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Best hammocks, 6 escape homes under $230k, summer travel

Home may be where the heart is, but when it comes to home buying, maybe the passport should come into play. The U.S. housing market is so hot, it’s become a struggle to secure a primary home, let alone a second home. Inventory is scarce, and sellers are being wooed by cash buyers who are offering hundreds of thousands of dollars above asking price, sports tickets and vacations.

Photo: @sciclidigitale 

Home may be where the heart is, but when it comes to home buying, maybe the passport should come into play. The U.S. housing market is so hot, it’s become a struggle to secure a primary home, let alone a second home. Inventory is scarce, and sellers are being wooed by cash buyers who are offering hundreds of thousands of dollars above asking price, sports tickets and vacations.

So why not look elsewhere? The world is opening back up and it’s beckoning.

There are a variety of benefits to owning a second home abroad, but let’s start with the obvious: more bang for your buck. For $200,000, you can buy property in a luxury development on an island off the coast of Belize or a charming stone house in the French countryside. To put that into perspective, the median home price in the U.S. is currently at a record high of roughly $350,000, and in vacation destinations it’s exponentially more. The cost of living is often lower abroad, particularly in Latin America, which means you can afford a higher standard of living. And for those nearing retirement age, a vacation home can be looked at as an investment that may one day become a primary residence.

The following list of home buying markets is exclusively in countries where local laws make it easy for foreigners to purchase property, and Americans and Canadians can receive their visa upon arrival.

Photo: realtor.com

San Pedro, Belize, $199,000

This one-bedroom, one-bathroom luxury beachy townhouse is the perfect island escape. Located in Mahogany Bay Village, one of the main resorts on Ambergris Caye — the largest island in Belize — it’s on the canal, a nine-minute walk to the Atlantic Ocean, and a couple steps to the village pool. The property is being sold fully furnished. Just over an hour ferry ride from Caye Caulker Airport and a 15-minute drive from the local San Pedro airport, you’ll be able to smell the salt water the moment you arrive.

Photo: Tranio

 Kalo Horio, Greece, $125,000

This traditional-style one-bedroom one-bathroom home is located in a quaint village (Kalo Horio literally translates to “good village”) on the island of Crete. You have a view of the sea and the nearby olive groves from the rooftop terrace. The nearest cosmopolitan center, Agios Nikolaos, is less than a 10-minute drive and the closest international airport, Heraklion, is just 50 minutes away. The house is being sold fully furnished.

Photo: Point to Point homes 

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, $160,500

Just four hours from New York City by plane or four and a half from Chicago, Punta Cana is an easy getaway from many U.S. cities. This modern, stylish three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo is located in an exclusive community designed so you don’t ever really have to leave: there’s a golf course, a beach club, an infinity pool (condos come with the option of a private pool as well) and restaurants. It’s just 15 minutes from Punta Cana international airport.

Photo: Spainhouses.net

Orihuela Costa, Spain, $225,000

This three-bedroom, two-bathroom Mediterranean-style villa is located in Orihuela Costa, a popular vacation community along the coast. The villa itself comes fully furnished and has access to a shared pool, but who needs that when you’re just steps from Flamenco Beach. It’s located less than an hour’s drive from two international airports: Alicante and Region of Murcia. A new high-speed train offers direct connection between Orihuela and Madrid in just two hours and 22 minutes.

Photo: MLS-Ecuador

Cuenca, Ecuador, $175,000

This two-bedroom, two-bathroom garden suite is located in downtown Cuenca, a popular destination with both expats and travelers, making it an excellent income property. The property is being sold fully furnished with custom-made furniture, top-end appliances and various artwork. Cuenca has its own international airport and is about an hour by plane from the capital, Quito.

Photo: Home and Villas Abroad

Cava D’Aliga, Italy, $220,600

This three-bedroom, three-bathroom semi-detached villa is located in a charming seaside community on the Island of Sicily. The property boasts a covered-terrace with ocean views and a garden planted with fruit trees. It’s located 15 minutes from the nearby city of Scicli and two hours from the island’s largest international airport.

In the news…

A top vacation home market in … Oklahoma? 

It’s not just classic destinations like Tahoe and Cape Cod that people are escaping to. Delaware County in Oklahoma, home to Grand Lake, is a top destination — at least 20% of the homes there are seasonal or for recreational use. The destination saw $377 million in real estate sales in 2020 (1,666 properties sold), a 79% increase from the previous year. And, as is the trend these days, a 131% increase in cash sales.

Vacation rental prices surge

A phenomenon so widespread that even the New York Post is covering it. The sudden uptick in interest, plus the trend of people moving into their second homes full time has depleted inventory to the point where rentals are going for more than twice what they were pre-Covid. A tip from an expert? Consider a city getaway this summer and save the beach for next year.

Home sales are slowing

As expected, with the ever-shrinking  inventory and rising prices. Existing home sales fell nearly 1% from April to May, with the median sales price rising roughly 24% from the previous year to $350,300, a record high. Still, home sales in May were 45% higher than in 2020. Experts don’t expect the trend to shift anytime soon — there simply are just not enough houses to keep up with demand.

Summer travel amid the Delta Variant

Travel is back (yay) and E.U. member states have reopened their doors to American visitors. Also on the rise is the Delta variant, the Covid-19 strain that first emerged in India. W.H.O.’s regional director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge, said that the variant was “poised to take hold” in Europe, and experts say it will likely do the same in other countries as well — the Delta variant currently accounts for roughly six to 10% of cases in the U.S. Healthcare professionals say you need a high level of immunity to ward off the variant, so having received the full two doses of your vaccine is important, and even then they are thought to be slightly less effective against variants. If you’re curious about the state of  the Covid-19 infection rate in your vacation destination, you can check out the CDC’s Covid tracker tool; it also lists countries by risk level.

By the numbers 

Photo: JESHOOTS.COM 

950

That’s how many July flights American Airlines just canceled, with more possibly to come. This is a result of a surge of travel plans and simply not enough pilots — roughly 1,000 American Airlines pilots retired or left the airline voluntarily during the pandemic. American also added back flights at a faster rate than other major airlines; it’s currently operating at about 10% below its 2019 seat capacity, whereas Delta is more than 20% below and United more than 30%

Products we love

Photo: Amazon.com

We recently spent the afternoon lazing away in a hammock. It was so highly relaxing and enjoyable that we wondered why we weren’t spending more time doing so — so we went out and purchased one. And that, dear readers, is a strong recommendation that you do so too. Here are some options to help you get started:

Check out this highly rated and versatile hammock that looks good both inside and outdoors. It’s easy to assemble (it comes with its own stand, no trees needed)  and sturdy — one reviewer noted that she lays comfortably in it with her husband, two dogs and toddler.

This is more of a chair/hammock hybrid, and we are loving the boho vide. Reviewers describe it as “heavenly” and “magical,” and we can see why.

There is something to be said for sticking with a classic, like this white rope hammock.

This hammock is great because it’s portable (BYOH?), super easy to assemble and less than $30.

 

On the market

Photo: Compass.com

Photo: Compass.com

This Spanish-style estate, nicknamed Cima Del Mundo (top of the world), is on the market for the first time in more than seven decades.

Photo: Compass.com

The eight-bedroom, seven-and-a-half bathroom residence sits on 2.7 acres with 400 feet of ocean frontage. Other features include five fireplaces, an oceanside pool and pool house and extensive terraces for sunset views. The price tag? $69 million.

Photo: Compass.com

Photo: Compass.com

One can dream, right?

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