What You Need To Know About Moving Abroad

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Moving abroad, or buying a second home abroad is exciting and full of new opportunities. Maybe that’s why you are moving; to have new opportunities available to you in life, in love or even in work. Or maybe you’re just moving because you want a change. But with all the packing, travelling, choosing and planning, there are parts of moving abroad that people don’t generally think about. Like the legal stance of the country they are moving to, or the significant cultural differences you should probably be aware of.


But one of the most immediate things you should be aware of before moving abroad is the different living situations in other countries. Not just the various types of buildings, but the methods of housing within those countries, and any relevant information you should know about owning a house in that country.

A lot of the time you will find that you need to secure a visa or a living permit before being able to buy a property in certain countries, and sometimes you have to live in the country for a certain amount of time just to achieve that permit. There can also be a lot of restrictions on what you can buy and where you can buy just because you’re not a native citizen, which does make sense when most citizens have a hard time getting onto the property ladder without the houses being prioritized elsewhere.



Starting somewhere familiar, America has a varied real estate – from houses to ranches and everything in between. And the divide between renting and owning houses is split quite evenly across the country. It obviously varies from state to state, as Northern America is the only country that imposes different laws in different areas of the country. In cities where the cost of living is higher, like New York or Orlando, the number of renters is higher as the house prices rise. In America buying a house is pretty straightforward, with realtor costs and attorney costs topping off the price of the house.



Buying in the UK is very similar to buying in America. However, the renter to owner ratio is more like 64% renters. House prices in the UK have been steadily rising over the past few years, leaving the younger generation struggling to get on the property ladder. For UK residents there is help to buy government schemes where the government helps to fund the initial deposit for the house in question. For foreigners, however, this isn’t a possibility. In the UK you will face the usual agency fees and the cost of a solicitor. Buying in the UK also means paying UK taxes, which includes the National Health Service which is free healthcare to any UK resident.



In western Australia, homeownership has increased over the past couple of years, but the overall percentage for home-owning has dropped from 32.1% to 31%. Renting is the way to go in Aus. You do need to get approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) before you are legally allowed to buy in Australia, you check in with these guys when you’re looking and then when you’re finalising the purchase. You also need to secure a job and a living visa. There is also a stamp duty fee for foreigners buying in the Victorian, New South Wales and Queensland states of Australia. You can avoid the stamp duty simply by buying elsewhere or buying property with an existing Australian citizen.



Over 80% of Singapore residents live in Housing and Development Board (HDB) managed properties. In the 1920s the housing situation in Singapore was at a point where the British Colonialists introduced the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) to improve housing. After Singapore gained their independence this type of housing changed from SIT to HDB. Most developments in Singapore are publicly governed and offer leases for no longer than 99 years. HDB flats are the most common households in the city as the government needed to provide over 50,000 houses within a five-year gap in the 60s. Foreigners are heavily restricted when buying in Singapore as the Residential Property Act leans in heavy favour towards Singapore citizens being able to buy a property over a foreigner.



The housing prices in Beijing have steadily dropped over the past couple of years, matching the drop in Shanghai. Shenzhen was on the drop but has currently frozen. But this lowered prices has enabled 70% of millennials to become homeowners. You can’t buy in China until you have lived in the country for twelve months out of the last twenty-four and can prove that fact. Buying a house in China is seen as an investment, and you are not allowed to rent it out. You can only buy providing that you plan on living in the property, and it’s your only property in the country.



Nearly 60% of German citizens rent. This draws its origin from post-World War ll; the economy was worthless, people bartered for what they needed, and the government was on tenterhooks scared of the return of communism or fascism. West Germany introduced a housing law that halved the housing shortage within eight years after the war had ended. The legislation centred around building basic homes quickly, and renting them out, allowing the tenants to find work and not have to worry about buying a home. The scheme worked and has since been the main way of living within Germany. The general feel for buying a house in Germany is that it is a lifelong home, or at least where you will live for many years.



Foreigners can buy property within Mexico, however, under Mexican law, foreigners cannot own a property outright in the restricted zone. In this, you need to set up an account with a realtor (a real estate trust) which will hold the title for you, and as a foreigner is not able to enter into a contract with a realtor, you must have a bank to act on your behalf. The restricted zone is any land within 100km of the border and within 50km of the coast. The Mexican Constitution states that all land, water, minerals and materials in Mexico belong to the Mexican people which is why you can’t just buy property in Mexico.



If you are a Swiss citizen, an EU Citizen or belong to the EFTA, you can buy a house in Switzerland without restrictions. But any other citizenship will have some barriers ahead of them. Home owning isn’t the norm is Switzerland, with over 60% of its natives renting properties. If you hold a Swiss B permit – someone who has lived in the country for a set amount of time – you also have the right to buy property, but only to live in.

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