France the best place for expat home ownership

Published:  8 Dec at 6 PM
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A recent and wide-ranging study on residential property across Europe gives good news to UK expats owning French homes.

Eight European countries were compared for their number of home owners, costs of homes versus salaries, property price variations, sizes of homes, construction costs, mortgages and rural versus city locations. The Eurostat study covered the UK, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Poland.

France outdid the UK in several of the categories, although both countries showed the same number of homeowner households at 65 per cent of the total. Germany has the lowest homeowner numbers at 54 percent, with Poland the highest at 84 per cent. Homeowners in Spain and Italy comprised 79 and 73 per cent respectively.

France won out again on the cost of home ownership, with the French spending a mere 18 per cent of their income on housing, whilst UK householders needed to set aside 25 per cent. Italian homeowners spent the least at 17 per cent, and those in the Netherlands were forced to use just under 30 per cent of their incomes to own a home.

During the past decade, house prices in the UK soared by 30 per cent, with their German equivalents rising by 21 per cent. However, French real estate values rose by an average of only two per cent, giving 10 years’ worth of good news for expat buyers from the UK. In the rest of the European countries studied, house prices actually fell.

Expats looking for a sense of space in their new homes are best advised to head for France as, with the exception of the majority of Paris real estate, most homes are generously sized. The average French property housing just two people comes out at 102 square metres as against 76 square metres for a similar property in the UK. Britain, it seems, has the smallest homes in Europe, but Dutch homeowners enjoy the most space with a massive 119 square metres.

French homeowners tend to pay off their mortgage earlier than their European neighbours, and French construction costs over the past decade have risen by just18 per cent against the European average of 27 per cent and the British rise of 42 per cent. Finally, France is one of the least crowded countries in the region, holding some 120 inhabitants per kilometre squared.
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