Digest: Lessons from Ireland and the Best Place to Buy in Spain

In this week’s digest:

  • Our Brand-New Scouting Report on Northern Portugal
  • The Small Riverside Portuguese Town that Offers Big Bargains
  • Affordable Homes Near Europe’s Most Stunning Beaches
  • Your Questions Answered on the Best Place to Own in Spain

The Irish writer Frank McCourt said: “Ireland, once you live there, you’re seduced by it.”

Now, as an Irishman, I might be biased, but I tend to agree with Frank.

Outside the living room of my house near the southern city of Cork, my garden is full of wildflowers, rustling trees, lush green grass, and a varied collection of butterflies.

This is my favorite time of year to be in Ireland. The sun is shining (most of the time), the days are long—the sun doesn’t set until around almost 10 p.m. right now—and there’s plenty of time for long strolls on the beach or along the waterfront in the nearby historic town of Cobh.

And it’s Cobh I want to tell you about today…

Both because right now my team are gathering here from around the world, and because this was the site of an incredible real estate opportunity.

Let’s start with the opportunity…and the lessons we can learn from it today.

The town of Cobh boasts an incredible seafront and is well known for its cathedral with its towering spire.

Cobh has a rich history.

It was famously the Titanic’s last port of call and there’s a fantastic museum here that tells the stories of the 123 men, women, and children who boarded that fateful ship in April 1912.

It was also from this picturesque port town that 2.5 million Irish people emigrated from during the Great Famine of the 1800s and beyond, many of them to the U.S.

If your ancestors emigrated from this part of Ireland around that time, the spire of Cobh cathedral is likely the last part of Ireland they saw.

The old White Star Line offices and the pier in Cobh, where Titanic passengers would have boarded the ill-fated ship.

In the post-financial crisis era in Ireland, Cobh was also the site of an incredible real estate opportunity.

Cobh was named Queenstown in the mid-1800s after a visit from Queen Victoria and you’ll still see beautiful Victorian-era buildings perched above the town with sweeping views of Cork Harbour. Lots of these homes fell into disrepair in the 1980s after many of the big industrial companies left, such as Irish Steel, which had operated out of Cobh and the wider Cork Harbour area for decades.

Cork became quite an economically depressed city for much of the ’80s and early ’90s…until the giant pharma companies arrived. The likes of Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Eli Lilly set up shop here, lured by low corporation tax, a highly educated English-speaking population, and the deep-water port.

But Cobh itself didn’t benefit from this influx of pharma money and personnel. The companies built their plants on greenfield sites and their highly paid executives didn’t want to live in Cobh. It was seen as an old industrial area that was best avoided. So, the town continued to struggle.

When the financial crisis of 2007/2008 came, the crash in real estate values in Cobh was even more acute than in other parts of Cork. It wasn’t perceived as a desirable place to live or even visit and so no one wanted to buy real estate here. In and around 2010, you could have bought one of those unloved Victorian mansions with harbor views for around €100,000.

Anyone who did, ended up making out like gangbusters…

You see, Cobh is actually a very pretty town, it’s a short train ride from Cork City, and the towering spire of Cobh cathedral is an iconic and impressive sight. Today, Cobh is a popular spot on the tourist trail in southern Ireland. It’s also a cruise ship stop with gigantic vessels like the Celebrity Apex, with its 3,200 passengers, docking here each year.

The town of Cobh on Ireland’s south coast has an interesting history. Over the past decade or so, it was also the site of an incredible real estate play.

When the tourists starting coming to Cobh, they needed places to stay and those imposing Victorian mansions were renovated, returned to their former glory…and set up as B&Bs and Airbnbs. I’ve heard of huge double-digit gross rental yields and property values that have trebled or more.

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that buying overlooked and undervalued real estate is a time-honored path to profits…

And in the case of Cobh, buying in the right place at the right moment resulted in those incredible yields and big capital appreciation.

The reason I mention Cobh and this real estate play is that this week, my entire team is meeting in Cobh for one of our twice yearly get-togethers. Some members of my team live nearby. Others have come from the U.S. Still others have come from as far away as Panama and Colombia.

We’re meeting in Cobh to plan the second half of 2024…

During our meetings, we’re identifying overlooked and undervalued locations that are about to explode. Identifying these locations around the globe dictates where we’ll travel in the next six months…the opportunities we’ll investigate…and ultimately what you’ll read about both here in Overseas Dream Home, and in Real Estate Trend Alert.

Stay tuned…in the coming days, I’ll share some of our plans. (Have an idea for a place we should scout? Share it here.)

Today, though, let’s start with the overlooked and undervalued destination we’ve just finished scouting…one that offers an incredible opportunity.

Our Brand-New Scouting Report on Northern Portugal

Just yesterday, I shared our brand-new in-depth scouting report on northern Portugal with RETA members.

In June, my scout Ciaran Madden and our RETA photographer/videographer Alan Kennedy spent more than a week on the ground in Portugal, and they found incredible opportunities like these…

  • A condo steps from one of the most stunning beaches in northern Portugal for just €250,000. With a 30-year mortgage of 70% at 3% interest, that’s only around €734 per month. (Mortgages like these are readily available to non-resident foreign buyers.)
  • A large historic farmhouse with incredible views of the mountains and the coast for only €200,000. (With the same mortgage terms as above, that’s only around €587 per month.)
  • An apartment in the heart of one of Portugal’s most livable, culture-rich cities, yet only minutes’ drive from the beach, for just €170,000. (That’s less than €500 per month.)

