This winter’s polar vortex and the insane cold it wields in its icy grip is making our minds wander. We’re dreaming of bathtub-warm blue waters, palm trees, and living beachside in tropical climes. Say, the Caribbean or Central America.
This winter’s polar vortex and the insane cold it wields in its icy grip is making our minds wander. We’re dreaming of bathtub-warm blue waters, palm trees, and living beachside in tropical climes. Say, the Caribbean or Central America.
We hate to rouse you from this intoxicating reverie, but buying a beach crib in these locales isn’t exactly cheap. Or easy. Picturesque villas usually boast seven-digit price tags, and affordable options might make a Fyre Festival tent resemble a dream home.
Add in a daunting blend of foreign buying restrictions and regulations, unstable local economies, as well as crime, and your beach fantasy can turn into a living nightmare.
“The stakes are higher when investing outside the country. You need to really understand the rules. Do you need a visa to get into that country and live? Can you work in that country?” says Anthony Hitt, president and CEO of Engel & Völkers Americas, which includes Caribbean markets. “When people aren’t equipped with the answers, that’s when they get hurt.”
We found 10 towns outside the U.S. with a solid mix of safety, affordability, great beaches, and easy-going real estate rules. We made sure these towns are great for both full-time expats and folks planning to buy a part-time vacation home.
To arrive at our ranking, we first ruled out countries where buying real estate is overly restrictive for Americans. Adios, Cuba! Au revoir, Haiti!
Then we used the following criteria* to rank the remaining countries:
So burn that parka, scatter the ashes, and have a look at these sandy investments for savvy buyers.
Best Affordable Caribbean Beach Towns To Buy a Home
1. Tulum (Mexico)
Price per square meter in Mexico: $1,852
Finding sandy, white beaches with clear-blue waters in the Caribbean or Central America isn’t difficult. But Tulum separates itself from the destination pack by offering a lot more than beautiful beaches (although it has plenty of those).
Way down in southern Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula, the oceanside town is home to the Playa Ruinas, well-preserved Mayan ruins along the edge of the Caribbean Sea. It’s also home to one of the top culinary scenes south of the border.
Over the past decade, Tulum has watched its expat community explode. We can see why: Snorkeling in the azure waters can feel downright decadent, and dining on the day’s catch is tough to resist. And as more expats continue to talk up the virtues of Tulum, new homes and restaurants are under construction. So, the secret is a secret no longer.
“It has become more buzzy, and less off-the-grid,” says Tracey Minkin, senior editor at Coastal Living. “You’re going to a community in Tulum that has really good fashion, food, beaches, and yoga. You won’t be the first one there, and you’ll have to pay for that.”
But while prices in Tulum are high relative to Mexican home prices, they aren’t out of reach. This one-bedroom condo comes with a private swimming pool, but is priced at just $139,000. Many of the homes and condo buildings are closer to town, a 10-minute drive from the beach. But American buyers need to do their research before buying in Tulum: Mexico prohibits buying in some areas on the beach and requires foreign buyers to set up a trust through a Mexican bank.
2. Rodney Bay (St. Lucia)
Price per square meter in St. Lucia: $1,860
About 100 yards downstream from the Sulphur Springs, where volcanic activity forms hot pools, folks visiting the beautiful island of St. Lucia can wade into the hot mud and get dirty—in a good way.
That helps to explain why an expat community of Americans, Israelis, Cubans, and Chinese have waded into St. Lucia to stay. The island’s total population is a relatively scant 180,000 people, and most live in the Rodney Bay area, within walking distance to internationally known Reduit Beach on the island’s northwest side. You want long stretches of white sand, azure waters, and cool beach bars? You got it! Solitude? Not so much. It’s St. Lucia’s most popular spot, and a frequent disembarking point for cruise ships. (Don’t worry: More deserted beaches are a short drive away.)
Rodney Bay is a bustling area with the best shops, bars, and restaurants on the island. Cruise ships also dock in the area, which means there’s a regular inflow of tourists.
But finding a home, many of which are a quick walk from Reduit Beach, can be a murky endeavor. In order to buy property, Americans must hire an attorney (for about $5,000) to acquire a local license. For a sense of what’s available, we found a three-bedroom home for $495,000.
3. Dominical (Costa Rica)
Price per square meter in Costa Rica: $1,938
Dominical sits at the meeting point between the jungle, mountains, and the Pacific Ocean—and the elements combine to create spectacular views. The town is home to Dominical Beach, where rough waters and 10-foot waves have long made it a hot spot for surfers, but since the early 2000s it has seen a building boom and an influx of expats.
