Great Places To Be

by | Jan 1, 2005 | Archives

Dear International Friend,

Great places bring opportunity and more joy from life. Hong Kong was a great place to be in the 60s as its stock and real estate markets were the hottest in the world. I made a fortune there and expanded my horizons more than I could ever understand.

Then London was a great place to be in the 70s as distorted real estate markets rose and property prices soared. I increased my investments eleven times in two years by buying property there then.

Naples, Florida was a great place to be in the 90s and we increased our investment five times in property there.

Ecuador in this last decade has offered it all-low prices, simplicity, every creature comfort. Property we bought is sky rocketing up now. Business has been great. So where are great places now?

Profits in Small Town USA

I can trace most of my profits (and those of my readers) to just a handful of incredible tips over the years. In the early 70s I wrote about getting out of the dollar into Japan, Australia, Switzerland, Germany and silver-gold. Profit increases were about four times.

In the mid 70s I recommended London real estate for an eleven times increase. Writing about Hong Kong shares brought us to the top performing stock market in the world for a decade.

Then shares on the Vienna and Turkey bourses exploded upwards. In the early 90s I wrote about borrowing yen and investing in higher yielding currencies. This has been a profit spinner for a decade. Finally I recommended buying land in Ecuador and this has been one of my better tips. Ocean lots that my readers bought just over two years ago at $2,500 are selling at $17,500 now. They are still cheap, but those readers have already increased their investment by seven times in just two years! At the beginning of this millennium I also recommended investing in Ashe County, North Carolina, when I wrote about investing in the area around Merrily Farms.

In the 2 years since, the price of land in the area has just about doubled. I reckon I have tripled or quadrupled my investment here by investing right. However on my return from Ecuador this Spring, I realized that opportunity in Ashe County was just a small reflection from a much bigger picture.

Why You Can Cash in on Small Town USA

The picture began to unfold while I was in Ecuador. This tiny Andean nation is heading for what I believe will be its four or five richest, best years. The Ecuadorian economy is growing faster than anywhere else in Latin America. Things are looking good. “Time for me to get out, I began to think.” Ecuador is a great place for me to visit and I will always be attracted there for its spiritual values and to be with our many friends there, but when it comes to investing, I am a pioneer. Prices are now losing their competitive edge. The first clue came when I took two friends and a guide to the Crater restaurant and the bill was over $80. The handwriting was on the wall (the price per person last year was $5). Prices are not so much lower as elsewhere. When I tried to buy a house in Imbaburra and was beat out by a local who offered over the asking price, I saw that the bargain basement real estate sales were gone. Safety has become a much greater issue as well as you have seen in this and my last two messages about Ecuador.

So I was already asking myself, “Where next?”, after we had flown into Miami and were driving north. A second clue arrived when we visited our daughter in Naples (and our first grandchild, Garren Shawn Hall, born April 18!) when I saw that our old house there had recently sold for $3.2 million. This I promise you is much, much more than we sold it for just three years ago and is too much for a (albeit charming) 90 year old house. The third clue came when we decided to get off the freeway and roam through the small, friendly towns that dot Florida, Georgia and South and North Carolina. Somewhere around Avon Park, Florida as we rode through an oak lined boulevard with Spanish moss hanging over clean sidewalks, in a traffic free zone, I got the message. Small town America is one place where the action is going to be. These small towns can be safe, the people friendly, real estate is exceedingly inexpensive and in global purchasing terms will fall even lower as the U.S. dollar falls, (for awhile). I can now eat a hearty breakfast in Jefferson, North Carolina (our nearest town of any sort) for less than most places in Quito. And although the Ecuadorians are sweet so are these small town people. Also we came home to a house with doors unlocked and cars, trucks and jeeps parked with the keys in them.

9/11 changed people's values. Family, friends and quieter, more peaceful life is more important than before. Having these fine qualities is harder to achieve in downtown Manhattan or Central Chicago or in the heart of L.A. We could be in for some difficult economic and social times. This means that the value of these small towns and their honest core values will grow. If the economy doesn't falter, and the world comes up roses instead; small towns will still not lose their appeal. The world's population continues to grow and as we look for an escape; small towns offer freedom from crowds, traffic jams, pollution and the hassle of city life. I believe these qualities will grow in value.

Today, the portable computer, Internet and cell phone have changed all the rules of real estate. The old maxim is still true that the three most important aspects that affect a properties value are location, location, location, but technology alters which locations will have greater value! Take for example, my own career in writing about international investing.

When I began, I had to live in London. This was where all the knowledge and information was held. To give timely advice I had to be there. Then as phone rates dropped and the fax came along, I was able to leave the congested city and move to Naples, Florida, then a sleepy fishing village and still have access to the data I would need. Finally as Naples became crowded, because of the Internet, we were able to move to isolated farms both here and in Ecuador and still have access to any international investment information. I can call up market details, specific shares, global news, regardless of how remote I am. Here is the key point. The primary factor of real estate's value used to be physical accessibility to many people. This factor is shifting to accessibility of information. Remote places are gaining a new value if they have access to information.

