House-hunting – use your head not just your heart!

Monday, 2nd July, 2012 by Overseas Editor

British people decide to move abroad for a variety of reasons, with a desire to spend their retirement in a warmer, more laidback environment a popular one.


However, too often people looking for a new home in the sun get carried away by the excitement of it all and start to think with their heart instead of their head – or “leave their brain on the plane,” as they say. With this in mind, The Overseas Guides Company has drawn on its experience of readers who have relocated and compiled a list of practical things to consider when house-hunting abroad.

Access to the UK

One of the major things that expats cite that they miss the most when moving abroad is their friends and family. If you want to move abroad but plan on coming back on a regular basis to visit your loved ones, proximity to the UK and to an airport are things that you should think about when considering where to live. Why make things difficult – choose your location wisely to make life as easy as possible for yourself.

Seasonal changes

You need to make sure that you look at the destination from a resident’s point of view and not through the eyes of a tourist. Summer may be a wonderful time with uninterrupted sunshine and plenty of people to socialise with but as winter rolls around, it may get colder than you could ever imagine and all of the amenities might shut down because everyone is leaving for the winter months. Make sure that you choose a place that has a year round population otherwise you might find yourself very lonely. To ensure you make a reasoned decision, visit at different times of the year and make sure that it is somewhere that you would like to be all year round. On another note, when you have a property in mind, visit it at different times of day to make sure that it isn’t right next door to a nightclub that will keep you awake all night.

Cost of living

You may think that you have found the perfect place to live but the important question is – can you afford it? Acquiring a mortgage will help to make property more affordable but you also need to take local costs in to account such as taxes, cost of food and fuel and monthly bills.

Consider your lifestyle
All of us have hobbies, interests and cultural and entertainment activities that we enjoy doing so it makes sense that you choose a place to live which allows you to enjoy your favourite pastimes. If you enjoy museums, concerts and theatre and want to be able to do them as much as possible then you would be better off living in a city or close to a city than out in the sticks. If your passion is rambling or getting out on your surfboard, it is common sense to be in the countryside or by the beach. You’re moving abroad for a better quality of life – make sure that you choose a spot which means you can easily do the things that you love.

Infrastructure

If you have children, you will need to consider the education system and living close to the best schools. If you aren’t retiring, you will need to go to places where you will be able to find employment. It is also important that you are close to hospitals and good healthcare and that there are good public transport links if that’s the way that you plan on getting around. The last thing that you want is to feel isolated when you are trying to acclimatise to a whole new country.

Safety

All of us want to live somewhere where we feel comfortable and safe. When relocating to an area its worth sitting down and doing a little research on what the area is like. Take a look at the local crime statistics, chat to the local police if you have any particular concerns and if possible, get talking to some of the local people – they will provide you with an honest insight in to what the area is like and hopefully put any concerns that you have to rest.

Real estate value

If you’re concerned about your investment, chat to your real estate agent about how much the property was worth 5-10 years ago and see how much it has appreciated in value. It is also worth discussing whether there are any developments in the pipeline that positively or negatively affect the value of the house. Be sure to look at how much the property tax has increased over the years as well.

For more information about moving abroad, collect The Overseas Guides Company’s free ‘Emigration Guide’ by clicking here. On a final note, if you are about to emigrate make sure you use a currency exchange specialist, such as Smart Currency Exchange, to transfer your pounds into your new local currency. Smart consistently offers better exchange rates than banks, saving you money, as well as a more efficient service. For more information on this, visit the Currency Zone or download their free guide by clicking here

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