“Surfing is a big deal in Dominical: 365 days a year you have a wave to surf—not many places around the world can say that,” says Clinton Stephenson, an investment consultant at Costa Rica Real Estate Service. As a result, Dominical is a hub for thrill-seeking Americans and Canadians.
Stephenson says home buyers here tend to snap up Spanish Colonial–style homes with red tile roofs. Overall, prices on a single-family home range from $250,000 to over $4 million. Dominical sits at the water’s edge, and many of these homes are just a 10-minute drive or short walk from the ocean.
American buyers will also enjoy Costa Rica’s low, low property taxes—which amount to around 0.25% annually. In addition, Costa Rica property laws are fairly easygoing and foreign home buyers are treated the same as locals.
Price per square meter in Dominican Republic: $2,078
“The Dominican Republic is still remarkably more affordable than many nearby islands,” says Tony van der Heijden, a broker and co-owner of Immomexx Real Estate in Las Terrenas. “You can get a beachside property for half, even a quarter, of what you’d pay in Turks and Caicos.
So, tick the box for affordability!
On a stroll through the oceanside community of Playa Bonita, you’ll spot pastel-colored boats bobbing in the water and pink and yellow cottages. This quiet fishing town has grown into a vibrant Spanish, French, and Italian expat community. European pastry shops have even popped up to serve the nonlocals, according to reviews on TripAdvisor.com.
For sun seekers who prefer something far away from the madding tourist crowd, Bonita is best.
“Playa Bonita is for the people who want to settle down. They’re older, but not necessarily retirees,” says van der Heijden. “It’s a tranquil community, especially compared to other beaches in Dominican Republic.”
To purchase real estate here, Americans need only to present a copy of their passport. Expats can score two-bedroom condos for between $230,000 to $300,000—a sweet deal, considering many of these homes are within walking distance to the ocean.
5. Caye Caulker (Belize)
Price per square meter in Belize: $2,322
While most of us are grinding away at our 9-to-5s, the residents of Caye Caulker, a tiny island a few miles off the coast of Belize, are relaxing in hammocks or swings right above the shallow ocean waters. Or perhaps they’re snorkeling with manatees right off the shore. It’s simple to see why the population of Caye Caulker has doubled from 1,000 to 2,000 over the past decade.
This lovely isle is dotted with bright, colorful homes and shops. But what really draws people to this destination is its affordability. It’s known as a budget island where housing and food are both cheap (even if finding a hotel with air conditioning is challenging). The home-buying process is simple and similar to that of the U.S.
Luxury condos here sell for around $200,000, while five-bedroom homes right on the beach go for around $400,000. If you’re OK with a short walk to the beach, you can find something under $200,000.
Still not convinced? Caye Caulker is right next to the Belize Barrier Reef, perhaps the best place to snorkel in the Caribbean.
6. Maracas Bay Village (Trinidad and Tobago)
Price per square meter in Trinidad: $2,334
On the hour drive from Port of Spain—Trinidad and Tobago’s capital city—motorists wend their way through lush green trees and spot wildlife in the country’s rainforest. They eventually wind up with an awe-inspiring view of Maracas Bay and its beautiful blue waters.
There’s no language barrier for Americans here—the official language in Trinidad and Tobago is English. The local grub is solid: There’s everything from flavor-packed stews to tasty curries (fresh callaloo, anyone?). And there’s a sizable American expat community, with many members living in the Port of Spain area.
There’s also a growing group of expats in Maracas Bay, where locals can take a boat ride out and snorkel on its coral reef.
Foreign home buyers must acquire a license before completing a property purchase in Trinidad and Tobago. Three- and four-bedroom homes in the hillside with ocean views can top $600,000.
However, these homes can offer a nice return on investment if used as a rental. On Airbnb, a two-bedroom home is listed for around $275 a night—which is nearly $100,000 a year if fully booked.
7. Crane Bay (Barbados)
Price per square meter in Barbados: $2,739
Crane Bay is home to Crane Beach, routinely recognized as one of the prettiest beaches in the Caribbean. In fact, last month Condé Nast Traveler named it among the top beaches to visit this winter.
For those who want an adrenaline rush to go with their tan, there are plenty of options.
“There are cliffs that are maybe 20 or 30 feet up that people like to jump off,” says Richie Quintyne, a real estate agent at Nvest Estates in Barbados.
