7 Countries Where It's Ridiculously Easy for Americans to Buy Real Estate

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7 Countries Where It's a Cinch to Buy a HouseAlf - Getty Images

Buying a home abroad can be a wise financial investment that also offers you and your family an exciting place to live or vacation. Still, it can be a daunting experience. Depending on where you’re considering purchasing property, you may have to deal with a language barrier, foreign currency, unfamiliar legal processes, and a whole lot of bureaucratic red tape. And some countries, like Thailand and Vietnam, don’t allow foreign ownership at all.

But certain nations are actively trying to attract foreign buyers with appealing real estate laws and benefits that make the whole process seamless (or at least as seamless as any real estate transaction can be). These countries offer the most hassle-free buying experiences for Americans.

For more real estate inspiration and tips:

Costa Rica

“With clear property rights, a legal system that respects foreign ownership, and a warm, welcoming environment, Costa Rica is a top choice for foreign investors and a simple place to buy property,” says Mauricio Umansky, CEO and founder of The Agency, which has offices around the world. This biodiverse country also has a large and bustling expat community so it’s not just easy for Americans to buy there, it’s easy for them to live and work there too.

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beautiful views of the city of puerto limon along the streets that run alongside the sea
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Dominican Republic

Instead of retiring to Florida, consider this balmy and beautiful Caribbean country—which is just a four-hour direct flight from the New York area. Like everything else on the island, the real estate laws are relatively relaxed, which makes buying a house easy-breezy, and you can buy and own property without having to obtain residency status or special permissions, as is the case in many other Caribbean islands. “Foreigners can own property outright in the Dominican Republic, with legal protections for foreign investors,” Umanksy says. One important consideration is financing: You can certainly get a mortgage in the DR, but it may not be quite as cushy as what you can get in the U.S.—so pay cash if possible.

Related: This Dominican Republic Airbnb Is the Perfect Tropical Getaway

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This affordable, below-the-radar Central American country has breathtaking beaches, lush rainforests, and exceptional wildlife. It has many similarities with neighboring Costa Rica—including how easy the country makes it for Americans to buy real estate. Its Friendly Nations Visa program offers permanent residency for citizens of 50 countries, and the U.S. is on the list. Plus, Panama “doesn’t place any restrictions on foreign ownership, and the legal system is efficient and reliable,” Samira Easton, a certified international property specialist with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, says, so you can invest with confidence.

Related: Expert Advice on Where to Buy Affordable Beach Houses

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Thailand is home to beautiful sandy beaches (it has 1,400 islands!), Buddhist temples, ancient ruins, and excellent street food, making it a good place to consider buying if you’re looking for an easy investment. Housing prices are relatively affordable and “foreigners can own up to 49 percent of the units in a condominium building, offering a straightforward option for property investment,” Easton says. There are also plenty of English-speaking real estate agents and real estate attorneys who can walk you through the process.

Related: The Ultimate Design Lover’s Travel Guide to Bangkok

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Bordering the Southwestern United States and a direct flight from most major cities, Mexico is a geographically desirable spot for a second home—and Mexico makes it especially easy for its American neighbors to buy property. “The country has straightforward real estate laws for foreigners, especially in designated restricted zones like beachfront areas where foreign ownership is facilitated through a bank trust,” Umansky says. Cities like San Miguel de Allende, shown are just as beautiful, especially for design lovers. Mexico’s real estate agents also tend to be very professional and are accustomed to working with Americans and other foreign buyers.

Related: This Mexican Home Is Shea McGee’s First-Ever International Project

famous aldama street with fountain and dome of cathedral, san miguel, mexico
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The people in this popular Western European coastal country are famously friendly and inviting, and that extends to real estate. According to Easton, Portugal offers a Golden Visa Program, which makes it simple to buy property and gain residency; clear real estate laws; and a well-established network of English-speaking real estate agents, lawyers, and notaries to help you during the process. In addition to the capital, the seaside city of Porto, seen here, is a popular destination for expats.

Related: The Definitive Design Lover's Guide to Lisbon

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Like Portugal, Spain offers a Golden Visa Program that enables foreigners to gain citizenship by purchasing real estate. Plus its real estate market is robust and transparent, and there are plenty of professional services in place to help guide you through the process. “The are also numerous online resources and property portals available, so it’s easy to find listings and information,” Easton says. This is a boon for those who aren’t able to make the trip over to Europe to house shop in person.

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