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Top Tips For Buying Your First Overseas Property

Moving abroad is a life-changing experience. It is something that many of us can only dream of, but when it comes to actually buying a property and making arrangements to move overseas, it can be an overwhelming process. In this post, we will look at some tips to help to take away some of the stress and anxiety out of the process of buying your first overseas property.

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Why might you buy a property overseas?

There are many reasons why someone might want to buy an overseas property. Some want a better climate than the one they currently live in. Others want to enjoy a different pace of life or experience a whole new culture. For many, it is just a desire for a completely different scene.

Moving overseas is popular with retired people.  After a lifetime of working hard and raising families, they often want to enjoy their retirement years in somewhere with good weather and a slower lifestyle. The cost of property and living is also usually significantly cheaper outside of the United Kingdom, which can be a huge draw.

Some people do not buy a property to live in themselves, or not full time, anyway. It is another thing to add to their investment portfolio; something to bring in a passive income, or to hand down to their children. 

Whatever your reasons for buying an overseas property, it is important to follow some of these tips.

What should you look for in an overseas property?

  • What locations are appealing to you?
  • Do you want a slower or faster pace of life?
  • Do you need a location that is family-orientated?
  • Do you have specific needs or desires – all one one level, swimming pool etc?
  • Will you use your property all year round?
  • Do you want to be remote and off the beaten track or in the hustle and bustle of a city or tourist hotspot?
  • Do you need to think about work and schools?

How will you finance your overseas property?

If you are hoping to buy a property overseas, you have got a few choices to make depending on what you are doing. 

If you have a lump sum of capital – perhaps through a pension, savings or inheritance, you may want to think about buying the property outright and living mortgage free. Alternatively, you may want to go down the more conventional route of borrowing at least part of the cost through a mortgage or a hdb home loan. With the latter, you will need to have some sort of way of paying back the money, either through your salary or the income that the property generates for you. You also need to consider whether you want to go through a UK based mortgage company or go with someone in the country that you are intending to move to. 

Plan a trip to check out properties

This is one of the exciting bits! As soon as you have a firm sense of your priorities and where you want to purchase, you are ready to take a trip to check out some of the potential properties. Unless you have visited the area many times before, take your time to look around and familiarise yourself with the location. When you organise your viewing trip, planning ahead will help you make the most of your time and get you asking the right questions.

Make sure that you book all of your visits to properties in advance to save any wasted time. Ensure that you leave plenty of time in between each property viewing. This gives you time to travel between them without rushing and is an opportunity to absorb and reflect on the one that you have just seen.

Take a checklist with you and go through it methodically. When you are faced with a property, it can be easy to run away with excitement and miss things, but a written checklist will keep you focused and help you to look at the property in a more objective manner. It also gives you a point of reference to look back on when comparing properties.

Other things to think about

  • Make sure the property company or agency that you are going with is reputable – check for reviews
  • Don’t just take everything at face value – make sure that you do your own independent research into the property market and any rules and regulations in the country. 
  • Make sure you hire a local lawyer with a good grasp of english to avoid any language barriers and miscommunication. Ensure they are registered with the relevant authorities and associations of their country.
  • If you are planning on building or making structural changes, make sure you have researched the local planning laws
  • When setting a budget, take into account taxes, fees, utility connections and service charges
  • Look at opening a local bank account to avoid charges and make payments easier to manage

You’ve bought your property. Now what?

  • As soon as possible, and certainly before you book shipments, do your research into flights and international removals and get a range of quotes.
  • Ask your healthcare providers for copies of your files
  • Make sure that you have appropriate visa and paperwork sorted, and a valid passport
  • Get your pension providers to give you up to date figures, and look at any implications involved with moving abroad.
  • Enroll your children in a school
  • Make sure that your pets have all the relevant vaccinations and are fit to travel
  • Designate a power of attorney so a trusted person can handle any of your financial matters in the UK on your behalf
  • Arrange health care provision and insurance in your new country
  • Organise an international SIM card for your phone to avoid being hit with additional charges
  • Set up redirection for your post

Buying a property overseas is exciting. It’s also a little bit terrifying. Whatever reason you are doing it for, these tips will make the process much easier and less stressful for you and your family. 

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