Where Brits Are Buying Homes Abroad in 2014

Where Brits Are Buying Homes Abroad in 2014

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Luxury French Property Abroad

Many people think of moving abroad, but who actually does – and where do they go? Figures reveal the most popular destinations.

Moving abroad is a dream for many and a hope for some. While a lot of us Brits like the idea of buying homes abroad, not all of us will make it as far as seriously attempting either to move abroad or to get a second home. Of those who do shoot for that dream, though, where do they want to go?

Rightmove.co.uk carried out a survey of its members, and from a sample of 3000 respondents, they found that 51% were looking for a second home; moving permanently abroad trailed slightly as a motivation, at 36%; and investment purposes accounted for only 13% of foreign home purchase.

Most of those purchasing a home abroad in 2014 said they intended to focus on Europe, with France and Spain accounting for 60% of buyers’ attention – France with 23%, Spain with 37%. That picture is confirmed from within Spain, with Spanish property website Thespanishbrick.com reporting that overseas buyers increased their share of the Spanish market by 25% in the third quarter of 2013; of these, British people made up 14.9% of the transactions by overseas buyers.

While we might not have had precise figures before, the trends in second home purchase aren’t exactly surprising. France and Spain are traditional second-home destinations and that hasn’t really changed. What is surprising is what people who planned to emigrate permanently said about their destinations.

The traditional destinations for emigrating Brits have been distant, so-called ‘long haul’ destinations like Australia, Canada, New Zealand – English-speaking countries offering either a higher standard of living than the UK, or a better quality of life; New Zealanders might not be richer than Brits (in fact, they’re slightly poorer, with a per capita GDP of £18, 400 against the UK’s £21, 6000) but they get to live on the set of the Lord of the Rings.

All that has changed, though: of the top 5 destinations for overseas property buyers in 2014, not one of the traditional major destinations is even present. Instead the top 5 destinations are all European: France, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Italy make up the hit list.

One distinguishing feature all those countries have in common is that they’ve been hit hard by the Eurozone crisis. A cynic might be forgiven for thinking that those countries became popular because their degenerating economies allowed Brits to snap up a bargain at the expense of their Euro-neighbours. In fact, though, the main reason respondents gave for choosing these countries was that they wished to keep family and friends close by.

Of those purchasing overseas for investment purposes, financial incentives made up a higher proportion of their motivation, as would be expected. The USA and Greece were very popular among investors because those countries’ high surplus stocks and poorly performing economies make them ideally placed for bargain hunters. Opportunities to move their base of operations to countries with more favourable tax environments under so-called ‘golden visa’ (residency or citizenship for investment) schemes was also thought to play a part in investors’ decisions.

It should be remembered, though, hat investors make up a small proportion of overseas buyers: just 13%. The majority are buying abroad for personal reasons, and their sights are overwhelmingly set on European destinations.