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Buying your dream property abroad – covering the basics

Mon 4th Feb 19

During the long winter months, moving to a place in the sun sounds like a wonderful idea. Many of us have dreams of retiring to a property abroad – somewhere with a slower pace of life and year round warm weather to keep us healthy. Work life balance is encouraging more people to look at a move abroad – even earlier than retirement. Especially as the cost of travel today is relatively low, allowing some to commute between countries for work.

So, where are the best places to buy a property abroad, how do you go about it and what do you need to remember?

Where to buy property abroad

There aren’t many places in the world that restrict property purchasing to residents only, so when it comes to location, the world is your oyster. It’s a good idea to stay locally several times before you buy, and to make sure your chosen situation caters for all your needs. Speaking to local people, and especially any ex pats in the area, will give you a good idea of the pros and cons of life there.

Where in the world are people looking at the moment? For holiday homes, Bulgaria, France and Spain are still fashionable holiday home destinations. For young families moving abroad, Amsterdam, Canada and Singapore are favoured, while for professionals, Denmark and Germany are popular.

Finding and buying your property abroad

Finding your property abroad can be tricky, especially if you aren’t in the area very often. Many people use a local estate agent, although these can also be quite pricey. Others use online property services, such as aplaceinthesun.com or zoopla.co.uk/overseas.

As with buying a house in the UK, setting a budget before you start looking helps to ensure you are realistic about the properties you can afford – and it helps keep any estate agents you use more focused too. 

As well as your estate agent, you’ll need to find local surveyors to ensure your chosen property is in good repair, regulated international transfer specialists to help you move your money abroad and insurers to cover your home abroad. This can be easier than you think, as your insurer in the UK may be able to insure your property overseas too.

Using a British insurer means that you can be sure of the cover you have invested in – remember to check whether extras such as swimming pools, terraces and the like are insured too – and that you have English speaking claims handlers if something goes wrong.

Not every insurer covers property abroad, though, and not all countries may be covered – especially if they are in politically turbulent areas or are prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes or tornadoes. It’s a good idea to check early in the sale process and a broker can help you to find the most appropriate insurer for your risk.

What does Brexit mean for British people buying property abroad?

Of course, Brexit will likely have an impact on purchasing property abroad, but it won’t mean that British people can’t buy a house overseas. People from all over the world buy property in many different countries, and this won’t change as a result of Brexit. It may mean, though, that you will need to get a visa to stay in the country of your choice – something that EU citizens don’t have to do in European countries.

If you’re looking to buy a property abroad and want to check what cover is available, or if you already own a home abroad and would like to check your insurance options, please contact our overseas property insurance team on 01473 3433300.