A balancing act
The main appeal of international travel to me (and most others) is novelty. It’s fun and interesting to experience other countries, other cultures, and to submit yourself to unfamiliar and potentially uncomfortable situations to emerge from the other side a little wiser, a little more knowledgeable, and with a couple of good stories to tell at parties.
But while variety is the spice of life, I’m a creature of habit and I value comfort. I like having my routine. I like having my fridge stocked the way I want. I like knowing which barbells at the gym are the good ones.
And while it’s interesting to learn a bit of other languages–how to say “hello” and “thank you” and “I know I ordered a lot of food but I’m really very hungry, please bring it all. And more wine.”–it would also be nice to spend enough time in one language environment to allow for immersion to bring a level of fluency you can’t get with Duolingo.
Not just for me
I do well for myself financially but I’m not rich by any means. While the goal of this project is for my personal enjoyment and NOT to make money as a real estate investor, this project needs to be subsidized by short-term rental income generated while I’m not occupying the unit. A fairly standard strategy these days, but worth mentioning here because it influences many decisions about the details of the property including fixtures, layout, and location: I must consider others’ preferences to some degree.
A good way to reconcile these competing desires is to own properties in several countries, and spend time between them. While not occupying them myself, they should be rented out short-term (e.g. AirBNB).
Here comes the breakdown:
1- and 2-bedroom apartments
Limiting to small apartments keeps my costs down and ensures I won’t be wasting much space when occupying the unit myself.
Well-located in large cities
Owning in a large city helps to ensure the property will rent easily, and greatly simplifies traveling to the unit myself (e.g. by air or rail).
Getting from Austin, TX to downtown Madrid is much easier than getting from Austin, TX to the Andalusian countryside.
Near public transportation
Since neither I nor my renters will be living in these units long-term, owning a car makes little sense.
Also, walking is fun and you should do more of it.
In Spanish-speaking countries
Living in Texas means I have a head start on learning Spanish, and the immersion will continue as I move between properties.
There are a lot of Spanish-speaking countries. There are even more Spanish-speaking cities. After careful consideration, I have narrowed the focus to three cities plus one flex option.
Mexico City, Mexico
- Global city
- Many artistic and cultural attractions
- Great food
- Cheap cost of living
- Direct flights from major TX cities
- International travel hub, and a gateway to South America
Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Distinctly European feel
- Beautiful architecture
- Burgeoning tech hub
- Diet consisting mostly of steak and red wine
- Increasingly attractive location for tech workers and expats
- Cheap cost of living
- “Eternal Spring” weather
- Good stop-over between Mexico City and Buenos Aires
While Portugal is not a Spanish-speaking country, I love Lisbon too much to omit it from my grand design. And if you squint, Portuguese looks a lot like Spanish.
- European tech/nomad hub
- Great weather year-round
- Beautiful city
- Relatively cheap by EU standards
- Only going to get more popular