Buying your expat dream home in Canada

Published:  19 May at 6 PM
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Canada is a popular choice for expats from across the world, with many deciding to buy a home rather than rent.

For new expat arrivals in Canada, buying a home is a long-term, cost effective option to renting. The purchase programme is reasonably straightforward, and there’s a great choice of varying locations with properties costing less than might be imagined. Non-residents as well as expatriates are allowed to purchase homes, making planning for retirement easier than in many other countries. Even so, house purchase doesn’t guarantee permanent residency and the usual visa and immigration rules still apply.

Canada’s quality of life is well-known, with its four-season weather patterns giving a feeling of familiarity for expats from the UK and northern Europe. There’s a wide choice of provinces, all with their own charms, and the country is world-famous for its stunning natural beauty and friendly locals. Vancouver is possibly the most popular city for expats, although its house prices are on the high side, and Ontario offers everything the business-minded expatriate needs and wants. The smaller cities in Ontario province are family-oriented, and Quebec’s Montreal is quieter and more traditional as it’s divided into small boroughs.

In this internet age, online property websites are the way to go, although local real estate agents’ personal services from stage one are still preferred by many expat arrivals. As with back in the home country, location, location, location is the key to finding the house of your dreams, especially for those with families to consider. Another plus point for British expats is that Canada’s mortgage system closely resembles that in the UK, although the law on defaults is somewhat tougher in that the lender can take not just the property, but also the mortgagee’s assets.

Factoring in the extra costs of property purchase is important as taxes and fees can add up to around 10 per cent of the purchase price. The amount depends on the province, with some charging ‘land transfer tax’ and others ignoring it. Brokers’ and appraisal fees and survey costs also vary, and non-residents need to put up 35 per cent of the full purchase price once they’ve committed to buy. International mortgages are available to non-residents with good credit records from a number of Canadian brokers, although a Canadian or international bank account is mandatory.
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