I recently was honored to be a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Embassy Tbilisi in the country of Georgia. After doing some heavy research on this magnificent country, I set off on a speaking tour. Nothing could have prepared me for the beauty of Georgia, but thanks to Think Realty, I knew I would be keeping an eye on the real estate.
A Little Bit of Background
Because most Americans do not know much about Georgia, I want to start off with a little bit of background and history:
The country has about 3.5 million people and speaks its own language, Georgian. Many of its citizens speak English and Russian since it endured many years under Russian imperial rule and was part of the USSR. Georgia gained its independence in 1991 and, with the aid of the U.S., fought off another attempted occupation by the capital of the former Soviet Union in 2008.
One of my missions as a speaker was to bring awareness to a national problem with automobile safety. Yes, my job was to ask people to slow down! More than 600 Georgians die in accidents each year, and 9,000 are severely injured in car crashes. My job was to urge citizens to slow down and leave the speed for the race tracks. Georgia has a really great track in Rustavi and some very nice go-cart tracks, which of course I tested out personally. My other missions included being a cultural ambassador and motivational speaking, much as I do in the United States when I’m not racing.
Now, the Real Estate.
Of course, being sponsored by Think Realty, I had a “real estate of mind” throughout my trip. My eyes popped when I saw the magnificent glass skyscrapers going up in abundance along the coast. What really caught my attention as an amateur real estate investor was the starting price for a condo: just 82,500 lari. That converts to less than $35,000! I found myself wondering if this country, which is just beginning to recognize its own potential as the first generation permitted to think like capitalists is growing into a prosperous adulthood, could be on the verge of a real estate boom?
There were certainly some signs it might be, including large volumes of new construction in Batumi, a beautiful city on the coast of the Black Sea. Everywhere I went, young people spoke of their desire to be entrepreneurs and build their own businesses and futures. At several universities where I spoke on the topic of entrepreneurship, I heard from countless students with big dreams and the education and determination to fulfill them.
Not surprisingly, a lot of the people described their dreams of coming to the United States to live and work. Of course, Visa requirements are pretty strict around the world, but I encouraged them not to give up. Georgia is one of the friendliest countries toward the U.S. in the world, interestingly, so any real estate investors who wish to travel there might have to pay a hefty sum for their airline ticket, but they’ll be greeted with an extremely strong dollar ($100 U.S. dollars are worth about 245 lari) and, noted a representative from the embassy office, “possibly a bottle of wine at immigration!” U.S. citizens do not need visas to come to Georgia to live, work, or study.
Now, I’m on a New Mission: Due Diligence
I have to admit, now that I’m back in the U.S. I can’t stop thinking about owning property in Batumi. I think taking risks (and with international investing there are obviously many) is what yields the biggest rewards. If I could own a property in Batumi on the sea and visit it even every other year and rent it out in between I think it could be an investment worth considering. Every idea I come up with requires a lot of research and due diligence, but the educational process interests me. I don’t mind doing the work and I don’t even mind if it ends up not being viable for me to invest in property Georgia because I am starting to think that international investing may produce bigger opportunities and profits than some of our over saturated markets due to being able to get in on the ground floor.
Our world is getting smaller so why not expand your thinking on what could be possible not only in our backyard, but across the globe? Truly, the entire world awaits.