Thursday, April 15, 2010

Guanajuato, Mex. -- Buy It Sight Unseen

I have written about this before: Gringos who buy a house sight unseen or buy it on a whim knowing absolutely nothing about the culture. It happens more often than you might think. Here is a forum post from a lady living in Honduras. She writes of the very same thing. Unbelievably, it goes on there as well.

Most women would not buy a dress without seeing it, touching it, trying it on unless there was no other choice, and − this is a big one − unless there was a pretty good guarantee that they could get their money back if it didn't fit. For sure most men would never buy a car without first taking it for a test drive and kicking the tires. Lots of people won't even commit to buying a new flavor ice cream unless they can taste it firstto make sure that they like it!

Why, why,why, then will so many people quit their job, 'sell the farm', pack up and move to a foreign country without trying it out first? Or even worse, buy a property in a foreign country without ever seeing it or after only a week-long visit to the country, listening to promises about how all the locals are so nice and there will be water, electricity, security, roads, .... Some day. "As soon as enough lots are sold...."


The truth is, for both foreign and local investors, that day doesn't always come. The money is spent and the contractor or the developer, and maybe the nice attorney to whom he probably introduced you to handle your purchase, have both moved on to fresh
territory. The Honduran courts rarely help foreigners to get their money back from a fraudulent deal and that probably is true for most Central American countries as well as Mexico.

The Honduran courts rarely help foreigners to get their money back from a fraudulent deal and that probably is true for most Central American countries as well as Mexico.

Those who quit their job, 'sold the farm', and moved only to find out after a few months or a couple of years that the life in a third-world country is not for them are the ones who are really suffering needless expenses.

You could be stuck trying to sell a property in a foreign country for months or years while meanwhile trying to figure out how and where you will live in another country since you no longer have a liquid nest egg.

Some locations in Honduras have most of the things you could want.

What will you do when rainy season or a hurricane or earthquake washes the road and bridge out and you can't get there? That quaint little colonial town may seem an ideal place to live.

What if you have health problems or have an accident? Believe it or not, there are many places where no doctor or hospital is available, or at least not one that you would want to go to.

You probably will not want to send your children to a Honduran public school and good private schools are hard or impossible to find in some areas.

You can and should find out about all of these things in advance of a permanent move.

Renting a house in the area where you think you want to live is cheap.

If things don't work out for whatever reason, all you have to do is pack up and leave.

Just remember, though, that people who didn't make it in their new country will rarely be blogging about it, nor will you likely find them talking about their experiences in internet discussion groups.

While reading everything you can about these topics is a very good first step, there is no substitute for trying it out yourself personally.

The way to find out if your expectations can be met is come for a long stay.

They will probably want a house just a little bigger and better appointed.

They will probably want a kitchen with more than 18 inches of counter space.

They will want internet service, a good sized TV, cable service, and their own car.

They may want to travel and go out to eat a little more often.

They may want to splurge every now and then on those expensive imported items that they miss from home.

They will probably not want a wood burning stove or to wash their clothes on a scrub board.

Maybe you'll even find the perfect dream house on the internet being sold by an honest person.

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