Start planning for the home of your dreams

Very few of us are busy building up businesses that could sell for a sizeable amount, so the millions in the bank most likely won't apply, but that doesn't mean that we too can't have a fantastic life that ticks key boxes.
Gary Clement for The National
Gary Clement for The National
The children have sugarplums and Santa for their imagination this time of year, so why not do a little dreaming of your own?

Today we're going to fantasise about where we would like to live, or even just have a base.

What better way to start off than by finding out where people "just like us" have or are working towards having a home soon.

This is my friend's plan:

London is London, he says - so he definitely wants a place smack bang in the middle.

Being big on the outdoors and physical adventure, he wants a home in the Alps too - great for action year-round - with easy access to so many European cities and experiences by car.

The Alps are also halfway between London and Dubai - where he wants his third home. Not only has he lived in the UAE for over two decades, he is also thinking through the tax implications of having bases elsewhere.

Of course, this becoming reality depends on how many millions end up in the bank.

His aim is to sell his business for a big chunk of cash in a few years, and then flit around working as a consultant.

Very few of us are busy building up businesses that could sell for a sizeable amount, so the millions in the bank most likely won't apply, but that doesn't mean that we too can't have a fantastic life that ticks key boxes.

The starting point to figuring out where is why. Do you know what is it you want to be able to do? That will help define where you could have a base.

One of the things I want is a mountain and snow. Friends who live in the UAE have just ticked this box by buying a flat in the Dolomites. Theirs will be a retreat to use whenever they can get away.

Another couple I know own a beautiful ski chalet in Austria - it's their escape bolt to skiing, hiking, biking and more the year round. And when they're not using it, it's being rented out for a handsome sum. I don't think it's quite paying for itself - yet - but if you add whatever income they get to the cost of renting a property for them and their three children at peak seasons - which is when it is taken off the market for their own use - then you can see how their flat makes financial sense.

I recently found out another friend is flying to southern France - having lived in the region for 40 odd years - to find a place to settle, semi-retire and write the book that's bubbling away within him.

His mother is half French, so he has a connection there. The Dolomites family is a mix of Italian, German and Spanish, so you can see the connections there too.

Having a birth connection can help narrow down options - if you like your birth connections - but these days many of us can live in a multitude of places, whether we have connections to them or not. People often dream about their ideal retirement destination but do not spend time there before sinking cash and emotion into it. Before buying property in a place new to you, why not stay there for regular periods, discovering firsthand what life is like?

Of course, people make a place - so how about clubbing together with friends and building up a community that you love and belong to? A few friends have done just this. by buying sizeable plots of land on Pico Island - it's Portuguese and comes complete with volcano - they chose it for its landscape, vegetation, isolation and great hikes. And they have each other to enjoy it with.

The financial prowess of these people varies, but they are all able to make their dreams a reality - in part at least. If you can't buy, perhaps you can rent; if you can't rent, perhaps you can exchange. There really is always a way - as long as you're realistic.

Thinking through what we want, why we want it and how to achieve it is always a good thing. Of course, life sometimes doesn't work out as planned - which is not always a bad thing. Sometimes the unexpected twists in the journey turn out to be the best things. The point is, have a point. And do something about it. Every single day.

Nima Abu Wardeh is the founder of the personal finance website cashy.me. You can reach her at nima@cashy.me.

Follow us on Twitter @TheNationalPF

Published: December 26, 2014 04:00 AM

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