Merri and I have purchased many isolated places. Here is a shot from our North Carolina farm.
A reader, wanting to know whether to retire in Ecuador or not sent this note last week:
I have noticed that you have mentioned (a few times) that you and Merri are not residents of Ecuador —– and you do not want to become residents. Would you be kind enough to explain what brought you to this decisions? Thank you,
My reply was “Mainly grandkids”.
Yet there is much more.
Merri and I live both in Ecuador and North Carolina because we love the people, the way of life, the land and the value.
We did not choose Ecuador because it is outside the US, nor Ashe county because it is in America.
We chose them because they are both in our opinion great places to be… and they are isolated.
Change alters the value of places.
When I grew up living in the suburbs of Portland Oregon, I could walk miles to school when I was eight. We let our doors unlocked.
When I was a young man, huge cities were great places to be. I lived in Hong Kong, San Francisco and London as well as portland… at times walking late at night in many parts of the city alone. Cities were fun!
Now cities are much more dangerous and crowded and inconvenient.
Traffic from my mom’s suburban Oregon house (the same one for 50 years) to downtown Portland is horrid and she has to double lock all her windows.
Great places bring opportunity and joy in our lifestyles… but great places change and now there are double benefits in Isolation
I have steadily increased my investments in three seemingly isolated places; high in the Ecuador Andes, in a remote Pacific fishing village and in Ashe County North Carolina.
I chose each for the same reasons. They are isolated but have good internet and reasonable access to a good airport
There are several reasons why change has put a premium on isolation.
Merri and I have purchased many isolated places. Here is a shot from our Ecuador Hacienda.
One reason is food. Ecuador is a small agricultural country and as such, huge national distribution systems are not required to feed the population. The food is fresher. Preservatives are not as required.
The residents in the Blue Ridge of Ashe county know how to feed themselves as well. Our farm is dotted with old homesteads where the dwellers lived mostly off the land… not that long ago… so people here know how to create their own food supply if need be.
The second reason is that the cost of living is still low compared to cities in Ecuador or the US.
The third reason is health. There are no big factories… the air is fresh… water is quite pure… and you are not surrounded by crowds… increased risk of crime and such.
Plus (fourth) lifestyle benefits are great. No traffic jams… not much traffic noise… far less stress.
Fifth, property prices are low compared to alternatives… yet for the reasons stated above… they offer potential of appreciation as more and more people want to get out of the cities and burbs.
At the beginning of this millennium I recommended investing in Ashe County, North Carolina and did so myself.
In the 10 years since, even with the real estate crash, the price of land in the area has risen five to 10 times. Yet these prices remain low compared to other similar areas.
The small towns in the area are safe, the people friendly. Life is still good. People still wave when you drive by.
I can now eat a hearty breakfast in Jefferson, North Carolina (our nearest town of any sort) for under five dollars. Also when we go out to breakfast we can leave the house 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.
Life in America is changing due to the difficult economic and social times. There is a return to simplicity and the value of these small towns and their honest core values will grow.
If the economy suddenly recovers and the world’s economy rises, small towns will still not lose their appeal. The world’s population continues to grow. People always want what they perceive they have lost… 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!
Merri and I have purchased many isolated places. Here is a shot of the land around the village where we have our Ecuador hotel.
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.
Merri and I have purchased many isolated places. Here is a shot of the empty beah near our Ecuador beach condos.
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.
Ashe county which adjoins Virginia and Tennessee was established and named after Samuel Ashe in 1799. It is often known as the Lost Province because until recently hardly anyone knew of the place.
The county seat is Jefferson and the county has a land area of 426.16 miles but only a population of 22,209 people. This population is wide spread as well. The only towns are Jefferson (1,300 population), West Jefferson (1,002) and Lansing (183).
This is a totally rural area with three commercial crops, Christmas trees, timber and tobacco.
There are several small factories in the county but tourist activities such as canoeing on the new river, scenic drives though Southern Appalachian Wilderness, leaf looking and camping.
Ashe county is isolated but sits almost equidistant from the north and south of the east coast of the United States. We almost the same distance from Florida and Maine.
Here are the signs I see that suggest to me that this area will boom:
1. The prices here are a fraction of the counties north and south.
2. The first cappuccino machines have arrived in Jefferson. When we arrived there was nothing like this and it was a dry county. Now there are smart cafes… wine bars and art gallerys.
3. Prices as mentioned have already risen.
4. The major road from I-77 has being widened to four and even six lanes.
5. Wal Mart built a super store.
6. The first golf course community has been a success in Jefferson.
7. Lowes has open a large DIY store.
There are some other great benefits here. The nearest airports for commercial flights is Tri-Cities Tennessee. This s one of the easiest airports I have ever checked into…a 15 check in allowee. Parking right at the front door and often the policemen will hel yu haul in your bags. Yet this regional airport is just over a half hour to Atlanta or Cincinnati.
There is a great college town Boone just 45 minutes away, a chic, resort area, Blowing Rock the same distance and real cities, like Charlotte two hours drive.
Yet as isolated as we are we have great DSL broadband so I am as connected as if I lived in Manhattan.
This makes me more effective than some businesses in the center of major cities, as I avoid the delays from traffic jams, crowds, smog, missed parking places and crowds.
You can take advantage of great isolated places to be by creating an internet business and looking for places like Ashe county north Carolina that are short on people but long on data resources.
Retire in Ecuador because Ecuador real estate is inexpensive.
Merri and I have purchased a lot of Ecuador real estate in remote places as well.
Wherever you plan to retire in Ecuador at home or elsewhere, think about leaving the maddening crowd. Isolated places may be the bargains of the future.
Our 2009 course and tour schedule.
Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina
Oct. 21-24 Ecuador Import Export Tour
Attend any two Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$949 for one. $1,349 for two.
Attend any three Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$1,199 for one.