It’s time for Canadians to explore other second home destinations in the United States

Canadians have long been one of the largest cohorts of foreign buyers of American real estate, often flocking to sunny second homes like Phoenix and Miami.

Last year, Canadians made up 11% of foreign buyers in the United States, purchasing $5.5 billion worth of real estate, according to the National Association of Realtors. Nearly three in five of those purchases were vacation homes.

But with the steep decline in value of the Canadian dollar against the greenback in recent years, it is more expensive than ever to buy in the United States. The exchange rate between the Canadian dollar and the US dollar is currently 0.74falling from a five-year high of 0.83 in May 2021. Ten years ago, the Canadian dollar was trading at roughly the equivalent of the US dollar.

With the weaker Canadian currency, it may be time to explore other second home destinations beyond the United States. Here are three markets Canadian buyers might consider where they might have more buying power:

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The Canadian dollar has increasingly strengthened against the euro over the past five years, with the dollar buying €0.62 in March 2018 to around €0.71 today, according to analysis from the Jones Market Data team.

Portugal may be an ocean, but it has grown in popularity with second home buyers in recent years, especially among North Americans.

“It wasn’t very often that we saw Canadians buying property in Portugal, but I would say six months ago they started showing up,” said Ricardo Costa, CEO of Luximos Christie’s International Real Estate. in Portugal. “Currency has a lot to do with it.”

The country’s capital, Lisbon, is a seven-hour flight from Toronto. But the southern Algarve region is more popular with shoppers, with its golden cliffs set against the sparkling blue of the Atlantic. Even in January, southern Portugal sees average highs of around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

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The spot is a favorite among British buyers, who make up nearly 70% of Luximos Christie customers there, Mr Costa said.

Many foreign buyers are attracted to Portugal for its low cost of living, its proximity to other European countries and its quality of life.

“People feel the country is safe and small,” Costa said.

Prices may vary from around €1 million (C$1.435 million) for a villa in the low end to €8 million for homes in resorts or other highly desirable areas.

Buyers of properties priced above €500,000 are also eligible for Portugal’s golden visa program, which would allow them to obtain a fully valid residence permit there.


While the Canadian dollar rose sharply against the Mexican peso in 2020, it has since fallen back to pre-pandemic levels, with an exchange rate of around one dollar to 14 pesos.

Even though the Canadian dollar may not be as far behind as it was a few months ago, Mexico still has plenty to offer in the way of luxury real estate at a lower price than what is available in the US market.

The beach town of Puerto Vallarta is one of North America’s top destinations for second home buyers. Once a quaint fishing town nestled in the mountains, Puerto Vallarta is now one of the most popular getaways in the country. More than a destination for all-inclusive resorts, Puerto Vallarta is also home to a growing foodie scene and plenty of local galleries and showcases.

“It’s a tourist town but you can get away from the tourists without a problem,” said Michael Garcia, marketing director of LPR Luxury International, a real estate agency based in the town.

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“Made for Airbnb” condos are gaining the most popularity, which include locked rooms where owners can keep personal items while they rent out the property for the rest of the year, Garcia said. Ocean-view condos cost the equivalent of C$500,000, while a luxury single-family home in the hills could sell for almost C$1 million or more.

Due to its large number of Canadian and American residents, Puerto Vallarta is also home to familiar stores north of the border, such as Costco, Walmart, and Sam’s Club.

Those looking for places off the beaten path can head to Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo and Troncones, all located on the coast of the mountainous state of Guerrero.

“A lot of times Canadians look for places that aren’t as Americanized,” said Jeanne Donnadieu, broker at Mexico Sotheby’s International Realty.

As more beach resorts spring up in Zihuatanejo, the town has so far retained its small-town flavor.

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For the same reasons that Canadians look to Mexico and Portugal — good weather and a lower cost of living — they also have their eyes on Brazil.

“The culture is very vibrant,” said Mike Smith, owner of real estate consultancy Brazil Beach House. “It’s 100% authentic Brazilian – you can’t be mistaken for Canada or America.”

In 2020, one Canadian dollar went from 3.12 Brazilian real to 4 real. If the rate has since stabilized around 3.8 Brazilian reals, it is still a good time to invest in Brazilian real estate.

The country offers several residency options, Smith said. One of them is through real estate investment: those who make a real estate purchase of 1 million or more real estate can apply for residency. Alternatively, Brazil offers a retirement visa, which offers the residence to people with a monthly income of $2,000 or more.

Smith said most of the Canadians he works with opt for Brazil over Mexico or the United States because they have some sort of connection to the country.

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“A lot of times it’s not a random choice to come to Brazil,” Smith said. The country, with its less developed infrastructure and stark inequality, tends to attract the most intrepid travellers, drawn by the country’s unique character and natural landscapes. According to a study by Knight Frank, most second home buyers in Brazil come from Portugal and the United Kingdom.

“There are epic natural attractions in terms of mountains, waterfalls and tropical beaches,” Smith said. “That’s it, but it’s not for the faint-hearted.”

For those on the move, there are plenty of deals to be found.

The northeastern state of Bahia offers miles of tropical coastline and is a focal point for luxury residential real estate development. Buyers can find secluded, sprawling villas surrounded by greenery or even properties on some of the private islands off the coast.

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Prices in beach resorts along the northeast coast of Brazil are around C$452,000, or C$1,919 per square meter for villas and C$2,568 per square meter for apartments, according to a Knight Frank study. In the few ultra-luxury resorts, the average values ​​are currently between C$4,000 and 4,700 per square meter.

For a more laid-back surfer vibe, Mr. Smith suggests Pipa, popular with international visitors and surfers. Homes there cost between 200,000 and 1.5 million Canadian dollars and tend to generate good rental returns.

“In terms of real estate prices, you can get fantastic luxury homes at very affordable prices compared to North America and Europe,” he said.

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