Generally speaking, expats fall into one of three groups as far as accommodation is concerned: those who intend to use rented accommodation only (either arranged by themselves or through their employer), those who have already bought a property and intend to move into it on arrival (common amongst retirees) and those who intend to search for a new property to buy once they arrive but stay in rented accommodation while doing so.
Whichever group you fall into choosing the right place to live is one of the most important decisions you will make as an expat, do as much research as you can to give yourself the best chance of success.
Think carefully about what to do with your current home while you are away. Unless you really need the money to make the move, consider renting out your house to start with rather than selling, just in case you need to return home sooner than expected.
If you do decide to rent out your house while you are overseas, you might want to use the services of a property manager. Although these come at a cost, typically up to 10% of the monthly rental income from the property, you will have the peace of mind of knowing that the agent will ensure that the property is looked after, and they should endeavour to ensure that it is continually rented, helping to cover the cost of any mortgage payments you may have to make. As well as finding tenants and collecting rent payments, most property management companies will deal with the general upkeep of the property, carrying out minor repairs and maintenance work such as tending the garden.
Alternatively, you can rent out your home yourself by advertising in the local press or on the Internet, but you’ll need to ensure that arrangements are in place for collecting rent and dealing with any tenancy problems in your absence.
If you don’t want to rent your house out, consider asking a friend or relative to check on the house regularly, particularly in adverse weather conditions, and to keep it ventilated and damp-free. If your utilities are still connected, you might consider asking them to set the heating on a low setting in very cold weather to avoid burst pipes. You will also need to arrange for someone to cut the grass and deal with other maintenance in the garden (if you have one).
If you don’t know anyone in the new country who can help you to find suitable accommodation, consider the services of a relocation agent, or ask fellow expatriates already living there to recommend a local real estate agent.
Be flexible in terms of your ideal type of accommodation in the new country. Although you might prefer to live in a house, for example, an apartment might be the only realistic option if you are going to live in a city. Depending on your location, you might have less space in your accommodation or have to live in closer proximity to your neighbours than you are used to. On the other hand, you might be able to afford a much larger and more luxurious residence than in your home country. Consider the availability and cost of domestic help and gardeners – that big property and lush garden might be tempting but could be very hard work to maintain. In hot countries in particular, condominium complexes are often a popular and affordable choice with expatriates due to the ease of maintenance and the availability of swimming pools and other leisure facilities.
If you are moving to a country which is culturally very different from your own, or one where personal security is a particular concern, you might wish to consider living in a compound with other expatriates, at least initially. The advantages of compound living include improved security, the ease of making friends with other expatriates and the range of leisure and other facilities often provided on-site.
Renting vs Buying
If you are staying for more than a very short time in the new country, you will need to decide whether to rent or buy a property there. Renting is considered by some to be ‘dead money’, paid out to live in a place that you will never own, but it does offer the advantage of allowing you to live in a particular area first to see if you like it. If you are buying the property primarily as a home rather than an investment this is often a sensible approach.
If you are moving abroad to work for either yourself or an employer for a long time, or are moving permanently and you fully intend to remain in one place for a long period, then purchasing property may make more sense, particularly if property prices are currently low in the country you are moving to.
If property prices are on the increase, it can be a good financial move to buy a house or apartment, even if you plan to sell it again within a few years. First though, check whether there are any restrictions on the ownership of property by foreign nationals and whether you need a special permit to buy a house. You should also investigate whether there are any legal restrictions on the resale of property within a certain period of time.
When buying rather than renting a property abroad it is especially important to ensure that the surrounding location is suitable for your needs. Don’t rush into a purchase until you have visited the property at various times of the day, including late evening, and ideally at different times of year. If you are planning to buy property in a popular tourist destination, consider whether late-night noise from tourists during the holiday season will be a problem. If you are thinking of buying in a remote rural area, consider whether transport links will be adequate, especially in winter.
Find out about the additional costs of buying property in the new country, such as property registration fees, notary fees and estate agent’s commission, and take these into account when deciding whether to buy or rent your accommodation. Taxes and fees can add a lot to the price – typically around 17% in Belgium for example. However there may be tax advantages to owning a property. If you need finance for a house purchase, you might want to investigate whether or not local banks or other lenders issue mortgages to foreign nationals.
Remember that the cost of housing (whether to buy or to rent) will often vary significantly between different areas of the country, and even between different areas of a city or town, so do your research thoroughly when searching for a property to live in.