Take for example our farm at Little Horse Creek. We are about as isolated as we can get, but I have a DSL internet line with a million bytes of download capacity that costs just $44 a month. This makes me more effective than some businesses in the center of major cities, not to mention the removal of delays from traffic jams, crowds, smog, missed parking places and crowds. There are two things you can do to take advantage of great places to be. First, create a business that relies on information and can be run over the Internet and second look for places short on people but long on data resources. This is where the bargains of the future will be- as these isolated spots become great places to be. Until next message I hope everywhere you are is a great place to be.


P.S. This is why I love earning income from writing. This is such a mobile vocation that anywhere can be a great place to be, in the city, on a high desert or Caribbean isle, high in the mountains, even in a forest, really wherever you can write! My decision to become a writer was heavily influenced by two people C.Y. Tong, a great Hong Kong shipping magnate and Winston Churchill and his volumes on WWII. Tong's influence came in a simple newspaper article when he mentioned that he got into the shipping business because he loved to travel. Winston Churchill wrote numerous times how fortunate he was to be able to live off his pen. I put two and two together because in those days I wanted to travel, but couldn't afford to buy any ships, yet had a pen. This is why I will have a special workshop at my next International Business Made EZ course – see – on how to create freedom and money by writing on the Internet. But before then, I want to introduce three other valuable sources on writing. These are books and courses that you will find invaluable in helping you learn how to gain extra income and mobility as you create income from writing.

2003 Writers Market” by Kate Struckel Brogan and Robert Brewer. Many writers begin their careers with short stories, newspaper and magazine articles. This book lists 8000 editors that will buy what you write. It's a must for any writer as it shows how to zero in on an area of interest. For example if you love to fish, you will find dozens of sports magazines looking for articles about fishing, If travel is your key you will find all the travel magazines here, etc. You can learn more at the above link to

Show Don't Tell” by William Noble. Writers have to bring ideas alive because readers turn off wooden text because it's boring. This book tells how to make your words grab the reader and keep their attention. This is another must for any reader. More data is available at the link above to

“Accelerated Program for Six Figure Copywriting” by Michael Masterson. Copywriters (those who sell things with their writing) are among the best paid writers in the world. This correspondence course has been created by several successful copywriters and contains all the steps you need to take, along with exercises and an invaluable book of case studies that looks at 50 of the most successful sales letters and shows why they worked so well.

Today's economic conditions create several investing difficulties. First, there is limited opportunity in stock markets and more than usual risk. Second, interest rates paid by banks are so low they hardly count. Third, bonds pay such low yields as well. Plus the huge federal deficit and growing trade imbalance make a falling dollar and inflation very likely so long bonds are also very much at risk.

Where can one invest? In great places

There are several things to look. The first is contrasts and distortions. This is why Ecuador real estate was so valuable when the country collapsed and why Argentina property is at bargain basement prices right now.

This is also why bargains abound in Smalltown USA. Technological changes that make property accessible create distortions in the demand of isolated properties.

But another thing to look forward to is imagination. If a property has any type of problem, needs a little fixing, redecoration or has some legal complication, its price dramatically drops. Those who learn how to fix these problems with a little imagination can buy for thousands and tens of thousands of dollars below market.

I just picked up on this benefit last month by making a one year loan on a tax lien property that paid me 8.75% and was secured by property worth 50% more than the loan. Interest is paid to me every month further reducing my risk. Some tax liens even pay 20% or more.

Plus tax liens are safe. I recently learned this the hard way when my attorneys screwed up at closing a couple of years ago. A tax that was due was not paid and though this tax was only $800, I had to pay nearly $1,200 or $400 in interest and penalties. I was lucky! North Carolina has changed from being a tax lien to being a tax deed state which means that my land could have been sold on the county courthouse steps!

This growing problem of people not being able to pay their taxes creates two types of opportunity. The first is for people who are looking to gain higher returns on their investments. Tax liens are being auctioned by county governments somewhere in the U.S., every day of the week.

They pay high returns up to 25%. For example in the state of Georgia the law provides a minimum 20% return even if you hold the lien for just one day. Many auctions in small Georgia counties are void of investors, just because people do not know the bargains that are there.

The second opportunity is to buy property on the courthouse steps sometimes for pennies on the dollar.

To help readers learn more about this, I have invited a long time friend, Ted Thomas, to join our eClub board of advisors and he is now available to answer questions for eclub members. You can learn more at

Ted and I first worked together years ago on a Swiss real estate deal that eventually created $30 million of sales. Since then, Ted has become the expert on tax foreclosures. Twelve years ago wrote the bible on this way entitled “How to Make Big Money in Real Estate Foreclosures“, published by John Wiley & Son in New York. The book is still on the bookshelves today.

Ted has also created several home study courses of which 72,000 investors have used over the past four years.

As the world turns, the events and affairs of mankind change. Some of these changes are viewed as good, others bad, but each event brings opportunity of we look at it and are inspired!

You can read more about Great Places to be each week at this site and receive our regular messages.

Until next message I hope wherever you are is great!