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Moving Abroad: think about renting before you buy!

rent abroad instead of buyWhen most people think about moving abroad, they dream about their perfect house in the sun. However, that perfect house can easily become an property nightmare if you don’t do your homework properly.

Over the past few years we’ve heard many tales of problems with land-grabbing in Spain and now the market crash has brought a whole new host of problems for the thousands of people currently faced with negative equity.

However, not all countries have had these problems and many more thousands of expats are living their dream house in the sun. But how do you make the right choice about where to live?

One option that doesn’t seem to occur to expats is to rent somewhere before they buy. Moving to a new country means that you are usually a lot less familiar with the regions than back home and so you should think twice as hard before you buy someone. It is also very true that a place to go on holiday feels like a completely different place when you live there full time.

Renting a property gives you time to get to know an area before making a purchase. House sales are usually more sluggish in southern countries so before buying you need to 100% that you are happy with the area. Get to know local property laws so that you aren’t caught out by any land-grabbing, or fees that you aren’t aware of straight away.

If you rent somewhere and you don’t like it you can much more easily move to somewhere else. Maybe an area is too noisy for you in summer or perhaps there are too many tourists or expats. Alternatively, maybe the area is too quiet or you can’t access the airports or hospitals easily enough. Renting provides the freedom to change your mind about your dream move.

Make sure you get to know any prospective area as well as possible before committing to a permanent settlement, this will avoid any problems further down the line. After all, none of us know what the future will hold!


  1. Michelle

    This was the approach we took when we first lived overseas. We rented for eight years and it was a whole lot easier to just get up and go when we decided to move home. We invested all our saving in stock and came out of it well. Then on returning to our home country we were able to take advantage of the at the time excellent currency conversion to buy.
    We are now back where we started and this time we have bought. Having lived here before we felt familiar enough with the area and really knew where we wanted to stay. High rents and tax laws that advantage homeowners plus the desire to settle the kids into one school district made buying much more attractive.
    There is a lot to consider but I would agree that renting is often the best option both financially and in terms of flexibility.

  2. Sarah

    Thanks for the comment Michelle, it’s rare to find people who rent to start with. But, as you have found out, it makes a lot more sense in the long run. I made the mistake of buying and find myself in a difficult situation, when I move again I will definitely rent somewhere first until I am 100% sure of the area and my new life.



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