Find out if you will be required to pay capital gains tax if you sell the property within a certain time, and if so, how much.
Although buying procedures vary between countries, the following stages are usually involved:
· Find a suitable property, make an offer and arrange finance if necessary.
· Apply to the local authority for permission to buy the property if required.
· Conduct a structural survey, particularly if the property is not new. This may be required by your mortgage lender.
· Appoint a notary who will conduct legal checks on the property on your behalf and liaise with the seller’s notary in dealing with the documentation.
· Agree the purchase price and exchange contracts or sign an agreement to purchase. At this stage you will usually be asked to pay a deposit of around 10% of the purchase price.
· Finalise your mortgage arrangements while legal checks on the property are being carried out.
· Sign the final contract and take possession of the property.
You will need to find out what the property insurance requirements are in the country concerned, and at what stage insurance is needed – in some countries the buyer becomes liable for damage to the property following the initial exchange of contracts. Buildings insurance on property is compulsory in many countries and you may also be required to take out personal liability insurance against damage, whether you are buying or renting the accommodation. Although contents insurance is not generally compulsory, it is advisable to ensure that the contents of your home are also covered, either by the landlord’s insurance or your own.
Useful Tips When Buying Abroad
· Never sign a contract that you do not understand (for example - if it is in a foreign language).
· Always ensure that you seek specialist advice from independent Solicitors, Architects and Surveyors before considering a purchase overseas. They should be proficient in your chosen country’s laws and processes and also know the specifics involved in buying a property there.
· Before proceeding with the purchase (and would especially apply to a re-sale property, regardless of age), ensure an Independent Valuation of the property is carried out, which should point out any problems with the property – i.e.: subsidence, damp, wiring defects - and could also possibly highlight any boundary disputes etc.
· Ensure you do not inherit a debt on the property before you purchase - a solicitor should be able to check – i.e.: If the developer has borrowed money to build the development and this amount has been allocated against each plot as additional security to the developer’s bank.
· Always give yourself a `cooling off` period if you see a `must-have property` and are tempted to put down a deposit there and then.
· If you are arranging finance on the property, ensure that this is stated in any contract and you have an ‘opt-out clause’ if the loan is not agreed (which will ensure any deposit paid is refunded).
· Try to arrange your mortgage finance ‘in principle’, before agreeing to purchase the property, or before signing any contracts and paying over a deposit.
· Arrange your mortgage in the currency that you earn in where possible, unless you are going to receive rental income from that property in the local currency and then this may be a possible alternative option, dependent on the lender’s criteria.
· Think about combining your cash with friends or family: it could bring a villa with pool within your financial reach, rather than simply an apartment.
· Check with the Estate Agent or vendor that you are aware of the costs charged by the legal and government authorities for purchasing a property in your chosen country.
· Open a bank account in your chosen country and ensure you get a Certificate of Importation for the money you bring in from your home country.
· Set up standing orders in a local bank account to meet bills and taxes. Failure to pay your taxes in some countries, such as France, Portugal and Spain, could lead to court action and possible seizure of your property.
· Remember that bills do not end at the asking price. Lawyer’s fees, taxes, insurance etc must all be met in your host country and can often be more expensive.
For those who are not in a position to pay for a new home outright, the usual course of action is to apply for a mortgage. The system is similar across the world, in that you will need to offer collateral – usually the property itself – before the loan is approved.
There are a number of banks which offer mortgages – provided the applicant meets all the requirements – on property located in another country. The length of time allowed for repaying the borrowed amount varies. Some countries, particularly those where property prices remain low, prefer a mortgage loan to be paid back in 10 or 15 years, while it is more common in western Europe and the US for mortgages to be paid over 25 or 30 years.
If you apply for a mortgage you will usually need to provide proof of income, often in the form of a permanent contract of employment. It may be possible to apply for a mortgage before you leave your country of origin if you are going to be working for the same employer, thus allowing your current salary to count as part of your income when calculating the mortgage.
Many large banks operate in a number of countries and prospective expats may find that they are able to apply for a mortgage through their existing bank, an option which may actually speed up the process as a current credit history should be readily available. However, it is not uncommon for expats seeking an overseas mortgage to use the services of a specialist mortgage broker. A good broker will be familiar with the best deals available for expats and should be able to advise you accordingly.
Buyers should be aware that other fees are likely to arise when purchasing a house. In some countries it may be necessary to pay a fee to the estate agent, as well as the usual legal fees, property taxes and registration costs. These fees will vary depending upon the country but as a very rough guide a buyer may expect to pay between 5 and 10% of the purchase price.
