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Thread: Analyzing Aruba

  1. #1
    Senior Member act1966's Avatar
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    Analyzing Aruba

    I wanted to post the analysis we used to determine where we wanted to retire and invest to counter some of the comments that have been made about the island.

    About five years ago, my spouse and I started to think about investing in a retirement property. While still in our forties, we knew the global real estate market was ripe for acquisition due to the recent financial market crash and associated down-sizing of property values.

    My family (grandparents, parents and twelve aunts and uncles) have owned homes in Florida since the early 1970s so that was the baseline from which we measured some of our selection criteria.

    For context: We’re both Canadian, educated (post-secondary graduates), well-traveled, good income, no kids and are definitely not winter people.

    Selection criteria:
    Weather: the preeminent reason in our selection – good, constant, dependable sunshine; little to no hurricanes: this ruled out quite a bit of the Caribbean, North and Central America. Many is the time I've spent weeks in Florida without even a hint of sun.
    Easy access (i.e. direct flights): this further narrowed down where we would purchase.
    Stable government: some of the more popular retirement destinations were recently under quite a bit of political strife (e.g. Central and South America) so some of the countries that are getting a lot of press as hospitable to retirement investment, we shied away from.
    Good infrastructure: somewhere with an established legal system similar to North America, banking, hospitals/medical care, good roads, electricity, safe water, good shipping for staples, relatively safe, good restaurants.
    Language: English would be nice but we didn't insist on it as a prerequisite as we’re fluent in French, some Spanish and seem to be able to learn to get by language-wise

    Where did we look and why did we rule them out?

    Mediterranean: love this region of the world but, until we retire, access was an issue as flights were a minimum of seven hours (and that was just major cities never mind if we had bought somewhere out of the core urban environments) and jet lag devastates us both. We’d still love to live in Spain for part of the year when we retire.
    Caribbean: BVI, USVI, Cuba, St. Lucia, Martinique, Saba... all are beautiful and have their benefits but the hurricane potential ruled most of them out. And some have really abject poverty for the locals.
    South and Central America: some beautiful countries but the newly democratized regions are still forming and it would take just one more recession to slip some of them back into dictatorships.
    United States: Arizona, California, Florida, New Mexico. None worked weather-wise and some had tax structures that were unappealing. The gun issue really turned us off investing there as well. NOT a criticism of gun-owners but the number of deaths from shootings relative to Canada is really jarring.

    So, after extensive research and travel, we landed on Aruba. All the above criteria boxes were checked to a certain extent and, relative to other locations, it just had the most appealing weather. We knew that, if any major medical issues arose, we’d be able to get back to our home country relatively easy.

    We knew we were rolling the dice on any real estate investment outside of our own country but, with Aruba’s Dutch/EU influence and tourist-driven economy, we felt confident in our choice and have not regretted it once.

    Another driving factor was the average per capita income of the locals relative to other Caribbean islands: Aruba has a stable, safe environment because of that factor. The Natalie Holloway murder aside, the island has a good, solid history of safety.

    Yes, we've been reading some of the challenges people have around customer service, rental issues, restaurants (ha, ha) etc but these pale relative to some of the horror stories we've heard from friends/colleagues that have purchased in other areas of the world.... and that includes Canada and the US.

    Is Aruba perfect? No. But it’s pretty damn close when you look up in the sky.
    Could we have bought somewhere cheaper/closer? Yes... but one of the other criteria would have suffered.
    Do we wish things moved faster? Sometimes but I’m also not interested in recreating the urban environment we exist in while working... it’s good that we need to slow down and go with the flow.
    Added bonus: we’ve met some fantastic locals who, while shy at first, have become really great friends who are even more of a draw than the weather... I think that was the most surprising part to us!

    I don’t work for the Aruba Tourist Board but wanted to give a perspective about some of the measurements we used to assess our choice.
    There are reasons why NOT to choose Aruba but I hope this gives an objective, contrasting view.

