of excellent private clinics and hospitals.” A health insurance policy can cost as little as $100 a month.

Once you have found the property you wish to buy, you will need to gather information on the legal title with the Public Registry called SUNARP (“Superintendencia Nacional de los Registros Publicos”). The first step is to ask the owner to give you his personal information (such as his full name) and details of the property you are interested in; with these in hand, you can request the “Certificado Registral Inmobilario” (commonly known as a “CRI”). You should have your lawyer help you interpret this document because it details the identity of the previous and current owner(s), the location and size of the property, as well as the existence of mortgages or liens against the property. More information on how to buy a property in Peru at details at Expat Peru

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