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Why Costa Rica for a Second Home?

Boomers seek adventure . . . and a place in the sun

By Tom Kelly

Ian Richardson, a mortgage broker, was burned out. It was time for more than a vacation - it was time for a full-scale review of how, and where, he spent his time.

"I stood on a piece of property in Malibu that was absolutely gorgeous,'' said Richardson, 52, a husband and father of two teenage girls. "I thought that maybe I could slide out of the pressure cooker and work out on the deck of this place with my computer. The trouble was, I would be creating more pressure for myself just trying to pay for the property.''

Three years ago, the millions that Richardson would have borrowed, sweated and spent on the Malibu piece turned into a $180,000 waterfront lot in Costa Rica. Although he didn't have to pay cash because the seller was willing to carry the mortgage, Richardson had enough savings in the bank by buy the parcel free and clear. He plans to build a second home in a few months.

"At first, there was no way I was going to put one nickel into Central America real estate,'' Richardson said. "I also didn't want to purchase in Mexico because I didn't really understand the Mexican trust. If I bought in another country, I thought I would fear for my life everyday, the agents would try to take me to the cleaners and all the governments would be corrupt with standing armies.''

One visit not only eliminated his anxiety and questions, it rejuvenated his resolve to spend more time with is family and telecommute as much as possible.

"I wish I had done it five years sooner,'' Richardson said. "Not only has the property appreciated like crazy, but my family loves being there. Besides, with an Internet connection, I can work from just about anywhere.''

Tom Kelly, former real estate editor of The Seattle Times, is a columnist and talk-show host specializing in the second-home market. Copies of his latest books - "Cashing In on a Second Home in Mexico" and "Cashing In on a Second Home in Central America," written with Mitch Creekmore, senior vice president of Houston-based Stewart International are available on his website,

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