"I want to make an offer on this property,'' my husband, Richard, said.
He was calling from 9,200 miles away on New Zealand's South Island to describe 10 sheep-dotted acres in one of the world's prettiest countries. The parcel had electricity, water and telephone hookups.
We could build a "bach" (pronounced "batch"), local slang for a getaway cottage, and watch the sun slip behind rolling hills. Palmerston, with a gas station and convenience stores, was five minutes away. A breathtaking South Pacific beach lay just beyond. The clincher was the land's suitability for tree-planting, as Richard, a pilot for 40 years, longed to dig in dirt after a lifetime viewing the planet from a cockpit.
We'd been traveling to New Zealand since the 1980s. Like many Americans, we'd fallen in love with this environmentally responsible, English-speaking nation. But there'd always been stronger pulls to stay put: Jobs, family, money.
Now, like plenty of near-retirees, we had some cash earning minuscule interest, kids who'd moved on and an itch for change. Throw in global terrorism, gun violence and a turbulent U.S. election, and that made staking a claim in a remote, two-island nation inhabited by 4.5 million friendly Kiwis a real possibility.
Not that New Zealand makes the transition all that easy. Generally, it doesn't grant foreign property owners residency or other special privileges. Long-term visas become more complicated as you approach retirement — unless you have millions to invest. (Thiel also appears to have New Zealand citizenship, although how that was obtained is not clear.)