Escape Artist Conference Spotlight
Latin America: A Place to Call Home
This past weekend, Escape Artist hosted its second U.S. conference in Phoenix, Arizona (March 16-17, 2019.) At the event, an engaged group of like-minded individuals looking to get more out of life by going offshore gathered to share and receive up-to-date information on all things offshore, from residency options to offshore taxes and compliance. It was a great weekend with many fantastic speakers and conference attendees alike!
As a long-term expat myself, and a speaker at this event, I was excited to share my experiences and knowledge with those around me wanting to learn some of the hacks and secrets about a successful offshore and expat experience. We also discussed the fact that Latin America is an ideal place to not only live, but a location to discover lucrative offshore investment opportunities.
It’s common knowledge that Latin America is a beautiful region with all kinds of geography. Everything from warm weather to glaciers, beaches to mountains, colonial cities to secluded beach resorts, and everything in-between. The region holds incomparable beauty and a host of rich cultures. These factors are a big draw. As is the close proximity to North America.
An Incredible Variety of Geographies to Choose from in Latin America
But what many may overlook when heading overseas is the importance of community. Without community, living abroad can be lonely. It’s common to feel like an outsider in your new home. A community helps us adjust. Friends may not create the quality of life, but they are essential as a network to enjoy it.
Gran Pacifica is a great example of a community created by ECI. Gran Pacifica is located along 3.5 miles of Pacific beachfront in Nicaragua. What was a 2,500-acre cattle ranch just 15 years ago, I now like to call a “little town by the sea.” Residents and guests enjoy the company of friends on the golf course, at the clubhouse, and over drinks or a meal at the ocean side bar and restaurant. Each is a crucial element in the creation of community.
Gran Pacifica – A Former Cattle Ranch Now a Small Town by the Sea
Living in a community means a happier life connecting with those around you. Making new memories and not missing out on what you loved about living back home are the tipping points for any real community.
It is important for expats to create their own community, but it is also vital and rewarding to reach out into the local communities nearby as well. Service can be as easy as reading in English to the local children. When local community members know English, the amount of money they can earn goes up significantly over their lifetime. Making a difference can really be that easy.
Low Cost of Living
Living in Managua, Nicaragua, for 14 years, I speak from my own experiences as a full-time expat. I’m not afraid to admit that my wife and I “drank the expat Kool-Aid.” We found a very affordable cost of living, and paradoxically, a far higher quality of life raising 2 daughters overseas.
Girl Scouts, Dance Lessons, and Dance Costumes for a Fraction of the Price Up North
A high price tag does not necessarily mean better quality of life. In fact, in Latin America, a higher quality of life comes with a much smaller price tag. Everything is simply less expensive in the region. Raising children with all the activities, dance and Girl Scouts in our case, was unbelievably inexpensive. Take the following examples as evidence.
For just $160 a month, we had a full-time maid. For just $160 a month, our family had no chores and we had the time to enjoy our life in Nicaragua. As a family, we had plenty of time together playing, enjoying the culture, and exploring what the region had to offer. My wife luxuriated with an in-home weekly massage costing less than $20! Talk about quality of life enhancement for a few bucks.
And then there’s the food. Do you like eating organic? A large bag of organic fruit and vegetables were delivered to our home every Tuesday and was only $8. We could and did add hormone-free eggs and cheese every week. When my wife was feeling nice to me, she’d add free range beef to the mix. There is no doubting that Central and South America can cut your expenses significantly without having to give up on quality of life!
Local Market with Organic, Free Range, and Hormone-Free Everything
Yes, the fun parts of life are much less expensive, but don’t forget about your health. The healthcare in Latin America is also inexpensive, which may sound synonymous to lower quality. But that’s not the case.
Many cities in Latin America offer high-quality healthcare for a fraction of the cost of North American healthcare. JCI Gold Accredited hospitals and partnership facilities with U.S. hospitals like Johns Hopkins are located throughout the region. Our family used these facilities and elected to have many treatments in these healthcare systems. Even my daughter, a dancer, had an operation on her feet while living in Nicaragua.
Excellent Medical Care in the Region
Living abroad does not mean leaving behind your quality of life and your safety. It means you’ll get more out of it. This is the paradox of a higher quality of life and a lower cost of living that’s possible South-of-the-Border.
Why Invest in Latin America?
One of the biggest demographics seeking a new life in Latin America is retirees. They want, and may need more from their retirement savings and Social Security checks than they can buy in North America. That’s not the only demographic of people that are looking to make the move. Digital Nomads of every generation are on the move, too. Retirees are, however, the most highly motivated in many cases.
Retirees Living Large on Social Security Income
Think about this. Every day for the next 17 years, 11,500 U.S. and Canadian baby boomers will retire. Baby boomers are a demographic with disproportionate wealth. As only 1/3 of the population, they control over 2/3 of the wealth and investments in the U.S. Additionally, according to a Zogby survey, 1 out of 10 individuals living in the U.S. have considered owning property overseas. This means that there are 11,500 individuals daily looking for an affordable and fun way to spend their golden years. They have the money to do so but realize that they can stretch it further overseas.
While the region is more than ideal for retirees in terms of community and low cost of living, there is an emerging population of digital nomads that are also seeking an inexpensive community. Digital nomads are groups of people who are able to work remotely. In fact, the entire Escape Artist team works right from their computer, opening up a world of travel and living opportunity!
The migration trend into Latin America is why the region is becoming not only a place to live, but also a place to invest. Serving this growing community of expats with products and services they need and want puts an investor smack dab in the middle of the path of progress.
Countries like Belize, Argentina, Nicaragua, Panama, and Costa Rica are all significantly growing in popularity. When I purchased my first rental property in 1994, Belize was a niche market, mostly men looking for diving, fishing, and simple, low-end accommodations.
Over 25 years, I’ve watched as the country has grown to an expat hotspot with family-friendly attractions and thriving community. Now with the development of a Marriott Resort and Residences in Belize, accommodations are catching up to the type of customer flying to Belize on Southwest Airlines.
Marriott Vice President Rahul Vir Celebrating ECI’s Marriott Launch Announcement
Argentina is less popular than Belize but is close behind as developers are now seeing the importance in not just creating houses, but also building a community in which people can see themselves living. A vineyard community by ECI in the Mendoza province of Argentina is the first of its kind serving middle-class consumers with a product unaffordable in the U.S.
ECI built a business serving these consumers. We are actively recruiting JV partners and investors to grow alongside our company. Adventurous folks looking to start a business overseas, build homes, condominiums, run a health club or restaurant, or simply own and manage rental properties are welcome to reach out.
ECI’s 23 years of experience make a great basis for entrepreneurs looking to partner in the region. JV partners build upon 2 decades of relationships and experience. Home and condo builders can forgo the costs and time of permits and construction basic services and infrastructure. There are powerful synergies to partnering with ECI if you are looking at developing a business overseas.
Escape Artist Conference
Learn more about a life or investment overseas. We are currently planning the next Escape Artist Conference and we want you to be there with us. If you are ready to expand your horizons, discover what going offshore can do for you and meet me in person at the next event. Hope to see you there.
Michael K. Cobb is the CEO and co-founder of ECI Developments which has properties throughout Latin America. He speaks all over the world on international real estate and is a board member of the National Association of Realtors.
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