Buyers should also note that in many countries the buyer is committed to the sale much earlier than in the UK or the US. A deposit is often paid early in the process and once this has been handed over the buyer is committed, forfeiting that money if they attempt to pull out later. If a seller pulls out then they are responsible for any monies owed. This procedure is common in many European countries.
Finding a Property
If you do decide you would like to buy a property abroad you should first check that you are legally permitted to do so. Some countries do not allow the purchase of property by foreigners, or have strict regulations about the type of property that can be bought, or require a minimum term of residency in the country before purchase. For example, Kuwait now allows expats to purchase property, but they must have lived and worked in the country for a minimum of ten years and if they become unemployed they must still leave the country within a month. However, most countries operate less strict rules and some are actively seeking foreign buyers.
Searching for a suitable property is now much easier than it used to be. The internet is filled with the websites of estate agents throughout the world and details of properties can be viewed without the need to leave your own home. However, it is always advisable to spend at least some time in your chosen country before deciding on a property so that you can choose the area you wish to live in, meet with a local estate agent to assess your needs and view any particularly interesting properties in person.
Many estate agents now have notification systems available via their websites which allow you to receive an email when new properties are added that meet your requirements. You may need to specify how many bedrooms you would like the property to have, if you would prefer detached or semi detached, a house or apartment, how much outdoor space you require etc. Detailed information on all potentially suitable properties can then be emailed to you as soon as they hit the market.
Although there are usually many estate agents to choose from, finding a good one can sometimes be a challenge. Many countries have regulatory bodies which govern the way properties are bought and sold and issue licences to agents but there are some that do not (if an estate agent is a member of a regulatory body it should say so on their website). In either case it is always wise to ask other expats for recommendations.
Be aware that some places do not make use of an estate agent system. For example, in some countries in South America there are many properties on the market which are not advertised through an estate agent. In this situation you may need to rely on local contacts and ask around so that people can inform you if there is a suitable property for sale.
Most countries will insist upon a buyer engaging the services of a legal professional to oversee the purchase. Even if not a requirement this is always advisable in order to avoid buying a property that has debt attached to it, left by a previous owner, for which you could become liable.
Have you decided what type of property is most suitable for you? An off plan property may still be in the early stages of development when you choose to buy and you will usually have to make regular payments throughout the building process. This is an option popular with expats who are moving abroad to retire to a resort. Alternatively, an existing home may be a better option if you need to move in fairly quickly and prefer a home with history and character.
When looking around a property use the same degree of caution you would at home. Look carefully for signs of damp, structural damage and other issues that may cause problems later. Have surveys and other checks carried out to ensure that the property is worth the asking price.
Ensuring that the property you buy has good transport links is also essential, especially if you have children who may need to travel to school on public transport.
Healthcare facilities are also essential, particularly if there is a member of the family who needs, or may need in the future, regular medical treatment. Ensure you are aware of the locations of the nearest hospitals, doctors’ surgeries, dentists etc.
Finally, consider what the local area and community has to offer you and other family members. Starting a life abroad in a new home, no matter how well appointed, is likely to be difficult if the environment is unsuitable for your social and leisure needs.
Dreams vs Reality
Many expats dream of an idyllic rural life in another country and while the dream may be wonderful, the reality can be very different. Although the peace of living in a remote area can be nice for a while, if you are used to having shops and restaurants nearby this “honeymoon period” can be short-lived. Some people end up feeling isolated and regret their decision after just a few months.
The same can apply to those who have their heart set on living in a busy city only to find that the noise and close proximity to other people is just too much. As mentioned previously, it is often a good idea to rent a similar property for a few months before you decide to buy.
Another dream that often fails to live up to its promise is that of buying a run-down home to renovate. It is easy to underestimate the time, effort and expense involved and it is not uncommon for expats to become completely disillusioned after several months of wrangling with local planning officers, builders etc.
Countries such as France are popular with those who wish to renovate, but some properties being advertised require more than cosmetic work and actually need rebuilding. As always the best advice is to do your research thoroughly and listen to the experiences of others.
Property Standards – Some Tips For Buyers
Throughout the world there are large variations in the quality of properties for sale, and the standards to which they were originally built. This, of course, is often due to the age of the property concerned - nobody expects a medieval town house to have been built to modern standards of fire prevention, or a 16th century rural cottage to have foundations that are anything more than “rudimentary”!