    I welcome any debate!
    Last edited by act1966; 09-29-2014 at 03:20 PM.

  2. #2
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    there is not one thing i disagree with you on!

    i am glad that you made this posting!


    Quote Originally Posted by act1966 View Post
    I wanted to post the analysis we used to determine where we wanted to retire and invest to counter some of the comments that have been made about the island.

    About five years ago, my spouse and I started to think about investing in a retirement property. While still in our forties, we knew the global real estate market was ripe for acquisition due to the recent financial market crash and associated down-sizing of property values.

    My family (grandparents, parents and twelve aunts and uncles) have owned homes in Florida since the early 1970s so that was the baseline from which we measured some of our selection criteria.

    For context: We’re both Canadian, educated (post-secondary graduates), well-traveled, good income, no kids and are definitely not winter people.

    Selection criteria:
    Weather: the preeminent reason in our selection – good, constant, dependable sunshine; little to no hurricanes: this ruled out quite a bit of the Caribbean, North and Central America. Many is the time I've spent weeks in Florida without even a hint of sun.
    Easy access (i.e. direct flights): this further narrowed down where we would purchase.
    Stable government: some of the more popular retirement destinations were recently under quite a bit of political strife (e.g. Central and South America) so some of the countries that are getting a lot of press as hospitable to retirement investment, we shied away from.
    Good infrastructure: somewhere with an established legal system similar to North America, banking, hospitals/medical care, good roads, electricity, safe water, good shipping for staples, relatively safe, good restaurants.
    Language: English would be nice but we didn't insist on it as a prerequisite as we’re fluent in French, some Spanish and seem to be able to learn to get by language-wise

    Where did we look and why did we rule them out?

    Mediterranean: love this region of the world but, until we retire, access was an issue as flights were a minimum of seven hours (and that was just major cities never mind if we had bought somewhere out of the core urban environments) and jet lag devastates us both. We’d still love to live in Spain for part of the year when we retire.
    Caribbean: BVI, USVI, Cuba, St. Lucia, Martinique, Saba... all are beautiful and have their benefits but the hurricane potential ruled most of them out. And some have really abject poverty for the locals.
    South and Central America: some beautiful countries but the newly democratized regions are still forming and it would take just one more recession to slip some of them back into dictatorships.
    United States: Arizona, California, Florida, New Mexico. None worked weather-wise and some had tax structures that were unappealing. The gun issue really turned us off investing there as well. NOT a criticism of gun-owners but the number of deaths from shootings relative to Canada is really jarring.

    So, after extensive research and travel, we landed on Aruba. All the above criteria boxes were checked to a certain extent and, relative to other locations, it just had the most appealing weather. We knew that, if any major medical issues arose, we’d be able to get back to our home country relatively easy.

    We knew we were rolling the dice on any real estate investment outside of our own country but, with Aruba’s Dutch/EU influence and tourist-driven economy, we felt confident in our choice and have not regretted it once.

    Another driving factor was the average per capita income of the locals relative to other Caribbean islands: Aruba has a stable, safe environment because of that factor. The Natalie Holloway murder aside, the island has a good, solid history of safety.

    Yes, we’ve been reading some of the challenges people have around customer service, rental issues, restaurateurs (ha, ha) etcetera but these pale relative to some of the horror stories we’ve heard from friends/colleagues that have purchased in other areas of the world.... and that includes Canada and the US.

    Is Aruba perfect? No. But it’s pretty damn close when you look up in the sky.
    Could we have bought somewhere cheaper/closer? Yes... but one of the other criteria would have suffered.
    Do we wish things moved faster? Sometimes but I’m also not interested in recreating the urban environment we exist in while working... it’s good that we need to slow down and go with the flow.
    Added bonus: we’ve met some fantastic locals who, while shy at first, have become really great friends who are even more of a draw than the weather... I think that was the most surprising part to us!

    I don’t work for the Aruba Tourist Board but wanted to give a perspective about some of the measurements we used to assess our choice.
    There are reasons why NOT to choose Aruba but I hope this gives an objective, contrasting view.

