There Are Over 50,000 Homes for Less Than $50,000 In This Top 10 Greatest Country

So, what country am I talking about? Well just click through my 40 page slideshow for the answer at the end. Just kidding, it’s Spain!

Spain is one of the U.N.'s top 10 greatest country to live
Spain is a great place to retire early

Before we get to Spain, let’s define what the “Greatest Country” means and who else are on the list. In this case it means countries that are:

“… world leaders when it comes to health goals set by the United Nations, according to a report published in the Lancet. Using the UN’s sustainable development goals as guideposts, which measure the obvious (poverty, clean water, education) and less obvious (societal inequality, industry innovation), more than 1,870 researchers in 124 countries compiled data on 33 different indicators of progress toward the UN goals related to health.”

This is from the Bloomberg article:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-22/america-is-not-the-greatest-country-on-earth-it-s-no-28

Is Spain number 1 on the list or are there even greater countries?

The top 30 countries in the world
The top 30 countries in the world

Spain is number 7 on the list but is unique out of the top 10 countries on the list. Here are the other countries and the reasons that they are not the best place to live in my opinion:

  1. Iceland: I have never been here and I’m sure it is a nice country, but it only has 330,000 people, has an average high temperature of less than 60 degrees in the summer. It is also is expensive, and has the word “Ice” in its name.
  2. Singapore: I have been here. It is a nice place but also very expensive.
  3. Sweden: I was just here along with the other Scandinavian countries. It is a nice place to visit and see, but it gets cold and is very expensive.
  4. Andorra: It only has about 85,000 people and is a tiny country between Spain and France. Not super expensive and decent weather, but no beaches.
  5. United Kingdom: Cold, rainy and expensive. That’s why so many Brits go to Spain to retire.
  6. Finland: Nice country, but also very expensive and cold.
  7. Spain: It seems to have the best quality of life for the least amount of money.
  8. Netherlands: Nice country, but expensive and cold.
  9. Canada: With a country actually slightly larger than the US, but with only about one tenth of the population, I don’t know how housing can be so expensive with all that empty land. Also, it is very cold.
  10. Australia: It’s like a warm Canada. It is about the size of the continental US but only has 23 million people. Again, with so much empty space, why is housing, along with everything else, so expensive there?

Now, you might be wondering what makes me an expert on these countries that I can just write them off with a few words like “expensive” or “cold”.  Well, I’m not an expert. I have been to all of them except for Iceland, United Kingdom, and Andorra. Even though I’m not an expert, I know what I am looking for in a possible place to live. A place that is cold or expensive is a deal breaker for me.

So what’s so great about Spain and those 50,000 homes?

If you want to retire early and do not want to spend a large portion of your net worth on a home, there are literally thousands of inexpensive houses and apartments all over Spain for as low as $10K, $20K, $30K and up. No, you won’t get a $10K apartment in the middle of Barcelona, but there are a lot of really good prices in cities, suburbs and rural locations. There really are 50,000 homes for under $50,000 in Spain.  These two property websites list a large majority of them:

www.fotocasa.es

www.idealista.com

(I have no affiliation or make any money from these websites)

Most people assume that if something is cheap it must not be good. They probably think that these homes must be in some place like Chernobyl or Mogadishu. Those are the same people that were tripping over themselves to buy these same homes for $150K when Spain had a real estate boom. Now that the $150K home is $50K, people think there must be something wrong with it.

This August I spent a month in Alicante Spain to see what the city was like. I also traveled to Torrevieja, and Benidorm as well as Valencia and Barcelona last summer.  I wanted to see if Spain was a place I can live in or at least spend a few months a year.  Here are my thoughts:

The Good:

Beaches: Spain has about 5000 miles of coastline which includes hundreds of miles of beaches in both crowded cities and sparsely populated areas.

Weather: Warm weather especially on the southern coast.

Food: The quality of the food is excellent. The quality of the vegetables I got was much better than I get in the US.

Crime: Very safe walking around late at night. Has a ranking similar to that of Germany, China, and Netherlands.

Infrastructure: First world infrastructure, water, electricity, internet, roads, public transportation.

Culture: Very friendly and laid back. Also has a strong family culture of kids, parents, grandparents all out together playing, walking, and talking until late in the evening instead of sitting in front of the TV.

Costs:  Many areas, excluding Madrid and Barcelona, have low housing costs. Food is extremely cheap but very good quality.

Healthcare: Ranked number 10 between Germany and Denmark

The Bad:

Jobs: The unemployment rate is still around 20% so if you want to live here you should have your own money or a business you can do online

Language: This is not bad; it’s just bad for me since I don’t speak Spanish yet. Not many people in Spain speak English except in tourist areas.

Residency: You cannot just move there unless you are an EU citizen or you get residency.

 

Conclusion: Many people in the US look to South or Central America as an inexpensive place to retire. From what I have seen of Spain, it is actually cheaper than places like Costa Rica, yet it still has all the first world amenities that you would expect in Europe. If I ever decide to move from the US, Spain will be at the top of my list. It’s no wonder so many people from the other 9 greatest countries go there to retire.

Tiny House or McMansion, Which One Is Three Times More Expensive Than The Other?

Does your tiny house cost more than a McMansion?
How much are you really paying for your tiny house?

