Over in Britain, things have been a little controversial recently. Back in June, the country voted to leave the EU. And the final polling revealed that the country was practically split down the middle. 48 percent wanted to stay in the EU, and 52 percent wanted to remain. What’s more, it’s hard to know how the chips would have fallen had there not been so much propaganda and fear-mongering from both sides. But as far as can be told from the data, the issue is divisive.
According to recent information, the Brexit vote has led to a surge of Brits looking for a better life abroad. For many Brits, the idea of the EU is more important than the reality. Here was a glorious superstate that united the peoples of Europe so that they never need to go to war again. The actual policies weren’t all that important. Now they want out of the country that voted to leave the project and go its own way. The question is, where are they all going? Let’s find out
It turns out that Europe is by far the most popular destination for Brits moving abroad. And France is right at the top of that list. France is the UK’s nearest European neighbour. But the cultures of the two countries are vastly different. Northern areas of the country, like Normandy and Brittany, are especially popular right now. According to the data, roughly 200,000 Brits own properties in France. And they’re particularly keen on areas like Dordogne, French Riviera and Provence, as well as those just mentioned.
But it’s not just France’s proximity that’s causing the sudden rush of new purchases in the country. In Britain, house prices have been steadily rising since the crash of 2009. But, in France, they’ve been falling. And this fall has meant that British buyers have been able to get a lot more house for their money.
There’s also the fact that mortgages in Europe remain on the cheap side. It’s easy to grab a mortgage when rates are low relative to inflation. So all in all, France represents a sound financial deal.
Before the recent spate of terrorist atrocities in the country, France was loved by Brits for its culture and its way of life. But since the attacks, that may have changed. Remember, we don’t have data yet since the spate of attacks this summer takes place. So France may yet find itself falling down the rankings.
As Entwistle Green points out, selling your home and moving abroad can be stressful. But that hasn’t stopped thousands of expat Brits from doing just that. Recently, expats in Spain and Gibraltar hit the news in the run-up and aftermath of the Brexit vote. The worry was that expats would lose their EU citizenship and have to leave the countries they called home. They also worried that they’d lose out financially and not be allowed to travel. The position of expats remains up in the air at the time of writing.
Having said that, Spain remains a dream location for many Brits who want to move abroad. About 70 percent of Brits put Spain at either number one or number two in the places they’d most like to live. And that should come as no surprise. Compared to France, the cost of living in Spain is much lower. According to the latest data, a meal out at a cheap restaurant will only set you back 10 euros. Beer is 2 euros. A cappuccino is 1.56 euros. Food is relatively inexpensive too, compared to most European countries, as it transport. In fact, most local prices are low because of Spain’s sluggish economy. People just don’t have the incomes to push up nontradable prices.
Spain is also attractive because of its large expat community. There are plenty of hubs where expats can socialize and meet with one another. Sites like InterNations are a great place for expats to meet up with one another living in Spain right now.
About 170,000 Brits have homes in Spain. Their favorite locations are the Costa Blanca, Barcelona and the Costa del Sol. But there’s a worry that the allure of Spain will not last. Recently the Spanish expat dream has come under severe attack. Over the last few years, tens of thousands of Brits have left the country, looking for a better life elsewhere. The exodus has been driven by a number of factors, mainly economic. The country has a rapidly declining job market and house prices have slumped. There is also general uncertainty over the future of the eurozone. And it’s not just the Brits who are leaving. The German expat population in the country fell by a quarter. The French community slumped by around 12 percent.
Spain remains a popular destination for recent movers. But how long that will last, given the state of the economy remains to be seen.
Italy has been attracting Brits to its shores for decades now. The appeal lies in the fact that Italy, like France, has a different pace of life. Brits love the family-oriented culture and the fantastic scenery. They also love the history of the country and it’s sophisticated, designer culture. In fact, Italy has been drawing in hordes northern European ever since the Grand Tour.
Data aren’t available on how many Brits actually own homes in Italy. But present estimates put the figure at around 73,000. It should come as no surprise that the most popular locations for homes are Tuscany and Umbria.
The dream for many Brits seems to be owning their own, traditional Tuscan farmhouse. They want to be able to survey their beautiful vineyards, while the Mediterranean sunsets. But they face some challenges. For one, Italian building laws are notoriously strict. Getting planning permission and land rights in the country is tough. And that means that new builds are hard to come by. The Italians are very protective of their countryside. And they know that it order to preserve it, they have to cram their 60 million people into the main city areas. If you’re looking to buy in Italy, you need to consult with an expert property agent.
The Land of Opportunity was in many ways the very first expat destination for Brits wanting to leave their own shores. Historically, the US was the place Brits went to throw off the yoke of government and live a free life. And, despite the country’s problems, it remains a popular destination for Brits today.
What’s so surprising about the popularity of the US is the distance. The country is at least a seven-hour flight away. And yet Brits are moving to the country in their droves. The most popular destinations are California and Florida. These coastal regions offer some of the world’s most lavish beaches and resort facilities. Florida, in particular, tends to be very popular with older buyers.
Again, there’s no data on just how many Brits now own homes in the US. But there are currently 678,000 expats living in the country.
Portugal is the less loved sibling of its bigger neighbour, Spain. But despite its diminutive size, it represents a compelling buying opportunity for buyers. The Portuguese economy has always been a lower priced economy than Spain. And that means things like housing and food are cheap. Brits looking to buy abroad can get particularly good deals on houses, so long as they know where to look.
Recently, there has been some controversy in the country regarding properties built after 1951. The problem started when the Portuguese government realised targeting expats was a good way to raise money. Right now, the Portuguese government has a massive deficit. And there’s a risk that it won’t be able to pay its way for much longer. So now they’re asking homeowners to prove that their properties are privately owned. Homeowners have to produce documents showing that their home is indeed built on private land. Otherwise, the Portuguese state will take it away. Originally, the rule was that homeowners had to prove that the land on which their homes were built had been private for over 150 years. But they successfully lobbied. And the government agreed new rules would only apply to houses built after 1951.
Thus, the advice right now is to make sure that you have a bilingual legal advisor if you want to move to Portugal. Yes, the prices are low, but the risks are significant.
Portugal is perhaps best viewed as a place to set up a holiday home rather than a permanent move. The country is full of popular tourist locations and great beaches. And, like Spain, it’s a great place to catch some sun.
The most popular places to buy a home right now are The Algarve and the country’s capital city Lisbon. The Algarve is famous, thanks to its breathtaking cliffs and sculpted beaches. Lisbon is another great location for work opportunities and for starting businesses.