Let’s say you’ve decided to retire overseas. Maybe you just want a change of pace or want a winter vacation home. You could also be looking for property for investment purposes. Regardless of why you’re looking to get out, you may be thinking about buying property overseas.
While living overseas and working closely with a real estate development company, I’ve picked up a lot about what to look for when buying real estate outside of your home country. There are a lot of aspects of buying property that we may sometimes take for granted and don’t think we need to ask.
I’m staying at Grand Baymen Gardens in Belize, which provides an excellent example of what to look for.
1. Furnished Living
Is the house or unit furnished? If it is, do you like the furniture? The furniture has the power to make a house or unit a home. You want furniture that looks good and will comfortably fit you, your family, and any visitors you may have.
Grand Baymen offers the option to have a furnished unit, including everything from the bed and couch to utensils and cooking materials.
We often take safe roads, plumbing, and sewage for granted. Make sure your new destination can provide similar comfort and safety. You want to make sure the building or house provides adequate water pressure with both hot and cold temperatures. This may seem like a given, but you’d be surprised. It is not unheard of to find that both the hot and cold water gauges are connected to a single cold water connection.
Road conditions are also something that I took for granted. Be aware that many places do not hold the same standards for road conditions. You want to be able to access your home easily without having to worry about damaging your vehicle or getting stuck in mud.
No house is complete without a place to cook, keep your food cold, and do your laundry. You want to make sure that your space is equipped properly with American-style appliances. Ensure your future home or investment is fully stocked with quality appliances that will last a long time.
There may be places close by to do your laundry, but you’re going to want to have your own stove, microwave, and refrigerator.
Going to a new country can be a fabulous experience to integrate yourself into a new culture and community. The cultural learning, such as cooking and language, can be a fun challenge, but you may be losing the comfort of familiarity. Finding a community of fellow expats can give you the friendship and camaraderie you might be lacking.
There are many blogs and forums online for those who are looking to get in touch with other expatriates. Many will gladly offer advice about moving overseas, buying property, and even the best places to eat or sing karaoke.
Location of your property should play a key role in your decision. If you aren’t sure if you will be owning a car, golf cart, or other mode of transportation found in your country of choice, you will need to know how close the nearest grocery store, restaurant, or hospital is.
Do you want to be at the heart of a busy town, or do you prefer the quiet life of the country? The location of your home can add or take away that peace of mind.
Traffic and Transportation
When I began to research Ambergris Caye, Belize, I was happily surprised to learn that the main form of transportation is a golf cart. Bikes are also a very popular mode of transportation, while cars are less frequent. Most cars I’ve seen have been taxi vans.
Forms of transportation are important to think about because you’re going to have to get around somehow. Would you be comfortable driving a golf cart everywhere? If you are going to need a car, how much will a car cost?
What on-site amenities does the property offer? Some overseas living communities offer restaurants, stores, and gyms. Grand Baymen has an on-site fitness club that has a gym, a pool, and tennis courts – and membership is included in the HOA fees.
Provided amenities can make a lot of your day-to-day activities much easier. The convenience of on-site facilities reduces the stress of searching for necessities and lets you explore your new home country for leisure and adventure.
Fees and Utility Bills
This may sound weird, but you want to make sure that the fees (such as HOA fees) are high enough. If you are buying a condo, proper maintenance is a must-have, and if the fees are too low, there’s a good chance you won’t be getting the quality service you were hoping for.
Also, researching the average price for various utility bills is a good idea, so you’re not surprised when you move in.