04/12/2013 07:03 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Move Overseas and Feel Like a Genius

The Internet is a wonderful thing. From a small condo high in the Ecuadorian Andes Mountains, we can view properties for sale in Omaha, Nebraska. During winter, this is the perfect way to see properties in Omaha if you no longer own a parka and mukluks.

It's fun to keep tabs on things like property prices and cost of living back home, especially when we don't live there anymore. When we see some of the prices and remember how much the overhead costs are to live there, we feel almost like geniuses for moving to Ecuador.

Example... a beautiful 2,520-square-foot, two-floor condo in Omaha's trendy Old Market neighborhood that was listed at $310,000 four years ago is now asking $210,000. A nice price reduction, you might say... except that the taxes, utilities, and Home Owners' Association fees haven't gone down a bit in that time. Annual property taxes are about $6,500 (or almost $550 per month), and the HOA runs $265 per month... and no, heating and air conditioning costs are not included. In Nebraska, heating and air conditioning are not luxuries -- they're necessary for survival.


Add it all up, and then throw in another $65 a month for homeowner's insurance. That makes just the annual carrying costs for this place about the same as our total annual budget in Ecuador -- and that's for everything... food, utilities, taxes, water, electricity, Internet, satellite TV, transportation, HOA dues, and a steady supply of Chilean wine.

In other words, we can live for an entire year on what the owner of that condo would pay just to keep the walks shoveled, the pipes from freezing, and the tax assessor off his back.

So are we really geniuses?

No. We just learned that we had options. Lots of them.

There are dozens of places... some far from the U.S., but many pretty darn close... where the cost of living is significantly lower and the weather is significantly better than in many parts of the U.S. These significant savings and improved comfort levels add up to a greatly improved quality of life.

All you have to do is know where these places are, and what it takes to get to them and live in them. And of course, you must be willing to think outside the U.S. box.

It's a time-proven formula that people living abroad have known for years... better weather plus lower cost of living equals a better life. And depending on where you choose to live, you can do all this without sacrificing a thing in quality health care and other modern services.

Where are these places, and what does it take to move to and live in them?

Those we've lived in ourselves include Ecuador, Panama, Nicaragua, and three places in Mexico, and those we've traveled to and reported about include Belize, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and even more places in Mexico.

That's just a partial list of the Latin American possibilities... and there are just as many likely spots around the rest of the world.

And from the right home in the right location in any one of them, you can compare property prices and cost of living for homes back in northern climes and you, too, can feel like a genius.