For most people, the biggest expense in their life is housing. It is also one of the reasons that people can’t build up significant savings to invest and retire early. Some people have come to realize that they don’t need all the space in a modern large house and they choose to downsize to something smaller either because of financial necessity or because they want to have a smaller footprint and the lower associated costs that come with it. This realization has caused many people to look into and buy tiny houses. Of course all of the TV shows about tiny houses has helped fuel this fascination with them.

I’m all for minimalism, and not having more space than you need and generally living below your means, but to me there is a pretty big flaw in the idea of some of these tiny houses. The problem I have is with the ones built on a trailer. These are basically large sheds with no plumbing and of course no land under it that you own. I’m not trying to tell people how to live so if they want to use a composting toilet, go for it, but to me that would get old very quickly. The composting toilet is not my real problem with these, it’s the price.

Yeah, but on the tiny house TV shows they say it’s a good deal, and it is hand crafted with all kinds of neat little hideaway storage spaces. How can you go wrong with a tiny house?

Here’s how:

Tiny House on a trailer:  192 Square Feet, priced at $52,000. This is $270 Per Square Foot.

This tiny house is 192 square feet and is listed for $52,000.
This tiny house is 192 square feet and is listed for $52,000.

Large House in NC on about 1 acre: 5478 Square Feet, priced at $500,000. This is $91 Per Square Foot.

This Mcmansion in North Carolina is 5478 square feet, is on close to an acre of land and is listed at $500,000
This house in North Carolina is 5478 square feet, is on close to an acre of land and is listed at $500,000

 

Obviously, the house costs ten times more in dollars and someone shopping tiny homes is not cross shopping $500,000 homes. But the point I’m trying to make is that people who are buying these one off tiny houses on trailers are overpaying and there are better options out there that won’t leave you with a depreciating shed that you probably took out a loan to buy. Remember, it is the land under the house that appreciates, the house itself always depreciates.

Here are some better priced options:

    Trailer

If you want a tiny house on a trailer because you like the idea of living anyplace and being able to move your house when you feel like it or when you change jobs, then just buy a manufactured trailer. A quick glance on EBay shows that this 28 foot, 2008 trailer sold for $5000. It is a ready made home, made in a factory using economies of scale to keep the price down. Just like if you need to drive to work, you’re not going to hire craftsmen and engineers to design and build you a car. You just buy a Toyota because they make millions of them much cheaper than you could ever make for yourself and they are easily resalable.  Also, buying a trailer like this is a cheap way to really find out if you like living in the woods or your friend’s backyard with no plumbing. You might find that you don’t really like doing it or having to move every few months. If you change your mind, then you can easily sell it without losing too much, compared to selling a custom tiny house.

Whatever you do, please, please, don’t do what I saw a young guy do on one of those tiny house shows. He convinced his mom to foot the bill to spend about $24,000 to renovate an old yellow school bus into his new tiny house on his mom’s property. He also had to recruit a bunch of family members to help with free labor. A school bus goes for about $1500 on EBay. Do you know how much you can sell a school bus that has $24,000 of “updates”? I don’t know either, but it is probably less than $5000. He could have just bought this trailer and saved $19,000.

So he put $24,000 and many hours of labor into this:

This 1996 school bus sold on EBay for $1500.
This 1996 school bus sold on EBay for $1500.

When he could have bought this for $5000:

This 2008 28 foot trailer sold on EBay for $5000.
This 2008 28 foot trailer sold on EBay for $5000.

     RV

Similar to this is the option of a self driven RV. It gives you the same ready made tiny house with the added bonus of a truck to move it wherever you want. You will be surprised how cheap these are. I found this one on EBay also. It is a 2003, 30 feet long and sold for $14,000.

This 2000 30 foot RV sold on EBay for $14,000.
This 2000 30 foot RV sold on EBay for $14,000.

 

     Manufactured Home

If you want something a little more permanent, you can buy a manufactured home starting for around $20,000 brand new and much cheaper if you buy it used. Of course, you will still have to buy the land to put it on because the rental rates in trailer parks are really outrageous.

This used 1998 manufactured home is 16 by 80 feet and listed for $18,750.
This used 1998 manufactured home is 16 by 80 feet and listed for $18,750.

 

     Small House or Condo

Lastly, your best option is to buy an actual small house or condo. Easier said than done right? Where are you going to find a house or condo priced similarly to a $50,000 tiny house? The answer is that there are literally thousands of them for sale in the US.  If you buy an 800 square foot house for $50,000, that is only about $62 a square foot. Not all of them are in the greatest location or in the greatest condition, but if you do your research you can find something in the general area where you want to live. Obviously they will not be close to the expensive cities where high paying jobs are, but the whole point of having an inexpensive house is so that you don’t have to work if you choose not to right?

Here are two examples I got on Realtor.com from a 20 mile radius search of Fort Worth, TX and Raleigh, NC:

Texas condo 616 square feet, $94 monthly maintenance, $473 yearly taxes, listed for $34,000 on Realtor.com

This condo in Texas is 616 square feet and is listed for $34,000 on Realtor.com.
This condo in Texas is 616 square feet and is listed for $34,000 on Realtor.com.

   This house in North Carolina is 1050 square feet, $598 yearly taxes, and listed for $38,700 on Realtor.com

This house in North Carolina is 1050 square feet and listed for $38,700 on Realtor.com
This house in North Carolina is 1050 square feet and listed for $38,700 on Realtor.com

So if you want to better your financial position, skip the cutesy tiny house trailer and buy a small house or condo with actual plumbing and electric. It will hopefully appreciate and is easily sellable or rentable if need be and you will be that much closer to financial independence.