My husband and I started our '5 year plan', to retire to an island, about 9 years ago.
It took about 7 years for that plan to come to fruition.
It is a very BIG decision to purchase property in a foreign country. We made countless lists of pros and cons and weighed everything from safety to infrastructure to healthcare and so much more.
Once we had narrowed down that we for sure wanted to buy on Aruba, we buckled up for the hurdles that lie ahead when purchasing in a foreign country.
Yes, there are some hoops, and yes things take longer than we are used to in the US. But all in all, we couldn't be happier with our choice!
Initially, we worked with a handful of different realtors, and it can be frustrating on both sides because we, as buyers, want to look at many options and narrow down our choices methodically. And for the realtors, they are so used to people window shopping and not pulling the trigger. We honestly did not know if we wanted a condo or a home, a move in ready or a fixer, a place in the 'tourist' area, or one in a 'quieter' area.
In preparation, my husband searched every available listing online before we left for the island on December 21, 2019. With a list in hand and a couple of suitcases of essentials, we boarded the plane. With plans to rent from a friend for a few months or as needed, we hit the ground running. Well, not really, it was the holidays, and those last until after the first of the year on Aruba. Island time is a real thing.
None the less, we scouted on foot in the areas of interest to us in the beginning. Once the holidays passed we were able to line up some showings, but during high season, if the place you want to see is occupied, you have to see a 'similar' empty unit. Something to keep in mind for condo shopping.
During our 'pre' research we found a house we loved everything about. It wasn't quite in the area we thought we wanted to be. But this house had everything we wanted. The price tag was a little higher than we wanted, but we kept coming back to it. After seeing it a few times and meeting the seller (common practice on Aruba), we decided to make an offer. After some negotiation, we had an accepted offer! Because the seller already had a new house, they let us move in prior to closing and rent back from them. It was perfect! Now, a year and a half later, we have put our own touches on the place with paint and decor, and recently had our belongings from the States sent on a container.
Our process from start to finish, meaning from the day we landed up to the day we closed on the house, was exactly 3 months. Not bad!!
This brings me to the person who helped make this happen for us in such a timely manner, Edwin Hekman.
Edwin and one of his associates were wonderful realtors to work with.
So very patient with our decision process and multiple questions about how to navigate foreign home purchases.
Edwin has since gone on to open his own Keller Williams Real Estate branch on Aruba. Their team currently consists of 27 people ranging from agents, to property managers and a photographer. Here is a quote from one of his marketing specialists at KW.
"Born and raised in the Netherlands, Edwin moved to Aruba with the Dutch Marine Corps. Afterward, he worked for the Criminal Investigation team in Aruba. However, Edwin decided to focus more on his family. This meant a new and exciting challenge which also allowed for more time with his family.
Together with Marianna, his former colleague from a different real estate company on the island, he started his own real estate company: Keller Williams Aruba, in July 2020, and it officially opened on October 1st 2020. His past experiences in the Marines, Criminal Investigation, and real estate were of great value. He gained valuable skills such as practical negotiation skills, commitment, collaboration, and the importance of trust and honesty, which is a great asset for the market."
Now, get ready for the added bonus that comes with doing business with KW.
Edwin's wife, Manon, is a property manager on Aruba! So when you buy your beautiful home away from home, you can hire Manon's company to manage your place while you are away. Whether you wish to rent it out while away, or if you prefer to not rent it but need someone to check on it weekly for your piece of mind, Manon and her team, Marianne and Allan are FANTASTIC!
Here is a little bit of a backstory on Manon as quoted by one of the marketing specialists at KW.
"After switching between Aruba and The Netherlands, Manon moved permanently to Aruba over ten years ago. She first worked as a cosmetologist and yoga instructor. Not only that, but she also has a Bootcamp school called “Bootcamp Aruba”. In 2014 she started to manage properties for short term rentals, it began with one property, and it soon became three, five, and seven properties because everyone thought she was amazing. She got good reviews regarding the properties and the property manager. Together with Marianne, Manon established
Best Rentals Aruba in July 2020. It soon went from seven to 30 properties."
We chose to become residents of Aruba, but it is not necessary to become a resident to buy a property or to own a vehicle. You just need to register at the tax office and get a 'personal number'. But being a non-resident does limit you to spending no more than 180 per calendar year on the island.
If you are interested in learning more about buying property on Aruba you can sign up here and receive a free copy of
'Aruba Buyers Guide' courtesy of Keller Williams.
If Aruba is a new destination for you, and you would like a copy of my free guide of 'Hints & Tips', please click here.
We could not be happier with our home on Aruba. With the help of Edwin and Manon we feel very comfortable leaving our home in their hands when we are stateside. So much so, we have referred friends to buy from Edwin also.
It is our great pleasure to not only have had such a great home buying experience on Aruba with Edwin and Manon, but to also now call them our friends.
If this is something you are considering, start by doing your homework. The internet is a very powerful tool! Make lists, study maps, read up on the culture and laws. Do everything you can to be prepared in advance and the rest will fall into place with the help of Edwin and his staff.
Remember to also bring your patience. The government here does things differently and some things just take more time. Being prepared and as knowledgeable as possible will be extremely helpful.
Also check out my other posts:
All Inclusive or A la Carte, and much more!