Finding a steal in the U.S. is probably not going to happen. Housing affordability is diminishing, and in some markets homes are even less affordable now than they were in the heyday of the housing bubble. So investors, retirees and adventurous buyers are looking internationally for options that offer a better bang for their buck.
Homebuyers open themselves up to more options and a larger range of price points when they’re willing to look in countries other than the U.S. Plus, if a foreign market is experiencing rapid growth, there’s a greater likelihood that buyers will get a large return on their investment.
But house-hunting abroad comes with its own set of hurdles. Namely, home financing is a very different process outside our borders. Interest rates can be higher and in some places down payments need to be larger. Also, buyers used to scrolling through listing websites won’t find as much luck finding properties as they would in the U.S. — many other countries don’t have the multiple listing service to catalog available properties. And of course, there are language and legal barriers to face.
If you’re considering an international investment property, step one is to find a good real estate attorney who understands the country’s laws, especially if you’re not fluent in the local language.
But if you’re ready to take the plunge, consider these 5 places where your return on investment could be as nice as your coastal view. We worked with Live and Invest Overseas, a publication and research company specializing in international living, to determine the best international property buys for 2015. In culling the list, the firm considered many factors, including market events, currency fluctuations and tourism.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
On Ambergris Caye, the largest island in Belize, there aren’t many homes you wouldn’t consider “beachfront.” Its mild weather, tropical landscape and numerous recreational opportunities make it a highly sought-after destination for real estate investors and vacationers.
Ambergris Caye has recovered from the global housing crisis, but has retained prices that are still less expensive than similar Caribbean locations. You could snag a two-bedroom beachfront condo for around $250,000 or a one-bedroom condo just off the beach for $150,000 or less.
If the beach isn’t your thing, consider buying property in the Cayo district of Belize. The mountainous area with lush jungles has condo prices that are usually half as expensive as the ones on Ambergris Caye: Two or three-bedroom houses can cost less than $100,000.
Housing developments geared toward American retirees have also been popping up in the area, with homes starting at around $130,000. These feature amenities many people in the U.S. are looking for, like well-paved roads, underground utilities, air conditioning and high-speed internet.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
It’s expensive to rent a home in Puerto Vallarta. That’s bad news for renters, but it makes the city an interesting option for homebuyers who want to own a vacation property and rent it out for the majority of the year.
Puerto Vallarta draws visitors and residents alike with its thriving art scene, close proximity to the Pacific Ocean and Sierra Madre Mountains and its world-class food. It may not be the cheapest place to buy property on this list, but it’s a much better deal than looking in comparable U.S. regions like Southern California.
Samaná Peninsula, Dominican Republic
The Samaná Peninsula, which jets out into the Atlantic Ocean from the northeastern Dominican Republic, draws visitors and investors with its pristine beaches, whale-watching and nightlife. It also has pretty great real estate prices.
While there isn’t too much potential for a high rental yield, homebuyers can typically find a one-bedroom apartment for less than $100,000 that is likely to grow in value. High-end developments with lots of amenities will run you a bit more, usually just over $200,000.
Medellín, the “city of eternal spring” in Colombia, is still trying to overcome its association with the now-deceased drug lord Pablo Escobar. The good news for homebuyers is that this unfortunate history kept the city’s real estate prices low compared to the rest of the country — and now it’s a lot safer to live there. Despite the fact that prices are increasing an average rate of 5 to 8 percent each year, you can still find nice one or two-bedroom apartments for less than $100,000.
The incredible transformation of Colombia’s second-largest city is garnering attention from both adventure-loving tourists and retirees. It’s a great time to invest in real estate there, particularly in the El Poblado neighborhood.
-See more: www.cbsnews.com/media/top-10-international-places-to-invest-in-real-estate/7/