Last time out, I had intended to write a few kind words about one of my favorite websites, www.escapeartist.com, but I got sidetracked with the tale of a fellow escape artist soon to be en route to Mexico; unless I wind up enmeshed in some other digression (always a possibility), I plan to redress this directly.
It has to have been half a dozen years since I first happened upon the escapeartist website. I was trolling for information on teaching English as a second language in Japan, and the site featured an interesting article about the ins and outs of employment, accommodation, transportation and so forth. In his article “Buying Property in the Philippines and Japan”, author Ahmad Tijani walked me through the maze of visa requirements, housing options, and (as one might expect from the article’s title) home ownership in the Land of the Rising Yen.
Home ownership in Japan is very unlike its counterpart stateside. First off, a simple 1200-square-foot house in suburban Tokyo, on a postage stamp lot, will run from $400,000 US on up. On the other hand, mortgages are offered at incredibly low rates compared to the States, so it is quite possible to secure financing at 1% or less, which means that the monthly payment on the “starter castle” might be as little as $1500, not that much more than I am paying for rent on a place half the size. Confusing the issue further is the fact that Japanese homes routinely depreciate over time, as the Japanese prefer new houses; by contrast however, the land appreciates, so it is not at all uncommon to see a fairly okay looking house torn down and replaced by a more contemporary one, seemingly overnight. See, I told you there would be a good chance that I would digress…
So, back to escapeartist.com: their home page pretty much says it all…hell, their URL pretty much says it all. If you want to get some idea what it might be like to live in, say, Malta, chances are good that you will find an article penned by someone who has taken the plunge. (Malta actually sounds pretty good—the natives speak English, seaside apartments are available in the neighborhood of $75,000, dinner with wine can be had for less than $8, and the income tax is a flat 15%!) There are pages on overseas business opportunities, health concerns, employment, and scads of real estate listings. Take care when approaching the real estate section, however; you can spend literally hours perusing far-flung housing choices. How about a hilltop villa overlooking Cebu City in the Phillipines? It even has its own bridge! $200,000-odd, in case you’re interested, and you can check it out in all its glory at http://cebudreamhome.wordpress.com/. Or perhaps a large and very pink stucco home in Ecuador, complete with mountain view, which you can try out for just $600 a month, and if you like it, you can have it for a mere $115,000.
Basically, you can start your search with Anguilla, and keep on going until you hit Zambia several hours later. (There are actually sections starting with Afghanistan and continuing until Zimbabwe, but neither of those countries have any real estate on offer at the moment; I wonder why?)
Suffice it to say that if you have even an ounce of wanderlust, it will grow to several pounds’ worth by the time you have spent an evening glued to escapeartist.