It is also true that geography and climate plays a part, irrespective of age. A property in northern Europe should, almost by definition, have been built originally to be better at dealing with rain, damp and cold than one built in southern Spain.
Although variations such as this are perfectly natural, nobody, expat or local, wants to get saddled with a property that is going to cost a fortune to fix/maintain or that represents a potential safety risk. Although this concern is shared by both expats and locals alike, expats are more at risk for 3 main reasons:
In many countries an independent expert pre-purchase survey is not the norm. Asking for one is always possible but they can be prohibitively expensive and many expats choose to make do without one.
Even where surveys are completed, language can be a problem. Even if the report is in English, sometimes specialist local knowledge is required to ‘read between the lines’.
Expats are far more likely to get lost in the romance of the property and location than they would at home – hard-nosed thinking can get swept aside.
Whilst acknowledging that assessing a property is a specialist skill and professional help may be needed, there are nevertheless some good basics that the expat should keep in mind from the outset.
It is a general truth that throughout history people with money have always tended to own properties that were of high quality. Therefore, if one is looking at a house built for a 19th century merchant or a land-owning gentleman farmer, there is a fair chance that it will have been built to reasonable quality standards of its day.
This most certainly does NOT mean it is without its problems, but in general one would expect such properties to have been built originally to more robust standards than a rural worker’s cottage.
It is always worth noting that in many countries, land, timber and/or stone were relatively plentiful. This, coupled with the larger families of the time, means that many rural properties originally built for or by very poor families are surprisingly large. Over time these may have been enhanced externally with plaster, paintwork and window boxes. Internally, they may also have been re-decorated to a high standard, but it is worth remembering that they were never originally erected as a quality building and underneath the dressings they may remain - in structural terms - a poorly built property that will cause trouble in the future.
When looking at larger older properties, even if built originally for wealthy owners, it is worth keeping in mind that in centuries past approaches to areas such as foundations were not always what we might hope for.
When one thinks of old, slightly grander buildings, images of the cathedrals and great castles of Europe come to mind as bywords for strength and solidity over time. Even so, cathedrals have collapsed as have many towers of castles! Many buttresses and other architectural features that we now admire as works of art were in fact thrown up in panic to shore up a collapsing building.
Even in the past our ancestors had to deal with their equivalent of today’s “cowboy builder” looking to make a fast coin or two by cutting corners. Remember that big, old, impressive houses are not only expensive to run and maintain, but their foundations are possibly way below modern standards for buildings of their size and weight.
Most old properties were not originally designed with fire retardation or escape routes in mind. Old timber buildings can be very prone to fire and may not be even remotely compliant with modern regulations (if they exist in your destination country) from which they may also be exempt by virtue of their age.
Always look at older properties and think how they could be better fire proofed and how you could get out of them in an emergency.
This area may be the greatest cause of heartache for many expats (especially those relocating outside the more popular expat destinations to less developed countries).
Many expats tend to buy older properties outside of major towns or cities. It matters little whether the property was a quality build originally or thrown up cheaply for local workers, the fact is that in many countries, even into the latter 20th century, standards for drainage, sewage and electrical wiring were either routinely ignored or did not exist - especially outside of urban areas.
As expats come along and start renovating - adding baths, showers, washing machines and dishwashers - it is common for the drainage, sewage or electrical infrastructure to collapse under the strain of a load it was never designed to handle.
Be warned - sorting these sorts of things out can be complicated and expensive: pipes may not be large enough, septic tanks may not be big enough to cope, your connection to the local main drains may not be of the correct type, etc. Also, in the case of electricity, remember that modern light switches and visible cables coming down from the ceiling do NOT necessarily mean that the wiring throughout the house is modern and/or safe.
Many peoples around the world perceive English-speaking countries to be obsessed with property and property maintenance. Other cultures, historically, have bothered less about such things as rotting timbers, the ingress of damp, infestations etc. In many cases this was because materials and labour were relatively cheap - if you discovered woodworm there was no cause for panic, you just waited until the timber was seriously riddled then hired the local artisan to cut it out and replace it.
As an example, in several European countries one can see DIY outlets starting to sell pumps and drying equipment every autumn explicitly for pumping and drying out flooded basements and garages. After all, what would one expect from a subterranean cellar each winter other than for it to flood and need pumping/drying out? You might even say it was natural!
