Lifestyle as important as price when buying an overseas home

Published:  6 Jul at 6 PM
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Price may be the most important consideration when choosing a home overseas, but lifestyle considerations come a close second.

Deciding on priorities when moving overseas is one of the most complicated parts of becoming an expat on a permanent basis. Once you’ve hit on the perfect country, finding the equally perfect location for your new life depends entirely on your personal lifestyle requirements, especially if a comfortable retirement is your goal.

For would-be expatriates from the UK, sunshine is undoubtedly the primary consideration after enduring decades of drizzle and dullness. Waking up most mornings to the sun shining through your window is a dream, and the outdoor lifestyle it encourages is health-giving as well as a boost to the spirits. Even so, checking out the average summer highs in temperature plus the humidity factor is sensible, as extreme heat can vary from uncomfortable to unpleasant. Luckily, aircon is easy to install nowadays, and the cooler winters provide relief.

Another point to consider, especially with destination resorts popular with summer tourists, is seasonality. Does everything close down after the hordes depart, or does your chosen town revert to concentrating on the local lifestyle? Tourist-aimed eateries may well shut during winter, but restaurants favoured by local residents will stay open in most resorts.

Another factor to consider, especially if you’re less than keen on learning a second language, is the degree of English spoken in your chosen region. Most would-be expats are genuinely serious about learning the local lingo, but the majority seem to fall short on their intentions, especially where local people can cope in the English language, as in most regions of Spain and France. If you’re heading for a tropical haven in Asia, it’s a whole new ballgame, as Asian languages all use different alphabets, don’t have punctuation and are incomprehensible to most Westerners!

One of the most important considerations is the cost of living in your chosen country – unless you’re seriously wealthy. For the rest of us, cities and tourist towns are inevitably more expensive than upcountry towns and villages with local markets, and are far more suited to those who’ve had enough of Western-style malls and other trapping of modern civilisation. Healthcare overseas is a moveable, feast as regards expense as well as quality, and is best checked out before any firm decision is made.

Community and culture are important parts of living overseas, and are dependent on whether your focus is the local community or other expats. Integration is an enriching experience, but not all expats manage to get it right. Safety and security in these modern times is important, especially when buying a home, with many expatriates preferring to live a good distance from tourist hubs known for their nightlife and rowdy customers.
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