THE BLOG
04/10/2013 07:51 am ET Updated Jun 10, 2013

Why A Real Estate Investment Overseas Can Double As A Retirement Plan

If you've got a little money to invest, what should you think about doing with it?

My unequivocal response to that question, which I receive from readers every day, is: Buy real estate overseas.

An investment in a piece of real estate in another country is the best, smartest thing you could do with your money right now. How can I make that statement with such confidence?

Reason #1: Like real estate anywhere, real estate overseas is a hard asset, and, in the current investment climate, hard assets are the most sensible investment class, the best choice for storing value...

Reason #2: As with real estate anywhere, you're buying with the hope of capital appreciation, but you can also be buying for cash flow, right now an important investment agenda...

Reason #3: Real estate overseas provides portfolio diversification -- diversification of currency, diversification of market, and diversification of asset type (rental, raw land, condo-hotel, etc.)...

Reason #4: Real estate overseas provides the opportunity for you to position yourself to profit from both expanding and crisis markets...

Reason #5: Real estate overseas can double as a retirement plan -- today's investment can be tomorrow's retirement residence...

Reason #6: Real estate overseas can double as a holiday home, an investment that you and your family are able to use and enjoy from the day you make it...

Reason #7: Real estate overseas can be part of a legacy of wealth that you leave to your heirs...

Reason #8: Real estate overseas is safe and private, one of but two remaining asset types that an American need not report to the IRS every year...

Reason #9: A real estate investment overseas can bring tax advantages, including deductions you can take on your U.S. tax return...

Reviewing this list of reasons to buy real estate overseas, you notice that, big picture, it breaks itself down into two categories -- category 1: investment; category 2: lifestyle. Different agendas that, for the best results, should be considered in unison.

Another thing to notice about this list of reasons to put your time and money into the acquisition of real estate overseas is that, fundamentally, it's all about diversification. This is the real advantage of this strategy -- diversification of your portfolio and your assets, but diversification, too, of your life, your retirement, and your legacy.

We are living at a time that presents the opportunity to take the investor's profit agenda, combine it with the live-better-for-less agenda of the retiree, and transfer it overseas. An opportunity to use overseas real estate as both an investment vehicle and a strategy for a new and better life, both immediately and longer term in retirement. Overseas real estate amounts to the surest strategy for creating and preserving legacy wealth while simultaneously reinventing your life and rescuing your retirement.

Thanks to global market events of the past half-dozen years, many options exist right now for where to buy to make money while also making a new life, and, thanks to our Age of the Internet, it is possible today to seize these opportunities easily and cost-effectively to build a new life while staying in real-time touch with family, friends, business concerns, and investment portfolios from the old one.

The best case is when you are able to find a piece of real estate in a place where you want to spend time, short term on vacation and long term in retirement, that also holds out the potential for an investment return, in the form of capital appreciation, rental return, or both. This perfect storm of objectives should be your ultimate goal. A holiday home on the beach of Nicaragua can become little more than a headache and a carrying cost if you ultimately decide you can't abide life in the tropics.

The reasons to diversify your investment portfolio and your lifestyle to include real estate overseas have never been more compelling than they are right now. But, you may be thinking, who does this, really? Isn't this a strategy of the jet-set? No, it's not.

I come from middle-class Baltimore, my husband Lief hails from middle-class Phoenix. We started our overseas real estate adventures with next-to-nothing. Lief made his first property investment using a $5,000 gift from a family member. I made mine with the help of partners.

I've been covering the live and invest overseas beat for nearly three decades. In that time, I've met thousands of others, at conferences and in my travels, who, likewise, have built adventure-filled lives that include real estate holdings overseas, and I can't think of one of them who I'd describe as jet-set. These are all regular folks, representing all demographics. The critical common denominator is a willingness to consider opportunities that fall outside traditional comfort zones.

The two most common reasons for resistance to the idea of investing in real estate overseas can be a general uncertainty about how to go about it and a more specific concern about the cost. Can the average investor or retiree really afford to pursue this strategy? Yes. You could get started with as little as $50,000 to $100,000 of working capital, sometimes less.

How can you be sure something won't go wrong?

You can't. It will. There are risks, and, as with any kind of investing, nothing is guaranteed. Don't let that deter you. What's the option? To do nothing? To keep your assets, your retirement, and your future all at home, all in one place? Would that be safer or more prudent? No.

You must diversify, both your investments and your life. It's a necessity of the world we're living in.

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