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Mi casa es su casa

Here in B.C., the housing market is on the decline. On February 3, The Vancouver Sun reported that homes in…

By Magally Zelaya , in Latin American encounters of a Canadian kind , on February 6, 2009 Tags: , , , ,

Here in B.C., the housing market is on the decline. On February 3, The Vancouver Sun reported that homes in metro Vancouver would drop 14 per cent in 2009 to an average price of $508,000.

Wow. Even at that bargain price, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to afford a house in Vancouver. I can, however, afford one in Latin America.

Real estate websites are advertising homes in El Salvador at anywhere from $45,000 US to well into the millions. But, I have reason to believe that I can snag one for a lot less.

During a recent trip to El Salvador, my dashing surf instructor surprised me when he told me he was in the process of buying a “$10,000 dollar house with a $2 million view.”

Playa El Cocal, La Libertad, El Salvador
Playa El Cocal, La Libertad, El Salvador

This steal of a deal is situated on the slope of a small hill that overlooks the Pacific Ocean in the beach town of Puerto de la Libertad. Surferman also told me his friend had just bought a home nearby for $7,000 US.

Well, needless to say, I was shocked. I’d never heard of beachfront property going for such a ridiculously low price. I had my doubts until a week later when I learned that my cousins had bought a beachside plot for $10,000 US a while back and were now being offered $30,000 US to sell it to their nieghbours.

Eureka! I had found the perfect life plan: buy a cheap home in El Salvador, have a family member look after it, rent it out to travellers, visit once a year, and in a couple of decades when people discover the amazing surf I’ll make a small fortune.

I’m not alone in my thinking. A real estate blog reported that homes in London, England are being swept up by wealthy foreigners at the lowest prices in years, due to the global economic downturn.

Economic downturn or not, I don’t anticipate any bidding wars in El Salvador. The country is still remembered for its 12-year civil war and is now known for its soaring crime rates.

In fact, according to a 2008 survey, El Salvador has the highest homicide rate in Latin America for people aged 15-24. It came in at an astonishing 92 homicides per 100,000 compared to the entire region which averaged 36.6 homicides per 100,000. Canada has 2.5 and the US 12.9 per 100,000.

You can imagine how confident I felt reading those delightful statics weeks before my departure to El Salvador.

But after spending three absolutely splendid weeks in the small, friendly country, I realized that I’m actually more scared hanging out in Winnipeg.

So, with any luck, in a few years I’ll have a beachfront home, an investment, and the opportunity to switch things up and have Canadian encounters of the Latin American kind instead.