However, this Barbadian dream doesn’t come cheap. Most condos with ocean views and a short trek to the beach start around $600,000, and a few top $1.5 million.
Americans are treated just like Barbados citizens when it comes to buying a home, including having the same transaction costs and taxation. But as with many Caribbean home purchases, you’ll need to be ready to pay in all cash. According to Quintyne, Barbados requires foreign buyers to have funds upfront.
8. St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands)
Price per square meter in St. John: $3,235
At just 20 square miles, the tiny island of St. John got rocked by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. The dual disasters actually lowered real estate prices in this idyllic place, the shining jewel of the U.S. Virgin Islands—and quite possibly the most naturally beautiful isle in the Caribbean.
“The hurricanes that hit 16 months ago were catastrophic, but the recovery has been pretty amazing. I’ll have people come that had no idea we were hit,” says Jenn Manes, a tour guide and owner of local blog News of St. John.
So there’s a window of opportunity for buyers who were previously priced out of the market. Homes a short drive from Trunk Bay, perhaps the island’s best known and most breathtaking beach, can range from $800,000 to over $4 million. And the island is a U.S. territory, remember? So home buying is as straightforward as can be.
The smallest of the three U.S. Virgin Islands, St. John has no airport. Most residents fly into nearby St. Thomas and take a 20-minute ferry ride to get to their homes.
Note: Hurricane recovery is still underway with some residents still living in homes without roofs, windows, or, in some cases, walls. But for buyers who don’t mind an island on the mend, the payoff might be worth it.
9. Kittian Village (St. Kitts)
Price per square meter in St. Kitts: $3,496
Facing the Atlantic side of tiny St. Kitts, Kittian Village is dotted with beachfront condo developments and hotels. It’s also a popular stop for Caribbean cruises. But don’t worry! Its beaches in Frigate Bay, a long oval-shaped bay, don’t get overcrowded.
A bit away from the beach, mansions with pools and a guest cottage can exceed $4 million. But a furnished duplex could run as low as $250,000. To purchase real estate, most Americans acquire a land-holding license, which requires hiring a local lawyer.
If you can pull yourself off the beach, you can keep yourself busy zip lining at nearby SkyTrek Safaris, shooting craps at the local casino, or frolicking with dolphins.
10. Falmouth Harbour (Antigua)
Price per square meter in Antigua: $3,501
While hiking Shirley Heights, a set of hilltops in Antigua, you can revel in the breathtaking views of Falmouth Harbour and its beaches. You’ll see snorkelers at the reef off Galleon Beach, in search of lionfish, sea turtles, and other exotic aquatic critters.
However, homes in Antigua are not exactly bargain-priced. Just a plot of land a ways off from the beach can easily exceed $500,000. Foreigners have to obtain a license before purchasing property in Antigua, a process that can take more than three months. And they also have to pay a final fee of around 5% of the home’s value.
On the sunny side, Condé Nast Traveler named Galleon Beach one of the world’s top beaches just last month. And folks who do make the plunge can contemplate life while sipping rum punches from bars set up right on the beach. Think about that while scraping ice off your windshield this winter.
* Data sources: globalpropertyguide.com, the World Bank, and the United Nations.
14 Best Things to Do, Attractions, & Best Places to Live in Largo, Florida!
If you’re visiting Largo, we invite you to take a moment to enjoy the parks, cultural facilities and shops that call Largo home. Stop for dinner at one of the restaurants in our downtown corridor, browse the local antique shops, catch a show at the Central Park Performing Arts Center, stop by and visit the owls at McGough Nature Park or take a peaceful stroll through Largo Central Park.
The City hosts a wide variety of concerts, art shows and family events throughout the year right here in the heart of Pinellas County. And the beach is just minutes away. You’ll love it here.
Largo is a laid-back seaside city set on a peninsula along the Gulf of Mexico with a rich history rooted in citrus farming and an Old Florida feel. Located opposite Tampa in Pinella County, Largo is home to spectacular white sandy beaches, beautifully preserved historic structures dating back to the 19th century, inspiring botanical gardens, and world-class championship golf courses. Largo’s downtown development features great shops, quaint cafés, buzzing bars, and top restaurants, and a friendly, relaxed vibe.
