When you hear the phrase “capital cities” what do you envision? Grand buildings, designer shops, fancy restaurants? You’re certainly not wrong – capital cities are renowned for all of these things and so much more.

Article written by The Overseas Guides Company

When put simply, in the majority of countries you can find anything that your heart desires in the nation’s capital.

When it comes to property – the prospect of purchasing in a capital is certainly daunting especially for those who hail from the UK and who have been subjected to the over-the-top, nigh on impossible to achieve property prices that we see in London. However, as you shed a tear or two over the astronomical price of the one bed studio flat with barely enough space for a table and chairs that your budget can stretch to in London, elsewhere in the world we see a different story!

In a range of country’s around the world, the capital city is surprisingly not always the largest or most expensive place to live – in fact, some of them can offer better value-for-money if your major concern is buying property close to a major employment centre.

Let’s first consider Canada… When asked what the capital of this North American country is, many would respond Toronto or Vancouver without a second thought. Although they are the most populated and well-known, in actual fact the capital is Ottawa – Canada’s fourth largest city. Despite the aforementioned cities attracting the most immigrants, property prices in Ottawa are significantly lower and it is ranked with the second highest quality of living of any large city in the Americas and 14th highest quality of living in the world. In addition, it is rated the second cleanest city in Canada and the third cleanest in the entire world. Perhaps the most telling survey that it has topped is one completed by Moneysense which, for three consecutive years, has ranked it as the best community in Canada to live in!

Another prime example of this pattern is Australia. Many mistakenly think that Sydney, Australia’s most well-known and iconic city, is the capital when in actual fact it is Canberra. Sydney has carved itself quite the reputation for being expensive – not only when it comes to property but also with general living costs. In the latest Worldwide Cost of Living Survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Sydney was ranked as the third most expensive city in the world, trailing only Tokyo and Osaka in Japan. Melbourne, Australia’s next biggest city, was ranked equal fourth alongside Oslo in Norway.

With much of Australia’s federal government based in Canberra, there are a wealth of job opportunities available which means that Canberra consistently has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. When it comes to property, there is a wide choice of housing and unlike Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, affordable houses complete with real backyards can be found that don’t cause you to shudder in fear at the price tag. Additionally, there is a real emphasis on quality of life in the capital, there are lots of outdoor spaces and you can ski not too far away!

It is the same situation across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand, where Auckland property prices are by far the highest in the nation, and growing faster than in the capital, Wellington. The capital offers a variety of housing options including family homes, apartments and the hugely popular ‘lifestyle blocks’ (homes with lots of land in semi-rural areas) that are becoming so popular, especially with expats wanting to escape the rat race back here in the UK. In a survey conducted in 2011, Wellington ranked at number 13 in the world for quality of living and came in 9th place in the survey of rankings of safest cities to live in.

These are just a couple of examples and if you look more closely, there are plenty of others at a national and even state/province level, of which there are many in the US, for example.

As well as having more affordable property prices, it is worth bearing in mind that capital cities are often the most stable investment options thanks to the steady demand for quality property within them that is never likely to decrease. Thanks to politicians, public servants, journalists and the huge array of other professionals that are required to live in capital cities for employment purposes, capital cities can often weather economic troubles better than other major cities.

In conclusion, if a metropolis in a foreign land is beckoning you, pay a little mind to the country’s capital city – you could find that it has more to offer you and your family than its more internationally well-known neighbours.

The views and comments herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Rightmove Overseas, Rightmove Group Ltd or Rightmove Plc