We all dream about one day owning that holiday home in the sun, lounging by the pool in the morning and playing 18 holes in the afternoon. On a grey Monday morning it’s easy to sit at your desk, stare out of the window and day dream about starting a new life abroad.

But who are the people actually making that leap and buying properties overseas? Where and why are they buying? In autumn 2013, we conducted a survey to find out just that. With over 3,000 responses, the results were fascinating and have helped provide us with insight into what buyers are looking for in 2014 and beyond.

One of the key objectives of the survey was to really understand what motivates people to buy overseas. The survey revealed three key drivers:

  1. To use as a second home
  2. To move permanently abroad
  3. As an investment

Over half of the respondents said they are looking to purchase a property in the future to use as a second home, and European countries were the most popular locations. Spain and France dominate the chart with 60% of second home buyers looking in those countries.

With diverse cultures, fantastic weather and excellent transport links, it’s of no surprise these destinations are catching buyers’ eyes. For those looking to purchase a property located on a resort, Spain was the favourite, whereas those looking for a more rustic way of life favoured France.

Whilst a second home overseas remains the number one motivating factor for their purchase, we also found 36% of respondents were looking to buy in order to emigrate permanently to another location. What’s interesting about the respondents looking to emigrate, is that the top 5 locations are all European countries, rather than the traditional long haul destinations such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Similar to those looking for a second home, those wishing to emigrate told us they were choosing European destinations to keep family and friends relatively close by.

Finally, we found 13% of buyers were purchasing overseas is for investment purposes. Because investors’ primary concern is receiving the best return on their investment, (whether through rental or to renovation then sale) buying a property for investment is a much less emotional process than buying as a lifestyle choice.

The survey revealed that many people looking to invest are very much driven by current affairs. Typically when a country is facing economic difficulty or is offering incentives (e.g. the golden visa), investors see this as a great opportunity. In 2014, investors believe that there are opportunities to be had in the USA and Greece and are keenly eyeing purchases in those locations.

It’s clear from the survey that Europe is very much in the fore front of buyer’s minds when it comes to living in a property, either some or all of the time, particularly Spain and France. Whereas investors are more open to locations further afield, provided the numbers stack up and they are set to make a good return.