The Florida Botanical Gardens is a 182-acre urban oasis with beautifully manicured gardens, interpretive nature trails, and a diverse variety of natural habitats. Located on Ulmerton Road, the sun-kissed acres arboretum features over 25 display gardens ranging from bromeliads and roses to herbs and hibiscus. The gardens are also home to over 150 species of birds and mammals, including gopher tortoises, bald eagles, and Sherman fox squirrels and offers a range of educational programs for children of all ages, nature walks, and special botanical garden-related events.
Largo Central Park is a beautiful, 70-acre recreational area and urban park with a community center, several playgrounds for children, and a military court of honor. The park features grassy lawns, rolling gardens, water features and fountains, and a landmark clock tower, and eight picnic pavilions have tables and benches, and plenty of space for gatherings of all sizes. The Rainbow Rotary Playground is an accessible play area for disabled visitors, and the outdoor Fit Zone has a variety of workout stations for a great full-body workout.
101 Central Park Dr, Largo, FL 33771, Phone: 727-586-7415
Based in the Pinewood Cultural Park, the Heritage Village and Historic Museum is a living museum with indoor and outdoor exhibits that documents the history of Largo and the region. The museum features over 20 acres of land on which more than 30 historic structures are built, including several historic homes and schools, a railroad station, a church, and a greengrocer. Visitors can stroll through the historic village on a journey back in time, enjoy live re-enactments, and get a feel for life in the 19th century. The Pinellas County Historical Museum is home to a 3,500-volume library and a collection of artifacts and objects about the history of Pinellas County.
The George C. McGough Nature Park, also known as ‘Turtle Park,’ for being home to a large population of turtles, is a beautiful urban oasis in the heart of Largo that offers a range of nature programs and outdoor activities. Set along the Intracoastal Waterway, the park has mangroves, shady oak hammocks, a butterfly garden, and picnic pavilions, and boardwalk with a turtle deck winds its way through the park for visitors to enjoy the scenery. Other facilities in the park include the Narrows Nature Center with several live animal exhibits, interpretive displays, and an array of hands-on activities for children, as well as a nature trail for hiking and mountain biking, birds of prey enclosures, a children’s playground, a canoe launch.
11901 146th St N, Largo, FL 33774, Phone: 727-518-3047
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Eagle Lake Park is a 163-acre recreational area with beautiful landscapes of rolling grasslands, dense woodlands, tranquil lakes stocked with fish. The park offers a wealth of public facilities with a lemon-grove theme and recreational activities, including a paved 12-foot wide multi-use trail for walking and cycling and over 2,000 feet of boardwalks that wind through the park’s restored wetlands. Other facilities in the park include a dedicated dog park, a playground for children, six shady picnic shelters, modern restrooms, and three vending stations. The lake allows catch-and-release fishing from designated areas only.
The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail is a 45-mile multiuse rail trail used for walking, jogging, and cycling that stretches the length of Pinellas County from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg, passing through Largo. The paved trail follows the bed of the former Atlantic Coast Line, connecting communities through the county and offering green spaces for the public to enjoy outdoor recreational activities year-round.
Located in the Highland Recreation Complex, the Highland Family Aquatic Center is a family-friendly recreation center and waterpark with a large multi-purpose swimming pool, a zero-depth section with play structures, and water sprays. The pool also has a double slide for visitors of all ages, a 214-foot corkscrew water slide, a three-story speed slide, and a variety of water toys. The center offers a range of activities, such as private and open swimming lessons, water aerobics, open swim sessions, sand and water volleyball, and special events throughout the year. Facilities at the park include sun loungers and umbrellas, hammocks, a snack bar, bathhouses, modern restrooms with a family changing area, and individual lockers.
John R. Bonner Nature Park is a small park on 143rd Street North overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway that has dense woodland of cool, shady hammock that attracts a diverse migratory population of songbirds. The park is a hotspot on the Great Florida Birding Trail due to its wealth of bird species such as hermit thrushes and hooded warblers and features a boardwalk with birding lookouts, shady picnic spots, a covered pavilion, several nature trails, and a playground for young children.
14444 143rd St N, Largo, FL 33774, Phone: 727-518-3047
Located in the Teakwood Village, the Roosterfish Grill is a laid-back, waterfront restaurant with comfortable indoor and outdoor seating that has been serving a range of freshly prepared New American cuisine and fresh seafood for over 60 years. The restaurant specializes in fresh seafood, including locally caught fish, shellfish, and fresh oysters, along with grilled steaks and baby back ribs, burgers, handmade pasta dishes, fresh salads, and vegetarian options. The bar offers a range of libations from craft brews, casual wines, and a selection of sodas. The Roosterfish Grill is open for lunch and dinner, daily.