Attitudes in some countries can be very different from what you are used to at home so be careful when looking around houses and remember that when the agent or vendor tells you everything is fine they may not be lying - it’s just that “fine” to them may include the cellar routinely flooding two or three times per year!
So far most of the issues outlined have been in relation to older properties. Surely with newer builds there is much less risk for the unwary expat? Although this may generally be true, there are also several things to keep at the forefront of your mind:
The building codes in many countries are imprecise and may well not be specified to the same level as in your home country. This can result in properties being built to standards that would not be acceptable “back home”. Good examples of this include dangerous electrical wiring and sewage/water disposal systems where cost cutting has lead to pipes of too-small diameter being used.
It is also not unusual to see properties erected with little if any consideration given to damp-proof courses or cavity wall insulation - particularly in southern climates. Although rain and damp may be less of a problem than it was back home, that is likely to be little consolation if you see rising damp or damp patches on the walls of your home built only 5 years ago and the builder’s only response is, “Well, we’ve had an unusually wet year…”
In many countries developments have been built that were designed for, and targeted at, expats buyers exclusively.
Sometimes these are “holiday resort” types: small groupings of villas/apartments around a golf course or perhaps beach/marina developments.
Whether or not these developments are alongside the world’s best beach, the most magnificent harbour or a championship standard golf course does not matter - if you can see lots of very similar apartment blocks and villas in the one development then there is a fair chance they were built to high-density and tight margin specifications.
Do not be misled by fixtures and fittings or the garden areas; in reality you may find that the build quality of such properties is poor. Many properties of this type are essentially just concrete blocks covered in rendering with little attention paid to things such as damp protection or internal pointing. Stories of entire sections of wall falling out the first time an expat owner tried to hang a picture are not uncommon.
This is, of course, a very crude generalisation and there are large numbers of honourable exceptions, but ultimately your best protection is to go and see another site being built by the same people and look at how they do things there. You may be either reassured or get a nasty shock! If at all possible, try to ask other owners in the development for their views on build quality.
Remember, mass developments are often the same the world over with cost/corner cutting a frequent temptation to keep spend on-track. Sunshine and a glossy brochure does not change that fact. Be careful!
Guarantees and Warranties
All newer property overseas will normally come with some sort of warranty from the builders or sales agents. Always check this before purchasing, but also be aware that having a guarantee and enforcing it are two very different things.
Before purchasing always check with an independent solicitor that the guarantee is legally binding on the person who issued it and that the company that issued it is still in business. A guarantee issued by a company that ceased trading several years ago may not be of much practical value to you.
Finally, remember with new or newer builds that there are sometimes irregularities around the permissions for the property to exist on that site. There have been numerous such cases where authorities several years after a property has been built have suddenly decided that it was built illegally as the builders did not have the appropriate permissions. Demolition orders have been issued in some cases with catastrophic consequences for the expat owner or owners.
Validation of rights and titles is specialist work for a solicitor. The best advice for expats may be to:
1. Get a good local solicitor by recommendation of local people (not just expats) Do NOT accept a local solicitor recommended by the sales agents.
2. As part of the purchase, make sure you ask the solicitor in writing to confirm that all appropriate rights and titles exist for the building to legally exist on that site. Make sure the solicitor responds with a positive confirmation in writing. Do not accept a verbal assurance – this would be useless to you should a subsequent dispute arise. If your solicitor is unwilling or unable to confirm this then accept no excuses - be exceptionally sceptical in such circumstances.
3. Do exactly the same for debts and charges against the property (this also applies to older properties). Make sure your solicitor confirms explicitly in writing that nobody else has any rights or interest in the property.
4. Be careful about the role of the Notaire if you are buying in a country that uses this system. The Notaire (or Public Notary) is usually an official responsible to the state for ensuring that certain basic minimum legal processes have taken place in strict accordance with the law. They are there to ensure that no obvious improprieties are taking place and to minimally protect the rights of buyer and seller in making the transfer of property deeds etc. Although their role varies by country, never assume that the Notary exists to serve you as the buyer, is ‘on your side’ or is the same thing as a solicitor - they are not! They are impartial agents and have no obligation to protect your commercial interests. It is always worth considering the services of an independent solicitor acting exclusively for YOU in checking things. The Notary does have some legal obligations to check rights and titles but these obligations may be more limited than you would wish and you cannot assume that they will have looked at every legal aspect to check for things that you may not be happy with afterwards.
The majority of expat property purchases go through without any problems whatsoever and the proud new owners remain happy with the deal after completion. Expats who experience serious property problems post-sale are relatively few in number.
