Buying Abroad Essential Advice
Although it is a process that has been achieved successfully by many thousands of Britons worldwide, buying a property aboard is always several big learning curves.
The buying process by and large works very well for those who pick trusted financial and legal advisors in the countries to which they are moving
As a result there are little pieces of Britain being created all over Europe’s major sunspots such as France, Spain, Italy and Portugal as well as further afield.
Many villas, houses, apartments – even mansions – in Europe and Florida are in British hands as we put down new roots. And they are spreading to lesser-known spots such as Turkey and former Eastern Bloc countries of Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia.
Each of these presents its own set of problems from a purchasing point of view. There are many tried and tested consultants who can help buyers through the financial, legal and tax minefields within property purchasing systems in other countries.
With the destinations where Brits have been buying property for decades the system can be smooth and troublefree but elsewhere some of the problems may include:
Things to consider when moving abroad
Northern Cyprus – there have been anomalies created by the 1974 Turkish invasion. Inevitably Greek property owners were dispossessed and there are legal dangers in buying one of these decades later . Extra care in researching the title of land is recommended
Italy – there is no capital gains tax here but there is a “stealth” tax which kicks in if the property is sold within five years
Turkey – foreigners can only own up to a maximum of 2.5 hectares of land and property
Elsewhere – in a number of countries the title deed has to be signed in front of a local notary but protection against fraud is the buyer’s responsibility not that of the notary
When you have succeeded in buying your property the second learning curve comes – blending into your new sunnier surroundings.
Whether you plan to relocate completely to your new sunshine “paradise” or live there just for a few months per year, you will need to take some steps to fit in.
Unless you are buying in Cyprus or Florida where English is widely spoken or the native tongue respectively, the main route to local acceptance is to learn the language. Many of us did a foreign language at school, probably French or Spanish, so we have some basic knowledge.
The negotiations and procedures for buying a property abroad often take a few months and that is a good time to make a start on your adopted language.
By the time the purchase is completed, you could have a good grasp of a second language with the ability to make yourself understood, buy confidently in shops and exchange greetings with your new neighbours.
There are a few ways of learning the basics of a new language – even Portuguese, Romanian, Turkish and Serbo-Croat. Depending on your budget you can sign up for private lessons or at evening institutes. Self-help language courses can be learned in the car or a portable CD player.
These courses also breed confidence so don’t be shy; try your new skills on the locals. You will find they are receptive even if, at first, you mangle their beloved mother tongue horribly. Very few will rubbish your efforts and most will compliment you for trying. Learning their language is a signal that you are serious about integrating.
In time this will lead to bilingual friendships and many French, Spanish and Portuguese will relish the chance to learn some English from you.
Becoming acquainted with locals will speed up your integration and your grasp of the language but children are the greatest ice breakers. Language barriers do not stop kids from naturally playing together. Parents can develop friendships on the back of this.
Advice on buying property in Spain
Advice on buying property in Turkey
Advice on buying property in Bulgaria
Other ways of fitting in:
Food – try the local food delicacies – no matter how revolting they may seem. Developing a taste for the local cheeses, meats and seafood will confirm you as an “insider”.
Shopping – a great place to look, learn and integrate. Being seen buying in the local produce shops or the market rather than the supermarkets frequented by tourists will confirm your arrival as a permanent community member.
Culture – get involved. Most European countries have a very vibrant community life through festivals, markets and saints’ day. Even though it may not be part of your religion, being seen supporting events through your presence will win extra integration points.
Meeting people– a regular visit to a bar or restaurant frequented by locals can bring dividends. As well as honing language skills you can, in bar room or restaurant conversations, get a feel for local issues and politics.
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