International Real Estate Then and Now

International Living has been showing you how to live the good life in appealing destinations around the world for 40 years now. Since the beginning we’ve looked at several factors in our recommendations: cost of living, warm weather, healthcare, stable government, safety, culture, and…goodvalue property.

We try to focus on places where property prices will go up, allowing savvy buyers to not only own property and live in beautiful places…but also see their asset grow in value. Not every location has that potential. But “under the radar” destinations that benefit from good location, ideal climate, beautiful landscapes, focus of government investment (often for tourism), improving infrastructure, and more are good candidates.

In the first years of IL, we highlighted many locales with such potential. And many have grown into what we envisioned… with increased home prices to match, although many remain affordable.

Dublin, Ireland—Comfortable Capital

Ireland’s capital and largest city is surprisingly manageable, with a city center you can explore on foot for the most part, with efficient public transportation available when you need it.

It’s a modern city with a historic edge, with a strong presence of traditional Irish culture. Be sure to pop into a pub for a taste of “trad” music, often played by patrons themselves.

In the third issue of the magazine, we noted the desirable townhouses in Dublin’s quiet neighborhoods south of the River Liffey. Property was available for bargain prices four decades ago—think up to $100,000 for a three-bedroom home—but we also noted the potential for price increases. And that’s certainly been proven right today, as prices have risen four-fold and more. One such property, a four-bedroom refurbished Victorian townhouse with a reception room, marble fireplace, large landscaped garden, and other luxury details, is on sale now for $2.19 million. You don’t have to go so high end, though. A three-bedroom townhouse walking to distance to shops and restaurants, is listed at $466,145.

Nosara, Costa Rica— Bohemian Haven on the Pacific

Costa Rica has long been a haven for retirees thanks to its stable government, low cost and high-quality healthcare, warm climate, and tropical beaches. When we first started highlighting the small Pacific beach town of Nosara, on the Nicoya Peninsula in the northwest part of the country, the town had a real pioneer spirit. There was no phone service and electricity was often spotty. Area roads were sometimes impassable. Over the years things have changed.

It’s still not the easiest place to get to and area roads are mostly dirt and gravel, but it’s become a world-renowned destination for surfing and yoga. There’s a real bohemian vibe in Nosara, with plenty of juice bars and vegetarian, vegan, and raw food dining options, but also boutiques and gourmet restaurants.

Homes on the hillside with panoramic ocean views are popular but pricey; the biggest bargain available now is a three-bedroom home set on 1.62 acres, with a swimming pool and mountain views, for $379,000. There are other options, including a two-bedroom casita a quick walk to Playa Pelada. It’s listed at $245,000. Back when we first mentioned Nosara, similar homes could be had for $60,000. See:

Montserrat—The Caribbean’s “Emerald Isle”

The British Overseas Territory of Montserrat, an island of just 40 square miles about 30 miles from Antigua, is mountainous and verdant, earning it the nickname the Emerald Isle because of its resemblance to Ireland’s coastal countryside. (There are also many residents of Irish ancestry; St. Patrick’s Day is a major holiday.)

Since 1995, the southern half of the island has been off-limits due to volcanic activity. But the northern side is being revitalized. Well before volcanic activity started, Montserrat was a low-cost Caribbean destination and it still has a low-key vibe, with few tourists.

But due to limited housing stock, homes, many perched on hillsides with expansive views, start at around $300,000. Not dirt cheap, but very affordable compared to many other Caribbean destinations. Typical costs of $50,000 to $100,000 were noted in International Living’s eighth issue.

Today, a two-bedroom home with ocean views and a swimming pool is available for $275,000. A home with three bedrooms on a hilltop (benefitting from sea breezes) and just five minutes drive from Little Bay, the current center of redevelopment, is available for $350,000.

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