The best advice is simply to look at the property, and enter any purchase, thinking the same way you would in your home country. The processes may be different but there are some very basic, common sense questions and issues you would certainly expect to be clear on in your mind before buying at home, and you should think the same way overseas.
Remember, if you are looking at a property and have any concerns whatsoever then always consider a survey before making an offer - never be put off by sales agents telling you that “surveys are rare here”. If the property is on a large development, check with neighbours and other owners and go and see another similar site being erected elsewhere. Pop into the town hall and ask for details about the infrastructure in the area. Get a good solicitor to help reduce your risks.
These tips may be basic common sense but many expats get swept up in the romance of buying a home abroad and fail to apply them. Moving abroad is often an exercise in risk management - never more so than when buying property. A little caution and care initially can make all the difference between dealing with a nightmare property and finding your dream home.
When renting accommodation, you should try to negotiate a lease to suit your planned length of stay in the country. If you don’t know the country or area of residence very well, try to arrange a short lease initially, as this will give the option of moving when you get to know the location better, perhaps to be closer to new friends or amenities.
Tenancy agreements and regulations vary considerably between countries and you should always find out what the standard rules and procedures are in your new country before signing a lease – don’t allow landlords or agencies to take advantage of your perceived lack of local knowledge. In some countries, such as Germany, very detailed and lengthy tenancy contracts are used, which include a comprehensive set of house rules which must be obeyed. Where less detailed tenancy agreements are used, ensure that the document covers all the important rights and obligations of the tenant and landlord. At a minimum, the following should be included:
· Length of the rental agreement.
· How much rent is payable, and the schedule of payments and increases.
· Details of what the rent includes and excludes (e.g. communal maintenance charges).
· Period of notice which must be given by the tenant and the landlord.
· Deposit required and details of the interest it will earn.
· Redecoration requirements.
· Any insurance requirements.
If you do not speak the local language, ask for any contracts to be translated into English and arrange for a friend or English-speaking letting agent to negotiate with the landlord on your behalf. Note that in some countries it is normal practice to be asked for several months rent as a deposit, whereas in others you may be required to redecorate the accommodation either when you move in or move out. You may also be required to insure the property you are living in, or to take out personal liability insurance against damage to the property or its contents.
It is often the case that you will have to take out a lease for a specified period, sometimes several years. Try to negotiate flexibility, or use an agent that specializes in lettings to expats, otherwise you may forfeit your deposit and may also be required to make other penalty payments if you move out. If you have moved abroad because of your job, see if you can insert a “diplomatic clause” in the agreement whereby the rental contract can be terminated at any time without additional obligation if the tenant is transferred abroad again or otherwise has to leave the country.
Utilities and Appliances
Remember to inform the utilities companies in your home country of your moving date and make arrangements for final meter readings and bill payments.
Find out whether the utilities are already connected in your new home, or what needs to be done to arrange connection. If energy supply markets have been liberalized, you may need to select suppliers for electricity, gas or telephone services. If so, ask the locals or other expatriates for recommendations, or check whether there are any internet sites giving price comparisons. Find out how often bills are issued and how to pay them.
If there is no piped gas supply in your new country, find out where to obtain bottled gas.
Find out whether the water is safe to drink straight from the tap.
If you are moving from North America to Europe, you might be surprised at the relatively small size of the kitchen appliances in your accommodation, especially the refrigerator! Although these may be difficult to get used to at first, the advantage is that they are cheaper to run. You may need to adapt your grocery shopping habits if the storage capacity is less than you are used to.
Refuse and Recycling
Ask your new neighbours about the refuse collection arrangements and the recycling facilities and requirements. Domestic waste disposal units are far less common in Europe and other parts of the world than they are in North America.
Some European countries have strict laws on recycling household refuse. If this is the case, it is likely that different coloured refuse bins will be provided for different types of recyclable products – glass, aluminium, paper etc. In some European countries, including Germany for example, you are required by law to return batteries to retail outlets so that they can be disposed of safely.
Buying property when you move abroad is often a good idea if you are planning to live in your new country for more than just a few years. In addition, property is still a good investment in many countries where property prices are low.
Renting can often work out to be more expensive than the cost of a mortgage, although this is dependent upon the country you are in and the type of property involved. Renting may be a sensible option if you are planning a stay of less than a few years.
Expat Health Insurance Partners
Article content received from: Expat Focus,