Aug 06 2012

Money vs. Time

I always tell people that time is more valuable than money at our age, realizing, of course, that we need enough money to live. It seems to me, when you are 60+, the creating of wealth becomes secondary to the time we have left on this earth. In Costa Rica, most expats pay cash for their homes and it often represents a significant percentage of their financial nest egg, be it $100,000 or $250,000. My advice is always the same: to rent before buying anything. But if you must buy, we recommend purchasing properties under $150,000 because they are both easier to buy and easier to sell.

My general philosophy is this: your time is worth something, especially if you are over 60 years of age. If you are lucky, you may have 20 years left, since the average life-span is slightly less than 80 years. Quite often, people own houses in Costa Rica and become disillusioned, for whatever reason, and want out. It’s estimated that 50% of expats leave within 5-7 years, with most of them returning to their home countries. Initially, they didn’t think they would be in the 50% who leave (and there is certainly nothing wrong with trying it out to see if it is for you). And it’s not just Costa Rica; it could be Nicaragua, Panama, Ecuador, Mexico, or even somewhere in Europe. For whatever reason, they are unhappy, they’ve changed their minds, and want out. But they’ve got to sell their house first, since so much cash is tied up in it.

I believe if you want out, you should sell your house quickly, take a small gain or loss if necessary, and move on with your life. Most people won’t do this because they want to make a profit on the house, even though it may be difficult to sell in the current economy. It may take months, maybe even years, to sell. But again, your time (I’m referring to the rest of your life-span) is worth more than money. Remember, if you are 60+, every year represents 5% of the rest of your life. So, if you don’t want to be here (there, or anywhere), what’s the point? How much is another $20K or $50K worth to you? To me, the time is much more valuable than any money you can make on a house. So I say, meet the market, sell quickly, and move on with your life.

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