A fifth of British first-time buyers are so eager to get onto the property ladder that they would consider looking abroad for a suitable property, according to a recent survey.
The poll, from comparison website Gocompare.com, found that 20% of UK people looking for a house to buy would look abroad for a property. They’re willing to leave the country to find an affordable home – but the figures also suggest that they’re not all that serious about it, at any rate not yet.
For instance, the destinations they listed were overwhelmingly English-speaking – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the USA. Besides distance and language all these nations have something else in common: they’re notoriously hard to get residency in, especially the USA, and lengthy and complex visa protocols mean they’re not necessarily going to save you much money.
The United States was the most popular location among respondents, with 31% saying they would consider moving there, while 29% favoured Australia and 20% New Zealand. Men were more likely than women to consider a move overseas, while respondents aged between 18 and 24 were most likely to want to leave the UK.
Overall, the most popular means to get on the property ladder is the government’s Help to Buy scheme, with 30% describing this as their preferred option.
The poll also found data that’s in keeping with observable trends, such as the 15% of respondents who would consider buying with friends, and increasingly popular choice as the structures of families, lives and careers change. 14% would look at buying a micro home, 13.5% have considered a static caravan or mobile home and 12% consider buying homes with parents or siblings.
‘A lack of affordable housing has resulted in a property market that is closed off to an increasing number of would-be homeowners,’ remarks Matt Sanders, spokesperson for Gocompare Mortgages. ‘As such, it’s hardly surprising that many people feel like they may have to take some rather drastic steps to own a home.’
Some methods are more drastic than others: the same survey revealed some surprising facts about how would-be homeowners view the housing market. 23% said they felt they would only be able to afford a home if they bought one with someone else, while 17% thought they would never own their own home. 10% of respondents felt the only way they would end up owning a property would be if they were left one in a will!
Part of the willingness of first time buyers to move abroad could stem from the fact that they’re facing moving anyway, since many will have to move around the UK to find an affordable property, balancing career and other concerns against regional variations in housing costs. With this in mind, their attitudes to moving abroad make a lot more sense. The question is whether they’ll ever come to fruition. Visas to the United States aren’t getting easier to come by, and Australia and New Zealand are dealing with housing shortages of their own, to the extent that Australia has mooted limiting overseas purchases.
If the current generation of would-be homeowners wants to move abroad, they might find themselves looking more toward the traditional British expatriates’ destinations of France and Spain – and even perhaps towards Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, as work becomes more mobile than housing and EU membership gives them automatic residency rights.