Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Point2.
In a year unlike any other, many Americans jumped at the opportunity to buy a second home abroad. To escape the coronavirus pandemic — and their confining primary residences — those who had the means to hunt for homes in sunnier, more exotic places did just that.
Then, as the relentless, mind-numbing reality at home trudged along, Americans increasingly began looking for “homes for sale in Costa Rica,” “Mexico real estate,” and “condos for sale” in Puerto Rico and Belize — which were just a few of the most-searched destinations.
This year, there were some interesting shifts in preferences, as well as places that solidified their reputations as Americans’ destinations of choice. Specifically, compared with 2015 and 2018 (when we also analyzed search volumes on Google and the level of interest for real estate outside of the U.S.) some locations have definitely gained in popularity, while others left the top 10 and even the top 30 completely. Here are the key takeaways:
- Mexico and Canada remain the most popular destinations in which to buy a second home in the Americas.
- Puerto Rico — the third-most sought-after location in 2018 — dropped to No. 4, switching places with Costa Rica.
- Newcomer Honduras kicked Jamaica out of the top 10 most-desirable locations.
- New countries to enter the top 30 include: El Salvador, Grenada, Anguilla, and Peru.
Following are the most popular homebuying locations in the Americas.
#1 — Mexico’s Spectacular Beaches & Amazing Lifestyle Continue to Attract American Homebuyers
Mexico remains the most popular destination for Americans looking to buy a home abroad. With more than 80,000 monthly online searches, this country has come a long way since 2015, when it wasn’t even in the top three most-desirable locations.
In Mexico, Puerto Vallarta is the most-searched destination. Boasting the most Google searches of all of the real estate markets in the country (8,420), this superlative city has all the lovely beaches, narrow streets, and colorful house fronts that anyone could wish for.
Coming in second with 5,680 monthly searches, San Miguel de Allende is a hidden gem that’s sure to make repeaters of all of its first-time visitors. Moreover, the 63 different nationalities living in this city are proof of San Miguel de Allende’s incredible magnetism. In fact, as Ann Dolan, luxury real estate specialist at CDR San Miguel has stated:
“We started to see buyers writing offers again beginning in September with closings in October and November. […] People move here for the five C’s, including culture, community, climate, cost of living, and low crime rate. Now we are very busy as properties priced to the market are selling quickly as buyers have returned. We anticipate this year to be the best on record for sales.”
The third most-researched Mexican destination is Cabo San Lucas, which also recorded more than 5,000 searches. Home to pristine beaches and spectacular water vistas, this resort city is known and loved for its nightlife, abundant food and dining options, and vibrant art scene.
#2 — Canada Retains Its Appeal for American Second-Home Buyers
In 2015, Canada placed seventh among American homebuyers’ preferences. Fast forward to 2018, and the U.S. neighbor to the north jumped straight to No. 2. And, this year, the country of incredible ski resorts and breathtaking northern lights appears to have become a mainstay.
With 17,010 and 11,290 monthly searches, respectively, Vancouver, BC, and Toronto, ON, are the most popular locations for Americans looking to buy a second home. Coming in at No. 3 — but definitely trailing behind the first two markets — is Hamilton, ON, with 3,940 monthly searches.
Here’s what the median U.S. home price ($350,000) gets you in the three most desirable Canadian cities:
- An amazing condo in Hamilton
- A luxurious one-bed, one-bath single-family home in Toronto
- A 430-square-foot home in Vancouver
Conversely, for those who are more interested in Canada’s top millennial hot spots, the Canadian cities that would be the most attractive are Quebec City, QC; Ottawa, ON; and Kingston, ON.
#3 — Tropical Paradise Costa Rica Earns 3rd Spot as Most In-Demand Second-Home Location
Whether it’s white water rafting, the hot springs of Arenal, or watching wildlife, Costa Rica has it all. From the adrenaline junkie to the laid-back beach-lover, everyone can find something in this country. As such, it’s no wonder that moving to Costa Rica would be like living in paradise for the thousands of Americans looking to buy a home here.
So, what would be their top choices? Tamarindo, Jaco, and Santa Ana. Check out what the median U.S. home price would get you in these top three most-wanted Costa Rica locations:
- A 1,969-square-foot home in Tamarindo, “nestled in a green and quiet setting, surrounded by trees and nature”
- A two-bedroom condo with a private rooftop terrace in Jaco
- A spacious and breezy Santa Ana one-level house
To discover the most-searched destinations for Americans who are looking to buy property abroad, we analyzed keywords related to real estate in combination with all of the countries and territories from the Americas. We used Ahrefs to extract the average number of searches per month, for the past 12 months. We then ranked these locations based on the number of searches for them.