Finding the right house in the right area is incredibly important for expats moving abroad. For most people, the attitude to looking for a place seems to go one way or the other – either settling for the first thing you see just so that you have one less thing to think about, or suffering sleepless nights and stressed days desperately scanning for every single reference to the country on forums, websites and Twitter. Your dream house may or may not exist, but following some of the below tips may help you to navigate some of the challenges.
Image source: Creative Commons/ james.thompson
- Visit the city or area before making any commitments. Plan your trip carefully and give yourself at least a few days to scout different areas. When there, talk to local residents, nip in for a latte at a nearby café, talk to shop owners and have a drink or two in a bar after dark.
- Read voraciously but methodically. Websites, online articles and newspapers are all ideal, but make sure you expose yourself to a range of sources to make an informed choice. And, even though they’re aimed at tourists, don’t dismiss guidebooks. They often contain useful information about different areas and amenities, and at the very least will throw up a few great restaurants you can visit when you get there. Reports are also a great way of understanding what to expect. For example our latest HSBC Overseas Property Report shows which cities and countries give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to buying property as well as countries that may have high fees associated with buying a home.
- Speak to the local council. In some countries like the UK, the state school your children attend depends on where you live. See which catchment area you fall into, what taxes you’ll have to pay, and get a general sense of how your area is governed.
- Connect with local bloggers (particularly expats) and ask their advice. Chances are, they’d be happy to help you out and share all the information they know.
- Once you’ve found a nice-sounding street, look it up on Google maps. Something that bills itself as ‘set within a quiet residential area’ may well be on the busiest street!
What tips do you have? Leave us a comment below!