If you’re interested in Portugal, I can’t stress enough how important this report is. The opportunity here is astonishing…and incredibly urgent.

This part of Portugal has yet to see the vast numbers of visitors that the rest of the country is getting right now. But I can tell you, that will change. The tourists will come. Prices will go up. And you can be ahead of that.

Get all the insights and opportunities in our comprehensive scouting trip to northern Portugal. Click here to access it now. (This is a Real Estate Trend Alert members-only report. If you’re not already a member, you can get full access if you join here now.)

This beach, called Ofir, is stunning and sits within a protected landscape in northern Portugal, yet you could can own steps from this beach for mind-bogglingly low prices…

The Small Riverside Portuguese Town that Offers Big Bargains

While in northern Portugal, Ciaran and Alan also sent a fascinating update from the road…

As they were checking out overlooked beach towns and incredible beachfront bargains, they were also hearing about a rural town about a 30-minute drive inland.

These guys are not ones to ignore chatter about a place, especially when they are hearing about it everywhere they go. So, before they boarded their plane home, they carved out some time to investigate.

And what they found was the charming little town of Ponte de Lima, said to be the oldest village in Portugal. Located in the center of production for Portugal’s famous “green wine” (vinho verde), this riverside town is picturesque, lively, and you can buy well here for under €200,000.

Read more about it here.

Ponte de Lima’s stone bridge is a mix of Roman and medieval architecture. The town takes its name from the bridge, highlighting its importance down through the centuries.

Dream Homes by the Best Beaches in Europe

Elsewhere in Europe, it’s that time of year when the vacationers are starting to hit the beach. With thousands of beaches to choose from in France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal alone, it can be difficult to pick the best ones. But there is help at hand…and it’s all thanks to a group of French schoolchildren.

Back in the 1980s, a bunch of them put messages that included their name and their favorite beach into plastic bottles which were then dropped into the ocean. It was an experiment to highlight the impact of littering. From this, the Blue Flag was born.

Playa de la Mata is one of Spain’s many Blue Flag beaches…and you can buy an apartment near the beach here for €84,900. See the listing here.

A Blue Flag is awarded to exceptional beaches around the world that meet the strict standards of environmental management and safety. These beaches will have lifeguards on duty, clean water, and usually nearby amenities for beachgoers to enjoy.

In other words, they are the “best” beaches in the world.

Many of them are off the beaten tourist track, though, and so living next to (or even right on them) is not only possible, it’s affordable. So I asked my team to find homes in some of Europe’s Blue Flag regions.

Here’s a roundup of the best ones they found…and most of them are under €160,000.

Questions and Feedback

Have a question or comment? Share it here. Here’s one I got from an Overseas Dream Home reader…

Jon R. asks: My wife and I are planning to move to the Costa del Sol, Spain, part-time and go back and forth to Orlando, Florida. We like the area around Marbella—Puerto Banús to be specific. We like Old Town Marbella but can you recommend other nice areas like that but with a smaller price tag?

Ronan says: Hi Tom. My recommendation is to check out Estepona. It’s only about a 20-minute drive west of Puerto Banús and Marbella, but it’s not overbuilt  and is known as the “Garden of the Costa del Sol” for its palm tree-lined promenades and flower-filled plazas.

Estepona has also been coming into vogue in recent years, thanks to a “Path of Progress” that has been moving west along the coast from Marbella. It now has great restaurants, a revitalized Old Town, and lots of incredible murals adding to its unique character. It has also retained much of its traditional Spanish charm in a way that many other towns along this coast have not.

I’ve been tracking this Path of Progress along this stretch of Spain’s coast for years and Real Estate Trend Alert members have been ahead of it with a run of killer deals. For example, we had a RETA opportunity in a community just west of Marbella in 2020. A condo a RETA member bought here for €327,000 was sold in late 2023 for €550,000—an incredible boost of €223,000.

RETA members also got in on a deal to own luxury homes in a golf community west of Estepona. A RETA member who bought here in 2017 for €189,900 sold last year for €370,000.

And earlier this year, my Real Estate Trend Alert members had the chance to buy three-bed, sea-views condos just a six-minute walk from the beach in Estepona. With bank financing available to non-resident foreign buyers in Spain, it could cost just $1,360 per month to own here. If I were to pick a place to live and invest on the Costa del Sol, Estepona would be at the top of my list.

If you have a question or any feedback, I’d love to hear it. Have a question about owning in Portugal or Spain? Want to suggest a town we should scout? Let me know here.


Ronan McMahon, Founder, Overseas Dream Home & Real Estate Trend Alert

Your Daily Dream Home

Torrevieja, Spain


This bright two-bedroom bungalow is available on the ground floor of a community in Torrevieja. The bungalow faces the interior of the community, towards the pool.

The bungalow features a spacious terrace, living/dining room with fireplace, a bathroom with bathtub, fully equipped American kitchen (refrigerator, washing machine, cooktop), two bedrooms with built-in wardrobes.

The community has three different pools with large green areas. The property is close to the supermarket, shops, pharmacies, and bus stop.

Click here to find out more

Remember, we don’t make money from any listing shared here in the Your Daily Dream Home section. We have no dog in the fight. We’re just sharing cool properties we’ve found.

I haven’t visited this property or done due diligence on it. If you’re interested in the listing, you should hire an attorney and do your own due diligence.

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