Moving abroad is a big decision, and the relief that follows once that initial choice has been made can soon be cut short, as new decisions, such as buying your home abroad, quickly follow on.
Your choice of region, town or city has probably already been made, but as with moving to any new area – in the UK or when buying your home abroad – choosing a good location within that area can be a minefield.
There can also be a multitude of local legalities to take into account, as well as financial pitfalls
Here we explore some of the things to look out for to make buying your home abroad a breeze, and we expand on our top five buying tips:
If you have a British passport, you’ll be able to move freely to live in any of the EU countries without needing a visa or residence permit. In many countries outside of the EU, you’ll require a visa before you can choose to make a new life there and you should make sure you get this confirmed before you start any property purchase.
Before buying your home abroad, it’s a good idea to think about renting in the area you think you’d like to live in, to get a good feel for the location, and the locals. This will also give you the luxury of time in selecting your home, rather than dealing with the stress of a packed schedule during a property hunting ‘holiday’ or even carrying out your search online.
Once you’re in a position to start property hunting, making a checklist can help ensure you make the right choice for your home first time. Questions to ask yourself could include:
Here again, research before you talk to the professionals is key. Using qualified and officially registered professionals can help to protect your interests. Estate agents can be a good source of local advice.
You’ll also need to find a good local lawyer who also has a good grasp of both English and the local language. They’ll be able to help navigate through the many different laws particular to the countries you may be looking to buy in, for instance:
In many countries your purchase is only complete upon signing a notary deed – private sale documents are null and void. And in fact, if you’re buying in Canada or France, the buying process itself differs from region to region.
The local British Embassy or High Commission should be able to help put you in touch with recommended English speaking lawyers.
Paying for your home abroad is only one of the costs you’ll need to consider, and it’s important again to make sure you’re fully aware of additional fees and costs you’ll need to pay, to ensure your property is still affordable. In the UK we enjoy fairly low homebuying costs, while in some countries you may have to pay local taxes and occupancy fees.
And remember that if you’re moving into an apartment building, you’ll likely also need to pay a service charge.
Opening a bank account in the country you’re moving to means that you’ll be able to pay your utilities bills – especially as some essential services, such as electricity and water, will only be connected if you’re paying by Direct Debit.
Buying your home abroad is only one of the steps in the ex pat process, and there are many other considerations, from schooling for your children and the type of educational establishment they’ll need, through to making sure your healthcare needs are covered –
especially in the case of emergency. You’ll find more information about healthcare requirements in our country guides.
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