November 8, 2023

5 Things to Know Before Buying a Property Abroad

Do you dream of escaping the Quebec winter and living in a condo in Florida or Mexico? Buying a property abroad is a project that is attracting more and more homeowners. However, purchasing a house in another country is not a decision that should be taken lightly.

Read on to discover what to consider so that you remain objective when buying an international property, including costs, current laws and financing solutions.


Planning the purchase of a property abroad

As with any real estate transaction, the first step is to assess your needs and work out your budget. It would help if you make a list of everything your property must include. Then, list what you would like to have but would not consider essential.

Once you have defined your needs and wants, start your search by targeting properties that fit your lifestyle. Maximize your efforts by first focusing on places you’ve already visited, then expand your search into the surrounding areas. Would you like to discover new neighbourhoods? Why not ask for the opinion of friends and relatives who have stayed near your future home?

Here are some additional elements that will help you in your search:

  • Transport time to your destination
  • Cost of living
  • Local language and culture
  • Neighbourhood safety and crime rate
  • Proximity to services
  • Access to consular services (e.g., embassy)

One good tip would be to rent a property in the neighbourhood you’re considering for two to four weeks to see if you really like the location[1]. Staying for a week’s vacation is usually not enough time to make an informed decision.

Cost of living abroad

In addition to the costs associated with purchasing a property, you will also need to figure out how much it will cost to live there.

These costs include[2]:

  • Food
  • Water and electricity
  • Travel (car, plane, etc.)
  • Telecommunications (cellular, Internet)
  • Medical care
  • Insurance
  • Taxes and duties

Don’t forget to take the exchange rate and its possible fluctuations into account. Moving to a place where the cost of living is lower than here in Quebec could prove to be a smart decision.

Finally, look into tax relief to which you may be entitled to avoid double taxation if applicable to your situation.

Know the laws of your destination country

Many countries limit homeownership by foreigners. Even if the desired destination allows non-citizens to purchase a home, you still have to comply with various laws and regulations.

For example, in some countries you may have to pay a surcharge. And if you are buying a condo to rent out, you will need to ensure that rentals are permitted and comply with the condominium’s bylaws and rules.

Find suitable financing solutions

Obtaining a mortgage abroad can be complex, if not impossible. However, there are several ways to buy a house in another country.

Here are the most well-known solutions:

  • Do business with a financial institution with branches abroad
  • Refinance your property in Quebec to obtain the necessary funds
  • Accumulate enough money to pay cash

Team up with specialists

Many experts are available to assist you, both here in Quebec and abroad. Real estate brokers, lawyers, notaries, tax specialists: these professionals have in-depth knowledge of the housing market. In addition to saving you time, they will give you an objective opinion on trends, selling prices, resale potential, as well as on the legal and regulatory processes.

Buying a property abroad is definitely an adventure! Whether you want to change your lifestyle or are planning for a golden retirement in the sun, your dream can come true... provided you are well supported!

See also:

Is a tiny house right for you?

Moving After Retirement: 5 Questions You Should Ask Before Selling

15 Questions to Ask When Visiting a House

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