    I welcome any debate!

  3. #3
    Senior Member act1966's Avatar
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    Thanks, Andrea. It's weird how easy it is to bash/criticize a place but I really do believe Aruba is one of the best places in the world. You know... after In 'N Out Burger...LOL

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Jacki's Avatar
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    Great points! Thanks so much for putting all that down "on paper" for us!
    Jacki ~ loving Aruba from NJ

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    As an owner of 2 Villas here and 3 Deeded Timeshares and also having the ability to live in several South Pacific countries due to my citizenship, I must agree with act1966. After spending over 40years in Canada and having travelled extensively I am satisfied with my investments here in Aruba. I believe I have a very good basis for comparing Aruba to other islands I have had the fortune to visit. Is all perfect here...NO, but if someone knows where Utopia is can they email me.

    I have found in my dealings here that if you show respect and an interest in the local people and businesses things move along fine. In fact, ( and it pains me to say this ) I have found dealing less af a hassle than in Canada for the most part. Deliveries of furniture, appliances and so on have always arrived at the exact time promised. I cannot say the same about the phone company but that seems to be a global disease they all suffer from no matter what country.

    I have had to deal with authorities here and also had to deal with them in Cuba!!!! Guess which ones I prefer.

    I think it comes down to an individuals expectations of all things here. It is not the US or Canada or elsewhere. It is Aruba with all its nuances. Either you can or cannot live with them.

    After my car accident and my wifes battle with stage 4 cancer ( in remission) the little issues here pale in comparison.

    Now,.....off for a Balashi

    John

  6. #6
    Senior Member act1966's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacki View Post
    Great points! Thanks so much for putting all that down "on paper" for us!
    Jacki: no problem! I know it's quite a tome but I wanted to defend the island a bit because it felt like the negative "press" was getting a little lop-sided. And I wrote it on our back deck in Toronto with a ice cold Balashi Chill we brought back to Canada!

  7. #7
    Senior Member act1966's Avatar
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    Aquaman: What IS it with the phone companies?!? LOL But... we've had good experience with the mobile vertical... the woman who works the Setar booth at Queen Beatrix is really great.

    But we'll see what happens when we pull the trigger on internet service soon!

  8. #8
    Senior Member AUA1989's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by act1966 View Post
    Thanks, Andrea. It's weird how easy it is to bash/criticize a place but I really do believe Aruba is one of the best places in the world. You know... after In 'N Out Burger...LOL
    OMG act1966!!! How funny; how true! When my husband asked what I want to do for my 50th birthday in February, I said if I can't go to Aruba (we're waiting til April), then I want my 50th birthday dinner to be at In 'N Out Burger. Unfortunately, we live in Ohio, and I believe the closest restaurant is Dallas.


  9. #9
    Senior Member act1966's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AUA1989 View Post
    OMG act1966!!! How funny; how true! When my husband asked what I want to do for my 50th birthday in February, I said if I can't go to Aruba (we're waiting til April), then I want my 50th birthday dinner to be at In 'N Out Burger. Unfortunately, we live in Ohio, and I believe the closest restaurant is Dallas.

    AUA1989: I'm pretty sure I read that Congress just passed a law stating that, if it's your 50th birthday, they have to build an In 'N Out Burger close to you. Watch for it! And make them build one for you in Aruba too!! LOL

    Okay... WAAAAAY off topic!! Sorry!

  10. #10
    Super Moderator Jacki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by act1966 View Post
    Aquaman: What IS it with the phone companies?!? LOL
    I work in Telecom in the US....it is an issue throughout the industry!

    Thanks Aquaman! You are so right about the little issues! Hope your wife is feeling well!

    If I am lucky enough to retire and spend an extended amount of time in Aruba I really hope that the beauty of the island and the peaceful feeling I get when I am there will continue and balance the little frustrations of daily life
    Jacki ~ loving Aruba from NJ

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