776 Missouri Ave N, Largo, FL 33770, Phone: 727-584-5888
Savory Restaurant is a family-owned and operated restaurant that serves traditional homestyle Italian, Greek, and American food in a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. Located on the Walsingham Commons, the restaurant is owned by the Lagoudakis family who has been serving delicious home-cooked food for over 45 years. Savory Restaurant was opened in 2006 and offers diners an innovative menu of freshly prepared from-scratch fare, exceptional service, and a warm and homey vibe. Signature dishes range from succulent steaks and grilled chops to handmade pasta and pizza and fresh salads, and the food is accompanied by a selection of casual wines, craft beers, and non-alcoholic beverages. Savory Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Tuesday through Sunday.
Speggtacular is a long-standing, family-owned and operated restaurant that is renowned for its hearty American breakfasts and brunches and stacks of mouth-watering pancakes, waffles, and crêpes. The relaxed diner specializes in egg dishes with a menu featuring scrambles, omelets, benedicts, corned beef hash and eggs, and steak and eggs. Lunch dishes range from gourmet and club sandwiches, fresh salads, burgers and wraps, tacos, fish and chips, and quesadillas. Speggtacular is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, daily.
John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk is a turn-of-the-century, quaint fishing village turned popular tourist attraction in Pinellas County. Situated along the waterfront of Johns Pass, more than 100 merchants are located in the Village, including an array of restaurants, unique retail shops, jet skiing, parasailing, boat rentals, shelling and dolphin watching tours, and a local fishing fleet. John’s Pass Village is considered to be an “outdoor shopping paradise” near Largo, Florida, featuring more than fifty shops. The beach is also just a short walk away from the boardwalk and there is plentiful parking available at John’s Pass Village. More day trips from Fort Lauderdale
Sky Zone Trampoline Park boasts the title of the first indoor trampoline park in the world and consider themselves to be the “inventors of fun fitness,” combining great workouts with “awesome and healthy fun.” The Ninja Warrior Course challenges guests to test their agility, strength, and speed against family and friends, while Ultimate Dodgeball brings a trampoline element to the classic game. The Freestyle Jump area of Sky Zone offers wall-to-wall trampoline fun for all ages, the Foam Zone allows guests to get huge air without fear with soft foam landings, and Skyslam puts a spin on basketball.
The family-owned and operated Escape FLA Escape Room in Largo, Florida offers an immersive and fully interactive escape room experience for group gaming near St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Clearwater. Guests enter a room at Escape FLA and must work together using teamwork, resourcefulness, creativing, problem solving, and logic to find a way out in sixty minutes or less. The escape room features mysteries, gadgets, mind tricks, riddles, and more designed to impede the progress of players. Escape FLA is great for friends or family having a night out, team building events, birthday celebrations, or just wanting a distraction from daily life.
2480 E Bay Dr, Largo, FL 33771, 727-648-4625
Megawatt Star Rihanna Is Selling One of Her Glittering Beverly Hills Homes for $10.5M
According to Mansion Global, megastar Rihanna, whose given name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, is looking to offload one of her Beverly Hills, CA, homes for $10,495,000.
It seems the singer and beauty entrepreneur barely had time to unpack her makeup kit in this lovely home, which she added to her real estate portfolio in 2021 for $10 million.
She still retains ownership of a nearby mansion that she snapped up in 2020 for $13.7 million.
Here’s more on the four-bedroom, five-bath mansion she’s letting go.
Sitting behind gates on one of the most coveted streets in Beverly Hills, Rihanna’s pretty property is everything a Cali home should be. The 5,100-square-foot abode has solid bones (built in 1939), an attractive color palette, and a traditional interior design that should appeal to many.
There are weathered wood floors, cozy fireplaces in the living room, and vaulted ceilings. The steel-blue kitchen island offers seating for three, and there’s a sunny breakfast nook, too. The main bedroom has a mini living space plus windowed seats for curling up with a good book.
Outside, stately trees, lush lawns, and a vegetable garden await, along with a pool and patio spaces. There’s even a half-basketball court for pickup games.
Rihanna’s talent knows few bounds as she’s branched out widely from her early days as a pop artist. The billionaire Barbadian is the founder of the makeup brand Fenty Beauty, and she’s the force behind the fashion house with the same name, which is under the luxury conglomerate LVMH.
As the headliner of the Super Bowl LVII halftime show, the megawatt star blew the roof off the place.