Wednesday, April 07, 2010
When buying an overseas home, most of us don’t give a lot of thought to recreational activities. Fact is, the search for an overseas home is so exciting that we tend not to think beyond finding the home itself. Yet once the initial novelty of the property and new location wears off, most of us want will want some entertainment…restaurants, art galleries, theatres, museums, or perhaps outdoor sport. Or maybe nightclubs, dancing, and the local pub scene are more your scene.
Regardless of your own preferences, availability of entertainment is not just important to you as a homeowner, but also makes your home more desirable if you plan on renting it, or selling it on in the future.
Based on my own experience, here’s where you’ll find that wealth of cultural activities and entertainment to enrich your life in Central and South America.
Culture buffs will enjoy the activities on offer in Cuenca, Ecuador’s cultural capital. Designated a Cultural Capital of Humanity by UNESCO in 1999, Cuenca hosts around 200 cultural events each year. You’ll hear jazz, and the blues, see art exhibitions, religious processions, and browse artisan fairs: and many events are free. Moreover, the historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with clean cobblestone streets, manicured plazas, and a rich variety of colonial buildings…yet property prices remain affordable.
A brand-new 700 square feet condo in Cuenca is $42,000. In a small 9-unit project in the historic district, the condo has garage space, central gas and hot water, and phone and internet lines pre-installed. Within walking distance of the historic district, an 8-bed 4-bath home with a yard needs some remodeling. Laid out as 2 apartments and a main house, over 3200 square feet, the property price tag is $120,000.
If your idea of entertainment revolves around the Great Outdoors, Costa Rica’s Southern Zone boasts just about every outdoor sport you can think of. Sport fishing. Whale watching. Swimming, surfing and sea kayaking. Zip lining. White-water rafting. Hiking. Bird watching. Exploring the wilderness, in immense national parks like Corcovado.
It was difficult getting here, but this rugged, lush landscape is opening up with infrastructure upgrades, including a new road and a planned international airport. The gold standard of developments in the area is Pacific Lots, where home sites start at just $40,000.
The clear winner for culture is Buenos Aires. This thriving metropolis is home to 13 million people. It’s buzzing, lively and energetic. Thanks to that large population, the city hosts world-class cultural events.
There’s tango, both dancing and music, in out-of-the-way bars and live on the streets of San Telmo and La Boca.
Teatro Colon, considered one of the world’s finest theatres, hosts performances of ballet, opera, classical music and plays. Inaugurated in 1908, the list of appearing artists is stellar: Nijinsky, Pavarotti, Callas, and Stravinsky. Currently undergoing restoration, the theater re-opens in May with a varied schedule—Don Giovanni and Yo-Yo Ma are two of the highlights.
The city is dotted with art galleries, museums, historic churches, cathedrals and elegant period buildings. Uncover the life of Eva Peron in the Evita museum…or explore the Museo Nacional’s 32 exhibit halls. Buenos Aires even preserves the homes of noted writers, composers, and artists, such as Carlos Gardel, the renowned tango singer.
You’ll find an art and antiques fair in San Telmo on the weekends, with vintage clothing, crystal and metal ware, coins and collectibles. If you prefer crafts, an artisan fair in Recoleta sells hand-made jewelry and gifts.
The city nightlife is second to none, with nightclubs, jazz clubs, and gourmet restaurants. The city’s Luna Park arena draws premier music acts from around the world, circuses and sporting events.
A 91 square meter (980 square feet) loft apartment is for sale in the heart of the city. In a period building, it’s close to restaurants, shopping and nightlife. With 12-foot ceilings, 10-foot French doors leading to a balcony, and a modern kitchen, the airy apartment is ready to live in, for $130,000. Beside Recoleta’s famous cemetery and artisan market, a new 50 square meter apartment (538 square feet) will cost you $147,000. You could spend a lazy afternoon browsing the market, or admiring the mausoleums of presidents, writers and noted sportsmen.
Owning a property in Uruguay is a good way to savor Buenos Aires’ culture and entertainment options—and avoid the big-city crowds, and the annoyances such as heavy traffic and noise. It’s an easy trip by ferry across to Buenos Aires, from Colonia or Montevideo. Montevideo has its own museums and galleries, and theaters, including the national theater, Teatro Solis. You’ll still find plenty of entertainment in Montevideo—with Buenos Aires’ larger-scale, more diverse offerings close by.
And property prices are much more enticing in Montevideo than in Buenos Aires. A 75 square meter (800 square feet) apartment on one of Montevideo’s nicest plazas has wood floors, two bedrooms and a price tag of $55,000. A large 2-bedroom apartment with antique tiles and wood floors is $89,900, for 118 square meters (1270 square feet). The apartment has city and river views. A centrally located building dating to the 1920s with wood floors, and elaborate ceiling moldings, is $110,000…for 140 square meters of living space (1506 square feet). These prices are around half of what you’d pay for similar property in Buenos Aires.
There’s more to overseas living than hanging out in a hammock and watching the world pass by (much as we all love doing that from time to time). Finding a property with easy access to entertainment—whether that’s live jazz, sport fishing, or more museums than you can visit in a single day—is not difficult once you know where to look, and can help you make new friends. Moreover, a menu of entertainment options increases your home’s desirability for those all-important potential renters and buyers.
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