They say home is where the heart is, but John Milton, the 17th-century English poet, argued „Our country is wherever we are well off.“
The trouble is, the average individual coping with a bad economy, mortgage concerns and job insecurity is anything but well-off-or even financially stable, for that matter. And their hearts and minds are not at home but rather wandering with worry about an uncertain future.
With a still-grim economic outlook, a high cost of living and a stock market that has caused 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts to lose considerable value, many Americans are delaying or reconsidering their retirement plans. Even with real estate prices still falling in parts of Florida, Arizona and other traditional retirement havens, a retirement home and comfortable lifestyle are still out of reach for many.
Those who are not yet near retirement are also having a rough time making ends meet. Some have lost their jobs and homes; others have fallen behind on mortgage payments and monthly bills.
But then you hear stories of people like the semi-retired widow who thought retirement was out of reach, then sold her $175,000 two-bedroom ranch and snapped up a one-bedroom condo in a comfortable retirement community for only $105,000, allowing her to put $70,000 in cash in the bank. And the young couple who traded in their $256,000 condo for a 2,100-square-foot three-bedroom house on an acre lot overlooking the ocean for just $149,000, putting an end to their money problems.
They are but two of the many, who, despite the current recession, continue to live well. Their secret? They traded down to live it up. In other words, they left their worries behind by moving to low-cost locales where less is more. There are plenty of places where you can scale back your cost of living without sacraficing your quality of life. Moving to a place with a lower cost of housing than where you are now will help stretch your dollars.
Whether you choose an undiscovered bargain somewhere in the United States or a cheap expatriate haven beyond our borders, there are places where you can leave your financial troubles behind.
Here are a few destinations to consider:
Old Florida: Away from packed tourist traps and retiree enclaves is the Florida of old. In one little-known place on the western side of the state, the weather is just as perfect, the coastal scenery equally stunning and the beaches as powdery, however, the real estate prices are far cheaper. Here, a comfortable home near the Gulf of Mexico can be had for under $200,000.
The Sunbelt: While many places across this warm, southern stretch have become full-fledged retirement havens with prices that have soared due to their growing popularity, there remain some hidden gems. In one quiet region everything is cheap, including houses, which start at $100,000.
The Northeast: If you don’t mind a four-season climate, there are many towns in the northern part of the country that offering easy living and low prices. In one small town close enough to New York City to enjoy its social and cultural offerings, but far enough away to leave the bustle behind, the average house sells for $150,000.
Mexico: Our neighbor just south of the border has more part-time American residents than any other country outside the U.S., thanks to its close proximity, alluring climate and relatively low cost-of-living. The idea of finding a seaside Mexican villa for pennies on the dollar may have long faded into history, but coastal real estate is still a fraction the cost of Florida and California oceanfront, and prices inland are even more attractive. There are still attractive and safe places in Mexico where you can still pick up a nice three-bedroom house for as little as $50,000. Annual property taxes on such a property: less than $40.
Nicaragua: With wars and unrest well behind it, this Central American country has emerged as an expatriate hideaway that rivals Costa Rica, but with much gentler prices. In many towns, comfortable single-family homes in move-in condition are selling for between $50,000 and $100,000. Groceries here cost less than half of what you pay back home.
Europe: In one emerging getaway in Eastern Europe you can find properties as charming as anything in rural Italy or France for a tenth of the price. Waterfront condos and villas can be picked up for prices that long vanished across the rest of the continent. One apartment with views of the sea is currently selling for under $40,000.
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Source by Shannon Roxborough